Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Walkers to the right!

Last Sunday I was one of almost 60,000 runners to grace the streets of downtown Vancouver for the Sun Run. It was 30-ish degrees at 8:30 in the morning when Deb and I left the hotel to walk to the starting line. It was so exciting to see sooooooooo many runners ready to do this!

The race, of course, started late. And based on my estimated pace I was so far back that I didn't even start the run until 9:45 (pretty late by my standards) :) We enjoyed the musical stylings of "the Neurotics" who were doing a cover of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab." Incredibly relevant, if you ask me.

And we're off!

There are HUGE 6' signs every where that say "Walkers to the Right"... yet Walkers were everywhere! Did all these walkers really think they would be finishing this in about an hour? I spent some time darting around trying to go the speed my body wants to.

Mile 1:
Really? Only a mile? I'm already ready to stop running and just walk... I know the first two miles are usually the hardest... besides the last two miles...

Mile 2:
What? The road is getting narrower? We're running near Stanley Park, but I can't even enjoy it with all the walkers everywhere. You really have to be on top of your game to even make it through the crowd! The sun has come out, so it's starting to get nice and toasty... kind of wish I wasn't dressed for 30 degree weather... But we're running along the water which is always nice :)

Mile 3:
I'm nearing the 5K mark... it would be AWESOME if this was the end... Alas, I'm only half way through. I throw back a GU and some water and hope that it will kick in soon. I look down at my watch... 34 minutes... If I can just keep this up, it'll all be over soon...

Oh F! incline just ahead. Meh, I'm walking it... it'll give me time for my GU to kick in. Because I know and understand race etiquette, I jog over to the right side of the hill where I can walk safely.

Well, with every incline comes a decline, right? Um, no. We turn the corner and we are now running up the Burrard Bridge! I figure I can probably run this one, but I feel myself definitely slowing down.

Then, FINALLY, we get to run down the Burrard Bridge... but I'm still going really slow... I'll keep that in mind for when it gets flat again... I think I'm already out of gas.

Mile 4:
What am I doing here? I thought running was fun... this is NOT fun. It's hot and I'm tired. I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself, I did run 11 miles yesterday. I look down at my watch.. 52 minutes? No way... I need to pick up the pace!

Mile 5:
And I'm walking again. I told myself I could slow down to get some water, but the water tables are at least 20 feet back by now... then I see her...

I'm coming up from behind on this girl who could have been my body double 6 months and 60 pounds ago... and it's on! I can't let her beat me! (This poor gal probably has no idea I'm projecting so much emotional torment and anguish on her) I start to pick up the pace and pass her...

Oh I'm tired... I slow back down.... then she passes me just as we're getting to another hill!

I had to zoom past her, so I charged up the hill. I could feel my heart pounding all through my body.

The this old guy charges past me yelling "walkers to the right!" each time he passed walkers on the left. Most of them didn't seem to care.

I finally hit the 8K sign.. only about a mile to go!

Mile 6:
Running isn't a competitive sport. At least not at the level of running I'm doing. We're not really competing against each other. Even though I made a point of trying to run faster than my body double, I was passed plenty of people who weighed 60 or 70 pounds more than I did, or were 60 or 70 years old. The whole point of racing and distance running is to compete against yourself. (Or someone who reminds you of yourself...)

Races are really the perfect place to challenge yourself and to see if you really are greater than the distance. People enter races to see if they can do it. Or if they've done it before, to see if they can do it better this time. That kind of drive for personal growth really makes this sport more than just getting from one place to another. (Yes, I'm including the walkers here!) But it creates an opportunity to challenge yourself and see measurable results.

Anyway, I just want this bugger to be over! The only thing keeping me going is that I know that if I walk it could take me almost twice as long to finish. So I just keep jogging... 12 more minutes...

My legs feel like they are made of wood and I can feel my right foot going numb... and we have to go up another bridge.. but then we get to go down the other side of the bridge. I want to sprint in and I'm pushing as hard as I can, but my body is still going at that jogging pace.

Maybe it's a delayed reaction thing, but I'm able to get up to a sprinting pace with only 200 feet to go!

02:18:36 Haha, I mean 01:12:36

Meh... a good bench mark so that the next time I run a 10k (hopefully on fresh legs) I'll be able to blow that time out of the water!

I spent the rest of the day (and part of Monday) walking around like a 60 year-old man with a hernia... It's almost like a badge of honor :)


Monday, April 21, 2008

This one goes to 11!

Initially Jonna told us we would be running over 10 miles, closer to 11. So in my mind, that meant we were running 11. But Jonna couldn't make it, so Christi lead our run. She wanted to stick to the original route, which was little over 9.

I ran 11 anyway...

because I got lost :) Saturday morning I posted the route we were supposed to run, here is the route I actually ran:

And here's the break down:

Mile 1-3:
Chris and I started before the group since I was in a time crunch. So we headed down the Burke Gilman. It was a lovely run through Canal park, then we got to the armpit of Ballard, Shilshole. Don't get me wrong, I know you need industrial boating sections of town, but it's not my favorite back drop to run against...

Mile 4:
We've just ran across the Ballard Locks, and I like it! It's refreshing to run through the loud water and light spray...

then Christi points to the hill we need to go up... grumble grumble... We (well, I trudge, the other gals don't seem as affected) up the foot bridge and up the street until we finally get to flat land again. The only comforting thought right now is that this will be downhill on the way back!

Then we enter Discovery Park... and have another hill to climb! I'm feeling kind of beat at this point. I'm definitely excited to stop and walk and look at our maps to make sure we're headed the right way.

Mile 5:
We're running again. Luckily, Chris got us to start up again otherwise who knows how long I would have walked! We get to the top of the hill and pass the cementary, which means we're headed in the right direction! Kristen takes off (she's much faster anyway), but a few minutes later we realize she went the wrong way!

But, there's not much we can do about it...

So we get to (FINALLY) run downhill. Part of it is on the street, the other part is on a trail. I'm starting to feel the effects of our shot blocks we took at mile 3. I'm ready to fly down the hill.

Unfortunately, running downhill was not so kind to Chris' knee. So she needed to slow down.

If this had been any other Saturday, I would have stayed with her. Unfortunately, I had to be back at my truck no later than 10:30, so I had to keep going. She does her best to give me directions and I vaguely know where we are anyway, so I take off.

Mile 6:
I've come to a dead end. I saw a parking lot that I recognized and rather than leaving the park, I followed my gut and went down this other windy road. It was a beautiful run through nature and on an open empty road. I could get used to this! I made it to the Native American Cultural Center. I ran all the way to the edge and looked out at the water for a second. Despite being a gray-ish cold day, it really was perfect for this kind of run!

OK, no dilly-dallying, time to get back to the task at hand. I head back out to the road. I see Chris coming about 200 yards up the way and I start motioning her to go back. The last thing she needs is to be on that knee any longer than she has to! I'm actually able to sprint to catch back up to her. Once I do, I stop to walk and eat my goo and have some water.

Just as I finish we meet back up with some other gals from the team, and get directions to Commodore way. And it's downhill again!

We get back to the Locks, and Christina needs to find I restroom so I continue on by myself.

Mile 7:
I'm running down the railroad tracks because I think it will save me time... but there's two dudes walking down the tracks and I figure this isn't the ideal running condition, so I head back up to market street.

The rain is slushy in blowing right into my face. I go to wipe my forehead and realize my entire head is sopping wet. I try to wring out as much as I can.

Mile 8:
I give Matt a call, why not? I'm running by myself, he's on the way to work... It was actually kind of nice. I think that's how I'll be able to pass the time when I do long runs by myself :)

I can tell that I'm slowing, but I know that once I get to the Ballard Bridge, I'll only have two miles to go.

Mile 9:
My iPod stopped working a few months back and rather than getting it fixed I've started getting used to running without music. In a way, I feel like I can listen to my body. And there's something almost soothing in listening to your own breathing. I'm starting to notice the rhythm... breath... step step step breath... step step step breath... step step step

I've definitely settled into a slow but steady pace. Now if I can just keep this up for 20 more minutes I'll be OK.

Mile 10:
A woman in a Seattle Marathon shirt approaches from behind me. I'm surprised she actually returns my smile. (You never know with runners in this city)

"Nice day for a long run!" she says.
"Yeah, it's just right!"
"How long you doing today?"
"I'm doing 11, " I say, realizing I'm slower than dirt right now, so I add, "about a mile and half to go!"

She tells me I'm doing great and I wish her luck then she disappears off into the distance...

What I wouldn't give to be able to run that fast right this second!

I've reached a point where my running isn't going as smoothly as I would like. I start digging in my pack for some sort of energy enhancer. My legs are so heavy! And with each step the pain increases in my left quad and right inner thigh. My calves are tight like rocks and my feet feel like they are starting to blister.

15 more minutes, Wac...

I'm starting to notice how irregular my breathing is. Instead of the nice even rhythm I heard earlier, it was more like: breath... step scuff scuff breath breath scuff breath step

I've been running along the right side of the path, and I'll move over into the center to accommodate the walkers. This older woman (and her husband and dog) are walking along the right side, so I move into the center to pass them, and cyclists come on my left passing me.

The woman says, "I think they want you to be on the other side."

I'm sure she was trying to be nice, but at that point in my run that was the last thing I needed. I waited a few seconds (until she was out of site) flipped her off and said, "well, I want YOU to be on the other side."

Here's the thing, runners can go in the bike lanes on Burke-Gilman because walkers go in the pedestrian lanes! Sure, cyclists and runners are at odds sometimes, but the bike lanes are huge! Wide enough for a couple of runners and bikers going each way. The pedestrian lane is usually two people wide at very best.

I digress...

Gasworks park is finally in my line of sight. I start to use whatever energy I have left after getting pissed at that lady to pick up speed. I'm pushing as hard as I can to get back to my car as quickly as possible. My heart is pumping so hard feels like it could jump out of my chest. I dart across the street, run into the parking lot, and tap my truck as I come to a halt.

And I couldn't be more excited. I walk over to Christi and we chat for a sec before I have to schlump into the truck. Wow... I can barely walk... I wonder how that will feel during my 10K tomorrow... Good thing I have a nice long car ride to rest these legs!...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

And we're off!!!!

I'll be in Vancouver running the Rock and Roll 10K tomorrow, so recap coming later...

If I survive...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Awwwww.... warm fuzzies!

Without gushing too much, I just have to say that I have the best boyfriend :)

My workload has been really heavy this week and I've been tired, and really unable to spend much time with Matt. Today he had a half day from work. He stopped by on his way home and he could tell how tired I was. He came back later and picked me up when I was off work (2 hours later).

When I got home he had a surprise for me...

A whole new running outfit!!!! And some Jelly Belly Energy Jelly Beans! :)

AND he even found a shirt with longer sleeves for me, AND the pants he got me were a size large. Like, a regular large... with no Xs in the title! And they fit!

He totally turned my day around :)

He's been so supportive. I really don't think I could be doing all of this without him.
He listens to me drone on and on about running and food and nutrition, and running, and work, and always has the best advice and the right thing to say :) Not to mention he makes dinner most nights which really helps us eat healthy.

This weekend I have my long run on Saturday, a 10K on Sunday and now I have some fashionable running gear to choose from (that happens to match our bathroom :)

Thanks, babe! :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Maybe not the biggest loser, but still a big loser

So I didn't make my goal of losing 6 pounds this week, but I lost 3.8! And I'll take it! Maybe I can lose 6 pounds next week if I go to the gym for four hours a day and have someone prepare my meals for me...

Oh, wait... Matt already cooks most of my dinners, and they're always delicious and nutritious... I guess I have no room to complain :) I'll try to lose the other 2.2 pounds this week! Here's how it's going to happen:

Friday: light workout
Saturday: 11 miles
Sunday: 10K (6 miles)
Monday: Yoga (maybe some running, we'll see)
Tuesday: 5 miles/boxing??
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: weigh-in!

For Food:
B-fast: luna bar, smoothie (1 cup frozen berries, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 cup soy milk, 1 cup spinach, 1 cup carrots | Directions: Blend, Repeat)
Lunches: big salad, or sandwich... maybe something with black beans....
Dinners: A protein, veggies... maybe some starch... but probably not
Snacks: Peanut Butter on a slice of bread

Ready Go!

Real Runners Do it at 5 a.m.

My morning started off with my alarm going off...

CRAP! Did I oversleep???!?!!?!

No, it's only 4:35 a.m., I have to be at Greenlake in 20 minutes to meet up with Chris....

Uh oh, where are my pants? Where's my sportsbra? Why is little kitty so cute and cuddly? Oh, wait, gotta go....

Running greenlake at 5 a.m. is not quite what I imagined... it was actually better!

There were a lot less people than I expected... There were probably 10 people total, and 5 dogs. It was a lot darker than I guessed 5 a.m. would be, but it made the whole experience almost surreal. It felt like a dream. No cyclists, no strollers, no groups 5 people wide... only the truly insane! And I felt like an honored guest :)

I had forgotten how much I loved running in the morning. It's great, I usually don't even wake up until I've been running for about 10 minutes and by then I have no say in the matter, the body just goes.

An apparent regular at the 5 a.m. party at Greenlake was our running coach, Jonna! She came up from behind us and we chatted for a little while we finished out our run and hers was just beginning. It was actually really good to see her there. I felt a definite sense of camaraderie. I feel like I've transcended into the athletic world where working out isn't just something I do because I have to, I do it because I want to. Right comrades?

Here's a great example: Last Saturday we ran over 9.5 miles. My longest run to date. I was really shocked at how quickly I ran the first half, soooooooo I decided to spend my Sunday morning running 2.89 miles as fast as I could (within reason). I did it in 29 minutes! Can you imagine if I had done it on fresh legs?

I don't know what I'm trying to prove to myself, that I can do it? Or that a year ago I couldn't even run a quarter of a mile without dying?


Last night I did my tempo run at Burke Gilman. So 20 minutes of my run is supposed to be really hard. I did about 13 minutes at a pretty slow warm up pace, then I started my tempo run. I ran about 13 minutes out (at tempo pace, which fluctuated but was mostly fast for me). Then I turned around and those 7 minutes of fast-paced running were pretty hard. I think I checked my watch every 30 seconds just waiting for it to be over. And finally it was.

I slowed down into a comfortable jogging pace. As I started getting closer to finishing I realized I was about a mile and half away from my car and 15 minutes from being done with the run entirely. Well, a mile and a half in 15 minutes seemed totally doable, so I stepped it up a little. I think mild discomfort is what you call it, but I was able to keep up the pace. I got back to my car only 1 minute slower than it took me to get out on the trail.

Not bad, eh comrades?

I wonder if the point of tempo runs is to make you realize that pushing hard becomes easier the more you do it? What does this mean for a 13-mile run? Should I be pushing hard the whole time? Is that realistic? Or should I be coasting in my easy pace... reserving energy?

I think specifically for the Vancouver Half, I'll have to pace myself until we get to the hill in the center of the course... then it's all or nothing!!!

Deep Thoughts...

"The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am." --George Sheehan, M.D.

And I'm going to add: "And the person I could be."

No excuses, get out there! :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Are positive splits positive? I've got 9.5 miles to find out

Some magical runners (like my friend, Deb) have the awesome power of running negative splits. That's where your pace is faster for the second half of your run. The best chance of testing this is doing an out and back run.

This morning we ran about 9 and a half miles on the Burke Gilman trail. The first leg was a little over 4.5 miles. I'm finding the first two and half miles to be the hardest (well, not as hard as the last two....) and I discovered, I do not run negative splits. If the second half of your run is slower, is that really a positive split?


Pre-run: I know I may be eating my words later, but 13 miles doesn't seem like so far anymore. It just kind of clicked this week. I know I haven't actually run 9 miles yet, and it's very likely I'll be singing a different tune in two hours... but the distance doesn't seem to daunting anymore...

Mile 1-2: Suck, as per usual. I'm kind of getting use to just hunkering down for the first couple miles knowing that it gets better (and dare I say, easier?) later.

Mile 3: This is more like it. Today was totally an ideal running day. It was sunny, 60-ish degrees, breezy... perfect. And at mile 3 I could really just enjoy taking advantage of such awesome weather.

Mile 4: My friend, Chris, and I are nearing the turn-around point, but it's strange that we haven't seen the faster girls on their way back, yet.

Turn-around: I'm teeming with energy, I can even sprint for a little bit, but luckily Jonna is there to remind me to save it for the end. Chris and I stop and stretch for about a minute or two. I look at my HRM and it says 48 minutes and some change! That's pretty fast, and it wasn't too difficult!

We both take some shot blocks, and I realize I'm really thirsty. I usually don't drink much when I run because I get pretty aggressive cramps. It was probably the heat. But, off we go!

Mile 5: Still feeling great. We're facing the sun on our way back and it feels warmer. I find myself resisting surges of energy I keep feeling.

Mile 6: OK, slowing down. I can definitely tell that we weren't going very fast. I find comforting in realizing we're 2/3 of the way there, and we "only have three miles to go" hahaha... It's bizarre how 3 miles seemed easy...

On the way to mile 7 we passed the "wall of death" (left). I had pointed it out on our way out, knowing that the next time I see it, I'll be in the home stretch. I love running on the Burke Gilman because it's scenic and there are tons of landmarks. I think it makes running back go by more quickly. And it gives me a sense of distance. I know the "Wall of Death is around 2 miles from our starting point and one mile-ish from gasworks.

Mile 7: Definitely bummed that I haven't gotten a single red light or reason to stop for a second. We decide to stop and walk for 20 seconds just to get some energy back for the last mile or so. Now that it's later in the morning there are a couple of walkers out on the trail, and I use some of my reserved energy to pull ahead.

Anytime I'm running and I'm gaining on a walker I feel this need to really prove to myself that I am running faster than they are walking. Even if I sprint by them, then drop back to a slower pace, it makes me feel better.

Mile 8: Only 1 mile to go! Or around 12 or so minutes. I know I can do this. I pull ahead from Chris for a while, but not by much. I really want to run fast, but my body won't listen. Well, I guess it fights back... I could feel a small cramp coming on from pushing to hard, but I finally got a red light so I stopped and Chris caught up to me. We're less than a quarter mile from finished!

DONE! We pull up just as some of the faster girls have finished stretching and are taking off. It took us 56 minutes to run the second half. Which, is not terrible... but definitely isn't a negative split.


In crazy news, I ran 9.5 miles this morning and my knee is fine! Not painful at all! I'm sore everywhere else and my legs are so stiff I feel like I'm walking on stilts, but I guess my plan for knee recovery worked!

This week I'd like to have a biggest loser week. I want to lose 6 pounds. I'm going to do this by working out in the morning this week. I plan to get all of my "required" workouts done in the morning before work, then if I do any supplemental workouts they will just be a bonus.

I also think I'm going to try to get my runs in earlier this week. Like on Tuesday and Wednesday. The last few Saturdays I had been pretty tired, and this morning I felt totally rested and ready to rock!

Next week we're running almost 11 miles... Let's see if I can learn from all this experience :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The hip bone's connected to the... ?

"You've got your ubulus muscle, connected to your upper dorsimus. It's boring, but, it's a part of my life..."

I'm nursing an injured... knee? this week. Well, it's the inside of my leg, next to my knee. It's the muscle that extends and contracts my leg. Based on my (and Matt's) expert googling skills, we've deduced that I've strained my MCL.

I really should leave the diagnoses to a professional, but that's just not how I roll :)

It all started Tuesday during my tempo run. A tempo run is where you run at 90% of your capacity for 20 minutes, then follow it up with a 30-minute easy jog. I've been doing my tempo runs on the treadmill because I find that it keeps me honest... but maybe I don't need to be kept so honest.

Near the end of my tempo run I felt a soreness in my knee. It felt a little worse as my slow jog progressed. Then on the walk home I could feel it start to cramp and tingle like it was going numb. I came home and iced for a while.

Wednesday it was a little sore, but I couldn't tell if it was the kind of sore that can be worked out over a run, or made worse by running on it. I decided to try it out on my interval run, which starts with a 50 minute warm-up run. I ran out 30 minutes, and when I hit my turn around point I was in a lot of pain. The problem was, I was a 30 minute jog away from the car...

In the sake of time I decided to jog back. I was able to run on my leg for a little over 20 minutes, but then I finally convinced myself to walk. It took me about 20 minutes to hobble that last mile. I couldn't believe how painful it got.

I finally made it back to the car, and went to safeway to pick up some dinner. I also picked up a huge bag of party ice intending to just sit on that for the rest of the evening.

Much to my chagrin, I was talked into missing my long run this weekend. I know it was for the best, but I was really excited to run the course we had planned for this week. It was 8 miles through Interlaken Park and the Arboretum. I guess I'll have to run it on my own sometime :)


Today my leg is feeling much better. I'm definitely going to yoga tomorrow. But I don't think I'll run there again. I think I'm going to wait until Tuesday before I run on this leg of mine again. I went for a 3 mile walk this morning, and it was feeling pretty good.

Sometimes I need to remind myself not to be an idiot. It's better to sit out for one run, than to push yourself and miss the big race. I probably should have taken it easy on Wednesday. I'm not invincible and there are some serious injuries (potentially permanent ones) that are looming if I don't take care of myself.

I need to learn the difference between mild discomfort and actual pain...

It also wouldn't hurt to know anatomy of the leg a little better, either :)