Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Follow that Sister!

I am not going to write another post about how lame and unmotivated I am; I've decided enough with the self-loathing already. I'm almost forty and I've done some pretty kick-ass things and been through some stuff, but my modus operandi has been to berate myself, flogging and lashing in all manner of a monk in that Name of the Rose book. To wit: I rationalized, for over a year, that I am overweight because my subconscious self associated being fit and thin with my unhappy times living in a one bedroom walk-up across from a bar and alongside the railroad tracks (you know which side). Therefore, once I moved away from my steady diet of gin and tonics, trail runs, and bad dudes, I got, well, you know...fat and happy. I repeated this logic out loud to a girlfriend this summer and she furrowed her brow, and said, "Or, it could be that you had a baby and did a doctoral program and you let your physical regimen slide along the way." Or that. And, she continued, it's normal. Life happens. We fall out of good habits even as we are forming other good habits. Well, now she went and got all wise on me, like a good girlfriend! I let this new logic marinate in my brain for a few months. Still not lacing up the running shoes, mind you, but marinating nonetheless...

Fast forward a couple months and I'm packing my running shoes into a suitcase along with my swim suits and sunblock because I promised one of my Sole Sisters that I would run on the beach with her on our trip to Aruba. This Sole Sister I'm referring to is the one who runs marathons, half-marathons, and races in which she sets Guinness World Records for most runners with Santa hats on. And, did I mention that she does it while wearing the most kick-ass, brightly-colored running skirts (yes, running skirt! She's that hip!) and a high-tech GPS system strapped to her wrist. This sister does not play. Did I also mention that this is the sister who, a little over a year ago was not a "runner"?

This same sole sister has sent me inspirational emails, phone calls, running maps in my neighborhood, and a books with titles like Run Like a Mother and Slow Fat Triathalete to send me not-so-subtle messages about picking up running again. I think she remembered, perhaps more vividly than I, that running was a big part of my life for a long time and that I can do it again.

So, after a few days of playing on the beach, drinking fruity drinks in the kiddy pool while our kids splashed and played, and staying up late catching up, we set our alarms, laced up our shoes, and hit the beach at sunrise. I was nervous. I had not run with this sister in a few years, and I was scared that I wouldn't make it past the first grass hut without shin splints or side cramps. But, Sister assured me that "Garmin" would alert me with interval walking spells to make this first run bearable. Location calculated, shoes tied, and we were on our way, running on the packed sand as the tide licked our feet, my lungs opening up with each stride. My sole sister doesn't know this, but I was marveling at her with each step, looking at her tall, muscular frame, blonde ponytail swish-swishing back and forth and aforementioned kick-ass bright skirt moving with the breeze. As the tide came closer, we had to fall in single file and I followed her. I couldn't help but admire her as she run ahead, thinking of how far she has come in her journey to become a bona-fide runner. She looked so strong. I think we ran just a little over a mile that morning--far less than she would have run had she been on her own, but I was reminded that morning that the most important thing is to get out and move.

I've gone out once since then and did the run-walk method she recommended. I downloaded "Run Keeper" for my iPod, also her suggestion. Now to find a sassy running skirt...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

That's What You Get For Waking Up In Vegas

Never miss a sweet photo op.
Last weekend I ran in the Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon, or as it's been dubbed 'Strip at Night'. After not seeing my running buds from Massachusetts for over a year, we were going to get to run a race together with a few nights of debauchery and sight-seeing thrown in. Oh yeah, and an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Friday morning, I got to the airport ready for fun! Three of the team met me at the airport and drove me to the host hotel, Mandalay Bay, where our awesome planner had booked us rooms.

Pulling up to the hotel, the Pam (as opposed to Garmin Pam) and Erin D. came running out to greet us. It was the best welcome! Thus began the whirlwind. After hitting the expo to pick up our packets, we got false eyelashes artfully applied in the Spa and went to see The Thunder From Down Under, which is a hilarious show of hunky Australians that's just slightly less cheesy than the Chippendales. We intended to walk back to the hotel and maybe get a drink on the way. Somehow we ended up in Cathouse, dancing our booties off until 2am and then chowing down plates of nachos, sliders and french fries. By about midnight, with the free champagne flowing, I decided that every picture would feature me with my mouth wide open. Thank God Erin (and her wicked sweet camera) is discreet, or we'd be in a heap of trouble!
All dressed up and somewhere to go
After a refreshing three hours of sleep, we were up and dressed and ready to make a world record attempt for the most people running in Santa costumes for the Great Santa Run (a 5k), which ended up being beautiful after a frigid wait at the starting line.

Back at Mandalay, we showered and changed into comfy clothes and made our way down to the spa where we alternately relaxed in any one of three different temperature whirlpools and slept on the chaises. Oh, and somewhere in there we had room-service bring lunch to us in the spa lounge; Because we're that self-indulgent. It was wonderful.

Alas, race day still loomed ahead and I was ridiculously dehydrated from a night of debauchery followed by a good part of the day spent in the moisture-sucking steam. We had a pasta dinner at another team member's time-share then it was back to the hotel where we turned on the TV just in time to fall into comatose sleep. And then it was race day.

After a glorious ten hours of sleep, I was sitting on the bed in our room scrolling through facebook when I saw on the feed from Run Like a Mother: The Book 'Don't forget we have another mother runner meet-up this morning at 9:30 at the Starbucks in Mandalay Bay around the corner from House of Blues.' Oh-My-Gosh! I had been so disappointed not to meet SBS and Dimity the prior day at the expo that I dressed and rushed down to the 'Bucks in a hurry. I felt like my race weekend was complete after chatting with them for almost an hour, except for that whole running 13 miles thing.
I knew they were tall, but these mother put my 5'9" bod to shame! It was so awesome to meet them and other mamas who were later featured on the blog for race reports. Yet another link in the chain of connection to other runner mothers!
I've not run many night races, and trying to plan all day for what to eat, how much to drink, and how to keep your legs fresh was tricky. Vegas involves a lot of walking, and I'd not yet found anything fun for my kids. A few of us walked to m&m world, then had lunch at the MGM Grand's Grand Buffet before heading back to the Mandalay to start pre-race prep. My outfit laid out, I crawled under the covers with the ridiculous idea that I'd get a little nap.

My mind would not shut off! I had initially thought that since I got a PR in Walla Walla that I wouldn't really care about my time in Vegas, but as it approached, I thought it would be fun to get just a little bit faster. Pam had already told me that she planned to stick with me, even though she's a lot faster than I am now, but we hadn't been able to run together in so long, it's what she wanted to do. I was so excited to run with her and have the time to catch up. We decided to go sans iPods and I'm really glad we did. There was so much congestion that the people who had iPods, and listened to them loudly, were not able to get over when runners coming from behind announced their presence.

There were a lot of kinks, from woefully understaffed water stations to a congested finish line that made you come to a dead stop all the way to some late finishers who didn't even get a finisher's medal, that will need to be worked out for upcoming years but having a night race that closes the Vegas Strip, has a marathon that converges into the hot mess in mile 14 and has 44,000 participants is bound to have some bumps in the road. Literally.

Zappos and RnR are being very proactive and have been collecting data via particpant surveys since the day after the race. After 13.1 miles of stutter steps, shuffling around other runners and a zig-zag pattern that added two-tenths of a mile, I was just 2 minutes off of my PR, so I'll take it. I honestly almost cried as we were nearing the finish, because it felt like it just kept getting further away, as you had to zig-zag through the parking lot to get to it, but it did finally come.
With my beloved Pam!

Post race we hobbled to the showers and then wandered from Casino to Casino trying to rustle up that dinner we'd been talking about since about mile 3. After walking through three casinos and finding every restaurant either closed or with a three hour wait, we decided to head back to the buffet. We were starving. The post-race food was terrible, in a word, with bananas so green you couldn't even get the peel off. We made a stop at a daquiri vendor and I have to say that it was the best Pina Colada I've ever had. It's a good thing, because after finding the buffet closed, room service with a 3.5 hour wait and no pizza places that would deliver due to the hot mess that was the strip, we finally called it a very hungry night at just past midnight and went to sleep with rumbling bellies. The next moring, we hit the buffet, and we hit it hard, just in time for me to get a massive stomach ache that was barely 'cleared up' before heading to the airport. 

Overall, I had a fabulous time with my girlfriends. I got home Monday night just in time to do a quick session of no-mercy decluttering with my mom, (eight garbage bags of donation from the playroom and random linen closets and drawers, wahoo!), throw up a few Christmas decorations so that my mother would stop hounding me about the fact that my still-up Halloween decorations were giving her 'seasonal confusion', pack again and head off two days later for our family vacation to Aruba; which is where my sweet laptop is perched this moment. More on that (and the epic flight that got us here) coming up!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Half-y Feet

Mission: Accomplished! (and the famous pink triple jogger!)
After several months of training, the morning of October 16th carried a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time running a half with a training partner (actually running it with them and not just training with them), my first time trying the Galloway Method in a race, and my first time running a half-marathon without the assistance of an iPod. J and his sister ran the race as well, with awesome times, and it was fun to have she and her husband stay with us for the weekend. (The wine consumed the night before may not have been the best idea, though.)

It was perfect running weather, starting out with rain that reduced to a drizzle by the starting gun, then further reduced to light mists for the remainder of the race. The course was great, the conversation better and the companionship that pushed me to a PR was the best.

It wasn't all rosy, though, there was a point about 6.5 miles in that I thought; oh, lawd, what did I get myself into again? Maybe I'm not cut out to run this distance afterall! Then, a few more strides and a deep breath and I was fine, but running without music was both a relief and a serious challenge for me. E is a great running conversationalist, so I've grown accustomed to running without it, or else I'd have been begging for a little Cake with some White Stripes thrown in around mile 7.

We chugged up the hill on Kendall, the only 'real' hill on the course and after that I knew we were home free. Once we rounded the park, and were within sight and sound of the finish line I felt invigorated, as I always do, and had that tickle in the back of my brain saying maybe I could have pushed it a little harder in certain points. I looked at the clock as I was coming in the last stretch and my heart sank; 3:09?! How did that happen? I thought for sure I was great on time and that I was going to PR! Then I realized my error as the clock on the left hand side caught my eye and I realized that the marathoners had a fifteen minute head start on us. Wahoo! Under 2:55; Goal Achieved!

E worked so hard in training, often pushing a triple jogger while I pushed my double, and that hard work paid off. I know in my bones that she could have busted out and sped ahead, but she set out to finish with me (or just really likes the interval timer on my garmin, ha!) and  stuck with me until the last block where we broke off and she was almost 20 seconds ahead when we crossed the finish line.

Although my knees were a little achy the next morning, I wasn't any more sore than I've been after other training runs, and it made me see that I could be pushing myself harder on race days. I know that consistent attendance at bootcamp is helping me a lot, and I'm now registered through January.

Next up is Vegas and I'll get to run with Pam, Jill and the girls again for the first time in over a year; I'm giddy with the thought. I would love to PR there, and think that with their encouragement, and that of Cheap Trick of course, I'll rock the 'Strip at Night' on December Fourth.
Yep, that's Jill! (My own personal WWJD on my fridge motivation montage :))
This weekend Pam and co. are running their second full marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, and I can't WAIT to cheer them on virtually, as their splits will post in real-time to Facebook. Send good thoughts their way. Although, I'm sure they'll have plenty of their own good thoughts as actual hottie Marines will be manning each water station. Hoo-ah!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shake that Body For Me

Last month, I finally decided to jump on the strength training band wagon. While I've always fallen in the 'big girl' category, it used to be because I was tall and strong. I used to love weight training, and seeing  the definition of my calves and quads (and the smooth lines on the back of my shirt that have been absent since I acquired backfat along with my college diploma and a state job), so I got on the Cardio Strength Bootcamp website and put the month of September in my cart. It only took one week before I went back and paid for October as well (and earned November for free because I'm out of control). Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning church bells toll from my iPhone at 5:20 am and I'm up and at 'em. If you know me, mornings are not my strong suit so the fact that I have not even been once tempted to hit the snooze button says a lot about this class.

It's a fantastic group dynamic, the workout is fast and furious and I felt sore in places that running hadn't touched. I initially made the mistake of trying to squeeze in a long run the same morning as bootcamp and it just didn't work. But, I'm finding the the days I run 3-5 miles are perfect for pairing with it. I am definitely done by the end of that day, but it's the best kind of tired. I have been falling into bed between 9 and 9:30 and waking feeling rested and ready to go. Really?! Really. J said that he knew it was the thing for me after I got up without missing or finding excuses for a whole month. He calls it my booty bootcamp. Methinks he likes the results.

After a month of faithful attendance, sticking to my running training plan and eating really well I was down almost 10 pounds and feeling stronger. I've still got a long way to go, demonstrated by the fact that I was doing a Turkish Get-up this morning and one of the trainers advised that I 'really tighten your core'. Um, sadly this is my tight. Shall I unleash the beast to show you the full glory that is two babies and too much Ben and Jerry's without proper strength training for about a decade? Okay then, let us resume.

So, what's the point of the title you may be asking yourself about now. How long has it been since you did full-on jumping jacks, jumped rope, or stood with your feet planted while flicking large gauge ropes up and down or side to side. Let me tell you, it's some jiggle-tastic times for me in that gym. All the miles I've put in haven't tamed the tummy so from here on out three mornings a week for the first three weeks of every month, you'll see me sweating it out with a bunch of other suckers because public shaming and herd mentality really work for me. Yes, I'm harkening back to my good Catholic upbringing. Now, if I could just make myself be as faithful about it for our week off...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let Me Count the Ways...

Because 8 is great with a friend!
I know I've gone on and on about the virtues of having a training partner, but it's become more evident to me as this cycle moves forward. On the mornings when I might have otherwise pushed a run off until the evening when I was too tired to be efficient, or passed it off completely, I've got a friend who's laced up and ready to go.

Last week, (or was it the week before?) we'd messaged back and forth about a time that would work for both of us for one of the runs that we don't always do together. After not hearing an answer by the time I was lights out, I assumed I'd just go, eh...whenever. A quick check of my iPhone at 6am showed that I'd no response so I decided I'd just sleep in a little. Ahhh, bliss...but such guilty bliss. I knew I should be out there running before the heat of the day set in, and my indifference with it, but it was just not enough motivation.

At 7:05, my husband came into the room; 'E is out front.' WHAT?! 'She's unloading her jogger right now' he says with the cool and collected manner that drives me crazy in moments like these.  If you can turn away a mama who's just gotten three kids ready and is unloading her triple jogging stroller to schlep around a loop with you then you are a hard, hard-hearted person. In truth, I'd never been so glad to have a partner! I jumped out of bed, scraped my hair into a pony, shoved my contacts in my eyes and tried to look like I hadn't just rolled out of bed. Fail. The thing with running is all you have to do is get dressed. So I did. And, I went.

When we rolled back up to the house, I felt much better having gotten my workout out of the way, and I was still done in time to take H to school and then come home to shower. We have just over a month until the half. It's her first and I'm so excited to be with her on her first double digits run in two weeks. It's almost like being with a friend who's pregnant for the first time. You get that novel nervousness and excitement all over again, but this time it's you who gets to reassure someone that they not only can do this, but they will.

For our eight mile run we took one of my favorite routes through the rolling vineyards and it was awesome to take it one hill at a time. Crest, then rest, crest, then rest. It was infinitely more enjoyable with someone there to keep me company.

I most likely won't be with her at the finish line because she's faster than me, but I'll try my darnedest because I'd love to get a picture of us crossing that line together after all our hours training side by side!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Feel the Need...

This week during my speed workout, I felt like I had a total breakthrough. It was probably the best speed workout I've had to date, although it was fairly short. I always struggled with my speed days during marathon training and, frankly, usually ended up doing an interval run instead of what was assigned. This time around, I've promised to follow Mr. Higdon's plan.

7x400. That sounds so easy, right? If not easy, I finally felt strong through my workout and I think the trick was that I'd been recovering for too long before. When I went to the track, I'd run a 400 then lollygag for a full lap until it was time to go again. And I hated every second of it. I also tried running up and down the main road in front of my neighborhood since it's fairly flat and I just felt like a tool. Nobody wants to see a chubby girl sprinting up and down the street, they just think you're mentally ill or fodder for sympathy.

This time I went to the trusty Y and stepped on the treadmill. Armed with a great playlist (Brittney, you may be one hot mess, but God bless you for your additions to my playlist) and a towel to sop up the sweat, I decided I would just look ahead and recover until I was just starting to breathe normally again and then I'd peek at how long it had taken me. Turns out, a tenth of a mile was just about perfect-almost a third less than the full quarter mile I was doing before. I was able to do each repeat a little faster than the one before and I felt great during my recovery portions. I left after a short cool-down and felt great and, dare I say, even excited about my next speed workout.

I signed up for a boot camp that will start next week, and I'm nervous. I've been exercising consistently, sure, but not in a group. Or with weights. With my jiggly bits on display. Aye aye aye, but I'm determined to get my speed up and I've heard that strength training is key, so here goes.

I've been super conscientious about what I eat lately, along with drinking tons of water and I think that may have played into it as well. We'll see for sure tomorrow during my long run, but I feel better than I have in a long time and I've even cut out caffeine without really meaning to. Seriously, how did that happen?!
(Not so) Fried rice.
Wilt 2 handfuls of chopped chard in a non-stick pan, toss in grape tomatoes and some cooked brown rice, top with fresh cilantro and  1/4 c. non-fat feta, drizzle with 1T olive oil and you've got all your food bases covered!

If you've never heard of the Game On! diet, it's a fun way to get in the habit of eating healthfully, sleeping adequately, exercising regularly and instituting good habits. All while competing with your friends for a prize at the end of a four week period. When I say eating healthfully, I'm not kidding; no white sugar or white flour, the only sweeteners you can use are honey, pure maple syrup or agave nectar, at least 3 liters of water consumed daily, 5 meals a day spaced 2-4 hours apart, and at least two of those meals have to have 2 heaping handfuls of greens. So, basically, everything you knew you were supposed to be doing anyhow, but now there's a prize involved so you do it.

I don't love that it's called a diet, really it should be called the Game On! Lifestyle Challenge, because that's what it is. There are no crazy powders or potions that you have to buy in bulk, no frozen meals that are packaged and processed, no high fees (except your grocery bill when you adjust to buying what should have been in your pantry all along), just good old fashioned will power and a little tush movement every day.

It reminds me of this Mad TV skit...still one of my favorites!

What are you doing to switch up your workouts or tweak your training for more challenges?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coffee Talk

This morning as I sit to type, enjoying my coffee, I am feeling very well-rested because my entire family slept until 8am. This has literally never happened. I logged on to read my daily dose of inspiration on Another Mother Runner and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Tonia Blanchet was today's guest poster on the topic of 'Why I Run' and it really hit home.  Running gives you a sense of accomplishment that's so personal.

I cannot underscore enough the impact running has had; Becoming a runner changed my life. Not only because of the connections I've made with people, but because of the way it's made me feel about myself. Sure, I'd still have weight-loss goals, but I no longer look with a hypercritical eye. Instead, I try to find the things that have changed. My legs, chubby white girl's legs that they may be, have taken me almost a thousand miles in training over the past year and a half. A thousand miles.

I'm ecstatic about the fact that on my last few runs, I've hit sub 11:30 for the last mile because my usual average is in the 12's or 13's. Most people would cry at that time, but not me. I come home feeling energized and ready to take on the day. I am the stinkiest, sweatiest girl you'll ever meet, but now instead of feeling self-conscious about it, it just lets me know I've worked hard. Hit the shower and go about your business. Get over yourself.

I found a running partner that is going to push me, and it's just what I need. She's a new runner, but she's picked it up kind of annoyingly fast, and I'll have to work really hard to keep up with her. Her goal was a 10k (remind you of anyone?), but I've just about got her convinced to run the half with me; wahoo! I have big goals for my next two half-marathons, and they don't include just crossing the finish line. If that were my goal, I could just dink around until race day because I now know that I can finish, it's all in how I want to finish. Some of the little things I've committed to are drinking enough water every day,as in 3 liters at the minimum, and I've instituted a bed-time. Best gift I could have given myself, as I've had no problem rising with the first chime of my phone at 5:40 on those few mornings a week when I run with the sun's rising.

It was a struggle post-marathon, but I feel like I'm finally back. Each run is a challenge, and sometimes I feel like I'm starting all over again, but I do it and I feel a thousand times better when I walk through my door to find my family rising than I would if I were just starting to stumble around with my first cup of coffee.

Are you struggling to regain inspiration? How have you overcome a slump? New music or a mantra that replays itself in your head? Here's to just getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other.

*Cross posted on Sex and the Knitty

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Girls Who Climbed Up A Hill and Ran Down a Mountain

Headed back down Ramo (taken in April).
This weekend we went over the mountain and through the woods to Grandmother's house in order to celebrate H's birthday and have the annual Granny/cousins camping trip. My mom sleeps out in the tent in the backyard with all the cousins (4 kids aged 3-8 spells good times for granny!) They each get to tell a bedtime story, they traipse back in the house no less than four thousand times, and then they're down for the count. All while my sister and I get to sit inside and watch a movie, visit and sleep in blissful childless beds.

It's now officially a habit that when we go to my parents' house, we get Sunday morning to ourselves to go running while granny makes endless batches of pancakes and generally entertains the kiddos. A girlfriend of mine, who will be running the Walla Walla Half with me in October, has also been joining us on several runs. On Easter weekend, I posted about our run at Ramo (Not so) Flats and this was my first weekend to re-visit that road.

My friend D joined Mrs. V and I with the goal of going up 3-4 miles and then turning around to enjoy the fruits of our labor with a downhill jaunt. I was a little nervous because I've been flitting around the 2-5 mile distances for awhile and this would be my first 'real' run in a long time. I loved it. On the way up, we walked for the most's a pretty wicked hill the entire distance with a couple short spurts of flat-ish relief. My goal is definitely to be able to run more than I walk on the ascent. Really, I'd love to run the whole thing in the not-so-distant future. There is zero shade, but the bliss of Eastern Oregon is that your sweat evaporates with the dry breeze created by your movement, allowing your body to cool itself in the way it was designed. This was, of course, felt more on the way down than on the way up.

But the glorious part comes on the way down; you just cruise and chat the whole way. Because it's a rutted out dirt road, it's almost like a trail run, so you're really concentrating on your footfall and before you know it, you're at the bottom of your 3.5 mile climb. I honestly thought I'd be taking a lot of walk breaks on the way down, but almost without thinking, we'd covered a mile when I first glanced down to reference trusty Pam.

I also had the chance to try out my new Nathan fuel belt, (it looks like this one, except there's a smaller bottle tucked in beside the large bottle) and it was the first time I was able to successfully drink while continuing to run, it didn't slide up at all and fit my iPhone in the zipper pouch. I filled the bigger bottle with water and dropped a tropical fruit nuun tab in, and then let the smaller bottle be just plain water. When we finished, I was incredibly sweaty and a little bit tired, but mostly I just felt awesome. I had been feeling pretty discouraged about running for about a month now, because I felt like I'd finished a marathon but then was right back to square one. Each run I went on until now seemed to be abnormally difficult. It's good to know that my muscles were suffering only a temporary amnesia. With that great run under my belt, I'm renewed in my resolve to beat my prior half-PR, with a time of 2:56 or better.

What are your current goals? Have an upcoming race? If you're in the Walla Walla area, I'm always looking for people to do long runs with, especially as they creep into the double digits!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Jogging

Summer is here, and I have been enjoying some jogging in the morning breeze. Today I was going to wake up early enough to go for a run and be back in time to go to the girls' swimming lessons, but when I woke up, I realized that was not going to happen. Luckily, my husband had the day off, so I decided that rather than not hitting the pavement at all that I would leave a little before them and walk/jog to the pool. I got into a rhythm and it felt great.

Then I walked into the pool. It is normally a bit toasty, but right after jogging, it felt like an instant sauna. I was dripping sweat. I have been participating in a scrapbooking project this week, so I got the camera that I sent with my husband and snapped away. However, after about ten minutes, I decided it was time to head back outside.

I walked through the dressing room and wiped the sweat off my face, got a quick drink of water, and sighed with relief when I was back into the fresh air. I had not been sure whether I would ride home with my family or jog back, but it felt great being outside, so I decided on heading back the way I came. Aside from the first little bit, the route from my pool to the house is on quiet roads, so I was able to just run, think, and enjoy.

What a perfect time of year for running!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


So proud of her for finishing her first 5k after running for only two weeks!
You've probably heard of the Couch to 5k program, but have you heard of the revolutionary Marathon to 5k? No? Oh, right, because it doesn't exist. Regardless, I found myself in that very category this weekend when I finished my first race since the marathon; the Sweet Onion 5k for School Health and it was just what I needed.

After we got home from Newport, I took three days off then I was right back at it, following the Hal Higdon marathon recovery plan to the letter. Three weeks later we went on vacation (actually revisiting Newport) and I didn't even pack my running gear for that weekend. When we got back home, I found that I'd wake up in the morning with my running goal flitting on the surface of my subconscious, then when my head would sink into the pillow at night it would be another day I'd gone without running. That happened for ten long days. I felt bloated, kind of cranky and also not just a little bit relieved to finally not have my days dictated by a training schedule. But mostly I just knew I needed to get back out there. 

I'm registered for three things in the coming months; an open water swim, the Columbia Crossing, in September, The Walla Walla Half-Marathon in October and the Rock 'n Roll Half in VEGAS in December. I've never been to Vegas before and I can't imagine a better way to see the strip than running it at night with thousands of my closest strangers. The best part is that I'm travelling there to meet up with some of my original running team from Worcester; I'm ecstatic. But that also means that I can't stop running anytime soon, as my goal for these next two is to run the whole thing save for water breaks. I know I can do it, it's just going to be a big mental game. Now, how to get there?

I saw on facebook that one of my friends was just starting her running career and I eagerly invited myself to join in their mama train of jogging strollers through parks as they embarked on the C25k program. My overall pace was starting to pick up just two weeks in; it's amazing what intervals can do for the ol' confidence level! I asked if they'd be interested in going for longer runs on the weekends with me, and they were game, so we did a three mile run that first weekend and they killed it. It is so fun to be part of someone else's journey. After running so many miles in training it was so refreshing to take a step back and be part of the little victories that happen along the way; the first mile run without stopping to walk, the first time you charge a hill and rock it to the top. 

Last weekend we all ran the 5k together and those stinkers all beat me! I finished with an average of just over 12 minute miles, so they did great! So much for being the 'experienced' runner. I hadn't run a 5k since I ran the UMass 5k in Worcester almost two years ago, and it was good to see that my time has improved significantly since then.

More than anything, the accountability provided by being part of a group is something I'd really been missing. Knowing that they'd all have joggers the majority of the time has left me with zero excuses. I haven't even had my iPod with me for over a month! The kids like being able to come with me, and it's nice to have that time with them when they can really see that I'm exercising, not just know it because they're in child watch at the Y (which is also a life-saver and I'll be using it today).

Thanks ladies for a great 5k, and letting me be part of a whole new segment of your lives! We're going to have fun as you work toward crossing that 10k finish line in October! No matter what your goals, it's always nice to have a feeling of accomplishment and sometimes it's just getting back out there and putting one foot in front of the other that gets you there.

Next up: Unofficial Do Life 5k in Portland on Tuesday at 6:30. Be there! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Marathon Mamas

My bestie coming in on the last tenth of a mile. I'm totally jealous of those quads!

Finally, a post about the marathon! It's been about a week and a half since I embarked on my biggest physical challenge to date. I would absolutely say that it competes with labor and delivery for physical and mental strength and endurance required.

Just like labor, I was excited until it was just about to start. Lesley and I drove the course the night before and  I thought 'What the f#%! was I thinking?! I can't run a marathon! That's a long, long, long way to run! Wait! Didn't Phidippides die when he finished?!' My friend and fearless training partner was quick to remind me that this had, indeed, been my idea so there was nobody to blame but moi.

I carefully laid out my outfit, number pinned to the shirt that Pam had sent from the Y team in Worcester, and was in bed by 9:00. I slept terribly as, I've heard, does everyone, but I woke up feeling ready to go. I was so nervous I couldn't even eat half a bagel with almond butter, but I did manage to force down a cup of coffee so that I could do 'my business' before heading out. Three times. Quite frankly, not being able to go was one of my biggest concerns.

I'd made the conservative time goal of 6.5 hours, thinking I'd be able to come in under that without a problem. Initially, I had the goal of a sub-six marathon, but looking at my longer training runs that just wasn't realistic for where I was; All of the projections were 6:09, 6:14, etc. Coming in under six and-a-half (did I just say six and-a-half hours of running?!) seemed very possible.

J dropped me off at the start line, snapped a sweet photo (only showing it here because of the lovely background) and I waved him off. We were fortunate to have rented a beach house that was on the course, so we'd be passing the fam just into mile two for a quick snap of photos and a chance to toss off our long-sleeved layer. With temps projected to be at a low of 55 and a high of 64, it was going to be the perfect running weather. I opted to take the early start, which I love, because you have the chance to run with the fasties if only for a moment when they catch up to you an hour later.

Before I knew it, they were doing a count-down for the start and we were off! It was already feeling a little warmer than I thought it would, and I was breaking a sweat about half-mile in. Mr. Garmin/Pam told me I was keeping a great not-too-slow, not-too-fast beginning pace of 11:50-12:20/miles. I rounded the corner to our house and saw my husband and kids, Lesley and her husband and kids all cheering me on; click, click, toss, and I was down to tech-tee and tank.

We wound our way back to the start for the first three miles through the Nye Beach neighborhoods and the hilliest part of the course was behind me, excepting the one hill that you hit in mile 5 and than again in mile 26. I felt really good as I cruised through the starting line and saw the hundreds gathered to start at the regular time, and the awesome ones who are just 'warming up' by running up and down the hill that leads the course to the waterfront so that we could start our out and back along the bay.

I caught up to an older gentleman and wasn't sure if he was warming up or running the course so I said my usual 'Great job!' then added 'unless you're just warming up, then good luck.' He laughed and said, 'no, no I am not just warming up.' I said I wasn't sure since there were so many guys out there wasting what I consider precious energy at this point, and he just chuckled and said 'Those guys are a bunch of assholes'. That cemented my desire for an early start; these were my people.

 Cruising along the boardwalk in mile 4

I found a great rhythm much more quickly than I expected and the mile markers seemed to just appear out of nowhere for the first eight. I had made the goal to get to mile 5 before the leader caught up to me, and then to get to mile 13.1 before Lesley passed me, as our half-times are about an hour apart. I was well into the seventh mile when the leader passed, which was a crazy thing to see because they are running faster than I could do the 400, and I was already turned around and heading back in mile 15 before Lesley gave me a high-five with a smile. She looked so great, and all of a sudden I felt a little teary; We're really doing this!
Still thinking I had this thing nailed at mile 10...over a third down, what could go wrong?!

When I reached the aid station at 13.1, I had made it in 3:02, which is a great first half for me, and I thought as I trucked away 'Yes! Only 49% to go!' This was a far cry from what I thought I'd be feeling, which was 'Holy s@*$! I'm only half-way!!!' So I thought I had it in the bag. My 6.5 hours seemed like such a cushy, no worries time goal. And I was still having fun. 

Yes, the man in the Marathon Maniacs singlet started an hour behind me. These were the people that it was awesome to have running and passing you because it helped keep the momentum instead of feeling like you're out there forever, alone.  Yep, still smiling.

When Lesley passed me again just after the water station that served us at 13.1 on the way out (I love out and backs!) I looked at my watch and told her that I was still on target and should be in at about 6:20, so look out for me! (said with a smile and still feeling great).

Somewhere around mile 21, I started to feel maybe not quite awesome anymore. The large blisters that had formed on the balls of my feet were really starting to bother me (I always get blisters on the long run, but they're forming into callouses, so it's all good). It was easier on the blisters to run than it was to walk, but mentally, I was wanting to walk more and more at this point. 

In mile 23, I took a stride and felt a burn in the ball of my foot followed by a warm gush of fluid, and then sweet relief. Well, that took care of that blister, now on to the next. On the way out, the highway had been shaded by large trees along the water, but the shifting sun had other plans for us on the way back. I just kept thinking how much hotter it felt than I thought 64 degrees would. I was taking 2-3 waters and 2 gatorades at each aid station and still felt thirsty within a quarter mile after leaving it (and zero urge to pee out said fluids); I was just done. 

There was a floating aid station bringing water and orange slices to the people that looked particularly pathetic. When the angel of mercy handed me my citrus-y goodness and asked how I was doing, I felt my throat constrict and my eyes well with tears and I choked out 'I just want to be done.' Awesome. Now that the waterworks had started, I found myself choking up at random intervals, and just kept reminding myself to pull it together and just put one foot in front of the other. My 6.5 hour goal was slipping away, but I just couldn't go any faster.

I walked more than I ran for those last five miles, though I didn't walk any full miles.

Then it happened. The orange mile markers painted on the side of the road read 25.0. Okay, pull it together. One. More. Mile. But it could have been one hundred more miles, because I was tired! Pick it up, put it down, pick it up, put it down. Then I started going a little faster because 'the faster you run, the faster it's done,' (thank you Captain Obvious) and I stepped over the 26.0 marker and knew that the last .2 would be downhill bliss. The thought that flew through my mind was 'please don't let me fall, please don't let me fall' because that would be a sweet tumble down a hill to the finish. Falling is fine when you're fast and you've laid it all out there, not so cool when you're just edging in under the seven hour mark. 'Please don't let me fall!'

I saw a sign that had the letters to form my name, then realized that the voice behind it was attached to my sister-in-law. I saw all my family, and then I saw the glorious FINISH line. J jogged over to take my picture, but I was not slowing down. This beyotch was almost over and I was not stopping!
 The last blissful tenth of a mile!

Lesley and her family had already made their way back to the house, so we got in our cars and followed. It was perfect timing because we got to the house just as the bath was vacated, and that was the most blissful ice bath, EVER. Hands down. Did I mention that it wasn't 64 degrees, but EIGHTY four when I finished?!

I tried several blister band-aids over the next couple of days and found one thing...nothing actually stays on me, but it does stick to the sensitive skin and leave a sticky residue so that the skin sticks to my shoes. No more blister bandaids for me! 
Toasting to our accomplishment with Tru Cellars Blanc de Blanc Sparkling wine (with a generous helping of chlorinated water from our splashing cherubs).

I have to say that the misery amnesia from a marathon must be much shorter than that of childbirth, because by that night I was already saying 'Next time, I'll do x differently...'

When I got home and had the postmortem with Pam, I realized that part of my weird feelings about the experience were that I didn't really feel like I could claim that I've 'run' a marathon since so much of that last five-eight miles was spent walking. But now that I've had a week to get over myself and have run my first post-marathon two-miler (almost as anxiety producing as my first post-baby #2), I'm just happy I finished. I have a time to beat, and I know what to expect. I'm not injured. I was walking the next day, and I'm still happy and alive to tell the tale.

As Dr. Seuss said, I've got brains in my head and shoes on my feet. Oh, the places I will go!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Running Solo (Or Not)

As I have been working to get back into running consistently on a regular basis (or exercising in general for that matter), I have realized that I still have a long way to go until it seems like it is just part of my life. The Bloomsday run was so fulfilling, not only my longest run (at least in my adult life for sure), but it was also adrenaline filled. It made me think back to the run that I did along side my sister and her friend earlier in the spring. The three of us started out together and very shortly after her friend was off in front of us. My sister and I stuck together for a little under half before we also split off into our own paces. When we got back her friend said something along the lines of, "Thanks for inviting me; it was fun."

I thought that was funny considering we did not run together and it seemed like it would have been just as easy to each go out and run on our own - only as I am learning, that is not necessarily the case. At Bloomsday, there were times when I was with my sister and times when I was on my own, trying to block out all the other runners and walkers and just focus on myself and determine a comfortable pace without worrying about others. Only, the others made a huge difference in getting up and moving.

Since I will not have a 50,000+ group of people to motivate me each time I want to go for a jog (shock), or even one other person, I need to continue to work on making those first steps out the door my desired number of days per week and easing into my running zone when there is no one but myself to get me going! Once I am out there, and of course when I finish, it always feels great. Yet, just getting myself out there is often a big enough obstacle on its own, even though it should not be.

To be perfectly honest, today when I went for a walk/run with my sister was the first time that I went for a run since Bloomsday. So now you know why I haven't been posting a lot - because I haven't been running a lot! Luckily, I have been going to the gym more frequently, but again, I am much better at going when it is for a class or an appointment or to meet a friend.

I would love to hear what others do to push themselves to stick to solo running plans.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Music to Run By

My longest training run is now behind me, leaving me looking forward to the day (where I promise to apply sunscreen liberally now that I know the sun is here). I am excited, nervous, anxious and just ready to get this thing going! I feel like I did when I was about 39 weeks pregnant. You're just done. You're ready for the big day to get here so you can put in the hard work you've been anticipating and preparing yourself for over the past several months. Even though it's so close, that baby feels so far away!

My goal has changed since I first started training. I first wanted to just finish, period. Then, I decided I wanted a sub-six marathon. Based on my first few long runs, that seems totally attainable. With the last few runs, I've adjusted my goal and now would be very happy to come in under 6.5 hours. I'm no longer going to beat myself up over the periods of time I walk, but I also want to put in the best effort I can so that when I look back on the day I don't think (well, as much, because I know I'll dissect it anyhow) I could have done x differently. I want to feel completely done at the end, spent, all effort exerted on the road.

For my twenty miler, I had just enough songs so that my Running Mix stopped playing mere steps from my house. Good tunes are going to be so important on race day, so I sat down with a list of recommendations from my friends in the Facebook community and my current playlist and created what I think will be a mix of fast and mellow (mostly upbeat) to get me through what will be the hardest physical test for my body to date. Yep, I'm including pushing out that 9.3 cherub and having my abdomen cut open for my first babe.

I still need to do some tweaking, but if you need some musical inspiration to get your Athena (or Bonnydale in the really cool races that really give us our own category :)) bod moving, here's my playlist -- 6.5 hours (101 songs) of race day inspiration.

Ready to Run 3:51 Dixie Chicks
Let It Rock 3:51 Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
Circus 3:12 Britney Spears
I'm Shipping Up to Boston 2:34 Dropkick Murphys
Put You In a Song 3:40 Keith Urban
Party In the U.S.A. 3:23 Miley Cyrus
Just Dance 4:02 Lady GaGa & Colby O'Donis
California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg) 3:56 Katy Perry
You and Your Heart 3:16 Jack Johnson
On the Road Again 2:32 Willie Nelson
Girlfriend 3:37 Avril Lavigne
Viva la Vida 4:01 Coldplay
Rhythm of Love 3:22 Plain White T's
Hey, Soul Sister 3:37 Train
Breakeven (Falling to Pieces) 4:21 The Script
Say Hey (I Love You) [feat. Cherine Anderson] 3:56 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys) 4:37 Jay-Z
Gold Digger (feat. Jamie Foxx) 3:28 Kanye West
Lollipop (Squeak E. Clean & Desert Eagles Remix) 2:06 The Chordettes
Under Pressure 3:58 David Bowie & Queen
Born to Run 4:29 Bruce Springsteen
DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love (feat. Pitbull) 3:42 Usher
Fix You 4:55 Coldplay
Firework 3:48 Katy Perry
Stuck Like Glue 4:08 Sugarland
Iko Iko 2:51 The Belle Stars
Let's Get Rocked 4:56 Def Leppard
Teenage Dream 3:48 Katy Perry
SexyBack 4:03 Justin Timberlake
Uptown Girl 3:15 Billy Joel
Don't Trust Me 3:13 3OH!3
Thnks Fr Th Mmrs 3:24 Fall Out Boy
Need You Now 3:57 Lady Antebellum
Here Comes the Sun 3:06 The Beatles
Paralyzer 3:28 Finger Eleven
Sugar, We're Goin Down 3:49 Fall Out Boy
Dynamite 3:24 Taio Cruz
Breathe (2 AM) 4:40 Anna Nalick
Back to December 4:53 Taylor Swift
Please Don't Go 3:17 Mike Posner
All the Right Moves 3:58 OneRepublic
As She's Walking Away (feat. Alan Jackson) 3:44 Zac Brown Band
Tik Tok 3:20 Ke$ha
Raise Your Glass 3:23 P!nk
I'm from the Country (Single) 3:34 Tracy Byrd
Lose Yourself 5:20 Eminem
Love Shack 5:22 The B-52's
Pour Some Sugar On Me 4:53 Def Leppard
Old Alabama (feat. Alabama) 5:02 Brad Paisley
Bittersweet Symphony 5:58 The Verve
Move Along 3:59 The All-American Rejects
Cooler Than Me (Single Mix) 3:35 Mike Posner
Mine 3:51 Taylor Swift
The Time (Dirty Bit) 5:08 The Black Eyed Peas
Somewhere Only We Know 3:56 Keane
King of Anything 3:27 Sara Bareilles
Bad Romance 4:54 Lady GaGa
Secrets 3:45 OneRepublic Waking Up (Deluxe Version) Pop 7
Vivaldi The 4 Seasons (Summer) Iii. Presto 3:08 Antonio Vivaldi Vivaldi: The Four Seasons Classical
Uprising 5:05 Muse
Something More 3:37 Sugarland
Intergalactic 3:30 Beastie Boys
Mr. Brightside 3:43 The Killers
We Made You 4:30 Eminem
Just a Dream 3:58 Nelly
Armageddon It 5:22 Def Leppard
The Cave 3:36 Mumford & Sons
Magic Carpet Ride 4:28 Steppenwolff
Lover, Lover 3:14 Jerrod Niemann
California Love 6:26 Dr. Dre Feat. 2pac
Born This Way 4:20 Lady GaGa
S&M 4:03 Rihanna
Better Life 4:44 Keith Urban
Girls Just Want to Have Fun 3:08 Starf%#$er
Forget You (Glee Cast Version) [feat. Gwyneth Paltrow] 3:41
Rolling In the Deep 3:48 ADELE
If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows) 3:38 Rodney Atkins
Changes 4:29 2Pac & Talent
Kids 5:03 MGMT
All I Want to Do 3:33 Sugarland
Without Me 4:51 Eminem
Accidentally In Love 3:09 Counting Crows
No Rain 3:37 Blind Melon
Cecilia 2:55 Simon & Garfunkel
She 2:14 Green Day
Days Go By 3:45 Keith Urban
Seven Nation Army 3:52 The White Stripes
Blister In the Sun 2:25 Violent Femmes
This 3:39 Darius Rucker
Vivaldi The 4 Seasons (Spring) I. Allegro 3:33
Numb / Encore 3:25 Jay-Z & Linkin Park
Who Knew 3:28 P!nk
Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer) 4:16 Pitbull
Tonight Tonight 3:20 Hot Chelle Rae
Lust for Life 5:14 Iggy Pop
I Wanna Be Sedated 2:29 The Ramones
The Distance 3:00 Cake
Dream On 4:51 Aerosmith
I Will Survive 5:11 Cake
Ring of Fire 3:51 Social Distortion
Fat Bottomed Girls (Glee Cast Version) 4:12 Glee Cast

Happy Running!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Twenty is a 10k

Note: Do NOT neglect to apply sunscreen if you plan to run for five hours in the sun.
Phew! Yesterday I completed the longest training run on my plan. Twenty miles. TWENTY miles. 2-0. Yes. I did it. 20. The kind of sad part is that my garmin battery died just before the 18 mile mark, ah well. I still lived without it giving me constant feedback about my progress, pace, time, heart rate. Really? I look at all that stuff while I'm running? Isn't that a little obsessive? Yes. And I love it.

As I started out, I had the same overwhelming sense of What have I gotten myself into?! but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and before I knew it, I was running past the high school. I had planned out my route (with about 400 turns) and meticulously wrote the turns and at what turns I'd stop for water, or a water and Honey Stinger combo. Luckily I studied it obsessively, because when I got home it was right where I left it. Folded lovingly on the counter. I only had to call J once when I was over the half-way point and had mapped in some tricky squiggly turns to get enough mileage in at that end of town so that I didn't miss any turns and all was well.

Instead of my normal fuel belt, I had J's fanny-pack style camelbak, which held 50oz, and had a pouch big enough to put in my iPhone, chews and a five dollar bill in case that wasn't enough water. Fifty ounces is a lot of water right? Well, I re-filled that with just over 6 miles left and drank it all. That's 100 ounces of agua bliss. When I filled it at home, I took the advice of my running sages SBS and Dimity and added a couple tablets of Nuun (which I love!). I am really looking forward to race day when the water and fuel will be provided for me, because I had to fiddle with the straps quite a bit.

But how did the actual run go, you ask? It was actually really good. I decided that I was no longer going to beat myself up for the times that I walk. At the point of twenty miles, I don't care how I cover that distance, just that I cover it.

As I got about 8 miles in, I had a surge of energy and felt great until about eleven miles. Then I realized I hadn't even run a half-marathon yet, ugh. Pushing negative thoughts aside, I tried to take in all the blossoms on the tree-lined streets, the beautiful houses that were for sale which I might someday afford and then I took another long draw on my camelbak straw and came back with air. Oopsie. Luckily, my son's school was just up the road, so I detoured to the playground and re-filled in drinking fountain, rinsed out my mouth and splashed water on my face. It felt fantastic. At this point in the run, I pitied anyone who had to walk past me and catch a whiff of my stench-tastic self, because I am one salty, sweaty beast!

The last 5 miles had me back out in familiar territory on the rural roads behind my house and before I knew it I was on the home stretch. Except for a little twinge in my hip, I felt pretty good. Ready to be done, but good. I chowed a banana and a cold glass of chocolate milk before making a cup of tea and prepping my ice bath. Bathed and showered, I felt like a new woman. My arms had a bit of sun, which progressively turned into lobster claws by bed-time. That's right, for the first time, I was able to wear a short-sleeved shirt on my run and I completely neglected sunscreen! I am the sunscreen queen, so I'm not sure how this happened. Lesson learned, and it's fine now, so all's well that ends well.

Sunday morning I treated myself to a massage, and scheduled another for the week I get home from Newport. Now, if I can just shake this chest cold, I feel pretty golden!

I thought I'd never run another, but I'm already thinking of strategies for my next training (after all of my kids are in school, so we're talking next decade) and found an awesome goal: I will beat Freddie Prinze Jr's time of 5:50:49...yes, 5:50:49 in the Los Angeles Marathon in 2006. I would really like to beat Mrs. Cruise nee Miss Katie Holmes' time of 5:29:58, but first it'll be Mr. Prinze Jr. When I first thought of celebrities who'd run a marathon, I wanted to beat Oprah's time; alas, it was Skinny Oprah with a trainer, so I'll never touch her time of 4:29:20 at the Marine Corps Marathon in '94. Want to see which celebrity time you'd like to crush? Go to Celebrity Marathon Times and be prepared to be a little surprised...looks can be deceiving! Which brings me back to the thought I've had all along: Marathons are ridiculously hard!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bloomsday 2011

All spring I had been anxiously awaiting running the Bloomsday 12K with sister #3. The anxiety built as life got extra busy and I did not stick to my intended training plan. With the exception of a few runs and a hike up Ramo Flats, I was not doing a whole lot of running and consequently my blog posts dropped off as well.

Nonetheless, my sister kept on encouraging me and letting me know it would all be okay, that Bloomsday was an ideal course for my entry back into fun runs. As we were driving over it hit me that though she had talked about the size of the race, I had no concept of what 50,000+ participants would be like. I had asked my sister if we were going to drive the route the evening before to which she laughed and said with so many people around, I would always know which direction to go.

As I boarded the bus some anxiety was washing away, and noticing the light hearted atmosphere at the starting line continued to ease my fears. And then it all started. Our color group was given the go ahead to start walking toward the starting line. I caught myself close to tearing up over the emotion that I was actually there - ready or not, the time had come and it was exhilarating.

We were sticking together for the first part, but with so many people around we could not always run side by side and we spread out a little bit. Cheered on by a range of entertainment and spectators along the way, I tried to focus on my breathing, staying relaxed and knowing when I needed to walk a bit. I hovered in the center, easily transitioning from the left (for runners) and the right (for walkers). As time went on, I realized that I could jog the majority, with the exception of the water stations.

Sister #3 and I met up again on the Doomsday Hill and walked together before getting back into our jogging pace. By the time I reached mile 6 I decided that I would not do any more walking. I even passed up the last water station knowing that I was not as successful with trying to drink while still jogging at water station #1 and did not want to shift to walking.

During the last mile I thought back to the start of the year when #3 had to give us an assignment to go out and run that first mile, to just jump right back in. Considering that I was thrilled with my accomplishment for the day, my longest run ever in my adult life, despite not sticking to my training plan.

As I rounded the corner to the finish line and heard the announcer saying he was proud of the finishers, I thought "prouder" in my mind and finished with a smile.

*While in Spokane I got some fun running gear that I will post about later, and now I am looking forward to the Ben Does Life Seattle and Portland 5Ks in July and will also sign up for the See Jane Run 5K if I end up not needing to teach a summer school class on the same date. As for longer runs, Bloomsday gave me the confidence to potentially set my sights on a half, but I do not want to sign up until I get myself into a consistent running schedule. Until then I think the comfortable 5Ks of my cross country days will be my typical distance. We are going to make Bloomsday an annual sister tradition as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

False Flats

We are super horrible at keeping up with the posts on this site! With one sister training for a full-marathon while trying to balance the demands of kids and life, another in the final death rattle of dissertating, and a third in the last months of her daytime gig as a school teacher, while she's also attending grad school and teaching college courses it's easy to see why this gets put on the back burner. However, I'm taking a couple minutes before I jet out the door on a run with Crazy Carlos to do a quick post about my last couple long runs.

In a word; Formidable. Training all by my lonesome has been the hardest thing I've ever done. I am a social girl's social girl. My life revolves around being swept up in the enthusiasm of others to get me through. Luckily I have Lesley striving for the same goal, but it's just not the same as meeting up on Saturday morning and then grabbing a smoothie afterward. It takes me a good three miles to get my little inner voice to quiet the chatter then I feel pretty awesome until around mile eight when I realize 'Holy s*%#! I still have to run for two more hours!' That's when the self-deprecating talk kicks in and I can't remember why my plus-sized booty ever thought this sounded like a good idea.

Finally, I hit the last mile or so and I remember it's all for this. That feeling when you're hitting the home stretch and every fiber of your being reignites out of sheer relief that you're almost done. You know that for the rest of the day, you're going to have that warm buzz in your body because it took you further than you imagined it could. Your legs look sleeker as they're stretched out in front of you, your gut feels a little flatter (probably because it's empty and ready to receive food) and even your skin has the rosy glow of physical accomplishment.

I hit the door and strip off my iPod, garmin and visor then shuck my socks, shoes and tights so I can finally, finally plunge my hot and sweaty feet and legs into an ice bath and lay back in contented silence for about twenty minutes. Then it's time to shake off the cold and hope I can transfer from tub to shower without accidentally whacking my frozen feet on the bath's tiled edge. Because breaking myfoot in that manner would not lend to a glorious sports injury story.

The warm water of the shower sluices over my body and by the time I've toweled off, moisturized and slipped into my new uniform of leggings and a dress, I'm new again. Ready to start imagining how I'll feel after I cross the finish line of what is sure to be 26.2 miles of the hardest work I've made my body do, both mentally and physically. I fully believe and acknowledge that it will be harder than pushing my nine pound, three ounce cherub out of a hole that's just not that big. And, I'm getting excited. I have the words of Dimity, SBS and all my supportive friends running through my head and pushing me forward.

Last weekend, I spent some time with the fam and my mom generously offered to watch all four of our crazy chitlins so Mrs V and I could hit the dusty trail together. Literally. As my run was destined to be much longer than hers she served as water station wench for me until we tackled Ramo Flats together. If ever a road has been misnamed, it's that one. Ramo is not flat at all. It's the hill we used for our long hills workouts in high school cross country, and I think I'd blacked out just how steep it gets past a certain point. Our last full uphill mile took us 22 minutes. The next mile (a quarter of which was still uphill) was over 7 minutes faster. As we chugged back down to the car and took in the glorious view of our cozy little valley, I thought of the summit at Fueled By Fine Wine where the water station attendees asked me if I thought the view was 'worth the price of admission'. Yes, it certainly was.

And yes, my butt was very sore the next morning. And the next.