Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Things Thursday: Random First Try

I thought I'd try the Three Things Thursday type blog to get me writing more about my running. Here goes three things I love about my running at this very moment.

1. The fact that I tend to feel good or great after every run, yes, every run. That means as I'm working harder and running longer and it's not taking me 3-4 days to recoup anymore.

2. The fact that PJ is showing support (or that I'm recognizing how he shows his support), and he is genuinely interested in how my runs go. Even if that does mean him convincing me to post my nasty, bloody sock from a toe war all over Facebook and Daily Mile to boast of battle wounds and gross everyone out in the process.

3. The fact that I get excited over a training plan , thank you Hal Higdon, that now pushes me further than I've ran before. I've never boasted running over 4 miles, but I'm bound and determined to hit my goals this year, beginning with the 10K.

P.S. Just a side note. I love that my oldest son T talks about things he's good at (and knows it), just like I do. Example: This morning, I wish him luck on his Science TAKS test today. He quips back, "It's just science, Mom." Just as I responded this past weekend, "It's just a 5K race."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Running Moms Rock 5K

By the time I picked up my race packet for the Running Moms Rock 5K on Friday night, I had this race report planned out stating the basic fact that I kicked ass. Pre-race jitters had come and gone. I felt ready. Getting my race shirt and bib just excited me even more. Plus having a racing buddy, Casey, running her first race was exciting for me as well. It was destined to be a great race. After chip pickup and warm up in a very humid and sunny late afternoon, I felt fairly confident that Casey and I would finish strong with a PR as well.

The gun went off and we set our pace, easy does it as we found a spot in the crowds. I felt strong and steady at what felt about a 11:00 minute pace, until the hill that happened right after the one mile marker. Now here I could go into a laundry list, or even more like a shopping list for Sam's Club, how the race went wrong. Basically, an old foot injury that hadn't bothered me at all for a minimum of two months flared like an angry dragon overtaking my foot and ankle. I slowed and eventually had to walk. Casey was off. I let her take her own pace forward. After a mental struggle I cannot even describe and a run/walk throughout the rest of the race, I nearly gave up to not injure myself further. I even had the thoughts, "there goes my badass title in the making" and "if I can't do this, there's no way I can keep training for longer races." But I couldn't stop. I kept pushing.

As I rounded the last leg, the 0.14 of the 3.14 mile race, I saw Casey coming back for me. She told me we were going to finish together, limping and all. She yelled at me to push it, and I told her "it hurts". She said it's supposed to! We sprinted in, crossing that line together. I finished with a 41.13 time (13.07 minute pace), even after walking a good mile of it. I felt great, even though my entire right leg felt nothing but pain.

It took me a day of icing and rest to realize this: this race wasn't about me. True, this was my entrance back into the racing scene and my kickoff to training for the elusive 26.2, but other than learning things I need to improve on in my running, this race was not for me. This race was for Casey and for me to share the amazing experience of racing with her. She did fantastic, with a 36:00 finish time. She loved it and can't wait to race again. The best part: I've been a part of her running/racing journey the whole time. That alone makes it worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Tempo Run that Clicked

Even as a fairly avid runner, I never got into the whole "tempo" run or speed work or all these different types of runs. Until last night, that is. I have the Running Moms Rock 5K this Saturday, and last night was my last hard run before the race. Some say to keep my training schedule, but I've learned I need very fresh and rested legs before a race. Therefore, I wanted to make this run count, just as I was running the race already. I aimed for an 11:30 pace. It was realistic and doable, yet still shaving a minimum of 1:30 minutes off my regular, recent pace.

As I set out to run, I checked my mp3 player to glance at the time (8:02 p.m.). I also set my stopwatch on my phone and took off. I just ran. Actually I ran my usual 3+ miler course in reverse, and I know I'll be doing it again. But I meander off point. I knew I was running a faster pace, but I didn't care. All I wanted was to run consistently and beat a 45 minute time. Around the first mile marker, I checked my clock...only 11 minutes passed since my first step. Seeing that added wings to my feet. I kept my pace steady, enjoying the weather, even though humid, and the 'new route'. Just chugged away with only one 20-second stop to retie my shoe.

Soon enough, I realized I was approximately half a mile from my house. I ached to look at the clock, but I refused. One step after another, wind at my neck, sweat dripping down my face and back, loud rock music filling my ears, just running. If you ever read about any of my runs before, I end my runs uphill, yes, up an excruciating hill I do not even like to drive up. I looked at my clock (8:32 p.m.) and started to get discouraged. Ugh, almost 40 minutes, I felt faster than that. I decided I could still shoot for a PR. I sprinted up that hill like I was scrambling from zombies and crashed through my front door.

I checked my time. 8:34 p.m. Wait, that's 32:00 minutes. WHAT?!?!?! I swore I was pushing 40 minutes. Apparently, I looked at my clock wrong or can't do basic math functions while running and tried to make the worst better. I ended up making a PR on my 3.02 mile route at my college-age pace of 10:35 per mile. That means it's been 12, nearly 13, years since I've ran under a 11 minute mile. To top it off, I shaved 3:25 minutes off my pace! I'm so excited I'm still jumping out of my skin. I wish I could tell you what I did to improve so much: hydration, eating enough, weather, you name it. I can't. Everything just clicked for that particular run; it all fell in place, one step at a time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Jelly Bean

I'm starting to like virtual racing! Virtual races like The Jelly Bean are a great way to compete without having to schedule yet something else in the swirling mess of hectic schedules. I followed The Cupcake Marathon as several of my DailyMiler friends worked on running a marathon's length over the course of a designated period of time. I enjoyed reading about each of their runs and how they were pushing to finish the Cupcake Marathon. Each day's stories were awesome to read!

If you're interested in participating in this virtual race, jot over to Run with Jess' blog and sign up! It's a free race with prizes too!

A special shout out goes to Haley at Climb Run Lift Mom for sharing the news about The Jelly Bean!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fatigue Run Experiment: Successful

I rarely do any form of exercise after game days. Even an easy soccer game can wipe my legs, or worse, my core out. IF I feel inspired, I stick to yoga, but normally Mondays are my complete "rest days".

This morning, I felt pushed to run. I quickly got dressed in running gear, and got the boys off to school. I headed to one of my favorite places to run: North Lakes Park. This park has everything: "trails" or a "dam" overlooking the in city reservoir, gorgeous scenery, sidewalks, even a little bridge.

So, I took off on the muddy dam and ran down and around to the sidewalk loop. No problem, the wind wasn't even that bad. I felt I could go for another loop. As soon as I hit that dam, everything started hurting. Feet, legs, back, even the bruises I got from yesterday's game. I started questioning why I was even out there. In my mind, I kept telling myself, "geez, this is a rest day". The wind picked up and I started feeling the fatigue. All the walkers were unfriendly and grouchy, it seemed. I felt drained. Usually other runners' enthusiasm and friendliness always helps me keep going. Yet, I couldn't make myself stop. I felt there was a reason I was out there today of all days.

I crossed over over to the sidewalk loop, and there it was...the reason I was running today. Out doing a morning walk with her mom or friend or caregiver while the weather cool and not humid, was a cancer patient. I could tell by the low-pulled beanie she was wearing and the drawn eyes. She kept turning around to look at me approaching her. She had the biggest smile on her face. As I passed by, she clapped, cheered, and patted me on the arm like I was running a race. I stopped and turned around, smiled and squeezed her hand. Her smile was brighter than the rising sun overtaking both of us. I turned around and ran back to my car, exhausted, but elated.

I don't know if I made her day, or if she made mine.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Taking Out the Trash Run

That's what I named last night's run. Basically since Sunday evening, I had been some sort of wannabe-crazy-hormonal-who-knows-what woman. I had been feeling grumpy, emotional, even downright bitchy, and I couldn't put my finger on it. While talking to PJ, he said I needed to run because I start to head on a downward spiral if I don't run for a while. I thought to myself, "I just ran on...Friday. Crap." Normally, I have a soccer game to add in sprints/intervals between run days. We didn't have a game this past weekend. No wonder I had all this "trash" building up. After prepping food for meals, I went out and ran. I told myself slow and steady, at least try for 3-4 today. After all, I do have a 5K race in 2.5 weeks. I started out at an easy pace and cranked up the playlist. Everything was great: the weather, the music, even my legs with screaming shins. My head started to clear and I felt myself start to even out, climb back on kilter, so to speak. I started approaching my 1.135 mile marker. Now, on my "straight shot" runs, this is where I turn around and head home for a total of 2.27 miles. In my head, I had this conversation:

"I can turn around now and make this an easy run, or I can turn right and go for a 3 mile minimum. I could save my legs and add mileage later this week.

I have a 5K coming up. I need to up the mileage and get used to the 3+ miles again. I REALLY want to run a 10K or 15k or even a half by September end. I MUST add this mileage. I have no choice but to turn right."

Here's where I dropped of my "first load of trash", or my excuses for not pushing myself harder. I turned right and went head on into the wind for some so-called trail running, which is actually a 0.5 mile of ditch running instead of running on the small road. The next mile was quite uneventful. I pushed on, slow and steady, and felt like my mental trash was dissipating. I began to feel normal.

I had about a 1/2 mile until I reached home; down the top of the hill I was on and up the next to the top of the hill I lived on. My legs wavered. I kept my pace until the last climb up. The somewhat gradual incline looked like a mountain to me. All I could tell myself was "come on" over and over, every three steps. Then, there it was. I crested the hill and saw my last bit of mileage, the .02 of my 3.02 miles. I finished sprinting (and smiling) that last tenth of a mile, taking out the last of the trash.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Surprise kid-free night

Having my very active boys swept away for the evening always surprises me. Everything I could do, should do, want to do, shoots through my mind. Often enough I end up catching up on housework, laundry, emails, and movies. Last night I took advantage of amazing weather 70° at half past 7 p.m. and ran my ass off. I took no gear, not even my tunes (yes, Sarah W. I know you're reading this with jaw agape), and ran. I ran a simple route, my favorite straight shot ALL the way down my long, hilly street and back. An easy, peasy 2.27 miles that I've been conquering on all levels since January 2009. My favorite part: running into the sunset, remembering how awesome my neighborhood looks filled with bluebonnets and wildflowers. My only regret: Not having a camera with me. Guess I'll have to run it again soon. *smiles*