That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Garmin Love

This is fantastic. I love having detailed stats to analyze.

Yesterday's run:

401 miles
Average pace: 10:11
Fastest pace: 8:30
1: 9:52
2: 10:13
3: 10:28
4: 10:01

It was way fun doing speedwork with the Garmin too. And way easier! I could do solid .25 mile intervals with 2:00 jog breaks, exactly, without having to do any math on my own. I ended up doing 4.5 miles (It said 4.41 at the end of my run. I ran laps around my car until it evened out. Heehee!) The problem was, as it turns out, doing speedwork in the snow is a real pain in the butt. Thanks, parks department, for doing such a freaking FANTASTIC job of clearing off the bike trail. I know nobody's cycling with the 10 degree wind chill, but there are still runners/walkers out there who would prefer not to add "gaping head wound after slipping on ice" to their list of injuries.


Anyway, I managed the speedwork, though it wasn't my fastest. Sprint pace ranged from 8:43/mi (first interval) to 10:26/mi (when the trail got ultra treacherous!) Yeah, it's really fun trying to run a quarter mile as fast as you can when it feels like you're running in quicksand and your feet are slipping backwards. AWESOME.

This is just going to make me a faster runner in good weather, right??

My goal is to run as much as I can for the next two weeks, because then I'll have two weeks off (during which I'm going to try to get in a little bit of much as I'm willing to do while on a cruise ship!) and then I'll be into the marathon training, which I think at that point will be LESS running than I've been doing. Just working on building endurance now so I won't lose as much while on vacation, and I'll have more to build on for the marathon training....which will probably take over my life for the next three months.

Can't wait!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

say hello to my leetle friend

I haven't been here in a little while, so here's the summary: holidays, busy-ness, eating too many cookies but using that as motivation to workout like a fiend. Donated blood and took a good week to bounce back; long run was 7 miles at a slooow 11 minute pace. That was a frustrating running week. I'm kind of over running in the cold but I've been doing an indoor endurance training class at the gym that likes to kick my butt.

Now that that's over, for the good news: my husband did a fantastic job playing Santa. Take a look:

No more crappy blackberry run-tracking apps!!! This will motivate me to get out there in the nasty weather for the next two weeks (before I go on vacation - yay!)

So anyone that knows cool tricks that one can do with a Garmin, I'm all ears. I haven't been able to figure out anything beyond the basics - of course, I still need to take it out for a run.

No more getting off my pre-planned route; no more estimating and falling disappointingly short - like what I thought was a 6 mile run on Christmas Eve only turning out to be 5.83. Plus I can track every step I take and how fast I take it. Just what every OCD hopeful marathon runner needs!

And also: I am officially signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon, plus a local training group (starts 1/4), plus I signed up to raise money for Girls on the Run while doing it. (See previous post about my experience as a running buddy!)

Note to self: need to do a 2010 recap post at some point soon.

Happy holidays, all!!

*edit to add: follow-up from last time: layering gloves = win. Vaseline on face = win. Haven't been able to try it in anything lower than the low 20's (thank God) but my face no longer hurts when the wind hits it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's freaking cold.

I ran 3 miles on the treadmill yesterday. Between the cold weather and the cold virus, I felt like doing minimal fighting; however, the cold virus is vastly improved. I still have mucus draining/clogging every orifice where mucus tends to reside, but the lethargy/malaise has gone away.

Today, I decided to see how brave I could really be. Weather channel said 18 degrees, feels like 6 with the wind chill. I wore two pairs of tights (yep, two), my generic brand tj maxx turtleneck base layer shirt that I am falling in love with, and a warmish adidas jacket, plus hat and gloves.

Verdict: I felt pretty comfortable, really. I was aware that it was cold when I stopped at traffic lights, but I didn't really ever FEEL cold after my first half mile or so. hands. The Target running gloves are obviously made for more comfy temperatures. Next time, I will try another pair of gloves over them. I hear a lot of people saying they run in cheap knit gloves, but those make my hands sweat so bad  - even when I'm NOT running - that I have a limited tolerance for them. But I bet I could layer them over the running gloves.

Also freaking face. My face HURT. It actually started to feel a little better, well enough that I upped my 3 mile run to 4 miles, but then every time the wind was in the wrong direction it would sting again. I was trying to remember my first-aid training and figured that if it was frostbitten, it wouldn't be hurting, so I was ok.

I asked on's facebook page and I was told to try vaseline on my face. I think it's actually supposed to warm up a smidge, but I'll try that trick next time I run outside again. Come to think of it, I might as well vaseline my hands to see if that insulates them from the cold a bit. That is, if my clumsy self can figure out how to put vaseline on both hands without getting it everywhere. (You're talking to the adult who still can't color with crayola markers without making her hands half-rainbow colored.)

I also want one of those burqa-looking hoods. Totally not trying to be offensive, that is what it looks like. And I do live in sort of a redneck area, so the reaction to me running around the neighborhood in that may be interesting. :) I have discovered, btw, that it's actually called a balaclava.

I still got a deep inner sense of pride this morning when I caught someone looking at me and I wondered if they were thinking, "That girl must be insane!" (Or person, since between the sports bra and stocking cap, I look slightly gender-neutral when I run....)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The weather outside is frightful

...but I ran in it anyway!

I'm trying to get myself back up to a 10 mile long run on the weekend before I officially start the marathon training. But I'm still fighting with this cold, so it's not the time to do it! I ran 6 instead.

It's looking like today will mark the first measurable snowfall of this winter. (It snowed the other day, but I don't think it really officially stuck.) 30 degrees, feels like 24 with the wind chill, and the snow is piling up on yards and cars, but melting as soon as it hits the roads and sidewalks. Perfect.

I love watching snow. It's even fun to watch it while I run. And in tights, a mockneck base layer, a fleece jacket, fleece headband, and running gloves, I was mostly warm and toasty running in it. Except my face got pretty freaking cold, but I could bear that.

It's also fun that I only saw two other people out running, and a couple walking their dog. I'm one of the elite now, one of the brave, one of the adventurous - the few, the proud, the people who run in the snow. I thought those people were crazy last winter when I limited myself to the treadmill and the indoor track at the gym. Now I have become one of them!

The thing that does kinda suck is getting snow in your eyes and stuck in your eyelashes. Limits vision a little, but on a bike path, who needs to see?

I did feel kinda crappy in the middle of the run (this is starting to become a pattern with me.) I felt tired and my stomach started to hurt, maybe because all the extra cold-fighting vitamins were duking it out in there. But I kept going, and by the last mile, I felt awesome. I pictured myself crossing the marathon finish line, thanks to my dedication and snow-running. I started smiling and waving at cars. I wanted to yell, "I am one of those crazy people who runs in the snow! Yeeha!!!!"

As soon as I stopped running, the cold caught up with me. I had so much snow stuck to the fleece jacket that I looked like the love child of a human and Frosty the Snowman. And my gloves are pretty disgusting. Thanks to the cold (the virus, not the weather), I literally had to blow my nose into my hands several times. (I must say, the moisture-wicking property of those gloves is impressive. My hands remained snot-free!) It took a while to thaw out, and it only took a few minutes after getting home to start coughing and sneezing again. Oh yeah. I'm sick. I remember now.

Maybe I should've taken it a little easier. Maybe I will tomorrow. :)

Less than five months until the Flying Pig, when I run 20 miles more than I ran today. Holy crap. Part of me is way excited; the other part of me wonders if I can really make it. That's the part of me that had that thought as I was struggling with the 10k. Training group starts in January. Whee!

Also, endomondo, God love it, thinks I ran over 109 miles in 1:04 and change. It had part of my route right, and then it suddenly thought I ran way into Kentucky and back. It says my average speed was :35 min/mile. Obviously I need a Garmin if I'm gonna track my miles correctly. :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speaking of victories...

The scale pic inspired me. Take a look:

7/08. 160-something lbs.

Me with my mom, 10/08. Off the running bandwagon and pushing 170 lbs. (Me, obviously not my mom!)

In Jamaica, 1/10. Just over 160 lbs.

5/10, engagement shoot. Somewhere around 145 lbs.

6/10. Wedding - 140 lbs. 

Everything else- icing on the cake! Err, terrible analogy, but whatever. :) This is what some (mostly) healthy food and a running obsession can do.


Post-10k, I took an entire day off. That may not have been a great idea, but I sooo felt like running again. Actually, part of that was possibly my neuroses - namely, the "I don't want to get fat" neurosis and the "I don't want to lose fitness" neurosis. The first is pretty obvious - the post-thanksgiving syndrome at its finest. The second comes from reading an article about how absolutely important it is to maintain baseline fitness by not slacking on running during the holiday season. Well, that's how my brain read it. My logical side knows that it really just said that if you take a month-long break from running, you'll lose fitness.

Anyway....Saturday I ran 51-ish minutes. Minutes, not miles. I didn't even count miles. I ran around a park and parts of town that I never see, just running for the sheer heck of it, like I used to ride my bike when I was a kid. That was awesome. I was depending on my phone app to track distance....and for whatever reason, it never did. I'm guessing 5-ish miles. Then, huz was in the apartment complex clubhouse on the elliptical. Because I was keeping him company, I decided to see how fast I could do a mile on a treadmill. The result: 8:38. That is after a 51 minute run, and while wearing tights, a fleece headband, and a turtleneck indoors.

Next day, I wanted to tackle 10 miles. I made it slightly over 9. It was a dumb idea after my workout Saturday. Plus, I got screwed up mentally. I was trying to do two rounds of a 5 mile loop, but a few minutes after I started round 2 of the loop, I dropped my powerbar gummy snacks. Noooooo! I realized it sometime after I passed the 1/2 mile marker and went back and found them. Then I started running the loop the opposite direction. I made it another mile and a half, decided I was dying and I needed to go back. I was so tired and miserable it was ridiculous. But now that I look back on that....I ran 9 miles! My farthest run since September! I'll take it.

Monday - skipped the run, considering Sunday nearly killed me. Really. I swear. I did do yoga class.

Tuesday - 3 mile run. And another victory - I mastered THE HILL! The Hill is near where I live. Two years ago, when we moved in (and I was in ok shape, although 30-ish lbs heavier), I could not walk up the hill without stopping to catch my breath. Earlier this year, I could run up half of it before pretty much falling over.This road is a .23 mile, steep monster. And for whatever reason, at almost the end of my run, in the rain, I decided that I wanted to run up the hill. And I DID. It took me 3 minutes and I was about at walking speed by the top, but I RAN THE HILL! Then I walked down because I seriously can't begin to run down this hill without feeling like I'm going to fall on my face.

Yesterday - circuit training. And the beginnings of a cold. Yay.

Today - easy 3.1 that I MADE myself do even though I was considering calling in sick to work and it was 30 degrees. I decided to see if running somehow might make me feel better. It did. Holy crap. Even though my gloves are pretty much crusted with the mucus that was spilling out of my head, I busted two very good excuses this morning and ran anyway.

Tomorrow I may very well take a break. I'm still feeling like the queen of mucus, but for a short while, the run did me good!

And finally, one more victory I discovered after today's run:

Hello, high school weight! Haven't seen you for a while!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Day 10k

Despite what it said on my blog, my goal was actually 1:05. Well, that was my medium goal. I read an article recently (that I'll have to find again) that recommended actually having three goals for the race. The first, your amazing wonderful awesome goal. The second, the goal that you would be happy to achieve. The third, the goal that you could live with.

I also decided to make my goal fairly conservative. I have pretty much never met a goal I set for myself pre-race. My first 5k, I thought maybe I could do it around 30, since I read soooo much about how much adrenaline kicks in during a race and how people go soooo much faster when they're racing. Well, either that's a bunch of crap or it doesn't apply to me. Also, 30 was WAY optimistic, considering I was used to running about a 12 minute mile. Yeesh.

So anyway, given that I tend to miss my goal times by a smidge, and given that downtown is hilly, I set my "happy" goal as 1:05. My amazing wonderful goal would've been around 1:02. (Actually, AMAZING would've been under an hour but I don't know that I'm quite there, except on a perfectly flat road in perfect weather conditions with nobody getting in my way, ever.) What could I live with? Doing better than my first 10k in May. And if that didn't happen, I could live with finishing the race happy and feeling good (although I think at that pace, I would've had to have been feeling bad in some way.) And even if none of those things happened, I figured life goes on.

So I won't keep you in suspense (although everyone's probably given up on reading my ramblings and checked out the side panel by now....)

1:04:49. Happy goal minus 11. It also qualifies me for the National half if I decide to do it.

I'm good with it.

The race itself:

The learning experiences:

  • For the first time, I absolutely did NOT eat enough for breakfast. For whatever reason, my nerves had my stomach doing cartwheels. Plus the only banana we had turned out to be mushy and gross. I read about some runners who eat like a bird before a race. Turns out, I can't do that. My english muffin and pb wore off around 4 miles and I felt STARVED. I had to fight a little bit for the energy to finish. 
  • The HILLS. I ran them all during the Pig 10k (pretty similar route) but holy crap, I forgot that those bridges are killer. There's a huge uphill to get onto the bridge, then I spent the run across the bridge recovering instead of enjoying the view of the Ohio River, then a downhill where I went wheeee! and got back into the race. And if the bridges to Kentucky and back weren't enough, there's a bridge IN KY that's a doozie too. Ironically, Kanye had just kicked on when I was staring at that bridge, looking up at the hill, hearing, "That that that that don't kill me can only make me stronger...." Probably needed that. There was also one fun uphill downtown. At least that was at the beginning. Oh yeah, the one and only photographer I saw was in the middle of the bridge to KY, so if he got my picture, he got me trying to catch my breath from the uphill. That'll be one hot looking pic.
  • The crowd. I was passing walkers at the beginning even though they were supposed to be behind us. NOT COOL, walkers. Most people were pretty cool but there was the occasional person suddenly turning around to go back to their friends, or randomly cutting across right in front of me.
  • There were signs to line up by pace. The 10 min/mile sign was the last one before the walkers. Thanks for the confirmation that I'm slow. I think a 10 minute mile for a 10k is pretty good, myself.
  • There was NO 2 mile marker! I had my stopwatch going, and I remember looking at it and thinking I must be close to 2 miles. Aaaand....nothing. For a minute I thought I had slowed way down, but when it got to 12 minutes after my first mile, I KNEW I hadn't slowed down that much and I was able to keep my head on straight. But still....had I not had my watch, I might've been really discouraged!
The good:
  •  The crowd! There were people in turkey costumes, a group of girls singing the 12 days of Christmas while they were running, all kinds of fun stuff. Oh, and a super tall guy wearing neon tights with a paint splatter pattern. Those were awesome.
  • I had my cold weather gear all ready....and it was 58 degrees. Rainy, but 58 nonetheless. So I didn't freeze waiting OR running. And I ran in capris on thanksgiving, which I never thought I'd be able to do.
  • The woman towards the end holding a sign that said, "Good job stranger! We're proud of you." It's silly, but I swear it put the biggest smile on my face. Actually, the crowd was great. There were a lot of people lining the course, especially for a 10k in the rain, and they mostly cheered for everyone instead of just looking for their friends.
  • I managed to keep a (mostly) steady pace, which was kind of an unofficial goal. Well, I had a couple of slow miles, but I pulled it together at the end. At any rate, it's getting way better than my former good/good/good/fall on my face looking splits.
  • Besides the fact that I probably would've hurt someone for a bagel at mile 5, I finished feeling good.
  • I did NOT walk. I wanted to walk. I told myself that I could probably still meet my goal if I walked. But I didn't walk! As long as I was still passing people who WERE walking, I told myself that I didn't need to walk.
 Overall....good experience. One worth repeating next year. Maybe I'll be down to a sub-hour by then.

Splits (far as I can remember):

mile 1: 10:11
miles 2 & 3: 20:19 (30:30)
mile 4: 10:45 (41:15) <---hill!!
mile 5: 11:00  (52:15) <---bigger hill!
mile 6: 10:30 (1:02:45)
.2: 2:04  (1:04:49)

Edit to add: I found some guy's youtube video of the race, with footage at every mile marker. There WAS a marker at mile 2. Somehow I completely missed a giant sign with an LED screen under it. I really am that awesome!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Like the tree falling in the forest....

If my run tracking programs don't record/can't upload my really awesome runs, did they really happen? Or will anyone believe they did? :)

Final week of the 10k plan: yesterday was speedwork. I did 5 repeats of 2:30 fast/2:30 slow on a marked bike path, and then finished strong for a total of 3 miles. In 28:16. Yeeha!! Runtastic again crashed, which I suspect it does if I get an email or phone call. I did test it on my walk back to my car and it seemed to work. Bummer that it didn't keep this workout, as (a) proof of my 3 mile PR, and (b) because it would've been fun to see how it mapped out those intervals. I'm wondering how fast I was really going during those fast intervals, since I ended up with a 9:something average pace.

So today I tried endo again. It recorded my whole workout (although again it gypped me on the distance - it recorded 2.93 when I've mapped out my route and it's 3.1) but it won't upload it for no good reason. But anyway, I did 3.1 in 31 minutes flat today. The traffic lights were in my favor. And ya know what, that 10 minute pace felt like an easy, comfy pace. I still can't believe it wasn't an 11 minute pace or something. I mean, I was tired, I was fighting through a tylenol pm hangover. Plus, it was an even pace. I checked my watch at the halfway point and it read 15:29. I'm patting myself on the back in a major way for both the huge improvement in my speed lately (which I'm still trying to convince myself isn't a huge mistake on my part), and for seriously improving my pacing.

Also awesome: I've been able to run in shorts yesterday and today. It's almost December. I live in Ohio. This is pretty much a miracle. Although today I had to pair the shorts with long sleeves, and it was about the limit of my shorts threshhold, it still felt good. (As an aside, I find that other runners dress cooler than I do. I really like to be warm.)

10k on Thursday. I'm unnecessarily nervous but I can't wait to blow my old PR out of the water!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

There's an app for that!

This morning, my wonderful husband informed me that he's found two free running apps on blackberry. Both claim to use the blackberry's GPS to time and record distance, mile splits, speed, etc. My Christmas list unofficially includes a Garmin, but it's really really hard to pass up free, especially knowing that I can finally comfortably carry my berry while running. (Thanks spibelt!) So I downloaded them both.

The long run on the training plan this week is 8 miles. I decided to do 6. I did 8 prematurely in the training plan, and the plan is set up for a 10k on a Saturday, not on a Thursday. I want to make sure I'm sufficiently rested Thursday morning and 8 miles just seemed unnecessary, especially considering that zicam aside, I may not be 100% healthy at the moment.

So I used the 6 mile run as a test drive for the new apps - endomondo and runtastic. Since I couldn't decide which one to try first (endomondo has better reviews; runtastic was a much larger download - so fancier? Plus runtastic can upload to facebook) soooo I decided to see if both would run at the same time.

First of all, a garmin would be easier. I had to set everything up on my phone, get both started, and then while running (no time to waste!) settle my phone into my spibelt in a way that it wouldn't accidentally get pushed or scratch against my car key, get the spibelt addition to doing the usual fighting with my ipod to get the earbuds to stay in my ears and the ipod to stay clipped on. After 2 minutes or so of looking like a spazz, I was running for real.

My run was AWESOME. The weather was gorgeous. I wore capris and a lightweight long-sleeved shirt and ended up with the sleeves rolled up. And I was at my fastest. I'm worried that I might've pushed harder than I needed to be pushing, but I was having too much fun to slow down.

Finished the 5 mile loop plus .5 out and back. There are mile markers that should be accurate. I was excited to see how the app results measured up.

Well, runtastic crashed somewhere in there, so I've got nothing recorded. I won't blame runtastic just yet; it may not have been able to work with endomondo already running.

Endomondo recorded my km. Well crap. The stupid thing is that even after I changed my preferences, it won't convert it for me. Well, it did on my phone, except that it literally changed km to mi and nothing more. So my phone now says my average speed was a 6:23 minute mile, which I must admit does look pretty freaking cool.

After converting (9.24 km), it recorded that I did 5.7 miles in 59:09. My stopwatch and the mile markers say I did 6 miles in 58:47. The time, of course, has to do with the fact that I had to take the time to start and stop the apps. I'm not sure why I'm .3 miles off, unless the mile markers are off, which would be weird. I'm not gonna lie, either, it's a little discouraging to do an awesome PR run and then be told that it wasn't as awesome as you thought.

I got on endomondo's website to check out the more detailed stats. The cool thing is that it actually shows my running route, and it's dead on. It follows the trail exactly. It's obviously not perfect, as it says that my top speed was 1:03 min/km. (Huh??? - maybe it thinks I did the last .24 k in 1:03??)

Other cool things include that it does indeed have the option to post to facebook, as well as to share with others. Well, here; see for yourself:

And when I logged on to the website, it listed everyone who was out running/walking/cycling and their distance and time so far. That's pretty fun. You can also stalk these people by clicking on their names to see where they are. How fantastic for creepy people everywhere! I watched some guy running around England for a few minutes. Apparently there is another feature called peptalk, where you can type a message for your friends during their workouts, which will be read to them out loud. That would be really fun to have during, say, a marathon. However, I don't listen to music on my phone, so I wouldn't have my headphones plugged into it.

Runtastic's website seems to have a similar setup as far as seeing your workouts, friends, etc. but I don't think it has as many features.

I'll have to do more trials with both apps in various locations to see how it turns out. I also hope that I really am as fast as I think I am. :) Sub-10 minute miles would really be amazing!

Does anyone use/know of someone who uses a phone running app?? I'm trying to figure out if this is worth it or if I'd be better off with a garmin.

Edit to add: I managed to get my run converted to miles after all!! I can tell the 1 mile mark is later than it is on the trail. Same with the 4. As for the others, I have no clue. Obviously the 5 should come at my starting point since it's a 5 mile loop. And obviously I never ran at a 1:41 min/mile pace like it says. However.....10:18 also sounds more like my usual pace. Hmmmm.

One more edit: I just mapped the trail on, which shows it to be exactly 5 miles. So the inaccuracies are indeed with endomondo. A closer zoom-in does show where it thinks I went off the trail (trust me, I was not off running in the trees or onto runways.) However....for a free phone app, that was impressively accurate! Now I'm going to stop obsessing about it, walk away from the computer, and take a shower. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Run, Girls, Run!!

First of all - sickies are pretty much gone. I'm slightly more mucusy than usual, and there's a lingering throat tickle, but no more of that sick feeling. Thank you, zicam!!

I did circuit class Wednesday. I didn't push myself to use bigger weights than everyone else for the strength training exercises (my usual M.O., as I'm a bit of a showoff when I'm not running) and I slowed down a little on the cardio stuff, especially since I felt a bit woozy at one point. Thursday I had too long of a workday to squeeze in a run. Yesterday I took the day off. So I've been slacking a little....I call it tapering for the 10k. :)

This morning was the Girls on the Run 5k! It was a huge event. Apparently there are 53 local school/community GOTR groups. It was also freezing at 8:30 in the morning when I was supposed to be there. For whatever reason, I felt awkward wearing just tights while role-modeling for elementary school girls, so I put on a pair of workout pants from high school over the tights. (I still do not have official cold weather running pants). Wore a couple of layers of running shirts, gloves, and a headband. They told me to be there early, but there was pretty much nothing to do for a while. I saw a whole one person near my assigned school's sign, who turned out to be the father of one of the girls and had no clue who my running buddy was. God love these people, they had coffee for the adults, so I got some decaf for the sole purpose of keeping my body temperature above 40 or so. (I'd already had my coffee at home, and I was trying to avoid two possible unpleasant side effects: (a) jitteriness, and (b) speeding up of the, um, GI system.) Eventually I met the coach for my school, who was a tiny little ball of energy. I think she was the local GOTR coach who ran a 2:53 in the Chicago marathon recently.

So the coach introduced me to my buddy, a very sweet 9 year old first-timer with a heart painted on one side of her face and her name on the other. Actually, this lucky girl got two buddies, due to a volunteer surplus. We ran/walked on either side of her, per her request. At the beginning of the race, she said, "If I can survive math class, I can survive this!"

My fears of being assigned to a girl who left me in the dust were pretty much unfounded. We started out (after a very loud countdown from all participants that even had me pretty excited) at a pretty nice, easy jog. That lasted for a little bit until little buddy decided it was time to walk. We taught her the art of landmark running - picking a spot to start again, and then running to that sign or that tree or that traffic light. That worked for a while, although Little Buddy was pretty clearly a walk/runner. The other buddy was more of a pusher; I was the "oh, you don't want to run right now? OK, let's walk!" So Little Buddy pretty much had a running angel/devil on either shoulder. She had also been proclaiming her need for a drink since before the starting line. Somewhere after the first mile marker (which the other adult buddy proclaimed we crossed about 14 minutes in), Little Buddy spotted the water stop and SPRINTED away from us. We caught up with her and went back to the run/walk routine, but with a lot more walking. Big buddy tried to convince her to run more. Little Buddy responded, "I know my limits." Good thing to know, little buddy. She also taught us new strategies she had made up, such as the poodle walk (kind of a jog/prance), the swimming dog, and other dog-related running styles. I even barked while running. Little Buddy, as it turns out, wants to be a vet someday.

We got to mile 3. We were trying to persuade Little Buddy to run again. She had a strategy, she told us. First, she wanted to SEE the finish line. "And then you'll run?" asked Big Buddy. "No. Then I'll measure it, in my head, and pick a mark, and then I'll get there, and THEN my grand finale!" So when we spotted the finish line, sure enough, she picked a flagpole very very close to the finish line. "How about that pole?" asked the other Big Buddy. "No. That's NOT my mark!" Sure enough, we walked all the way to Little Buddy's flagpole and broke into a sprint for the finish line.

Little Buddy was quite hilarious throughout the race. She was shy for the first 2 minutes or so after I met her, and then she turned into a chatterbox. She's fascinated by science and history (her words!) and told me at the starting line that if we all were molecules, we'd be liquid. (If we were a gas, we'd be way far apart. If we were a solid, we'd be more scrunched together.) After the run, she told me she felt "great", and proudly proclaimed her time of 50 minutes, 34 seconds, after Big Buddy reported it to her.

Actually, it seemed like the majority of the girls ran our pace, pretty much, and they were loving it. Little Buddy said her friends at school wouldn't believe she finished a 5k. Goals....times....whatever. Those girls were happy to be out there accomplishing something that seemed so much bigger than themselves.

Isn't that why I run? To do it. To accomplish something that used to seem impossible. I promise I'll remember Little Buddy when I work toward the marathon next year. Maybe I'll even throw a poodle walk or two into my training.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Immune system, don't fail me now!

So I always brag about how since I've started running, I hardy ever get sick. The one time I can remember having a cold last winter, I can attribute it to too many flights and having to spend the night at O'Hare.

Sunday I had a great run. The training plan said 7 miles; I tackled 8. (I talked myself out of attempting 10.) My ultimate top awesome goal was to do it at a 10:30 pace - I did it in 1:21:47. Almost a 10:13 pace. My 6 mile time was 1:01 and change, so I'm well on my way to a good time for the thanksgiving 10k.

Yesterday I woke up with a sore throat. In denial, I decided to do a 6 mile run anyway (because that was the one day this week I'd have time to squeeze in a 6 mile run!) I did it in 1:06 and change (running through town and stoplights) and freaking wore myself out. All day I felt tired and brain-dead - luckily half my appointments yesterday cancelled so I could take it easy. Been overdosing on vitamin c and airborne.

This morning, it's no worse, but the sore throat was definitely still there, along with the general achiness and malaise that means yep, I'm coming down with something. On the agenda today: 50 minute tempo run. My crazy self had half a mind to go to the 5-mile airport trail and try it. My mind wanted to get out the door, my body was definitely saying eff you. So I googled "running while sick". The consensus seems to be that if your symptoms are above the neck (sore throat, runny nose, etc.) it's ok to do an easy run. NOT speedwork. Any fever means no running. I checked and I did indeed have a low-grade fever, but I was still fighting with myself over totally sitting out today. After all, I had plenty of time to run before work, and I know myself well enough to know that spending the time lying around thinking about how I don't feel well is NOT going to help. (Already had my coffee, so going back to bed was out of the question.) And maybe my temperature was high because I had hot oatmeal. Sooooo my compromise was a 5k through town, easy pace, with the promise to myself that if I felt really bad, I'd turn around. I bundled up extra well, probably ridiculously well for the temperature, but it felt good.

Sooooo glad I didn't do speedwork. The run was enjoyable but sluggish and I can tell that pushing myself would've just made it suck. Time was 34:31. The irrational part of me actually wants to be annoyed by that; the rational part of me keeps saying of COURSE you're not going to PR when you're not healthy!

Sipping on more airborne now. I need some good vibes to be better by this weekend (the Girls on the Run 5k, where I'll hopefully get to be the running buddy for an elementary aged girl, who will hopefully NOT be way faster than me!) and DEFINITELY by thanksgiving! I want so bad to run a good race that day!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

10k training, week 5

Monday: 4 miles in....crap, don't remember. 42 ish maybe?

Tuesday: 10 400m sprints. On the freaking treadmill because it was dark by the time I got around to it. I ended up randomly alternating between 2:30 fast (so a little over 400m)/2:30 slow, to actually running .25m fast and .25 slow. Anything to kill my boredom. End result: 5 miles in 52 and change.

Wednesday: circuit class.

Today: 5.5 mile run. Well, it was 5.8ish miles because I couldn't find a good 5.5 mile route. 1:07:02. Ran in rush hour so there was lots of waiting for lights to change. There were a total of 6 traffic lights one way, and I did an out and back. I didn't have to wait at ALL of them, but of course that ate up some time.

Plus I went purposely slow today. I haven't been feeling so hot lately. Maybe TMI, but my tummy has not been so happy and I can't figure out why. My best guess is stress, although I haven't been more stressed than usual. Anyway, that's also the reason for my traffic light heavy run - because as all runners eventually find out, running can also be hard on the stomach, and I planned a route that had Kroger/McDonalds/Walgreens/multiple gas stations in case I needed a restroom break. (I didn't!!!)

Ya know.....running can be a really gross sport. Between that and the snot rockets (during the freezing cold run like hell, I had snot pouring into my mouth because I couldn't keep up with my running nose), it's not for those who like to be dignified. Thankfully, I don't much care about being dignified. :)

And also - it was in the low 70's today!!! I got to run in short sleeves and shorts again, in the middle of November! Yays!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hillz - I hatez dem

I am so not a cold-weather person. I love the fall/winter holidays, I love looking at the snow (out the window), I love fireplaces and curling up in warm pajamas. I hate the very thought of being outside when it's cold, and I generally resign myself to the fact that from about November until sometime in April, I will never be completely warm.

So it's a whole new mental game with myself to get my butt out the door and running. I still enjoy running, I still want to run, and about five minutes into my run, I find the cold to be incredibly tolerable - even invigorating. But until I get to that point, it's really hard to make myself believe that voluntarily spending more time outside in 30-40 degree weather is a good idea.

I'm really annoyed that the perfect, 60 degree running weather window was so painfully short, while the heatstroke and frostbite seasons last soooo long. Welcome to Cincinnati.

So I took Thursday and Friday off from running. To be fair, I couldn't run either morning due to work, and I had to work too late on Friday to go to my usual circuit training class, so I was all off. I almost ran Thursday evening, but then it started to rain. Running in the rain AND cold? Screw that.

At least I made up for it this weekend. Yesterday I ran the 5 mile airport loop in 50:40, wearing capris, knee socks, my USAF marathon shirt, a fleece jacket, a stocking cap and gloves. I passed a woman wearing capris and a light jacket with none of the extras. Told ya I hate cold.

Today I did Hal Higdon's prescribed 6 mile run. (Actually, I inadvertantly made it a 6.2.) But I took it to the next level. Realizing that I've been running on a lot of flatness - flat trails and my flat neighborhood - and realizing also that the Thanksgiving 10k is downtown and goes over bridges, so it will NOT be flat, I decided to do some hill training. Boy did I ever. I wanted some new scenery anyway, so I went to Indian Hill. Note: if you run in a place that has Hill in the name, and everywhere you look there are streets with "hill" in the name, you will be running over lots of hills. There were some flat stretches, but the majority of my run was hills, including one that, a year and a half ago, I discovered I could not conquer on a bike without stopping to walk my bike.

Needless to say, that run was a huge challenge - a challenge that I completed in 1:06:48, including stops at 5-6 traffic lights. It probably had over twice the hills of the Flying Pig 10k (also downtown). I haven't been able to get up off the couch for the past hour.

As far as I'm concerned, my hill training for this upcoming race = complete. Now to try to peel myself off the couch and make some coffee so I can do something else with my day.

Cool thing about that route - Indian Hill is home to some of the fanciest, most expensive houses in the neighborhood. Naturally I wore my classiest running clothes to pretend like I belonged, and I had some pretty mansions to look at!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

By the way....

Here I am before the Run Like Hell. Too bad my white and pink running shoes aren't in this pic - they really brought the outfit together. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who stole my legs....

....and replaced them with faster ones????

I ran 7 miles on Sunday. It wasn't in the training plan. I just felt like it. Well, I felt like 6 and then I decided to keep going. I checked my watch at the first mile, and did a double-take. I started out at a comfy pace and figured I was doing an 11-minute mile. And I wasn't. I made an effort to slow down because I was afraid of burning out, but I didn't. I actually really really enjoyed it. Well.....look. This is what my watch said at every mile:

Mile 1: 9:36 (!)
Mile 2: 20:00
Mile 3: 30:08 (I had decided to try to do a 10 minute mile on purpose)
Mile 4: 40:16 (Not even on purpose. That was at comfy pace.)
Mile 5: 50:34
Mile 6: 1:00:20 (!!!!!!!!)
Mile 7: 1:10:36

That's right. I've shaved 4 minutes off my 6 mile time AND did another mile AND my 7 mile time beat my 10k time from May. And I wasn't even trying to run fast!

So I figured that the mile markers must be wrong, except I've run that trail before. It's a 5 mile loop, clearly marked. (Plus I added another mile out and back.) They even did 5 miles of a 10k there. Nope, I had to convince myself that that effort was ALL me.

Monday, I ran 5k in my neighborhood. 31:47, including two traffic lights.

Today, I did a 45 minute tempo run. And I ran 4 1/2 miles. I kept an almost exact 10 minute pace, and it felt awesome.

All I can figure is that maybe the cold gives me superpowers. It's been in the high 30's/low 40's in the morning (although Sunday was a little warmer.) I hate cold. I've never really ran in cold weather before. Guess I was missing out!

Tomorrow: circuit class
Thursday or Friday: I have to do a 5 mile run somewhere in there, according to my training plan, and I have two long work days. It's mildly annoying trying to squeeze something more than 3-4 miles in during the work week. But this training plan is apparently taking my speed up a few notches, so I'm not going to complain - just going to do it!

Run Like Hell recap!

Run Like Hell was great fun. The race was ridiculous and not at all a time for a PR. First of all, there was no chip timing and the crowd at the starting line was huge. Second, people were in costumes, some of them very bulky and hard to get around - like the girl who was dressed like a tv or something (I don't really know, I only saw her from the back) that was three people wide and she was stuck behind people and I was stuck behind her. Third, it was crowded - so much so that I had to walk for 5-10 seconds in the middle of the race. Fourth, only the top 50 men and women were actually timed.

Finally, the hills were RIDICULOUS!

At first, it felt like a great run. Then I realized that it felt great because we were running downhill. Then I realized that it was an out and back course, which meant that nice downhill was going to be an uphill right at the end of the race. Actually, it wasn't quite an out-and-back - we ran down the road, ran a loop around a cemetery, then back.

The cemetery was one giant steep hill that took about 5 minutes to climb. And it was dark except footlights, so for a minute I only knew we were going uphill because it FELT like uphill. Then I caught a glimpse of some people above my head. Yes, THAT steep! At the top of a hill was a truck with its headlights on, rendering me really blind, followed by a downhill so steep that I really couldn't run it for fear of falling on my face.

It was still fun. I finished at 30:51, and called my husband, who said, "You're done already??" He had heard that they shortened the course to 2.8 miles, which makes sense. I was thrilled but given the circumstances, I really couldn't believe I had set a 5k PR.

But really, the sheer ridiculousness made it fun. People were throwing a football around while running. Some guys were dressed as a basketball team and one of them was dribbling a ball. The end of the course was littered with stray costume parts, glowsticks and a large white horn. Besides feeling a little choked by my cape at the end and losing a bit of peripheral vision, it was pretty amusing running as Batman!

Plus, out-and-back races are fun because I really like seeing the winners and cheering for them as I run. It was especially fun when they were superheroes and an Oompa Loompa!!

Next year I'll bring friends and act sillier, now that I know it's not at all a race to take seriously.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10k training, week 4

Monday: 4.7ish miles. 52 minutes and change.

Tuesday: 4.5 miles. Speedwork. Couldn't stand the thought of the treadmill and the weather was so perfect for running (besides the 20 mph wind gusts), so I did intervals on the bike trail - 2.5 minute easy warmup, then 2.5 minutes hard, 2.5 minutes easy. 9 repeats. Kicked my butt in a really good way. Time: 48:13. Actually, after the warmup, I did 4 miles in 41-42 minutes, which means my hard intervals must've been pretty hard indeed.

Today: circuit class. Good stuff.

Tomorrow: rest

Friday: run like hell 5k!! NO pressure, NO time goal, all fun.

There's no long run on the training plan this week. I may throw in another 6 miler anyway, for giggles. And maybe get another deliciously amazing frozen banana treat afterwards.

I should watch this every day

This guy is my hero.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

treadmills=bad; bananas=gooooood

Thursday's attempt at a 40 minute tempo run on the treadmill: 40:38. 4 miles. I HATE TREADMILLS. I tried to run the whole thing at 6.0 (ambitious, much?) but I think I didn't have it in me, mentally, to hang with that much time on the hamster wheel. I couldn't find a comfy pace - something would work for a while, then it would feel either too fast or too slow. I sped way up at the end, which is why the end result was so close to 40.

No more tempo runs on the treadmill for me.

Friday: circuit class. Lots of strength training.

Saturday: too much to do. Didn't get time to run. I'm having shin splint issues so that's not the end of the world.

Today: 6 miles, 1:04:23. I can't believe I pulled off that time; I didn't even want to run and I wasn't feeling great, thanks to bad food and bad beverages last night. ;) I really should've brought water, since by the end of the run I felt so dehydrated that I could barely swallow. Despite all was a really good run. It (mostly) felt great. I wasn't pushing myself to go fast but I got faster anyway. That would be my fastest 6 mile run to date.

And even better - I went to Loveland to run, for a change of scenery and to check out the Saucony van at the running store up there. There is a little coffee shop right on the bike trail that sells chocolate and peanut butter dipped frozen bananas. I can't think of anything yummier and awesomer that I've ever eaten after a run, EVER.

The saucony van featured a gait analysis. My result: I overpronate. Yeah, I knew that. Surprise: the inserts in my shoes actually cause my feet to roll OUT too far, so I'm actually overcorrecting my pronation issues. Something to keep in mind for the next time I buy shoes.

This week: Run Like Hell is Friday! I mentioned it to a coworker, who said, "Oh! You know that's half uphill, right??" That confirmed my decision to throw out a time goal and just have fun with that one!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10k training, week 3

Monday: 4 mile run (44:15) plus one hour yoga class
Tuesday: 5k run (33:33) <--I thought that time was cool

More important: I enjoyed both runs. I even enjoyed the chilly weather once my butt was moving. And I DID NOT obsessively check my watch every 2 minutes like I usually do. Also, there is a cute cute cute little boy that waits for the bus down the road at about 8:30. He was pointing at me and telling his mom something. I waved at him.

Today: Off. Long work day, had to miss my usual circuit training class, and I'm fighting shin splints. Decided a break was in order.
Tomorrow: 40 minute tempo run
Friday: circuit training class
Saturday/Sunday: 6 mile run and 3 mile run, I'll choose the days depending on how I feel.

And also: husband and I after the Warrior Run:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My running must-have

Please note that I am not affiliated with this company in any way. I just think this thing is amazing.

I had a $10 off $50 purchase coupon for a local running store. I don't ever buy anything from running stores, because I am a bargain hunter, and running stores are generally not full of bargains. However, I wanted a 13.1 magnet for my car, and I decided to spoil myself with $50 worth of goods as well. Plus, I wanted something to put my phone in while running. Sometimes I'm on call at work and I've discovered that my hydration belt cushions the phone so much that I don't always feel it vibrating. Plus, the hydration belt is bulky and silly to wear when I just need my phone.

I really didn't want to spend $20 on such a tiny little thing, but OMG it's so worth it.

It's not at all bulky. It holds a lot, but when it's not holding a lot, it folds itself into a tiny little shape so it doesn't flop around. It pretty much conforms to the size of what's in it. I experimented, and it will hold my blackberry, my full set of keys (which I wouldn't even need to have with me) and a granola bar with room to spare. It will hold my big sunglasses. And when it's not holding anything, it's a neat little tiny, nonintrusive shape.

The belt is stretchy, so I can wear it around my hips and it doesn't try to pop up to my waist like my hydro belt does.

And it's CUTE. Just look how adorable:

Also adorable was the adidas long-sleeve shirt I got to round out the $50 (plus a little more.) yay!

Making this fun again

I think I figured out why I've been in a running funk lately.

It all started when I decided that I wanted to qualify for the National Half-Marathon. Ever since, I've made it my goal that I HAVE to hit that 31 minute 5k qualifying time.

The problem is, a 31 minute 5k time was not my goal. Matter of fact, as soon as I found about about the National Half, I replaced my 32:30 5k goal with 31, and instead of being happy with my 31:46 time that blew MY goal out of the water, I was disappointed. I pretty much missed the excitement that comes with a PR. Same with the most recent 31:20.

Problem 2 is that I replaced my usual goals, which I am usually happy to meet in a roundabout way, with a HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO. Take the Flying Pig 10k, for example. My goal was an 11:30 pace, which would have been 1:11:18. Instead, it was 1:11:44. I was still ecstatic. A handful of seconds didn't matter, I was right in my goal range. I took away that goal range with my eye on that 31, so that it didn't matter that I ran at a pace barely over a 10-minute-mile, which used to be an amazing feat. Anything over was NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

And that's why, for the majority of the race yesterday, I Did. Not. Have. Fun. I usually smile for cameras at races; last night, I couldn't do it. I told myself I was focused. Really, I was a little bit miserable. It wasn't torture exactly, but it wasn't fun. And that's because I was pushing myself for a time that yes, I know I can hit, but I also know that to hit it I have to pretty much be running at my 100% best that I can possibly do. That's too much pressure.

So today, I decided to nix that goal and remember why running is fun. If I forget that, I'll quit and never do it again. I ran 6 miles on the bike trail and ran at a comfy pace. It was a workout, but it wasn't at the level where I feel like I HAVE to be faster and push myself to near-keeling-over levels.

I noticed a vast difference. I didn't feel the need to check my watch every 2 minutes. (I did check to see my time at every mile, but more as an informational thing.) I didn't feel the need to continuously skip songs on my ipod, looking for something faster or more motivational or more angry. I managed to zone out and forget that I was running. I didn't have to tell myself silly things like, "If you run faster, this will be over sooner!" I noticed people and dogs and trees and leaves and I smiled and waved at people, and I noticed the people who were apparently using so much energy that they didn't have any left to smile and wave back at me.

And as a result, I feel great. That run was FUN. And you know what, my time wasn't too shabby at all - 1:05:15. (10:52 pace.) My first mile was 10:37 so I was fairly steady. No walking at all.

And I need to recognize myself a little here, because I've missed some details lately in my strongerbetterfaster quest. It wasn't that long ago - maybe 6 months or so - that I ran my first 10 minute mile, and that was because I forced myself to do it on the treadmill. When I first started running, a 13 minute mile was a comfy pace. At the beginning of the year, I could not run 5 miles at a 12 minute mile pace. A 10 minute mile used to seem seriously fast. And now...look at me. :)

I am well aware that there are people out there who don't run and then train for 3 months and run a 5k faster than I've ever ran one. I am well aware that a 10 minute mile is slow to some. I am also well aware that some people are born with natural athletic ability and a long, lean, willowy runner's build and I do not have much of either. Until I was 27, I had never ran a mile in my life - when we had to run one in gym class, I'd walk most of it. What I have to do is run for me, and stop comparing other people's times to know if I'm fast or slow or if I'm really ok. What I really have to do, and what we all have to do regardless of athleticism or speed or shape or size, is get out there and do it and enjoy it. The speed will come in time - I know this because it has.

So this is a reminder to myself: no more forcing goals upon myself that aren't mine. No more trying to force myself to go so fast that I'm not having fun and am making my body do more than it's ready to do and hurt in ways that aren't pleasant. I have enough stress in my life that running needs to be my NON stressful thing. If I qualify for some race, awesome. If not, there are plenty of other ones that I can enter anyway.

Two other things I want to do to remind myself that running is fun: run in the Run Like Hell, in costume, with other people in costume, and laugh at everyone's costumes and enjoy it and forget about the time. Also, I'm trying to volunteer for Girls on the Run as a running buddy for an elementary-aged girl running in a 5k - to run with her and cheer her on. I'm enormously excited about these two things. Will keep you all posted.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Warrior Run 5k - 31:22

Not good news:
  • Still did not hit that 31:00 goal of mine. That is driving me crazy.
  • Had some weird moments. Somewhere in the middle of the race, I was thinking "This just is not fun." Two minutes in, I was feeling tired. I couldn't figure out what the heck was wrong with me but I managed to make myself keep going.
The ungood news can probably be explained in part by the fact that I went out and had a few drinks last night and then did not sleep well. I was debating a nap in the afternoon but didn't take one. I felt a little dehydrated before the race even started. The race was at 5pm when I'm used to running in the morning.
    Good news (and there's way more of this variety):
    • I hit another PR!
    • I have gotten faster every race I run.
    • The crowd support was really awesome. It was a pretty small race, so there weren't giant throngs of people, but the people who were there were cheering for EVERYONE rather than waiting for the ones they knew. Special props for being supportive go to:
      • The elderly man with a dog who smiled and waved at me like he knew me. I told him he had a cute dog. (He did.)
      • The woman toward the end who, even though I was running with nobody around me at all, cheered for me anyway. (I totally tend to do this in races. I guess I truly do run at my own pace.)
      • The adorable kids who stood in the middle of the road and were so excited to give high-fives. I told them thank you.
    • My splits were more even than they have been, I think, ever. I was able to run at a much more steady pace. This is good. I put effort into making this happen. Still not negative splits by far, but it's a start.
    • I came in 37th out of 65 - so in the middle. This is totally cool with me.
    • Very successful test drive of the new capris from Target, where I don't have to go into debt to buy decent running clothes.
    • Also successful test drive #2 of my spibelt. Seriously, this thing is AMAZING. It held my blackberry and chapstick and I forgot that it was there. (And after the race, I shoved two cliff bars into it with room to spare.)
    • Running it with my husband. :) I like sharing these experiences with him, and I love it when I can talk him into running with me!
    • It was for a good cause - a teen suicide prevention program at Children's Hospital.

    mile 1: 9:50
    mile 2: 10:15
    mile 3: 10:22

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    10k training plan, week 2

    Hal Higdon's intermediate 10k plan, with my adjustments:

    Monday: Running too late to run 3 miles before yoga class, so I ran 1.8 miles before and 1.2 miles afterward. I ran the .8 mile bike path that runs near the gym, ran back, and ran the .2 miles to my car too. :) I was just over a 10 minute pace on the bike path (for a bike path, it's hilly!) but the downhill to my car put me in at 17 and change. Then after yoga, I did a .2 warmup jog and then ran a mile on the track as fast as I could. That was 9:42, not bad considering an hour long yoga class can be tiring.

    Tuesday: Did speedwork on the treadmill - 8 run/jog .25 mile intervals. Started out WAY too fast. As it turns out, I can do three sprints at 7.5 mph and then I feel like keeling over. Had to walk a couple of times. Did 4 miles in 41:40.

    A note here, maybe some fellow runners can help me out: I don't get this part of the training plan. You're supposed to do 400m sprints at your 5k pace. How is this helpful? Shouldn't I be running, I dunno, 5k at 5k pace? It seems to me that if you're trying to get faster and you're only running 400m intervals, they should be faster than your 5k pace. OK, so maybe not a minute and a half faster like I tried, but still.

    Wednesday: Circuit training class. Lots of weights.

    Thursday (just now): 5k run. Tried to keep it comfortable but pushed a little, maybe a 7/10 effort. 32:52. Not bad at all when you account for the traffic light I got stuck at twice. (Impossible to run in this area without stopping at that light, especially during morning rush hour.)

    Tomorrow: Taking a break.

    Saturday: Warrior Run 5k. I tried to drive the route but couldn't figure it out due to the weirdness of the roads in Mariemont. But I do know it's pretty and FLAT FLAT FLAT! I've ran part of it during long runs and I love running in Mariemont. That's why I signed up for this one. The weather is supposed to be in the low 60's. If there was ever a day for a PR, this will be it!!

    Sunday: 5-6 mile easy run.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    musica and airplanes

    Nice 5 mile run today...even though it was about 80 degrees by the time I was done with it. (WTF, October??) Farthest run I've done in a month. I downloaded an hour's worth of new music for my ipod - everything from 90's metal to Usher. Some of the highlights:

    -In the middle of the new stuff was Rammstein "Du Hast", Rage Against the Machine "Bulls on Parade" and Static X "Push It". How did I not realize that these are some of the best running songs ever invented? They pushed me on right smack in the middle of my run. YES.

    -I can't decide if "We No Speak Americano" (by Yolanda B Cool and DCup) is good for inducing a trance-like state while running or just annoying as all get out.

    -The new Usher song ("DJ Got Us Falling in Love") is another winner for the running playlist. My husband will give me crap if he reads this. Yep, I do indeed listen to cheesy top 40 rap/r&b while I run.

    -Nelly "Number One" is another one I had forgotten about. How can you hear the line "What does it take to be number one?" while running and not push on?

    I'm quite fond of my eclectic running playlist, which is now 10.3 hours long with plenty of room still left on the shuffle. It's everything from Otis Redding to Elvis Costello to Cyndi Lauper to Marilyn Manson to Rhianna to Flo Rida.

    So I had fun new music, and I ran the Lunken Airport loop so I was entertained by planes and helicopters taking off and landing, trees changing color, and a 10k race that happened to be going on at the same time. Run time: 54:48. Not shabby - still teetering on the edge of the pace I want. I'll get there!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Running does weird things to my brain

    How the heck can I run (for the most part) 13.1 miles, but then have days like today, where I seriously feel like a 3 mile run might kill me?

    I have two 3 mile routes I regularly run in my neighborhood. (One's a 3.1) They both entail running down the main road, turning down another road, running to the end and then turning and coming back. For some reason, when I'm running to the end of road #2, it feels like I'm NEVER going to get there. The way back feels muchmuchmuch faster, even when it's not faster at all.

    And WHY did my hairline hurt again today? I mean, the back of my neck where my hairline is. It hurt again. No headband, no tight ponytail. Actually, the right side of my body hated me today - right side of my hairline, right arm went numb, right ankle hurt. Right knee hurt a bit too, but that's a welcome break because the right knee actually is the bad one, so it's allowed to hurt. I'm in need of a major chiropractic adjustment maybe?? I'm not running crooked....not that I'm aware of.....

    Today I think I was just mentally drained. It tends to happen toward the end of the week, and I've been working a lot. I really didn't feel like doing a single thing today, but I made myself run and I made myself go to work. I keep reminding myself that this feeling is temporary. When I feel like I hate my job, it doesn't last. I really do like my job. And when I feel like I hate running, it never lasts. In a couple of days I'll feel good about it again. It just kinda sucks when I don't get that nice feeling of stress relief like I do after a good running break.

    The good thing, though: if the run doesn't feel invigorating, the shower afterwards sure as heck always does.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    10k plan, week one, days 1-2

    So yesterday I decided to combine yoga class with my 35 minute tempo run for the week. Since I haven't found a consistent definition of what a tempo run is, I picked my favorite - a timed run at a "comfortably hard" pace - about an 8 out of 10. I ran it on the nice, smooth track at the gym since I always feel like I'm flying - partially because it's flat, partially because there are usually a lot of walkers and slow joggers on it and I pass them all. Muahahahaha!

    My 35 minute run turned into a 34 minute run. Seriously. I couldn't even make myself do one more minute. I had already done 17 laps (@.2 miles - so 3.4 miles) and another lap seemed unbearable. For one thing, I was bored. I was sick of looking at the same scenery. And I was worn out. Maybe I didn't eat enough yesterday, maybe I was mentally drained (this is why I usually run in the morning, before work has had a chance to suck my brain cells dry), maybe it was a bad idea to push myself the day after a race. I had myself convinced that a 5k is nothing after I've done a half, but if you really push yourself to do a fast (for you) 5k, yeah, it will still wear you down a bit.

    Although that variety of wearing down is nothing like how I felt after the half, when I collapsed on my bed and decided I wouldn't be capable of running again until nid-2011 at least.

    Plus, by that point, my neck hurt. My hairline hurt. It hurt pretty bad, actually. I don't even know how that happens. My best guess, and I don't even think it's accurate, is that maybe I was clenching my jaw without realizing it.

    But, I recovered enough to survive yoga class, even though I didn't push myself too hard. I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much my flexibility and balance have improved.

    I almost considered not running today, but I did anyway. Force of habit. But this time, I was determined to make it an easy run. I needed that. It was fun. The sun was coming up, it was chilly without being too chilly, and it felt good without feeling like I may kill myself. Plus, I kept it at an even pace. One of my goals is to whittle down my positive splits (what happens when you start a race way faster than you can finish it - I do this very well.) So I checked my watch once, at the halfway point of my 3.1 today. 17 minutes. When I was done, I checked it again. 34:04. Perfect. I'm starting to remember again that this is FUN. This is not meant for me to push myself to my limit every day and hate every step and swear under my breath.

    The running capri things I got at Target were a great buy. They're cool in the heat, warm in the cold. They're tight but I had my husband reassure me that my butt doesn't jiggle when I run in them.

    Tomorrow: either go to circuit training class, or, if I have an early meeting like I think I do, I'll make it a rest day. I already ran 3 days in a row and I think 4 is pushing it. Plus I gave blood today - resting wouldn't kill me.

    Oh yeah, this morning, post-run, I weighed myself and....dun dun high school weight magically popped up on the scale!! I think I may have been a little dehydrated, but regardless, that's a number I haven't seen in years. Oh yes. This is good stuff.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010


    Ran the 5k my work sponsored today. Final time: 31:46. PR. Not too shabby considering there were a few hills, and it was my first time running in the cold since last winter. It was CHILLY. I felt good by the end but in the beginning my lungs were burning. One coworker beat me, but she's got way more miles under her belt than I do. We were running together for a while but I was painfully aware that I was breathing too heavy to keep that pace for too long, so when she got ahead of me, I let her. I was not quite a minute behind her. She was the first place female. Did I mention this was a pretty small race???

    My first mile was 9:42 - first sub-10 minute mile I've ever done in a race. So there's a small victory.

    I feel good about the PR. That was a pretty good time for me. I'm a little bummed, though, that I'm still out of qualifying range for that silly half in DC. I'd almost rather a qualifying time be way out of reach (like the Boston Marathon) than to be close enough to it that my somewhat-OCD self is now obsessed with hitting that 31:00 time. I'm seriously considering signing up for a 5k in two weeks and another in 4 weeks. 4 weeks would give me more time to improve, and that's actually when I SHOULD run a 5k, according to Hal Higdon's 10k training plan (which it's time to start now, to prep for the thanksgiving 10k.) But I wanna do the one in two weeks, too, because it's only a few miles from my house and it's on a route that I've partially ran before, so I know it's pretty and flat.

    The one in 4 weeks is the Run Like Hell. People run it in costume. I think my old batman costume would work for running, except the cape may be a bit cumbersome.

    Also, I think having some idea where I was on the course (besides the mile markers) would have helped. I hate not being able to recognize exactly how far I have to go. That's when it starts feeling like I have to run FOREVER and I start slowing down. Oh, the mental blocks I have to get past....

    At least now I'm figuring that next year I should be running 5k's in the 20's. HIGH 20's, but who cares. :) A year and change ago, my 5k time was a whole 7 minutes slower. (So in 2 years, I can run an 18 minute 5k, right?? Hahaha.)

    Also, maybe one more run this week would've helped. (See? I'm obsessing!) I ran Monday and Tuesday, both times I ran 3 miles in less than 30 (but once was on the track at my gym, so perfect temperature, perfectly flat surface); I wanted to run Wednesday and/or Thursday but I worked 9-10 hours both days and I was fighting a migraine, so no running.

    Maybe by tomorrow my brain will have stopped its silliness and will just be happy that I set a PR. Then I'll figure out which race(s) to sign up for next!

    Edit to add: Oh yeah. Splits.
    Mile 1: 9:42
    Mile 2: 10:53 (? - seems odd - markers might have been off, or it may have been the hill in there)
    Mile 3: 10:15

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    back in the game

    Ran today for the first time since the half. My knee was surprisingly tolerant. It made its presence known a couple of times, but not in a painful way. It was my right ankle that hurt more than anything. Seriously, something's always complaining. I can't remember when I last ran completely pain-free. I probably would be doing something wrong if I did.

    5k in 34:45. Not bad, considering it's hotter than I thought. I was chilly standing outside in jeans and a tank top, but when you're running with the sun beating on you, you might as well add 30 degrees. Plus, had to wait for a traffic light twice, and walked for a couple of minutes to make sure the husband was ok. Subtract those things, and maybe I'm right around my 30-31 minute goal. Maybe.

    My employer is sponsoring the 5k I'm running next weekend, which means all my coworkers will be there, which means I would like to run it really well. I'm unnecessarily nervous about that.

    Plus, last night I was searching for springtime half marathons. I'd really like to try my next half in the spring, when I should be in the middle of training for the full. I feel like anything else would be too close to the Air Force half for me to have time to improve much. I found the National Marathon in DC in March. It would be perfect timing, but you have to qualify, even for the half. I'm SO close. You can qualify with a half time of 2:30, a 10k time of 1:05, or a 5k time of 31. Haven't hit any of those yet, but I've still got the 5k and the 10k this year. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, and I have no idea if I could even swing a trip to DC (although I'd love to run in DC), but now I'm strangely obsessed with being able to qualify, especially since the times are SO reachable for where I'm at right now...but it's still a challenge. Still times I haven't hit yet!

    I stink now. Shower time. Felt (mostly) good to run again!

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Why the heck would I do this to myself

    Why I run:
    • I love to be outside.
    • I love to feel fast. In my mind, if I'm moving faster than I do when I'm walking, I'm fast.
    • When something is stressing me out, sometimes running is the only way to get it off my mind. When I'm running, I'm incapable of stressing about anything except running.
    • It's a very quick way to get the satisfaction and the high that comes from setting goals and achieving them. Any time I run farther than I've run before, whether it's 1 mile or .1 mile, that's an achievement. Every second off my fastest time for any given distance is an achievement. Not falling on my face (yes, I have) is an achievement. Finishing a run better than I felt when I started is an achievement.
    • Non-runners tend to be amazed by runners. Sure, there are a lot of runners out there. There are also a lot of people who would swear they're near death after running a mile. It's fun to do something that not everyone can do (although most people, barring injury, could become runners. Hint hint.) Probably part of the reason people run crazy distances - because they can. And not everyone can.
    • Runners are supportive of each other. For such an individual sport, the camaraderie is fantastic. Granted, I'm not sure it's that way out in front where people are competing for first. I've seen examples of people being crappy to slower people (maybe I'll blog about that later). But by and large, in the middle of the pack where I live, people are out to achieve their own goals and they embrace the fact that others are doing the same thing. Even in a race, when I'm running in a huge group of people, I feel like we have the same goal. It's not to beat each other, it's to get to the end. Every time I see someone out running, the runner in me says, "Aww yeah. That's right."
    • Because I'm 30 pounds lighter than I was just over a year ago.
    • Because my cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart rate are lower than they've been in a long time.
    • Because it's pretty much a guaranteed cure for any funky mood I happen to find myself in.
    • Because it uses every muscle in my body. Don't think you use your abs to run? Start doing some ab workouts (yoga is fantastic) and see what happens to your speed and how you feel when you run. (I know, I'm still slow...but not nearly as slow. Haha!)
    • Because you can race, regardless of your skill level. If you're not one of the really fast people, there's zero pressure to win. That silly "it's not whether you win or lose" cliche actually is true for most runners.
    • Because I want to someday be one of those 70-something year olds who still runs.
    • Because you never know when you'll have to chase someone or be chased. Be prepared!
    • Because I swear I can think more clearly after a run.
    • Because the endorphins do all kinds of amazing things to your brain chemistry. Look it up!
    • Because I totally can!

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    USAF half recap - the journey to 13.1

    I know this is long. You don't have to read it. But if you want to know what it feels like to finish your first half marathon, keep going....

    My husband woke up the morning of the half marathon before me, and before the alarm. I can't stress how weird this is. It's the only time I can think of that it's happened. Good thing, though - it gives us plenty of time to stop at Panera for breakfast (I really wanted Starbucks oatmeal, but we couldn't find one - but as it turns out, the power sandwich, coffee, and three aleve is a good pre-run breakfast), navigate traffic, park, and get to the starting line with time to spare, thus saving me from one of the freak-outs that happens when I'm pressed for time. I joke with him that we're pretty much doing a full marathon, when you count the distance we have to walk from our parking space. Holy crap.

    We find our place near the 2:15-2:45 finish time sign. We wish each other luck. I look around at everyone else's personalized bibs - it's great fun for me to know everyone's names - and mention my nerves about 50 thousand times. Military planes fly over us, and then a huge bang makes me jump. It takes a good minute before I realize that's the starting pistol. We walk toward the start with the rest of the crowd...and we stop walking. I wonder out loud if that really was the starting pistol, and then we walk again. We cross the start line almost 5 minutes after the race started.....and we're running!

    Mile 1: I settle pretty quickly and happily into a comfortable pace. Husband is right with me. Due to the size of the crowd, we separate a few times and then find each other again. A soldier in camo is running with a huge pack on his back. Someone asks him how much it weighs - 90 lbs. I think to myself that there is no. frigging. way. I could ever do that. We go under a bridge and I lose my husband somewhere behind me. I look back a few times and don't see him. We made an agreement that we would both go at our own pace, whether together or separately. I was hoping we could hang for at least a mile, but no. There's a hydration station and I break my own rule of stopping at all of them - come on, this one's not even a mile in.

    Mile 2-5: I'm in my happy place. I keep thinking how much fun this is. The scenery is pretty, there's a rock band at one point, and I amaze myself by managing almost exact 11 minute miles. This is amazing because just over a year ago, I ran my first 5k. I ran the first mile in 11:06. That was the fastest mile I'd ever ran at that point, and I could only do one at that speed. Now I bust out five in a row, and that's my comfy pace. (My official 5 mile time turns out to be 55:10.) I tell myself that if nothing else, I am totally proud of that. I walk at the hydration stations long enough to down a cup of gatorade, since I have yet to master the art of drinking while running without at best showering myself, and at worst, getting that painful stomach bubble that comes when you gulp down too much liquid. My plan was a 1-2 minute walk break at every mile, but I feel way too good for that. I run right on pace with members of the 2:30 pace team and even catch up to the 2:20 team for a while.

    I distract myself from the fact that I'm running by being a comedian. When we pass mile marker 19 for the full marathon, maybe 2 miles in, I yell "Holy ****, we just ran 19 miles!" People laugh. I had pinned a homemade patch to the back of my shirt that said "13.1 Virgin!" I'm glad I did; people comment on it and offer high-fives. A fellow first-timer strikes up a conversation with me close to the 5 mile point. I forget that I'm not at all used to running and talking, and, yes, I tend to use a lot of air when I talk. I start hyperventilating and have to walk for a minute. My conversation partner apologizes profusely. I catch back up to her to give her a thumbs up, and she pulls ahead of me. At the 5 mile mark, I become aware that maybe I'm pushing myself harder than I should be pushed, and take a walk break to regroup, drink more gatorade, and suck down the gel packet I had in the tiny pocket of my pants.

    (Note: Where are all the affordable women's workout clothes that have decent pockets???)

    Mile 6: My walk break lasts until the end of "Lovegame", however long that is. Thanks for the motivation, Lady Gaga. Two middle-aged gentlemen comment on my virgin status, and tell me I'm going to hit a PR that day. Haha. I ask the one guy how many races he's done, and he tells me 13-14, and that at each one, he learns something about himself. I wonder what I have to learn today. I hit the mile marker at 1:11 and change. This is significant for two reasons: (a) my first attempt to run 5 miles, back toward the beginning of this year, took me 1:11. (b) My 10k time in May was 1:11. Also, my real time, based on when we crossed the start line, would actually be around 1:06. So, 4 months later, not only am I beating my 10k pace, I'm doing it as my half marathon pace. YES.

    Sometime after this, my issue-ridden left knee rears its ugly head. It feels like someone is stabbing the side of it. In my delusionally positive mind, I imagine that the little stabs are injections of painkiller and tell myself that my knee is about to feel just fine.

    Seriously - I tell myself whatever it takes to just freaking keep running.

    Miles 7-9: I hit mile 7 and I'm feeling a bit sluggish. My knee is starting to feel like a balloon. I pull back and tell myself that I'm going to do the next two miles at a nice jogging pace. I don't know that I slowed too much, but that mentality made it much easier. People ask how I'm doing. I respond that I think I'm still running. I hold up metal fingers for a rock band playing. Somewhere around 8 or 9, I forget, there is a FREAKING HILL. Flat and fast, the website said. I manage to run - not walk - up it. I'm proud of myself. My knee buckles once or twice. I have an entire conversation with it in my head, telling myself that it's not going to win today.

    Miles 10-12: I hurt. The sun is now out and it's baking me. I decide this is ridiculous. I think this is the hardest thing I've done in my whole life ever. My "one more mile" mentality turns into "until the next water station" and then "until that stop sign just down the road". I thought that once I got to mile 10, it would be easy, because then there's only a 5k to go and I run 5k all the time. When I see the 10, all I can think is "I can't believe I have to run THREE MORE MILES." There are mile markers for the full marathon and I get mad because they're not MY mile markers. I consider stopping to stretch, like some are doing, and I'm worried that it will make my knee worse. I consider stopping at a med tent and I'm afraid they'll make me stop running. If I stop moving, I'm done. I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    There are good moments that keep me from completely losing my mind. I hear a "pace team, coming through" behind me and I get a sinking feeling as I think the 2:30 team is passing me. Instead, it's the 8:27 mile team for the full marathon. I think that I can maybe run ONE mile in 8:27, and then collapse, and that's on a good day. "Good job, first timer," says one of the fast people. Some of the 2:30 pace people pass me while I'm taking one of my now-more-frequent walk breaks, and comment on my patch. I tell them to be gentle, it's my first time. One of the hydration stations has a revenge of the nerds theme, and everyone handing out water and gatorade is dressed like a nerd. A middle-aged guy in a beanie and bow tie is making ridiculous arm gestures and yelling "Push! Push!" I crack up. He tells me to keep smiling. Members of the 2:20 pace team are now behind some of the 2:30 people and I just hope that I'm still within reach of my 2:30 goal.

    Mile 13: I hit mile 12 and tell myself no more walking. I don't even realize that I'm now officially running farther than I've ever ran before. I manage to make myself run until the end of each song I'm listening to, and then tell myself one more song. There's a final water stop, and I wonder why it's so close to the end, but I'm parched so I stop. I've had gatorade at every one, and now the thought of gatorade makes me want to throw up, so I grab a water. The men I was talking to somewhere around mile 6 come up to me out of nowhere and tell me that we're almost there. We're on base now, but I'm so disoriented that I have no idea where the finish line is from here. Then, out of nowhere, is the big number 13. "No effing way," I say out loud, and then the sign blurs as my eyes fill with tears. I'm actually going to finish this.

    .1: That was the longest 1/10 mile I've ran EVER. People are cheering like crazy, and they're all happy, so I resist the urge to yell "Where the **** is the finish line?!" We round a corner and I finally see the balloon arch. My legs don't want to work anymore, but how ridiculous would it be if I walked NOW? I turned my ipod off to listen to the crowd, and I hear a little voice somewhere yelling "Go mommy, go mommy, go mommy!" at someone. At some point, the finish line feels reachable, and without meaning to, I break into a sprint. I feel like a freight train, even though I probably looked ridiculous. I'm a little disappointed to see the time, but as soon as I cross the finish line, I start jumping up and down. When I reach a serviceman with the medals, I reach out to take it from him, and instead he holds it above my head to put it on for me. More tears.

    My husband, who hadn't even trained, crossed the finish line a mere 24 minutes after I did. When I saw him, I was almost as excited as I had been when I crossed it myself. We recapped the race together and compared owie knees. We didn't even remember to get a picture together.

    So now I can officially call myself a half marathon runner. I need to work on making those middle miles more doable - probably by controlling my pace better early on - but overall, I wouldn't change the experience a bit (except maybe making my knee not suck.) Knee aside, though, it pretty much rocked. :)

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    A summary

    My running history:

    I actually did try running a few times. I tried it in high school, when I was trying to condition myself for basketball - back when I was attempting to play basketball. Shin splints and a vicious uncontained min-pin were my demise.

    I tried the couch to 5k plan when I was 24. Again, the shin splints caused me to give up.

    I started running for real in 2008 when I was 26, almost 27. My boyfriend (now husband) and I did the couch to 5k together. Since we lived an hour apart, we did most of the runs on our own, but my tendency to be fiercely competitive with him actually motivated me to finish the whole 9-week plan. If I knew he ran that day, then I was absolutely going to run too. That was when I learned that I could run through shin splints, and also that real running shoes from a real running store (as opposed to $10 bargain bin tennis shoes) made a difference.

    That fall, I dealt with two sinus infections in a row, moving, and finishing a masters degree. Running went on the backburner for a while and I put on a few pounds.

    Early in 2009, I decided to start running again. I could run a little over a mile without stopping. I made my way up to a (slow) 5k that summer and regularly ran 2-3 miles at a time.

    In 2010, I decided to sign up for a 10k and ramp up the running. Thanks to Hal Higdon's intermediate 5k plan (which I chose because it was actually MORE running than his novice 10k plan), I took both my speed and distance up a few notches. While the Flying Pig 10k was a fantastic experience, I kept hearing all the fuss about the marathon, and then found out that a friend was running in it. I realized at that point that a marathon was actually an achievable goal for a recreational runner, and promised myself that if the 10k was a good experience, I'd sign up for a half. Long story short, the 10k was so. much. fun.

    I ran my first half yesterday. I'm sore, I'm fighting with my knee, I sacrificed a toenail and I had four new blisters at last count. And I can't wait for the next race....

    This blog is going to be my place for inspiration, thoughts about running, and to track my training/racing progress. I think it'll be beneficial for me, and for those of you who want to watch, feel free to follow!

    Soon to come: recaps of races I've done, positive running thoughts, words of wisdom/encouragement, etc....