Saturday, January 31, 2009

"I'd only run if someone were chasing me!"

That is a comment I have heard from people when I have told them that I run long distances. Thursday's Take It and Run Thursday topic (I know... I know... I am a couple days late) is to explain why we run the marathon. So many people can't understand why we would punish our bodies for months on end to end up running four or five hours in one go. Not so long ago I could be heard saying, "I couldn't watch a five hour epic movie, let alone RUN for that long." So why in the world did I decide a year ago to run 26.2 miles.... in. a. row.


After two years as a stay-at-home-mom, I was still loving my role. After many years in the business world I was (and still am) enjoying the change of focus. I was finding, however, that I was being defined more and more by my children rather than who I was. I wasn't even sure who I was anymore. My hobbies were centered around a preschooler and a toddler. I was, however, enjoying my Stroller Strides classes that combined a fitness element for me and interaction, games and songs for my kids. I had run a 10K and it felt great. So when Jen and Laura announced in our class that they were training for the Rock-n-Roll Marathon, a light went on. That was it. That was what I was looking for. Training for something BIG like that would help me define who I wanted to be.


As the training progressed, the little accomplishments started to build. Every time we ran our furthest distance, it felt like a huge achievement. Seven miles. Ten miles (the double digits felt great!). Sixteen miles. TWENTY miles. Each time was a milestone that I felt proud of. This running thing was agreeing with me. Not only was I a mom, a wife, a former executive... but now I was a RUNNER. It felt great.




So if I signed up for that first marathon to help discover who I was, why am I going to go through all that again? Well... now I am a runner. While last year was about training and finishing something that only a small percentage of the world can say they have done, this year is about running a good race. I don't need to build up my mileage little by little this year. I have a strong base and can train smarter. I am really looking forward to seeing what I can do. Can I take 30 minutes off last year's time? I am pretty sure that I can. I might even (if the stars align) be able to get close to that four hour mark, which is 54 minutes faster than I did last year. I know I can run that distance. Now it is about pushing myself just a little bit further.

So why do I choose to run a marathon*? Because I am no longer content with resting on my laurels. It is about constantly pushing myself to see just how far (or fast) I can go.


*hopefully, that will be plural in about 17 weeks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pictures from the half marathon (edited with actual pictures)

Wow. I am impressed with the quick turnaround by Brightroom Photography. Here is a link to some pictures from the race. Thanks to advice from AKA Alice, I have been able to post the pictures from the race. I might actually buy a picture this time... I do look like I am having a good time.
You've got to love the ocean in the background!
Hey look! I "chicked" that guy in the yellow! Oops, maybe it's not the same guy. I'm sure I "chicked" somebody *wink*
Terri, do you see the guy next to me with the long sleeve warm-up top and gloves?

I think that this one is on the home stretch. It makes me realize that a hat is probably a good idea on these runs. LOL.


In the interest of respecting the photographer's copyright, here is the website where all the pictures are: http://www.brightroom.com/view_user_event.asp?EVENTID=44647&BIB=5096&S=230&PWD=

For those who are asking...yes, I am still walking on a cloud :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Report

As I stated before, the stars aligned yesterday. I am still feeling pretty darn happy. I am going to enjoy this for a few days.

Here is my very long race report. Please pardon me while I gush with the details *wink*

The day started out VERY early. I discovered last year that in order for me to be able to fully awake before an important run, I need to get up an hour before I leave the house. That way my body has time to react to caffeine so I can use the bathroom in peace in my own home. I woke up around 3:45 (yikes) because I had agreed to pick up Coleen* at 5 a.m. because Carlsbad is at least 45 minutes to an hour away. The website said that there would be traffic delays and to give ourselves an extra 45 minutes (the race started at 7:30). Coleen still had to pick up her bib and neither of us knew how crowded it would be. If you remember my traffic experience at the AFC half, you will understand why we left so early. We ended up with no traffic, a breeze to park and a lot of time before the race. We stretched, warmed up a bit and I used the potty three times before the lines started forming. The potty usage may have been a key in avoiding problems that I faced in both the marathon and my last half.

It felt chilly, but not too cold. Any of you in a cold climate would have laughed at us Southern Californians. We were rubbing our arms and shivering in the 53 degree morning. There were people with tights, hats and gloves. At one point I had wished I had my gloves (my hands get really cold), but probably would have thrown them away within the first couple of miles. I decided to wear a running skirt. It was a good choice because my legs were never cold. I wore a short sleeved running top and my arm warmers. I figured I could take them off and shove them in my fuel belt if I got too warm. I didn't. It was perfect.

They used a wave start. It was my first time with a wave start and I really liked it. There was none of that first shuffling that you get with corral starting or no time differentiation at all. They started wave 1 and then asked wave 2 to move up to the start line and so on. I was in wave 3. I saw the two-hour pacer standing just outside of wave 3 (somewhat between wave 2 and 3). I went over and joined his group. I asked him if his goal was two hours or under two hours. He told me he would have the group in at 1:59. I decided to start with him. We actually started with wave 2. No one seemed to mind if you moved up a wave.

I knew I needed to start out slow. I had a lot of adrenaline and would have sprinted out from the starting line. Instead, I ran next to the pacer. I figured that he would be able to keep me where I needed to be. I ran that first mile pretty much with the pace group. I ran that first mile in just under 9 minutes. Check. I was a bit worried during that first mile. My feet were feeling a bit numb. I have horrible circulation and I guess standing around in chilly weather waiting for the start wasn't the best. Despite the numbness near my toes, I could feel my shoe rubbing a little. I was hoping that wouldn't last the entire race. Also, my calves were feeling pretty tight even though I warmed up, stretched and rubbed them with my stick.

I am not sure what happened after that. I started speeding up a little. I figured I would keep the pacer just behind me to give me some space. Well... I never saw him again. There was a girl with a pink shirt with a sign on her back from the 2 hour pace team. I don't know if she was official or just someone who signed up at the expo. I decided to follow her. Well... she was faster than the pacer. That second mile was a screamin' 8:17. Oops. According to Garmin, the elevation change that mile was only 7 feet, so it wasn't hills that sped me up.

The next few miles were rolling hills and my pace was feeling good. I felt good. As we ran onto Carlsbad Blvd along the ocean, there was a slight breeze. I was glad to have my arm warmers. I wasn't cold at all. I was in a great mood and actually chatted with a few runners. As we were running along the Pacific ocean I said to one guy, "well... we could be in Iowa." He replied that it was probably 70 degrees warmer here. "Yep. It doesn't get much better than this."

The rest of the race was a bit of a blur. I think I was smiling the entire time. I knew that I was on pace to have a great finish time. The miles seem to fly by. I hit the half-way point and literally skipped across the mat. I knew that I just needed to run smart and finish the race. My original plan was to stay conservative in the first half (I wasn't entirely successful at that) and turn it on for the second half. I am extremely pleased to say that I ran negative splits in the second half of the race!! My pace for the first 6.6 miles was 8:45. My pace for the entire race was 8:37!

The race and course were the best! It was not quite as flat as I was led to believe. It was rolling hills. You could definitely feel the hills. I think, however, that I ran faster because of the hills. I tried not to slow down too much while running up them. But I did take advantage of "free speed**" while going down. While some of the hills a little tough, for the most part it was an easy course. In fact, according to my Garmin, almost 56% of the course was flat. There were water stops everywhere. They had two spots where you could get Gu. There were several bands along the way as well as a lot of spectator support. The post-race snack was pretty nice.

I was loving my new playlist! It accomplished everything I wanted it to. It was a bit slower in the beginning and had heavier beat songs in the second half. I think that my negative second half split might be partially due to the music. I think I might write a separate post on some of my surprising running songs. As I was heading up the last major (if you can call it major) hill, Avril Levigne's "Girlfriend"*** came on which was the perfect beat to pound up the hill.

At mile 9, I was at 1:17. I realized that I had over four minutes to spare and realized that I could slow down to ten minute miles and still get there under two hours. This was an incredible realization. It took so much pressure off. I didn't slow down, but it was nice to know that I could.

The only low spot during the race was mile 11. For the first time all day, I was feeling a bit sluggish. My legs felt very heavy. I was beginning to wonder if the Gu and sport beans were a smart idea because I could feel them in my stomach. I started to worry that I went out too fast and I was hitting a wall. It was one of my slowest miles of the race. Ironically, six months ago I couldn't have dreamed of running that fast. I was thrilled if I got anywhere close to nine minutes.

Once I hit the 11 mile marker, I felt a new energy knowing that there were only two miles left. I picked it up. By the end of the twelfth mile I was feeling strong. The last mile is mostly downhill. I gave it all I had. At one point, there was a girl stretching on the side of the road. I almost yelled at her that she could walk and still make it under two hours. But I kept that thought to myself. As I was about 3/4 of a mile from the end, I looked at my watch. It said 1:47. I knew then that my time was going to be far faster than I had thought I could do. I was so excited. That last mile was my fastest mile of the day. In fact, it was one of my fastest miles EVER. I ran the last mile in 7:58!!!****

When I crossed the finish line, I was filled with emotion. I was crying with my relief and joy. I didn't feel this kind of emotion at the end of the marathon. I think I was so glad to have it over that the rush of emotion didn't hit me quite as strong. I am actually nervous to see my finish line photo because it might be one of those ugly crying faces. LOL.

The only bummer was that I never saw Penny or AKA Alice. Alice was supposed to be in day-glo green with her friends. How did I miss that?? Since we all live pretty close (especially Alice and I), I am sure we will see each other in future races.

All in all, it was GREAT. I officially LOVE this distance. I always suspected that it would be my favorite distance, but now I know. Thank you all for the well-wishes and congratulations. I am not sure if I will have a race when I felt such a huge sense of triumph (unless of course I go for that sub-four-hour marathon.... but the pressure was so much, I am not sure I want to do that to myself again).


Before and After Pictures with Coleen

*My friend, Coleen, completed her first half marathon with a GREAT performance. She ran it in 2:16, which is a 10:23 pace!! Other than some pains in her knee and foot, she felt great. I am SO proud of her. I really encouraged her to do this race and had she hated it, I would feel terrible. I am so happy that she did well.
**My friend and fellow blogger, Terri, wrote about how her brother taught her about "free speed" while you run down hills. I thought of her while I was cruising down the short hills.

***I actually think this is a pretty horrible song. I am NOT a fan of pop. This song actually reminds me a lot of an 80's song "Mickey" by Toni Basil (another pretty horrible song). There is something about this style of song that is perfect for running fast.

****My only faster miles were during my two 5K races. I was actually excited while typing that time! Holy cow... who knew?

Stats:
Time- 1:52:46
Pace- 8:37
Place- 1746/7148
Gender- 581/4284
Division (F 40-44)- 79/584
6.6 mile split- 57:39
6.6 mile pace- 8:45

Splits:
Mile 1- 8:54
Mile 2- 8:17
Mile 3- 8:35
Mile 4- 8:25
Mile 5- 8:46
Mile 6- 8:26
Mile 7- 8:37
Mile 8- 8:25
Mile 9- 8:35
Mile 10- 8:35
Mile 11- 8:46
Mile 12- 8:25
Mile 13- 7:58
.28- 7:50 pace

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shattered...

...my PR, that is!!!!!!!! I am still shocked how the stars aligned and I ran my best race EVER.

1:52:46!!!!!!!!

Not only did I crush my goal by over seven minutes, I bested my PR by almost twelve minutes! When I envisioned today's race, I had my goal of two hours. I would have been happy with 1:59:59. I was hoping for around 1:57 or 1:58. I thought that best case scenario would be 1:55. I never dreamed of running this fast.
I was more emotional finishing today than I was at the end of the marathon. I am thrilled beyond words.
I will post a full race report later on.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Simply FABULOUS

I was tagged by Terri a while back with the "Your Blog is Fabulous" award. Did I mention that I love being tagged? I think the online tagging things are a great way to get to know people. But I digress. The point of this tag is to share five things that you are addicted to.

So without further ado (and rambling)...
  1. 1. Running. Yup. This one goes without saying. I think I may be more addicted to the adrenaline of racing than the running itself. However, I am starting to need my random mid-week runs for my sanity during difficult times.
  2. My DVR. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that television has become my entertainment. I love to put the kids down for a nap in the afternoon, make some lunch, put on wireless headphones and watch Biggest Loser, Grey's Anatomy etc. In the evening, my hubby and I deliberately start our shows (Lost, Heroes etc.) late so we can fast forward through the commercials.
  3. Online social networking. I started out with message boards and forums and met wonderfully fabulous women (I met some of my best friends on an online message board for pregnancy loss). Then I discovered that this blogging thing is another form of social networking and was hooked. Recently, it has been Facebook. I am reconnecting with friends from twenty years ago as well as keeping in touch with new friends.
  4. Luna Bars. I have to eat one Chai Tea Luna Bar every day. I never get sick of them. Luckily, they are pretty good for me (especially since I don't eat the peanut ones). I do need to find a more substantial breakfast. There are simply not enough calories to fuel me until lunch.
  5. Hugs and kisses from my kids. OK... this might seem like a trite mommy thing to say, but it is true. I can be in a crappy mood and one of them will smile at me and give me a hug and a kiss and everything is OK. Just picturing my daughter's puckered up lips pointed up at me makes me smile.

Terri tagged just about everyone in my Google Reader. Several others were tagged previously. Here is my attempt to tag a couple of people who haven't been tagged yet.

  1. AKA Alice
  2. Penny (not LA Penny... I know she has been tagged. But I do think she is fabulous *wink*)
  3. Marathonman
  4. Oz Runner
  5. RunnerMom

Friday, January 23, 2009

random thoughts on race eve...

Attention cyber-stalkers out there: My bib number is 5096. I have no idea if they have instant results and splits but here is the website for the race: http://www.carlsbadmarathon.com/Home_28.htm

I went to the expo yesterday. Since dear hubby is currently without a job, I am able to leave my little one with him while I wander aimlessly through the expo instead of grabbing my bib and chasing an almost-three-year-old through a crowd of people. There are some benefits to unemployment, right?

It was a nice relaxing way to spend and hour or so. I love going to booths of cool races and fantasize about doing them. I talked to the guy from Big Sur. He confirmed that it is, indeed, a very difficult course. BUT... it is exceptionally beautiful. He said to add 30-40 minutes on to my time to run it. No thank you. I don't think I could stay on my feet that long. They have a two mile hill in the middle of the course that nearly everyone WALKS. But it is nice to fantasize that someday I might be strong enough to run this race. I also talked to the woman at Elite about the San Diego Rock-n-Roll. I was tempted to sign up then and there to get a really cool t-shirt, but I didn't. The woman was trying to talk me into running both the San Diego AND the Seattle RNR. Seattle is three weeks after San Diego. THAT would be truly crazy. I am actually considering it! That is one thing about a race expo... it makes you believe you are a real runner who can do things like that.

Today, after taking my kids to a birthday party, I am going to try to relax. I need to stretch quite a bit today. I taught a Stroller Strides class yesterday and kicked my own butt. I did some killer power squats. If I am sore, I feel sorry for some of my clients. They may not be moving so well today. Oh well... isn't that what they are paying for? *evil grin* I am going to try to eat my big meal as early as possible and try to avoid my tummy issues that haunted me in both the marathon and the AFC half. Then I am going to bed early.

The weather report is fantastic for tomorrow! Here is what it says right now
Hi: 60°
Mostly cloudy in the morning...becoming
partly cloudy.
Slight chance of showers. Highs 56 to 61. Light winds. Chance
of measurable
precipitation 20 percent.
I would say that is perfect running weather! Now I just have to figure out what I am wearing. I was hoping to wear a running skirt, but I think I may be opting for capris. My only issue is that I have never run a long run in these capris. I am not sure I want to risk it. Hmmmm....

Sorry for the random, disjointed post. I started out just posting my bib number and then the rambling ensued.

Have a great weekend and happy running....

p.s. Good luck to my blogging buddies AKA Alice and Penny. I hope to see them at the race!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Half Marathon Countdown

It is so appropriate that this week's Take It and Run (TIaRT) topic is the half marathon. I am running a half marathon on Sunday that I trained pretty hard for. I didn't run miles and miles (only about twenty miles a week), but I think I trained pretty smart adding tempo runs and speedwork.

What I like best about half marathons is the fact that it is long enough to feel like I have really accomplished something that most people would not or could not do. I feel proud just finishing it. I love getting comments like, "you ran 13.1 miles..... in a ROW?" On the flip side, it doesn't overtake your life while training for it. The long runs are a couple of hours on the weekend and some hour-long runs or shorter mid-week. I don't have to pay a babysitter, my husband still has a wife and I feel like my life is not really affected negatively.

I have only run one half marathon and it was hard. I actually ran a marathon before running a half. During my marathon training there was only one half marathon that I could have done. The La Jolla Half Marathon was in April and we considered it. We decided against it for two reasons 1) it is difficult and hilly and none of us wanted to get injured and 2) it is difficult and hilly and none of us wanted to lose our confidence. When I ran the AFC in August, I think I was relying a lot on my residual fitness from the marathon. The Carlsbad this weekend is a race I trained specifically for and I am looking forward to it.

Since I am relatively new to this distance (although I am pretty sure it will be my favorite in the long run), I don't have a ton of advice. I will share my approach to Sunday's race: train smart and try to have fun. In the end, it isn't worth it if I don't enjoy myself.*


*I have been sort of obsessing over my sub-two-hour goal and I am trying to focus these last days on having fun. I need to trust in my fitness and training... :-)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

paranoia

I am starting to get a little paranoid. I need the race karma gods to be with me this week.

I woke up a little beat up after my ride yesterday. My calf was a bit tight, I have the beginnings of a blister (biking shoes are not designed for much walking, which includes pushing a bike up a hill) and my hips are a little sore. I didn't think much of it until some of my running buddies starting getting injured.

AKA Alice wrote about a popping sound and a "weird" feeling during her run on Saturday. I am hoping that a little rest and ice will fix her right up. This morning Coleen showed up to our run with a sore knee. It has all the markings of an IT band issue. yikes. She wanted to give it a try to see how she felt. I was looking forward to a nice easy run after yesterday's workout so we took it slow. We started on the run and she did ok for a few miles. We walked for a bit around three and a half miles and then again just after four. Around seven miles she was done. :-( We walked the remaining three miles back to the cars. She is planning on resting a lot this week. She has worked hard for Carlsbad too and hates the idea of being sidelined next weekend. I am thinking healing thoughts for her as well.

Then this afternoon, I found out that yet another blogger buddies was not smiled upon by the running gods. Jill did a faceplant during the P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll Marathon earlier today and needed stitches!!! Poor thing. I can't imagine how awful she feels (physically and mentally).

So there is something going around. I can't drink any of this proverbial water. It almost makes me want to skip my runs this week. But now I am just being paranoid.....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who needs dinner and a movie?

A few weeks ago, my friend Jen and I started swapping babysitting as a weekly thing. Our kids are the same age and get along wonderfully. Jen and I have very similar parenting styles which makes watching each other's kids that much easier (what I do for my kids, I know is ok to do for hers). Well it was our turn this week. My hubby and I decided that we would both have more fun doing something active than we would going out to dinner and/or a movie.

We decided to go mountain biking! He bikes all the time, either by himself or with friends/colleagues, but I haven't gone since our trip to Moab in November. I am new enough at it that I would never feel comfortable going out by myself. Going with just him was perfect! I was able to try out actually clipping into the pedals without feeling self-conscious. I wore flats in Moab because everyone told me that was not the place to learn. It is really awkward to get used to clipping in and, more importantly, clipping out. I fell over a couple of times because I didn't get my feet out of the clips.

We went riding right from our house. We had talked about going to a couple different places to ride in the area, but Kenny pointed out that the canyon and trails behind our house are often mentioned on mountain biking websites as one of the better all-around rides. It didn't disappoint. It had hills, fire road, single track, woods, fields and even a small lake crossing.

Here is a picture taken as we are climbing up the opposite side of the canyon behind our house. You can't see it well, but our house is actually under the word "here." LOL. I thought it was really cool that we had ridden six or seven miles when this picture was taken. We rode parallel to the river (it is in the trees) to a bridge east of here and then back along a set of trails to this point.


It was beautiful and we were able to enjoy our lunch at a picnic table with a view of the ocean. Unfortunately, you can't see the ocean very well in the background of this picture because of the glare (it is on the horizon on the left-hand side of the picture). It is there, I promise. The lake is right below our neighborhood.


Here is the bridge over the river. For some reason Kenny loves to get pictures of my butt!


Here is another one!


Some of the climbs kicked my behind (ok... they kicked my butt, but I thought I was using the word "butt" too much). As much as I thought I was in great shape, I had to walk to bike a few times. If I stopped on a hill, I was a goner. Getting clipped into those pedals on a hill is tough.



It was a great day. We both had a fun time and laughed for the first time in a few days. This was exactly the kind of date we needed. Spending a ton of money on a fancy dinner wouldn't have been relaxing for either of us. Talking over any dinner would have ended up too serious and neither of us wanted that right now. I think Kenny enjoyed making a little fun of his wife today. I let him-- this time. LOL. The only time he came close to crossing the line was when I was trying to get back on the bike during a technical part of the trail. I was off the trail in the brush finding a way back to the trail. He says to me, "watch out for snakes..." O. M. G. !!!! My heart sunk. I hadn't thought about snakes all day and that comment almost ruined it for me. I hate snakes. I seriously hate them. I don't know what I would have done had I seen one. As I was beginning to panic I looked over and saw Kenny doubled over in laughter. Ha ha... very funny. He's lucky I was having fun. I might just have to put a spider on him tonight! *evil grin*

We are both looking forward to our next "date."

I leave you tonight with a video of my daring lake crossing. I was nervous because Kenny told me how much you lose momentum in the water and how likely it was going to be that I was going to fall before getting my feet unclipped (he even walked across it with my iPod and my phone so I wouldn't ruin them). I think he was hoping to get something on video worthy of America's Funniest Home Videos (had we been videotaping the entire day, we might have...it looks really funny when someone falls because they don't unclip their feet in time. All the funny falls were not mine, by the way). He almost had it at the end. I lost momentum and had to quickly twist my foot. That is why I am laughing here. Also, because I am tired and punchy from a long, sweaty ride. I must warn you: if you have your volume turned up, you might hear some non-PG-13 language come out of my mouth (really... I don't normally swear, but I really didn't want to go down in that muddy little lake). If you have kids around or get offended by the 's' word, turn down your volume ;-)

video

Tomorrow I am back to running. We'll see how my long run goes after the workout I had today. My legs are like jello.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A shout out to the P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll Marathon runners out there!

A few of my blogging buddies as well as some other bloggers that I read more anonymously are running this weekend in Phoenix. My buddies, Alissa and Jill, are both running and have both trained really well. I think they are both on track to PR this weekend. I think Alissa might even break four hours! Marathon Mama, who is in a bit of a different league than I, is also running. She is at the top of her game as well. She is on track to qualify for Boston! Vanilla, another blogger, is also running the race. It should make the party a little bit more fun. And to anyone else out there running this weekend.... GOOD LUCK!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The fun little 5K

Today's Take It and Run topic on Runners' Lounge is 5K/10K races. My first race ever was a 10K. It made realize that I could run further, even though it was pretty tough. My second 10K was shortly after the marathon. It was hot and harder than I had planned (after all, I had just run a marathon....sheesh!), so I haven't fallen in love with this distance yet. For some reason, I don't have a lot of desire to do a lot of 10K races.

The 5K, however, is easy to love. It works well with one of my biggest shortfalls- going out too fast. In a 5K, I can practically sprint the entire thing. I can go out with the crowd and succumb to the added adrenaline and have a fast first mile. I can settle into a nice pace for the second mile and then give it everything I have for the last one. No matter how bad I feel, I know I only have a relatively short time left. I can do anything for twenty-five minutes, right?

I never thought that I would enjoy 5K's. I always thought that distance was better for fast runners. Doing my first after running every other distance gave me a very pleasant surprise. Three miles was always my "recovery" run or my "easy" run. To push myself to run harder and faster for that short distance felt great.

One of the other things I love about 5Ks is that I'll be able to talk my friends into running them. Just about all my friends can run three miles. When I try to talk them into signing up for a 10K or half marathon, I get a lot less enthusiasm-- if not full-fledged fear. With a 5K we can all meet up at the beginning, run our own race and meet up again at the end.

A 5K is a wonderful way to support local charities. From Race for the Cure to the Race for Literacy, there seems to be a 5K run for every cause. I think I want to run a 5K race every Thanksgiving from now on. It was not only a good cause (helping the homeless), but a fantastic way to start the day. I felt great all day on Thanksgiving this year. I was energized and felt pretty proud of myself for getting up at o'dark-thirty to run in the rain while the rest of my family slept in.

I think the sweet little 5K might be seeing more of me this year. It is usually budget-friendly, schedule-friendly and a lot of fun.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

therapy

Yesterday I enjoyed something new--time to myself without an agenda. My daughter started preschool last week (sniff, sniff) and on Tuesdays both kids are in school until 12:30. I have earmarked Tuesdays to run errands without kids (Costco, grocery etc.), but yesterday I decided to take advantage of the time to do something just for me. I went running and I really needed it.

Have you ever had a day when it felt like tears were right at the surface all day long? Men, you can ignore this question, because I am pretty sure you haven't. That is how I felt all morning. The tears were right there behind my eyes just waiting for the right stimulus- a song, commercial etc.- to get them going. There is a lot going on in my life right now and I was thankful to have a few hours to forget about it. Normally Tuesdays are an easy run (three miles or so), but I decided to do my tempo run that is scheduled for Thursday. That saves me a really early morning on Thursday.

My day was probably opposite of many of you out there. Terri wrote about her twenty-two degree run and upcoming zero degree run. Ummm... well.... instead of looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or Stewie Griffin, I wore a tank top and shorts. While this sounds wonderful, it was actually difficult to adjust to the heat after wearing running tights and arm warmers a week or so ago. OK, who am I kidding? It really was nice, even if I am not used to running in the heat anymore. I popped an endurolyte*, made sure I had some water and off I went.

It was a hard run since I am not used to pushing myself so early in the week. But, oh SO therapeutic. You know what?? When you sweat a lot, the tears that are so close to spilling disappear! I think it might be impossible to cry while you are running a tempo run. Add the new playlist turned way up and my brain was in a perfect bliss of no thoughts. Well... I actually thought about random things and even some of the other bloggers out there. I thought of poor Terri in her Stay Puft winter gear. I thought of AKA Alice and whether or not I would cross paths with her while I was running at Lake BP. I thought of Oz Runner as I remembered when I was living in Kansas. I thought of Penny and how much she and Velcro must be hating running in that heat. It was nice to think of random thoughts that had nothing to do with real life, at least my real life.

Then I saw some signs. Some positive omens, if you wish, that helped me realize that everything is going to be ok. I am not overly superstitious or anything, but there are two things that have very positive meaning for me: butterflies and birds (particularly birds of prey). As I was zipping** around the lake, a butterfly flew right in front of my face. It instantly made me smile. I saw several other butterflies during my run. I thought about the migrating Monarchs that I loved so much when I lived in Topeka. It was an amazing sight to see. It was actually difficult to drive in the afternoon because I didn't want to hit any of them. It was a simpler time back then, but not better. My life is so much more full now. I have a wonderful husband and two fantastic kids.
The second thing I saw that struck some awe was a large osprey. It was pretty incredible. It was sitting on a huge nest on a power pole. For those of you living here, if you look up around mile 2, you'll see the nest. I never knew there were osprey at Lake Murray. I saw one once at Mission Bay. It was really cool to see such a magestic bird. I have always told myself that if I see a red-tail hawk in the morning, it would be a good day (this happened a lot when I lived in Kansas). Ospreys are more rare than red-tail hawks... so it must mean something good, right?

Between looking for good omens, sweating out any lingering tears and later re-reading Terri's post about optimism, I feel better about things. That hour run was better than therapy. I think I might want to do some hard runs over the next couple of weeks.
I hope your running gives you all good mental health.

#pictures courtesy of monarchlab.umn.edu and flickr

*For those of you who use endurolytes (Terri, Alissa) how many do you take? I took one before my seven mile run and one after. I did sweat more than I have in a long time. I got that headache later this afternoon and wonder if maybe I should have taken more or if I was just dehydrated. Hmmm....
**I felt pretty darn zippy! My average pace for seven miles, even with a non-pace warm up and cool down, was 8:43!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A very pleasant run yesterday...

I wanted to do twelve miles yeaterday. My schedule only calls for nine or eleven, depending on which schedule I look at. Regardless, I had it in my head to do twelve so that the thirteen in two weeks seems like a piece of cake.

I had planned on running with my friend Coleen, who is coming back from injury and is also running Carlsbad--her first half marathon. She is not ready for twelve, so I went to the bay early to run four beforehand. Laura joined me. She didn't have time for a long run, so this was perfect for her.

We had a nice four mile run (actually 4.33 miles). I had no time goals and didn't even look at my Garmin at all. I knew we were working pretty hard. I knew Laura had a time deadline, so I didn't say anything. We talked the entire time, but it was a bit of an effort. We ended up running at an average pace of 9:05!! We are both getting much faster. We did negative splits without even trying:
mile 1- 9:20
mile 2- 9:17
mile 3- 8:58
mile 4- 8:54
.33- 8:29 pace

As we finished, Coleen pulled up. Coleen and I went out at a much slower pace (around 10:45 for the entire run). I was wondering how it would feel to run so much slower than I have been. It was really nice! I know why they recommend running long runs at a minute to a minute and a half slower than race pace. It was really a great run. I talked with Coleen the entire time, but still felt like I was getting a good workout. This was Coleen's farthest run yet. Before yesterday, the farthest she had run was six miles. She did great! When we hit the eight mile mark I let her know. She was surprised and said she could have gone on longer. We decided to walk instead of run back to our cars. There is no sense in pushing it. I am so proud of her! I was excited and honored to be there as she hit that milestone. I remember last year how six miles was the furthest I had run when I started this journey. Getting to eight was a BIG deal. Coleen's smile was ear to ear. We are going to do ten next week as the last long run before Carlsbad. I'm looking forward to it.

total run- 12.49 combined pace- 10:13

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It doesn't suck to live here!

At the risk of being boo'd by the majority of readers out there, I am going to gush a bit about San Diego weather. It was f'ing AWESOME this morning! I think it was in the high fifties/low sixties when we got to the beach at 9 a.m. for a Stroller Strides class. It was over 70 when we left at noon. I got a great workout pushing 100 pounds of kids and stroller up a mammoth hill along with upper body exercises that kicked my butt (I was a participant today, not an instructor).
Ironically, we also did some killer butt exercises!
As I was hanging out after class while my kids played in the sand and water, I watched surfers, divers, swimmers and even some dolphins in the cold water. I was riveted by the swimmers. There were at least a dozen people doing open water swims this morning. There didn't seem to be a race or anything, but there was a least one organized swim (there were a couple of kayaks going along with some of the swimmers). I think I have mentioned here before that I would love to do a triathlon. I am confident in the running part. I am pretty confident that I could train easily for the bike part. The open water swim freaks me out. Don't get me wrong. I can swim. I actually think I am a decently strong swimmer. I swam some decent distances in the Caribbean on our honeymoon. I feel confident while snorkeling etc. BUT, the Pacific Ocean, so dark and blue, intimidates me. A lot. Maybe I can do one in the Caribbean, since that crystal clear water is the only place I feel really confident. I even get a little weirded out in lakes (it's the fish below me, I think).

My friend, Jen, is a former collegiate swimmer and badass in the pool. She is a lifeguard (the beach kind, not the weenie rec pool kind*). She is going to train me (once we can get our schedules figured out). She assures me that she'll have me swimming through the waves in the Pacific in no time. Today would have been the perfect day for it. There was little or no break and the water looked really calm (maybe that is why there were so many people out there). The water was cold (about 56 degrees), but there were plenty of swimmers that were not wearing wetsuits. Not me. I was cold standing on the beach watching them. It got me ready to start working out in the pool.

Here are some pictures from our morning at La Jolla Shores. The kids had a blast. I didn't think it would be warm enough for playing in the water so I didn't have the appropriate attire nor did I have a change of clothes. Luckily, I had towels in the car. They rode home in their skivvies.

Can you believe this is January??!

Oops... she fell down. That didn't slow her down. I had to drag them away from the beach so that we could go eat lunch. I was STARVING.

He got a bit wet, as well....

They love to dig in the sand and stomp around

I sure do love it here.

*not to say that rec pool lifeguards are weenies. My mom was a pool lifeguard for years and she is the one that taught me to swim. It is just that at the pools, it seems like all the lifeguards do is blow their whistles. One time at the YMCA one actually jumped in after one of my kids (long story) and she looked genuinely annoyed to have to do so. Jen says that she has had days at the beach when she has gone into the water DOZENS of times. A true rescue in the ocean is life and death. My point is that if anyone is going to take me out into the ocean, I want it to be her ;-)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Training plans

Today's Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday topic is "Training Plans Do's and Don'ts." While I am still technically a newbie to all of this, I do have an opinion on it (as I do everything else). First, I need a training plan. Without one, I feel like I am clueless, without any direction. When I am not working toward a race with a specific plan at my desk or on my fridge, I don't know how far I should run (or when or even if I should run). Left to my own devices, I would probably run three miles every time during the week and eight on Sunday. I definitely wouldn't have woken up at 5:15 a.m. yesterday morning to do a five mile tempo run. I wouldn't even know where to start with speed work.

Right now I am mostly using the Runner's World Smart Coach half marathon plan using my 5K time to give me pace goals. I also printed up Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan as an additional resource. I figure between the two of them, I'll find what works for me. Plans are a guide for me, not the law. I know that other people do better when following the plans exactly. When we were training for the marathon, it was really important to Laura to get in all the mileage our plan called for in a given week. She would make special efforts to run that extra mile or two so that our totals were correct each week. Me, I sometimes cut out a mile or two and figured I would make it up with a good Stroller Strides workout. Toward the end of the marathon training, a couple of us cut out a short Friday run to avoid burnout and injury.

I plan on training smarter this next marathon. Last year, it was all about building endurance and having the confidence to get to the starting line. This time, we will build skill and strength as well as endurance. I am a few weeks from starting. I'll use a combination of Higdon, Runner's World and some workouts from Brain Training for Runners develop our plan. Even after we develop our training plan, we'll change it as needed as we go along.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Attention fellow Brooks Adrenaline fans...

A few months ago I posted about the Adrenaline GTS 8 shoe being discontinued. A Brooks employee just commented on that post letting me know that the GTS 9's are out. She gave me the following link: http://talk.brooksrunning.com/2009/01/08/brooks-adrenaline-gts-9-inside-scoop-for-shoe-geeks/

I have a spare pair of GTS8's in my closet, but I might check out the 9's as my marathon training progresses. Meredith, if you are reading... maybe I could talk you into a free pair to review for my readers?? It's worth a try. *wink*

That is my PSA for the week :-) Happy running.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What's in store for 2009?

I don't do resolutions. I am of the mind that if I want to change something, I shouldn't wait until January 1. I don't want to resolve to make a change, I just do it. That said, the beginning of the year is a good time to look forward to the year and think about what might be in store.


I am obsessed with getting a PR every time I run a race. I am pretty sure that this next year I will get as fast as I am going to get. Most people get slower as they get older, don't they? We'll see. Obviously, I would like to break the two hour mark in the half. That is my number one running goal of the year. I would also like to run the marathon faster than 4:30. Other than that I haven't thought that much about the other distances. I suppose a 24-minute 5K would be nice.


I have also toyed around with the idea of running in a race every month. I think it is pretty achievable. This year the cost of all those races is actually a factor.* I don't get massages or pedicures (much), so this can be my splurge.


Here are some of the races I am thinking about:

  • January-- Carlsbad Half Marathon. I am already registered for this one. That is good since it sold out the first week of December. goal: sub-2 hours.
  • February-- Xterra Trail Race at Mission Gorge. There is a 5K or 15K option. I haven't decided which one I will do. The problem is that the 15K course looks REALLY hard while the 5K course looks relatively easy. I don't want to come in last in the 15K. Kenny thinks I should do the hard one. Hmmmm... goal: to finish
  • March--There is another trail race at Black Mountain. They don't have the maps posted yet, but just knowing the area I would say that the first one is more challenging. There is also a St. Patrick's Day 10K, but that is the weekend before my daughter's birthday and I am not sure when her party will be. goal: ?
  • April-- La Jolla Half Marathon. This is the granddaddy of local half marathons. Everyone says how difficult it is. It is the second leg of the Triple Crown (Carlsbad, La Jolla and America's Finest City). That is a medal I definitely want! goal: to finish feeling strong.
  • May-- The Rock-n-Roll Marathon part deux! I am going to run it again! Laura and Jen have both said they want to do it with me. We are going to train smarter this time. Rather than just getting the miles in, each run will have specific purpose (speed training, hills etc.) goal: 4:30
  • June-- Camp Pendleton's World Famous Mud Run. This one looks like a BLAST. I just hope I have recovered from the marathon by then. goal: to get a team together and have as much fun as possible.
  • July-- I will probably do the Coronado 15K again. goal: 1:20??
  • August-- The third leg of the half marathon Triple Crown, America's Finest City. goal: to break 2 hours, but not necessarity PR (depending on how I do at Carlsbad)
  • September-- ?
  • October-- ?
  • November-- Father Joe's 5K and/or Race for the Cure 5K
  • December-- ?



It is definitely a different year in terms of my running. A year ago, I never would have dreamed that I would have completed a marathon. Heck, the furthest I had run a year ago was 10K. The idea of a half marathon was a vague idea that I discussed with friends. I definitely didn't consider myself a "runner." I am definitely a runner this year. I need to make sure I maintain a balance between my training and my roles other than running (wife, mother, friend...).

It should be a good year. Happy running!

*The economy has hit our household and my dear hubby is facing a salary cut. I will be looking for additional income. Anyone who knows of part time work that I can do at night or during preschool hours let me know. I am not ready to go back to being an executive with the long hours that comes with it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Resolution Run 2009

It was my first race of 2009 and I feel GREAT! I not only took three minutes off my PR, but I shaved eight minutes off the same race last year.* It is a small, casual race around Mission Bay where I often run. The weather was chilly and misty, but I was dressed perfectly and was never uncomfortable.

Here is what I learned this morning from this race:

  • I REALLY need to focus on starting out slower. I took off with the pack and felt great. It is so hard to judge sometimes and the Garmin doesn't seem to register pace in real time (although a very friendly runner told me afterward about looking at a different screen... we'll see if that helps). When my autolap told me my first split of 8:11, I got a little nervous. That was too fast!
  • I need to learn to run the tangents. A 15K is 9.3 miles, but my Garmin (and Nike+) say that I ran 9.48 miles.
  • I love running with my Nathan Hydration Belt. I forgot how much I prefer taking small sips while I am running as opposed to taking gulps from a dixie cup. I never had to stop.
  • Runners are nice people. OK, I already knew this, but when you go to a race by yourself it is much easier to chat with strangers. Everyone I talked to was running Carlsbad at the end of this month. I enjoyed chatting with Lisa, Monica, Paul and Karen. Paul, who has run over 50 half marathons, gave me a lot of great advice. His insight into Carlsbad should help me a lot. It definitely helped my confidence.
  • Fiesta Island is no party. The back side of Fiesta Island is long and desolate. On a cold grey day the bay doesn't look so pretty. At this point in the race (between miles five and seven or so), people had spread out quite a bit so I felt like I was running by myself. At one point I felt a wicked headwind. Those were my slowest miles of the day. The memories that Fiesta Island brought back were bitter sweet. The last time I had run there was during my seventeen mile run last spring. Unfortunately, that was when Jen had to hobble back to the car with an achilles injury. She insisted that I go on and I ended up having a fabulous run (following up my horrible 16 mile run the week previous). Jen missed the next several weeks of training, which was a real bummer.
  • It feels good to pass people. Even if I know I will never win a race, I still have those competitive urges during them. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I pass people. I thought about Kristin several times when I passed a guy. She referred to a blog of a guy who referred to being "chicked" when a girl passed him. I giggled to myself as I "chicked" several macho looking guys. Kristin, you and I will have to run together one of these days!
  • If today were a 10K, I would have blown away that PR as well. My 10K PR is 55 and change. My 10K split, according to Garmin, was 53:36.
  • I don't think placing in my age/division is in the cards. Last year, after looking at the results, I discovered that I placed third in my division (women 40-49). Laura was 2nd. Since we didn't run it particularly fast, we didn't stay to hear our names. I don't even know if they had medals. I decided to stick around this year. I thought I might have a chance at one of those cheesy little medals. I think a lot more good runners came out this year. Third place for women 40-49 ran it in 1:16. I was nowhere close. Bummer.
  • Despite the fast first mile, I think I ran a pretty smart race. I still had some juice in the tank at the end. Ironically, my ninth mile was just as fast as my first.**
  • If I stay healthy and continue to train the way I have been, I am on course for a sub-two hour half marathon!

Happy running everyone!! And happy 2009!!!

*The Resolution Run was in March last year for some reason. It was my second race ever and my first race since embarking on the marathon training program. I ran it in 1:29.
** Splits for today's run:
mile 1-- 8:11
mile 2-- 8:25
mile 3-- 8:45
mile 4-- 8:39
mile 5-- 8:50
mile 6-- 8:55
mile 7-- 8:52
mile 8-- 8:37
mile 9-- 8:12
.48 at 7:46 pace

New 15K PR!!!

1:21:06!!!!

I shaved over three minutes off my time from July 4! I am very pleased and excited for Carlsbad in a few weeks. I will post a race report later on today.

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