Saturday, October 31, 2009

Monster Dash Half Marathon

I won! As my dad always says - I had the most fun so I was the winner! If they gave a prize for that. But unfortunately the only thing that seems to get measured is your time. And why shouldn't it. It's a race after all. I'm beginning to see why people don't race, just to race. Why they only like to do it when they can do their best. But I still had fun today, so this was still a good race.

The Monster Dash is a bit of a challenging course. It's much hillier than I anticipated. I tried doing the whole "slow down so my perceived effort is constant" approach, but there were many rolling hills and towards the end I just didn't have it in me. My hip was giving me problems again, but not until about mile 9 or so, which is better than Des Moines. My knee felt great, but I think it's going to be tight for a few days. I learned that when my left quad worked itself to the brink, my tendons above my knee took over and absorbed all the impact so that it why I've been having pain. I need to strengthen my quad. I think that is why my hip is sore too. What's with you quad? You're big and bad and supposed to be a menacing force, yet you are punking out time and time again? Ok - so I have asked a lot from you lately. Right quad, maybe you can talk some sense.

Anyway, my main goal for this race was to not injure myself beyond recognition. I knew this race would be a set back in my recovery, but this was it, so I thought if I just took it easy enough the damage wouldn't be too great. Um yeah. I took it easy enough. 2:47:50 easy. Whew. That's hard to swallow. It's weird. I don't feel bad about that time like I'm ashamed or anything. I still ran 13.1 miles and I did the best I could do today, but I don't like it to be written down. In the books. I didn't want it to 'count'. Well then, I should have run it. But I think I'm gonna use my daylight savings hour 'fall-back hour' for this race, so my actual time was only 1:48. I didn't invent that joke. Allison's boyfriend did. It's such a good one though, I had to use it as my own - but I added this footnote so it's legal.

I've been talking a lot about the run aspect, but not so much on the fun aspect. The reason why I had a great day anyway. I had a friend who ran a 2:15 for her debut half. Debut running really, she's done a few 5ks but then came out and totally rocked. Plus she won the costume contest. So that was fun to be a part of her day.

My friend Allison (Ally as bloggers know her) and I were Chippendale dancers. I was skeptical at first, but it totally rocked! We looked fabulous! I'll post some pictures later. I think I've got to get this post published already. But I had a great time running. I stopped to linger at the water stops. Ate my gel, walked on. Ran on, waved to the locals. It was so leisurely. As my time shows. But I enjoyed the whole dang thing. So maybe while the time is hard to swallow, it's one of those things where I just enjoyed the race. Contrary to what I was just talking about in the first few paragraphs. Am I running for fun or for performance? Pick one and then stick to it. I had fun, that was the point. No need to get all worked up about performance. A week later, I've let it go.

I fully recommend this race. Two very enthusiastic thumbs UP!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photo Recap

Along the TCM course

Finish in SIGHT!

WOAH Nelly! Time to stop!

Good show for the camera at Des Moines 1/2

Truth is I was grimacing in pain.

These pictures make it look like I actually have a stride instead of a lame shuffle!

I juiced it at the end and managed to pass one last person. His chip time was faster though :(

What are you saying?

I'm saying, I think running and my body are no longer in love. They just want to be friends. The Des Moines 1/2 Marathon race report comes with a longer post-race report instead.

Just when I thought the weather couldn't be any better for a run than it was during TCM, we went to Des Moines and discovered IT COULD BE. It was about the same temperature, but it was sunny. The sun gave you just the right amount of heat in the crisp fall air. I wanted to go out with the 2:20 pace group. Why - I have no idea. (yes I do know - I always want to be better than I was) It was 2 weeks since the marathon and I wanted to PR the race by 4 minutes when I am at the point in my running ability when 4 minutes is a big deal. It's not like your first 10K and then 1 running year later you knock 23 minutes off. I pushed for the 2:24 I got at the Gopher to Badger 1/2. It ended up not mattering because the 2:20 pacer was gone like a rocket and left me in the exhaust. Note: I ran the first mile in 10:50 and the 2:20 pace group was NOT 9 seconds ahead of me even though we started at the same time.

Into the race. I went out around 11 minute miles and felt pretty good. Until mile 6. PAIN. My right hip absolutely ached. Not a sharp pain but felt like it popped out of the joint or something. I made it to mile 6, and decided this was it. The best I could do today was all that was needed and I needed to walk. When I started to run again, my knee was giving me major problems thus my stride was choppy and uneven and unbalanced and painful. On the verge of tears, I told myself to slow it down, be smooth, take smaller steps...just work through it. And that helped. For the rest of the race when my hip started to hurt I knew I had to walk to give it a break and then I was good for another 3/4 - 1 mile - which is about where the water stops were so it worked out well. It got better after mile 7 or so and I finished the race in 2:25:54! Only 2 minutes off my PR and I was walking a lot and just off a marathon! This tells me that when I could, I WAS RUNN-ING! I was pleased and besides the obvious hip and knee pain, I felt GOOD at that pace.

Post-race though, I'm concerned. I tried running on a treadmill the other day and felt ok. Only did 1.5 miles but the knee didn't hurt. Then I got a massage. But today, my hip is still hurting me and my knee is hurting in all kinds of new places. I've never been known as the one who ever over exerts leading to injury. I always do the minimum. I got a Dr. apt on Friday to just check things out. The fact that my right quad and right calf are sore like crazy and my same left muscles are fine, tells me that something was off during that race. I'm hoping the outcome is that I need rest and stretching and strengthening. I don't think it's any actual "injury". But Chad commented that maybe it's time for a rest and then to come back strong in November. And I'm thinking that is a super idea.


I am signed up for the Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon. I just want the medal that turns into a belt! But I am also acutely aware of what my body it telling me. I wanted that race to be my season ending high, but that ship might have sailed with the Des Moines half. And that's ok with me. I'm running 7-8 on Saturday depending what I hear at the Doc's and how I feel. I'm going to go day by day and see how I feel and relax a little instead of feel the pressure to get out there and maintain or run harder and faster. I do want to sign up for another 1/2 in January in FL, but what's important to me is that running and me remain friends. We can see other people for a while, but I think it is in both of our best interests to go on a break.

Friday, October 16, 2009

On my mind today

You know what hard? Consistency.

Consistency is what makes a good person great. It's a defining line between amateur and professional. Think of where you would be if you just took one thing and made a consistent effort at it.

I'm just saying. If I build one bookshelf, they don't call me a carpenter. I don't hit the driving range once and declare myself a great golpher.

Commitment. I can commit. I got married didn't I? I committed to training and running a marathon. I am committed to doing my job to the best of my ability. I need to commit to consistency. I'm hitting a post-marathon slump. Where I want to ride the rest of the year out in gluttony and laziness. But I haven't fully succumbed to that fate and I'll fight it to the death. My brain is still actively fighting the voice of the quitter and the enticement of McDonalds french fries (even though they are playing Monopoly at McDonalds and I LOVE McDonalds monopoly season).

Just some random ramblings on a Friday afternoon. Sunday, I am running the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon. My left knee has been hurting; think it needs more rest. But that causes my right quad to pull double duty to compensate for the lack of weight I put on my left knee and also causes my left hip to ache because instead of a normal step I push my hip out to take the impact that the knee complains about. Suck it up, Left Knee! We're doing this and we aren't out of the woods yet!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time to stop being polite and start getting real

For the past 3 months I have been being polite to my body. Because I was asking a lot to train for a marathon, I appeased it in other ways. Like abstaining from all other forms of exercise and indulging in every treat my heart desired. I was like a first time grandmother when the parents are away - "Anything you want dear".

And that worked for me for a while. I was exercising enough and building more muscle to live the dream baby. Eat whatever you want and still stay slim. Until today.

I can walk! I can walk normal again! There is some residual aches, but I can see the light, I have exercised the demons! But my pants are a little snug. And my abs are more like fl-abs. My shoulders seem less toned.

This woman I run with congratulated me for at least getting 1/3 of my day right when I told her I always start with a good-for-me breakfast, but it goes downhill from there. And while I love her outlook, we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is a habit. To paraphrase Aristotle. And to prove it, I've got great legs, but the rest of me feels like a french fry.

No complaining mind you - these are the facts Jack. And the facts are saying "lift a weight", "drop the brownie", "do a sit-up", "forget the bagel".

I'm not quite sure how this is gonna shake out, but the foggy vision in my brain has a few goals that I'll need to detail out. And soon.
  1. Cross train - yoga, weights, swimming, group classes, spin
  2. Think healthy - not indulgent. Fuel for the body, not comfort for the brain
  3. Get faster so I can run a 2:20 1/2 marathon on Halloween - a PR by 4 minutes

And just so that these goals are a real challenge; I'm super busy this week to start. But what else is new. That's life right. Life can't wait for that perfect day to start. Tonight before my post-marathon party with my group I'm going to try to go 1-2 miles on the treadmill and then some core work and/or weights. I better make sure I have a plan before I get to the gym. A plan ALWAYS helps. Never trust a man without a plan. Just kidding - I just threw that in there to add credibility.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Twin Cities Marathon - 2009

I really don't even know where to begin. This whole experience has been nothing like anything I've experienced before and not really much of what I thought it would be. It's just a strange feeling.

Usually, I remember everything. Details, feelings, times, distances. But Sunday is just all a blur to me. I got down to the dome in plenty of time to sit with my MDRA peeps and go to the bathroom. The weather was GREAT - 42 degrees. Never rained on my head once the whole way. Since I was in wave two, I sorta of heard a horn go off for wave one, but then next thing I knew is we were walking and then THAT'S IT. We were starting. For real.

I was with 3 other girls from my training group when we crossed the starting line but they quickly pulled away from me and I was sad. I really wanted to run with them, but I had to do my own thing and I kept remembering the coaches saying to take it easy and run your own race and my race called for 12 minute miles. So I had to let them go.

Here's what I remember from miles 0-11. Woah. This is easy. So slow. I got a smile for every fan. Heck even high fives and fist pumps. Man I got a long way to go. This is getting kind of monotonous. Fun, exciting, but monotonous.

Saw my parents and husband at mile 11 and I told them I was feeling great and practically fresh as a daisy. By the time I ran into them again at 13.5 I was starting to feel like I'd been running for 13.5 miles. Knees hurting. A little bored/tired. Not so fresh anymore. Not really thinking about anything.

Miles 14-20 got worse. I kept thinking this is where the rubber hits the road. This stretch is where my mind takes over for my legs and I trust in my training. I had to believe I would get to 22 and I focused on 15. Then on 18. Then on 21 because I knew I would see my family. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. I wanted to know if my legs starting to hurt already was normal. Were other runners feeling this way too? But looking back, I was actually doing great. I wanted to run 5 miles per hour average, and I hit 20 at 3:59. Plus I was really passing people while I was running. I was achy and tired, but still had some juice in me.

I blew right by the wall at 20 excited to see my family at 21 and friends with M&Ms and oranges at 22. I had a HUGE crowd at 21. Aunts, cousins, parents, husbands (just one of those actually). And I got another burst of energy. I surged on to mile 22 and saw my friends and that propelled me to mile 23. At mile 23 ish (I think) I saw some folks from my MDRA group. They had a huge sign so I could see them from a ways back and they cheered me on. Then the coach of our group was there a little bit up and yelled my name and to stay strong. All this lasted until about 23. 23-25 were tough. I lost 2 minutes off my pace somewhere between 20-25 even with all that cheering. I think it probably happened after 23 to be honest. I started walking at the 1/2 miles more and more.

Going from 25 to 26.2 was great. For some reason 1 mile didn't seem like that much to me. There were fans and a lot to look at and it flew by. Plus I ran into a lady that works at the same company. Different building, but she was really supportive and we ran together and encouraged each other. The last .50 at least I think I had a pretty good kick. I caught site of the capital and there was no stopping me. I was so glad TO BE DONE. Five hours is a long day! Official chip time: 5:17. And I look back and I can't think of one place where I could have done more. The way I felt finishing, well, I might not have had that same feeling if I didn't walk at this point or that point. So absolutely no regrets. I just ran a perfect race.

But here is what I didn't expect. I've had more emotional races. I think I've even had more meaningful ones. Don't get me wrong. THIS WAS AMAZING! But I didn't get too emotional at the end. And I thought my first 1/2 marathon was harder. Heck, I think my first 10k was harder. In my opinion I was well trained for this race. And 20 miles is hard. 26.2 hurts the same, you just have to be smarter in the beginning of the race and then hold on for longer. I owe a lot to the coaches and trainer in my group from MDRA. They know how to run marathons and train people.

Here's what I think of the marathon. It's a strange race. Because you spend the first 1/2 and then some holding back, pacing steady, waiting for the 'race' portion to start. Then by the time you get to the 'race' portion you don't have anything left to race with and you are just trying to hold steady like you did in the first 1/2. That's just my take at my ability level. But it's like you are waiting for the moment to go, and when the moment arrives you don't actually go you just hang on.

Next on tap - email the Des Moines Marathon and drop down to the 1/2 marathon. I originally signed up for this race before Twin Cities and until yesterday thought maybe, if I walk a lot, maybe I can do it. I know I could. But I don't want to. The time and energy and pain.....nope. The 1/2 will be a great time. I'll take it easy, and then be ready to rock the Monster Dash on Halloween.

I was just an average runner. Nothing notable really. I found a good group and followed directions and I ran a marathon. Anybody can!! You can!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Hush Falls Over the Crowd

All's quite on the front line. I'm a little antsy. Like I have all this pent up energy that is not being exerted anywhere. Huh. I never thought I would find it difficult to take it easy.

I'm ready, sure, but apprehensive. In the way that you know you have something huge looming and the task seems daunting and overwhelming. Like most other things in my life, I've just tried to ignore it.

I know it will be EXCITING. I know I'm gonna feel so BLESSED to be in that starting corral. I'm totally focused on the GLORY. But that pesky feeling of impending work and pain keep side tracking me.

So far for this marathon, I've stopped drinking alcohol (most of the time), I've put on weight, I'm about to experience a lot of pain which will quickly be forgotten when they put a medal around my neck, I'm tired all the time, I've got chafe marks that won't go away.....wait am I training for a marathon here or was I pregnant? Just kidding.

This whole wonderful experience will be coming to a close in a few days and for that I am a little sad. You only get one go around for the first time of anything. I've enjoyed it all. Even in the last few weeks when I was getting a little burned out. I know I've changed. My views towards running have actually changed. This is already great. The work ahead and finishing is only the final scene.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Holding Back

This weekend I was registered for two races. The Blubber Run 5K on Saturday and the City of the Lakes 25K on Sunday. Here's why:

  1. We ALWAYS do the Blubber Run. It's only for fun; people dress in costume and there is a beer stop at the 1/2 way point. And lunch afterwards and then prizes for the costumes.
  2. I signed up for the 25K way before I knew I wanted to run a marathon and it was supposed to be my long distance run this year.

Here were two races that I was registered for that I knew I would not be "racing". What I didn't know was how much that would SUCK. It's totally mental I know, but it is soooooo HARD to be walking something that you KNOW you could run and have all sorts of people pass you.

My plan for the 5K was to run super-de-duper easy for the 1st half and then walk the second. I was planning 20 miles on Saturday and I just wanted to be out there for fun, not to run. I started out with a light jog, but the next thing I knew my heart rate was up and I was passing people. Realizing this, I stopped and walked. And then the WORLD passed me. But, but...but...I can run with you! I just can't today :( Sad. Maybe people could tell by my super athletic physique that I was probably a true competitor, but was maybe injured or something. Maybe. Then I met my husband at the 1/2 mark, we had some root beer and then he walked the rest of the way with me. That helped. Because 2 people walking means they are enjoying the day, but 1 person walking a race means......absolutly nothing, I'm just paranoid.

I wasn't actually "racing" the 25K the next day either. This was my last long run of marathon training. The race is 15.5 miles so the plan was to run 4.5 before the race and then use then take advantage of the water stops during the race. Except again, I found it hard not to want to attempt to compete.

First off, I miscalculated my pre-race run and ended up doing 5.5 instead of 4.5. As I approached the start line I could hear them announcing 8 minutes to race time. Shoot! Then 4 minutes, and I started to pick up the pace. So NOT what you want to be doing when you have 15+ miles ahead of you. I got to the start line with enough time to eat a gel, drink 2 glasses of water and take off. While everyone else was excited and took off on mile 1 I stayed the ever-so-slow pace and was working on mile 6.

My mile times for the first 10 miles were 11:12-11:30. And it got hot fast. And it was lonely. I've run every long run this season with my group. I missed them. It wasn't long before I was amongst the last runners. But I forbade myself to look back, repeating over and over that this is not a race. It's not your race. By mile 18 (mile 12.5 for the racers) I'd had it. I didn't think I would make it around Lake Harriet one more time. But what else are you gonna do? My average pace slowed way down for the second 10 miles. Backwards from what I wanted to do. A 72 year old lady beat me. Total Tortoise and the Hare situation here. I would pass her, then walk and she would pass me again. Next thing I knew she was out of sight and I was strugging to go a half mile at a time.

So I finished. 21 miles in 4:11. 5 to go for the marathon and I have mixed feelings about that. It's weird. Of course I'll make it. No doubt there, but will I like it? Does it get easier after your first marathon? Like maybe knowing what's in store helps a little? Or you become a better runner or something? Or maybe 1/2 marathons are in fact "where it's at".

Only time will tell. But in the meantime....bring on the taper!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another personal best - 19 miles!

"Look to the heavens, you can look to the skies.
You will find redemption staring back into your eyes.
There is protection and there's peace the same,
burnin' your ticket for that long black train."

Today's 19 miles was uneventful - just how you want it to be. I do feel better after getting this run in the books, and I feel like I'm gonna be ok. I'm still surprised at how one can run even when things start to hurt as bad as they do.

We started out at a great pace and walked about every 10 minutes, which really helped later on in the run. I think I should of had 4 gels instead of 3 and I am going to need to eat real food on race day during the run. I think maybe a rice crispie bar. I just need something sitting in my stomach.

I tested out my race day outfit and it worked pretty well. Found out all the body glide spots that will need it. There aren't too many. In general, I'm not prone to a lot of chaffing. I'm more The Princess and The Pea type. I bruise like a peach. I wore my hydration belt and I feel like I got punched in both sides of my waist where the water bottles kept banging on my hips. I'm sure I'll have two lovely bruises there tomorrow.

Sleep is the only thing on my mind right now. But while everything else about me is worn out, I have a renewed outlook on running that everything is gonna be ok.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shaken Faith

"There's an engineer on that long black train,
Makin' you wonder if the ride is worth the pain,
He's just waiting on your heart to say,
Let me ride on that long black train."

"If your going through hell, keep on movin',
Don't slow down,
If your scared run through it,
You might get out, 'for the devil even knows your there."

Where have I been? Busy I guess. These two songs have been going through my mind a lot lately. I guess they just have meaning as to what I've been feeling. How much longer is training? How much further do I have to go next week? Why did I sign up for this? Cuz I'm kind of over it. Just a little bit. I still am very excited for the race and feel good about the progress I've making and what I've done, but mine eyes have been awakened to the pain that is The Marathon. It's similar to when I was awakened to the pain that was the 10 mile, but it goes much deeper. Much deeper. It's just something that your body has to adjust to and it's always harder the first time around.

I had a good 17.5 mile run. It ended in pain and a lot of rest but generally a good feeling.

Tomorrow I'm doing 19. Close to 20 but not quite. I'll save 20 for a few more weeks.

While the long runs have been good, I've had a few rocky weeks. Last week I was on vacation in New Mexico, land of 5500 feet altitude. And I freak myself out, probably more than necessary, about how I will be affected. We were busy hiking and cooking and spending time with family, and a planned total of 19 miles, turned out to be a measly 3. The long run (which was a cutback week) of 10 miles never happened and I only did 3.2 on the Sunday we left.

This week was more of the same. Tuesday night left me devastated, running 10 miles after work with the group. Because I wasn't ready for 4 miles the next morning, it didn't get done because my evening was full, so I missed my window. No biggie, but then I didn't run yesterday either; busy evening but I could have made a choice to run instead of what I did choose. Chalk up another missing 6 miles. I'm at a 10 mile deficit for this week then too. Grrrr. I feel like crap about it and I don't want to feel like crap. I want to feel like I did when I was writing about how prepared I was going to be and how I would laugh in the face of "The Wall" come race day.

I would like September to be a solid month. No - be firm. September WILL BE a solid month. I'll be out of town again for the week of Labor Day so that week will be a challenge. I want to run a solid 5 days a week. Even if I can't get the exact mileage in (although that will be a secondary goal) the main goal to hit is 5 days a week for all of September.

Doing the math, it looks like I hit 77% of my running schedule in August (based on # of days ran over scheduled). I think I can do better. Can somebody who has ran a marathon, tell me that I'm still doing ok? I wish I could say that I was self-assured and guilt free. That I always do my best and never look back, but right now I just want to be assured that, while there is room for improvement, I'm not totally lost. I can still have a solid performance and get back to 100% in the game.

I have a hunch this will all be behind me after my run tomorrow and I'll feel back on the wagon. New shoes are in my future as well so there's always that to look forward to. I'm debating going back to Pearl Izumi's which I LOVE, or sticking with another like of Mizuno's. Tough call.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gopher to Badger 1/2 Marathon

I'll get to the good stuff right away and then explain in detail how it all went down.
  • Personal Best time for a 1/2 marathon!
  • Rainy and overcast > sunny and humid
  • Cool t-shirt and medal
  • Nice route
  • Overall feeling of confidence and still has some gas to burn at the end

Here's how it all went down. Conversations about this race I found typically go like this:

ME: I'm running the Gopher to Badger Half"

OTHER PERSON: "Have you ever run that one before?"

ME: "No. But it's on my birthday so I signed up"

OTHER PERSON: "Ooooh. It's a hot one. Good luck. Be prepared for the heat. It's just cornfields and a highway and you. But have fun!"

Even the weather man predicted 94 degrees and 99.9999999% humidity. So I was prepared. I wore a hat and my lightest colored outfit which happened to be my MDRA race singlet to represent. I had elecrolyte tablets and I kept telling myself that it would be hot but I would be ready.

Race day: Overcast. Lightning. Cool. I mean how can you be so WRONG? It wasn't even CLOSE to hot and humid. But that was all good because everyone knows that rainy and cool > hot and humid any day. It ended up raining the first 2 miles and then just being a regular overcast cool day. Besides from running with wet shoes it was great! It was a route with a lot of highway running, but I liked it. I ran with some girls from my group. We stuck together up to about mile 8 and then we started to fan out.I ran this race just right. It was exactly what I needed. When you do the right thing in training and then can run a race like this where it just feels so good your confidence skyrockets and you just want to keep working at it the way you have been. Maybe even a little more. I'm going to be so well prepared for this marathon it's not even going to be funny. So if you thought you were going to laugh at my preparations - sorry folks - it just won't be funny :)

We ran up the hills because we've been training for hills. I kept on passing people miles 9-12. Just look at my splits between those miles. Crazy how good I felt.

Mile 1: 10:49

Mile 2: 11:16

Mile 3: 10:51

Mile 4: 11:24

Mile 5: 11:20

Mile 6: 11:11

Mile 7: 11:18

Mile 8: 11:52 (stopped for a bite to eat and water)

Mile 9: 10:52

Mile 10: 10:19 (WOAH NELLY! Rock star mentality! I was jumpin into crowds just to see if they would carry me!)

Mile 11: 10:48

Mile 12: 10:21

Mile 13: 11:27 (includes the .1)

Mile 12-13 I had to talk myself into keeping it up. I did slow down but for the most part I had a great 2nd half. I ended up doing a gel at mile11 which I think helped for the last push. And I also took an Aleve before the run to help with the knee pain.

One of the girls I was running with left us about mile 8 and just kept on truckin! She finished about 5-6 minutes before us. I tried catching the second girl I was with; got close, but then she must have dropped the hammer because she sped up and I never caught her. She finished about 30 seconds before me. My official time was 2:24:14, but given that we were behind the start line and it wasn't chip timed, my watch time put me at 2:23:57. Not a big difference, but at a quick glance you only notice the 24 and the 23. Either way, it was an awesome PR - from 2:29 in the Vegas 1/2 and I feel well on my way to breaking the 2:20 marker.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Takin' er easy

On Monday night I ran with my girls who are working on their first 5k. I set them up with the Couch to 5k plan and said I would run 1 night a week with them and they do the other 2 on their own. It's been so much fun! I'm so excited to see the running excitement on their faces. My cousin is especially gung ho. Like I said - awesome to see. Running makes me feel so good, I think everyone should be able to experience that some way or another. Anyway, we go at a pretty easy pace for me, but man, my knee was giving me troubles. I kind of hobbled along the whole time thinking that this can't be good. I spent a good deal of time afterwards foam rollering, stretching and doing strength exercises.

Today then for our group run, we did hill repeats. It was about a 1/2 mile long incline that we just looped 6 times (ahem - or some of us did 4). We warmed up for 2 miles and my knee felt ok, didn't hurt as often or as much. Then I chose to run only the uphill and walk down. It ended up to be about 4.5 miles. I think that the downhills that I have been running each Tuesday night are what's contributing to my knee trouble. At any rate, it feels good now. I'm going to finish tonight with the same foam rollering/stretching/strengthening routine and take the rest of the week easy. I want to keep it around 25 miles and make sure I'm rested for the half on Saturday.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday Long Run Report

I made it. Longest run ever! And 14 felt so good, I did 15.5! That's a complete lie. 14 was rough, but I was half way around Harriet and the other 3 girls and I decided to just finish it out. We had run the whole way together, we should finish together. Is was a really good run. Difficult, but fun. I haven't broken out like that in a long time. It's been over a year since my last longest run ever and I forgot how much it hurts. But it seems like the higher the mileage, the more it hurts to add. Or maybe that's just where I am at right now. I felt really good about that run.

Around mile 11 my lower back on the left side starting hurting so bad. I've never experienced that before. The pain was shooting down and around through my hip. I was stretching every which way I could every chance I got, but it didn't help much. Even walking later that day and the next I would get the pain. Seems like certain movements would make it flare up. Good thing I'm going to the Dr for a tune up soon!

This Saturday is the Gopher to Badger 1/2 and I'm looking forward it. Two of the girls I run with signed up also so that will be really nice to see friendly faces. I've heard it's hot as you run on a highway lined with corn fields, but I'm going to take my electrolyte tablets that I just got and see how that works for me. After hearing reports about the heat this may not be a PR kind of day, but we'll see how it goes. I'm out for fun on this one for sure. It's my birthday for crying out loud - I refuse to be disappointed.

Sunday was 3-5 miles of recovery, which turned out to be 2.5 miles for me. Eh - close enough. Because it was ROUGH. Oh was I exhausted. But today? Waalaa!(that's the American spelling) ack to 100% again. Can you believe it? I can't. I was so stiff and sore and tired Saturday and most of Sunday, I didn't know if I could make it on Tuesday. But the recovery walk on Saturday and the run on Sunday WORK WONDERS. Veteran runners are probably thinking "Well, duh" but this is new to me, so I am still in shock that running when you are tired actually helps.

I still have that right quad that feels strained. The massage therapist said it was noticeably tighter then lefty. And my left knee still makes itself know that it is not happy, I'm assuming because it is picking up the slack of Right Quad. I have a Birthday Physical scheduled for Wednesday and I'm going to ask the Dr. about all this. I don't know what to try to nip it in the bud....PT, chiropractor, stretching? I'm still on the fence about chiropractors helping much, but some people swear by them. And I hate to spend a lot of money on PT if there are some exercises I can do at home. Especially since I am in the Annoyance Phase of aches and pains. I just don't want to enter the Debilitating Phase at any point.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Missed it byyyyyyyyyyy......THAT MUCH!

My first 100 mile month will have to wait until next month. I opted to rest on Wednesday instead of run. Yesterday, I did 6.5 which puts me at 96.5 miles for the month. I know I said I wouldn't leave it that close, but I think I must. Tomorrow I am going to attempt 15 miles. Which to me, sounds like I might as well be saying I'm attempting a triple twirl half flip spiral pike on a tight rope with no net. It will take focus, concentration and nerves of steel!

Last week I chose to get the extra miles in the day before my long run, but that was a long run of 10 miles. And 3 super easy, slow miles wouldn't hurt I didn't think. And they didn't. But given the general condition of my legs today, I know the wise choice is to rest up and hopefully be a little more prepared for the run tomorrow. I'll still get in over 30 miles for the week and that is another first. What is the general condition of my legs? They are tired. They are a little sore. Mr. Right Quad feels like it is strained, on the verge of a pulled muscle, but doesn't hurt quite as much. Mrs. Left Hammy send shooting pains down through the back of my leg every once in a while. Like it needs to be stretched out real good or something. I've been stretching, foam rollering, resting. I hope that is all enough. I feel like I need one really good rest to regain strength. But I guess that is the point of marathon training, you have to train your body to work without a lot of rest because there isn't going to be a lot of opportunity for rest come race day. Fatigue will set in and I'll have to know how to keep going despite that feeling.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow though. It's a route I know. I'm getting my Megan Muffins tonight (aka - Great Harvest Oatbran Fruit Muffins). I'm going to be early after watching a movie. I'll probably have Punch Pizza. All arrows point towards success at the moment!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Poptarts are dead to me

When I was pondering what my pre-triathlon meal was going to be a few weeks back, I decided that PopTarts were the perfect choice! And I was oh, so sick of bagels.

1. I NEVER eat poptarts. When I was a kid, mom and dad never bought them, so my only experience with these awesome frosted toasted pasties was when I would go to grandma's for breakfast. She never disappointed.
2. The are full of sugar. In fact, I think they are only made up of sugar and carbs. Just what you need
3. They would burn hot and fast for the fuel I would need on race day.
4. I would be able to enjoy them guilt free because who cares if they are 200 calories per tart and only keep you full for 30 minutes. I was running a triathlon. I'll burn that off in the swim.

The PERFECT choice.


1. I burned that off in the swim. Actually, I digested that fully 1.5 hours before the swim. I got up so early to make it to transition that I was hungry again an hour before the race started.
2. They burned hot and fast. Much to fast.
3. There was no sustenance to keep me going. Nothing in them but sugar which depleted to rapidly.
4. They are gross. Yes. Gross. I guess I've grown out of that love affair. They were sooooo not as good as I remember.

Since there are 4 poptart packages in a box, I tried the poptart breakfast before a few long runs. With the same result. I guess I'm a slow learner. Just too many calories of sugar that burn way to fast and leave me empty. Maybe they would be a better mid-race snack. Except for the fact that I find them disgusting now.

So PopTarts are dead to me.

My new pre-long run/race day breakfast is going to be Megan Muffins, named after my cousin who bakes and delivers them. Actually, they are Great Harvest Berry Oatbran muffins but I like to call them Megan Muffins since she works there and probably makes the best ones ever! Great fuel, lots of carbs, enough sugar and they are great with a little peanut butter. I gotta go pick some up at the local Great Harvest for my 14 miler on Saturday. It will be my longest distance EV-AR. I'm so excited, I'm going to go for 15!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Absolutly content...but maybe a little thirsty

On Saturday we had a cutback long run. Which, seriously, life just keeps getting crazier. I woke up thinking - Phew! Just 10 miles today. I can do that. WHA - -?? Since when did 10 miles become "JUST". But the coach brought it back to reality when he said "Even though this is a recovery long run week, it is still 10 miles, so take it seriously." Good point I thought. We ran in a place called Hidden Falls. I figured we were running TO something. Something good and spectacular. Nope. I saw no Hidden Falls. We ran to a road and turned around. Highly disappointing. On the way back someone told me the falls were hidden - that's why we didn't see them. Huh. Go figure.

But falls or no, this was a good run. It only ended up being 9.5 which isn't helping me reach my 100 mile month. Due to a lovely evening out with family on Thursday I didn't get my 6 miles in that night - good choice though, dinner was better than running on that particular evening. I did 3 very easy, very slow miles on Friday instead, but that leaves me 3 short for the week. I didn't want to push it too much before the long run on Saturday. I've been having trouble with my right quad. It just aches like I pulled a muscle. But it comes and goes during the run. I'll have to talk to some professionals just to make sure things seem kosher and if there isn't anything I can do to get it better.

Today, I made up a little ground by doing 4.5. Altogether nice run. It was followed by an even nicer dinner of corn on the cob, grilled green beans, a baked potato with chives that we grew, a salad with lettuce that we grew and we split a turkey burger. Yum, yum. Watermelon for dessert.

What a great weekend. To top it all off, I just checked on my friend Allison who was doing her 1st Half Iron Man. Don't worry - she finished hours ago, but I like to make sure. And of course she was A-OK. But WOW! Very proud of you. Congratulations to her!!!!!

Here are some thoughts I had during my long run on Saturday. Every time I go out now, I feel like I have a noble cause. Like there is a divine purpose that will be so worth the effort. Every run I do is not just for general fitness, to burn calories or for only fun; it's so I can toe up to the start line, for every mile I cross I can be confident that I'll make it and then 26.2 miles later I can RUN across the finish line. It's all so very personal and individual, yet it's being part of a team of thousands. EVERYBODY works hard and when race day comes you can look around and know that you put your time in too, just like the thousands of runners with you. It amazes me that I can be part of that group. Because quite honestly, while I believe everyone could run if they want to, not everyone does. Not everyone puts in that effort because it's hard; but I do. Not saying that running is IT, but for anything in life that we do - look around at your peers. Be proud of where you are because not everybody does what you do. I certainly never thought of myself as one who pushes themselves physically to the max by choice. Or one that really works hard for anything. I'm more of a good-enough, close-enough, mostly-finished type of girl. But I'm not always it turns out. And when I'm not, I guess I surprise myself. It makes me happy when I prove to myself I can.

And this is my first marathon. I'm never going to have another first marathon. That thought struck me and while I am enjoying running now it's easy to feel motivated and happy, but I want to make sure I keep that as my focus in case I lose those feelings. Every run I do gets me closer to the race and closer to the end of my first marathon and then this awesome experience is over. I'm soaking it up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starting to Feel It

I'm training for my first marathon and I'm starting to feel it in more ways than one. The good way is that I really feel like I am having fun and enjoying my running. I don't mind getting out there knowing that the time I spend now will really pay off later. It's been a great summer weather wise - not too hot/windy/rainy. As long as I am healthy, everyday is a good day for a run.

But I can also feel it in my body. Last week I was so excited that I ran 28 miles - by far my most ever. I'm going for week two of upper 20's running and I can feel it. One week was good, but maintaining it week after week? Well, it will get better, but in the first few weeks my legs are putting up some resistance. I've noticed that my individual runs have included more walk breaks and have been on the short end of the spectrum. I'm looking forward to just 10 miles for a long run this week.

In other marathon news I am signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon and way more excited about it than I thought I would be! This means I am signed up for TCM on 10/4 and Des Moines Marathon 10/18. Ha! Technically, I am entered in both, but will not be doing the full marathon in Des Moines. I'm changing my entry to the 1/2. So October will consist of two 1/2 marathons and a full, followed by November which will consist of sofa lounging and neighborhood strolls with the dog. And Thanksgiving which I LOVE.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Milestones

I ran 28.61 miles last week. To be exact. That is the most miles in one week in the 3.8 years I have been running. Also, in the month of July I will hit my first 100 mile month! It will be close to get 100 in, but you can bet that I'm not going to get to 98 and say "oooh! So close! Maybe next month".

I want to start doing yoga on my days off. It could be good for both strength training and stretching. Probably just what I need. I think it all started years ago when I was going to yoga regularly with my friend Heather. I gained some flexibility back then and I think it has stuck with me for the most part but I need to maintain it. I started with an unofficial workout on Sunday. We had a small class but they were great learners.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Confessions of a Good Intentions Runner

Maybe if I put it in writing I'll feel better. I didn't do a long run this weekend. Ok? There. I also did not do a short run. I competed in a triathlon and that was it. Which was challenging. But it wasn't a long run. I only ran 14 miles this week and it should have been over 20.

I did enjoy the break. I rested. Got tons of house work done. Read magazines and my book. Walked the dog. Napped. All enjoyable!

But the guilt.......oh the guilt. Because mostly - I JUST DIDN'T FEEL LIKE IT. And that can't be a valid excuse when training for a marathon. Or any race that you want to do well in really.

So what's a girl to do? Get back on the plan and make sure weeks like this happen very infrequently. And when they do happen, like if I miss a run, I better consciously make the decision and then enjoy the choice. For the rest of the summer I've got nothing to do but run.

Guilt free. I shall think of it no more and look forward to an awesome running week!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

All smiles!

The Lifetime Triathlon - once again a great day! Last year, I swam a little, biked a lot and did the usual running. This year I swam a lot, biked almost none, and ran the usual. The results then, are a little confusing.

I was 8 seconds slower in my swim time. Kind of irked about that. I swam 10 times the distance in preparation this year than I did last year. I thought I was getting better. I can't explain it. I thought in the swim this year I wasn't as worn out, I swam more of it, but yet, the results were the same!?!? Baffling. Let's move on.

The bike was 6 seconds slower. Which begs the question, why did I train at all last year?? After about 5 minutes of biking, my legs were shaking. After 5 miles, I would stand to go up the hills and there were times that my legs almost collapsed from under me while standing because the just didn't have the muscle to support me. I didn't know how the run was going to go because I was pushing so hard on the bike just to keep it going. And after 15 miles of biking. I WAS DONE. Really, the sprint triathlon is really where it's at. I love this distance. Just enough variation in activity to keep it interesting, but not long that you have to put in the many, many hours of training.

The run. I'm a runner. I like running the best. I kept thinking, ok just get to the run. You'll fly in the run. You're good at the run. Relatively speaking of course. I took off running and it was super weird. I tried going slow, but I don't know how fast I was going. I don't even know how my legs were moving, but I told myself just 5 minutes then you can break. At 5 minutes, I though I could do 10 and at 10 I knew I could do the first water stop. I walked the 2 water stops, probably 30 seconds in total, and just ran. And it felt GREAT! I shaved about 2 minutes off my run from last year. In fact if it would have been a full 5k instead of just 3 miles, I would have PRd. 9:54 minute miles!! Holy cow! How the heck does that work? I run my fasted 5k EVER, AFTER swimming and biking??. I also cut 1.5 minutes from my total transition time so overall, I was 3.5 minutes faster this year. All because of running a changing clothes. I know where my priorities are.

And I feel completely redeemed after Grandma's. Hey, some days just aren't your days. But many, many of them ARE my days.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tomorrow Grandma's is officially history!

I found some photos from marathonphoto of Grandmas. The first one is me around 6 miles. Notice how I still have good form and my pinkies are extended out with proper etiquette and everything?

I like to call this next one "Tenacity". I love that word. I think this was on the way up the bridge hill around mile 9. I was thinking - NO CHANCE I am walking this thing. You can walk at the top. Absolutely no other option. Or I was thinking "Ew gross, don't step on that dead bird".

And finally, the finish. That confused look on my face is me wondering what the hell just happened. The words 'hit by a truck' come to mind. I was already trying to forget the race and seek out my Great Harvest race rolls - which they didn't have.

Tomorrow for the Triathlon there will be nothing but smiles. All I'm demanding tomorrow is everything I've got. Nothing more. I don't want to give more than I've got; the results of doing that...well we all know how that ends. I'm going to write my times from last year on my hand so I know what I have to do. Who know how I will be able to perform, but I've already visualized the results and in my mind, I'm happy. And Grandma's will be but a distant memory of a day that opened the door for my glorious comeback.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Good run, still in a funk

I just can't seem to get the Ricky Bobby quote out of my head "I wanna go fast". Slower is better, get in the time, just try to finish your first marathon. I think this last 1/2 proved for me that you can go out to fast and suffer in the end for it. It's hard to admit that 11:30 is my pace and my first marathon will probably be at least 5.5 hours since I had faster 10k and 5k times. Yet my 1/2 marathon time isn't really up to par. They say it will all pay off in the end, but I can't see that now. I wanted to be a faster runner this year, but fast and marathon don't belong in the same sentence for me. I feel like I was ready to see what I could do and they are saying hold back, now is not the time to let 'er rip. I believe all that is true; they are the experts, but it a hard mental thing to overcome.

I do enjoy running more lately now that I know I will be able to complete the distance with no problem because I'm slowing down. That's a nice feeling. Maybe I'm just in a funk and it has nothing to do with running.


I haven't been doing anything really blog worthy lately. Well, nothing that I have wanted to express or talk about. Last week I ran 21 miles, which was the first 20 mile week of 2009! Felt good about that. This week should be 20 also even though I skipped out on my run last night. I shouldn't be doing that. I need to get every run in that I have scheduled and be consistent.

A few things my coaches in the running group said that stuck with me. The goal of the marathon (for most of us) is running the whole thing without slowing down. Also, at this point in the game they said it's how much time you dedicate to running not necessarily the miles. Just get out there and pound the pavement so your body builds all of the good scientific things it needs to run for 5 hours. I like to think that I should be enjoying this time. It's laid back, and I'm just trying to go and go and go. I don't have to push yet, I'm still building. For some reason that seems easier to me. It's not really. 10 miles is still 10 miles, but mentally it seems more relaxed.

This Saturday is the triathlon. It should be fun again! I don't think I'm going to do much better than last year like I aspired to, but again I stress, it should be fun! Only thing is, I will miss another long run, which kind of bothers me. I'm a rules girl. If my coach or plan says 12 miles, I do 12 miles for fear that in 3 months from now, at mile 18 I'll have a complete break down because I ran a triathlon plus 17 miles (over the week) instead of a 12 miler. I'm afraid of 'losing it'. And one thing about running I've found is that if you follow the plan, you'll finish the race(barring injury). Since this is what I know, I follow the plan and stress when I don't.

Yesterday, I was kind of having a crummy day, which is probably why I didn't run. Even though I am 100% sure that running would have helped my mood I didn't go. It takes effort to get out of a bad mood. Sadly, sometimes it easier to just wallow, and then that wallowing is just fed by the fact that you aren't doing anything to make it better. Today is a little better but I have a run with the group tonight so no chance of wallowing. It should be good actually.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

YAY for running groups!

This morning I am back from my first long run with the my neeeeeeeeew running group. Best $100 my husband has ever spent I tell ya. He had to cut the check since I'm not on them yet. Water stops, powerade, FIG NEWTONS at the end! Plus I got a new singlet to let every one know not to rumble with me cuz I got a gang now!

I ran 7 miles - some did more, some less. I finished with 3 others who did 7 with me. Most of the way out we were talking about the long slow distance and how it teaches the body endurance. I think I've been teaching my body to just run more because thinking back, I don't really vary my pace much for the long runs. It seems to average out that every run from 3-10 miles is the same pace. Which I learned completely defeats the purpose of the long run. You are supposed to be able to plod along for a looooooooong time. Come race day that is when you can 1. go the distance and 2. add some speed that you've been building on the other days.

With that in mind, I think I need to really hold it back to 11 minute miles for my long runs. Others throughout the week should be from 10-10:45. Today we ran 11 minute miles and I felt great the whole way. At 3, where the water stop was I was amazed at how good I felt. Even on the return it wasn't until about mile 5 that I started getting tired. But it was at this point, looking at my Garmin, where we started running 10:30 and the last bit even faster.

When I signed up for this I was thinking, 7AM runs on Saturday? Well it will be nice to get something done on Saturday and have the rest of the weekend. But what didn't cross my mind is that if the run is at 7, that doesn't mean wake up at 7. Today I was up at 5:45. ON A SATURDAY. I guess it's so long Friday night fun. I'm at a point though where this is what I want to focus on. I want my priority #1 to be my workouts. I know that is going to mean skipping out on some Happy Hours with work and social activities here and there, but I'm enjoying this so I'm ok with that for the time being.

This week is starting off right. Tomorrow it is supposed to be nicer, meaning not pouring rain (which we ran through today) so I am going to go for a long bike ride and then try to run a couple miles just to remember what it's like and get used to the feeling again. The triathlon is coming up quick!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I can't do this

Why is that ALWAYS the first phrase that runs through my head when trying something new? It's so annoying. I'm getting tired of that old feeling. That was my thought about marathons.

I went to the information class for marathon training last night. I'm still not sold on this whole marathon idea. ESPECIALLY since the marathon I was going to sign up for is sold out. Now I'm in a pickle. Here are the facts:

Factoid #1
I chose the Marine Corp Marathon because my dad was a marine. I have a special memory of running with my dad. I wear his dog tags when I run. It is in Washington DC and the course sounds AMAZING. It's a large race with lots of people. The fact that I would be running a marathon was second. I wanted to do this race and it happened to be the marathon distance.

Factoid #2
I want to run with the group from last night. I like running with groups and if I do that, I need something to train for.

Factoid #3
If all I cared about was the MCM, then I should be able to say, ok, skip it. Run it another year. But then this voice, and I honestly DO NOT KNOW who it is, says "But I wanted to run a marathon this year" Seriously! Where did that tiny little (evil) voice come from???

The Des Moines marathon looks like my next viable options. We have weddings to attend the 1st and 2nd weekend in October, so Twin Cities and Whistlestop are both out. But will it be meaningful? Remember Fact 1 was that I didn't want to run just any marathon for the sake of getting the distance. But Fact 3, nagging, annoying little Fact 3, tells me I do in fact want to run the distance. Will I find the willpower to continue when the race doesn't mean as much?

With the facts written out there like that, I think the choice is clear. Looks like its Des Moines in October as my first marathon that I never wanted to run. Time for a serious attitude adjustment. But I KNOW I am going to like being part of a group! A team. That isn't really a team. Cuz they would probably bench me.

What I REALLY want to run as the second choice is the Duke City Marathon in Albuquerque. Hold on Tara.......I checked the course map. Altitude: 5000. The course climbs 40 feet for the first 12 miles and then 80 feet between 12 and 13. Then you turn around and run back the same way you came. All downhill. It is was just the hills I would be ok. But it is seriously a different run completely when you throw altitude in there. I don't think I want my first one to be EXTRA tough. Although, it would be a really cool location, myself having friends and family in New Mexico.

That's were I'm at. Feeling a little apprehensive about involving myself with a goup. Basically saying I'm ready to bust my hump every weekend. Looking forward to and nervous for the first group run on Saturday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Some lighthearted sarcasm

I didn't feel like this belonged in my race recap, but I wanted to mention a few more things about the race. The fans in Duluth are awesome! Regular people put out bananas and water stops and food. And I don't mean they have a jug of water and offer it up. I mean, they have thousands of cups on the ready with a whole line up of people distributing water. And just because they want to. The marathon also provides cold sponges and ice at the water stops. Top notch really. One of the best managed races I have been involved with. Oh, and Dip and Dots at the end. In TWO flavors!

Here's my disclaimer: I'm not really terribly annoyed. Fan participation is awesome. Really. ANY fan participation. I'm not so much of a snob that if you're not doing it right don't come at all. I hope people come out to watch and maybe get inspired. I just thought this was a little humorous and runners might get a good know, the it's-funny-because-it's-true lines.

Please don't say things like "Pick up the pace, the elites are just up ahead". Yeah, I'm just about ready to make my move and close on the 4,294 people in front of me to win the whole race. Is my bib number less than 10? Then I am probably not in fact close to the elites. And when your saying it with your aviator sunglasses, your faux-hawk and sloshing around your cup filled with cold beer, it makes me appreciate it even less. If that's possible.

Know your 20 (that's trucker talk for location). At the 10k marker I heard "You made it - 1/2 way there" Basic knowledge of the difference between kilometers and miles will tell you that two 10k's does not a 1/2 marathon make. I am not 1/2 way there.

And probably the most famous - "X miles left" (In this particular instance X=3). I know that 3 miles is a little over 1/4 left which in context seems like a lot smaller amount to the whole, but it's like asking a woman if she's pregnant. Unless you see her delivering a baby, probably best not to ask. If I don't have a visual lock on the finish line, probably best not to mention the distance left.

I do like signs like "You look smart and pretty" (from a previous race) or "Nice legs". I also heard "Doing great, keep it up. You're ahead of those people." Haha - funny, but wait, what did he say to the people up there.......???

Race fans DO make a difference. It's fabulous when people can be supportive of one another. I heard a marathoner tell us at mile 25.95 "Thanks for coming out". Really, he thanked US! He'd been running for over 5 hours and he thought to thank the crowd. People can be amazing.

Grandma's 1/2 Marathon

The best way to talk about this run is by posting the splits like I did in the previous post. That way I can talk about all the complaints, er, less than positive thoughts I had.

Here was my race plan. Phase 1 - 5k go easy. Walk breaks every 5 minutes, leisurely pace. Easy.
Mile 1: 11:15
Mile 2: 10:54
Mile 3: 11:06

Perfect. Except I did 1 minute of walking every 10 minutes. I was excited. I couldn't stop. I had the optimistic outlook that it was never going to get any harder than this. (ooooohhhhh foreshadowing!)

Phase II - 10K Race time! Game on. I wanted to run at race pace (10:45) for the next 6 miles and then see where I was. It's hard though to tell what pace you need to go when I was walking for 1 minute every 10 minutes. That means running slightly below race pace to compensate for the walking. So, 60 seconds in one minute, if I run 9 minutes at 5.8 mph, and there is a train leaving Boston at noon, and there are 17 people and only 2 lifeboats.....yeah, I had no clue.

Mile 4: 10:15 (remember the walk breaks? This was way to fast for 1 mile)
Mile 5: 10:15 (if only this type of consistency was a good thing at this point)
Mile 6: 10:41 (PERFECTION. Now just hold steady......)
Mile 7: 11:17
Mile 8: 12:47
Mile 9: 11:03 (one last futile attempt to reclaim this race)

Leading up to mile 8 was tough. I thought I was going to throw up. Did I need more water? Less food? Or was I hungry and over hydrated?? I had no idea except that I was hot and uncomfortable and nauseated. Here's me at mile 7. I think I started walking immediately after this picture was taken.

Pause in the story for some factual information. My 6.9 mile time was 1:15. That left me 1:05 to run the final 6 miles. Reasonable. My 10k split time was about a minute above my 10k race time. For those keeping track at home that adds up to way to fast. You don't run 7 more miles at a 10k clip. Normal people have slower paces on longer races. And when you go out to fast.....well, stay tuned.

Phase III - 1 mile freestyle. I wanted to run what I felt. Maybe downshift and save up for Phase IV.

Mile 10: 13:12 (That is some serious downshifting. Did I drop the tranny??)

Seriously, I should have been an actress because look how happy I look. Lies. All lies. See that little bit of shade I am going through. Little did I know that it would be the last bit of shade I would stand in for the next 7 hours. Hey, Duluth, have you heard of Arbor Day? Plant a tree, will ya? On a hot sunny day the last few miles of Grandma's can DESTROY those with anything less than an iron will.

Phase IV - at this point I can't believe I'm even tracking phases but this was a race plan so I am publishing what was supposed to happen. Phase IV was supposed to be the last 5k. The final kick. Walk as needed, but throw your heart on the pavement and leave on the course type finish. I did revise this phase to accommodate though. All good runners have to learn to recalculate based on the situations they are running in. I renamed Phase IV to "Screw It".

Mile 11: 11:55 (this would be known as my last 'speed' lap - hahaha)
Mile 12: 12:10
Mile 13: 13:02

There were a few positive thoughts during this last 3 miles. At one water stop this kid - maybe 10 years old, short, wearing and over sized volunteer t-shirt that hung to his knees and an adult baseball cap that was tightened in the back to the smallest notch but still didn't quit fit. You know the look. Any way, I was going in for some water and he walked out to me a little ways out of line, handed me the water, looking in my eyes and said "You can do it" in a serious tone. Not like he was saying it to everybody, but he was saying it to me. Because I needed to hear that. I turned around as I passed and he was still watching me run away. I gave a nod. Thanks kid. Yes I can. And I thought of my cousin James who told me just the other day when I said "We'll never win" he said, "If you say that then you never will win". He's 6. It all brought tears to my eyes until I realized that when I get emotional when I run I can't breathe (and I get emotional a lot running). I chose running. I'll cry later. (like now thinking of it).

I finished in 2:32:07 or something, which, now that I have a calculator I can tell you is 11:32 minute miles. Absolutely devastating. And I think it's because I really was running the best that I could. It was really really hard towards the end. I lost a little hope with this race. If I try this hard and I don't make it, what does that mean? Where does that leave me?

They still give you a medal even if you cried, even if you lost your hope, even if you felt you didn't deserve it. Just for being a finisher. It's not easy. And it's not all happy, look what I accomplished, yay me. You have to experience those losses and then go out again because that's when you really win. You think you can't go on, and you've lost all hope in your ability, but if you keep going, you look back and see that despite all that adversity, YOU KEPT GOING. I think when you go through the rough spots and don't quit it, makes the victory so much sweeter.

This race was humbling. Not because I'm such an elite athlete, but because I put a challenge out there for myself - a real challenge and I failed. I didn't accomplish it. I wanted it, and in my mind I could do it, but I couldn't. Not this time. But you know what? There are 55 days until the Badger to Gopher 1/2 Marathon. There will come a time when I can no longer run. Today is not that day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I have to run how far???

I've been wanting to write about my 10 miler last weekend since it happened. I'm actually going to post splits this time in an effort to relive the run.

Mile 1: 9:56 <-- Waaaaaay to fast.
Mile 2: 10:26 <-- More like it
Mile 3: 10:51 <-- Aaaah just right
Mile 4: 10:46 <--I could do this all day
Mile 5: 10:25 <--What got into me, did I remember there were 5 left?
Mile 6: 11:56 <--Yup. I remembered and I got depressed
Mile 7: 10:58 <--Ok back on track. I can do this
Mile 8: 11:42 <--Hills. Crap. No I can't.
Mile 9: 11:43 <--Just don't die, just don't die......
Mile 10: 11:41 <--Tear. That was rough.

How many miles next weekend???? That's the 10 miles in a nutshell. Around mile 5 I headed to Lake Harriet and I HATE going there when tired because of the roller coaster hills. Lucky for me I'm good at hills. Um yeah. I walked, I jogged, I walked some more. I whined. I know; so unlike me. And then I said to myself "Sweetheart" - because that's what I call myself when trying to be encouraging - "you're only 1/2 way. If you dink around like this it's going to take forever to finish up" And with that I set time constraints to make myself run for periods of time. I don't think I walked a terrible amout. Maybe every 5 minutes or more, so my pace really slowed too during the last 1/2. Yikes. It was rough. This week though, I have been in mad taper mode which seems to work well for me. I skipped swimming and started eating. Aaaah - the good life.

I wish I could say I was looking forward to Grandma's 1/2 this weekend but I'm not really. It's not so much the distance, but I'm not looking forward to the race. Getting up early (4AM early), the crowd, the drive up north, the crowd. The crowd. Ug. I'm not excited about this race at all. Maybe it is in part for the distance, but for whatever reason this race seems more like a hassle than fun. But none the less, McMillan says I can do this race in 2 hours and 21 minutes because I can run 1 mile in 8:50 so I'm gonna give it a shot. That's 10:48 minute miles for you kids playing along at home.

That would totally rock to do that.

I'm going to schedule another 1 mile timed trial next Wednesday. We'll see how that goes. Excited to see if I have improved at all. Stay tuned.......

Sunday, June 7, 2009

9 Miles, but I didn't wanna

I soooooooo did not want to run today. I didn't want to be outside today. It's cold in our house, it's cold and windy and overcast outside. I ate a big brunch and was sleepy and it was about 3PM. If you can imagine then, try, how much I did NOT want to run 9 miles. I wasn't thinking when I put on my running clothes. I think I was still in denial that I was actually going. My body was moving in that direction but my brain refused to believe. In fact, on the drive to the lake, my brain seemed to be saying - best of luck, not sure how you plan on running 9 miles without me. My legs were clearly on their own. Sometimes I can visualize my run. I know the distance I am going to go and I can see me doing the entire thing. Even through the rough spots. Today, I couldn't see anything. I would have bet against me. Luckily, my legs took over and did it with no moral support. Thanks legs. You really came through.

I'm still not sure how I managed to do this today. I'm still bitter about having to go at all. That's about the dumbest sounding thing ever. But sometimes you don't have a choice. Or rather you decide you have no other choice.

We went to Punch pizza for dinner tonight. That made the evening WONDERFUL. I think I should have Punch pizza after every long run. Now that's a challenge I can get behind! Speaking of challenges, I've been doing the Jillian 30 Day Shred with a friend. We are 6 days deep and it IS actually starting to get better. I seemed to get weaker before starting to get stronger. Hopefully this upward trend continues. But seriously, I like the Punch challenge. I am going to see how many weekends in a row I can eat Punch Pizza after a long run. It might get difficult, but I think I can rise to the occasion!

Last Thursday I had the best swimming day to date. I swam 100 m in 2:15, 10 times. I was quite pleased for two reasons. 1) I always love a challenge I can feel successful at. What's the point of having a completely absurd goal that you won't reach for 7 years. Why not instead make smaller goals that still make you work but can make you feel successful when done. I couldn't believe I could just keep going. But I did, and I finally, for once, didn't feel overwhelmed at swim class. 2) It was a hard workout for me, but I did the whole thing. I feel like I am becoming a better swimmer (not to mention the wonders swimming has done cardiovascular wise with running) but also the workout was more within my reach. Someday soon I'll build up to the real workout he planned for us: 100m in 1:45, 10 times, but until then it's nice to be able to know you worked really hard and did the thing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

National Running Day

Yesterday, as many know, was National Running Day. Whatever your level, just get out there and go - I think that is the official motto. I decided to try a running group at my gym. I see them running all the time but have never wanted to join because, well let's be honest, I've never wanted to work that hard. I showed up and they gave me a sticker that said "I ran today" and I briefly considered going home since I already had the sticker. Then they made you sign in and put how many miles you were going to run. Dang. After that I was committed. It was in writing.

The leader guy for our group was explaining to me on the way out how nobody gets left behind. Usually there are seasoned groupies who can lead and he is able to follow and make sure nobody gets lost. I said, "Nice to meet you - I'm sure we'll be spending a lot of time together in that case." He was great fun. He'd yell out stuff like "HILL!" when we were already half up, as if I didn't notice. But then "DOWNHILL!" and also would tell us to walk over the train tracks and look both ways, and tell us when it was clear to merge onto the path so we wouldn't get hit by a biker. Like mama bear goes running. I liked it.

Beautiful day to be out on the trails. The sun was behind the clouds so it wasn't beating down on you in the open areas. But the running? The running was hard. I started out just going. Not looking at my pace. I don't want to know that I am going less than 11 minute/miles and think I better slow down because I can't handle this. I need to reset my pace clock in my head. Because remember, how I run 10 minute miles! You really can't get hung up on the numbers though. I mean I ran 6.2 miles on Sunday with avg pace of 10:13 and this 5.28 miles yesterday was tough to pull out in the end and the avg time was 10:19. So what the heck? Who really knows. That's why it's always best to gauge how much of yourself you left on the trail. Sunday, I gave it my all. Last night, again, everything. So two great runs at differing paces. But the feeling good for working hard, that's the reward! The pace always needs to be second I think. Sure it's important at times, but attitude is always #1.

I back to hitting the pool tonight. Looking forward to a good swim. And did you know that biking was part of a triathlon. Evidently I've been trying to convince myself otherwise because I haven't biked AT ALL this whole year. I really felt like I was a good biker last year during the tri and I wanted to nail it this year. But how's that gonna happen if I don't start practicing? Potentially, I'll amaze myself. Realistically, I'm just delusional. Here's the joke for which I based this comment.

A dad told his son to learn the difference between potentially and realistically by asking his sister and his mother if they would sleep with Brad Pitt for 1 million dollars. He asked both and both said yes, of course they would. When his dad asked if he learned the difference, the son replied "Yes. Potentially we could be millionaires, but realistically we've go two tramps in the family".

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Happy Place

Part of the reason why I wanted to run 10 minute miles is because the McMillan calculator told me I could...or should...or whatever. You plug in what you ran a certain distance at and it tells you what your pace should/could be at other distances. It even gives you the pace you should do your speed work out, tempos and long runs. Since I ran my mile at 8:50, and that seemed pretty official, that is the benchmark I used. Here is what I should/could run (theoretically):

In case that is difficult to read, it says 10K - 10:13 pace. I also wanted run 10 min miles because I feel like that is sort of an industry average. Like average runners can just do that pace.

I signed up for a 10K while on vacation this weekend because I really really wanted to make sure I followed my training plan and I knew it wouldn't happen unless I did something like this. Luckily, I found a nice little race for a great cause not far from our hotel. Awesome, awesome weather. About 53 and sunny. Absolutely perfect. I felt good - no pizza and beer pre-race meal in my belly - just the standard simple carbohydrate and coffee breakfast. My goal was to just run and run. Until I couldn't run anymore. I kept telling myself "your good for 7 and you only have to go 6.2". Secretly though I had to run at least a half mile to the start of the race because I was late and didn't quite know where I was going - so it was close. I just kept plugging away - step by step.

It was pretty flat, but there were 2-3 minor uphill areas. Enough to notice. I like to take pride in the fact that I am good at hills. I don't know if this is factual or not, but I always tell myself that I don't have to walk because if I have one thing, I have strong legs and I can always run up a hill. This thinking usually, propels me past runners as I charge on - at a slower pace mind you but I keep going. I don't know how I became so adamant about this fact; maybe it was from the TC 10-mile and that hilly course. I wish I was that sure about other aspects of running. Like I said, whether or not it is true - deep down I believe it is, I don't doubt. I can tell myself other positive things but if I don't deep down believe it, it's only encouragement. Maybe encouragement is the beginning of believing.

My plugging along paid off. In a BIG way. I ran the race in 1:03:11! Somewhere in my blog history I recorded that I ran an unofficial 10k (training) in 1:04 something and I could hardly believe that. Did I really do that? Well now it doesn't matter because the truth is (documented) that I ran 6.2 in 1:03! A pace of 10:11. I was so ecstatic!

Maybe I am finally coming into my own with running.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pizza and Beer: The demise of a good runner

Last night's run was so much less than satisfying. I know I can do better. I know I run better than that. I was trying to do to much. I was trying to run without walk breaks and try to run 10 minute miles (on average). Neither happened. In fact I ended up walking far more that I usually do: 12 minute miles was more the pace. But that isn't the too much I was referring too. That should have been a challenge, not "too much". No, last night we went to happy hour because of the looming threat that an old hangout would soon be closed and we felt we had to visit one last time for nostalgia. I drank 3/4 of a Mich Golden Light. Blech! Why do I even bother? I bothered because it was cold and I new I was running so I didn't want to over do it but still wanted a brewski. And we ordered a pizza. I had 3 squares and a triangle.

Which - side note - how come when pizza is cut into squares you can eat the entire thing because, heck, what's just one more small square? But with slices, you're like "2 slices, whew! I'm full!" Hmmmm.......

Anyway, I left dutifully at 7 with some remorse that I even mentioned I was running because then people were like "You better get going" - Yeah, well you're not the boss of me! (just kidding). I fed the dog and headed out about 40 minutes after the pizza. I'm pretty sure I would have been ok with 3/4 beer sans pizza. Typical symptoms, lump in your stomach, heartburn, lethargy. And I only had 3 squares! And a small triangle. So, it was too much to reasonably think I could get happy hour and a run in (in that order). I keep telling myself time and again, get your "job" done before the fun but also, I'm never one to be left out of a party. I couldn't bear the thought of warm sun and cold beer, pizza and my friends having the best time of their entire lives.....without me.

The run sucked on a number of levels. First though, it had to be one of the most perfect days weather wise. I at least enjoyed that a great deal. But my hamstrings were so sore. This was a real shock to me because I'm never that sore. I never have injuries. I started running with my left leg straight because it hurt Mr. Hami to kick back with my leg and my right leg was doing all the work to compensate for the lack of thrust coming from the left. I think this means I need a rest. POOF! Done. I'm headed to Chicago with a friend today. Just because I'm a jet setter like that. To Chicago. Randomly. And I signed up for a 10K on Sunday - Share Your Soles. The online registration said there were 183 participants so I should be fairly easy to spot. I'll be last; I'm not getting my hopes up or anything though :) Rest today, walking and sight seeing tomorrow and I should be right as rain by Sunday. Ready to try out those 10 minute miles again because in a race scenario - anything is possible!