Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beautiful Evening Run

Distance: 3.97 mi.
Time: 48:51 min.
Pace: 12:17 min./mi.
Time of day: 7 p.m.
Temperature: 61°F. A beautiful evening to run!

It was cold and rainy Tuesday morning so I decided I would wait till later in the day to run, hoping the sun would break through and dry off the roads. I was not disappointed. The afternoon was beautiful but work related issues kept me from enjoying it. I finally was able to get out after supper.

I live on a hill. And until last week I had never attempted to start my run from my driveway. I have always walked up the hill, turned the corner and continued one more block, uphill, to the point where the road flattens out. Last week, in prep for the upcoming North Shore half marathon, I walked to the bottom of the hill and then ran all the way up to the corner. Last night I decided to start at my driveway and run my entire 4 mile course.

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to run up the hill, turn the corner and continue running the entire time. I used to get winded just walking up the hill to my mailbox. (Don't even get me started on the insane idea the USPS had in the 80's of gang mailboxes.) Sometimes I get discouraged, thinking I'm not making any progess in my training. But last night's run was a big reminder that I am improving. It was awesome running up that hill!

As I ran I focused on breathing and form. Yep. My two favorite things right now. My form is getting better. I don't think I shuffled at all last night. The breathing still needs work but I do see some improvement. I believe I am breathing more deeply more often. It's weird, but I think when I slow my pace, for whatever reason, that is when I start the shallow breathing and shuffling of feet. Could it be that I need to push myself a bit to increase the pace? Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Problems with Monday

I'm having a problem with my Monday workouts. They aren't getting done!

I am totally unmotivated to go the gym and work out with the weights. I do, however, find myself longing to be out on the road running. I think I'm going to try switching Monday's and Tuesday's workouts and see if that feels better. Of course, I'll start that next week since I want to run on tomorrow, Tuesday.

Another Goal Reached

Sunday's Run
Distance: 2.45 mi.
Time: 29:02 min.
Pace: 11:51 min./mi.
Time of day: 10:30 a.m.
Temperature: 60ish. Cloudy, overcast, damp

I ran the fitness trail in my neighborhood. I mean I ran the fitness trail. I have walked this trail many a time over the last 10 or so years and frequently have wished I could run this trail. Since I started running I have run parts of this trail a couple of times, never making it the full distance. Why couldn't I run this 2.45 mile course? Well, being a fitness trail it has its ups and downs, and one really big up. Back in February, I think, The Son and I were on this course one Sunday, in the slushy stuff. I almost made it around that time, but I did have to walk a short distance. But this time I was successful!

I did the run sans music, focusing on breathing and form. Both breating and form require concentration or I fall back into old habits. I'm hoping that continued focus and practise will make the correct breathing routine and running form a habit.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Long Slow Runs, Again

Distance: 4.88 mi. (The mile markers on the trail said a full 5 mi.)
Time: 1:00:42
Pace: 12:27 min./mi.
Time of day: 8:05 a.m.
Temperature: 65°F. Cool, overcast, damp. It rained most of the night.

Today was my first long run post-race. I did pretty well overall, I think. But it took until mile 3 before I felt like I had settled in. The first 1.5-1.75 miles my feet and legs felt like concrete. And there were a few kinks to run out. But my time was good and I don't feel like I was really pushing on the pace.

I listened to music today for 2 reasons: 1) It helped pass the time. 2) I wanted to test my new breathing skills and running form without completely focusing on them. Let me just say, both need continued intense focus on my shorter runs.

The weather today was a first for me. Even though it was cloudy and overcast it was very damp and the humidity was up. Translated that means I sweat like a pig on today's run. But I am very glad I ran early because it has rained pretty steady since late morning.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Yesterday and Today

Thursday's Run
Distance: 2.29 mi.
Time: 29:51 min.
Pace: 13:01 min./mi.
Time of day: 12:20 p.m.
Temperature: 65°F. (I forgot to log the temperature, but it was close to that.) It was a beautiful noontime run.

My first attempt at running up the hill in front of my house. I have to laugh! I live halfway up a pretty long hill. Coach Jeni told me earlier this week that from the bottom of the hill to about halfway would be good training for my next race. So today I walked out of the house, down the hill and stretched a little. I took off up the hill at a pretty slow pace (about 15:30 min./mi.). I did actually make it to the top of the street. At that point you turn, continue up the hill another block and then the road flattens out. As I said, I made it to the top of my street. That was my goal. I was lightheaded and breathing hard gasping for breath. But I didn't stop. I turned the corner and walked the remaining 1 block to the flat part of the road. My breathing had slowed enough that I started running. (Yes, actually running, with only one foot on the ground at a time.) I ran out of my subdivision and on to my usual 2 mile course.

It took about 3/4 of mile before I felt I have recovered from the hill. But, hey, that was my first time. It will only get better from here on out.

Oh yes. I swapped Thursday and Friday workouts. It was supposed to rain all day Friday so I decided to run Thursday and go to the gym for strength training on Friday. Which I did.

Friday's Workout
An easy 1 mile on the treadmill to warm up, then 1 set of each exercise to ease back into the strength training routine.

I need to increase my upper body strength so I don't slump so much as I tire during running. Besides, it makes me look better. And as I have said to The Son a couple of times, "It's all about the look." He'll understand.

Saturday is my first "long" run since the race. It is 5 miles. It is supposed to rain tomorrow also. But I think I will run in the rain (if it's not too bad) just for the experience.

It feels good to be working out regularly again. I understand that I need to give my body time to recover from racing and I understand that right now that takes me a couple of weeks. But, I miss the discipline of working out every day. I tend to get lazy when I'm taking it easy with the training. It 's a darn good thing I have such a great Coach to keep me healthy!

Catching Up Part 2

While I was in Chicago Coach Jeni and I discussed the possibility of my running the North Short half in June. It would be an opportunity for me to run with her again. (I really want her to run her own race!) I came home thinking about the race but feeling some hesitation on Coach Jeni's part. Did she think it was too soon for me to race again? Did she think I wouldn't be able to complete the race because of Park Ave. Hill? Did she just not want to run with me? Did she think I was too slow to run with? Only a frank conversation would answer my questions.

So I called her. We talked. I'm signed up for the North Shore half. She will run the race at her pace. (Yeah!) I will debut as a solo runner. All is good. Now I just have to train for the hill.

Monday Run
Distance: 1.85 mi.
Time: 22:52 min.
Pace: 12:22 min./mi.
Time of Day: 7:15 p.m.
Temperature: 62°F. Cool evening air

Monday is supposed to be a strength training day. However, after being out of the office 3 days last week and all weekend, I was swamped at work. I didn't make it to the gym so in the evening while The Love walked around the school track I ran. I ran sans music and focused on breathing. I feel like I have a band around my chest just below my bra that keeps me from expanding my chest and getting air into the lower lung. How do I change that?

Tuesday's Run
Distance: 2.9 mi.
Time: 35:25 min.
Pace: 12:12 min./mi.
Time of day: 6:15 a.m.
Temperature: 40°F. Cool & clear this morning.

Again today no music but lots of focus on the breathing. I finally came up with a mental vision of filling the lower lungs and then expanding outward my upper lungs. Kinda hard to describe but it works as long as I pay attention. Hopefully it will become a habit.

Catching Up Part 1

I am way behind and it will take several posts to catch up. So here goes.

I ran the Go! St. Louis half marathon and feel pretty good about my performance. Coach Jeni suggested I go easy the following 2 weeks and I havem mostly.

1st Run Post Race
Distance: 4.3 mi
Time: 51:24 min.
Pace: 11:57 min/mi.
Time of Day: 6:30 a.m.
Temp: 48°F. It was a beautiful morning to run.

In looking at my pace, I didn't exactly take it easy with this run and I paid for it the next day. I was noticeably sore.

I didn't run again until Saturday due to business travel.

Saturday's run 04/17/10
Distance: 4.14 mi.
Time: 54:19 min.
Pace: 13:07 min./mi.
Time of day: 7:30 a.m.
Temperature: 42° F. A crispy, chilly Chicago morning.

I was fortunate to run with Coach Jeni this morning. It was a teaching run. Coach Jeni explained to me that when she tells me I'm "walking" what she means is that I never have just one foot on the ground. I am in actuality power walking, keeping both feet on the ground and just walking very fast. I call it shuffling and I intend to end it. We also worked on my breathing. I breathe way too shallow. We talked about using visualization to "see" my lungs filling with air and then blowing it out. When I focus on my breathing I do o.k. It's when my thoughts are wandering around that I slip back into a shallow breathing pattern.

Coach Jeni thinks she is hard on my. But I told her that I look to her, depend on her to help me become a better runner.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Day Before: Packet Pick Up

I'm not sure what I was expecting at packet pick-up, but it wasn't anything like I thought it would be. I guess I thought there would be lots more people. I didn't expect the expo atmosphere with vendors and booths and stuff for sale.

A very clever set up though. You picked up your bib, then had to go through the expo vendors to get your packet of info, then back through the vendors, upstairs, and through some more vendors to pick up your duffel bag. Obviously some one with marketing experience laid this puppy out.
See the cool "free" duffel bag!

There was a booth from YurBuds. I have seen and heard about these earbud covers that actually fit your ears and reduce pain from wearing earbuds. I was fitted and The Son generously purchased them for me.

I think for the Go! St. Louis organization to call this a health festival is a bit of a stretch, but whatever. It was kinda cool. There were free samples of "fitness" drinks (Yuk!) and free samples of energy gels (Did not partake since it's my first race and I'm sticking to products I've tried.), free samples of some cereal and snacks (Which I did take and try and they are pretty good.).

Because I am such a girl and also a mental runner I purchased a charm for my charm bracelet. It is a silver foot with 13.1 engraved on it. I also purchased a magnet that says,

Courage to start,
Strength to endure,
Resolve to finish.

I like that sentiment and I'm going to use it as my mantra for training.

So that was it for packet pickup. The best part was spending time with Coach Jeni & The Son. We had a great time together. Especially when we stopped at Target because it had a Starbucks in it.

I Reached My Goal!!!!

2010 Go! St. Louis Half Marathon
Time: 2:58:56 official time
Distance: 13.1 mi.
Pace: 13:29 min/mi
Time of Day: 7 a.m.
Temperature: 50s-60s, bright sunshine, occasional slight breeze

How does this thing work?

"Do you want to walk or run across the 12 mile mark?" Those were the words Coach Jeni barked at me as I came upon the 12-mile mark. I was walking up the last 50 ft. of the 2nd to last hill on the course. I was spent. Quite honestly, at that point I just wanted to lay down and rest. But I knew I couldn't. I knew I would hate myself later. I knew the 12-mile flag was just a teeny-tiny bit over the crest of the hill, so I reached way down deep and scooped up some reserve and picked up my feet and ran across that 12-mile marker and finished the racing running.

I wish I could say that I got this huge surge of energy and sprinted the last mile, finishing strong, racing across the finish line. But I can't. I did run the entire race except those 50 ft. at mile 12. I met my goal of running the entire race. I met my goal of finishing running. I met my goal of finishing in under 3 hours. But I was out of gas and running on fumes for the last mile and half.

I was unprepared for how sick I would feel after I quit running. I gulped down a bottle of water, stretched with The Son and promptly had to sit down on the curb to keep from throwing up. I felt bad for probably the next hour or more. I laid my head in The Son's lap on the ride home just so I didn't have to sit up. The other overwhelming feeling I had was to get my shoes off. Oh my goodness, my feet hurt!

Heading into the Finish Line!

I was sore. I was stiff. I was so tired. I was so very tired. Did I mention I was tired? It took several hours for me to feel good about what I had accomplished. As we sat around the kitchen table eating delicious grilled hamburgers Coach Jeni, The Son and I shared tidbits of the race with The Love and The Son's Girlfriend. They, in turn, told us of their adventures in watching the race. We had a great time and I quickly realized that not only did I reach my personal goals, but I had a wonderful experience to think back on and revel in the memories made.

So here are my thoughts on the race itself. The whole reason for arriving an hour early to the race is to stand in line at the Porta-Potties. Hmm. Why not just go right before leaving home and arrive closer to race time?

I didn't have trouble in the race until mile 9. In fact, I think I was running strong and pacing well until that point. But being the mental runner I am, when I realized that at mile 9 the course turned away from downtown St. Louis for a couple miles before heading to the finish line, I really got discouraged. Plus, for some weird reason my music stopped playing and I didn't have that distraction. Here are my splits and it obvious that I really struggled through miles 9 and 10 and just wasn't able to completely recover.
Mile  Avg Pace
1        12:25
  Here Comes Mile 8!

2        12:58                                         
3        13:32
4        12:42
5        13:04
6        12:46
7        13:15
8        13:35
9        14:05
10      14:04
11      13:25
12      13:51
13      14:13

So even though I struggled and had some trouble, there were a lot of positives:
  • I didn't have to stop to go the bathroom. Even though I drank one bottle of water in the first 6 miles, in addition to at least 2 cups of water at every water station (every 2 miles up to mile 8 & every 1 mile after that) I think I sweated it all out.
  • The blister area on my right foot didn't bother me and my fears of having to stop because of blister problems did not materialize.
  • I didn't walk. O.K. I did walk 50 ft. right at the top of the 2nd to last hill. But I also walked through each water station. I count that as having run the entire race and so do Coach Jeni & The Son.
  • I actually passed some runners—and I passed a lot of walkers. I wasn't the last person to finish the race, I wasn't even the last runner.
  • In real terms, this was only my 4th long run. And my longest run before this race was 11 miles. I increased my distance by almost 20% to run the race.
Late in the evening after a 45-minute nap, I took a short walk to help keep my legs from tightening and getting stiff. I slept pretty darn good Sunday night!

So what's ahead? I will take a walk today with The Love and back to running on Tuesday.

Here are my immediate thoughts for long-range goals.
  • Work on endurance and stamina. I don't ever want to feel like quitting at mile 12 again!
  • Increase upper body strength. I could tell that as I ran out of energy I slumped which, in turn, affected my breathing.
  • Work on speed. I don't anticipate being a speed devil. I don't want to train that hard, but I would like to see better times.
I had a wonderful experience! I want to thank Coach Jeni and The Son for their training expertise and support. Thanks to The Love for his unending support. Thanks to The Love, The Son's Girlfriend and The Chef for cheering me on during the race. And thanks to all the other spectators and their cheers of encouragemnent.

My Cheer Poster
The Rewards!

Post Race Duds!

See you in June at the North Shore half marathon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Finding the Good in Resting

4 days & counting down.

Wednesday & Thursday are rest days, again. Actually I should call them "wait" days, because that is what I am doing this week—waiting for the race on Sunday.

It was really warm Tuesday and Wednesday (highs in the mid-80's) and I got out a pair of sandals to wear with my jeans. I love this particular pair of sandals! They are a great medium brown color, they fit like a glove, they have a great 2" wedge heel. And they make my legs look longer and thinner, especially in jeans. So as I was admiring how great I am looking in the jeans & sandals I realize that wow! my body is beginning to really lose the chubby factor. I still have the dreaded, awful midriff bulge thing going on, but my legs actually have some muscle tone to them. Believe it or not, my biceps have a tiny bit of definition. My butt isn't quite as saggy as it was 4 months ago. All in all, I'm liking the side effects of running.

3 days & counting down.

Tuesday's Run

Tuesday Stats
Distance: 3.03 mi.
Time: 36:28 min.
Pace: 12:03 min/mi.
Time of Day 12 noon
Temperature: Sunny, warm

5 days & counting down.

A short run since it is race week. It is very weird taking time off from running and resting this week.

The Love, The Son and I drove the race route this evening. I freaked out about how long it is. We had a little trouble following the map because some streets are one-way, the opposite way on the run of how we could drive. I have mixed feelings about whether I should have done this. I feel better about the inclines (not so many) but worse about how long it seems. Oh well. What's done is done and I have to move forward. I refuse to let this mess up my head.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Am So Not Working Out

6 days and counting down!

It was very weird this morning to get up and not work out, not plan to run, no exercising at all. This is coming from the former Queen of Excuses. In fact, it felt so unnatural that I did take a walk with The Love at lunchtime. Nothing strenuous, Coach Jeni. Just an easy 1-1/2 mile walk around a park.

I am anticipating this being a long week. I'm not very good at the waiting game. But I have plenty of other things to do this week to help pass the time.

The Love and I had a discussion this morning about how disciplined I have been in my training and how to transfer that discipline to other areas of my life. I'm looking for all the help I can get with that.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Morning Run

Distance: 2.19 mi.
Time: 25:45
Pace: 11:45 min/mile
Time of day: 10 a.m.
Temperature: 69F. Sunny, warm, slight breeze, another beautiful day

7 days and counting down.

A beautiful Easter morning found me out on the road running a short 2 miles. My training schedule always has me running 2 miles on Sunday, but it seemed really short today. Perhaps because yesterday was only 6 miles, not a double digit run.

Plans for race day are coming together. Coach Jeni will arrive Saturday early afternoon. Sunday after the race Scott and Sara suggested Crown Candy for lunch. Apparently Crown Candy is more than a candy store.

My goal is in sight. I can hardly believe the race is less than a week away. I have a very easy training schedule this week. A 3-mile run on Tuesday and a 4-mile run on Friday. What will I do with all my free time?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Strong Steady Strides

Distance: 6.24 mi.
Time: 1:20:26
Pace: 12:53 min/mi.
Time of day: 9:30 a.m.
Temperature: 51F, cloudy, overcast, rain in the area, windy

Kinda pokey today. Can I claim wind resistance again today? Actually I think one reason I ran a bit slower today was that my iPod switched off around mile 2 and I didn't have any music to help keep my pace up for the rest of my run. I think this is the longest distance I have run without music.

Because I didn't have any music tempo I made up a chant, "Stand straight. Strong steady strides." and repeated it like a million times. I started originally chanting, "Stand straight. Slow and steady." But I realized that the "slow" word was not a good affirmation word, so I changed it to "strong steady strides".

I also reframed the "hills" on my route. I realized that what I used to calls "hills" are not so huge to me anymore. They are actually just the rise and fall of the road. So I now call them "inclines". I know it is a small detail but it makes a difference to me.

I took my running shoes back to FleetFeet today to ask about how my left shoe is wearing. The left outside heel is really wearing down. The black tread is all gone and I have only 168 or so miles on these shoes. Jen at FleetFeet said the shoes were o.k. Appararently I just hit the ground harder on that heel than I do the right heel. She said it appears that I am wearing the middle of the shoe (where the ball of my foot) correctly. Jen also told me how to check inside of my shoe for toe indentations to gauge how the cushioning is wearing.

I also asked her about the blister/callous on my right foot. She suggested that my orthotic end right where the irritation starts and that or some reason my orthotic is creating an environment for my shoe and foot to rub. She said not to change anything with the race this close, but that maybe after the race I might want to try a different insert or even running with out an insert.

7 days & counting down!

The Ankle is O.K.

Friday Stats
Distance: 3.02 mi.
Time: 37:00 min.
Pace: 12:16 min/mi.
Time of Day: 3:40 p.m.
Temperature: 75F, bright sunny, windy

The ankle didn't bother me a bit, thank goodness. But boy was it windy. Not my fastest time, but I wasn't pushing it due to both the ankle and this being a taper week.

Because it was so warm and because I was running on the school track (off the road and away from half the town seeing me) I decided to wear my new running shorts. Yep, I put the chubby thighs in shorts. I thought I was o.k. but they bunched up miserably between the legs. I'm glad I tried them out, but I guess the thighs need to get thinner before shorts work for me.

Because there wasn't any school Friday, there were a bunch of middle-school age kids hanging out around the track and field. They apparantly had been playing a pick up game of soccer, but when I was there they were just hanging out. As I rounded the turn on the track where they were, I had visions of them losing control of the soccer ball, it rolling on to the track, tripping me, breaking my leg and keeping me from running the half maration next weekend. Is this where my beautiful granddaughters get their dramatic personalities? Anyway, thank goodness it didn't happen and I was able to finish my run in good fashion.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Second Verse, Same as the First

Wednesday's Stats

Distance: 1.68 mi.
Time: 23:28 min.
Pace: 13:57 min/mi
Time of day: 4:45 p.m.
Temperature: 85°F. sunny, warm, breezy, but absolutely beautiful

So there I was running along feeling great, listening to my music, letting my mind wander, reveling in the recent 2 lbs. weight loss and, "Ouch!" Crap, I did it again. I turned my left ankle. Of course, the acute pain stopped me in my tracks, but it went away pretty quickly. But I have a half marathon to run in 10 days so I turned around and limped home.

RICE to the rescue! I fixed myself a bowl of Cheerios for dinner and plopped down in front of the TV with ice and elevation for my ankle. There I stayed for the next 3 hours, not moving even to go the bathroom. When I did get up, I was pleased to find that although a bit tender on the outside of my ankle I could walk without pain or limping.

This morning I got up and, again, there is that sore spot on the outside of my ankle, but I'm walking and feeling o.k. I put on my elastic ankle brace thingy to compress the area and give it support.

No running or exercising today. Tomorrow is a scheduled 3 mile run I will attempt. But there is no way I'm messing around with this minor injury. I will be in top form for the Go! St. Louis race in 4/11.