Thursday, January 29, 2009

It starts... again

Last weekend was my first long run in the game again. When I started to taper during my Portland marathon I was pretty bummed that I didn't really practice my pacing. I would just go for it and try to keep my run as even as possible.

The first few miles almost always suck. I can't really understand only running 3 miles at a time. I maintain that running doesn't get fun until you're hitting mile 4. I would usually hit my stride around then and all went well until about mile 15. Anything after 15 miles was a free-for-all.

On Saturday I did 10 miles on West Seattle, and I worked to maintain a 10:30 pace. I fininshed in an hour and 46 minutes. I had to push pretty hard especially on the hill in the middle of the run. As a consequence I never really hit a point where it got easy.

I think next week I'm going to try starting slow, you know, like they say you should... and see how that affects my pace.

My biggest takeway from my run this week is that I realized how grateful I am that I've been able to experience Seattle on foot. It's given me the opportunity to see parts of the city I wouldn't have otherwise. My West Seattle course starts on Alki with a beautiful view of the downtown skyline. I run along the water and by giant cool houses and cute quaint ones with the view of the islands.

Then you enter Lincoln Park with paths and and trees. Early in the morning it's foggy and feels like you could be somewhere else in northeast maybe :)

Anyway, I need to remember this when my alarm goes off at 4:45 in the morning and I walk over, set it for an hour later, and get back into bed....

I can't wait until we have some sunlight in the mornings again! :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Run Matt Run!

Wow, how can so much greatness exist in one apartment.... :)

Last Sunday Matt completed his first half marathon in Phoenix. And I was along for the ride.

I was a little nervous going into the race. Our longest run had been 5 or 6 miles, and Matt started getting a pain in his toe. Anything beyond 6 miles was going to be a mystery! We hadn't had a chance to try out hydration or nutrition options.

On the morning of the race I wanted to be prepared for anything. I packed us some water, a couple granola bars, shot blocks, some aspirin, oh and a disposable camera. Matt also hadn't run enough in my uber-fashionable fanny packs to get comfortable carrying his own, so I strapped on our survival pack.

The weather was perfect! A cool 50 degrees... but since it was Phoenix, the weather was going to get much warmer right away. We packed into the starting line and took in the myriad of characters waiting to start the race. Because we had a longer estimated time we were mixed in with walkers and joggers. But there seemed to be too many people in warm winter-y coats. It blew my mind.

I wonder how many race participants were first timers. I know Phoenix has a lot of programs to raise the fitness level of their city, but it seemed like there were a lot of people who didn't know what was ahead of them.

Here are a couple of my favorite runners:
- Dude carrying the goody bag from the expo around his shoulders
- Girl holding up the line for the porta-potties because there was no toilet paper
- The two Paris-Hilton type girls walk-running, one of which had a wrist clutch
- The dude on the apparent "green team" or maybe he was rooting for the eagles....

Okay, so Matt was definitely my favorite runner. We ran the first 4 miles, no problem. They were going by pretty quickly! We stopped and walked for a mile. Then it happened...

He got his first runner's high. It was great to be with someone while they experienced it for the first time. He was pumping his fists to the music and joking around. He could have run forever...

or for another mile or two. :)

Around 8.5 it started to get more difficult. Luckily, his family was in the perfect spot to cheer us on, and they snapped a photo. :) The energy was enough to keep us going for another half mile.

We ate a granola bar, walked, talked, and made fun of bands along the way. We decided we'd run again at mile 10.

Then it was mile 10, just in time for our legs to get good and stiff. It took about 10 minutes for me to start feeling good again. It's been a while since I've been running for more than 2 hours. We only had three miles to go. Matt was pretty lucid and moving, and if it came down to it, we could walk it if we had to. We both knew he was going to finish :)

The last three miles were pretty rough, but of course they are, that's why most people don't do this sort of thing. It also started to get really hot. It was reaching the mid-70s. We kept trucking along. I was really impressed with how well Matt was doing. I knew he was in pain, but he was a real trooper!

We got to the finish line and it was over. It wasn't as climatic as Matt had hoped, but it was over and we survived. :)

AND, the best news is... he's interested in doing it again! I think the real success is that he finished the race and doesn't hate running! Look out world, we have a new half-marathoner on our hands :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Girls, Girls, Girls!


You can't really argue with a chant like that! Holly and I became "running buddies" this winter for an organization called "Girls on the Run." This group is dedicated to helping girls between the ages of 8 and 11 develop healthy self-esteem (to match their healthy bodies!) through running. Our job as running buddies was to help these young ladies train for their first 5k and offer encouragement and support during the 3.1 mile journey.

After Sammy, my running buddy, and I were formally introduced, she looked me up and down and asked, "Can you go fast?"

Uh oh!

I wondered, am in good enough shape to keep up with this gal who is ready to win? I mustered up a bit of confidence and answered, "Uh, sure!"

From the start Sammy was ready to go fast. She wanted to pass everyone right out of the gate! I tried my best to explain why you don't go as fast as you can in the beginning, but Sammy wasn't interested in reason. Soon we were so far ahead of everyone it was okay for us to walk. It gave us a chance to get to know each other a little better.

We kept walking until one of the other girls would catch up, then we would run as fast as we could! And eventually Sammy's strategy worked! We won the practice 5k!

As the girls finished we cheered and enjoyed our celebratory cups of Gatorade. It was so touching to see the girls be so encouraging to one another. Let's face it, girls aren't always nice to each other, and it was refreshing to see these girls be so accepting and encouraging of their friends!


The Wonder Girl 5k was the event the girls had been training for. Sammy was ready to win that morning. She even looked like a super hero in her crown and cape.

On the other hand, I was freezing... it must have been about 30 degrees!

Before I knew it we were off! Sammy strategically placed us near the front of the group so we could go fast. Everything was going according to plan, then it happened.

The worst thing to happen to anyone while running: a side stitch!

Poor Sammy was trying so hard to run through it, but we still had so far to go! We tried a few times to walk it off, but it just kept coming back. I tried my best to convince her that this happens to everyone and some days are just "bad run" days.

Then she said, "I don't think we're going to win–I'm sorry..."

It totally broke my heart! I told her she didn't have to apologize! She's a strong person for even attempting to run a 5k and she'll be an even stronger person when she finishes!

I told her about my awful 12-mile run that I couldn't even finish. I had to call Matt to come pick me up. BUT the next weekend, I ran 21 miles! And the weekend before the 5k we were running I ran 13.1 miles at the Seattle Half Marathon.

"Did you win?," she asked.

It made me laugh, I wasn't even close! I won because I finished.

Our conversation reminded me that you can't expect every time you hit the road to be even better than the run before it. What's important is doing the best you can in any situation.

We sprinted the last 1/2 mile of the Wonder Girl 5k. She finished strong with the crowd and her friends and family cheering for her as we crossed the finish line.

I really admire Sammy's ambitious attitude because he's willing to work hard to achieve her goals. Although she didn't win the whole 5k, she won her personal race. Even with a side-stitch, shoe/foot pain and ridiculously cold weather she did her best that day.

Too often many of us settle for mediocrity, and we're okay with never really challenging or pushing ourselves. It's easier not to.

But what I loved about being in the "trenches" with Sammy was witnessing a young lady choosing not to settle. In our two interactions I could tell that Sammy will grow up to be a very successful woman some day. I've been inspired by her determination to be a better mental athlete.

At the end of the day, all we can ask of ourselves is to do our best in any situation; then, we can't be disappointed in the outcome.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Just fine in '09

It's that time again... resolution time!

I've stopped making traditional resolutions years ago. They were always the same: this year I will lose weight, be better at finances, find a better job, become a super human who always has their stuff together, become a super hero while I'm at it, save the world, save money, save trees, save the children... that all comes back to that super hero thing.

Usually by around January 15 my delusions of grandeur had met cold hard reality: I'm human.

A couple years ago I realized that if I made resolutions I could actually keep I'd be a much happier person. Thus my new resolution was born: I will wear one article of black clothing everyday.

It was perfect. Totally something I could control, and each day I succeeded I felt good about setting a goal I could achieve. So this became my resolution every year. I kept this up for a few years until suddenly my entire wardrobe was black. I guess I was committed.

At any rate, this year I'm going to set goals rather than resolutions and here's what I have so far:

- A 25:00 5K (I would need to shave 3 minutes off my current PR, and maintain an 8-minute per mile pace... hello track workouts!)
- A sub 1-hour 10k
- A sub 5-hour marathon

Race Schedule thus far:
- 1/18 Phoenix Rock N' Roll Half Marathon
- Love 'em or Leave 'em 5k (February)
- Vancover Sun Run 10k (April) this one is a maybe... a local 10k would be just fine
- Vancouver Marathon (May)
- Seattle Rock N' Roll Half Marathon (June)
- Disneyland Half Marathon? (Sept)
- Portland Marathon (October)

I realize I don't have to run every race, every year, but I think this is an aggressive year for me because ultimately, I want to do a 50k race in 2010. So in addition to all these road races, I'll also be trying out some trail running. I have yet to find a 50k road race, but I'll keep looking.

So that's the running plan for this year! This is going to be a good one, I can feel it! :)