Monday, June 30, 2008

One Hundred Push Ups?

In an effort to build muscle and endurance, I've got a few new ideas for my workouts. First, I'm going to continue to run 3-4 times per week, but I'm going to have to add in at least one cross training day. I'm seriously lacking in endurance right now and half-marathon training starts Saturday.

Also, in an effort to look good in a sleeveless top I bought for my 20-year high school reunion in 8 weeks (am I really THAT OLD???), I'm taking the push up challenge.

Check it out! From the website:

If you're serious about increasing your strength, follow this six-week training program and you'll soon be on your way to completing 100 consecutive push ups! (Boy style---none of those girly knee ones!)

Think there's no way you could do this? I think you can! All you need is a good plan, plenty of discipline, and about 30 minutes a week to achive this goal!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

Have you heard this story?

A son asked his father, "Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?" The father, despite having a heart condition, says, "Yes."

They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to complete other marathons, the father always saying "Yes" to his son's request of going through the race together.

One day, the son said to his father, "Dad, let's do the Ironman together." Again, his father said, "Yes." For those who don't know, Ironman encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile marathon. Father and son went on to complete the race together.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A 1st Place Award and Lots of Mistakes!

When I left home this morning for the 45-minute drive to Russellville, KY, for the Russellville Romp 5K, I had two goals: to finish under 29 minutes and to win an age group award. Well, I guess ONE out of TWO isn't too bad.

I finished in 29:40 for a new 5K race PR and took home 1st place for the 35-39 age group. There were only two of us in that age group, however, but hey, at least I beat that other girl! It was a well-put on race except there was no food at the finish-- only water and Gatorade. I grabbed a water at the end and ran until I hit the 5-mile mark so I could be on track with my training group, who had a 5-miler this morning without me.

But, I made several dumb MISTAKES with today's race.

1. I broke the cardinal rule of racing---Don't try anything new on race day. I had been reading up on energy drinks. I've had a few people say they drink a Red Bull before racing. I've never had a Red Bull in my life. I thought I'd start lighter with a Propel Invigorating Water with vitamins, electrolytes, and 20mg. of caffeine. Sounds promising, no? Well, the 20 mg. is per serving, and the bottle holds about 2.5 servings. I was an anxious, jittery mess at the start of the race. I don't know if it was the caffeine or nerves that I wouldn't do well in the race. I also had a breathing problem. I ran 1/4 mile to warm up pre-race (actually doing something RIGHT), and even with a slow pace, couldn't help but fight breathlessness. That made me more nervous because when that happens, I'm usually in for a rough run. I wonder if the caffeine could have caused that? Or if I'm out of practice for 5K's. I seem to remember this feeling before...

2. The second mistake was one I've made over and over in 5K's and one 10K. I started out too fast. In the first 1/4 mile, I looked down at my Garmin and I was running at a 7:36 pace. Now, for some folks, that would be a good race pace, but for me it is insane! My goal was between 9:00 and 9:35 miles, and 7:36 doesn't factor in there. I tried to slow down, but the caffeine and adrenaline made it hard. I thought I was slowing down a little finally, but Garmin still said 7:39. I told myself (literally), "Slow down, fool!" (Not out loud. Wouldn't want to get punched if someone thought I was referring to them.) I finally slowed down. Way down. I took 3 walk breaks. Sigh. This always happens. I can run 3 miles nonstop, but when I start out too fast, I use up all my energy too soon. Will I ever learn?

3. Finally, my last mistake was allowing the specter of self-doubt to rear its ugly head. This happens a lot in races. I'll set a goal, and at some point within the race I'll decide it's out of my reach, and I'll just give up. I'll take walk breaks when I don't absolutely need them. I actually considered quitting once! Then, toward then end, I'll see the goal IS actually within my reach if really bust my booty. Usually, I make it! But today, the walk breaks put me too far behind.

What's the good thing about mistakes? Learning from them. Not repeating them. Breaking the pattern. The 2nd and 3rd I mentioned are what I'd call chronic mistakes I make. Maybe now that I've put them down on paper (so to speak), I'll do better.

Speaking of doing better, my husband and I are going to do a 5K next Friday together. It's his first! We are going to do a little race in White House, TN, called the Independence Day 5K. Then, Saturday, my half-marathon training officially starts.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recovery and a Race!

Ouch. Running bleachers makes your calves hurt like never before for approximately three days. (This is day 3.) But, it's almost a good feeling when a muscle aches because you know you are building it. (Right?)

Yesterday, I did my long run of 5 miles for the week, even though Saturday is usually my long run day (more about that later). It was around 80 degrees, but a hot 80. Some 80-degree days are bearable, some are less so. I checked the kids in at the Y nursery and took off. At the two-mile mark, I knew 5 miles outside were not happening. I was almost out of my 20 ounces of fluid in my fuel belt and felt like I was melting! I made it 3.11 miles and took a walk break of a minute or two. Getting started again after that break was tough. I made it another .1 or.2 and called it quits. Unfortunately, I was still a mile from my starting point and I had to walk back. But this was no "walk of shame," the heat and lack of fluid combined made it the smart thing to do.

I hopped on a treadmill when I got back and resumed running. THAT was a new one--- starting running after a 12-15 minute break/one-mile walk. I ended with two decent miles at a faster pace than the 3 I had run outside. So, I got in my five-mile run---one way or another.

The reason I'm not able to do the long run this Saturday is because of the Russellville Romp 5K. I'm from a small town in Kentucky, and Russellville is only about 15 minutes from my hometown. I went to high school there. For something like twenty-two years, the Parks and Rec there has had this 5K race (and I never even HEARD of it! But when you're not a runner, these things escape you.).

I haven't done a 5K since December, and that one was in a little over 31 minutes. In training runs, I've gotten them down to below 30 minutes (on a good day) and even once in 28:53 (on a GREAT DAY) in the heart of my half-marathon training. I don't want to disappoint myself and run slower than last time, but I have to factor in the heat and lack of "serious" training I've been doing. I'm hoping for an under-thirty-minutes race (finally!) and maybe an age group award. (It's a really small race! Seventy-seven last year.) But if it rains, I'm skipping it.

I'm excited to race again!

Monday, June 23, 2008

30 Minutes of Heaven

Do you ever have one of those days that is so jam-packed you think, "I guess I can find 30 minutes to workout. Maybe." Today between dropping the kids off at Vacation Bible School, grocery shopping, and doing a little computer-work, I figured I could carve out 30 minutes for a run. (And apparently 10 minutes to blog!)

I have a confession to make: I haven't been real excited about running lately. I'm feeling slow and lacking endurance. The heat has been getting to me. I've been *gasp* kind of bored with it. It pains me to say that because I'm in love with running. We're in a relationship. We just had our one-year anniversary. But my eye has been wandering..... cycling? swimming? elliptical? power walking? They were all looking more appealing than tired old running.

But, today, I'm happy to say I'm back. We've reconciled, running and me. I just needed a little change. I found just what I needed today--- intervals at the track! (Exciting, isn't it?) I dropped off the rugrats and went across the street to my alma mater---Austin Peay State University. One door to the football stadium was unlocked, so I made my way to the wonderfully springy track around the football field. I warmed up for 1/4 mile and then proceeded to run 4 X 400's (that's running speak for running around the 1/4 - mile track 4 times) with 30-45 seconds recovery between laps. It was so much fun. I tried to go faster each time. My first lap was 2:03, and the rest of the laps were under 2:00. People, that's an 8-minute mile for me and that's amazing! My best friend Garmin said I averaged a 7:43 pace (I turned it off during my recovery periods) and my fastest pace was 6:16. I don't think I've ever hit 6:16 before. The track is clearly MAGIC.

So, after a cool-down lap, I was feeling so great, I decided to run the bleachers. (Thanks, Kelle, for putting these ideas in my head.) I ran up the bleachers 4 times. I walked down each time because at this point I was light-headed from the lightning-fast speed and 80-degree temperature and I didn't want to break my neck. By the way, there aren't that many bleachers---it's a small school with a small stadium and almost no football program--- so it wasn't crazy-hard or anything.

Then, I was only at 1.5 miles, so I took a slow jogging tour of the campus. I ran past my beloved library, past a couple of dormitories where I'd lived, and just enjoyed the memories. I found a shady spot to stretch and I was done. It was thirty minutes of heaven.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I've been tagged by another blogger-runner (blunner? blogner?) at Just One Marathon.

Now I have to answer 5 questions about running. And here they are:

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago? Non-existant. ONE year ago this month, I was taking my first tentative steps as a runner. Walking through the local Y one day, I saw an ad for a 5K in October. Since it was June, I thought surely I could be up to however far 5K was by October. :-) I managed to get to 3 miles sooner than expected and ran my first 5K in August.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience? Best---Definitely the Country Music Half-Marathon. Everything went great---good pace, no stomach problems, not one blister, and a finish time I could be proud of in the top half of finishers overall. Worst--- Tie: Jingle Bell Jog 5K in December in a cold rain, going out way too fast without warming up, running out of energy in mile 2, giving up and walking part of the way. Oh, and watching my nemesis pass me and finish several minutes ahead of me. And the Sweetheart 10K in February---my first 10K. Coming in DEAD LAST.

3. Why do you run? So many reasons.... Running makes me feel good about myself. It makes me feel strong and tough and athletic. It is wonderful time for me, a time when it's not about being Chris's wife or my kids' mom. I also enjoy the goal-setting. I love to be able to set a goal, work hard to meet it, and succeed. I love having races on the calendar and to be in training. Running has added a new dimension to my life. I've never had a real hobby, never participated in a competitive sport. When I started running a year ago, I was in a place where I needed something different in my life, something that was mine. Running is that something.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best: The only way to become a better runner is to ..... run. Yoga, pilates, lifting weights, and cross training are all good, but you have to put in the time on the pavement (or treadmill). Worst: Don't eat before a run. What??? I'm no good on an empty stomach. My engine needs fuel.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know. I'm still afraid of the dark. I tell my husband I need a night light so I can see to get to the bathroom during the night, but really total darkness just creeps me out.

I'm still figuring out who I’m tagging...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot Weather Running

Back home in Tennessee, we are averaging temperatures in the mid-nineties (July and August temperatures coming a bit early!). This hot weather running is killing me. On Saturday I attempted my long run of the week (right now 5 or 6 miles) about 8:00 a.m., but gave up after 3 miles because of the heat. I ran 3 mi. in 30:30 or so. I'll call that a tempo run.

On Sunday, I tried a different strategy. I waited until 7:00 p.m. and once again attempted my long run of the week. I had read about slowing down significantly for these hot weather runs, which I had not done on Saturday. It was 90 degrees when I left my house, but the sun had dropped behind the trees, so it was mostly shady. This time I ran at a tortoise pace, detoured through every sprinkler I could find (I didn't even know those neighbors, but what are they going to say?), carried 20 oz. of water in my Nathan fuel belt, and took a couple of 90-second walk breaks. I made it six miles, but it took me roughly an hour and 8 minutes for an average (embarassing) pace of 11:28---but that does include the walk breaks, detours, and quickly refilling my water bottle (at my own house).

Where has my fitness gone? On May 5, right about one month ago, I ran 6.2 miles at a 9:41 pace in a 10K race! Of course, it was 62 degrees that morning. I guess 28 degrees difference really does affect running. Oh yeah, it was also two weeks after the half-marathon and I was probably the fittest of my life. But still! Can one month and 28 degrees make that much of a difference?

In my defense, a 90-degree run at 7:00 at night after
---parenting 3 kids all day
---cleaning my garage
---doing lots of laundry
probably wasn't a completely accurate test of my fitness level. I can't say my legs were "fresh" when starting out.

It looks like 5:45 or 6:00 a.m. runs and the good old treadmill at the YMCA will make up the remainder of my summer runs. A little bit of speed training can't hurt!

Speaking of training, I feel like I'm in TRAINING LIMBO. I guess I could just call it MAINTENANCE MODE. I don't have any races to speak of in the near future. It's too soon to start training for my half marathon in the fall. But I can't stop running and take a month-long break, either. I'm just..... here. I'll be glad to again have a defined training plan of X number of runs a week, a specific goal, and something to motivate me. That's just how I roll.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Bo Derek Moment

Yesterday at the beach I had a Bo Derek moment. (Ring a bell? If you are close to my age you might remember the movie "10.")

Anyway, my "moment" happened when, just like her character in the movie, I found myself running barefoot on the beach, waves crashing at my feet. In a bikini. Except without the cornrows. And the smokin' hot body. And Dudley Moore. And I don't remember Bo dodging jellyfish quivering on the sand, left behind by the tide. Or stepping on really sharp, broken shells. Ouch.

Running on the beach is overrated.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Redneck Riviera Part 2

Yesterday an interesting thing happened while I wasn’t really enjoying my two-miles of intervals on the treadmill. (Yes, I'm trying to keep up with my running while on vacation to offset the fried shrimp, fried oysters, slaw, french fries, hush puppies..... you get the picture.) The fitness center overlooks the pool area. People-watching out the floor-to-ceiling windows provided some distraction from the monotony of the treadmill. I warmed up and then plugged in a challenging pace for a half mile. I recovered and then again challenged myself with a difficult-to-maintain pace. It was hot and I was struggling.

As I was nearing my second mile, I noticed an older gentleman in a wheelchair tooling around the pool area. His upper body was thick and muscular, but his legs were tiny and wasted away. I watched him roll over to the side of the pool and use his hands lift his lifeless legs to reposition them on the foot rests. He sat there while his wife, in the pool below, splashed up cool water onto his chest. He would have LOVED to have been hating running right about then. Know what I mean?

Greetings from the Redneck Riviera!

We are on day three of our sun and sand extravaganza in Orange Beach, Alabama. This is our first summer vacation to the beach as a family of five. In the past, we’ve hit the beach in February while Chris’s parents were snow birds and we could stay for free. (Snow birds are older folks who move to the beach in the cold months.) In February in northern Florida, however, jackets are required and only the bravest put their toes in the frigid water. South Alabama in June is a nice change of pace.

I have to say we are really pleased with Orange Beach. It is shockingly uncrowded for the first week in June. Our condo is between Perdido Key and Orange Beach, just 15 minutes from Gulf Shores. There are a few requisite t-shirt, touristy shops, but overall, they are few and far between. The sand is white and the waves are plentiful.

The reason it’s called the Redneck Riviera became clear almost immediately upon arrival. It seems, ahm… unusual to see people in the pool with a beer can in one hand and a cigarette in the other (right next to my woefully sheltered offspring). Then seeing people flicking cigarette butts over into the protected sand dunes/sea oats area was rather startling as well.

The accents of the kids we’ve met in the pool are so amazingly southern. We live in north Tennessee, and apparently there really are degrees of “southernness.” And I think there are certainly degrees of “redneckness.” I like to think we are on the low end of the redneck spectrum, but some of my Yankee friends might disagree!

Overall, it’s been a hot, sandy, but nice trip. (We may NEVER rid ourselves of all the sand in our nooks and crannies.) Nathaniel is in love with the beach and could spend all day digging in the sand. Annabeth loves the pool area and wants to be there every minute. Julia isn’t sure what to think about it all. She’s been a champ, “going with the flow” most of the time, but she HATES the sand. She refuses to walk in it because it makes her feet “dir-dee.” Chris isn’t a big fan of the beach OR the pool. He’s just not a hot-weather kind of guy. Me? Just give me a few minutes alone every now and then, a chair on the beach at sunset, and an occasional dip in the pool and I’m good.