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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 accomplishments

733 miles ran.

Short of my goal of 1,000, but I would've totally hit that number had I not had the INJURY. I only ran 12 miles in March, none in April, and 28 in May - a little ironic since I was supposed to BEGIN May with 26.2. Between the time off, the slow comeback, and the numerous smaller injuries (no caps needed), I'm proud of 733.

16 races.

New PR's for every distance.

A sub-30 5k.

A sub-60 10k.

Took close to 20 minutes off my 13.1 time.

RAN an entire 13.1.

That one seemed impossible a year ago, but I ran two half marathons with no walking. Not only that, I actually RAN the first 21 miles of the 26.2.

First venture into triathlons - which, btw, I've thought about doing since 2009 but got too wrapped up in running to bother cross-training much. Doing tris was NOT a goal for the year - which is why I'm actually thankful for the injury. Without it, a tri would still probably be on my bucket list.

First sprint AND Oly distance tri. And now I'm signed up for an ironman, which was not in my wildest dreams a year ago.

Went from a typical "10 and change" pace to doing long runs under 10.

Became a stronger, smarter, more confident, more consistent runner. (And ATHLETE, come to think of it, though I've got a ways to go in the pool.)

Swam a mile (and then some) for the first time ever.

Biked a metric century (63 miles).

Overcame (sorta) my fear of open water.

I can run on hills without dying. I avoided them like the PLAGUE until this past January.

Oh, umm, don't forget I RAN A MARATHON YA'LL!!!

...and I did it at a faster pace than I'd done my first 13.1 a year beforehand.

And I did it all despite injuries. I'm thrilled with my 2011. 2012 will be even more kickass.

(2012 goals/plan to come....)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I can't watch this without crying

This is super inspirational! I'm kind of yanking someone's story here....but I felt that I had to share it.

A woman shared her IM story on the Beginner Triathlete forums. She did Ironman Florida with a knee injury (doc ok'd her to walk the run portion). She posted about how it felt to push as hard as she could to make the 17 hour cutoff, but I think her finisher video speaks volumes.

Grab the tissues, then click here.

race report - Reindeer Romp 10k

Yep, I quit doing the week in review posts. I promise I'll start them up again, but I've been insanely busy. SO MUCH TO DO before Christmas!! Thank God, I have next week off from work to get some stuff done (including finally figuring out my ironman training plan!). I've still had time to keep up with training decently well, just not enough time to blog about it. And, well, if I have to sacrifice one in the interest of time, it should be the blogging. :)

Anyway, on to the race....

First of all, I highly recommend this race. It was only $25, and that included a long-sleeve tech shirt (that is adorable and obnoxiously green) AND a pancake breakfast after the run! Pancakes, bacon, sausage, ham, coffee....awesome. It was small, 83 people total, and it was far enough away from the city to have a friendly, small-town feel to it. It reminded me a lot of the Fall Freedom Dual - other runners and staff were all happy, friendly, and supportive.

It was COLD. Not really cold for a Cincinnati winter, but the coldest it's been all year thus far, and I'm not used to it. At. All. The forecast had called for low 20's, which in my head didn't sound cold. I was wearing tights, a mockneck, a lightweight long-sleeve shirt, gloves, and my new moving comfort hat that I am totally stoked about because it has a ponytail hole!!! Usually, hats mean I'm forced to wear my hair in pigtails because I can't STAND having hair against my neck when I run. This way, I had my hair off my neck and out of my way and I was pretty happy about that. with that getup, in the low 20's ("feels like 18" said the weather channel's website), I was FREEZING. I went to the registration tent to get my shirt and number and I realized that my booty was shaking hardcore, involuntarily. Yep, I had butt shivers. The shirts were GIANT and they gave me an xs even though I signed up for a small. That is insane. I'm not a large woman by any means but I'm a solid medium in normal clothes. I felt bad for the girls out there who were built like tiny little runners!

Thank God we were allowed to wait inside. I found some people to chat with, the sun was shining, and as long as I could warm up during the race, I felt pretty good. They didn't have a timing mat at the beginning but I didn't care so much; with the small crowd it didn't make a difference.

I started off too fast. I had turned off the pace indicator on my Garmin so I didn't get all OCD about it, but in retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea to have it. Let me clarify something: I don't get swept up in the crowd. I'm not competitive - I'm really not. I don't care if people pass me. I'm happiest in a race when I'm running pretty much solo. BUT having people ahead of me and behind me and around me really throws off my sense of how fast or not fast I'm going. I thought I was going pretty slow and easy, and when my Garmin chirped it said 9:05. Crap.

That is a tie (along with Warrior Dash 5k) for the fastest mile I've ever ran in a race.

So I tried to slow down, although it was really fun seeing the miles fly by and seeing that the time was way lower than I anticipated it would be. I talked to an older guy and told him I wanted a sub-60. He said I was well on my way to a 55-57 and not to let an old guy beat me. I told him old guys beat me all the time. When he started to pull ahead, I held myself back. I was having trouble getting words out anyway. The next mile was a little slower.

Then....wall. Yucky no fun race time. I was not happy when I was seeing 9:50-something splits, but I was doing about all I could. There were some ice spots, but some nice volunteers pointing them out. For a while, I was totally solo on a bike path, no people in sight, and that was when I was at my happiest. Maybe I really am a lone ranger runner at heart.

We had to go out and back on the bike path. A guy in a reindeer costume was one of the fastest people and that made me smile. I saw the older guy pretty soon before I had to turn around and he told me I was still on pace.

I hit 5 miles. Even though I had only had distance and time on the Garmin, I was still calculating like mad how much time I had and how fast I had to run and how much time to allow for going a little longer than 6.2 - starting at mile 2, the course markers had been .3 miles or so off. I had hit mile 2 at a hair shy of 19 (according to the guy with the stopwatch) so I was still good with that, but I knew I was slowing down with each one.

So at 5 miles, I knew I had to pretty much give it all I had if I wanted that sub-60. I had no chance to relax. There was a woman ahead of me who I'd slowly been catching up to; I used her as motivation and passed her and tried to put as much distance between us as I could, just to give myself more reason to speed up. I saw the people in front of me zigzagging back to the finish line and they were above me. Crap, there's a hill. I did NOT want a hill of any sort, but it really wasn't bad.

Nobody ahead of me. Nobody behind me. Just me. I hit mile 6 at 57 something on my Garmin, but not quite at the mile marker. I stopped my ipod ("Demon Speeding" - my final kick song) so I could hear the girl at the mile marker reading off my time as I passed her. 58 even. I went all out. I thought I might puke. The guy from earlier had finished and was jogging back. He told me I did it as he ran toward the finish line with me. The clock said 59:40-something. And the timing mat.....where was the mat???? I yelled it out loud. I kept flying by the clock and kept running until a volunteer stopped me and asked for my chip (attached to the bib.) I took it off, doubled over, spitting and drooling and nose running everywhere and tried to ask him where the chip timing stopped. Obviously I made no sense, since the guy answered, "Umm...water's over there." I took a deep breath and tried again, and he told me the sensors were mounted right by the clock. I MADE IT!!! I had to have come in under 60!

I also realized after a minute that my face was FREEZING. That was why I was having so much trouble talking. My jaw felt almost anchored in place.

They gave out awards at the pancake breakfast. I found out my official time - 59:50 - because I freaking came in first in my age group! That was a nice surprise. I got a medal that not everyone else got. :)

So all in all, the race went awesome. However.....I'm really wondering why my training run 1 week prior was a hair faster and felt way easier. This was WAY harder, effort-wise. But...this tends to happen to me during shorter races. Who knows?

Race stats:

Time: 59:50 (9:39 pace)
1/5 age group (F 30-34)
16/46 females
48/83 overall

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I got my vindication. And my new 10k PR. And my sub-60. And an age group win.


Recap to come.

That adorable medal is a WINNER'S medal, not a finisher's medal, ya'll!
PS - Baby, it's effing cold outside!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I get by with a little support....

I didn't mention this, but I got a "jumper's knee" strap the other day. I have a bulky neoprene brace left over from my roller derby days (torn PCL) and I ran in it the other day. It helped, but it was obnoxiously large and cumbersome. I had been reading up on knee injuries and somebody recommended one of those little strap dealies. I've seen people running in them and I couldn't imagine how something that small could do any good (that's what she said), but the more I read, the more people swore by them.

$13.99 at Walgreens later, and holy crap, that thing is amazing. It really is supportive and stabilizing.

...and it doesn't cover the ink!!!

Now my knee is starting to feel a little less like Jackie Chan kicked it. This is good.

I added it to my collection. I realized the other day that I am adding on to a ridiculous amount of injury support gear:

-ankle brace (around here somewhere - from spraining my ankle playing softball in high school. And before you think I'm some athlete or something, I got cut from the school team. This was church league.)

-wrist brace (tendonitis in my waitressing days)

-two knee braces - the generic one and a fancy one, from the derby injury. Luckily that particular tear is an impact injury so it doesn't have nearly as much to do with running as other knee injuries.

-two finger splints - one day, one night (PS - the finger is STILL too swollen to wear my rings on it. I was told it can take several months for the swelling to go down. I got upwards of 95% of my range of motion back in it, though.)

-compression sleeves, if those count

-calf brace from the latest injury

Not to mention that I am never without icy hot, kt tape, aleve, a foam roller, the stick, and a frozen water bottle for rolling around on owie body parts.

Ah, the life of an injury-prone runner....


I just had one of those runs that reminds me why I run. It was freaking amazing.

I've been babying the knee since the 10k - I was in a world of pain the day after - but I ran on it a couple of times this week and it's been largely ok. More importantly, it's improved when I'm NOT running, which is the real test - the endorphin release during the run can mask a lot of pain, but I've had injuries where I can barely walk a few hours later. So I decided to do a longer run today, but nothing too crazy. (There was a 10 mile group run this morning and the 7 hills run - which is a crazy 12ish miler on some of the biggest hills in Cincy - tomorrow. Neither seemed like a good idea.)

The plan I came up with: run for an hour, at a comfy pace. I took the pace indicator off my Garmin, so all I could see were distance and time. No worries, no obsessing, be happy with whatever my pace may be. I went to a park with a 2ish mile loop so that if the knee wanted me to stop early, I could at any point without having to trudge too far back to the start.

And what did I do??? I went out and ran the fastest run of my life. No, really. 6.5 miles at a 9:28 pace that felt fun and easy. OK, not like marathon pace easy, but not uncomfortable. I was paying attention to my mile splits and I couldn't believe it when I didn't slow down. I actually got faster. And when I got to the 6 mile mark, I sped up - not all out, but decided to see how much I could squeeze into an hour.

6.5 miles. 1:01:40. Faster than my 10k PR last week. Faster than my 5k PR pace. Loved every minute of that run.

My splits - and mind you, this is without being able to see my pace on the Garmin: 9:40, 9:29, 9:28, 9:35, 9:26, 9:27...and a 9:01 pace for the last .5 miles (and I swear I could've kept it up for another half mile!) Guess what....this means my ability to evenly pace myself is returning!! I've missed it so. It's such a great feeling - when I run like that, I feel like a literal running machine.

I seriously hope my knee doesn't hate me for this tomorrow....but if it doesn't, I'm really really really tempted to sign up for a (smaller and flatter) 10k next weekend so I can get some vindication and a PR that matches my ability. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

boundaries (and a long, introspective bit of rambling)

I kinda had a training breakthrough yesterday.

It wasn't an especially fantastic run, bike, or swim. It was a fantastic *thought* that I had on the way to the gym. The thought: BOUNDARIES.

Now, this training approach probably doesn't work for everyone, but it does for me. Earlier this week, I had the thought that right now, while I'm not following a training plan, I'm going to do a little LESS than I want to do for each workout.

That's right. I'm cutting workouts short. Why? Because I'm neurotic. I am constantly overestimating myself as far as training goes. Now, in some ways that's fantastic and it spurs me to be better. It also means I wear myself out and then feel like crap physically and mentally.

To use one of my favorite therapist sayings, I "should" on myself. I am ridiculously good at saying, "I should be able to run at x speed." "I should be able to run x miles today." "I should be able to train 12 hours a week and have energy to burn." Why do I do it? Ya got me. I think because I spend time (in real life and virtually) with people who are faster and stronger than me have different strengths and abilities than what I have. Since I'm constantly learning what works for me, I borrow from everyone else and I end up worn out and injured and crabby and disappointed.

I'm not a person that struggles with motivation to exercise, not since I found it years ago. I'm the opposite. I'm a person who struggles with obsession. I've been in therapy myself. Running slowly became an obsession. Multisport has potential to be obsession x3. If a little is good, then ALL THE TIME must be awesome.

What does this look like? I want to fill every spare minute of my time with exercise. I start feeling guilty if I'm NOT exercising. I feel a little guilty right now because I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop and my bike is on a trainer in the other room (although I haven't figured out how to set up the dvd player so that's why I didn't ride it today). I don't want to take rest days. I want to do all my workouts all-out so I know/can show off how fast I can go. I feel like a slacker if I do ONE workout in a day.

Regardless of what other crazy people post on forums and how they do 2-3 workouts every day....this is not remotely healthy for me.

So  I've spent this week taking my ideal workout for the day and cutting it down. Monday I did spin class, but I did not swim or run beforehand. Tuesday I did yoga class and a mile swim, not an hour long swim and I did not bike like I kinda wanted to. (This would've been day 4 in a row of biking.) I also slept in instead of doing a morning workout because I had been absolutely exhausted Monday. (I somehow put a kink in my neck biking Saturday and didn't sleep well for the next two nights. How does one injure one's neck while biking? I'm not exactly sure.) Wednesday....well, I had a LONG day and only time for a 30 minute run. And I chose not to feel bad about that; I chose to feel good that I had gotten up early and ran for 30 minutes before my long day. (OK....I was going to cut that down to 20 and couldn't bear to do it when I was out there.) Thursday I did pilates and I swam and I did circuit class and I ran for 2 miles. Umm, I may have wanted to run 3 miles and/or do some biking too because I got off work early.

So back to my thought on the way to the gym. What does this have to do with boundaries?? EVERYTHING. Boundaries are something that I've had to learn. I used to be the sort of person where, if someone needed something and I had it available, whether it was time, money, or energy, it was all theirs. Grad school taught me how well that really works out. If you want to learn every problem and issue and piece of baggage all your friends have, tell them you're going to school to become a therapist. Of course, at first I loved that everyone was coming to me for help. I wanted to help everyone. And I helped them so much that I ended up in therapy and on anti-anxiety meds myself.

Because if you do everything that you're humanly capable of doing, in any area, you will absolutely exhaust yourself. You have to have boundaries with everything. I have a job where I need lots and lots of boundaries. I could work so much if I did everything that my clients and my employer and my coworkers want from me, especially since I don't work set hours. (Incidentally, that is the same thing that means that I, theoretically, COULD train for hours and hours a day. It would also mean my paperwork would never ever get done.)

So it hit me that I need boundaries with working out, too. Yes, I COULD do another mile. I COULD go to spin class. I COULD do another lap. Does that mean I should? No, it doesn't. Just like I don't need to turn every single progress note in right on time and return every client's phone call right away and go to every school meeting. And lately, I've been planning my workouts based on absolutely the most working out I can squeeze into a day and squeeze out of myself, which leads to me running late everywhere and being tired and getting sick.

This week? It went a whole lot better. I had a lot more energy. I got caught up on some paperwork. I got to spend a leisurely morning with my cup of coffee before work. Sometimes I was EARLY to things and got a chance to sit in the quiet in my car for a few minutes. And I got rid of some of the guilt and the "should" that's been following me around. Even better, I realized, on the way to the gym, right after I realized it was all about boundaries, that I had to stop for gas. And I didn't freak out that I may have to cut a few laps off my pre-pilates swim. I'm starting to feel better about what I AM doing rather than guilty about what I'm NOT doing.

Oh yeah - in my first session with my therapist, she had pointed out her desk how it was doing a good job of keeping her stuff together and, well, being a desk. So what if she decided to park her car on it and it broke? Should she be mad? No, because that's not what it's made for. The lesson is that I need to do what I'm made to do, not try to take on the world. I can still tackle 140.6 without it being an obsession.

This is important. I'll try to keep this going.

(As a PS, discovering running is what led to me getting OFF the anti-anxiety meds. Time to keep it as a source of relief, not a source of anxiety!)

more 2012 race options

I just became aware of the Racing for Recovery Triathlon. It has multiple degrees of awesomeness: for a good cause (a non-profit organization for substance abuse recovery, founded by an addict turned Ironman), flat course (used to live up there, it's a pancake), and OMG CHEAP.

I'm considering making that my 70.3 instead of Muncie half Ironman, except that it's a mere month after the Flying Pig marathon. Hmmm. Bad idea or not, ya'll?

Muncie is a month later, in July. It's also $145 more. Eep.

Other option would be to do Muncie and do Race for Recovery as a relay, because I really really want to do a triathlon as part of a relay team. (I'd be the biker. I have the swimmer and the runner picked out. They know who they are. :))

Choosing races can be soooo stressful sometimes. Why can't I just do all the races I want to do? Oh yeah, because time, money, energy, and the amount of stress my body can take are finite. Damn it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

bad, bad blogger

YES, I am behind on the blogging. I owe ya'll two weeks in review (they're not impressive - I was sick and then it was a holiday) and a race recap. Oh, and I have a little bit of a new owie, which I have self-diagnosed as jumper's knee (the symptoms seem to fit better than runner's knee, even though I do zero jumping) but it's getting better and I'm not too worried. I'm actually enjoying the break from training FOR anything. And the sickies are finally gone and they'd better stay away.

Oh, and I got a bike trainer - one of only a few thanksgiving weekend shopping deals I totally jumped on. So I plan to be much, much better at keeping up with bike fitness. After all, 112 miles is a long ride.

But a quick answer to the "did you get that sub-60 10k??" question that you may be (or probably are not) asking....nope. I could be a little bummed....and ok, I AM, but....I was still not 100% healthy due to the stupid cold and the stupid knee (although I trace the knee back to my inadvertant GOTR 5k sprinting, so it's totally worth it). And the bigger issue is that there were close to 14,000 people doing this race. FOURTEEN FREAKING THOUSAND. And according to my estimates, over half of them had no clue how to line up or what the big-ass pace signs meant prior to the race. I burned out nearly all of my energy in the first three miles zig-zagging around people walking all over the road.

No, really. I seriously think less than 10 people actually passed me, and I was passing people like crazy. When I wasn't kicking their heels and nearly slamming into their backs and looking wildly around for an opening in the crowd.

It's not just me. I have a couple of friends who ran the thing at a 6-7 minute pace and THEY were dodging walkers. WHAT. THE. EFF.

Anyway, the spirit of the race is fun, and IF I run it again, it will not at all be with a goal in mind. I ended up spending much of the race in a huge state of frustration.

But today, I found the official race pics and I just had to laugh. Running for a time goal in these conditions? Really? Just look - here I am at the finish line. Err, the white headband girl behind the guy in the maroon shirt kind of in the middle crossing the finish line, if you can even find me.

Yeah, I have no clue how I was able to look myself up and get this result, either!

Yeah, I was super annoyed at the finish line. Those people right in front of me were WALKING and totally ruined my finish line kick. And pay no mind to the time at the top - it took me over 13 minutes just to cross the starting line. My official time was 1:02:20 - still a PR. And according to my garmin, a sub-10 pace per mile....I just added on an extra tenth of a mile dodging and weaving. Yeeha!

I guess that was pretty much my race recap (minus one detail: the line of walkers 5 across, less than half a mile in, at whom I had to yell "SOMEBODY 'SCUSE ME!!!" and they all looked at me like I lost my mind). Soon to come: the recap of those two weeks of not a lot of exercise, and an update on my current training (hint: I'm not being too hard on myself during the holidays, although it's still way more than sitting on the couch, for sure.)

Hope ya'll had a fantastic holiday. Next 10k will be my sub-60 for sure!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I don't always run with music....

....but when I do, it's for a good reason. Like wanting a little extra oomph to hit a sub-60 10k.

So here's my 10k playlist. I picked the songs that have seemed to inspire me to pick up the most speed lately when I've ran with them. The first 16 songs are 59.2 minutes. The last one is for good measure.

(Runners up, which are next in line in case I skip something, include "Born this Way" by Lady Gaga, "Black Betty" by Ram Jam, "Pump It" by Black Eyed Peas, "Miami 2 Ibiza" by Swedish House Mafia, and "Busy Child" by Crystal Method.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

race report - Girls on the Run 5k

I volunteered for the second time for a Girls on the Run 5k event. You may or may not recall, I was a running buddy a year ago, and it was such a great experience that I wanted to do it again. (They have a spring 5k too, but I had a friend getting married in NC that, I was BARELY running at that point. Stupid tibia.) Plus, my registration was free as a thanks for being a solemate (fundraiser) for the AF marathon. Can't beat that!

Note: while looking for that entry, I noticed that I also had a cold pretty much at the exact same time last year. Crazy.

Anyway, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I nearly called in sick to work on Friday (and to show you how crappy I felt, I have called in sick ONCE in close to three years at my job. Yep.) and I figured if I felt awful Saturday, I'd just have to skip it. Luckily, it started at 10 am which gave me enough time to sleep in (because 8 am is sleeping in! I am so old!) and I felt pretty good on race morning. Mucus-filled, but capable of running a moderately-paced 3.1.

The day was sunshiney and beautiful, though a little chilly. I overdressed a little (based not on the pace I run, but on the 50 minute 5k I ran last year) and found the volunteer coordinator, who said she was pretty sure that everyone who needed a buddy had already been paired. Bummer, but I figured it would be fun just to run it and cheer everyone on. A few minutes later, she came back and told me that one of the school groups needed some buddies.

Source: GOTR Cinci facebook page
Source: GOTR Cinci facebook page

There's no pre-race environment quite like what goes on before a GOTR race. There's a big outdoor stage at the race start, and it was full of girls dancing like crazy to all manner of upbeat music - current stuff, line-dance favorites, and of course "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". I met the site coaches, but there were no girls near the school's sign - because they were all on stage. I commented that I don't have the energy to both dance AND run a 5k!

Source: GOTR Cinci facebook page

The University of Cincinnati track team took the stage to lead everyone in stretching, and everyone was supposed to be back with their group - except our group had three coaches, a handful of running buddies, and no girls! Eventually they all made their way over to us right before the race started, and coaches started handing off girls to buddies. The smallest girl ended up with me. She was so cute, wearing pink butterfly wings, not-quite chest-high on me, and I bent down to introduce myself and give her a high-five. She told me she was 8, so one of the youngest girls at the event in general - it starts in third grade. The first thing she asked me was, "Do you run fast?" I laughed and told her I don't run really fast but I enjoy running. I asked her how fast she runs and she said, "Super fast!" I told her I may have to keep up with her!

They announced the race start, and my previously shy little buddy (LB) got a huge grin on her face, grabbed my gloved hand with hers, and BOLTED toward the start line! LB was pulling me, and when she let go of my hand, I was chasing her through the crowds. LB wasn't kidding about the super fast thing. We got to the start line, where we were supposed to line up according to pace signs. LB looked a little confused. I asked her if she knew how many minutes it took her to run a mile. She looked at me like I had just asked her something in Swahili. So I asked her how long it took her to run their practice 5k and she shrugged. I asked her, again, how fast she runs and she said, "Super fast!!" So I told her we could just stand anywhere....which led to LB grabbing my hand and running aaaallllll the way to the very front row!

LB was holding my hand the whole time and the ginormous grin never left her face. She asked me where the course went and I tried to explain, but I wasn't sure of the whole course. So I gave up and told her to follow everyone else. "But what if we're first?" she said. I smiled and pointed out the bicyclist who would be leading the pack. "What if we're faster than the guy on the bike??" she asked, 100% seriously. I laughed and told her that we'd just run.

Try to keep up!!! Source: GOTR Cinci facebook page

LB told me that when they ran around their school building, she was always first. I started to get a little worried. What if she was a little running prodigy? What if I really couldn't keep up with her? I decided there was nothing I could do and if I lost my running buddy because she was a speed demon, someone else would run with her! Someone was holding a rope about waist-high (so nearly as tall as LB) across the start line and her eyes got wide. "We have to jump over that???" I explained that it was keeping all the excited girls like her from taking off so soon. The expression in LB's eyes reminded me of sonic the hedgehog revving up before he goes flying across a loop-de-loop. She was totally fired up. I told her about the countdown before the race started....and then I heard girls counting down! 10...9...8...7...6 (and I took my hand out of LB's hand just long enough to start my Garmin and then grab her hand again)...5...4...3...2...1....


And HOLY CRAP LB was flying. Like crazy. I looked at my Garmin and saw a 14: something because it hadn't caught up with us yet. I looked again and we were doing a 6: something. I was thinking - and hoping - that she wouldn't keep this pace for long and was using the typical kid strategy of running SUPER FAST as long as you can. When I started thinking I couldn't stay with her much longer, she stopped and came to a slooow sloooow walk. The excitement on her face seemed to slide right off, to be replaced by overwhelming fear and upset as her bicycle-passing fantasy collided with reality. "This is a LONG WAY!" She looked like she might cry. I looked at the Garmin. We were about .2 into the race. Oh crap.

So I gave RB a crash course in pacing, and I'm not sure how much of it sunk in. So I told her walk breaks were ok, that lots of people walk, that I ran 26 miles in a race and I walked. We walked. And we jogged, and she actually had a pretty quick jogging pace too. And then, without warning, we sprinted!! So much for pacing. I darted behind her, ducking through people and apologizing....aaannnddd....WALK. LB was struck by the number of people ahead of us, and I pointed out the number of people behind us, too, and how finishing, not winning, was the goal. I race all the time, I told her, and I NEVER win but I'm happy to do my best. I think it worked. She said, "Just don't quit!" and I firmly agreed.

Source: GOTR Facebook page. Yep, keep moving!!

3.1 miles is a LONG WAY to a tiny little girl. A really long way. When I got all excited at the first mile marker, LB just looked a bit overwhelmed that we had to run two more miles. Someone pointed out that LB's shoe was untied and I could see the wheels turning as she looked down at it, looked back up and realized she couldn't bear the thought of stopping long enough to deal with it, for fear she'd never get going again. Haha, been there - mile 22 of the marathon when I was pretty sure I'd ripped off a toenail and was filling my shoe with blood and kept moving anyway.

I cheered LB on the whole way, and miraculously, she found MANY more energized moments. She would see people cheering, or a landmark like Paul Brown Stadium, or I'd tell her one more turn and then we'd be headed back the way she came, and all of a sudden she would BOLT. I'd run, too, with my heart probably beating at the top of its range, and then we'd walk again. LB was fascinated that we got to run under the highway bridges. I taught her that you don't have to stop and stay at the water table to drink it, and she seemed to relish being able to throw her cup on the ground. I told her that she needed to go out for track when she was older because she was one awesome sprinter. We stopped to pose for a picture, taken by the GOTR volunteer rounder-upper, who then laughed as LB took off again and I broke into a full sprint to stay with her. She seemed to feel pretty good about passing 2 miles, and soon we could see the Purple People Bridge. Just on the other side of that bridge, I told her. I asked her if she ever thought she'd run 3 miles and she grinned and shook her head. I said even one mile is far. "One mile is ok," she said, "but three is a challenge!"

source: GOTR Cinci facebook page. Volunteer groups are recruited just to cheer!

Source: GOTR Cinci facebook page. My favorite signs!

A few more sprints, and then I think the attention span of an 8-year-old took over. She climbed up on a wall and started jumping over raised sections of it like hurdles. She came almost to a dead stop to look out at the river - which is pretty cool-looking, I agree. We were on the other side of the bridge, and she looked at me like, "OK, where IS the finish line?" Through the tunnel where we started, I told her, and we sprinted through the tunnel. I felt a little bit bad - we still had .3 miles to go, which probably felt like forever to her, and there were some twists and turns so the finish line wasn't immediately visible. She slowed to a slow, slow walk and I'm pretty sure she thought I'd been lying to her. Soon, though, we could see the final turn and the finish line and I happily pointed it out to her. I told her to tell me when she wanted to run and we'd run to the finish. Aaand....we walked. And walked. Past the 3 mile marker. Past Erin, the director of GOTR Cincy, who was excitedly telling LB that we were ALMOST THERE!!!! And then, without warning....S P R I N T!!!! I could barely stay with her - that little girl FLEW at what I'm pretty sure was the top of my sprint range, too!

We excitedly high-fived at the end. There wasn't a race timer, but Garmin said we finished the race in 42 minutes - which I think is pretty awesome for an 8-year-old! Especially considering that LB stopped a few times to tie the same shoe - she had finally decided it was ok to stop and tie it, much to my relief - before I tied it in a tight double-knot for her. LB was a total trooper. I delivered her back to her school before I left to do a few more miles on my own, as prep for the thanksgiving 10k.

I love doing this race - it reminds me why I run and how awesome the feeling is of accomplishing something that looks huge. It's so easy to get caught up on pace and speed and meeting or not meeting goals instead of just going out there and running and letting THAT be awesome and amazing on its own.

I'm still going for a sub-60 10k....but it feels a little less important now, and the experience feels like more of a priority.

I got home and checked what the Garmin had to say - our top speed was 12.4 mph!! I told you LB was crazy fast. Our Garmin feedback looks like this:

OK, some of that is I think because the Garmin gets a little wonky downtown, with the buildings and all, but some of that is genuine variation between sprinting and walking. (I think the four highest peaks represent shoe-tying breaks!)

Loved, loved, loved the race again this year. There were over 800 girls in the Cincinnati area groups, which is fantastic. I never, ever, ever would've thought I could do a 5k at that age. Such a good program, and I encourage everyone to get involved with GOTR in your area if you can!!

And remember, in the words of LB - just don't quit!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

arrgh, body, cooperate....

I used to brag about how much running has boosted my immune system and how I never, ever, ever get sick.

So WHY am I now fighting the second cold I've had in a month???

I know I work with kids and I'm in and out of schools and I've been face-to-face with numerous sick people this week. Still. And once again, it's popping up too-soon-for-comfort before a race that I'm on my way to PRing IF I CAN STAY HEALTHY.

I'm almost wondering if I'm overtraining. But I've been happy with my training volume, last week was a low volume week, and I skip planned workouts if I'm tired. But this one seems to be oddly exercise related - I noticed a sore throat Tuesday while I was swimming. I forgot about it because it went away when I stopped swimming. Yesterday, I woke up fine. Went to yoga class fine. Did a round of speedwork and felt WAY more tired than usual. Soon after, a sore throat reared its ugly head and a few short hours later, it hurt like crazy to swallow and I was passed out on the couch before 9 pm.

For the record, I get lots of sleep. I do NOT let my workouts get in the way of 8-9 hours of sleep because I don't function well on less. I blame 8 years of college, when I routinely had to function on less than 8 hours. Sometimes much less. I'm doomed to spend the rest of my life making up for it.

I can't afford to take a sick day (since I'm still responsible for meeting all my hours even if I'm sick), but I'm going to minimize the cardio (still going to pilates this morning skipping pilates because I just realized I'd have to leave in 7 minutes and I'm still in my pajamas and I haven't had breakfast, and clearing out the rest of my workouts - swim, run, circuit) until I'm feeling better. I bought sambucol, which is pricey but I hear good things, and I've done black elderberry in the past to make sickies go away. I've got a week until thanksgiving so hopefully I can have this crap out of my system until then.

After that, maybe I will try to cut down my training load a little bit and ease back into it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

training plan....for now

I think I've come up with a simple plan that will work until I start OFFICIALLY training for anything next year.

These are the workouts I want to make sure I accomplish in a week:

2 swims, one long and one speedwork (although right now they're pretty much the same length - about a mile. I don't see the need to swim much longer than a mile until I'm training for 140.6, and by the time I get to longer swims it'll be warm enough to swim outside - not quite as boring as the pool!!)

2 bikes, one long and one speedwork (both in the form of spin classes for the duration of winter)

4 runs - one long, one speedwork, one hilly, one short and easy (the day after a harder run, as a recovery run)

Yoga, pilates, and circuit class as long as they fit in my schedule for the week.

Add an easy swim and an easy bike IF there's room after all that, but the aforementioned workouts are the crucial ones.

I'm afraid to post this on a forum because I'm sure that plan will get slammed by the crazy people who do 20 workouts a week....but do any triathletes out there have an opinion on this plan???

Triathlon is PART of my life, but not all of it, and I think this lets me use my training time wisely while not getting burned out. I do feel like I should have more biking in there but it's hard to squeeze in. There's not as much daylight or good weather as there used to be, spin classes don't always fit in the schedule (and I'm not the HUGEST fan of them but they're a good workout) and stationary bikes make me wanna hurt someone.

I didn't make a weekly schedule since my work schedule varies from week to week, so I have to sit down and plan out my training every week. It's a little bit of a pain but it keeps things interesting!

One more thing....speedwork WORKS. Holy crap it works. I'm already seeing my swim speed improving consistently.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week in Review, 11/7 - 11/13

Monday: Swam 1600 yd in 40:49. I did a 200 yd w/u followed by 10 sets of 50 yd sprints with 10 seconds in between, another 200 easy, 10 more 50 yd sprints, 200 c/d. Technically the workout was supposed to be 20 sprints in a row (I got it from an IM training plan) but after 10 I wanted a break! I was a little disappointed that I couldn't seem to get 50 yards in less than a minute. Best one was 1:03. Then I did 20 minutes of strength training - abs and arms. Holy hell, that swimming was killer. During the strength training, I started getting warm and went to take my sweatshirt off - and seriously struggled with it because my arm wouldn't lift high enough.

Tuesday: 5 miles at tempo pace in 48:01.

Wednesday: 3 miles easy in my 'hood. Turned into 3.7 - oops - in 38:54. No obsessive Garmin-checking, nice and steady. I met some fellow runners and chatted with them a bit. They asked me if I was training for something and I blurted out, "Yeah, I'm doing an Ironman!" Haha. They're running the Dallas 26.2 in December and wished me luck.

Thursday: 1 hour of pilates. I accidentally set my alarm too early and realized I had time to squeeze in a quick swim, so I did. I swam 1000 yd in 22:46, which is awesome for me! I've been trying so hard to consistently break 10 minutes for 400, and here I did the first 800 in 18:16, and the last 200 in 2:30 flat. I think the speedwork actually had some effect.

Friday: The most awesomest run ever!!! No, really!!! I went to a class at the local running store (more on that later) on running form and decided to tweak a few things. I was going to run 8 miles. I ran 10 because I felt super awesome. I ran it at what felt like an easy pace, and ended up with 10 miles in 1:38:46. That is INSANE for me. That is the fastest I think I've ran 10 miles EVER. And I felt like I could've kept going!!! I wasn't super sore in the aftermath!! Two days later, I am STILL on cloud 9 from that run (and almost afraid to run again, afraid it was a fluke....)

Then huz and I went away for a bit. We both work too much and stress too much and decided to get out of here. He's better at relaxing at home than I am; I pretty much am incapable of complete relaxation unless I'm somewhere else. At home, there's always something to work on, clean, organize, there's always a workout that I SHOULD be doing. So I got away from that and spent Friday and Saturday night at a cabin in the woods (with a hot tub!!!) near Hocking Hills. It was gorgeous and much needed. The plan was to work out today after I got back, but the 35 mph wind gusts killed my idea of a bike ride (NO thanks!) and our much needed grocery shopping trip went way too long and I missed yoga. (We live near what I think is the biggest grocery store in the Cincinnati metro area. Ugh.) Oh's a total rest day, and I'm tired after two nights in a strange bed. Plus, we weren't totally idle - we spent two hours hiking yesterday and two hours horseback riding. Horseback riding is more the horse working out than the human, sure, but my thighs were pretty sore!!

Me, husband, horses. Thanks, Rosie, for the hip flexor stretch!!

Yeah, I did no biking. I had to work early on Monday (so no AM workout), and then late on Tuesday and Wednesday (so no PM workouts) and then I went to the class on Thursday, so my entire week was just one-a-day workouts. I skipped spin class Monday because I was going to be home late EVERY NIGHT this week and wanted to try to get home early enough to make dinner just one night. WELL WORTH skipping circuit class for the running class though!!! And, I'm proud that all my workouts were really really good quality. Even pilates class was especially tough this week - when it hurts like hell to sneeze the next day, you know it was good.

Yep, we're just gonna call this a down week. I just figured out my workout schedule for this next week and it's pretty ass-kicking, and I'm well-rested enough to attack it. Bring it on!!!


bike: 0 :( 'Bout time to put it away for the winter, too. :(
swim: 2600 yd in 1:03:45.
run: 18.7 miles in 3:05:41.
strength/flexibility: 1:20.

Total time: 5:29. Heh. Down week indeed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

God love triathletes

I have a confession to make: I was really really excited the day I signed up for the ironman. Then, every single day since then, at some point (usually at multiple points) I have had a moment of sheer panic and the thought of "what the FUCK have I done?????"

Giving the internet forums another try, I turned to the forums, and I got a ton of reassurance that I can indeed do this and still somewhat maintain a life. I think I had one or two people mention 20+ hour training weeks and eating/sleeping/breathing triathlon, but I heard from a lot of normal people who make it work.

I have a lot of reading up to do on training plans, but I think I can do this on 10-15 hours a week of training, 15 being at the peak of things. That's doable. I'm already learning some things that I'm putting into practice....things like:

-a short workout is better than no workout. If I can't put in the time or mileage than I want, hey, a 2 mile run is 2 miles I wouldn't have done otherwise. 30 minutes in the pool is 30 minutes I wouldn't otherwise have on my swimming base.

-...which brings me to this: there's something to be said for the base you bring to an endurance event. Let's face it - my marathon training was a bit pitiful at times. It wasn't due to slacking or lack of motivation, it was due to injuries and life. But I did 26.2 and enjoyed it and it didn't nearly kill me in the last few miles. I firmly believe it's because I'd been running fairly consistently for a couple of years prior to that. I think I already bring a decent amount of tenacity, endurance, and cardio fitness to the table. I may not go fast, but I can go long, dammit.

-get creative! I ran to yoga class the other day. I'll do a quick run on the treadmill if I get to spin class early. I run errands on my bike (although the main road out there is SCARY...despite all the "share the road" signs, lots of people don't share well!) Again, it's that "get a workout in however you can, if all else fails" thing.

-run less and run more. This is a new one I'm trying. It's counter to what I've heard elsewhere - run three times a week with a day off in between, longer distances. I know it's good for some people. It's also what my PT recommended when I was coming off of injury. However, I'm testing out the opposite of that theory, that others swear by equally for injury prevention - run short distances, frequently. And...I'm liking it. I feel like now, when I go for a run, instead of starting out all tight and awkward and taking a mile or so to get into the swing of it, my legs go, "Oh yeah, this. We know how to do this. You make us do this all the time." My leg is feeling better than it has since August - not 100% yet, but super close. I really think this new strategy will not only help my speed, but get me into Pig training pain-free.

-skip it....sometimes. Last week, I was going to do a bike ride on Tuesday. The weather was perfect, I got off work early, husband was going to be home late, my bike was in my backseat. I went downtown, and I realized that I would pretty much rather do anything than get on my bike, even though it was going to be a flat ride, even though I LOVE my bike. I realized that my body, mind, whatever, was trying to tell me something. So I went home. I ate too many cheese crackers, finished the book I've been working on, and took a nap (and I NEVER take naps.) I felt much better. I rode my bike in the morning. BUT later on that week, I had a similar feeling about swimming. Seriously, it took an incredible effort to get out of my car, walk into the gym, put on my swimsuit, as soon as I got in the pool I wanted to get out. But once I was moving, it felt awesome. Afterward, I felt like someone had absolutely injected me with energy. I don't regret either choice. Sometimes you've gotta skip it, sometimes you've gotta force it, just don't do either too frequently....and if you have to make that choice too often, maybe your training plan needs some tweaking.

Hmm. Maybe I'll write a book when this is all over. Would ya'll read it?? :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week in review, 10/31 - 11/6

Monday: pool workout, 1600 yd in 49 minutes. 400 freestyle (9:18), 4 sets of 100 pull/100 kick, 400 freestyle (10:00) (I made up this workout. I was dreading the monotony of swimming laps!)

Tuesday: easy run, 4.07 miles in 43:09. Ran on some of the rolling hills in my 'hood and took it very very easy on them. Calf is still not 100% and calf injuries notoriously do not like hills.

Wednesday: AM: easy ride, 18.47 miles in 1:17:24, last 3-4 miles uphill. The most eventful part of that ride: my chain slipped off while I was riding uphill through a really busy intersection! I managed to stay upright and get my bike and myself over to the sidewalk safely. PM: 1 hour circuit training class

Thursday: 1 hour pilates. Was going to run in the evening but ended up working late.

Friday: speedwork on the dreadmill - .5 mile w/u at 6mph, followed by .25 intervals at 6.5 (I did 5 at that speed and then added .1 mph for each of the last 5). With recovery in between, ended up doing 5.08 miles in 50 minutes and felt awesome.

Saturday: 7 mile easy run. Tried to take it at a nice, deliberately easy pace since I had done speedwork less than 24 hours ago. (Was not my intention, but life overrides training sometimes!) 1:13:17. Thought about doing 8, but I made it back to my car at 7, and my hip was starting to tighten up a bit. Then went to the gym and swam 1200 yd in 29:55. It felt like a slow swim, but that's actually a pretty good pace (for me!) Rumor has it that swimming helps one recover faster from a long run. I did feel better - looser - post-swim. That, and effing tired!

Sunday: 18.87 mile bike ride in 1:15:27. Windy and the hills at the end wore me out a bit! But it was a beautiful day for a ride. Again I'm convinced that I experience cold differently than others. I passed a couple of other cyclists in shorts and short sleeves (one with no sleeves) while I had on a jersey, turtleneck (the one usually reserved for running in the coldest weather), tights and full-finger gloves. I was maybe SLIGHTLY too warm but otherwise comfy! THEN I came home, changed, downed some gatorade, and took off 10 minutes later to run to yoga class. I've never ran to yoga before, even though it's about a mile away. Why? Because there's a freaking 200 foot, .6 mile hill out of my neighborhood. It's a biatch. But running downhill home with post-yoga jello legs was pretty fun. (It's the kind of hill I don't like - where you don't even get to redeem yourself by flying on the downhill because it's too steep and you have to hold yourself back going down!) 19:54 total - 10:30 there, 9:24 back, 1.96 miles. Yoga was 1.5 hours. Yin. VERY needed. Loosened up everything that was tight and put me in a great state of mind to approach the new week. <3 that class!


swim: 2800 yd in 1:20 (including drills)
bike: 37.4 miles, 2:32
run: 18.1 miles, 3:06
strength/flexibility: 3.5 hours

Total time: 10:28

I'm going to try to bike a little more. When the weather gets cooler, I'm going to start doing a "long distance" spin class at the gym - I don't know how long it is; I'm assuming 2 hours. Trying to squeeze in short runs here and there. I feel like it keeps my legs fresher and more used to running, in a way, if I run more frequently and keep the distances short and the pace easy unless I'm doing speedwork. Pilates and yoga seem to be really really helping, too - we did hip rotation stuff in pilates the other day and my hips sounded like rice krispies. Eek!

And devoting 10 hours of my week to exercise turned out to not be so bad. I even skipped two planned workouts - one bike ride, because I was TIRED, and I ended up moving speedwork to my planned rest day because I had to work late. Plus, I do SO MUCH different stuff that it doesn't even feel like I'm exercising that much. That's the beauty of multisport!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

tentative 2012 race schedule

March 2012 - National Half Marathon (maybe)...or some other spring half
May 6, 2012 - Flying Pig Marathon
May 26, 2012 - Tri for Joe
July 7, 2012 - Muncie Half Ironman
September 8, 2012 - Rev3 Cedar Point
September 15, 2012 - US Air Force Marathon (I really want to do this race and I'll hobble through, I can earn my Marathon Maniac status!)
October 2012 - Army 10 miler (in honor of my bro-in-law, who, btw, was just promoted to sergeant...hooah!)
November 2012 - New York Marathon

That's a combination of my must-do and really-want-to-do races. That, and probably some other sprint tris - I want to do Fit to Fight again, and I want to do one of the ones at a state park. Probably the 5ks I usually do, too - Warrior Run and Newtown 5k.

Any other if I need 'em??? :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

140.6 is gonna overwhelm me looong before I even get there

Researching Ironman training. HOLY CRAP. Heart rate zones (yeah, I quit wearing my heart rate monitor long ago because I got bad chafeage from it), small chainring/middle chainring/large chainring bike rides (I don't even remember which is which), hours upon hours of workouts, 3 workouts a day, calories and nutrition and hydration and building up glycogen stores, not racing AT ALL in the six months prior, and numbers, numbers everywhere.....

This has the potential to turn me into a huge wreck....and I haven't even taken a single step/stroke/pedal in the name of IM training.

You know how I like to train? KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. You know what's simple? Swimming, biking, and running. I've done all three of those since I was a kid. I like biking and running most when I get into the zone and I'm not at all worried about numbers or heart rate or how many calories I should be taking in. I just GO and enjoy the scenery. Heck, I even like SWIMMING if I can get into that zone and just enjoy feeling the water.

Smart or not, you know how I'm not gonna train? By focusing on algebraic equations the whole time.

I feel like the anti-triathlete. But I can tell you that if I get as anal as some folks out there (and if it works for them, great) and if I get as anal as some of the training plans want me to be, Imma finish my race and hang up my bike and swimsuit and running shoes and never want to do any of it ever again.

Do you know how complicated some people tried to make marathon training for me? Do you know how complicated hydration and nutrition for a marathon can be? And you know what? I finished my marathon. I trained according to what felt good, I ate and drank when it seemed like a good idea and didn't when my tummy hurt, and I was FINE.

This is how I'm going to approach the IM. This is how I'm going to approach all my training. I think a lot of people out there overlook LISTENING TO YOUR BODY. My body knows when it needs nutrition and hydration. It knows when it wants to run fast and when it wants to run slow and when it doesn't effing want to run at all and wants me to sit on the couch and drink a beer. And last time I got all wrapped up in following a training plan and not listening to my body, I couldn't run for two months. And when I had to rip out huge chunks of the training plan and do a lot of winging it, I ran an effing marathon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week in Review, 10/24 - 10/30

I'm gonna start making this a weekly blog feature. It's good for me to look back at my training and analyze what works and what doesn't, track my progress, and keep myself accountable to the rest of ya'll. Usually only stuff with actual mileage goes into Daily Mile, so this will be the place where I list EVERYTHING I've done for the week. Sunday is the last day of the week in my head, so Sunday will be posting day.

So here goes:

Monday: Ran 1.5 miles on the treadmill (15:00), hour long spin/abs class (50-ish minutes of spin followed by ab work)

Tuesday: 30 minute tempo run. 3.1 miles in 30:05. Not shabby at all for three days post-13.1. Even splits. Hard effort.

Wednesday AM: 1 mile swim in 45:43. PM: hour long rocket yoga class. (Similar to Ashtanga, but a little faster paced. Love it.)

Thursday: 4 mile easy run in 41:34. Wind was killer. Then drove right to the gym for an hour long circuit class. Eating a 6" subway sandwich on the way was a huge mistake, even though I was starving. Came dangerously close to puking during class, in a room with no trash can!

Friday: REST, woot. (Although huz and I went to see some haunted stuff and ended up walking a lot.)

Saturday: 6.2 miles in 1:00:47!! It didn't feel EASY but it didn't feel all-out either. Splits were awesome. Thrilled with that one.

Sunday: biked 17.61 miles in 1:05. Was going to do more but I was underdressed and freezing! Then ran 3 miles in 31:33 immediately afterward. Holy crap, that was hard. My legs were burning after the great run Saturday.


Running: 16.8 miles, 3 hours. (Rounded off, I'm not that anal!)
Biking: 17.61 miles plus spin class, 2:05.
Swimming: 1 mile, :45.
Strength/flexibility: 2 hours.

Total: 7:50. Close close close to that 8-10 hour range I want to hit, but I was recovering from a half marathon so I'll cut myself a little slack there. Trying to run more frequently at shorter distances to see if that helps cut down on injury and keep my legs fresher. That's the theory! Would like to average about 20 miles a week for the time being. Wanted to bike more but kept getting hit with craptastic weather on the days I wanted to go. Once it gets dark earlier, that'll cut way down on available bike hours. Plus it's getting cold. Booo. And yes, I know that as a triathlete I should swim more, but I hate swimming, ok? I'll do more this winter. Plus I'm looking into swim lessons.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Good news

Mental funk is starting to go - a little. And today, for the first time in FOREVER, I ran with NO calf support. NO sleeves. NO tape. NO brace. Ok, ok, so I forgot the brace, but I decided to try an easy run anyway (had stopped at a park on my way home from work) and it was all right! It hurt a little, but nothing more than it's been doing lately. Quite tolerable. 4 miles.

I've had at least some kind of extra something since February. Tape on my right leg. Then the stress reaction. Then back to running, with a pair of calf sleeves for the shin splints. Then extra tape on my left leg since August, then I let the right sleeve go but I've been wearing the new strappy brace for the past month. I'm a little sick of artificially holding my legs together! It's freeing to run unsupported!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Air Force Marathon pics!!

I just realized, after posting my horrific Cincinnati Half pics, I never did post my (much better) marathon pics!! These are pretty much the only race pics I've really liked, ever, but some of them are great!!!

First of all, not a race pic, but long overdue: me outside the expo with Mary the Bear!! Mary belongs to another blogger, Little Miss Runshine. She's being passed around to other bloggers for their first marathons, for luck and encouragement, and everyone does a short writeup in Mary's passport. RB had her for the Pig, and I was actually a bit excited that I DIDN'T run the Pig, because I got Mary all to myself for my first marathon!

And...the race pics!!

I love this one!! I saw the camera way back, so I was cheesing. I look like I'm running in slow motion!

I also love this one. I look like such a badass. (Marathon buddy Katie is behind me!)

Aaaand then we have 18 or so miles later. Not quite as happy!
But as tired as I was, they still got me in midair!! My first airborne running pic - yay!!
This is just funny. I managed to do a victory pose. I just forgot to make my face convey the same emotion.
OK, really. Aren't you done taking pictures yet? (Check it out - the photog is at the top of a hill, in the hot sun, about 23 miles in. That's just a cruel place to be creating permanent memories!)

This is actually halfway cute, except that I have exhaustion written all over my face...and my shirt was bleeding!
<3 Husband <3! And <3 shiny things! <3
And of course, running buddy!!!

run happy?

I now have a new future goal: to run a 13.1 and finish happy!! All three halves I've ran, I've struggled with at least the last three miles and dragged myself across the finish line.

Let me draw your attention to Exhibit A. My shirt says "Run Happy". HA.
Go ahead, shoot me. It's ok.

The rest of the pics from that one aren't much better!
Oh look. The finish line. Yay.

I kinda like this one - look, I actually have hair - except that I'm stopping my garmin!

Yeah, the face says it all.

Stopped running as soon as I hit the mats. Yep, over it!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Training plan idea, based on current work schedule and gym/yoga studio class offerings:

Monday - short (2-3 mile) easy run, spin class
Tuesday - short easy run, 30ish minute swim
Wednesday -  tempo run or speedwork in the AM (~45 minutes), either a bike ride or yoga class or swim in the PM
Thursday - pilates (AM), circuit training class (PM)
Friday - NOTHING, ZIP, NADA, OFF (Fridays are a really good day for me to be unmotivated!)
Saturday - long run (keeping this at 6-8 miles for now)
Sunday - long bike ride, yin yoga if schedule permits; I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do when it's too cold to bike outside. Probably pout. Maybe start doing some long swims And pout. Heehee.

That's about 10 hours of workouts a week, which is good, because that's probably about what I'll need to dedicate to half ironman training. The strength and flexibility stuff will probably be phased out at the peak of that training, just because there are only 168 hours in a week, and I need time to sleep and socialize and relax and keep the huz from feeling neglected. Oh, and my boss likes me to work sometimes too. But I'll hopefully have a decent strength and flexibility base that I can maintain at that point.

I found a 13 hour a week full ironman plan and I'm not sure whether to trust it or not, but 13 hours a week sounds completely doable. And hey, I'll be training to complete, not compete, right?

I want to try 4 runs a week; some of them are just much shorter than I'm used to running. I think that'll keep my running legs fresher and let me build some speed. That's the theory, anyway.

It sounds great now because I'm super motivated. Imma see how it looks in a couple of weeks. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

race report - Cincinnati Half Marathon, and planning

First of all, the injury update: it's doing better. It's still there and annoying, but I've had a few sessions with my husband's chiropractor and I think they've helped. They've done some electro-stimulation on my tendon and muscle, and I've had two 30-minute massages entirely devoted to my lower left leg. However, I'm looking at the end of my PT insurance benefits, so I'm going to go it alone now and hope things continue to recover.

I'm able to run on it ok. I have some pain, but not enough to alter my running form, and it's pretty tolerable. I don't feel nearly as bad as I used to post-run, and recovery is faster. The chiropractor actually told me not to run. I was feeling awesome, so I ran anyway. I went back to see him, and he said if he knew my leg was going to feel as great as it did, he wouldn't have told me not to run. He gave me his blessing to run the Cincinnati Half.

I made some mistakes in this one. One of those was telling myself I wanted to run it because I knew a ton of people running it, but that I would run it purely for fun, not for time. I was deluding myself. Most of the people I knew who would be running it are faster than I am, and I am just not capable of doing a run for fun unless there are obstacles involved or it's otherwise an event I've never done before. Forget that. Of course I wasn't going to run it for fun. I was going to run it for a PR. I always run for a PR.

Except....I've been injured. I've been running twice a week since the marathon. I've been cross-training, but I've only been RUNNING twice a week. I signed up a week before the race, and the next day I came down with the cold from hell. So it's been a week of being exhausted the minute I wake up, coughing and sneezing everywhere, and collapsing on the couch. I took one day to work from home and catch up on paperwork, in my pajamas, kleenex by my side. I was starting to recover, but still not 100%.

Neither of those things sets me up for a PR, to say the least.

In theory, I should've been able to do it. My 13.1 time during the marathon was a PR, AND I ran 13.1 more immediately after that. So I figured it should've taken minimal effort to blow that away.

And when I didn't blow it away, when I didn't PR at all, I was pretty significantly bummed.

OK, here is the deal. I've been feeling bummed to a pretty significant degree lately anyway. I think it has to do with a lot of things - work got insane, post-marathon blues, not following a training plan anymore, less daylight - but ultimately, it's affecting my running and how I think about my running, and I've been doing more dwelling than I should on how I'm not as fast as I want to be. Heck, I haven't been able to recover the speed I had when I was training for the Pig. I get bummed that lots of people who have been running for a shorter period of time than I have can run way faster than I can and I wonder what's wrong with me.

It's time to end that. I'm not as fast as I was because I'm not training the same. I'm training enough to more or less maintain, but not improve. Of  course, it's fun to say that right now because I'm not 100% healthy, which is the best time ever to increase training, right?

So I've figured it out. Much as I would love to do a sub-60 10k in a month, and much as I can get pouty when I allow myself to because there are people out there who have never NOT done a sub-60 10k, not even as a beginner....again, I'm trying to end that. I'm going to train for it as best as I can, after I go easy this week (to recover from the 13.1 and kill the end of the cold). I want to go up to running 4 times a week, but most of them easy pace, shorter distance runs. I want to *try* speedwork, but I'm gong to try that with a shorter 10k pace tempo run on the treadmill to test the waters there.

December is going to be for maintenance and for playing around with different combos of workouts to see what works for me. Next year I'll be hitting the triathlon training hardcore - especially if I DO sign up for a 140.6 - and I need to figure out what kind of multisport schedule is good for me. Two a days? Swim followed by run? Morning? Evening? How many rest days? Do I like running two days in a row, biking two days in a row, swimming two days in a row? Etc. and etc. However, with the holidays, I get to cut myself lots of slack for parties and entertaining and visiting because I won't be following a plan. Hmm...maybe I'll do swimming lessons in December, too.

January starts Pig training, and I'm going to figure out where to put the swimming and biking in there, too. I'll probably be doing some strength training that will taper down as other training increases.

Oh yeah. I planned to make this a recap. Sooo...the Cincinnati Half. It was freezing at the start, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that a trash bag actually keeps in a lot of body heat, so I tolerated the sub-40 temps. They also had coffee, which is AWESOME. I mainly carried it around for warmth, because I'd already had my ritual morning coffee and didn't want to get too jittery, but the half a cup I sipped on pre-race tasted awesome too.

My goal was a 2:15. I had a pretty decent pace going, but it was accompanied by a sinking feeling that I wouldn't be able to keep it up. I ran with an older guy named Bob for the first seven miles. He was nice, but I honestly got tired of talking after a while, and he kept going ahead of me (even though he said he wanted to go SLOWER than 2:15 as this was a training run for him.) So I let him. I'm so sick of shot bloks that I broke the cardinal rule - nothing new on race day - and had two gus instead. The vanilla orange one tasted awesome. The chocolate outrage was good, but waaaay too rich to be eating while running. I was happy with my pace, but 10 miles in, I knew I was done for. I SLAMMED into the wall at that point. I wasn't happy to be out there, I was getting annoyed with fellow runners (although to be fair, I had a right to be at times - like the one who was in the middle of the road right in front of me and suddenly stopped to walk, or the group of 8 run/walkers who would pass me, then stop to walk and force everyone to maneuver through their walking wall of people). It was just a bad time for those last 3 miles. I was pretty close - 1:45 at the 10 mile mark - but I ended up doing an 11+ pace for the last three miles and finished at 2:20:28. (Big note to add here: the course was .1 miles too long. That time was for 3.21 miles!)

I realized something, too - I don't think I like racing!! Last weekend, when I went out for a 10 mile run alone, and I genuinely had NO reason to feel one way or another about my time, so I was pleasantly surprised...and I cleared my head and enjoyed the weather and felt AMAZING - THAT is why I run. To be trying to hit a goal, and feeling like that is my ONE shot, and people are passing me and people are everywhere and I burn out too fast and barely make it across the finish line - that's just not enjoyable. Now, I know some of that has to do with the mental funk I've been in and my currently crappy attitude, but still - the pressure isn't fun. Now that the race isn't about being able to complete the distance, every one feels like it needs to be a PR, or what's the point? And it's just not fun right now.

I should mention that the last two races I've done (aside from the duathlon) have not been PRs at all. This is the first time since I started running that I haven't PR'd every race. It's not at all a good feeling to me.

Well, anyway....2:20 isn't bad. It's super close to where I was for Little Miami, and like I said, I've really been running to maintain and not improve, whether I like it or not. It wasn't all bad, not at all. Seeing friends on the course (two out-and-back parts) is awesome. Plus, Girls on the Run was doing one of the water stops and I said hi to all them. Running Buddy's mom was spectating and she cheered for me. Some of my coworkers were volunteering at the finish line. I got a medal. The river at sunrise, with fog sitting on top, was beautiful. And we all had a lot of fun hanging out afterward. That all made the race worth it, really.

And, as soon as I stopped running, I was coughing up half a lung, so I felt validated in my lack of PR, knowing that I'm still sick.

Now, I just can't wait until the stars align and everything is in a good place for me to start working on getting better, again.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Race recaps: Warrior Run 5k and Fall Freedom Dual

As you're probably aware, my left calf has been giving me its share of grief lately. So what did I decide to do? Oh yeah. Two races in less than 24 hours. Ha.

The Warrior Run 5k was last Saturday evening. While I love not getting up at asscrack'odawn:30 for a race, I also struggle with running in the evening. Whatever I do in the morning kinda sets the tone of the day, ya know? So if I run in the morning, I have a happy, energetic day. If I sleep in and chill, I'm not quite in the mood to run fast later in the day.

Plus, running this one was kind of a last minute decision. I have barely run since the marathon, due to the calf issues. The plan was not to run at all and then wing the 5k, but Thursday, I decided that was making me too nervous, so I ran 3 miles to make sure I could do it. To my surprise, it went really well. It hurt, but not in a debilitating, gait-changing, dragging my poor leg behind me kinda way like it had before. OK, so I may have come back into the house and collapsed on the stairs, wondering how the heck I had ran 26 miles just a couple of short weeks ago, but I could run 3 miles. Even more surprising, the pain all went away after that, completely, for the first time since the marathon. Running must've loosened it up.

The next day, though, was pretty owie, not gonna lie. Race day, I was still a bit owie. I decided to run it anyway. Originally, I had planned to run this race as a huge PR opportunity - after all, it was flat, the weather should be perfect in October, and I'd have a 26.2 under my belt so my 5k should've picked up tons of speed. Except, ya know, my leg hurt. So I decided to just run it because it's for a good cause (teen suicide prevention), and because I ran it last year (its inaugural year) and there's something about saying you've done a race every year that it's been available.

Except, like most runners, I can't totally run a race just to run it. I still wanted a PR.

Running Buddy noticed that, while we had timing chips, there was no mat at the beginning, meaning that they must just be using gun time. She started at the very front for that reason. I, knowing that I would probably be run over, started back a few rows. That turned out to be a bit annoying, though, as the crowd around me started moving at snail speed. I accidentally kicked the guy in front of me. I dodged and weaved around people until I was free to run....and then I may have taken off like a bat out of hell. I was trying to avoid looking at the Garmin, but I looked down and saw an 8. WOAH, slow down. I did, and numerous people that I passed started passing me. Sigh. I did my first mile in 9:05, but at the time, I thought it was just under 9. (Regardless, it's still my fastest mile in a race to date.) I felt pretty decent. I thought maybe I was gunning for a nice little PR. But about halfway through....crash. My lungs didn't want to keep up - obviously they're not used to me running that fast - and then the leg seized up like a fiend. I watched the pace crawl into the marathon pace region at times.

Plus, it was HOT. I had missed the first water stop because they didn't have enough water poured for everyone. I am not at all a fan of running in the heat - I was just starting to get used to it being a little chilly, and then we had 70-whatever temps for this race. Someone had a table full of cups set up in front of her house. WATER!! When I got there, I realized they were cups full of cookies and goldfish crackers. I have NEVER been so disappointed to see a goldfish in my life.

They did have water a little while later, and I did manage to get some to pour on myself. By that point, though, my leg was fighting with me and I just had to get through the rest of the race. I determined not to look at the Garmin anymore. As I neared the finish line, I passed a guy pushing a double stroller and joked, "Yay, I beat the stroller!" I was disappointed that the first number on the red LED read 30. Damn. My time was 30:17, which isn't horrible, considering. It was under a 10 minute average pace. I was still a bit grumbly about it. I know the circumstances weren't great, but I'd love to be a sub-30 5k runner on a regular basis.

I found two pics they got of me running. Not my best - I look decidedly less than thrilled!

source: warrior run facebook page

source: warrior run smugmug page. EEK. But you can see my neato Cheetah Run shirt and obnoxious yellow shorts.

The next day was a race I'd been considering doing. They called it a dual - I guess it's technically a duathlon, except a duathlon is usually run/bike/run, and this was just a bike and run. I had wanted to do another triathlon this year, and this was pretty much it, they just took out my least favorite part. Plus it was only $30, a steal compared to what it costs to do a tri. The downside is that it was a good two hour drive, and I had gotten maybe 5 hours of sleep, tops, the night before. At least it started at 11 am, so I could leave the house at a reasonable 8:00 am. I decided to do it - part of me wanted redemption for my disappointing (to me) performance the night before, part of me really wanted to race on my bike, and I had some anxious energy to burn off. Plus, I figured I could run faster with a bike warmup. Win on all sides.

The drive was actually nice - very rural for the last hour, with multicolored trees and cornfields and fall sights that reminded me of where I grew up. (Well, the race was only about 45 minutes from my hometown!) And the two hours of alone time, singing along with my radio, helped me out of my funk a bit.

The race turned out to be pretty small, but people were friendly. The guy at the registration table commented on my Air Force Marathon hat (they totally rock for having a running hat in the swag bag, btw) and as it turns out, he was the 5:00 pacer. Then I found out that the RUN was first. What?! There goes my idea of a nice bike/run brick. Argh. I had plenty of time to set up my transition area and examine the other bikes. There were some nice ones, but also a number of casual commuter bikes, and one tricycle even, and very few other people had bike shoes laid out. I guessed that most of the people there were avid runners and very casual cyclists. I devised my strategy - take the run easy, and go all out on the bike. At least the bike being last set me up for a pretty kickass bike ride.

It was quite warm by the time we started - we started at 11:10, not 11:00, and they explained that it was to avoid the people who were speeding to get to church on time. Not kidding! Again, I took off a bit too fast off the starting line, but caught myself pretty quickly. Hold back, hold back, I told myself, and settled into a spot by myself. I won't lie, I was a little annoyed when a guy who was significantly older and heavier than myself started running next to me. He commented on my shin brace and I explained my injuries, and that I had run a 5k the night before, as if to justify my lack of speed. After a few minutes, I ended up ahead of him. The girl in front of me commented that she used to run cross country but hadn't ran in a while. She would take walk breaks, but as I got closer, she'd start running again, faster than I was running. The heat was uncomfortable and we were on completely unshaded country roads. I decided to just try to have fun. I waved at kids, I yelled "who dey!" at a race staffer in a Bengals jersey. When I got toward the end, the older guy caught up with me! What?? He said, "Come on, don't let ME beat you!" and I laughed. He broke into a sprint to get to the transition area, though, and that wasn't my strategy, so he passed me.

source: Don't I look like I'm skipping?

I grabbed a cup of water, sipped for a second, and dumped the rest on my head before trading my hat for my helmet.

source: I didn't even see the camera. I just wanted water! And PS - I love my new run happy shirt!

The guy who passed me had his bike right next to mine. I got out of transition before he did, and joked, "Try to catch me on the bike!" I could tell, though, that he was a cyclist - he was wearing all the cycling gear, nice bike, clip-on shoes, so I wasn't totally surprised when he passed me. I was actually kind of relieved when he did, because he was drafting off me for a few minutes and I was getting annoyed. Totally not fair, right? I put that out of my head pretty quickly when I realized that I was right about most of the others out there - I started passing a lot of people who had passed me on the run. I got my bike up to 19-20 mph and felt awesome. Unfortunately, there were some bumpy roads that slowed me down a bit, but I still kept picking off people to pass. Every time I saw someone, I assigned them a number and went after them. One...two...three...I ended up passing 13 people total on the bike. For a few minutes, there was a pretty strong headwind...and there was the fun of passing lots of manure-covered farms, which made breathing tricky. Overall, though, the bike was seriously fun. The weather was perfect and I had a great time.

Source: We had to dismount and run across the finish line or the mats might not catch us. This is me trying to run in bike shoes without killing myself!

I didn't know how I had fared, but I noticed that there were quite a few bikes that were still gone. I ended up coming in exactly in the middle of everyone. After a while, they put out a printout of finishers, and I was pretty shocked to see that I was #1 in my age group! I didn't get anything for it, but I got bragging rights. There was a massage therapist giving massages for a dollar a minute, with the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project (same as the race itself, which is another reason why I wanted to do it). I gave her $10 and told her to see what she could do with my very knotted-up calf.

So, I felt a little bit more validated after the Dual. I'm still not thrilled with my speed; I feel like I've plateaued a bit. The negative voice inside me wants to tell me that I only won my age group because it was such a small race. But, I've been fighting injury. I'm not 100%. I've barely been running, and I need to continue to let this heal. I'm a bit bummed that if I do the thanksgiving 10k, I may not do it in under an hour, even though plenty of people can do a 10k in under an hour. I'm also trying to be patient. I know if I heal completely by the time I start Pig training in January, I'll be able to step it up, run more, do more speedwork, and NEXT year can be the year my speed improves by leaps and bounds - like it was starting to do before I kept hurting myself. Patience is still not my strongest virtue.

The calf continues to get better, though. It's also trying my patience, and it does hurt in the aftermath of a run, but not as much and not for as long. Trying to run short and fast (aka 5k) is a little miserable, but it carried me for 10 glorious miles yesterday with very little pain. Today everything's tight but I'm planning on some yin yoga. Cross your fingers for some speedy healing!