Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Recovery Week... in More Ways than One

My Runner's World Smart Coach training plan calls for a low-mileage week this week to give my legs a break. Woot! Woot!

I surely need it. I've run a whopping 2 miles this week. (And they were strangely tough! My legs were made of lead.) I know my body needs to take a break from the increasing mileage. Plus, I'm still trying to recover from the lack of sleep since last Thursday.

I need to renew my mind as well as my body. I've got a touch of burnout---the weather's been nasty, I've been running frequently on the treadmill, which isn't very motivating. I miss the fun part of running, where there is no set number of miles you HAVE to do, you just run at whatever pace you feel like, and when you skip a day you MISS it. I'm pretty sure I'll get back there some day---AFTER the half-marathon. For now, it's all business.

Monday, February 25, 2008

On the Bright Side.....

Overall, it was not the best weekend. However, I've got to be careful to not lose sight of my blessings in the midst of my troubles. Sure, three out of five were sick this weekend, but we've had a really healthy winter this year, so can I really complain?

And, no, I didn't meet my goal of running 10 miles on Saturday. But should I lose sight of the fact that I ran 9 miles--- my longest distance ever?

I like looking on the bright side of things. It reminds me of an earlier post, which bears repeating. It was 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."

I LOVE that quote. And I'm working on it!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Down for the Count

Whew! Rotavirus is not fun. We have three family members DOWN. Julia became sick on Thursday night. Then it hit my husband on Saturday morning. Finally, Annabeth succumbed on Saturday night. Nathaniel and I are just waiting and hoping it skips us. We are the strongest-stomached of the bunch, I have to say. (I'll probably regret those words.)

Oh, and the washing machine is broken. It died on Friday. The timing is not good. If I ever needed to do emergency laundry, it is now! But, tomorrow it will either be fixed or we'll be shopping for a new one....... perhaps a new front-loading, energy-efficient one? Do you think there is maybe one that sorts, washes, dries, folds, and puts away? I'd pay BIG money for that.

Even though he was sick, Chris insisted I go on my scheduled ten-mile run on Saturday morning. In hindsight, it wasn't the best idea. After losing sleep with a sick baby and a sick husband on Thursday and Friday nights, I struggled with this run. Finally, at 9.2 miles, I called it quits. It was cold and snowing and I just wasn't feeling it.

It was kind of funny when I came home---I looked in through the window to see the baby crying while standing in the middle of the coffee table. (She can climb up, just can't get back down.) I rang the doorbell (they had locked me out), and my weary-looking, greenish husband came to the door. I said, "Um, the baby is standing on the coffee table? And I still need to stretch." Later, he told me he had been in bed since I left, as he was too sick to even sit up. I asked who was watching the baby...... of course, it was my five-year-old. Hope I don't have to pay her as she was clearly falling down on the job.

Then, with all the life run out of me, I had to take care of four folks all day----a sick hubby and three kids. Julia was still not feeling well, and was exceptionally needy. When Annabeth got sick all over her bed (and I mean ALL OVER) about 10:00 p.m., I just broke down and cried out of exhaustion and frustration.

But, in the daylight it all looks better. Survivable even.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Last night an inevitable part of parenting struck---- the dreaded stomach bug. Just after going to bed, my 20-month-old threw up all over herself and her crib. And then did it some more. And some more.

Of course, my husband had a 7:30 p.m. meeting, so it was just me and the kids. Doesn't it always work out that way? I picked her up, changed her clothes, and tried to figure out how to change the disgusting crib sheet while holding a shaking, very upset baby. So I called in reinforcements. I yelled to my five and seven-year olds, "Guys, come in here! I need your help!" When they got there, I said, "I need someone to hold the baby while I clean up her bed. She needs to be held because she feels really sick."

My seven-year-old son took one look (and one whiff) of the baby, and starting backing up. "No way!"

But my five-year-old little maternal one said, "I'll hold her, Momma." She sat on the floor and I placed the baby in her lap. Even though the baby had a bit of junk in her hair, her sister wasn't grossed out at all.

I was going about my business changing the sheets when I glanced back at the two of them. Annabeth was gently stroking Julia's (somewhat funky) hair. Julia had relaxed back into her sister, calmed down completely, and was kind of laying across her lap. The sweetness of the moment struck me. I said to Annabeth, "You're going to be a really good mommy some day."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What's Up with My MP3?

It's vicious I tell you. Vicious.

1. Have you ever been shocked by your MP3? I'm cruising along when I cross over a metal grate. The next thing I hear is pop, pop, pop. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Apparently, the static I had built up in my body was released when I went over the metal grate. Through. My. Ear. My left earbud shocked my inner ear three times! That, I didn't expect.

2. Have you ever had a song get stuck in a loop on your MP3? And it was Britney Spears' Toxic? First of all, it's like the longest song EVER. Maybe I have the extended version, but it's looooonnnng. Second, listening to it over and over for 1.25 miles (I checked. Garmin doesn't lie.), which for me is 13 or 14 minutes, really is TOXIC. Ya'll, 14 consecutive minutes' worth of Britney Spears is waaayyyy too much.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Right now I've got so many balls in the air. I know everyone is busy, but I'm usually kind of NOT. I relished my status as stay-at-home-mom, nap taker, Internet surfer, Oprah watcher. (I thought about including bon-bon eater, but that would be cliche.) I felt pretty content with the lack of stress and busyness in my life.

But, suddenly, I have, like, ten jobs. Ok, technically only two, but some days it feels like ten. I'm employed for the first time in 5 years. I'm a part-time, freelance book editor. Doesn't that sound fancy? Actually a friend of mine is self-publishing a book of 365 daily devotionals and asked me to edit it for him. I'm not sure to what extent I'll actually get paid, but there will be money changing hands. So, that makes it official. I'm employed. Carving out time to actually concentrate on a project without a whining baby and fighting siblings to distract me (or Oprah, the Internet, my nap) is proving challenging. The 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. time frame seems to work best.

Along with the editing job, I'm still working on my charitable project, the Run for a Reason 5K race. Being race co-director is bigger than I imagined. There are about a million little steps to planning a 5K race. Who knew? I'm used to just showing up, waiting for the starting gun, and running. From now on, I think I shall prefer to just run them and let somebody else do the planning! Just kidding. It's a very worthwhile cause, and one truly deserving of my time.

The third ball in the air at the moment is training for the half-marathon. It's the thing I'm doing just for me.

I'm used to just juggling being a wife and a mother, keeping the house relatively presentable, and making sure everyone has clean underwear and is fed. Adding more "balls" to the mix has definitely stretched my resources--- in a good way. I think I actually like juggling.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Problem with Running or "Post-Run Nasties"

I completed my longest run yet this morning---8.5 miles in 1:28:56. I averaged a 10:27 pace, which for me is smokin' for such a long distance. I felt pretty good throughout, but definitely "done" at the end.

I have decided that the PROBLEM with running long distances like this one is the post-run nasties. (This only happens to me in runs 6+ miles.) I feel good immediately after the run, then chills set in right after cool down and stretching and get progressively worse. I thought changing into dry clothes at home would help, but it didn't. I even crawled into bed in my fleece jacket under a thick comforter and I was still cold. Then, the post-run stomach cramps set in, too. I tried Powerade this time instead of Gatorade, but had the same results. Every time I go on a long run, I end up with stomach cramps for several hours after the run (plus the chills). Add to that mix fatigue and achy knees and you get the "post-run nasties." Chills, stomach cramps, aches, and extreme fatigue----it's like having a three-hour case of the flu.

So, my question is ---- IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?

Update: About three hours after the run, I took a hot shower that eliminated the chills, had a cup of coffee with lots of sugar for energy, and took the kids bowling for two hours. Looks like I'll survive.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Map My Run is Cool!

Map My Run is such a neat website. I just found about 20 runs saved from other runners in my area and was able to map tomorrow's 8.5 mile long run. As I was driving the 8.5 miles yesterday, I was thinking "there......is.......no.......way." We'll see.

Wherever you live, you should do a search and see if others have mapped out runs in your area, too.

Here is an elevation map of my run tomorrow. (We'll actually be stopping and turning back at 4.25). Hmmm...... maybe my running buddies and I should rethink this!

On the bright side, it's an upscale residential neighborhood where several doctors live....... ya know, just in case we need them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Progress Pictures

A couple of weeks ago, the gals over at http://www.sisterskinny.com/ posed the challenge for people who are trying to get fit to post pictures of progress. Never one to run away from a challenge (yeah, right!), here goes:

This first one is October 2006 and that is a 5-month-old I'm holding. For me, the arms and the face tell it all. I like to call this the "sloppy mommy" photo. I still have that blue t-shirt. I'm totally throwing it away. Katie at Sister Skinny joked that we've all got mommy-holding-baby-while-wearing-a-sloppy t-shirt photos. We are actually sitting on a train at the St. Louis zoo, so that's why the scenery is blurry.

This is me a year and two months later, happier and healthier. It's about six months after starting to run. (It's Christmas, thus the gifts and video camera.)

It's funny---- I went to the gym for YEARS and never broke a sweat. I remember the day it changed in June 2007. I was walking down the hallway at the Y with my friend Kelly, and we stopped to read a bulletin board that announced the Let Freedom Run 5K in October. I had never run any distance, but I thought, "Hey, by October surely I can run 3 miles." (Actually, it was probably more like, "I wonder how far 5 kilometers is?")

I was finally ready to stop playing around at the gym (more socializing than sweating) and felt up to a challenge. I started out and could barely run 1/2 mile, and that was with major wheezing. I learned what it felt like to sweat--a lot. Six weeks later, I signed up for a "practice race" 5K just to see if I could do it. I did it. It was hard and it hurt, but since that race, there's been no turning back. For the longest time, I couldn't fathom even wanting to run 13.1. (Some days I still can't.) But most days it seems within my grasp.

Progress is good.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Running with Scissors

I just found my 20-month-old running down the hallway. With scissors. Literally. Despite having told my 5-year-old about 142 times not to leave them where the baby can reach them, the baby had a death grip on a pair of blue safety scissors. At least they were the round-tipped kind. The running part came when I spotted her and said, "Julia, come here." Being a toddler, of course she immediately ran in the opposite direction. There was squealing. I can see her little mind turning over the phrase: "Yay! Mommy wants to play a NEW game." Luckily, it's not hard to catch a 20-month-old and steal her scissors.

On to running without scissors (wouldn't that be a good name for a blog----or is it just me?):
Sans scissors, I did my longest run of 7.5 miles in 1:19:54, a 10:39 average pace.
For a long, slow distance run, I'm pretty happy with that pace. K. and I also took a 90-second walk break every 3 miles because we know we'll want/need to at the Country Music Half- Marathon. Might as well start walking now. I learned a few things on today's run:

1. 7.5 miles really doesn't feel any different or worse than 6.2. Nice to know. I hope 8, 9, and 10 are like that!

2. Clif Shot Bloks are yummy! K. and I shared a bag---three blocks each at the end of mile 3. Like a gummy only stickier and with less of a waxy texture. They were cran-razz flavored and SO MUCH BETTER than the gels I've tried.

3. On a 7.5 mile run, it would be helpful to take along a beverage. The Bloks made us thirsty, but we didn't have any water with us. Running 4.5 more miles thirsty isn't really pleasant. It's time to look into a hydration belt...... to wear with my tights. This is serious runner territory, guys!

Living and learning,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Search for the Athlete Within

Bob Glover, author of The Competitive Runner's Handbook, says in his chapter on mental training, he "challenges people to search for the athlete within." In saying this, he's assuming we all have an athlete within!

He writes, "Feeling worthwhile as an athlete doesn't come easily. Think of yourself as an athlete. Yes, you! (me, really?) Whether you run a 5-minute or a 10-minute mile, are twenty years old or sixty. You strive to do your best just like the Elites up front. Feel proud of yourself as a runner. Don't compare yourself to others and feel substandard." Thanks, Bob. I needed to hear that.

I STILL have a hard time saying I am a runner or an athlete. I know it's not really about the speed or distance I run. It's about getting out there rain or shine, whether it's 20 degrees or 80 degrees, four days a week, doing something that does not come easily or naturally to me. It's not about winning the race, it's about waiting expectantly, toe on that start line, shoulder to shoulder with humanity, and the exhilaration when that gun goes off. It's not even about finishing a race. It's about getting out there and starting one.

In her blog Mile Markers, Kristin Armstrong (http://www.runnersworld.com/) had an epiphany about running that I can really relate to

"Never in my life, before running, did I ever push hard after something that did not rank high on the list of things that come easily to me. I have always aspired to/excelled at things that I was already good at.

But running isn't like that for me. It's hard for me. I struggle. I suffer. I get discouraged. I get mad. I celebrate, sometimes......

I may not always run the way I want to run, race the way I imagine myself racing, and my performance outside may only rarely reflect the runner on the inside, but there is a certain endurance rush reserved for those of us who have to work extra hard just to stand on the start line and dream. There is a unique beauty to pursuing the glow that resides just beyond our reach."

Kind of poetic, don't you think?

Have You Seen My Mojo?

I seem to have lost my running mojo. I think I know where I left it---out there on that 10K course last weekend (along with my cute black running gloves). In that last mile when Coach came back for me, he said something like, "I want you to leave it all on the road," which I guess means "give it all you've got, don't hold anything back." At least I think that's what he said/meant; I may have been hallucinating at that point.

N-E-Wayz, I must have left it ALL out there because apparently I can no longer run. Or, I should say, I can no longer run fast and I can no longer breathe when I'm running slowly. What's up with that? Did that 10K suck the life completely out of me? I eeked out a painful 2 miles on Monday, disliking (dare I say cursing?) every second of it. Today I whined and complained my way through 5 miles (sorry, K!), but in my defense, it did rain on us briefly and the gale-force winds nearly knocked us over a couple of times.

So, if you are out there and see my running mojo, will you send it back to me? Or if you can spare some of yours, I'll be happy to take it off your hands. Cause I really need it. The half-marathon is 12 weeks away.

P.S. My five-year-old is insisting I train her for the April 5th 5K. How cute is that? She ran 3/4 of a mile on Monday. Hey, maybe SHE's got my mojo!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Running for a Reason

Other than good health, stress relief, and the fact that it is occasionally fun, I've found a new reason to run. Presenting the Grace Community Church

Run for a Reason 5K
One Mile Fun Run
Saturday, April 5
9:00 a.m. start
Rossview Middle School

All proceeds will be donated to the blood:water mission 1000 Wells Project!

1000 Wells Project
  • Did you know that millions of Africans lack access to clean water?
  • Did you know that people living with HIV/AIDS are dependent on clean water to survive?
  • Did you know that $1 provides one year of clean water for an African?
  • Did you know that YOU can help save lives?
    The 1000 Wells Project is building 1000 wells in 1000 African communities. Businesses, churches, schools, artists and individuals are collecting funds so they can sponsor the construction of wells in Africa. Your participation will give Africans the gift of clean water to protect them from life-threatening illnesses. Women and children will no longer walk up to 10 miles a day to get water. People with HIV will live stronger, longer lives. Communities will flourish and be changed. Your participation can help save lives.

I think that's a pretty cool reason to run. You can register at www.active.com!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Race Day Photos

If you go to http://visionsbyfaith.exposuremanager.com/p/donna/, you can see my spectacular last place finish photos by Visions By Faith photography. She made me a little "donna" album and the password is 1004. Check out my default 1st place medal. (The extra medal is for completing the intermediate training program at R3.)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A 1st-Place Medal, a PR, and the Finish Line of Shame

Today, I think I put a new spin on Matthew 20:16: "So the last shall be first, and the first last."

I'll start by saying I ran my fastest 10K ever. It was a combination 5K / 10K out-and-back race. Lots of folks ran the 5K, but there were only about 30 of us doing the 10K.

At the start of the 10K, I went out out WAY TOO FAST. I wound up with an 8:57 first mile. (My fastest training mile was 8:45 and that was for ONE MILE, just to see how fast I could go.) At 1.55 miles in, all the 5K-ers turned around to run back.

At the two-mile marker, my running buddy K and I looked behind us and saw..... no one. That was our first clue that we were dead last. I kid you not. Dead. Last.

But we were running so FAST. And so STRONG. Then the realization hit me. I was going to finish this race last. K always kicks it at the end (more power to her), so I knew she'd finish in front of me. I've run several races, and it's been close one or two times. But, I was never in LAST PLACE until today.

So, that's what I got to think about for the last 4 miles. I got slower and slower since I used up too much energy on that too-fast first mile, but I was still running at a great pace for ME. I just made peace with the last-place thing around mile 4 or 5. Took two walk breaks, too.

This is the strange part--- at the awards ceremony for the 10K, yours truly got a medal. I won 1st place in my 35-39 age group. Sort of. Actually, there were only two of us in that age group (small race and all). Obviously, the other girl was faster than me. However, she was SO fast, she placed in the OVERALL women's top three, thus disqualifying her from an age-group award. Hey, I'll take it any way I can get it!

I had a final time of 1:02:38, a little bit faster than last week on my practice run on the course and faster than I've ever run 10K before. I averaged a 10:04 pace over all, and my goal was 10:05 or under. True to form, I had a goal and I just barely made it, but I made it.

Despite finishing last (did I mention I was DEAD LAST?), it was a spectacular day---the sun shone, the temperature was in the mid-forties, and I had friends to cheer for me at the finish line. (Not to mention a very nice running coach who came back for me, so crossing the finish line of shame really wasn't so bad!) You know, after all, someone has to finish last.

Splits from my Garmin:
mile 1 8:57 mile 2 9:33 mile 3 10:10 mile 4 10:15
mile 5 10:29 mile 6 10:30 (59:54 at the 6-mile point) final .2 10:30

The Garmin says the fastest pace of the day was 6:59 in the last .2, so that must have been my big, giving-it-all-I-got finish (for about the last 5 seconds).

Friday, February 1, 2008

Advice for New Runners

I borrowed this from Vanilla at www.half-fast.org (the funniest running blog I've come across)

He begins,

...... let me first give you one universal piece of advice that should be heeded by all new runners: Quit. That’s right, just quit. Seriously. Just stop before you get addicted. Leave now while you still can.

It’s too late for me, heck it’s too late for most of the regulars who read and comment here at Half-Fast, but it’s not too late for you rookie runner with the brand spankin’ new shoes.

Save yourself while you still can. You’ll save yourself hundreds of dollars in race fees, technical running gear, cold weather gear, hot weather gear, reflective gear, rain gear not to mention the amount of money you’ll end up spending replacing your running shoes every 400 - 500 miles.

You’ll feel guilty when you skip a run. Your toenails will turn black and fall off, and what’s even worse is that you’ll be happy about it as though it was some sick rite of passage. Your grocery budget will be consumed by gels and Gatorade. You’ll get so obsessive about your mileage, your pace, and your heart rate that you’ll spend hours pouring over your training log.

You’ll need to purchase a Garmin (another couple hundred dollars at least) to keep better track of your training runs and to analyze your running in greater depth.

People will look at you like you’re crazy because you ARE crazy for thinking about taking up running.

You’ll start reading running blogs, then you’ll start commenting on running blogs, and before you know it you’ll start your own running blog. Your chief worry will be what you’re going to blog about if you don’t run, and you’re going to have to be consistent with your blogging in order to make “blogging running friends.”

You’re thinking “no, it won’t happen to me. I can quit whenever I want to, I won’t fall that deeply into it.” You fool. It already has happened to you. You’re already past the point of no return. Need further proof? You’re still here reading this post aren’t you? Wouldn’t a sensible person have left long ago, somewhere around the missing toenails ....... Welcome to the club... sucker. Now go start a blog already. "

Love it!! Vanilla KNOWS running.

P.S. If you notice a change in the colors/format, it was because the pink was giving me a headache.