Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

This morning’s run was not fun. I was stiff and maybe a little tired still. I was probably more tired from the Buffalo Run than I thought I was. And maybe that contributed a little to the spill I took on my bike earlier this week. But it was probably more that I wasn't paying attention. Or just careless.

I wasn't hurt. Much. I have light road rash on the left side of my body and bruises on my shoulder and legs. My elbow took the brunt of it. And my neck was stiff. Thanks goodness for my helmet and that no cars were around! I think only one person saw my fall and he came over to ask if I was okay. I said I was. Then put the chain back on my bike, straightened the seat, fixed the visor on my helmet, and was back on my way.

I've had worse crashes on my bike. You should see my knees. And there was the time I flipped my road bike and thought for sure I'd dislocated or broke my shoulder but Urgent Care said I was fine. Of course, the worst crash left more emotional scars than anything. Scars that I am still dealing with but that aren't so bad anymore.

The emotional scars? They are from when I was hit by a car (his fault). Luckily neither of us were going fast. One witness said she’d never seen a more graceful fall so it obviously wasn't that bad. I can’t even remember the car hitting me. I just remember knowing it was going to hit me and then the next thing I knew I was jumping up and watching my water bottle roll down the street. I was thinking more about my bike than myself. (I'd only had my new road bike 4 months when we were hit.) It wasn't until someone asked me how I was that I took stock of my body – just bruised and some scratches on me (my bike needed a new fork and a new wheel). The worst part was that for a long time I was angry at cars. And I would have a little panic attack every time I saw a car making a left turn. Lethal Lefties I called them. Anyway, it got so bad, I gave up riding for more than a year. And gained back all the weight I'd lost.

But eventually, I decided that I wasn't going to let my anger and fear keep me from doing something that I truly loved and I got back on the bike.

So this fall was nothing compared to those. And if I wasn't sure, then my trip to the bike shop on Tuesday to buy a new helmet confirmed it. Love the LBS boys but they aren't big on sympathy! Which is okay since they are my biggest running fans. Besides my coworkers.

The funny thing is that despite the falls (the most embarrassing for sure was the time I forgot I was clipped in and we stopped at a light and I just went over – imagine a turtle on it’s back) I've had on my bikes, I've always felt most graceful on the bike. More so than running. Definitely more so than walking.

I tend to trip when I walk. In fact, of all the things I do, walking has been the most dangerous for me – falling down stairs, breaking my leg walking thru the grass, the black eye from walking into a door. Sigh. But that's okay. I know that it happens when I'm distracted and not aware of my surroundings so I try to be more aware of where I am in the world. I think it’s better when I’m riding and running because it’s something I do consciously. Where with walking, it's supposed to be like breathing, something you just do. For most people.

Still, I guess all that matters is that if I fall down, I get back up whether it be an actual fall or an emotional one. Maybe that's why I've always liked this Japanese proverb:
Fall down seven times, stand up eight.
Sure would be nice to stay standing though!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Buffalo Run Half Marathon Race Report

My first race of 2011 is in the books! It went really well and I'm very happy with the results. Now for the details...

I set my alarm for 3:30 on Saturday morning but woke up before the alarm went off. I didn't sleep very well the night before. I almost never do before a race or if I have a plane to catch. I guess because I'm worried that the alarm won't go off. Anyway, I'd packed most of my stuff the night before so I had some orange juice and a banana, visited the bathroom, and got dressed in my gear - UnderAmour hat, Asics shirt, Zoot arm cooler sleeves, CWX shorts, Wrightsocks, and my Pink Kinvaras, (don't you feel like a walking billboard sometimes?) & I was out the door my 4:10 to drive to Long Beach to catch the ferry.

Good thing I left a little early because I got lost on the way to the ferry and it took an extra 20 minutes to get there! Sheesh. But I made it, got my ticket and then ate the rest of my breakfast while waiting to board - 2 mini bagels and a banana.

The ferry ride took about an hour and it was a great trip over to Catalina. I had my headphones and I was listening to Daft Punk & the Kings of Leon and I had my Kindle to read. The goal was to relax and not think about the race so I wouldn't get nervous. I'd already discussed strategy with my coach, Jason, and I didn't want to over think it. The views weren't bad either! The moon was shining on the water and that gave way to a beautiful sunrise. And then as we neared Catalina, I looked out my window and there was a pod of dolphins racing alongside us and leaping in the air! Amazing! They were so beautiful!

Once we landed in Catalina, I got a locker to stash my backpack and then headed over to get my bib, chip, and goodie bag. Then it was back to the locker to store that stuff, hit the restroom again, and put on the bib and chip. About a half hour before, I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle and a mini chocolate chip Cliff Bar. I was going to carry my Ultimate Direction bottle filled with Blueberry Pomegranate Gu Brew but I didn't want to carry any food. Then I did a modified standard warm up and did a short jog for about 3/4 mile to warm up my legs. We were going to start the uphill right away so I wanted them warm at the start. Then it was time!

The race started and we were off at 9 am. Gotta love a race that starts on time! There was a good crowd of a few hundred running the half. We started off in downtown Avalon about a block from the beach and headed for the hills. The first mile and half or so was paved and then we turned onto a fire road which we would be running for the next 10 miles. The race profile said the first 4ish miles would be all uphill and the plan was to go easy until we reached the top. I'd just watched a video by Dave Scott on hill running this week and I tried to remember to incorporate his advice while I was running.

There were a lot of people walking the hills but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to run relaxed and upright and I passed a lot of people. I was listening to my breathing to make sure I wasn't going too hard and trying not to think of how much more hill there would be. Luckily, the views were fantastic and it was such a clear, beautiful day that you could see forever.

Finally, we hit the highest point and had a little break and some great downhill and rollers (miles 6 & 7) before the next climb (mile 8). I didn't push during 6 and 7, just running relaxed so I would have plenty for the next climb. If there is anywhere that I could have maybe pushed a little harder it's here but then who knows how the next mile would have gone.

After the last climb, it leveled off a bit and when we hit mile 9 and the turnaround, I let myself run my heart out. Not red line but nice and hard. It was all downhill from there so I didn't have to conserve for any more climbs. The last 4 miles flew by and it felt like a free fall. At one point, I was going so fast I thought I was going to run off the trail! But luckily that didn't happen *whew*. I passed a few people on the downhill but only 2 people passed me.

Around mile 11, we were back on pavement and the road was smoother so I picked up the pace. I started picking people in front of me as my rabbits to "reel in". First a guy in a red shirt and then when I passed him, a guy in a white shirt. Then I could see the finish line and just gave it everything I had. I heard them call out my bib number and my name and gave it one last kick and then I was across the line and in the finish chute! Done! Woo! I was spent but happy, knowing that I ran it the best I could and never walked any of the hills (which was a vow I made to myself before the start).

They gave me my finisher's medal, a water, and took my chip. It is so hard to stop so suddenly when you've been running all out, isn't it? I walked around for a bit and then got a bagel, some cookies, and 1/2 a banana to munch on. Then I headed back to the locker to get my backpack. My legs felt like they wanted to cramp a little so once I got my backpack, I put on my calf sleeves and they were happy campers. Then I went back to check out the results. Which were:

Time: 2:15.23
Pace: 10:21
Overall: 79/314
Women: 22/160
Age Group: 7/25

Not bad, not bad. After that, I did some shopping and ate lunch (fish & chips) and then took the ferry back to the mainland.

This morning, I hooked up my Garmin so I could record the splits in my logbook and this is what Garmin Connect had to say about my splits and elevation:

Per Garmin Connect - Total Elevation gain was 2847! I don't know how accurate that is but it sure felt like it! Funny thing is, you know how when you know how hard something is you say to yourself you're not going to torture yourself with it again? Never said that to myself during the Buffalo Run. Which tells me that the race was a good one for me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What A Difference 2 Years Running Makes

I've been running for 2 years now and I still consider myself a newb at it. There's so much to learn and try and explore with running. Not that you have to. You can just put on a pair of shoes (and not even that anymore!) and head out the door. Some people have natural talent and it's easy for them. Some people do not. I definitely fall into the category of do not. Well, I should say that I'm not speedy because I think I have great endurance.

When I started running in January 2009, I weighed 238 pounds. I'd already lost more than 60 pounds by bike commuting but it was starting to feel "easy" so I thought I would add running in to up the ante and to get in some cross training. I'd never thought of myself as a runner and I wasn't sure if I would like it or if my body would. But I thought I'd give it a try.

I started with a run/walk program and went out for a mile and then eventually two. It took me 30 minutes to run/walk two miles but I got it done. I took it slow and added miles sparingly and only ran 3 days a week. I was still running 12/13 min miles but I was starting to feel like a runner. I entered a 5K trail race that April and my time was 51:31. I was 95th out of 105 runners. It was a little depressing but I had to learn to embrace my inner penquinness (John Bingham) and just keep running. It eventually got easier and I got a little faster and in November 2009 I ran my first 10K in 1:02.34. That was a great boost to see such improvement over the 5K 7 months earlier.

2010 started off with my weight down to 168 and training for a half marathon. I ran the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon in 2:13.53 in February. I was really happy with that and in the afterglow, I signed up for the Eugene Marathon in May. A marathon! Gasp! What was I thinking! Could I, the formerly fat girl, slow runner, poster child penguin, run a marathon? Would I make it thru the training? Would I show up on the starting line?

I can't say I enjoyed the training for that. I was still only running 3 days a week and the long runs were miserable. I vowed while I was training that the Eugene would be the only marathon I ever did! No way was I going to torture myself with another 20 miler. On race day, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been (no hill training or marathon pacing) and I went out too fast and hit the wall at mile 18. The last 8 miles were a mix of running and walking and stretching out my calves, which were cramping. I must have looked pretty bad because a race official walked with me a bit and told me I could quit if I wanted to. But something kicked in and I decided quitting was not an option. No way. And then a funny thing happened around mile 24. I said to myself "well, you're going to do another one". I finished my first marathon in 5:12 and change. Exhausted, sore, and really hungry. Disappointed in my time, for sure. But proud that I hadn't quit.

I picked the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon for my 2nd marathon in October and the training for that went much, much better. I can definitely say that it was while I was training for this marathon that I fell in love with running. The long runs were bliss. I actively sought out hills. I did progression runs and tempos. I was running 4 days a week. I was down to 147 and I was feeling great. Now I really felt like a runner. My time for the Mohawk Hudson was 4:40 so still off my goal but a PR. And like they say, you can't be disappointed with a PR.

I finished off 2010 with the same 10K race I had done the previous November. My time for this was 55:56 and I was 4th in my age group. Granted, it was a smallish local race but still... 4th! Woo! Still not as fast as I would like be though so in December, I hired Jason to coach me.

Now, 2 years after I've started running, I have a 5K, 2 10Ks, 1 half marathon, and 2 marathons under my belt. I have a coach to help me run stronger and faster (and I've already seen and felt improvement). I've lost 93.8lbs since Jan 09 and I'm down to 144.2 and wearing a size 6! AND I am IN LOVE with running. Really, that is the most important and joyful thing for me. I never thought I would love running so much. That I would be excited at the thought of a 20miler. That I would be running trails and seeking out hills. That I would be dreaming of running 50Ks. I thought these things were "impossible" for me. And maybe they were...for the old me. But that person doesn't exist anymore. I literally ran away from that person who was afraid to dream and go for what she wanted.

Definitely the biggest change that has happened in the 2 years I've been running is that now I am dreaming bigger and I see infinite possibilities and adventures ahead. I feel like the world has opened up for me and I am going to Leap Fearlessly into it. You can bet on that!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Heading For The Hills

This was a great training week for me. Mostly easy runs but they were really enjoyable and I felt relaxed after each one. I also took it easy on the bike this week so it was a pretty good week for me. And it was warmer! Woo!

Only one week until the Buffalo Run next Saturday. Am I ready? I guess as ready as I'll ever be. I've been with my coach for a month now and I think the strength, mobility, and hill sprints have made me stronger. I can really feel the changes in my body and my running and it's very, very cool. I also reviewed and adjusted my calorie intake this week and I think that helped too. I'm trying to eat more veggies and fruit. I'm doing okay on the fruit but not so much on the veggies. I'm trying though.

This week, I ran a 7 miler with 3 miles at tempo and they were 8:44, 8:46, and 8:46! The previous week they were 9:00ish and these felt even slightly easier than last week's. I did a little jig afterwards. Yes, I'm easily pleased. I run tempos by "feel". Actually, more like by how hard I'm breathing so it's based on perception not a heart rate monitor or my garmin (though I wear one) but it works for me.

Today's long run was only 10 miles. I didn't decide until this morning what route I was going to do. Should I do flat & road, flat & dirt, or hills & dirt. I ended up choosing hills & dirt and I think it was a great choice. Nice and warm this morning and for the past few days so the trails were mostly dry. I split the route up so the first half was climbing and technical and the second half was easy on smoother, rolling trails. I am not as good on the technical descents as I would like so my time was slower than I'd hoped - 1:53:38. There was 751 ft of climbing and most of that was in the 1st half.

I have to do twice that next week. The most I've ever done was 1000ft. Should be interesting! But I'm excited.

A few more things about today's run - I didn't eat any waffles or drink any Gu Brew during, just water. I had about 400 calories a couple hours before the run. I felt fine so that went okay. I also didn't push the hills (up or down). I was probably a little slower on the downhills than I needed to be but I was trying to be careful and not trip or fall. That's the last thing I need with the Buffalo Run next week! I wore my Kinvaras and they did great. They even got soaked twice because the stream had a good amount of water flowing and the crossing I picked was over my ankles. Forgot to bring extra shoes though for the drive home. Ugh.

I get a massage tomorrow. 90 minutes with Carlos. He's probably going to make me hurt. Hopefully, not to bad!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Run Because

There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you.~George Sheehan

I talk to the LBS boys about running quite a bit. They aren't runners, though I'm trying to encourage Mark to be one, so they don't really get why I run. They can go long on the bike but can't imagine going long on a run. I don't really see a difference in the two. They are both about being outside, seeing places, pushing your body, etc.

When I tried to explain it to them, I told them this:

"When I ride my commuter bike, I feel fun & flirty. When I ride my mountain bike, I feel adventurous and strong. And when I ride my rode bike, I feel sleek and sexy. And when I run...I feel all of that!"

And that's pretty much how I felt on today's long run.

The week started off a little slow. I wasn't feeling the workouts and felt a little sluggish. I checked in on my calorie intake and realized I needed to up that which I did starting on Tuesday and after that I felt much better. Thursday's tempo run was awesome. I felt strong and fast and it just clicked. I finished feeling really good, like I could have done a couple more miles.

Today's long run was just as good. I ran my regular route which has a few hills and since it's out and back, I hit each of them a couple of times. I think my legs like having hills more than flat routes. I tried to hold back but I think "easy" is getting faster for me and I just went with the flow and let my legs do the "talking".

Anyway, I had fun because the route is also a popular cycling route and I saw the LBS boys a few times which is always good for a shot of adrenaline. The adventure part comes in to play because I get a kick out of traveling through towns and checking out the sights. And I felt sleek & sexy & flirty in my runningskirt skirt. And of course I felt strong today, really strong. I found myself smiling a lot while running today because I was so enjoying the feeling of moving. I may have even leaped a time or two. So I was happy and definitely satisfied with the way the run turned out. I should smile more when I'm running.

So, why do I run? I run because it makes me feel like Wonder Woman. Now if I could just get a hold of her golden lasso...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Marines or Flying Monkeys?

I've been trying to figure out what my fall marathon and 50K are going to be. The plans that I've been looking at have you running a marathon 3 weeks before the 50K. Right now I'm looking at two combos:

Marine Corp Marathon in October and Santa Monica Mountains 50K in November

Or Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey in November and Coyote Ridge in December.

Both of these combos would help with my goals for 2011 - visit two new states and run a 50K. I'm kind of leaning toward the last combo. Both would be hillier and harder than the 1st combo but more adventurous and more fun. Tennessee or DC? Marines or Flying Monkeys?

MCM doesn't open for registration until 2/23 so I have some time to decide. I want to sign up for them soon though because I want to get the finishing touches for these two goals set in motion.

In other news, Mark (the owner of the LBS) told me that he went for a run on Tuesday and is thinking of doing a half marathon! Woo! He also asked me about starting up a brick workout from the bike shop. That would be great fun but he wants to do it on Saturdays and I like doing my long run on Saturdays. And with all I have planned for the year, I just don't know if I can do it. Running with a group would probably do me good. And it would be good for my riding too. Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Long Me Weekend

This weekend was all about me. 3 days of doing what I want, when I want, sleeping in, being lazy, pampering, running, and riding. It was a great way to end 2010 and a great way to start 2011. Of course, sleeping in for me means 6am, but still...

In the past 3 days, I ran 25 miles (20 yesterday & 5 today), rode 51 miles on my mt bike (31 Friday & 20 today), saw two movies (Chronicles of Narnia & Black Swan - 2 completely opposite movies - one light and one dark), had lunch with my grandpa, did some shopping (size 6 jeans...woo!), and got a massage. It could only have been better if I'd been able to take a nap once or twice. But that's being greedy.

My 20 miler went really well on Saturday. It was hard but I felt good and feel like I accomplished some work there. Instead of running my usual long run route, I ran thru Bonelli. My mom asked me to fix my granpa's tv since he wasn't getting any channels. Since I often use his house as my base for running thru Bonelli, I decided to move my run there.

I got to his house about 6:30, fixed his tv, did my warm up and was off by 7:05. The bank said it was 28 degrees when I went by so it was probably in the low 30s by the time I left. Insanely cold but I warmed up once I got in the sunshine. The trails were a little muddy in the shade and there were some standing pools of water and some trees down. It made it more adventurous trying to figure out how to get around some of it. Anyway, I didn't hit as much dirt as I would have liked but I got in plenty of hills! Still not enough for the Buffalo Run but I feel like I'll do okay there. 3 hours ad 45 mins of hills should be worth something, for sure.

The best part was that my stomach did really well during and after. No trots! Thank goodness. I had 2 HoneyStinger waffles and some Gu Brew during and I think that combination is working for me. Although it could be because I didn't push the pace like I have in some long runs. Maybe it's the harder runs that causes the trots? I wish I had an iron stomach! I took my grandpa to IHOP for lunch after and we both had eggs & pancakes & fruit and they went down well. I was SO hungry and they tasted great.

I wore my calf sleeves after the run and today my legs felt great on my five miler and during my ride. No soreness and I wasn't tired. I was a little worried that I did too much on Friday but it turned out fine. I think my legs are recovering better and better after each long run. And probably all the leg work and hill sprints that Fitz is having me do. Whatever it is, it's making me a very happy runner girl.

The massage today was a relaxing one as a reward for all the hard work I did running & riding in December. And for finally fitting into size 6 jeans! *doing the Snoopy dance*