Sunday, September 30, 2012

Short and Sweet Sunday

Long, crazy week with some successful, encouraging runs thrown in. It is likely no one wants to read a full recap of any of it, so I'll just include some tantalizing photos.

soak with sweat. dry. repeat
lots of soccer spectating (and stealing The Oldest's Nook to read "Hunger Games")
date night with The Husband! (at ICU to visit father-in-law) Keeping the romance alive...
the date also included over-priced (albeit tasty) beer (not served in ICU, for some reason)
For Kim
How to earn a nap : Run 12 miles and take family canoeing, immediately afterwards
What was your 'high' and 'low' for your week?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fun and Food Friday

Maybe this will be a weekly post. Maybe it won't. I guess you'll have to wait in suspense and excitement 'til next Friday.

Yesterday, I ran eight miles after I dropped all the kids off at school. My goal was to have the last five be at or near my marathon goal pace. Getting my speed back...up to speed (haha) since the injury has been a frustrating and discouraging process. While I realize 5 miles is nowhere near 26.2, I was still thrilled to hit my target pace, yesterday. In fact, my final (8th) mile was actually 30 seconds faster than my mgp! This leads me to believe that my mental game still needs quite a bit of work.
so expensive!

When I run more than 6 miles, or do speedwork, I like to refuel, immediately, with some healthy protein, electrolytes and calories. I've really enjoyed drinking these after my recent runs. This one is loaded with protein and is sweetened with only fruits and veggies. I think it's 140 calories with zero fat grams. It actually tastes really good, too! These babies have hit the spot, but, at $2.99 each I can't bring myself to make them a habit. :(
I bought these bottled smoothies only because they were Buy One Get One Free, at the supermarket. I have the ability to make my own smoothies, but never take the time to do so, for myself. When I do make them, they're for the boys so I can sneak in all sorts of veggies and vitamins they'd never usually eat. (sshhh!)
Any tasty, post-workout, food or drink favorites you want to share?
In other Fun Food News :
I had three lunch dates, today. Lunch #1 was with this handsome gentleman :
I eventually gave up trying to get him to stop chewing so I could take a picture

He also showed me how to dip cheesy, veggie crackers into raspberry jell-o. Gross, right?!

Lunch #2 involved this curly-headed stud :
mid-chew, as well
long, detailed story about their morning science experiment
He insisted on taking my pic, too. Fact: when I don't have ratty runhair, I sport an unruly, fluffy 'fro
Lunch #3 was less cute, more filling :

reheated pizza and a giant salad (not pictured, obviously). My favorite meal.
I thought of surprising my high-schooler with a lunch date from mom, too. Unfortunately, though, it's nearing the end of the September which means I've already used up my monthly allotment of Embarassing Parent Opportunities.
What's your favorite thing to eat for lunch?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Listening and Learning

My Father-in-Law is in the hospital. When I set out for my run on Sunday, I prayed that God would allow us to keep this man here a year for every mile I ran, that day. Not wanting to be greedy, I stuck to 20 miles. Crisis averted!

So, that's a big, fat downer and I like to keep things on the lighter side. In the absence of light, humorous or thought-provoking material, I turn to my old standby : mundane.

Still reading? If so, my lucky friend(s?), you're about to be rewarded with some Training Talk!!

When I realized I was, in all likelihood going to recover from my stress fracture, I made the sketchy decision to keep my first marathon on my race schedule. If nothing else, my children had now been promised a fabulous Runcation. When the finish line looks like this, it'd be difficult to tell them "There's been a change of plans based on the fact that mommy's dumb".
I had to get them excited about my marathon somehow!
If you think making that decision was the hard part, you've obviously never tried finding a training plan titled "So You Knocked Out a Few Solid Weeks of Marathon Training, Ended Up With a Stress Fracture and Now You Have Eight(ish) Weeks Until the Big Day. Oh, and You're Not an Elite or a Beginner. Also, You'd Still Love to Finish in Sub 4". 
I'll save you the trouble of Googling. It doesn't exist. In the absence of an actual plan, I went ahead and combined four different training plans.
My head was ready to explode and I never knew if I was doing too much or not enough. Injury can leave you in a state of constant doubt and paranoia regarding your running abilities. For example : How do you determine your "easy" pace when every running step suddenly feels totally un-natural and HARD?! Trying to combine my newfound fears and confusion with an overwhelming jumble of imperfect (for me) plans, turned me into a mess.
Sure, I was knocking out the miles. I was doing it like it was my job. Unfortunately, it was a job I despised and didn't feel rewarded by. It was the one you get up and do, every day, and wonder why you're doing it. While I was grateful for the ability to be able to run again, my confusion and apprehension were sucking the life out of it.
Last week, though, I hit a turning point.
I ran a 10-miler, as a planned Progression. The first mile was purposely slowish and I worked on making each subsequent mile about 10 seconds faster. I wanted to run it that way, until finishing 9 miles, and then have the final mile be more of a cool-down. (back to a slower pace) It ended up looking like this: I wasn't looking at my watch until the end of each mile, in an effort to pace by feel
Goal: 9:30 Actual: 9:30 (nice & easy)
Goal : 9:20 Acutal: 9:16 (this mile's usually my fastest. had to work to keep it slow)
Goal: 9:10 Actual: 9:12 ( trying to compensate for the previous one being too fast)
Goal: 9:00 Actual: 8:59 (hilly mile, too!)
Goal: 8:50 Actual: 8:42 (math was becoming difficult, at this point)
Goal: 8:40 Actual: 8:38 (short pitstop. nice when the route goes right by your house!)
Goal: 8:30 Actual: 8:28 (faster than I've been running, lately, but felt great)
Goal 8:20 Actual: 8:22 (had no idea if this meant I was still on track, or not)
Goal 8:10 Actual: 8:36 (definitely NOT on track, anymore)
Goal : slower, cooldown 8:55 (haha...success!)
I had water and a gel with me, which helped. However, I'd also brought along the head and chest congestion from my recent cold. (Next time I'll try to leave those at home.) Those additions made an already difficult run pretty darned ugly.
When I was finished, and trying to minimize the puddles of sweat I was leaving around my house, all I could think of was how HARD that had been.
actual puddles of my sweat, from that run. Gross, eh?
Those thoughts were quickly followed by another, cautiously happy one, though. It was hard, but I'd done it. Other than that 9th, wack-o, mile...I'd set out with a goal in mind and had accomplished it. Who cares how much phlegm I 'd hacked up or how many times I questioned why I was doing this and trying to talk myself out of quitting. I. had. done it!
Was it possible that I was actually seeing improvement? Was this clustermess of "training" actually working?
The next day I limited my running to the deep water of the pool. I did a tough ladder workout and my legs felt sufficiently "worked".
Two days after my 10-mile run, I felt the need to run 4, easy miles, even though it wasn't part of any of my modified training plans. Due to my ever-interesting schedule, my only option was to run them all in a monotonous loop around my block. Many, many times. This time, I chose to not look at my watch at all. I just wanted to run those annoying circles, keep it feeling good and easy, and get it over with.
When I finished, I was shocked and delighted to see my splits had ended up like this:
What the heck?!
That was the moment I realized it was all coming back to me. Finally. All the confusion and doubt dissipated as I learned what it means to truly listen to your body. My next realization was that a final 20-mile run, before my marathon, needed to happen this week.
It ended up being superb timing. My body and spirit held up like champs for all those miles and everything since then has fallen into place beautifully.
I've scrapped all the plans, spreadsheets and guides. I'm trusting my body and instincts to get me to that starting line healthy, happy and ready.
Who knows. If it works, maybe I'll type of my own "So You Knocked Out a Few Solid Weeks of Marathon Training, Ended Up With a Stress Fracture and Now You Have Eight(ish) Weeks Until the Big Day. Oh, and You're Not an Elite or a Beginner. Also, You'd Still Love to Finish in Sub 4".  training plan. It would probably not have much competition on any search engines...
Care to share anything you recently learned?
Do you prefer a strict plan or do you train based more on feel?



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Short and Sweet Sunday

To call this morning's situations "un-ideal" for running, would be an understatement. Despite everything, though, my first (and final), post-injury, 20 mile run happened. (oontz oontz)

If not for the unfailing support of my family and friends, it would have been impossible. To thank them, and, to reward you, I'm including a photo of the sight only few would normally be able enjoy.

You're welcome.

red compression shorts + pink compression socks + me whining about my aching glutes= blissforall
What's your favorite weekend attire? 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fast-Forward Friday

When I realized today's date, I knew Throwback Thursday would have to step aside for a new edition, this week. Also, it's my blog and I can do whatever I want. So there.

Next month, on this date,  I will be trying desperately to keep running in my first, Full, Marathon!! If you've read any of my brief running history, or (are lucky enough to) know me in real life, you would understand that this is not actually some life-long dream I'll be fulfilling.

I registered for the race on April 29th, 2012. Before that date, I was only about 20% sure I even wanted to go through with this craziness. That 20% had been rolling around in my brain for approximately one week. Prior to that I really had no desire to run that distance. Ever.

I recently completed seven half marathons, in seven months.

raise your hand if you want me in charge of your race calendar! 

Each one actually confirmed the adamant"I will NEVER run a Full Marathon" thought I'd had since I'd started running.

However, a culmination of little, seemingly insignificant incidents turned that"maybe, someday..." spark and turned it into an insatiable wildfire.

I'm glad I don't have the ability to actually fast-forward to October 21st. I don't mind the wait. Don't get me wrong. My excitement about this race is there. It just happens to be jumbled up with a plethora of other feelings that are not entirely excitement.

It's kinda like the days leading up to your birthday. You're looking forward to celebrating it, but you don't actually want to be older.

It's also a bit reminiscent of being a month away from giving birth . So excited!! Can't wait!!...but, also, not entirely ready to face that day and all the pain that will be associated with it.
all-inclusive photo of my birthday with aforementioned children
So, I'll settle for some mental fast-forwarding while I continue to plan and train for this epic (for me) event. It may or may not end up being my only marathon, but it will always be my first. I won't be able to pause that moment where both of my feet cross the finish line, but I will be able to rewind those unforgettable memories, whenever I want to.
In one month.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A New PR

slightly related : go visit Yo Momma to wish her well on her upcoming Half Marathon and enter her giveaway!!

I gave myself sufficient time to rest and whine about Saturday's "race" and run. The humbling 5k was followed by running another 11 miles on a paved trail in between the race site and home. I knew the conditions weren't going to be ideal, but felt like I needed to get the miles in so I could give myself all day Sunday to take it easy.

The lucky marathon I've chosen as my first has a start time of 10:00 am. (weird, right?) I figure it makes sense to plan a couple of training runs to start at that time, as well. This way I can work out fueling and get my body used to wanting to run 26.2 miles when it's normally ready for my late-morning nap.

caught in the act, by The Littlest. Darned tech-savvy kids!
If I can survive 80+ degree, humidity-through-the-roof training runs, in Florida, then 50 degree, breezy, mild, Canadian, marathon miles should be all that much easier. Not "piece of cake", easier, but easier nonetheless.
Right? Right.
I was feeling frisky (and warm) enough to venture out for this run sans top. While I don't generally run in just a jog bra, I'd already decided to leave my Garmin and ipod at home. "Why not leave the shirt and "Run Freely"?" was the day's motto.
For some idiotic reason, I was on a roll and decided to also run with no hydration. Six miles doesn't always necessitate a water bottle, but I should've paid better attention to the weather and my (also idiotic) route, before making that decision.
More often than not, I'll choose a route that leaves from my front door. This run was no exception. As it would turn out, though, the nice little out-and-back I picked has, approximately, 4.2 feet of shade on the entire road. For real. It was like running on the surface of the sun WHILE staring into the actual sun, the entire time. Not sure how that was even possible, but it totally happened. Needless to say it was hot. And I was thirsty. The thought crossed my mind to jump into/and or drink from any one of the nasty retention ponds I sweatily shuffled past.
When I finally did stumble in my my front door, I had a singular focus. I remembered a full, glorious bottle of water I'd stashed in the refrigerator. I yanked open the 'fridge' door, clumsily grabbed that bottle, unscrewed the cap (a miracle with my drippy fingers) and chugged the contents.
I have never chugged any liquid, so fast, in my entire life. Had there been a funnel involved, it would not have gotten down my throat any faster. Impressed yet?
I re-filled it and chugged another full bottle in record time.
There you have it. This training cycle has, in fact, produced an impressive Personal Record. Fastest Drinking, by me, to date.
To think I was feeling discouraged about my lack of progress...

What sort of dumb moves have you made, recently?

If given your choice of drinks, what would you chug fastest on a hot day?


Monday, September 17, 2012

Autumn R&R 5k Recap

Subtitle : Delusions of Grandeur Running aka DOG running

I try to not be a DOG Runner. I really do.

The night before this race, though, my mind was flip-flopping between the logical, rational goals and the truly delusional. I need to find a balance.

"I'm still fresh off an injury. I need to treat this race as a training run with a goodie bag and free t-shirt."

This was, of course, immediately followed by:

"But if I just want a PR badly enough, I'm sure I can magically run fast enough to achieve it!"

A local, well-established running store puts on a dozen or so races, every year. They never disappoint. The price is pretty average, for a 5k, ($24 for early registrants) and it includes a free, cotton t-shirt. There are usually a ton of great sponsors at the actual event, though.  We make out like bandits, gathering up all the freebies, afterwards.
bad picture of one of our more useful freebies. Ice/Heat pack, compliments of Florida Hospital. Score!

Another perk : The Kids' races are free and they also get a mini version of the same cotton shirt, (to keep) and to pin their race bibs (just for show...not chip-timed) to. The races are short and all the kids get a commemorative ribbon. Their excitement over that portion of the morning is well worth the $24 and early drive to the event.

There were over 1700 5k finishers. Even with a 7:30 am start time, the conditions are still pretty warm and humid, this time of year. Their Fall and Winter events bring out even bigger crowds.

Since the injury, it's been taking me at least a full mile to loosen up all the aches and stiffness, every time I run. There wasn't a great route for that anywhere near the race area. I ended up doing a bunch of annoying loops around a park and a dead-end street. Luckily, other people were doing the same thing so I didn't look quite as obnoxious as I felt.

The legs felt pretty okay with an 8:41 warmup mile. I didn't do any strides or really push it, at all. It was just a leg-loosener. The problem was, it was already pretty toasty. I avoided most of the really hot Florida Summer weeks by being forced to run in here :
While I have been running on land, again, the past couple of weeks, my body's apparently still a bit of a pansy when it comes to higher temps. So, when we lined up for the National Anthem, after my loopy leg-loosener, I was duh-ripping sweat. Like, fingers sliding off my Garmin's buttons sweaty. I glanced around for someone to commiserate with and noticed everyone else was bone dry. I'm pretty sure one guy was even shivering.
We started and I made a pact with myself to not look at my watch. It's never been beneficial during a race. If I see a number that seems too fast, I automatically slow down. If it seems too slow, I get all discouraged and disgusted.
I was hoping to start out fairly conservatively, and speed up when I could. The pace felt do-able, but not something I could maintain for another 3 miles. Warning bells started going off at that particular thought. The whole course runs through a pretty, quiet neighborhood and around a big lake. It's all grass, gravel or sidewalks.
My watch beeped at what I thought was the first mile (foreshadowing) and I felt a little bit less panicky. It had gone by pretty quickly and I wasn't dying. Yet.
Then I noticed I hadn't seen a clock or mile marker. This is highly unusual for Track Shack races. When we finally hit the actual first mile, I realized my watch still had the "virtual partner" setting on, and was just beeping to let me know I was behind my goal pace. Thanks, Jerkwatch.
From that point on, I was a loserbaby. I could not shake the desire to come to a complete stop and walk the rest of the race. In a 5k! My mental game is so far from where it needs to be, right now, it's hideous.
Mile One :  7:08
My second mile is typically slower, in a 5k. (I'm a big fan of positive splits, apparently) In retrospect, I guess I can celebrate the fact that I didn't actually stop running the entire race, because that's ALL I wanted to do.
I swore off future 5ks.
Then I swore off future races, altogether.
I mentally wrote up my online ad to sell my marathon bib.
I wanted to curse at all the people passing me and yell "you're not going faster, I'm just going slower!"
My legs refused to turn over quickly and my brain refused to push them to do so. I am not exaggerating at how horrible this race felt. I know a lot of people aren't a big fan of 5ks, but I've never had this sort of experience with one.
I resigned myself to stop calling this a race, and just think of it as a Tempo run, for training purposes.
Mile Two: 7:22
I wasn't even trying to do the math to predict my finishing time. My only, pathetic, consolation was that the 10+ miles I was planning to run after this could be slower. You can imagine what a boost that particular thought was...
My watch was a bit off, so I knew it'd read the course longer than 3.10 miles. Still, when it beeped at the 3rd mile, I kicked it. I was grateful to be able to find another gear and just pushed out any other thoughts. I usually try to find my family and give them a smile or wave, but all I had eyes for was that finish line.
Mile Three: 7:52 (ugh)
0.19, according to Garmin, 6:17 pace
Total : 23:33 Not a personal worst, far from my best, and three minutes faster than my time from the same race when I ran it in 2010. So, I guess there's that...
5th out of 135 women 35-39
206 out of 1703 runners
In other, more exciting news, my family member/friend ran her best 5k, ever!! Go Kristi-Anne!!
I found The husband, boys and in-laws and we grabbed our fill of bananas, granola bars, waters and chocolate milk. One of us may or may not have indulged in a free, organic, locally brewed beer. At 8 am.
The boys both ran the 400m(ish) race, with the other kids, with giant smiles and speedy feet. The Middlest is really enjoying racing, lately!
The rest of the family headed home and I dragged my sweat-soaked self to my next destination to tack on a long run and call it a (difficult) day. I'll spare you the whining details about that. For now.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Short & Sweet Sunday

This is what I designated my treat, yesterday.

For some reason, I thought a 5k race, preceded by a warm-up and followed by eleven more miles, earned me that delightful snack. I polished off the pack and then proceeded to eat everything else I could find, for the rest of the day.
Do you have a go-to, post-workout/run treat? (Mine isn't usually organic, rice filled leaves, but, man oh man, they were good!)


Friday, September 14, 2012

Trendy Post

I think this post idea/tag originated from the cool ladies over at this site. I've enjoyed reading other bloggers answers so much, I took this other cool lady's advice and decided to post my own.

Within the next couple days, you will be lucky enough to forced to read my recap of tomorrow's First 5k of The Season (and post-injury) Which Will Be Immediately Followed By Fourteen More Miles of Running. It's a working title, but you get the gist. It's going to be an interesting day, running-wise, and I'm excited about the prospect of sharing all the horrific gory awesome details with you!

Until then, you get this :

1. Best run ever? Most recently, and the one that immediately comes to mind, is my 20-miler. I'd had a nightmare of a run, the prior week, when I ran 18 miles. I joined our running group to run 20 miles of a 22.5 mile loop. It was well-stocked with volunteers, water, goodies, company and quiet scenery. I felt good the entire time and couldn't wipe the stupid smile off my sweaty face from about mile 16 on.
action shot! Not really..that's a bunch of us stopping for water. I'm the one with the ratty hair hidden in a ratty bun.
2. Three words that describe your running? goal-oriented, necessary, life-changing
3. Your go-to running outfit? I'm typically a pre-dawn runner so I stick with bright colors. I have a couple blindingly bright neon shirts I rotate. My favorite bottoms are anything light and loose.
me, on the end, with the neon. And ratty ponytail.
4. Quirky habit while running? Hm. That would be an interesting question to ask the people I run with. Otherwise, it's not terribly quirky, but I like nice, even numbers. I'll take as many or few steps, at the end, to make sure my watch reads out a full mile. No willy-nilly, 2.84 milers for me.
5. Morning, midday, evening? (knock on wood) My body really adjust well to running any time of day. I'm consistently pretty darned happy just to be able to go for a run. The time of day isn't a big deal to me. As I said, though, I'm typically out before the sun.
6. I won't run outside when it's: ummmm...Lemme think...Yeah. I got nothin'
7. Worst injury-and how you got over it? I've had to take some time off for groin, hamstring and calf pulls, before.  I didn't really fully understand "injury" until my recent stress fracture, though. I got over it by babying that poor fibula, researching the topic and implementing what I learned and filling my non-running days with pool jogs.

boo! :(
8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: I saw my name, in print, in a local magazine. It was on a list of The 2011 5k Fastest Times (run in FL, by Floridians). I would've never have imagined being recognized for anything athletic. Ever.
9. Next race is: Tomorrow!!
10. Potential running goal for 2013? I've set myself up for a dizzying amount of new running experiences, in the upcoming months. I hope to be injury-free enough to conquer my first marathon(s), survive my first relay (an ultra, no less!), enjoy some new PRs in races I already know I love and help some of my very favorite running buddies acheive some of their new goals. And, through the magic of Blogland, we all get to share those moments, together!! Whoopee!!
I'd love to read your answers to any or all of these questions, in the comments. Or, if you have a blog, and post your own, please share the link. :)




Thursday, September 13, 2012

Throw(further)back Thursday

I am not an easy person to surprise.

I pride myself on my observant qualities and, lacking a firm filter, I have been known to blurt "I knew it!" when faced with a "surprise" situation. (fun, huh?)

The Birthday 2003 Situation was the rare and perfect combo of awesome AND surprise. This makes for a good memory that needs to be shared.

Leading up to that particular Summer, I'd packed on a few pounds. Turns out 20 minutes, per week, of Denise Austin videos isn't a successful weapon against fast food lunches, every day. 

disclaimer 1: to avoid "those" types of comments : I'm naturally blessed with a decent metabolism and figure. "Bigger" for me, may be "smaller" for others...and vice versa. It's all relative.

I kept ignoring it until my boyfriend and I returned from a cruise, and I was checking out the pics we'd taken.

jk. this *was* actually one of the cruise photos, tho! Perfect, no?

this was one that gave me pause
I started taking walks, increased Denise and attempted to control my french fry binges. (mmmm Checkers!) I mentioned, more than once, that a treadmill would be real handy. Maybe you haven't heard, but Summertime, in Florida, is hot. It was difficult for me to motivate myself to go for long, lonely, hot walks.
Have you already figured out that this was me in my pre-runner days?
With my birthday on the horizon, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to plan a weekend getaway. My sister, her boyfriend and a couple other friends were going to join my current boyfriend and I for an overnight stay on the beach. This wasn't a common occurence, so I was a bit surprised when the parties involved were reluctant to participate. In the end, though, everyone agreed to split the cost of the hotel room and food.
The rest of my family joined us for dinner, before the hotel partying. It was at that time, that they revealed my birthday present:
They had all, including my boyfriend gone in, together, and purchased a treadmill for me! My very own exercise machine! It was a really fancy one, too. No expense was spared. As delighted as I was, I felt immediately guilty for having the expense of the weekend tacked onto all the money they'd already spent. :(
Nonetheless, we enjoyed ourselves (maybe a little too much?) but had all day Sunday (my actual birthday) to relax and recover, somewhat.
My sister and boyfriend told me we were all getting together, again, Sunday night, for a poker game at a friend's house. We generally played, once a week or so (low stakes, lots of fun) so this wasn't unusual. We do, however, have a very cool poker table, so it wasn't terribly common for us to go to a different house to play.
That's when the wheels started turning...
"There's going to be a surprise party for me, at Joe's house!" I thought. It just made sense. Everything was fitting together too perfectly for it to be anything else. I excitedly ran my errands, worked on my "GASP! For ME?!" face, and arrived back home to get ready to head to the "poker night".
When I walked through the living room to put down my bags, it occurred to me as  only slightly odd that every candle in my (vast) collection was burning brightly. Even when I glanced over and saw my boyfriend, one on knee, holding a small box, I thought "this is a really elaborate gesture for a pair of earrings".
disclaimer 2: when you've been dating the same person for five years, self-preservation kicks in and tells you that marriage may not actually ever happen, after all.
It should be no suprise to anyone that I said "yes" before he even got all words out.
In the excited aftermath, it was revealed that the Treadmill gift was just a (very expensive) decoy. He was so gung-ho about surprising me, he hadn't even told my parents what he was planning.
Last year, we sold The Infamous Treadmill through Craigslist. I was a little sad to part with it, due to the memories it evoked every time my feet pounded on it. However, I reminded myself that I have a much more amazing souvenir of that night.
that is actually us, in Las Vegas, where we did actually get married. But this isn't from our wedding. Long story, but another photo inclusion that was too perfect to pass up.
I'll take him, over any gift, anytime. 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Mile-Long Recap

No, Wait! Don't go! It won't really be long. It's just a recap of a Mile Race...and I was trying to be clever. (fail)

If you read yesterday's post you saw I would be easing back into racing with a nice, short event. Holy geez, this was a fun night!


My in-laws were kind enough to join us, and corral the boys, so The (non-runner) Husband and I could both race. (thanks Grampa & Nana!) My dad and sister were running, too, so my mom, niece, nephew and brother-in-law were also spectating.

Running events + My family = awesome.

Fueling for a night race can be a bit tricky. Luckily, though, I didn't have too many concerns as we'd only be racing for a mile. So, I ate pretty much like I always do, throughout the day. Yes, this means I had my sundae. I wasn't starving before we left the house so I just had some water and a mini Clif bar. (white chocolate macadamia nut. yum)

My dad's been struggling with injuries for an insanely long period of time so he was dropped off at the start line. The Husband, sister and I ran from the finish line, to the start for our warm-up. It was actually a rare, cool, breezy Florida evening. My dumb ankle was a bit achy, but I'd also ran 18 miles over the past two days.

I still had absolutely no idea what to expect for my finishing time. I've just recently been addiing a bit of distance back into my training, but have not taken a single, speedy step in months. I thought The Husband would finish under 7 minutes (I don't know that he even really believed his prediction of 7:50) so I hoped to have a sub-7 finish, as well.

The race was broken down into 10-minute waves. Men's Open division would start, meaning I didn't actually get to race with The Husband. The Women's Open was 10 minutes later...Men's get the idea.

There was a lot of excitement, nerves and jokes at the start. All the spectators were lined up along the route or at the finish, so it wasn't a huge group.

Due to the 09/11 date, my friend/race director  had brought a giant flag and promptly designated me "special flag-holder". I agreed to do it, on the condition that I wouldn't have to also sing the National Anthem. As my dumb luck fate would have it, her sound system died and she ended up roping me into singing "The Star Spangled Banner" with her. It was an interesting blend of horrific, moving, sweet and relaxing.
how to take people's focus off the rat's nest on the back of your head :butcher the Natl Anthem!
The speedy men took off and the 10 minutes 'til our start time flew by. I was so happy to be at a start line, again, and even happier to have my sissy beside me. Between her pregnancy and my injury, our 'gether runs have been limited, lately. We treasure the times we do get to sweat with one another, now.

we photograph extremely well, together
There wasn't a timing mat, at the start, so I stayed close to the front. I knew at least two of the girls were faster than me, pre-injury, so I didn't have any chance of beating them. When we took off, I stuck with my plan of : control breathing, manage footing and speed up whenever possible.
The course was perfect. It was straight and slightly downhill. We were running into the wind, but it wasn't overpowering.
I was way more calm than I thought I would be. As per usual, once I increased my speed, my ankle didn't hurt a bit. (more on my theory regarding that in a different post)
I got stuck behind a couple ladies but was okay with it as I was unsure of how long I'd be able to maintain my pace, anyway. The first 1/4 mile marker came up and I glanced at my watch for the one and only time during the race. It showed a 6:10 average pace and I was surprised at how easy that was feeling.
A local track coach was just ahead of me. Some kids from her team were taking turns running with and cheering for her, so I totally used them as my pacers. Thanks, guys!
At the half-mile point, I could already see the finish line. My breathing was the only thing giving me trouble. Definitely need to get my cardio back up to speed. (haha. speed. get it? like in a race?)
The clock went from 6:39 to 6:40 as I crossed the finish. I stopped my Garmin, immediately & it also read 6:40. That's pretty rare for the times to match up that well! The results, oddly, show me at 6:48, but everyone I talked to had the same issue. Must've been a glitch.
I was instantly annoyed when I realized how good I felt. That means I could've gone faster, dangit!
I made my way over to our cheering section to hear The Husband's good news. He, the non-runner, had a finishing time of 6:52. "I told you so!" was said aloud, but, "nanny boo-boo, stick your head in doo-doo" was not. (see, I have some restraint)
My sister finished her fastest mile, (Woo hoo!) and we waited to cheer on my generally-hobbling, injured RunnerDad. It was not even a little bit of a surprise when he sped over the line at around 7:10. (Woo hoo!)
Awards-wise, it was good news for me, bad for my sis. All those fast ladies in front of me? They were in her age group. :(
The kids' race followed. My boys insisted I stay far away from them. However, it was dark by that point and I was nervous about them veering out of the closed lane and into traffic. I, and a couple other parents, ran along the side to be Human Shields. When I saw The Littlest starting to fade, I scooched closer to help him along. He zoomed off, in the other direction, and told me to leave him alone. So I did. (I should've totally gotten a medal for restraint, this night)
The Middlest ended up winning, for his first time. He was over-the-moon excited and not even slightly humble. All the kids received cool Fireman's helmets and a medal. It was definitely worth staying up past bedtime. My mom offered to take the boys home while The Husband, my dad and I stayed for awards. (thanks, Mom!)
sorry, sissy. No medal, no photo op. (jk, she had already gone home)
I lost count of all the PRs I saw from my running buddies. It was such a fun and rewarding race and I can't wait 'til next year's!
Ever done a one mile race?
What's your favorite distance? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How Bad Can it Be?

I love racing.

I love failing at studying course maps, laying out my Race Day outfit, packing the Bag O'Fun and Distractions for my boys, checking out the other racers in the parking lot, talking goals with my husband and kicking trees when I fail to reach them. I love the nerves, the warmup, the 6th (7th & 8th) trip to the port-a-potty, and the combined nervous, excited energy that envelopes me when I toe a line.

Our 2011 Fall, Winter and 2012 Spring family schedule was packed with races. I didn't get burned out, per se, but I knew we all needed a planned, long break. This race, the first Saturday of May, was kind of a last-minute decision,  but I knew the organizers and loved the cause. The humid, hot miles reaffirmed my decision to take the Summer off of racing.

A few friends and I had also registered for a Disney 5k, which was the same night as the 4-mile race I just mentioned.  The Expedition Everest Challenge was the epitome of Hot Mess. I will provide an extremely ugly recap, someday. Luckily, for us, it was more of a fun run and an interesting way to end the racing season.
our "before" pic
No one should ever see the looks on our faces during or after that nightmare.
I really enjoyed just running for the rest of Spring and into the early part of the Summer. Our weekends were freed up for other fun activities and my credit card got to enjoy a vacation from race registration sites. "No racing 'til September", became my mantra.
Mid-July, was about the time I started drooling over upcoming Summer races. As "luck" would have it, though, I was able to stick with my previous commitment...
insert annoyed eyeroll, here
I cautiously registered for my original Return to Racing 5k, once I had completed a few, pain-free runs. We've run this race before and really liked it. My (annoyingly, naturally fast) brother-in-law, his wife, (who started my racing obsession), husband and boys will all be there so it'll be a great time.
However, another cool event came up and we felt compelled to be a part of it, too. The Genuine Mile (in case you're too lazy busy to click the link) will be a  local, evening, quick race. A portion of the proceeds will be donated towards our local Fire Departments. (hence the 9/11 date) I'm a sucker for a good cause and this falls under that category.
Unfortunately, I haven't attempted any sort of speed for over two months.
While I realize this gives me an excellent excuse, in regards to my finishing time, I'm nervous as heck. I want to be carefree and unconcerned about it...just focus on having a good time with my family and friends. That type of attitude doesn't come easily to me in regards to racing, though.
To compromise, I have set some goals. They're my attempt at loose and fun goals, but goals, nonetheless :
A Goal : Have a faster finishing time than my (annoyingly, naturally fast) "non-runner" of a husband. There, Art. I said it. I want you to be fast,  but I want to be faster. (xoxoxo)
B Goal: Finish in under 9:11:00
A free beer will be awarded to anyone who does this
C Goal: Complete a mile-long race without injuring myself
Fingers, toes and (tender) ankles crossed
New Racing Season, here we come...
Are you doing anything to commemorate this date?
Care to predict my husband's finishing time?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Short & Sweet Sunday : Dorothy Edition

This morning, when I was three miles into my first double-digit run, post injury, I was feeling the early signs of doubt and fatigue.
Then, just ahead of me, I saw this : 
Double Rainbow. Shining over a church.
Are you kidding me?
I went ahead and took that as a good sign.
I sincerely hope all of your Sundays are just as amazing as mine has been, today.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's a Tie

A few months ago, my outer ankle started to hurt after running. I did what any stubborn, misguided runner does: iced, self-diagnosed and rested for at least 26 hours.

This vicious cycle repeated itself, with varying times of zero pain and more intense pain, until it came to a head during a tempo run. Due to heat and humidity (and probably the fact that I was on the verge of a stress fracture) my recent speedwork had been extremely disheartening. I decided to enlist the help of a faster and extremely agreeable running buddy. We were both attending the same group run and he was nice enough to jump on board with my "how 'bout you pace me for my tempo run?!" plan.

I arrived ahead of the group, to squeeze in an ibuprofen-laden warm-up mile. (once again, I have never claimed to be  terribly intelligent when it comes to running). The plan was to evaluate my level of ankle pain to see if I should go through with the speedy training run.

In my defense, the warm-up didn't actually feel horrible.

The following day was a planned rest day, and the following week would be a cutback one.  I desperately needed to tuck a solid speed session into my marathon training and I had become a master at convincing myself it was just an "achy tendon" that I could run right through.

So, when the rest of the group showed up at the park to run the LBT, I was ready to get it over with run.
it looks so quiet and not at all terrifying, doesn't it?
There was the usual small talk. We all expressed our mutual disgust over the 80+ degree temps. Combined with the 95% humidity, it was going to be like running through a hilly, tree-filled sauna.
I should have stopped after the first tempo mile. Even at that point, though, I'm pretty sure the damage had been done. The guy was doing such an excellent job with the pacing, though, and we were right at our target pace. I definitely should've called it quits after the second mile. As a runner, I have had my fair share of aches, pains, twinges and niggles. However, this night, on this trail, my ankle was throbbing and screaming at me to make it all go away.
I'll spare you the rest of the details, mostly because they make me look like an even bigger idiot.
After four miles, averaging just under a 7:30mm pace, I came to a dead stop and decided to jog back to my car.
Up until this point, walking had generally not been a problem. Tonight was different. I limped, painfully, to the parking lot and knew. This trail, that speed, my stupidity, the heat...I was done. It was over. My marathon dreams were crumbling and my heart hurt almost as badly as my ankle.
I bypassed the ER (yes. it was bad enough for me to consider going to the hospital) and drove home to shower and evaluate the situation with my husband. As a runner's spouse, he has heard his fair share of complaints about my aches, pains, twinges and niggles. (Lucky man!)
During the night, when I was forced to crawl on my hands and knees, just to get to the bathroom, we both agreed a trip to Urgent Care was in order. The rest is ugly, whiny, painful history.
Lucky for you, this blog hasn't been in existence that long. Should you decide to skim back through the archives to see how the drama unfolded, it shouldn't take up too much of your valuable time.
My return to running has been slow, painful, frustrating and any other icky words you can think of to describe "unpleasant". Something that used to bring me so much joy, bring to mind so many goals and dreams and make me feel so alive has become a tear-inducing, humbling nightmare. (sorry. I'm not much of a sugar-coater)
Over the past couple of days, though, I've cautiously felt like I was starting to turn a corner. Without immediately realizing the significance, I drove out to the same park, to run seven, solo miles on the same trail.
When, by mile five, I had to force myself to slow down, to keep it easy-paced,  I couldn't stop the ridiculous smile. Other than the woodland creatures and creepy shirtless stranger carrying a grapevine (for real), I was all alone but SO relieved and joyful to be feeling like a runner, again. I did a little whoop/holler and finished out my sweaty miles.
Lake Beresford Trail : 1
Me : 1

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Throw Thur

This Throwback Thursday is a recap of my first half-marathon. See how the title only contains half the words? Get it?! More examples of my enviable sense of humor...

I can vividly recall the conversation we had, while walking to my first 5k race. She and I adamantly agreed we had no desire to ever race a distance further than 3.1 miles.

"Well, maaaybe a 10k". I finally conceded.

She half-heartedly agreed, but that was it. That was the ultimate cut-off.

Fast-forward six, whole months 'til I ran my first 10k :

the following month I ran my second 10k

I hate to brag, but impatience and obsession are qualities I have mastered. Why I couldn't be content to run a few 5ks, every couple of months, for a few years is beyond me. It's not even as though I was excelling at that distance and needed more. I just needed more. Now!

My incessant chatter about running and races had fueled and awakened the dormant runner in my dad. He'd run Track as a speedy youth, but had long since retired.

middle row, 3rd from left. you're welcome, dad!!
After racing a few 5ks, he had jumped right into the half-marathon distance just a few months later. (thanks, genetics!) While I still had a healthy respect for any distance over 6.2 miles, his excitement and successes were definitely contagious.
Then he talked me into trying the running group he'd joined.
Turns out Impatient/Obsessive Runner + Like-Minded Locals = Best Thing Ever!
Approximately 4 days into this new venture, for me, the half-marathon went from "no way never" to "I must do it. immediately". After a frenzied internet search, I settled on this race. It was about 12 weeks away, so I'd have the perfect amount of time to train. The race was also in the town where I'd grown up and I loved the nostalgia of that. The field wouldn't be enormous and the temperature would be cooler, in Florida. This was it. My, idyllic First Half-Marathon was staring right at me from my moniter.
I was sweating and giggling when I submitted the registration, but my husband's calm confidence and support settled my nerves....
So much so, that I instantly realized there was no way my impatient little brain could wait 12 weeks for this race. (how many of you saw that coming?)
With wild eyes and flying fingers, I submitted another entry for the Daytona Beach 1/2 Marathon. Who needs ridiculous things like training, waiting or common sense?
As I've shared, in addition to being impatient, I am also really "thrifty" as well as generally clueless so my preparation and training for the race left a LOT to be desired. However, I did somewhat follow a (free) shortened training plan, so the distance wasn't seeming as impossible to me. With my (less cheap) husband's encouragement, I also bought some calf sleeves (the day before the race) to counteract the effect of the 2 bridge crossings involved in the course. 
The husband and boys would be my cheering section. I didn't want to inconvenience the rest of my family for this pre-dawn, longer-than-a-5k, race experience, so I discouraged their attendance and told them all I'd give them a full recap.
The (very early) morning of the race, I ate some carbs, drank some gatorade, got sick about 6 times and left the house with my little family.
Wait. What? Getting sick so many times that you're left pale, shaking and utterly empty isn't standard race prep? whoops...
The race starts on the actual Daytona International Speedway. It's pretty darned cool. The boys were very excited to get to play around on the steep banks, while I tried to not vomit (again) before the start. It was still dark, the first few miles, but the Speedway was all lit up.
In my impatience, I went out way too fast, skipped the first few water stops, panicked and was seriously considering quitting less than three miles in. I have never had such a desperate, hopeless horrified feeling, while running.
Then I saw the most beautiful thing in the world. My husband, ever thoughtful, had secretly coordinated with the rest of our extended family, to have them all along the course. Every other mile or so, my weary brain recognized people I loved. People who loved me enough to wake up at an ungodly hour, navigate closed-off streets and stand in somewhat sketchy sections of town for a really long time. They held up their handmade posters and made as much noise as they possibly could. Just for me.
It was the one and only reason I finished that race.
Totally depleted of fuel (1/2 of a GU and 4 sips of water are not enough, I later learned) I crashed many, many times along the course. I found myself walking over the last bridge. Walking was never part of my training. I was so frustrated and disgusted with myself. There was nothing in the entire world that I wanted more than to be DONE with this nightmare.
While I should've been relieved to see the final mile marker, I had to hold back a disgusting mixture of dry heaves and tears. There was no way I could run another whole mile. This may sound ridiculously dramatic, but it was real and it was ugly.
Then, to my right, I saw my dad. He'd fought and wound his way, purposefully, back to that exact spot and put his running shoes on. He hopped right onto the course and ran beside me.
As he talked and joked to distract me, our pace picked up. The desperation tried to creep back in, but my dad's presence and strides kept it at bay. As we rounded back onto the racetrack, I told him, breathlessly, "I would have never made it that last mile, without you." He told me I absolutely would have and hopped back off the track as the finish line came into view.
one & only race photo I've ever bought
I may have some seriously annoying traits, but I am blessed enough to have a spouse and family that see past all that and love me, still.
Thank you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Knock Knock

I had plans to recap last week's workouts, due largely in part to them actually involving running. Then I realized, if anyone *really* cares, they can always check out the stats on Daily Mile. Also, I do have plans for a (near) future post regarding some recent low highlights.

Happy Belated Labor Day, all!! I notice you didn't get me anything to celebrate.
For future reference : I'm not sure what constitutes an appropriate Labor Day gift, but cash is always acceptable around here.

The Littlest had an extended, fun-filled weekend. Remember, he started that whole virus thing. So, by the time the rest of the family was afflicted, he was ready to party. He got to go hang out with my parents (thanks, Buddy & Papa!) while The Husband and I took turns whining and vomiting. After we re-joined the Land of the Living, we kept pretty busy.
all of these children were attended, I swear. We were right under that pavilion!
The boys and I joined family, friends and my running group for a relaxed, Labor Day, run/ride. We got to jog behind the kids' scooters, bikes and ripsticks, praying they didn't clip anyone's heels. (btw, if anyone's heels were clipped, it was those other kids, I'm sure)

the splash fights always start with laughter and end with tears
going to friends' pools is like vacation! (or so I tell them)
We wore them out nicely with extra swimming, too. An extra day to play with his brothers and neighborhood friends made everyone extra-happy, too.
The poor guy had some Monday Morning (on Tuesday) blues, today. He was not at all excited about getting out of bed, ready for school or out the door. By the time we were on the sidewalk, walking towards the entrance, the child was literally dragging his feet.
Fresh out of patience, I tried a new tack. I told The Middlest his brother needed some cheering up and suggested he tell us all a joke. Oddly compliant, he immediately piped in :
"Okay. Why did the chicken cross the street?"
The Littlest responded with some sort of unpleasant grunt and I said "Why?"
The Middlest answered : "Because he needed to get to school! Let's go!". (Turns out his patience was limited, as well.) Luckily the laughs we got from that, in addition to some of my own juvenile outstanding knock-knock jokes, were enough to brighten the mood. The Littlest didn't exactly skip to join the other Kindergartners, but he wasn't a total Grumpus, either.
In regards to getting back into Running Shape, I have tried just about everything. The times my mind is ready (woo-hoo! we get to run! we can totally do this!) my body doesn't comply. When my body decides to not ache and twinge, my mind and doubts step in to crash the brief party. (whoa! slow the heck down, pal. This body was made for gentle walking and foot-elevating, only. Remember?!)
My old routines and mantras are useless. I've tried bribing myself.  I've learned that turning up the volume on one's i-pod does not, in fact, drown out nausea and self-loathing. Paying people to tell me I'm doing a great job loses it's appeal after a while. Etc.  
I'm nearing the end of my rope with this whole Training After An Injury garbage.
Thanks to the brilliant wit of my children, though, I have a new plan for tomorrow's run! I typed in a clever joke into my phone's alarm clock :
Q. Why did the chicken lace up her running shoes?
A. Chickens don't wear shoes, nor can they manage laces, dummy. Get your butt out of bed and RUN! If it blows, just be thankful you're higher on the food chain than that chicken.
It's a work in progress....
Any better ideas or jokes?