Saturday, December 29, 2007

Push It. Push It Good.

A neat quote from The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer by David A. Whitsett:

"One of the things that has become clear to us through working with people training for the marathon is that in order to maintain a positive attitude about training and running, it is necessary to develop a positive attitude about life in general."

So true. I've seen the change in me since I started running. I may not totally be there yet, but I'm working on it.

Yesterday morning, I met up with the training group. I told my coach up front that my goal for the day was to finish 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes. Then, I ran the fastest, hardest 3.1 miles of my life for a sub 30-minute 5K finally!

That's been a goal of mine for a while. I think yesterday I learned what it meant to push myself. In training runs, in actual races, when the discomfort starts, I tend to slow down or (gasp!) take a walk break. Having no atheltic background, I have never been pushed to my limits. I never knew about pushing through pain. (Except for a brief foray into natural childbirth with baby #3 that lasted 23 hours. Then I got the epidural. See what I mean?)

I heard about a shirt spotted at the Boston Marathon that said "Pain is just weakness leaving the body." Whoa. So yesterday, I was uncomfortable, but I didn't stop or even slow down. I ran as hard as I could--- breathless, legs burning----and at the end, when I was at the 29:50-ish mark, when I didn't think I had anything left, I dug deeper and ran harder to just make it with a final time of 29:59. So, it was close, but I met my goal.

Thanks to my new Garmin Forerunner 205, every training run can feel like a race! (Thanks, Honey!) It has a GPS that tells me how far I've gone, how fast I'm running, and how long I've run. I can run pretend races anytime I want.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

13-year Old Completes Ultra-Marathon (50 miles)

Looking at last night, I came across Mackenzie's story. This 13-year old, the daughter of a runner, had already run 26.2, a full marathon, when she decided to try an ultra marathon of 50 MILES. By the way, no one thought she'd be able to finish the marathon, which she did. The video at this link takes you through the ultra marathon with her.

It's amazing what a person can do when she puts her mind to it. I'm not condoning 13-year-olds performing such strenuous feats, but I have to just say WOW.

It makes 13.1 in April seem somehow more possible for me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sweet Relief

Is it wrong to be relieved that the holidays are over? We had a blessed holiday--- quality time with family and friends, lots (and lots and lots) of good food, more presents than the kids know what to do with..... but I find myself breathing a sigh of relief. November and December are everyone's hectic season, but ours seemed especially so this year. The busyness started with Halloween. A few days later we celebrated Nathaniel's birthday. Then Chris's. Then Thanksgiving. Then Annabeth's birthday. Mix in a couple of end-of-the-season soccer parties. And Cub Scouts. That was November.

December was relatively calm in comparison: three family celebrations, two holiday parties, shopping (and a partridge in a pear tree......).

I'm ready for normal to begin again.

We did have some holiday highlights. I think the best part of my holiday was Christmas morning when my seven-year-old, who lately has had some ungratefulness issues, exclaimed, "Mom, I got just what I wanted!!!" Music to my ears.

Other highlights:

  • the Grace Community Church December 23 Christmas service. The music was amazing. We have so many talented artists at our little church.

  • Having friends over on Christmas Eve to share our holiday tradition of seafood---boiled shrimp, fried shrimp and fried oysters. Then hanging out and playing board games all evening and laughing and laughing.

  • when Grandpa decided it would be fun to "camp out" in the living room with four of his grandchildren (ages 5-9) on Christmas night. Such a brave grandpa.

  • when my seven-year-old Nathaniel and his six-year-old cousin Maxx, who only see one another about 4 or 5 times a year, decided to share one child-sized sleeping bag on said Christmas night. I'm so glad they finally have the closeness we always hoped they'd have.

  • being outside in the cold, but steamy and warm in the hot tub with my hubby, sister-in-law, and nephew on Christmas night telling embarrassing stories about ourselves (the nine-year-old's idea)

It was a good Christmas. But I'm still glad it's over. I hope you had a good one!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

No Pain, No Gain, Right?

I've got the pain and the gain. Yesterday the training group hit the hills again. We ran 3 miles up and down hills at a local park and threw in 20 lunges and 15 squats between miles for good measure. I think the squats were what got me--- combined with the hardest hills in town. My quads and my left knee are screaming for mercy today. On the good side, I managed a total of 15 miles this week for the first time.

And it's a good thing I ran 15 miles this week. I've been munching like a maniac. Not normally a snacker, I've been scarfing holiday sweet treats, chips, crackers, cheese--- just eating like crazy all day long. The scale tonight reported a 5-lb. weight gain, but I did weigh myself in the evening and I know there are other "extenuating factors." (Hello, water weight! How ya been?) I'm hoping to get back on track after Christmas. I mean, Christmas only comes once a year. I just don't think I can deprive myself!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Need to Race

I think I'm going to do the Resolution Run, Walk, or Roll 5K in Nashville on New Year's Day. It's for a really good cause---benefitting the United Cerebral Palsy organization. I don't have a race in January and I believe that the races are truly what keep me motivated. I can measure my distance and time on my own, but having it calculated on a race course is WAY more motivating for me. Plus, it's just fun to be with a whole bunch of other runners, and in this case, wheelchair racers. Over 800 attended last year, so this will probably be the biggest race I've participated in. I'm sure I'll be thanking God the whole way for my legs that allow me to run.

The best part is my hubby is running with me! This will be his first race. And since he doesn't actually run, I'm thrilled he agreed to share this with me. Can't wait!

UPDATE: It didn't happen. My mom couldn't come keep the kids, so Chris and I will have to race another day. But, with my new Garmin watch, every run feels like a race.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Personal Record

Despite my disappointment in Saturday's race performance, I actually did get a Personal Record (PR). My time was 31:09, four seconds better than my October 5K. It was a 10:03 pace, so I'm still shooting for a 9-minute pace one of these days. Another runner who beat me came in at 9:25/mile average pace, and I was in front of her for the first mile, so I was doing pretty well at the point. Then I apparently got really, really slow in miles 2 and 3. Or she got really fast.

I got back on the horse, so to speak, today with a 40-minute run and it felt pretty good. The last 1/4 mile was at an 8-minute pace if I timed correctly. So, to refer to yesterday's post, "I had it in me today."

I also got some spiffy new running tights today at the running store. I never thought I'd wear them, but when I tried them on, they were so cozy, I had to buy them. Form-fitting, keeping cold air out = good purchase. I'll try them out on Wednesday at the group training run. (The group keeps growing and growing with three or four new people since week 1.)

A veteran runner gave me some insight into Saturday's wall I hit early in the race. I hadn't fueled properly in all likelihood. I had a small bowl of Special K two and a half hours before the race. Then nothing but water until the race. Apparently, a half-hour or hour before race time, I should have had more carbs. That would have helped.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Do You Have In You Today?

Yesterday stunk. It really stunk. I even considered hanging up this running thing. Searching for motivation, I stumbled across this article written by someone named Falco on a running message board:

There's a stretch of road that I run on that is long and straight and seems to go on forever. I used to hate it, but now it's my favorite place. See I don't have to do anything, just run. I don't have to avoid dogs, dodge traffic, or encounter potholes. It's just me and the road. Breathe in, breathe out. Last night while I was on that stretch I began to think how powerfully simple this all is.

We ask our body to run and it first not far...but then over time it becomes this machine. A simple perfect machine. Breathe in, breathe out. One foot and another. An endless repetition of a series of moves that propels you further and further along. And the miracle of the human body is that it responds by carrying you further and further until one day you show up at work and say, "I ran eight miles yesterday" and all the jaws drop. did. Something that your co-workers consider positively superhuman. You did it. You may not look like a superhuman, but at that moment you are.

My mind flashes back to a conversation I've had about running. Every run is a test; a test to see what you are made of. Do you have it in you today? Here on the road there is no way to cheat. It's simple, you either run it or you don't. Either you win or the road wins. And no matter how sick you are, no matter how tired you are, the road still asks, do you have it in you? Even if you had a great run yesterday, the road is still out there today and today you have to prove what you are made of. Breathe in, breathe out.

The road doesn't care if you are good looking, smart, young, old. The test is the same. What do you have in you today? Some days you come home glowing with accomplishment. Other days you lose. You feel fat, heavy, out of shape, tired. Well meaning friends say "why do you do that to yourself?" but you aren't doing it TO yourself, you are doing it FOR yourself. You lose the stress of the day. No matter how bad your day is, you sweat out all those problems on a long run. You shut off the voices. You silence the chatter. Just you and the road, alone. Breathe in, breathe out.

I know we all have goals. Five K goals and marathon goals and negative splits. But on your next run let me encourage you to just run and enjoy the simple pleasure of running. No watch, no time limit, you're not going anywhere, you're not getting anywhere. You just are...a simple lone runner...on a long stretch of road. I'll see you out there.

Yesterday, I let the road win. Three walk breaks?? That road smoked me.

I found this article at this link:

It's the now defunct blog of a woman who once lived in my town, did the Couch to 5K program at R3, ran the same races as me, and went on to run lots of half-marathons. It's pretty inspiring. Oh, and she's a mother of NINE.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

8 Seconds

I didn't meet my possibly unreasonable goal by 8 seconds in the Jingle Bell Jog. I finished at 31:09. I needed a time of 31:01 to meet my 9:59/mile goal. I guess I came in around 10:03/mile or so.

That course is really, really rough. Last time in September, I ran it in 33:27, but I was still a pretty new runner, coming off a vacation in Key West, and it was 80+ degrees. I beat that time by 2 minutes, 18 seconds.

Today the temp was hovering around 35 with light to not-so-light rain. I watched rain droplets drip from the bill of my baseball cap. The hills were horrible and I couldn't even make up the time much on the downhills because of the possibility of wiping out. I felt like I was running so slowly. My training partner sprinted ahead 1/4 mile into it and I just couldn't keep up. I battled a side stitch part of the way, knee pain, fatigue, and the elements. Not my best race!

I have to say my mind and my heart weren't in it today. I took three walk breaks in all---going up the steepest hills. My trainer had taught me to run slowly up them, but my attitude was bad today: "I hate this course. This weather stinks. This is the LONGEST three miles of my life. What mile am I even in? Another hill? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!" So I walked. I haven't had to walk on a 3-mile run in a long time.

I have to say I'm disappointed a little at my finish time. I've always met my goals in the past. I feel like I have a 9-minute mile in me somewhere. I know I have to take into account the conditions, but the condition of my mind and heart in the race was probably the deciding factor.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Best. Chicken Pox. Ever.

My dear daughter is well on her way to recovery. If one must have the chicken pox, these are the ones to get. She had less than 20 bumps. They didn't itch at all. She felt fine mostly (except for the nasty ear infection she had in one ear two days ago). They are already scabbed over, except for one or two. I think she can return to school next week.

I'm pretty positive she got the chicken pox from the vaccine booster she had in November, which is good news for all those people we were around over the weekend and at Pre-K on Monday! According to :

Three to five percent of immunized children develop a mild and noncontagious form of chickenpox, consisting of a low-grade fever and a few spots. While most of these rashes occur within two weeks after the injection, these blister-like spots can occur any time between five to 26 days after the immunization.

So, perhaps I kept her home all week for nothing. It has been kind of fun, though. We've stayed in pj's most of the day, watched a lot of tv, played board games. It felt kind of vacation-y. With her starting full-day kindergarten next year, I know these days home together are numbered.

On the running front--- I FINALLY got to the gym last night and did some speedwork. I actually missed one training run this week, but it couldn't be helped. Maybe I can count my extra run from last week for the one I missed! I'm ready for the race tomorrow. Just hoping the weather cooperates. I ran at 6.8 on the treadmill (an 8:45 pace) for three minutes for the first time last night and didn't have heart failure. So, I know I'm at least a little faster.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jingle Bell Jog Forecast

Cold and slow. That's what I'm forecasting. Actually, yesterday the local weather person said Saturday is expecting a high of 34 with some snow flurries. Yikes! But, today, things were looking up a bit. The high Saturday is now expected to be 38 with rain in the morning, then turning to snow. Of course, I'm thinking at race time (8:30 a.m.), the temp won't be anywhere near the high. And that rain is going to be cold. I might just skip it. My $18 donation to the battered women's shelter went to a wonderful cause. Who needs a race t-shirt, anyway?

I always do this before a race, by the way. I try to talk myself out of it. Reasons to skip the race: The course is hill after hill. Going up a wet hill is ok, but going down a wet hill could be treacherous. (I ran that same course on a hot, dry day in September and the downhills made me nervous----super steep, loose gravel). It will be cold. Not a regular-kind-of-cold, but that nasty damp-kind-of-cold.

But the biggest reason is......I don't think I'll PR. I've PR'd in each consecutive 5K I've done. (Only three in all, but still.) Getting faster is a measurable way to see I'm slowly improving. I'm nervous about not PR-ing despite the hard work I've put in lately. I know I'll be disappointed if I don't meet my goal of 9:59/mile. Realistically, it is a much tougher course than my last one AND the weather conditions may slow me down. So, PR-ing is unrealistic. But I still want that 9:59!

Maybe the forecast will change to sunny and 60 degrees between now and then. Maybe I'll get a good night's sleep and a burst of energy by then. Maybe they'll move the race to a flat part of town. Yeah right. I'm not counting on it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Pox on You!

See this beautiful face? Well, It doesn't exactly look like this right now. Yesterday, she came down with chicken pox. It's a mild case so far (she got the vaccine at age 1). The strange thing is on November 30, she got a chicken pox vaccine booster. Coincidence? I wonder.

So, going to the gym is out. Preschool is out. Running alone with my tunes is out. Life is officially on hold while I take care of my girl.

I'm going to try to get some runs in at 6:15 a.m. before my husband leaves for work or go to the YMCA at night. I hate the treadmill, but the indoor track isn't too bad. I have a 5K on Saturday and my goal is to come in at 9:59 per mile or less. I hope I can find a way to do my two training runs left to do this week.

Mostly I hope I don't wind up with three kids with the pox! Of course, now might be good----they'll be well by Christmas. And from what I understand, it's highly contagious. Since the kids have been constantly around one another---playing, sharing meals, sleeping in the same room, brushing teeth together---it's almost a definite the pox will make their way through this house between now and Christmas. Thank goodness my shopping is completely done!

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm not listening.....

to my trainer very well. I didn't do a single workout this week the way he told me to. I was supposed to run 40 minutes on Monday, but I ran 45. I was supposed to do 22 minutes of interval speedwork on Wednesday, but I did 28. I ran two "bonus" miles on Thursday which weren't in my training plan at all. (And I NEVER run two days in a row.) I guess it's the overachiever in me. In this case, it's probably not smart since he really knows what he's talking about. But, his workouts just seemed too light. I did follow his stretching plan and am thrilled to say my ankle pain is gone and my knee is better. I've been running pain-free all week. Of course, my longest distance was only 4 miles and I am running in new shoes, so maybe all of those things are working together.

I'm in maintenance mode weight-wise. I just want to hold steady through the holidays. Easier said than done!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Something for me

A new friend asked me the other day, "Donna, what are your hobbies?" Six months ago, I wouldn't have had ANYTHING to answer. My children can't really count as a "hobby." Being married to a great guy, while fulfilling, doesn't meet the criteria of "hobby." I love my church, but I like to think that God is bigger than a "hobby." I went through a period where I not only had no hobbies, I felt like I had no identity other than "Nathaniel, Annabeth, and Julia's mom" and "Chris's wife."

Now, I have something for ME. Running is one thing I do for myself. My friend Mandy feels the same way about tennis. Other friends feel that way about scrapbooking. Or shopping. Whatever it is, we need these outlets. When you first become a mom, especially a stay-at-home mom, you put your life on hold. You put your old self aside. There is a "fantasy" that your children and your husband will be all you need. But the reality is we have to find ways to not lose our individuality. We have to develop interests outside the home. It makes us better women and better mothers. I read a quote once that said of mothering, "I feel about 99% mother and 1% me." Well, running makes me least 35% me. :-)

So, I answered, "I've just taken up running." Really, I should have said my hobbies are running, blogging, blogging about running, reading blogs about running, reading articles and books about running, talking with friends about running.......... I might be a little obsessed!

Oh, on a different note, this morning I ran in 33-degree weather with a wind chill of 22, and it wasn't that bad. Just sayin'.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

An Army of One

Well, apparently Army guy Mike is training an army of one in the Intermediate 5K to 10K program: me. I cannot believe more people did not take advantage of this program. Eight was the max, but I was the only one who signed up. The Couch to 5K program had 3 ladies, all with babies in the 7 to 8 month old range, come for their meeting. Our training will coincide, so at least I'll feel like a part of a group. Sort of.

When we arrived bright and early, we all got our packets, introduced ourselves, and did group stretching. I learned some new moves and the fact that I was not doing nearly enough stretching, which could explain my knee and ankle pain with longer distances. Then, the 5K group went for a 1-mile run, while Mike and I ran 3.

It is weird running with someone. I'm usually a solo, MP3 player blaring, in-my-own-little-world runner. We actually talked during the run. (I was proud to not be gasping for breath. I'm finally past that part, I think.) As it turned out, I'm friends with his wife, we go to the same church, and know many of the same people. He said I was running faster than he'd expected. I have good form. (Yea!) I have been actually emulating the other gals I see in the races, so I do kind of know what to do with my arms, etc. Until I get tired. Then my "good form" goes out the window. Mike made me stop at 3 miles because of the ankle/knee pain of past weeks, even though I was feeling great. I felt like I could have easily done one or two more miles. That's the problem with having a trainer. You have to actually listen to them.

So, anyway, when I was chatting with him and his wife at church today, he said, "Do you want to do the half-marathon in April?" I was kinda floored. Yesterday, pre-run, we talked about that and he said I could probably do one in the fall. But after seeing me run and that I've established a pretty good base, he said he thinks I can be ready by April. We're going to start slowly, still do the 10K on February 1st, but see if I can up the mileage relatively painlessly and do 13.1 in mid-April. I'm pretty excited. Not totally convinced it will happen, but pretty excited.