Archive for the ‘Half Marathon’ Category

Chilled to the Bone

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

No beating around the bush: Today I successfully ran 8.5 miles :)

I went back to the park I ran in yesterday and did the 2-mile-long trail twice (out & back, out & back), plus a little extra around the parking lot for that extra half a mile. It was so flat – I was so happy.

Except that it rained… the entire time. It started out as just more than a sprinkle and then got steadily more intense. And it was cold. There weren’t many people out today, but there were a few, and you could tell by looking at them they were all super hard core. You know – like me.

My husband was among those super hard core folks. He’s not big into running (especially 8.5 miles!) but he enjoys a good bike ride, so he took his bike. He would ride off on one of the side trails and then come back to see where I was and give me some encouragement. Let me tell you: It was so nice to see his smiling face coming at me every half-mile or so. He has a bell on his bike, too, so often I’d hear a bell ringing behind me and I knew I’d soon be greeted by him. So nice!

After a while, he rode beside me and we talked. It was a great way to spend a morning. Except for that darn, cold rain.

About halfway into my run I had to go to the bathroom. Like, wouldn’t make it the entire way if I didn’t go. Luckily there were porta-potties dotted along the trail. I reluctantly (for a multitude of reasons…) used one and learned how incredibly difficult it is to get wet Tek gear back into place after taking it off. (A lesson also learned today by fellow blogger, Krissie, who ran her first half marathon this morning! Woo hoo!)

I also went through 7 tissues. And when I say “went through” I mean that I used each of them at least three times. So gross. At least I could imagine they were only wet from the rain, though!

Besides the 2 minutes in the bathroom, I ran the entire thing without too much difficulty (total time: approximately 98 minutes). In fact, most of the discomfort came when I stopped running. I was so very cold. I brought a sweatshirt to change into in the car, and exchanged my socks and sneakers (which were soaked from about the 5th step to the end) for flip flops, but I still had so many wet clothes on that I couldn’t warm up. Until I took a very hot shower after getting home. At least I didn’t have to operate a motor vehicle while so cold; my husband handled that. Such a good husband!

The other post-run difficulty is that of soreness. Considering I was sore before starting, though, I can’t say that I’m surprised.

But I ran 8.5 miles today! It’s worth every sore muscle I have to be able to say that.

Next week: 9!

Running Ragged

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Lately I’ve really had to force myself to do my run. It’s just so exhausting! Not the runs themselves – though obviously they’re tiring – but the entire routine: Making sure my running clothes are clean; figuring out a route (often this is the most difficult part); planning a time in my day to go that coordinates with the rest of my life; the actual run; recovering; showering… repeat.

Tuesday I worked too late to get my run in before Kung Fu. I didn’t really feel like it anyway, and there’s a little give in my schedule since Friday is a rest day: I just moved the rest day to Tuesday and pushed the three mid-week runs back one day.

Which meant that yesterday was a 5-mile run. I worked late again, then met with a painter about the possibility of having the exterior of our house painted (so exciting!), and then all of a sudden it was 7:30. And I was tired. And it was getting dark.

It took everything I had to get out there. I decided to do two laps of an easy 2.5-mile route I like. Once I was committed and actually doing it, it felt good. I felt like I was running pretty fast (comparatively speaking), and I didn’t get tired as quickly either. This was particularly good news considering the run before this was so disappointing.

I did get tired, though, and when I finished the first lap I briefly considered not doing the second. Barring an injury or other emergency (knock on wood) I don’t think I’ll ever do that though. I’d beat myself up about it forever. I know myself too well.

So I finished my planned route. I really felt like I was moving quicker than usual the entire time. That’s may be why with just a mile to go I got the worst cramp ever. I get cramps, but not like this one. This was a sharp, debilitating pain. I wanted to gouge my eye out, but instead I tried all the usual tricks: Inhaling on left steps; raising right arm over head; shoving fist into it. Nothing really worked. The fist thing helped a little, but I had to walk a few minutes here and there in that last mile. Annoying, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. The pain wasn’t there when I walked, and made me want to hurl when I ran.

After a minute or two of walking with my fist shoved under my ribs, the pain subsided enough to finish the last mile at a run. Even with that little bit of walking, I still felt like this would be a fast run for me overall – I thought at the very least it would be under an hour, which is standard. Longer than an hour for five miles is much slower than my typical pace.

I’m sure you can imagine my dismay, then, when I arrived home to see that it had been an hour and eight minutes. What the what?!

Un-freaking-believable. Apparently, I’m so slow that even when I feel like I’m going fast, I’m basically crawling.

Or so I thought.

When I logged into runstoppable to record my run, I found that I had mistakenly run a 3.08-mile route twice, instead of a 2.5-mile route twice. So I did 6.16-miles in 1:08:ish, which is roughly an 11-minute per mile pace, which IS fast for me… at least when running the hills outside – and 6 miles of them!

I can’t believe I accidentally ran 6 miles when I was dreading 5. That’s pretty awesome.

Today was tough too. Again, so tired. I had to force myself to run, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it outside in the cold rain. But again, it was an awesome run: Three miles in UNDER THIRTY MINUTES. 29:15, to be exact. That means I sustained a less than 10-minute per mile pace for three miles! Woo hoo! (Obviously running on the treadmill is easier than running outside, but why split hairs?)

I’m so glad that my last two runs have been so good. I needed some positivity since I’ve been feeling a little burned out. If I’m forcing myself to go and not enjoying it once I do, I’ve got a problem. But just like when I don’t feel like going to Kung Fu – or any other workout, for that matter – afterward, I’m always glad that I pushed myself to do it.

That means it’s just a matter of lethargy, and that can be beaten. The old me would have given in when she was tired and just stayed on the couch. (That is, if the old me even considered working out in the first place, which she rarely did.)

I like the new me a lot better. Even if it is exhausting.

High Standards

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Sunday was 8 miles.

I have mixed feelings about my performance. Well, they’re not that mixed: I’m pretty solidly disappointed with myself.

I couldn’t run the entire way :(

I had to walk up three hills – all on the same road – in miles 4 & 5. What a bitch of a road, too, let me tell you. Each walking spurt was probably between 1 & 3 minutes, so not too bad, I suppose, but still really disheartening. Especially since I’ve been getting pretty good at hills, which is inevitable being that they’re freaking everywhere in this damn city. In fact, many of the hills that used to kill me I can run up without too much trouble.

But I had never run up this road, and its hills are intense. Hell, it’s hard to DRIVE up this road.

The other thing I’m blaming for my poor showing is insufficient planning. I went out about an hour and a half after breakfast, which was a delicious husband-made sandwich of ham, egg & cheese. And thai hot sauce. Not a good idea before running 8 miles, if you know what I mean, and I think you do…

It also occurred to me about 2 miles in that I hadn’t had any water all day. Who does that?! Who embarks on their longest run ever without having so much as a sip of H2O? I was so incredibly thirsty that I kept looking for water fountains, which I never found. Every time I passed a restaurant I considered going in and begging for a cup of water (I never carry money with me when I run. Maybe I should start?)

I did complete the entire 8 miles, but again, with a few walk breaks up crazy hills in the middle. My overall time was roughly 1 hour and 41 minutes, which is an average pace of 12:36 per mile, significantly slower than usual.

Damn hills.

And yes: I’m disappointed with my 8-miler because I couldn’t run the entire thing, and yes: I’m making up excuses for it. I’m sure some of you will think it’s ridiculous that I’m not proud of myself for just DOING it, but what can I say? I have high standards.

Next Sunday: 8.5 – and NO walking this time!

An Object in Motion

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Sundays are generally my long-run days, but this past Sunday my husband talked me out of it. Ok, full disclosure: I practically begged my husband to talk me out of it. Between the cold rain and the late night on Saturday filled with Disaronno on the rocks, I was not feeling it.

I made up for Sunday’s laziness yesterday, though. It was such a busy day! I was super-productive work-wise in the morning, ate an early lunch at my desk (which I never do), then headed out for my long run at noon.

Seven point four-one miles. My new longest run to date. It felt good, too. Mostly.

I certainly wouldn’t say that it was easy, because it wasn’t, but it was most challenging mentally. I get all in my head and start thinking about how far I’ve gone and how far I have left. And about how tired I am.

Last week when I ran 7 miles, I was completely spent for the entire day. My husband and I had plans to run some errands, but I just couldn’t do it. I felt a little sick and had zero energy left.

But yesterday was completely different.

I did the 7.41, spent 10 minutes recovering, took a quick shower, and was out the door for the next item on my schedule: Visiting with a friend and rooting through her discards of “skinny clothes.” (I’m not proud – I’ve happily taken a lot of people’s discards, but before this they were always “fat clothes” not “skinny clothes.” This friend is pregnant and won’t have a need for business casual size 12’s for quite some time… and is nice enough to let others benefit from her decision to procreate, in the form of free clothes. She’s awesome.)

After a few hours with her, I went directly to my hip hop class and busted a move for an hour. It was a reasonably aerobic class, too, and I was actually feeling good, rather than exhausted!

When I got home, I still had energy: I cooked a delicious and healthy dinner (thai chili salmon over brown rice with green beans) and did some cleaning before heading to bed at the end of a very active and productive day.

A very good day.

Running in Circles

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I know I haven’t been posting very frequently lately – or at all – but I’ve been doing good things during my hiatus. Most notably, I’ve been a running machine.

I’m 3/4 of the way through my fifth week of training for the half marathon I’m running on May 2, and I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a single run. I’ve had to be flexible though, and switch up a few days here and there to accommodate life and whatnot, but I’ve gotten in every scheduled run to date. A quick recap for you, in case you’re interested:

Week 1: 3.5, 3, 2, 3 = 11.5 total miles

Week 2: 4, 3.5, 2, 3.71 = 12.21 total miles

Week 3: 5.37, 4, 2, 4 = 15.37 total miles

Week 4: 6, 4, 2, 4 = 16 total miles

Week 5: 7!, 4.57, 3.07 = 14.64 so far (4.5 miles scheduled for tomorrow)

Did you see the long run in Week 5? SEVEN MILES. That’s my longest run to date. Prior to that, I did a6.5 mile run on Christmas (in the rain) and a 10k road race (6.2 miles) in early December.

That 7 miles was tough, too. I wasn’t completely convinced that I was ready for it, but I set my mind to it and just went for it. And I did it – running nonstop (except for a traffic light or two), at my very slow pace, it took 1 hour and 19 minutes. I’m proud of every damn one of those minutes, too.

Here’s the thing, though: For my longer runs, I generally run a short route multiple times. So for instance: That 7-miler was two laps of a 3.5-mile route. For my 6-mile run, I did 3 laps of a 2-mile route.

I’m literally running in circles.

Which is still better than running on the treadmill, where you run and run but get nowhere.

In some sense, I like doing multiple laps rather than one big loop. You definitely know how far you are into the run this way, which is usually good… except when I’m feeling particularly tired not far into the first lap…

In another sense, I think I might prefer one long run. It would certainly alleviate the temptation to cut the run short, but that’s not generally an issue for me. Of course sometimes I’d LIKE to, but I would be so disappointed in myself if I did that, so I don’t think it’ll ever happen.

Question for the runners out there: Do you run laps of shorter routes or do you do one big circle when you run? What are your reasons for preferring one way over the other?

Circles or not, I’m RUNNING. And that’s all that really matters.

Chugging Along

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

I’ve completed Week 2 of my 12-week half marathon training program! It wasn’t easy, but I’m proud to say that I didn’t miss a single workout. I had to rearrange things a little bit here and there due to weather and…  life, but I got in every single run.

The first week was difficult, but had the benefit of being exciting: I was starting a new training program! To prepare for my longest race yet! And I had all sorts of new running clothes!

That excitement was enough to propel me through Week 1, even though I was forced to run on the treadmill, which can be torturous. You see, one of the things I like most about running is being outside: The breeze (but not wind!); the sun (as long as it’s not too hot!); the people (as long as they don’t look at me funny!). And with the snow we were hit with, running outside wasn’t an option.

So Week 2 was even more difficult than the first: The excitement of starting the new program started to wear off, and I was still stuck running inside on the treadmill.

Until yesterday, when I ran OUTSIDE.

The sun actually emerged. My city had been shrouded in gloom, and then – remarkably – the sun came out! And, as I tend to do, I took advantage of that sun.

It was fantastic. It felt so good to be outside and running in the elements – not on a conveyor-belt inside a stuffy gym. It also was like running through an obstacle course: While many people have cleared their sidewalks, many still haven’t. This led to a lot of hopping and stretching and jumping. That part was difficult, but was still kinda fun.

What wasn’t fun were the sections of my route that don’t have sidewalks. Usually I run on the shoulders in these spots, but as the shoulders are filled with snow (not run-on-able snow, either), I had to run ON THE ROAD. Decidedly un-fun.

Tomorrow I’m scheduled to run 5 miles. It’s supposed to be a decent day here weather-wise, and I am planning to get outside again, foregoing the treadmill as much as possible. But this time, I’ll plan my route better, so as to avoid those pesky roads without sidewalks.

Week 3: Here we come!

PS – Yesterday’s weight was 169.5. Finally in the 160s!! 7.5 more to the big 1-0-0!

The Tortoise Becomes The Hare – Kind of.

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Yesterday I went to the gym immediately before my Kung Fu class for my scheduled 2-mile run – the shortest distance I’ll run over the course of the next 3 months.

When I got to the gym, it was pretty crowded. The row of treadmills was full except for one that was out of service and another that had my name on it: Not only was it available and in working order, but it was between two girls who were both running.

I love running beside people who are really putting in effort – it pushes me to try harder. So this was perfect: The girl on my left was going 6.2 and the girl on my right was going 7.8 (yes, I peeked. I always peek, don’t you?). My usual starting pace these days is 5.5, so that’s what I put it on. I generally end up slowing to a 5.0/5.2 , and I average about 11:30 – 12:30 per mile.

Not yesterday, though.

After just 30 seconds or so at 5.5, I bumped it up to 6.0, where I stayed for a bit. It was tough, but the girls on either side of me kept pushing me. Not literally, of course, and not even verbally, because we didn’t talk at all. You know what I mean…

The treadmill I was on had a virtual track with a light that moved around it showing my progress; each lap equals 1/4 mile. For at least 2 of the 4 laps in my first mile, on the second half of the lap I bumped my speed up to 7.5.

If you’re not a treadmill runner and don’t have swanky technology that helps determine your pace (I don’t, and regular watches don’t count) it’s hard to know exactly how fast you’re going and get your precise pace for each mile. For me, 7.5 is fast. That’s an 8-minute mile. Recall that I average approximately 12 minutes per mile.

I’m happy to say that bumping up the intensity during that first mile got me my fastest (measured) mile at 9:27.

Of course, I couldn’t keep that up for both miles, but I was able to finish both miles in under 20 minutes! 19:28 total. So the second mile took me just 10:01, which is far faster than my typical pace, as well.

Believe me: By the end of that second mile I was dead. Clearly I’m not at the point where I can run at that pace for long distances, but it’s a start! It’s nice to see what I’m capable of.

The way my half marathon schedule is structured, there is one run each week that is much shorter than the rest (2 miles for the first 6 weeks; 3 miles for the last 6 weeks). My plan is to work on endurance on the other runs each week, and really push the speed on the short runs.

Just to see what happens.

For now? You can call me Flash :)

Weather Be Damned!

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Even if you don’t live on the East Coast, I’m sure that by now everyone’s heard of the current weather situation we’ve been dealing with: “Snowmageddon” as it’s being called. In a way, the crapload of snow we have is messing with my workout plans, and in another, it’s actually helping me as I get back in the running groove.

On Sunday, there was too much snow to run outside and my gym was closed, so I pushed my first run to Monday. It would have been tough to fit that in on Monday, though, because that’s when I have my Hip Hop class. But, that class was cancelled, and the gym was reopened, so I got my first run in just one day late.

On Tuesday, I should have had Kung Fu, but it was cancelled. In the late afternoon, though, the roads between my house and my gym weren’t too bad and my workload was light, so I took advantage and went down there for my next run (3 miles – still tough). It would have been a challenge to do both the run and Kung Fu in the same day on my first week – especially if I wasn’t able to cut out from work early. (Thanks, boss!)

Yesterday, the roads were awful again, but I needed to fit a rest day in there somewhere anyway.

Today, I know that I’ll get to the gym for my scheduled 2-mile run whenever I see an open window for it.

It’s like this: I know that I can’t just go for a run whenever I want to at this point in time, so whenever I see an opportunity for it, I seize it! Especially during this first week of trying to get into the swing of running 11+ miles per week again, it’s kind of nice to have that urgency due to the weather, as well as the forced relief from my other class commitments.

Not that I don’t miss Kung Fu and Hip Hop, because I do. They’re both a lot of fun and I’m ready to go back! It’s just helpful to have that break allowing me to ease into the half marathon training.

I love that I’m not letting the weather hold me back, even when some of my standard workouts aren’t available to me.

Take that, Snow Miser!


Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Due to the large quantities of snow dumped onto my city over the weekend, I am unable to run outside for the time being (we’re expecting more tonight, too…). And, due to the power outages that resulted from the snow, my gym was closed on Sunday. Which meant I wasn’t able to start my training for the half marathon until yesterday.

But start I did: My schedule called for 3.5 miles, which I completed, but holy hell: It was HARD. (that’s what she said…)

I believe I’ve mentioned that I’ve made excuses for not keeping up with my running lately. Well let me tell you, it showed on the treadmill last night. I was struggling, bad. I didn’t have to walk, but I had that belt moving pretty slowly for a while there.

Previously, I was at the point in my running that 3.5 miles wasn’t too difficult. It seems I’ve lost a bit of fitness in the last month or two. Blast!

It’s good that I’ve found this out now, and I’m certainly not going to let it stop me. In fact, knowing that I’m not where I was is just more motivation to get back there – and then surpass it. I’ve found that my running improves only through consistency, and I’m terrible at being consistent without a schedule.

And now I have a schedule for the next 3 months, so that should help!