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Monday, March 31, 2014

Redemption Run

I went into my Saturday long run a little apprehensive. This was the run I had bonked on the week before, and with time running out on my training schedule, I felt a lot of pressure to complete the run. I already know I might be undertrained for the race, but there's very little I can do about that now.

I opted to suit up with my camelback, so I would have plenty of water, and was carrying two Honey stinger waffles and a packet of Gu, just in case. I was not going to be under hydrated/under fueled this time.

The Camelback took some getting used to, I kept pulling too strong on the "straw." I also kinda felt odd running with a pack, I'm not sure if the weight of the water affected me or anything, but I definitely must have looked silly all geared up like I was.

The first mile felt good, I spent a lot of time concentrating on controlling my speed. Since the first part of the run is a lot of up and downs, I focused on keeping my pace consistent. I had the usual "first couple of miles" ick, it takes me a while to "settle into" a run, but other than that I felt good.

Once I turned onto the canal path at mile two things got hard, fast. They're doing a lot of construction along the first stretch I run along, and so the area has been clear cut. Nice open field for wind to whip across. I spent the better part of mile three fighting the wind. I tried to let it slow my pace, so that I wasn't burning myself out, but I know it took a heavy toll on me.

Somewhere around in here it started to drizzle.

Mile four was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the run. I had "settled in" and the wind had either died down or was being blocked by foliage. The drizzle was on and off, but I didn't really notice it. I was feeling good, and had to work at not pushing my pace for this mile.

Somewhere around mile five I started having a hard time. Not super hard, but I was definitely feeling it. I think there were a lot of mind games going on, since this was the point where the wheels started coming off on the run last time. I tried really hard to just focus on the part of the run I was running right then, and not let myself think about how far I had come, or how far I had left to go. I remember there being a bit of wind around here too, and having it really slow me down. I think the downhills were really rough on my knees around here too. My legs were tired so it was harder for me to absorb the impacts on some of the steeper downhills.

Mile six was a blur, it was about the same as mile five, with me just trying to keep myself running at a decent pace. Head down, push through it, don't think about last week.

Mile seven felt marginally better than mile six. I turned off the canal path and onto the roads for my last leg, and even though there was a bit of an uphill I was feeling better, having passed the point where I had stopped to walk for the first time last week. I had a short stop at a light and I think that recharged me a lot.

By this point I had consumed one entire Stinger Waffle and had started in on the second one. I have no idea how much water I had drank, but I had been sipping off the camel back the entire time.

I wasn't feeling awesome during mile eight. At some point the drizzle had returned, and I was starting to get really damp. The wind had also started to kick back up, and almost this entire mile is run uphill. I was just slogging away, keeping my legs churning when about halfway up the hill My husband did a drive by on me, beeping at me as he flew by. This picked my spirits up a lot, and got me out of the bad headspace I was getting into. By the top of the "hill" I knew I was going to finish out the run.

The last mile was alright. I was definitely tired, and definitely not feeling awesome, but I wasn't in trouble. I had to really push on the last uphill of my run, but once I was up that hill I felt alright. I finished out the mile and ran a short bit further, to finish out at a nice obvious road intersection (so that later I could easily figure out how accurate my run distance was.)

I ended up with a distance of 9.26 miles. I relatively confident I could have pushed that out to 9.5 easy, and slogged it out to a full 10, but I would have been completely out of commission after that. When you have a very active toddler, that's just not an option.

All in all it was a redemptive run. I'm now confident that with adequate walk breaks I will be able to at least finish the half marathon I've registered for. I'm not sure I'll have a great time, but I'm relatively sure I'll cross the finish line.

I've got a few more weeks to make sure of that.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Running Angry

Tuesday I had a really rough day. I was angry and hurt and frustrated when I stepped on the treadmill. At first I tried to just run and watch the episode of The Justice League Unlimited that I'd queued up (yeah I'm watching superhero cartoons while I run, what of it? ^_^) But about halfway through my run I realized how angry I was, and how distracting it was to me. So I started increasing the speed and let myself get angry. Really really angry. To the point where I yelled out a couple times in frustrating while I ran (thank goodness no one was home.) By the end of the run I was spent. Physically and Emotionally. I'm not gonna lie, I cried a bit. But I felt cleaner, and I wasn't angry any more. I wasn't hurting about it anymore. I'm still disappointed, and more than a little apprehensive about the situation surrounding the singular event that caused all these emotions (quick note - it's nothing personal, I'm fine, my family is fine, I just prefer to leave it vague until the situation is resolved.)

This is not the first time I've run angry (it is the first time in a long time) but it is the first time where I used the run to let it go. I've used runs lately to help me figure stuff out, to help me feel more comfortable with a decision, and now to get out a poisonous emotion. (Because really, the anger and upset I was feeling was corrosive.)

The other day the Hubs and I were talking about my running, and he said something about me needing to work on speed. And I said maybe, but right now I'm working on distance. His response was that once I get past the half marathon distance, speed is going to be important because my training runs will end up taking whole days otherwise. I told him I had no solid plans to run that far, and we'll see. He laughed and said I was a runner now, I was going to keep going, that I needed it now. It kind of took me off guard to have someone else say that to me.

This morning I ran across this article on my friends feed a few times: Self Magazine Makes Fun of Cancer Survivors Tutu. Reading it made me so angry all over again. There is no need for this. No need for a magazine teaching us to tear each other down, let alone for something so innocent and lighthearted. The only positive thing I can take from this is to spread the link as far and wide as I can for the store the woman who's picture they used runs. She makes and sells the tutu's they seemed to find so offensive. If you're into dressing up for races, Go get a tutu from her: Glam Runners.

Yeah, too much anger lately. I think I need another run....

Monday, March 24, 2014

Low Point

Saturday, I attempted a long run. I had planned on doing the same route I did a couple weeks ago, from my door to my parents, and then, depending on how I felt, looping around a few blocks to add in an extra mile to hit 10 miles. My training has been less than stellar lately, so I was nervous and a little anxious to get out on the trail.

The weather was cold, but I felt if I bundled I should be fine. I layered some running tights under my lined running pants, a long sleeve base layer under a short sleeve tech shirt with my running jacket over that. I even wore my fleece hat and my gloves. As warm as I was inside getting ready, I felt I'd be fine. And I was, in fact right around the first mile I felt like I had maybe over dressed a bit, and took my gloves off.

The first sign that something was wrong came early, my calves felt really tight around mile two, so I slowed my pace (I had gone out really fast for me and might have burned up a little too much energy) and eventually the tightness worked itself out.

Mile 2-3 was a slog. The canal path was straight and flat and I really felt like I wasn't getting anywhere fast. Mentally it was really rough, especially knowing how far I still had to go. Mile four felt good, not awesome, but good. I figured I had hit that point again where I settle into the run, and find a comfortable pace.

Sometime between Mile 5 and 6, things started getting hard again. I was inordinately tired. I ran out of water. I felt miserable. Really really unhappy. At the end of Mile 6 I took my fateful first walk break. I walked a short distance to get off the canal path and onto the side walks for the last leg of my run. I started running again once I had crossed the street, but my legs felt dead. My hips had started to hurt just enough that I had to really work at keeping myself running. I kept myself going until I heard the mile seven mark from my phone, and took another walk break.

That was really the point where it was over, I think, but I hadn't admitted it yet. I kept trying to do run/walk intervals, but really I was walking more than running through mile 8. You can see it in the complete drop off in my pace. When mile eight chirped in my ear I tried one more time to push it, and see if I had anything left.

I did not. I really didn't. Beyond the weird exhaustion, I was Freezing. My ankles hurt and my Knees hurt. I basically fell apart. I ended up calling my husband to pick me up shortly after that.

Some advil, a long hot bath, a hot shower, and a delicious dinner later, I was feeling mostly better, physically. Mentally this was devastating to me. I had not only failed to finish the route I had planned, I had failed it spectacularly. I had failed in my training so completely that I had required a ride home 8 miles into a 10 mile run. With only about a month left until my half marathon.

Sunday brought almost fully functional legs, and a little bit of perspective. While my legs were fine, a lot of the rest of me was not. I was stuffy and congested and achey. Either I had been coming down with something on Saturday, or running in the cold had done a number on me. Not sure which caused which.

I was still upset with my training, or rather lack there of, which I'm 100% sure contributed to my epic bonk. So I came up with a new plan. Inspired by Running Meg and her early morning runs, I decided I needed to sneak in a couple more runs by dragging my butt out of bed. My plan was this: Add in a Monday Morning short run (really short I only have half an hour in the mornings to run), Tuesday, run as normal in the afternoon/evenings (that's been working), Thursday drag my butt out of bed and do a short run but plan on failing at that and running in the evenings (I work late wednesday nights so an early thursday morning might not work), Saturday, try the epic run again.

This morning was my first, get my butt outta bed and run, morning run. I'm not gonna lie, it was awful. I am not a morning person. I went to bed as early as I could, which didn't end up being until 10:30. Not early enough. When my alarm went off at six most of me wanted to stay in bed and just give up on the idea. But my ego was still stinging from Saturday, so up I got.

It was cold. It was dark. I was really not awake. It took me about 15 minutes of fumbling to get everything I needed (laptop, phone, clothing) and start my run. Once I started running, my legs, which had felt fine walking around all day Sunday, reminded me that they hated me. I was unable to maintain my usual pace, so I settled into a much slower pace and resigned myself to toughing it out for half an hour.

The entire run felt awful. My legs were slow and heavy, but nothing really hurt, which I'm taking as a positive sign that I didn't do any lasting damage on saturday. I finished the run, took a shower and got ready for work. I ended up running a little late, but I think once I get my set up streamlined (and learn to take a shorter shower), this will work.

I refuse to let this be the point where I quit. I refuse to let this be where I hit a wall and fall apart. Tonight, I'm going to enjoy the fact that I got my run in for the day already, do some yoga, some foam rolling, and prepare myself for a longer run tomorrow. Fingers crossed it's a good one.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A great short run in amazing weather with good company!

I was running late and had a hard time finding parking, so my SIL was already there by the time I got to Cobbs Hill. This meant I wouldn't get in any extra milage, so I decided to run up the hill, and go the long way around to meet up with her, which would result in me getting an extra lap in.

That hill is rough. It's steep and goes on for ever. I had to walk for a little bit about half way up, but I made it. I pushed myself faster around the top for the lap to meet up with my SIL, I have no idea how fast I was going, but it was definately faster than I normally run.

I met up with my SIL, who had brought along her new puppy, and off we went, at an easy pace. I was still a little out of breath from my slog up the hill and my sprint around the loop, but with the easy pace my breathing calmed down quickly.

The weather was amazing, and it was so much fun running with the puppy! We did three laps around the top with a couple walk breaks before heading back to the car. I'm really proud of my SIL, she's improved so much in just one week!

I still had a lot left in my legs when we finished, in fact I found I was just starting to settle into the run by the time we finished. I think it's a side effect of running the longer distances, that I'm starting to really just get comfortable around mile three. Mile one is a slog, mile two is iffy, mile three starts to feel smooth.

Unfortunately when I checked my phone at one of our walk breaks, I noticed it hadn't started recording, so I don't know how fast (or exactly how far) we ran. I do know each loop was 0.69 miles, and we did three full loops together, and I did one extra loop and the up and down hill, so I did right around 3 miles, give or take.

The weather looks like it'll be good for the rest of the week, so hopefully I'll be able to get outside for a couple runs. I might try to add a short run in on friday.

The running group is doing a "newbies" short run this sunday that I think I'm going to show up to, since it'll be a recovery run after my long run saturday, I won't be moving too fast.

I feel a little better about my running after tuesdays run, but I'm still nervous about how my long run this saturday will feel. I'm going to aim for ten miles. I'm hoping it doesn't completely wipe me out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Saturday's short hilly run.

On saturday, I had planned my long run, but we had to go car shopping, which took most of the day. By the time I was able to do my run, I really only had time enough for a short run. I figured I'd slip my long run to sunday and just do a hilly short run around my parents house.

Right away something didn't feel right on the run. I had eaten a big lunch, so I figured that might be it. It felt like something was sitting just below my diaphragm. I spent a lot of time convincing myself I was not about to throw up.

I knew I wasn't going to be doing a very long run, so I decided to make it a hilly one, and chose the turns I knew would include the most ups and downs. I was not counting on the fact that it was also super windy out.

I struggled through this whole run. In fact, I didn't really start to feel good until right before I hit the third mile. I should have just kept running at that point, but I had only planned on running three, so I stopped at (a little over) three.

At one point when I was running, I stepped funny and felt a twinge in my knee. I panicked, but it didn't seem to persist as I ran. Unfortunately, something had happened, and sunday my knee complained all day. Nothing too serious, but enough that I called my Sunday run off out of an abundance of caution.

It's now tuesday, and I haven't run since Saturday. This frustrates me to no end. I'm six weeks away from my first half marathon. I need to get it together.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Running with company

My usual tuesday run was made much better this week by two things. One, the weather (and the time change) allowed for the run to be moved outside. I can't tell you how much better that felt. Two, my SIL joined me on the run for the first time in a long time!

Since I knew my SIL wouldn't be up for a long run (she's just getting back into running) I headed up to the reservoir early to get a few laps in. It was funny, when I was getting there, the Fleet Feet training group was just getting started on doing their hill repeats, so I got to chat with one of the runners on my way up the hill. There were a TON of people there taking advantage of the weather!

Once I got up to the top of the hill and onto the track that loops around the reservoir, I settled into a nice easy pace. I had a rough time for the first loop, and I was starting to wonder if I had rested my legs enough. They really felt awful. But after the first loop (each loop is about a 1/4 mile) my legs started to warm up, and the run started to feel good. Easy. I just kinda cruised around the loop, enjoying being outside and doing some casual people watching. Those fleet feet people are hard core.

I wasn't really paying attention to my distance or my pace, just kinda relaxed into the run waiting for my SIL to show up. I had to stop when she called me to answer my phone, and then did a little walking when meeting up with her.

Once we were running together, I let her set the pace. I was surprised to find I was able to have a conversation while we ran. That is the first time that's ever happened for me. We ended up taking two walk breaks during the one and a half loops we did once my SIL showed up. Not bad for her first serious run.

While we were finishing up our run, I was surprised to hear my phone chirp out the three mile mark. I honestly didn't feel like I had run that far.

All in all it was an awesome run.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Inaugural Door to Door Run.

For my run this weekend, I decided to do something crazy. Even though I've been slacking on my long runs, the point where I left off on my training had me at 8 miles on my long run. So I mapped out the distance from my front door to my parents front door. It came in at 9.5 miles. In a spurt of crazy I decided to just run it. I figured I had my phone on me, and at any point I could call for a ride.

So Saturday afternoon, right around 3pm(ish), I suited up, filled my water bottle, stuffed a Honey Stinger Waffle in my pocket, queued up some music and stepped outside my door. My husband was in charge of getting our daughter to my parents for dinner that night. I had estimated it would take me between two and three hours depending on how much I ended up walking.

The first sane decision I made was to walk the hill outside my house, which was the very first part of the run. I figured I didn't need to burn myself out right off the bat. I started my run at the top of that hill, which may or may not have been a good idea. I started out fast, too fast. Even with a brief wait for a couple of lights, my first mile split was under an 11 min mile. I started to settle into the run a bit around the middle of the first mile, but in the back of my head was the fact that I had so freaking far to go. Every step was accompanied by an internal monologue, "Why am I doing this, this is stupid, I'm already tired, how am I going to make it nine miles?!" eventually I settled on covering over that constant loop with a loop of one of my favorite mantras "Don't listen to the first mile, it lies." After the first mile, I slightly modified it to "Don't listen to any mile, they lie."

After I settled into my pace, the run felt ok for a while, even through some small uphills. When I turned onto the Canal path, and joined my old usual running route, I heard my phone chirp the three mile mark in my ear. It was hard for me to believe that I had already run three miles, and harder still for me to wrap my head around how far I still had to go. So I didn't. I started making a concerted effort to not think about the miles ahead. There was a stretch in here that was flat and straight, and boring. I struggled at that point. I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I had to start playing head games with myself to keep going. I think it had started raining at that point, and was a little windy. I kept my head down and my feet moving, and by the time I had hit mile four, the rain had passed, the wind had died down, and the path had gotten less straight.

I don't remember much of mile four, except occasionally thinking how amazing it was that I felt this good, having already ran so far, when I was this far into my old run, which used to be so difficult for me to finish. Mile four was good.

Mile five just about killed me. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe it was the stretch of unplowed snowy path that I had to navigate, maybe it was just that it was right about half way through the run, but I really had to dig deep to keep going at this point. I made deals with myself, just keep running to x point. Make it to this point, see you made it, now just make it to the next one. I told myself I could walk at six miles, take a break. But then, at mile six I felt better, stronger, so I kept going.

I had to play the same game with myself halfway through mile six, telling myself to just make it to mile seven, then I could walk. But then coming up on the end of mile six, I realized I would be leaving the canal path soon, and turning onto main street. I told myself to at least make it to main street. Then when I turned onto Main street, I hit that point again, where I felt better, so I kept going.

At some point in here, it started snowing for a bit. It was beautiful. It didn't last long, but it sure made me feel hardcore.

Really most of the run followed that pattern. somewhere around mid mile I would bottom out, feel like I couldn't do it, and I'd work out some deal with myself to keep myself moving for just a bit longer, and somehow, by the end of the mile, I'd find more gas in the tank, and keep going.

Until mile eight. Most of mile seven was run at a very slight uphill climb. I could feel it taking a toll on my legs, and my knees, which had taken a beating on the downhills early in my run. All the bargaining I had in my head was not helping. So I made a deal with myself and kept it. Walk at mile eight.

As soon as the little voice in my ear chirped up to call out the mile eight mark, I walked. For a minute I thought that was it, I was going to just walk the last mile. Eight miles wasn't bad. But for some reason, after a short minute walk, The crazy took hold again, and I started running.

The last mile was pure grit. There was nothing left in the tank. My legs felt every step. I just, for some reason refused to stop. I wanted to finish it out. I needed to finish it out. I was not running fast, or gracefully. I was grinding. There were uphills. I slogged up them, head down. At this point I was running through my parents neighborhood. I knew I was so close. That thought was just about the only thing I had left to keep my feet moving.

Right before I turned onto my parents street, my phone chirped out the mile nine mark. I kept moving until the turn, and then walked the bit to my parents front door as a cool down.

I was freezing by the time I got inside, so instead of a cold shower, I took a hot bath and a hot shower. I had an amazing celebratory dinner with my parents, my husband and daughter (who I beat to my parents by the way.)

Sunday I was a little stiff, and a little sore. I ended up taking a three hour nap in the middle of the day, although that may have been more sickness induced than fatigue (oh the perils of having a toddler in the house!) I did not manage a run on Sunday, but I did do the grocery shopping. My legs felt fine walking around Wegmans, although they did complain a bit when I was trying to sleep Sunday night.

Today, I'm feeling ok. Again, my legs are a little sore and a little tight, but nothing serious. I don't think it's sunk in yet that I actually completed a nine mile run, with hills, on actual road.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A four mile somewhat ok not terrible run.

Lately it seems like a successful week if I only miss one run. Last night, it was a struggle to get on the treadmill. After my super awesome outside six miles on saturday, I was burnt. I skipped sundays run. I was unable to make time for a run on tuesday. So I found myself at 8:00 on Thursday, exhausted from a busy day, totally not feeling a run. It would have been much easier to not run, but I had missed two runs in a row, and I knew this was one of those moments, where if I did not get myself up on that treadmill, I would be choosing the path that led inevitably to not running at all. So I laced up.

The run started out a slog, and it ended a slog, but in the middle it was good. At the beginning, my legs felt like lead. I felt awkward on the moving belt of the treadmill, like I was just moving my feet to keep from falling down. I kept repeating to myself something I saw on the internet somewhere "Don't listen to the first mile. It lies."And somehow, by the end of that first mile, my legs felt better, and I settled in to the run. The run didn't feel easy this time, but it was far from hard. I spent a lot of the run doing mental checks on how I was feeling. By the start of the third mile, I was struggling again. I just really ran out of energy. I felt like there was just nothing left in the tank. So I did what any rational runner who just wanted to finish out the four miles would do, I cranked the speed. I didn't keep it cranked long, but it was enough to make my cruising speed feel a little easier, long enough for me to keep the mental game up and finish out that last mile.

All in all, not a bad run. Not a great one, but again, I have to look at the fact that it was four miles. This time last year, I was still hoping to eventual run three miles. This is progress. This is something to be proud of.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My first attempt at a Long run outside

This weekend I tried to mix it up, moving my long run from Sunday to Saturday (to avoid the inevitable "I'm too busy to run" that happens on Sunday.) And since it was (relatively) nice out, I decided to do the long run outside.

After discussing a few different options, it was worked out that the best idea for our schedule was for us to drive over to my parents, where I would proceed to run around the nice, clean and (relatively) car free streets in their neighborhood. And so that is what we did. Sort of.

Apparently about a mile into my run (a little over), I lost my damn mind. Bored to tears with trying to make loops around the neighborhood, I made a fateful decision, I turned right. Instead of turning back towards my parents house along the main road near them, I thought, "You know what would be fun? I'll run towards the village! I'll just turn around at the corner and head back..."

And then I didn't. I kept running. I ran down through the village. I turned right on another major road, and kept running. And then I realized, the only way to get back to my parents was to either call for a ride, or run up a hill of doom. So I ran up the hill of doom....well most of it anyways.

Surprisingly, the run felt good. Except for a short period of time where my calf was acting up around the middle of the run, and the very last part of the hill'o'doom where I had to walk, I felt good. I had my hand held water bottle, and a Honey Stinger waffle in my pocket. Starting about 2 miles into my run I would break off little pieces of the waffle to munch on, and wash it down with water. It worked really well.

The run went so well in fact, that at the end of the run, I was considering adding more distance by doing a few more laps around the streets near my parents house, but it was getting really dark and I was not all that confident in how visible I was. So I called it and walked a bit before heading into my parents.

And then I looked at my GPS, and saw that I was just short of six miles. I honestly thought about going back out and just running around the block to hit that six, but I was tired, and everyone was waiting for me to eat.

So just short of six with some killer hills is how my first outdoor "long" run will stand. Next week, I aim for eight!