Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beach Running

In a couple of days we are leaving for Orange Beach, AL for a little R and R. I'll be doing my running on the beach and won't be posting.

I saw on an Orange Beach calendar of events that the running club there does a Tuesday night 3-mile run each week.
Maybe I'll hook up with them for a group run.
If not, there's always running solo on the beach and the condo has a workout room (with just two treadmills). The heat and humidity may unfortunately drive me indoors, but that's only as a last resort. Maybe if I get out there early enough, I won't melt.

Hmmm..... A sunrise run on the beach? Sounds good to me!

When I get back, I'll make a decision about the marathon---- Rocket Man in Huntsville or Battlefield Marathon at Chicamagua National Battlefield in north Georgia. Or I may decide to chuck the whole fall marathon thing and wait until spring.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Injury Schminjury

I have been running for almost a year injury-free!!! Yea! Then last Thursday in a weights class, I turned my left ankle funny. My Achilles tendon immediately started to ache and the pain radiated around to the outside of my ankle. A quick consult with a trainer, and I was given the instructions to ice, take Motrin, and not run for 3 days. Immediately, I felt FEAR at being told not to run--- like any break is going to somehow make me lose all my endurance, what little speed I have, and all fitness whatsoever!

But I made it the three days without running. I definitely felt like something was missing. I did try cycling on Saturday for 4.5 miles. Can I just say those seats are NOT comfortable? If running made my feet feel like that...... And 4.5 miles only burned 200 calories, whereas running would have burned 450! (I think I secretly only run for the calorie burning.)

I'm back on the road again now. I did an easy run of 2 miles on Sunday and then 2.5 miles of speedwork on Monday, and the ankle was FINE. I guess it did just need to rest a few days.

I'm going to register for the July 4th 10K in Nashville. With a race on the horizon, I'll have something to train for, something to guide my runs. After that one, it'll be almost time to start increasing mileage for the Oct. 2 Music City Half-Marathon. Then maybe I'll run/walk a full marathon in November or December. We shall see.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Early Morning Runs

I tried something new today. I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. and set out for an early morning run. My preschoolers finished school yesterday and my first-grader finishes tomorrow. I now officially have NO TIME TO MYSELF. I'm trying to figure out how to fit in runs. One option is to run before my hubby goes to work about 7:10 a.m.

This scenario has two limitations:
1. I can only run in my neighborhood since driving somewhere would be a waste of valuable time, and I'm a bit sick of that route already.
2. I imagine three or four miles would be the maximum distance I can make it on an empty stomach.

So, at 5:45, I got up, got dressed (putting my shirt on inside out--oh well, it was early!), drank 1/2 of a G-9 (lower sugar) Gatorade and ate a handful of Cheerios. By the time I located my Garmin, my shoes, and my MP-3, it was 6:02 and I was out the door. (It took me those 17 minutes to wake up mentally as well as physically.)

Other than feeling sick from the Gatorade on an empty stomach, it was an ok run. I warmed up for a few minutes and did a 3.1 mile tempo run. I wasn't my fastest 5K time, but it wasn't my slowest, either. I think my splits were 9:29, 9:37, 9:41, and I don't remember the .1. I finished at 29:46, I think. (Any 5K under 30 minutes is a GOOD DAY for me!)

I wasn't sure how running without a full breakfast, coffee, and lots of water would work. I usually have all that, wait an hour, then run. But it wasn't too bad this way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spiritual Running

Is running as spiritual for you as it is for me?

Recently, someone asked me if I'm spending all this time running, writing about running, etc., how can I be living a Christ-centered life?

My answer is that the two are not mutually exclusive. I feel like God is at the heart of ALL aspects of my life, and that includes running. When I run, I thank God for the strong legs that carry me and for my heart that pumps more efficiently with every mile. I take time to actually notice the world God created---the trees, the birds, the blooming flowers. And I appreciate them. I talk to God when I run, maybe not for every step, but here and there like a continuous sentence without a period. I feel like I would be remiss to take for granted a beautiful day and my healthy body by NOT running.

Running has added a new dimension to my life and doesn't subtract anything that existed previously. I feel a greater sense of accomplishment and contentment and energy than I did. These can only enhance the spiritual side of my life as I choose to serve others, invest in people, be a part of a community of believers, and influence others for Christ.

The neatest moment during the half-marathon last month was passing by a church with a choir standing outside singing, "Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, Lord," a popular contemporary Christian song. I got chills because right at that moment, I felt like I was doing something God wanted me to do. I had prayed through the decision to train for that half-marathon, never imagining I could accomplish it. But, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Does running fit into God's will for my life? I really think it does.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Summer Plan

On my longish run this morning, I came up with my Summer Plan for running. If I have it on paper (or on my blog), I'll be more likely to follow it.

1. I will run a minimum of three times a week, cross-train once or twice, and lift weights once or twice.
2. I will run a minimum of 10 miles per week.
3. I will do a tempo run, intervals, and a medium/long run of 5.5 to 8 miles per week.
4. I will focus on getting faster for short/medium distances.

I'm hoping maintaining a base of 8 miles will make the half-marathon training starting in August go smoothly and easily.

I plan to do the Music City Half-Marathon on October 2 in Nashville.
I'm open to doing the Rocket Man Marathon mid-December in Huntsville, Alabama. We shall see if I come to my senses before then.

I had a great 5.5 miler this morning. It was perfect weather--- 55-60 degrees, light breeze, blue skies. I listened to my A-list on my MP-3. No aches or pains and only the first 1/2 mile was rough (usually it's the first one or two miles). I wasn't in any rush, but I maintained a respectable pace (for me). I like those kinds of runs.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Am I Ready for a Full Marathon??

I've been a runner for almost a year now. I've run lots of 5K's, two 10K's, and a half-marathon. The question is---What's the next step? Should I be thinking about a full?

Some of the running advice out there is contradictory.
"You need to run a half-marathon before a full marathon." Check.

"You need to run a sub two-hour half-marathon before considering running a full." Not quite.

"You need to run several half-marathons before running a full." Not yet.

"You need to have been running for one year before training for a full marathon." Almost there.

"You need to focus on speed before distance." Working on it.

My running partner really wants to do 26.2. I'm open to the idea. I do want to get a couple more half-marathons under my belt, get closer to that 2-hour mark (from my 2:19:01 debut), and get faster in general. I guess I'm following the advice. But is it too soon?

On my half-marathon race report, my last words were "full marathon---NEVER HAPPENING." At the end of that race, I was so tired I couldn't imagine going one or two more miles. But the body is an amazing thing. It adapts. Who would have thought I could even run 13?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fit and Fabulous Moms

Is it me, or is every stay-at-home mom you know a gym rat? I've been one for about a year, and I'm in good company. At my local YMCA, by 9:15 each morning all the machines are filled up. The reason why: preschool begins at 9:00 a.m. and we head straight to the gym after dropping off our precious charges. Then we run, spin, lift weights, or torture ourselves with step aerobics for the three hours the kids are in school. Why? Is it stress relief? Is it a little "me-time"? Or is it to be able to say, "I'm a mom of three and I can still rock a bikini at the pool"? It's probably a little of them all.

Some of the moms I see daily really provoke envy. They truly are fit AND fabulous (while I settle for just "fit.") They can run four miles faster than me on the treadmill, all the while maintaining one of those perfect pony tails. As for me, my hair is either plastered to my head or frizzing in all directions. They have zero body fat yet still wear a C-cup. (That's all I'm going to say about that.) They are tanned year round, while I have hidden my pasty legs all winter. They sport Madonna-like biceps and abs with actual definition.

I wonder if stay-at-home-moms were always this fit and fabulous or is it a new trend? I doubt the stereotypical June Cleaver moms of the 50's and 60's were allowed to go to a gym, and I know they were discouraged from running marathons because their uteruses might fall out (really, I read that in Runner's World!) However, they did keep immaculate homes, cook home-cooked meals every night, and get "dressed up" for dinner before their husbands got home, so they were pretty fabulous nonetheless.

For many of us today, it's a little different. We are lucky to get a shower after our morning five-mile run, much less do the breakfast dishes. The husbands and kids are lucky to get a home-cooked meal two or three times during the week with all of the soccer practices, swim lessons, scout events, and church committments. My gym clothes ARE my regular clothes, so getting "dressed up" is a little tough.

I know my hubby sometimes wonders who this "jock" inhabiting the body of his formerly "normal" wife is, but I hope he realizes that I'm stronger, happier, and healthier for it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

10K on the 10th Race Report- PR!!

Today I completed a virtual race Non-Runner Nancy organized called 10K on the 10th by competing in a local race called the Miracle for Mary 10K, 5K and bike ride. There were about 250 people from the Clarksville, TN, and Fort Campbell, KY, areas, including lots of 101st Airborne soldiers.

The beginning of the race was very well organized. There was a variety of things going on. The 50-mile bike riders started first. Then two minutes later, the 20-mile bikers. Then the 10-mile bikers. During the start of all those races, I took a warm-up run of about 1/2 mile. The clock was already at 6 minutes by the time we 10K runners started. (The 5K-ers were after us.)

It was flat for mile one, then rolling hills until the last 1/2 mile or so. I wasn't expecting the hills. I had run a race in this same area in February and we had a flat route.

The well-organized part kind of ended after the start, unfortunately. There was not ONE water stop on the entire route! I was glad I had my water belt. It was 60 degrees and humid, and probably 90% of runners didn't have any water for the 10K.

And I'm using the term 10K loosely! When I got to the finish and stopped my Garmin, it said 5.50 miles. Hmmm, I'm not math genius, but I'm thinking that's not actually 10 kilometers. At the finish, I was on track for a PR, so I took a quick drink of water, griped a little about the short route, started the old Garmin again, and took off running. By golly, I was going to finish what I started and get my PR. I was the ONLY runner who kept going. I just headed on down the road for the last .7.

I PR'd with a 1:00:10, over two minutes faster than my February race. I was hoping for under one hour, but I'll take it! I needed to maintain a 9:39 pace to get a 59:59 finish, and I just missed it. However, that's my 5K pace, so running a 10K at my 5K pace probably wasn't realistic. I'm still happy about the PR!

Since I was the ONLY one who kept going to 6.2 miles, does that make me get 1st place?

They didn't tear off our race bibs or use chip timing, so I don't know where I placed at the finish or if I might have placed in my age group. But I do know one thing: I WAS NOT LAST! It might be wrong, but I was psyched to pass all the Army guys who slowed down in the last half. (I do support their sacrifices; I just liked beating them.)

Mile 1 9:26 average pace
Mile 2 9:42
Mile 3 9:40
Mile 4 9:54
Mile 5 10:04
Mile 6 9:38
last .2 8:12

Average pace: 9:41---- by far the fastest pace I've ever had in any race situation. I've had a few training runs in the 9:30's for 3 miles, but I've never run 6 miles anywhere near this fast. Go, Me. That's why I like running and doing races--- it's so neat to see yourself improve, to set goals and meet them (or almost), to feel proud of yourself.

I'm so glad I kept going for the full 10K!

Friday, May 9, 2008

I'm In for 10K

I signed up for the 10K tomorrow morning to help that little baby. If one of my babies were sick, I'd hope people would come out in droves to help fund research to find a cure. I read on the website that baby Mary isn't expected to live past the age of two. With my own Julia turning two at the end of the month, that really resonates with me.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another Race?

I know this about myself--- I MUST have another race on the horizon to keep up with my training. I'm trying to decide which race to do on Saturday. There is the annual Strawberry Festival 5K in my little hometown with 60-70 runners/walkers. The course start and finish are across the street from my parents' house. And for a race, it's pretty inexpensive---$15, but it's too late to get a shirt, darn it.

Then there are both a 5K and a 10K on Saturday here to raise money for research on spinal muscualr atrophy and a sweet baby girl named Mary There's even a bike ride of varying distances included. The only problem with that one is there are only about 30 people doing the 10K, so there's that danger in the back of my mind of being last. (Oh, I read a shirt that said Last Place beats Did Not Finish, Did Not Finish beats Did Not Start, and Both of them trump Sitting on the Couch Watching TV.)

Add to that the two online contests I'm participating in, Half-Fast's Shave Your 5K Challenge and Non-Runner Nancy's 10K on the 10th Contest. In Half-Fast's challenge, you had to report an official 5K "stubble time" between December 07 and March 08 as your time to beat, and you have until December 08 to post your "shaved time." In Nancy's virtual race, you run your 10K, post your time and race report, and she links her readers to your blog. (Yes, I spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME reading other runners' blogs. Laundry, anyone? Cleaning the closets? Nope, too busy reading other people's splits and mileage and race reports!)

To complicate matters, yesterday I thought I broke my toe. I stubbed my foot on the metal part of the shower door. Today, it's less swollen, so I doubt it's a break. It's bruised and cut in two places, though, so it hurts when I walk. It's perhaps a bit jammed since it doesn't bend all the way. But I don't think it's broken. I plan to try to run tomorrow to feel things out. THEN I'll decide on which race to do on Saturday.

I don't feel like I've trained for these races, but the half was only two weeks ago, so I should be about as trained as I'll ever be. Except the whole speed part.

Update: It's not broken! Just bruised.

10 Years of Running: Confessions of a Declining Runner

Two months ago, I hit a pretty significant milestone:  ten years of running.  I began in June of 2007 at the age of 36 .   On day one, I tho...