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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And now for some positives

Positive: I'm doing well with the running/life balance thing. Not so well with the work/life balance thing, because work has been crazy lately, but I think I've managed to juggle all three balls without dropping one.

I was going to do a long run this morning. I hoped for at least 10. Then I got a crazy streak and thought I'd do 15. However, I let myself sleep in first, because I've been stressed and worn out lately. Then I had to deal with a work situation, which left me with about an hour to run. So I decided to make the best of it and get some 10k practice, since I'm running a 10k next week, and I haven't just done a nice 10k run in a while. I was going to try for negative splits, but once I got out there, I realized, yeah, I'm tired, and I hurt. 10 miles wouldn't have gone well anyway, and I think I kinda knew that. So I changed my plan and went for even pacing, and did it well. 6 miles with splits 9 seconds or less apart. (Mostly less.)

That also means that I hit my goal of 100 miles in February. Yay!

I want to meet that sub-60 10k goal....someday. Next weekend could be it, but that is too close to the edge of what I can do to be my goal. Today was 1:01 something, and I was tired. But next weekend I could be tired, or have an off day, and the 10k will be hillier than my neighborhood.

I want to be at my best to hit a sub-60 (and I'd have to be), but I'm also a regular blood donor. It's pretty important to me. Now is the best time to do it (since I'm eligible, obviously) because I'm going out of town for the weekend, and because it's over two weeks until the next long run. There's not going to be another good time for it until after the marathon. I weighed this pretty heavily, but in the end I decided that it's entirely possible that I won't hit a sub-60 after all, and if that's the case, I'm not too picky about what my time is. (Faster than thanksgiving would be preferable, but that's all.) So I bled into a bag tonight, I feel good about it, and I'll take whatever I can do next weekend even if my red blood cells haven't all bounced back into action again.

Balance. Priorities. Sub-60 will be easier in the future.

I will be hydrating like mad tonight.

As for the bad run the other day, I always tell people that progress is rarely linear. Is it realistic to expect that every run is going to be better and faster than the one before it? Obviously not. Sometimes it's two steps forward, one back. Regardless, the important thing is that a step back is never a step all the way back. My nearly 7 mile run where I felt like crap was still at a :16 faster per mile pace than the 10k I ran three months ago. It's at the pace that used to be reserved for my best and fastest runs, not too long ago. And THAT is exactly what I call progress.

I'm due for another really great run soon...after I enjoy my weekend off, make some more red cells, and regroup physically and mentally.

And finally......I ordered and received new running gear. YAY! First, I got a pair of Pearl Izumi Thermal Lite arm warmers. I figure that with our long runs starting before the sun comes up (same with the marathon!) I'm going to need something warm that I can shed when it gets too hot for it, and I don't want to carry a jacket at the marathon. Arm warmers may be the perfect solution. And they're cute!! I can't wait until it warms up enough so I can try them out!

And then I got a road ID. I had an inexpensive emergency medical bracelet that broke before too long. Girls on the Run gave me a gift certificate that covered most of the price of the Road ID, so I took advantage of that. It's way nicer than the cheapie one, and it's also almost cute (a cute color anyway - hey, I don't feel super attractive when I'm sweating and huffing and puffing, so I do what I can!) and the best part - I had two free lines after all my emergency info. So I added two slogans: "Pain is temporary" (a throwback to my roller derby days when this was one of our mantras) and "Don't dream it, be it" (from Rocky Horror Picture Show).

So now I have THREE motivating slogans on my arms. Hopefully that will help!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

my splits weren't negative, but the rest of me was....

Good runners are allowed to have bad days. I've accepted that last night was one of mine.

I'm starting to rethink this Tuesday night run thing. I haven't been able to find anyone that I consistently can stick with (although last night was actually fairly close.) It's hard for me to plan enough food to eat during the day so that I'm consistently healthily fueled, since I have to come straight from work. And finally, I don't think I'll ever be a night runner. Or at least not a post-work runner. My job is mentally taxing. I enjoy my job, really, and I do it because it's rewarding...but it tends to be mentally draining, and running is a very mental sport. So by the end of the day, I don't want to run. At least I don't want to do a run that involves much thought, which is what they make us do on Tuesdays.

However, getting up in the morning, and running to clear my mind just as all the stress of "here's everything I have to do today!" starts to sink in....that makes me happy. That makes me feel energized and that makes the rest of the day go so much better. I've had to cut back on my morning runs because of the marathon training schedule, and I don't like it.

I did decide to cut out running on Mondays, thinking that may help my Tuesday runs. It doesn't help that most of my "just ok" or downright crappy feeling runs have happened on Tuesdays, so I have to get over the slight feeling of dread I get when I'm on my way to the meetup spot.

Anyway, here's the analysis of a crappy run:

The Run

It was an 8-mile out-and-back. The plan: run 35 minutes (so probably not quite enough to cover all 4), then run back, but faster. Part of it was part of the Pig route, but the rest of it was completely unfamiliar KY streets and sidewalks.

The Good

I started out happy. I decided to try running with the 10:00 pace coach again, and she wasn't a bat outta hell this time. I ran at a pace that felt good to me, and it was below a 10. Mentally, I knew this was probably bad because the point was to start out slower. But when I had that thought, we were on a bridge with a long, narrow sidewalk with walls on each side, and it felt rude to slow down. So, feeling good with the pace, I decided to stick with it.

The Very Good

When I ran the Thanksgiving 10k, I  mentioned a bridge that I described as "a doozie" in KY. One that I needed extra musical motivation to cross. We ran across that bridge last night and I seriously had to shake my head to get rid of the thought that someone must have replaced the enormous hill bridge with a much kinder, gentler bridge. Nope, same one. It was the first time I'd set eyes on it since the 10k and it now looks, and feels, very easy. I didn't even have to slow down for it.

The Bad

About 2 miles in, it hit me that I wasn't feeeling so hot. My shins hurt, even though they've been largely fine lately. I couldn't get my muscles to loosen up. And, I was hungry. I thought sure I'd packed enough food for the day, but at 4:30, my stomach was begging for the pre-run balance bar I'd brought. So by 6:45ish when we started the run, the benefits from that were fading fast. And apparently I'd forgotten to replenish my emergency power bar glove box stash. So my energy was going, and almost all of the third mile was uphill. Blah. I lost the group and then caught up with them on the downhill that followed, but I had used most of my remaining energy on the hill. Then we turned around, and that last downhill became yet another uphill.

The Ugly

I did stay with the group for a while, but it didn't feel good, or fun. I would've considered walking back, except I knew I'd freeze if I did. The coach, I believe, was running positive splits too. Every time I looked down at my Garmin and thought that I MUST be running faster, I was seriously disappointed with my pace. Even though it FELT the same as that 9:40 earlier, it was way way slower. I seriously considered throwing the Garmin in the Ohio River.

Then, about a mile from the store, my foot caught on an uneven spot of sidewalk. (Oh yeah: the sidewalks in KY SUCK!) I flew forward, flapping my arms in slow motion like a cartoon character, and managed to land upright. My mouth flew open involuntarily, and out streamed a very loud succession of words that would rival the worst case of Tourette's syndrome. At this point I had lost my group, but I was surrounded by one of the faster groups that was passing me, and everyone was asking if I was ok. I realized I had to try to laugh it off, despite my dwindling sanity, and I tried. In reality, I was so over the run that I lost the ability to run and breathe simultaneously. I pulled off by the sidewalk, doubled-over, which only led to MORE concern and more of me trying to convince everyone that I was ok. The couple of minutes to regroup really did help. I tackled the bridge. One concerned fellow runner waited for me and ran with me for a bit, making conversation to make sure I was ok. That actually did help - a lot. And while I was keeping up with him, I looked down and noticed that my pace was 9:14. OK....I've still got it. He pulled on ahead of me when we were a few blocks from the store, which was fine.

So I was on my own for a little bit, and a carload of guys at a stop sign rolled down their windows. "What's up, shorty??" one of them yelled, and someone broke into a rap song featuring "shorty". REALLY?? Shorty?? We're in Newport, KY, for crying out loud. I cracked up and yelled back, "Sorry, you can't catch me!"

So the run ended on a happy note. I just wish the previous 6ish miles would've been better.

I think what also did not help is not knowing the route. I can run faster on my normal routes, because I know where the hills and the rough spots are and I know when they're going to end. I'm a type A control freak and I can't stand being led down random-feeling roads and hills that feel like forever. I'm not sure what the solution is - try to run on my own instead of the weeknight group run? Try running with a slower coach and just accept that, given the circumstances, those runs will be slower than I'd like?

(btw, my pace for this run - nearly 7 miles - was within seconds of my 15 mile run pace, and that pace had felt good for the long run. So yeah, that was slow.)

I was debating never going  back, but the comeraderie at the end saved me a little. I think I'll chalk it up to an off night for several reasons. If nothing else, the mental training - teaching myself to keep going even when it SUCKS - will help. Hopefully I have another fun run soon - after all, I really do this because I find it fun. Really!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Attention Whoring: Links!!

Because my running buddy Jene says I should post this....

Air Force Half Pictures/Video

You can see me 6 seconds into the video, in a pinkish shirt, gray capris, and white visor, right under the guy's head that's in the way. :) I do this giant exaggerated arm pump - you can't miss it. This video cracks me up because I can almost see the thought process - "OMG I can't believe I just did this!! Umm, what the heck do I do now??"

Also, despite the thumbs up, I look like I'm about to keel over in the first pic. Being super fair-skinned doesn't help!

And also, I haven't mentioned it yet, but I decided to be a SoleMate for Girls on the Run for this marathon. I looked into coaching for this season, but I decided - rightly so - that it wouldn't be doable with work and marathon training. (Actually, it really wouldn't be doable - physically or mentally - with my job. When I don't work with kids anymore, I'll consider it more seriously!) Plus I have an out-of-town wedding the same day as the GOTR spring 5k. Sooo, still wanting to do SOMETHING for the girls, I'm fundraising. It's also extra motivation to train, to make sure I finish what I've started, to get out the door when my bed feels sooo nice.

I think my idea is pretty clever, although you're free to check out my page and decide for yourself. (No monetary obligation, I fully accept mental support and good running vibes too!)

My SoleMates Page

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oh yeah....

I forgot this important PSA: a foam roller can work wonders on shin splints. Best $12 I've spent recently.

sorry ya'll

This blog needs updated like woah. I didn't fall off the face of the earth, but between balancing work and running and not neglecting my friends or husband (or my sleep), life is becoming a world of craziness. So here's what I've been working on:


When I find something that feels good, I tend to run with it (pun unintended) and get a little crazy. Obviously, training for a marathon feels good. (Mostly.) So lately, my world has revolved around running and making sure all the runs on the schedule fit into my life no matter what. Then two thoughts made me stop and really look at what I'm doing to myself.

The first: I don't know how the hell I'm going to make it to the marathon without absolutely wearing myself out.

Yeah. No good. I need SOME energy to actually, you know, run 26.2 miles. Having the life sucked out of me may just set me up to never want to run again after this, and I want to run. And I want to want to run.

The second: my husband is going to New York City for two weeks (well, two work weeks plus the weekend between them). He invited me to fly out and spend that weekend with him. Part of me (a part larger than I'd like to admit) wanted to decline because I would miss the long run that weekend.

You heard me. I would almost give up not only a trip to NYC, where I've only been ONCE, and a chance to NOT have to spend 13 consecutive days without my relatively new husband, because of a freaking long run.

So I've re-evaluated. I'm working harder on listening to my body and what it really wants me to do as far as speed and mileage, and I'm working harder on leaving the running shoes off in favor of some QT with the one person who puts up with me, and the fact that these days 90% of my time is spent running, or thinking or talking about running.

What this means: yes, I'm going to NYC. I got up early on Valentine's Day to run that morning so I had the evening to spend with my guy. I skipped a Girls on the Run group run so we could sleep in and then hang out in bed. When my shins were killing me, I swam a mile instead, and it felt great.

The world won't end if I don't follow the schedule exactly, and I will still have a successful first marathon even if I skip some runs because my sanity, my marriage, and my health are all necessary to completing that marathon.

Quickly now......

Recent runs

They have been good. Really. My running buddy and I stuck together yesterday for 15 miles. My farthest run ever!!! And the awesome news - we did it one minute faster than my half marathon race time. Yes, you read that correctly. 15 miles in 2:34. And it wasn't a push for speed - it was a (mostly) comfortable pace. After 13 or so, no pace on earth was going to feel comfortable, that's all. :) Some of my shorter runs have been in the sub-10 pace region - and again, that is what feels good right now. I'm purposely doing more hills and they're working out ok. Not great, but ok. Even the 150 foot monster near my house that I have only ran up ONCE (because I was afraid of it) is doable. OK, so I have to catch my breath at the top, but still. That's where I am and it's ok.

There was one crappy run - the group run where we did speedwork. The recipe was simple: 2 mile warmup. Repeated .6 mile loops (with 70 second breaks) at 1 minute faster than marathon goal pace. I'm still not sure what my marathon pace will be. I'd love to think 10 but I'm trying to be realistic. Anyway, I figured I could do .6 mile loops at a 9:00 pace. So I went with the 10:00 coach....who did the WARMUP at a 9:00 pace. Yeah, crap. I started doing the loops with her, realized I couldn't keep up, looked at my Garmin and saw that the first number was a 7, and said eff this. I did some of the speedwork on my own, then tried to run with the 10:30 coach. However, she was doing the speedwork at about a 9, and at that point, I was worn the f out. I felt defeated, but really, I felt a little aggravated that the coaches weren't sticking with what they said they were going to do. If I'd have known, I would've done that workout on my own, and it would've been a challenge, but not one that sucked the life out of me.

Anyway......everything else is going well. For real. I think that's a decent catchup for everyone and I'll try to stay on top of this bloggy thing more. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

January recap and the saga of Kate vs. Hills

January recap:

  • Ran 102 miles!
  • Average pace was probably something under 10:30
  • My comfortable pace (for shorter runs, up to 5-6 miles) is creeping down from 10 and change to probably right about 10.
  • Longest run: 12.64. Longest run since the half, and longest run ever other than the half.

Flying Pig, I'm gonna kick your butt!!

I'm pretty much over running in the cold. I don't mind it, but the feeling immediately afterwards just sucks. I hate being cold! (Yes, in a few short months, I'll be complaining about the heat!)

Now for the hill saga. It has been ongoing, but it has crept to the forefront of my running thoughts since Tuesday. Tuesday was the group run that I attend. Tuesday was also 30 degrees, windy, and rainy. Thank God I had found a waterproof fleece jacket at Target for less than $9.00 (!!) the day before. OK, it's a wee bit small - it's an XS, which I am not, but I think it's designed to fit baggy. So for me, it's a tight-fitting but not too-tight but I'd better not gain more than a couple of pounds running jacket.

Anyway, it's a monsoon. A cold monsoon. And then I'm presented with the idea that we are going to do HILL REPEATS! Yeah, no wonder they hadn't emailed us the agenda. So, we ran a mile. At the end of the mile was a decent sized hill. The coach and the other runners in my pace group plowed up it. So did I. Except at the top I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I swear everyone could hear it. I decided that was really not a good start to our hill workout. Thank God we had to stop for traffic at that point. I tried to consciously slow my breathing down to a halfway normal level while looking nonchalant about it.

(As an aside, I don't know what pace that coach officially runs, but I always end up running with him. I think he's a 9:30-10:00, because that's what we did on that mile stretch.)

Anyway, that was not the hill we were repeating. Oh no. The hill we were repeating was a monstrosity that soars up above the Newport, KY K-mart. Garmin told me it's about 80 feet high and about .4 miles long. I don't know how impressive that is as far as hills go, but we were not friends for long. We got to the top and, I'll admit, the view was impressive - I could see the river, the highway, the bridges, downtown Cincy - it was very nice, ONCE. But nooooo. Back down we went, and the downhill was just long enough that I forgot that was torture and decided that I was all ready for another repeat!

About 15 seconds in: OH YEAH. This sucks. Downhill again....and apparently downhills cause short-term memory loss. YAY, hill repeat! ....CRAP.

I was trying so hard to think positive. I have so many cheesy running mantras that I tell myself. I tried to remember them, focus on something else. But the only thing that my brain would think was something along the lines of, "I F***ING HATE EVERYTHING."

The girls in the group who had been running behind me apparently dropped off the face of the earth. They never passed me, but I never saw them when we looped around to go back up the hill again and again. I kept up with the coach (ok, ok, usually I caught up with him on the downhill) until about the fourth time in, when I resigned myself to just watching the blinking green light on his back as it got farther and farther away. The A group (yeah, the slower group) was supposed to do 4-5 repeats. I found my original thought (pre-hill) of "I'm gonna be an overachiever and do 6!" changing to "Please GOD let Coach Brad only do 4." But he did 5, and after the 5th, the green light was gone.

So I asked Coach Sarah where Coach Brad went. Coach Sarah is a tiny little ball of energy. She had been zipping up and down the hills like Sonic the Hedgehog, yelling constant words of encouragement. Coach Sarah always wears shorts, including in a 30 degree monsoon, and I can only conclude that she radiates so much energy that she must be constantly warm.

"Coach Brad went back. You can, too, if you want. could do one more."

I have no idea how this woman is so motivating, but she probably could have said " can drink this drain cleaner" and it would've sounded like a good idea. I asked her to run the hill with me. She slowed down her normal pace (which is probably about a 3 minute mile), yelling the whole time about how powerful my legs were going to be. She didn't say a word about my lungs. So when I got done chasing her to the top, I felt like someone had sat on me and pushed every ounce of air out of my lungs. Every attempt to breathe was a big squeak and I couldn't tell which way was forward anymore. I began to seriously wonder if a person can run uphill to their death.

So I did the logical thing. I plopped down right in a puddle. "CAN'T.......BREATHE..........DAMN............IT!!!"

She told me to get up and walk. Didn't work. Squatted down again. She told me to walk again. This time, I could. I got about a two second walk break. "OK, run now!!" Surprisingly, it worked. My air came back. I asked her to just forget what she just saw. We got back to the bottom, safely, and she asked a couple of other runners to escort me back. "How fast do you run?" I asked them. "We can slow down," was the reply.

Really? Apparently I just look slow when I'm not even running now??

We never really figured it out. They just started running a 9 something, and with no more hills, I kept up. For real I did. Even though my head was a mess and I had Lake Erie floating around in my shoes and I couldn't feel my fingers and there was no logical reason on this earth why I was still running.

The really fun part was getting back to the store, and scaring myself in the mirror. I'd forgotten I came straight from work, which meant I was wearing makeup, which meant I had mascara running down to my neck. Awesome. Surprised I didn't scare the hills into submission with my freakish appearance.

Today's long run featured more hills, although not as big and not as....repetitious. But they still kicked my butt. I slow waaay down on hills, more than I'd like. And today, I had huge issues breathing on hills. I had to create a new mantra - "Yes, you CAN breathe!" I guess I'll have to figure that one out.

The good news though: today we ran 13.1. And even though today was not a monsoon but a sleet storm, I still did it in 2:17. As in 18 minutes less than my previous 13.1 performance (which only had a couple of hills, and no sleet.)

If it doesn't kill me, it makes me stronger.