Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Official - I have the Bronchitis

It turns out that it was a good thing I listened to my body ten days ago when it told me to stop running until I'd seen the doctor, because once again, I have the brochitis.  Or asthmatic bronchitis (which is the same, but without the infection).  The doctor wasn't sure.  But he sent me off with antibiotics and an inhaler and instructions not to rest too much because that can bring on the pneumonia. 

Actually, I thought I had the pneumonia because I feel that sick and tired.  I felt a bit jipped by the diagnosis, but for my body and my recovery time, I'm glad not to have it.

Unfortunately though, bronchitis scars your lungs every time you get it.  I've actually lost track of the number of times I've had it, though I know I've had pneumonia four times. That, you don't forget.  I blame the scarring of my lungs for my inability to run fast.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

So while everyone else has the flu or the swine flu, I have the bronchitis.  I actually prefer that over the flu, because at least I can function in my daily life, though I am still so tired that I had to take a nap during my lunch break today.  And unfortunately, the asthma inhaler makes my heart race, so I couldn't really sleep that well because my body felt like it was entering a panic attack.  Fun times.

Needless to say, I'm out of the running game for a while, which is a bummer because I was watching the NYC marathon on Sunday and wishing I could run that fast and for that long.  But I have to be careful about getting back into running once I'm recovered, because not taking bronchitis seriously and working out too soon can push me right into pneumonia.  I know, because I did that once in college.  So it will basically be like coming back from an injury and I'm worried I'll have to start over from scratch. But maybe that's not such a bad thing.  And I think once the wheezing and coughing has died down a bit, I'll really go back to yoga, because re-conditioning my breathing would be a big help.  Right now, it's so much extra work just to breathe, that walking the dog for fifteen minutes makes me lightheaded.  Basically, I plan to take this a day at a time and see how things go!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Okay, so my plan for more yoga has been going well.  Three days in a row now, I've gotten up early and done 20 minutes of yoga, thus reminding myself how to breathe and centering myself before the day gets started.  It helps that I've been very excited about the baby coffee maker that I got on Sunday and that I know post-yoga, I'll be able to sit for a few minutes watching tv with the pup and drinking my coffee before I have to get to work.  I'm definitely feeling the yoga in my muscles still, though not so much soreness now as the feeling of strengthening.  All good things.

But the running.  Ugh.  I planned to run today, and again wanted to get the run in before work so that I would make sure to do it.  I didn't have anything major planned - I figured since I've been so tired lately, I would stick with my fifteen minutes like Monday.  The weather is beautiful this morning too - sunny, cool but not too cold, and not windy.  I was feeling a little bit tired (I haven't gotten as much sleep as I would have liked to this week), but figured the 15 minutes would be no big deal.


Within about 60 seconds of starting the run, I knew I was in trouble.  I was EXHAUSTED.  Suddenly, like I could barely pick up my feet to run.  I reminded myself that the first mile is always a struggle and kept at it, but even with running very slowly, I knew I wouldn't make it the whole 15 minutes, which hasn't happened since I started running.  And a month ago, I was up to 26 minutes.  So. Very. Frustrating.

I managed .84 miles in 9:46, an 11:37 pace and just felt so tired.  And almost embarrassed to admit that I didn't even make a mile.  It's hard to describe the tiredness - it's not something I feel like I can power through, but just like my body is not capable of responding to what I want at normal speeds.  It comes and goes, and I was feeling better yesterday and Monday, but today it's back in force.  I had made a deal with myself that if I wasn't feeling a 100% better by today (since I've been crazy tired for almost a month now), I would make a doctor's appointment and so I now have one for next Friday.  I plan to keep up the yoga and do what I can with the running until then, and we'll see how it goes.  My mom suspects I picked something up during my trip (ah planes are great for germs) since my dad has been uber-tired also and part of me is wondering if it's walking pneumonia.  I've been feeling much more short of breath lately, sometimes with a little bit of a cough, and it wouldn't be my first dance with pneumonia (I've had it 4 times).  So we'll see what the doctor says!  Hopefully he can figure it out asap so I can feel better and get my running back up to par!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here I Go Again...

And I'm back to running again!  All my good intentions for running in Athens flew right out the window and I spent most of my limited free time napping, because I was so jet-lagged.  I'm still not sure I ever really acclimatized to the time difference, especially after I stayed up until about 5:30am Greek time on the last night I was there and never felt tired, even without coffee.  And I had to be up at 7am to leave the hotel to catch my plane.  So all of that, plus the return jet lag and a general exhaustion that seems to have set in over the past few weeks has thrown me right off track.  I'm not sure what it is, but I've just been. so. tired. lately. 

So I gave myself this weekend to get as much sleep as possible, since I was out of town last weekend, which of course, meant I had trouble falling asleep last night (awesome) even though I was still tired all day long.  I decided I need to be doing more yoga (like every day) and get back to my running, so I picked today as the day to start, no excuses.  I know it's not necessary to start on a Monday, but there's something about starting something new on a Monday that just feels right.  I also decided that I need to be drinking coffee every day, so I got a baby coffee maker on sale at Target yesterday.  So although I was tired today, I didn't feel like my eyes were closing at my desk like I have the last few weeks!

Unfortunately, I had a serious case of the Mondays when I woke up.  Not only had I not fallen asleep until after 2am, but the puppy woke me up at 6:30. I think he knows the time I set my alarm for, and aims for about an hour beforehand, just to keep me from sleeping a decent amount of time.  I refused to let him out, since I know how long he can wait for, but he continued to whine until I finally got up about an hour later. So that started me off grouchy.  But I did get in my yoga practice, and have been feeling it all day particularly in my hip, which makes me realize how long I've been away from it.  Yoga is a funny thing for me - kind of like running - whenever I finish a yoga practice, I feel so good, so centered and much more relaxed and I think "I should do this ALL the time!"  But of course, when the next time to do one rolls around, I think, no, I'm too tired or I have something better today.  Very strange. So I'm hoping I keep it up, because it does have a calming effect on me.

I was feeling motivated after yoga and I had planned to run at lunch, but I realized I had some extra time before work, knew I wouldn't be running far, and also knew that if I waited until lunch, I'd probably talk myself out of it.  So I threw on my running clothes and a fleece (it was in the thirties this am) and quick headed out the door. 

The run was a struggle, but it felt good to do it.  My wishful thinking set my clock at 26 minutes to keep on track with where I was before I left for Athens, but about four minutes into the run, I realized I'd be happy to make 15 minutes.  I pushed myself and did do 15 minutes, about 1.32 miles and an 11:21 pace, playing the Numb (encore) on repeat pretty much the whole way - it's my go-to motivation song.  I definitely felt like I was running faster than the 11:21 pace, but I'll get there...again.  It's frustrating to go back and forth, to lose motivation, and then see how much of my endurance I lose with it and any time I take off, but I felt good when I got home and reminded myself that that important thing was that I got moving today.  If I can keep that up, I'll be in good shape.  And I only have one short conference before the end of the year, so I'm hoping that I won't be able to give myself any excuses!  Plus, I do love my post-run hot shower when the weather is so chilly!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Run Lindsay, Run Receives it's First Blogging Award - From my Sis

Despite a lack of running posts (and running!) lately, Run Lindsay, Run received its first blogging award today from my sister, over at her blog, Mommy Musings.  Thanks Mandy!

So now that I've won this award, I'm supposed to do a few things: 

1-Thank the person who nominated you for this award. (Check)

2-Copy the logo and place it on your blog. (Done)

3-Link to the person who nominated you for this award. (Yup)

4-Name 7 things about yourself that people may not know. (Hmm...)

5-Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.

6-Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.

7-Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they’ve been nominated.

Here are the seven things you may not know about me:

1. I am a recovering perfectionist who likes having everything just so. I have trouble doing things if I think they won't turn out right or I won't be good at them.  But I'm getting better at it, because I've really seen how perfectionism gets in the way of enjoying life!

2. I'm one of the world's pickiest eaters, though I'll pretty much try anything once.  I really don't like seafood or vegetables, but I did just find out over the weekend that I like scrambled eggs when they have more than just eggs and salt in them!

3. I have two tattoos.

4. I have dual citizenship with the US and England, because my dad is British.  But I still don't have my UK passport.

5. I am way too plugged in to social networking and my email.  I thought I would have a forced break this weekend because I usually don't get service on my phone in Lake Placid, but AT&T has gotten better.  I checked my email and Facebook way too much.

6. I don't like talking on the phone and almost never call people.  I was a telemarketer right after college and had to make 100-150 phone calls a day, and it basically killed any desire to pick up the phone ever again. I'm always afraid I'll be bothering the person I'm calling.

7. I have a terrible sweet tooth.  I'm working on not eating as much candy lately, which was going well until I had to grab some candy as my lunch at a rest stop while driving home yesterday (the line for real food was almost out the door because 72 tourist buses had just arrived. At 3pm. C'mon people).  I drink a Pepsi every day, and really love brownies and a good chocolate chip cookie.  There's not many sweet things I don't like, though chocolate by itself will often give me a headache.

My seven blogs are:

I never miss a post from these ladies!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Last Run Before Athens

Another quick post - today, I am off to Athens!  So yesterday, I got in one last run before my trip, hitting a local park with my sister and niece.  My goal was 26 minutes, and with beautiful weather yesterday, it was a great day for running.  Aside from races, I've never run with anyone else, so I wasn't sure how well I'd do.  But we had fun - we started very slow because my sister has to push the jogging stroller with the baby in it, but I think that again helped me to get through the whole run feeling pretty good.  She broke off after  a couple of laps and I continued, doing about 2.2 miles in 26 minutes.  Not very fast at more than a 12-minute mile, but I was glad to get out there, enjoy the weather, and have a nice run with my sister.

Hopefully I'll get a run in on Wednesday at the hotel and Saturday afternoon as well!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Quick Update - Did Get a Run in Today!

Just a quick update, since I'm rushing around trying to get out the door to head to my parents' house.  Despite waking up with a mild migraine thanks to regular lack of sleep this week, I made myself put on my running clothes first thing so I'd make sure to go for a run.  A 24-minute run, combined with 3 Excedrin migraine actually seemed to help (maybe it's the opening of the blood vessels).  I really focused on slowing down today because I wasn't feeling so hot, and I actually felt good the whole run for a change - good stuff!  I'm a bit bummed that my overall pace is down, but I'd rather be able to finish a run feeling good once in a while and be a bit slower, and build my speed over time.  So today, I finished 2.07 miles in 24 minutes, an 11:35 pace.  Next run on Sunday up at my parents' and then off to Greece!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Blustery Run - the Wind is Back!

Today is a cold, rainy, blustery day. Great running weather.  Also great weather for curling up in a big cozy bed for a nap, but unfortunately, that's not on my to-do list today. 

I did however, go for a run.  It was cold enough when I left that although I was wearing my running tights and a tee shirt, I was wishing for a sweatshirt - I was so glad to finally have a chill before I started running! 

On the schedule for today - 22 minutes. As I started running, I could feel myself going a bit fast because it was chilly.  That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but I recently read that if you start off slow, it delays the build-up of lactic acid, which is what causes fatigue.  So I kept trying to focus on slowing myself down.  Sometimes, the wind helped with that, because it was blowing hard enough to take my breath away today.  Lovely.  I remembered how much I really hate that first mile and kept hoping that the second mile would be better.  I did eventually find a good pace, which surprised me, because it's been a while since I've felt like I've settled into a pace at all.  Usually, it's a lot of huffing and puffing and being convinced that I'm going to die and then slowing down to walk and mentally beating myself up for not being able to run when it's humid and hot.  But today, I felt more comfortable, finally - yay!  I did end up with a stitch in my side for the second run in a row, but since I'm not eating right before I run, I think it must be that my breathing is not where it's supposed to be because I'm out of practice.  Hopefully that will come back soon and I can  pick up the pace a bit. 

I ran the entire 22 minutes, which made me very happy that I've been setting and achieving my goals for each run.  I managed 2 miles in 22:02, or an 11:01 pace - still slower than I'd like, but I'll get there.  Once I'm up to regular 35 minute runs, I'll throw in some speed work.

Friday is my last run at home before I head to my parents for the weekend, a run up there on Monday, and then a business trip to Athens!  Since it's hilly there, I've already checked to see that they have a very nice gym at the hotel, and hopefully I can sneak in a couple of runs while I'm there, so I don't lose my momentum.  I still don't feel like I've been the same runner since I missed that week of running in June for our San Francisco conference.  So we'll see how it goes!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Heat Returns & I Slow Down

As I left for my run this morning, I was nervous. Even a little afraid. I wasn't sure why - I was planning to run 20 minutes this morning, and after all, I've run 20 minutes before. Maybe it was because it has warmed up again? But I consoled myself with the thought that this was likely one of the last warm days I'd have to run this year. So I couldn't figure out my apprehension. I suspect it was because I knew my creepy neighbor was out walking his dog, and I worried about running into him. Which I did (though not literally) and he stopped and stared at me as I ran on the other side of the road. Good thing a run cures frustration!

As I started to run, I thought "oof, this is going to be a tough one." But I reminded myself how negative self-talk can really affect a run, and instead focused on getting it done. After the first five minutes, I was struggling. This time, my lungs felt good, but my legs were already tired! I couldn't believe I was only a quarter of the way through! Since it is warmer today than it has been, I tried to focus on slowing down and leading with my hips. It looks like I was successful at slowing down at least, since my per mile time was at least 10 seconds slower than my last two runs - the heat definitely affects me!

The ten minutes in between the first and last five were okay. I kept telling myself to keep running and just to put one foot in front of the other. By the last five minutes, everything was hurting - my legs were giving up, my lungs were burning, and I had a stitch in my side. But I still didn't take a walking break. I just kept running. I ended up doing 1.8 miles in 20:03, an 11:08 pace (14 seconds slower than Saturday). But that's okay - I ran the entire 20 minutes, which is what I wanted to do, and I'm using the heat and only one recovery day as my excuses for slowing down. We'll see what Wednesday brings!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Time for Good Runs!

Despite an overwhelming desire to stay in bed all morning, I did push myself to get up and run today (much to my dog's dismay, who was all set to spend all morning napping on my bed). Although I'd initially thought that I would get a week of 15 minute runs in, I decided to push myself this morning and make it 18 minutes. Not a big difference, but I'd love to get back to running 35 minutes easily sooner rather than later, so I need to get a move on!

The weather today was cool and overcast, but it's still a bit humid. I could tell this was playing havoc with me as I got through the first five minutes, and my mind definitely wanted me to take a walking break or reduce my overall time. But I knew that I'd never get back to where I want to be without ignoring the whiny voice in my head, so I just kept running. My legs felt pretty good (though my quads were definitely SORE for the two days after my first run back) and it was just my lungs holding me back - my level of endurance has definitely decreased. I'm hoping that because I'm starting back up running in September, that I'll have a number of good months of running under my belt (and that it won't really snow too much this winter), so that I can really be committed to running next summer. Or maybe I'll just join a gym for the summer, so that I don't have to deal with the humidity!

At any rate, I was definitely struggling towards the end of the run, but I just kept focusing on how good I would feel to finish it and how much I wanted to be able to run that 18 minutes easily soon. I finally hit my mark, and ran 1.65 miles, or a 10:54 pace. It's nice to see that I'm running a decent pace when I feel like I'm running SO SLOWLY and I hope that bodes well for future runs!

I had wanted to get this run in yesterday (which would have allowed me to wallow in bed for the morning), but we had a nasty two-day storm hit the coast here. I know that north Jersey had some rain too, but we got hit hard enough to flood the road that I run on (further up from where I was today), and a lot of surrounding towns had several feet of water in the road. I was lucky to avoid that, but the rain and wind were so loud on Thursday night that I didn't get very much sleep, as I worried about my new fence and crawl space. So I decided that although I don't mind a good run in the rain, it's probably not that safe to run with high winds that can fling debris at you. I'm not crazy or anything!

But speaking of crazy, I am planning to do this year's Ocean Running Club Reindeer Romp, which is a 5k held in early December. I know some people might think that's nuts, but I'd rather run in the cold than the heat! Plus, it should be fun. It also looks like they do a winter running series in the same park as the summer series, starting in January, so I might sign up for that as well. The more 5k's I can push myself to do, the better!

My next run should be on Monday, and I'm planning to push my time up to 20 minutes!

Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11-2001 - Never Forget

Today, I break from posts about running to remember the events of September 11, 2001. On that day, I was a senior in college, asleep on my futon. With the head of my bed closest to our phone, I was the one to pick it up when it rang that beautiful sunny September morning. I heard my roommate's boyfriend (now husband) ask for her, and he sounded so terrible, I thought someone in his family had died. In shock as she listened to him, she told me to put on the tv and we saw the results of the first plane's hit on the North Tower. I knew my dad was supposed to fly to Portugal that day for a conference, and had it in my head that his flight was that morning. In a panic, I managed to get him on the phone before the lines were too busy with frantic calls from loved ones and found out his flight was supposed to be later that day. Since then, I've heard so many stories like that of near escapes and plain luck.

My roommate and I watched in shock and horror as the second plane crashed into the South Tower. We called our friends in the next dorm to see if they'd heard the news, and found out that one of them had a cousin who worked there (we later found out that she was just in the lobby when the plane hit, and managed to get out safely). We decided that we just wanted to be together, so I vaguely remember rushing around to throw on some clothes so we could head over there. I was standing at the sink, my roommate at her dresser, when we heard Matt Lauer say the South Tower had collapsed. I thought he must be kidding, and we rushed back to the tv to see that it was true. After we reached our friend's dorm room, the four of us watched the North Tower collapse, at first believing it to be re-aired footage of the first collapse.

At that time, it felt like pure chaos. On the news, they were saying that more than 30 planes were unaccounted for, and as we heard about the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of flight 93, I wondered when it would end. It felt like the end of the world. We were devastated, horrified, scared, and overwhelmed. Finally, there was an eerie calm as we tried to make sense of it. I still had to go to my job, first a lunch with my boss and another student - my boss was originally from Rockland county, so she knew firefighters in New York. I'm not sure how that lunch went because we were both in a fog, but I do remember watching the coverage with her when we got back to the computer lab where I worked. We were still in shock.

The campus posted a website where they would update the names of those who had confirmed that they were okay in New York and D.C., so we watched for friends' names to pop up. Our college lost three alumni that day. The school put together a hasty memorial service for that night and most professors cancelled classes. The next day, I was with three classmates on an errand when the 7pm memorial time started - the President had called the nation to stand outside with candles at that time, in memory of those we had lost. I stood in a parking lot with these three friends for an hour, until candle wax was melting over our fingers and the flame was threatening to burn out. Motorists honked and waved. More people joined us and we cried together. But it was comforting, the togetherness. I always think of that night on the 9/11 anniversary.

And I think about my dad. My dad who almost worked at Cantor Fitzgerald and was almost working there that day. My dad, who had to sit in his office alone and watch friends and former colleagues perish as the towers fell. What a nightmare for him, but how fortunate for my family that his life had taken a different turn. I think of those friends. Kevin Dennis, a stock broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, who left behind his wife and two young twin sons. Randy Scott, a broker at Euro Traders, who left behind his wife and three daughters and who I can still remember sitting on the couch in our living room in Old Tappan. And many more. It reminds me that just because time passes, the loss is no less great. I saw some of the young children at the memorial today, and knew that they may have never known the loved ones their families were mourning.

Since 9/11, I have watched friends and family serve overseas because of the events of that day - my brother-in-law, cousin, their friends and our friends. Their service and the sacrifice of their families reminds me of 9/11. And I long for that sense of unity and community I felt in the days and weeks after the terrible events of that day - the sense that we could all get through this together.

Today, as I watched the families and volunteer representatives read the almost 3,000 names, I cried along with the family members who broke down remembering their loved one. I thought about how I would feel if it were my sister, my father, my husband, my best friend lost that day. My heart goes out to them and I hope they can find strength and peace today. A father who had lost his son said that it wasn't raining today - that these were tears. I think he's right.

9/11 - We will never forget.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Back!

I would like to say that I've spent the last 18 days running or biking and just forgetting to blog, but unfortunately, that's not the case!

Following my post about the Run for the Fallen, I dealt with another week of that brutal migraine. Even though the weather vastly improved, I was still feeling sick, exhausted, and as if a truck had run over me. Finally, I started to feel better and the weather cooled off enough that it would be possible for me to run in the middle of the day (which is what I prefer). But I was scared. I hadn't run as much as I should have this summer, because I hate humidity and getting up early, and I didn't know where that left me. I'd started to really despise running this summer, and I wanted to get back to a more consistent schedule with the better weather, but I was afraid that I'd still hate it. That I couldn't run as far or as fast. That coming back would be too hard, since I hadn't been a runner for that long.

But basically, I just needed to get back on the horse and do it again. I had thought about running over the weekend, but a fence project took priority and meant all of my muscles were sore and already pushed to the limits. So that left starting today. After another migraine last night, I wasn't sure how I'd feel when I woke up this morning. I did feel tired, but I knew it was just excuses and worried that if I didn't just get out there and run, I'd never do it. I wanted to push myself and figured that I couldn't skip the workout if I was already dressed for it! So I put on my running clothes and decided to run around lunchtime.

I figured I'd start off the run and see how I felt before making a decision as to how long to run for. As I picked up the pace, I felt pretty good - much better than the sick, mushy feeling I had gotten every time I ran when it was humid. What a relief! I reminded myself that I normally struggle through the first mile, and thought I'd try for 20 minutes. But around six minutes, I realized that I'd never make 20 and instead decided to go for 15. I kept up my pace and ran with my hips, turning around at 7:30. As I neared the 15-minute mark, I realized that I wasn't going to make it to where I'd started, so I had to make a decision - did I push it and continue to run until I got back to my starting point? Or did I listen to my body, which thought the last 30 seconds was some of the toughest running I've done? I decided I needed to push it, and it turned out to only be an additional 45 seconds. I did 1.44 miles in 15:45, which is a 10:56 pace.

Although it wasn't one of my longer runs, it's the longest I've run consecutively in a while, so I'm happy with it. I was also glad to see that my speed (for me, under 11 minutes is good) did come back with the dip in temperature and humidity, so that made me feel pretty good too. My plan is to get back up to running 35 minutes, three days a week and I think I can do that well into the winter, since we don't get a lot of snow or ice here. I felt a good tired when I got back from the run, which I haven't felt in a long time, so I'm looking forward to jumping back into the routine!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Run for the Fallen - an Incredible Experience

As you may know from my earlier post, this past Saturday was NJ's Run for the Fallen, which was an awesome experience.

After a week away from running (and really any athletic activity at all), I was honestly a bit apprehensive about the run. Towards the end of the week, the weather report was calling for major storms on Friday and Saturday, separate from Hurricane Bill which was to be 400 miles off the coast of NJ by Saturday afternoon. As I drove to my parents' for dinner on Friday night, I could see dark black clouds rolling in and we all expected the storms to converge on the area with a bang.

But no. Instead, only more and more humidity rolled in.

I had friends coming in Friday night and Saturday morning (two of whom would also be running with me), and we woke up to bright sun on Saturday, which eventually gave way to clouds. An afternoon spent on the beach with a nice breeze gave me hope that the run would be cool enough and that the migraine that had started on Friday afternoon would dissipate, but neither of those things happened. I kept thinking about the active duty and reserve airmen and soldiers who had been running through NJ since 6am that morning and hoping that the humidity hadn't been too hard on them. We would be meeting up with runners around mile 75, where they would be placing a mile marker for 1st Lt. Michael Cleary, Hamilton class of 2003 and the inspiration for the first national Run for the Fallen held last year. Any time I thought about how little I've been running lately, or how humid it would be, I just remembered that we'd be running for military men and women who can't run anymore. After the run, I got to go home to my nice air conditioned house, where I could take a shower and rest, while these service members don't get to go home again. Running a couple of miles was the least I could do.

Around 5:30, we headed out to where I thought mile 75 was and it turned out I'd mapped it just past there (I'm legendary for getting lost, so it's really a miracle we found them at all). But the important thing was the run itself, so when we saw the two-man team running with their flags and a police escort, along with Warriors' Watch, we joined up. As the run's organizer, Bubba Beason, later told the paper, the "humidity along Route 9 [was] so thick you could cut it with a knife." It felt like running through a sauna. But it was worth it. We stopped at the first mile marker (for us, mile 76 for the overall run) to place a flag and card in remembrance of Spec. Gil Mercado of Paterson, NJ.

As the runners headed out again, we met up with Bubba (known in my first post as "The guy in charge, who said they'd love to have me") who had been in the first team of runners that morning, and was following the runners in a pickup. He thanked me for doing this, which made me laugh, because it felt like such a small gesture in return for the gratitude I feel for our military, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. I think he could also tell I was already getting overheated, because he offered to give me a ride up to the next mile marker. So did another nice woman escorting the runners. But I felt like I would be cheating - I was running such a small distance, how could I give up and accept a ride?

We were a little ways behind the other runners at that point, and after a few more minutes. I was really struggling. I told my friends to go on ahead while I walked for a few minutes. I alternated running and walking to the next mile marker, in remembrance of Pfc. Bruce Miller Jr. of Orange, NJ. I didn't make it in time for the flag placing, but I was determined to make it to the next mile marker, even if I had to crawl there.

A few of the passing motorists honked as they passed and there were a few people gathered at each of the mile markers, which I thought was great. I wished more people had been there to remember the fallen, but at least there are some who never forget. And since Bubba's planning to continue doing this year after year, I'm sure it will only build on itself!

The last mile I ran (& walked) was certainly the slowest, but I pushed myself (I made it almost 3 miles total). I missed the flag placing at the final mile marker we stopped at, in remembrance of Sgt. Trista Moretti of South Plainfield, NJ and I couldn't have been happier to have been a part of the run. Overall the run raised $16,000 and my friends and family generously donated $190 of that. After we left the runners, they continued on to Toms River, where they stopped for the night before running the next day north to Holmdel. The run ended with a 10k that other volunteers could register for and run, capped off with a ceremony at the NJ Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. For the full story and photos, check out the Asbury Park Press. I would have loved to participate in the final five miles, but the migraine finally did me in and landed me in bed for two days (hence the late post).
Continuing Run for the Fallen in NJ this year was a great thing that Bubba and his fellow runners accomplished and I'm so grateful that I could be a little part of it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Short Run, Sore Quads

You know what they say about the best laid plans...

I was actually thinking about getting in a bike ride on Wednesday night, right up until about lunchtime, when a fierce thunderstorm blew in here and pounded us with lightning, thunder, and enough rain to flood my entire yard and my crawl space. So instead of sneaks, I was sporting knee high rubber boots and babysitting my sump pump.

But since I'd gotten a run in that morning, I didn't feel too bad. And it turned out it was probably better that I skipped the bike. I seem to have a delayed reaction to bike riding. Whenever I go for a ride, I feel great the next day - no muscle soreness or tiredness, which was what allowed me to feel pretty good on Wednesday's run (aside from the humidity of course). But when I woke up on Thursday, holy quad-soreness Batman! That hour bike ride on Tuesday night followed by 25 minutes of running on Wednesday morning kicked my butt!

Fortunately, quad soreness does not result in any funny walking, except for when going up and down stairs. And of course, yesterday was laundry day, so I got to do that a lot. Awesome. My legs were still sore enough last night that I debated whether I'd get up and run this morning. I figured I should plan for it though, in case it was good running weather. When my alarm went off and I checked the temperature, it was only 61 degrees - I knew I'd kick myself later if I didn't push myself out of bed and out the door, so I got myself up and ready.

Of course, 61 degrees sounds beautiful. And it would be. If it wasn't also already 88% humidity.

Because of the high humidity and my quads still feeling the burn, I decided to stick with a shorter run that was all run, no walking. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying close enough attention to be able to map my run correctly, but from my estimates, I think I was fairly close to a 10 minute pace (which I keep thinking just CAN'T be right, but who knows). I pushed myself to run 15 minutes, which is the longest consecutive time I've run in a few weeks and once my quads warmed up, they actually felt pretty good. My main problem again was overheating quickly. Even though I definitely felt sick at the end of the run, I was satisfied with it because it was one of those runs that showed me that once the cooler weather comes around, I'll be back to longer runs again. Although I love sitting on the beach in the warmer weather, the fall is my favorite season for a lot of reasons, and I really can't wait for the cooler weather to come back!

So hopefully this weekend I can get in a couple of bike rides and swims in between beach time!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's a Tie

Last night, I finally got out for a bike ride again. It's been so unbelievably humid the last few days, which has some people saying "Yay! Summer is finally here!" and me saying "Where's fall already??" Because it took me until after 3am to fall asleep on Sunday night, I've been having trouble motivating myself in any way to get up early to run. Because I'd missed runs all weekend with friends in town, I was feeling very lazy yesterday. So I pushed myself to get on the bike last night and spend an hour cruising around the various dead end streets around my neighborhood. It was certainly humid, but you always get a better breeze on the bike, so it didn't seem nearly as impossible as running would have. And I'm really loving the exhaustion I'm getting in my quads and hamstrings after a long ride. Plus, riding my bike around here always reminds me of why I moved here in the first place - I can take in the hazy sunset over the swampy marshland just across from the bay and smell the salty breeze as it wafts in from the water. At that time of night, the water is my favorite - I would never get in it after watching Shark Week and gaining the knowledge that sharks feed at that time of day, but it's a reflective blue that shimmers in the waning sun, a color that you get no other time of the day. Riding a bike seems to give me the mental relaxation that allows me to take that all in - whenever I'm running, especially in the humidity, I'm mostly thinking of survival, so I don't notice as much. Though when the weather was cooler, I was trying to take the time to soak it all in!

After I got back, slick with sweat, I was ready for a dip in the pool. I changed into my suit, but then got a phone call from an old friend right before I headed out the door. Old friends are certainly more important than the pool, so I'll have to leave that for another night! I think it may have been better that I skipped it anyway, because I might have been less motivated to get up this morning for a run. I was still tired when my alarm went off, but not the sick-tired I've been feeling, so I focused on the endorphins the run would bring, threw on my clothes and headed out the door.

Although it was only about 71 degrees, the humidity was still pretty high (really any humidity is too high for me :)). Despite this, I was determined to get in a good run. I started slow to compensate for the weather and reminded myself of how much I always hate the first mile. I was keeping slightly more than a 10-minute pace for the first mile, which felt slow but obviously wasn't slow enough. I started to get overheated around the 8-minute mark, and told myself I'd do 10-10-10 running with 5 minutes of walking in between each interval. I felt okay around the 10-minute mark, so I changed my mind and wanted to push myself to 15 minutes.

Well, that was silly.

Around 11 minutes, I felt very overheated, so I slowed to a walk for five minutes. I was right by the water at this point, and this time of morning is always beautiful. If you're a morning person. And fishing instead of running. But I digress. There was a slight breeze, but the humidity is so high that it was more about moving around warm air and not cooling me off. I still felt hot, so I decided I'd switch to 10 minutes, 5 walking, 8 minutes, 5 walking, 6 minutes and done. I started up my eight minute interval and pushed myself as much as I could. Around six minutes, I very much wanted to stop, but I'd made a decision, so I kept going. I was very happy to walk for five minutes and was definitely regretting my decision to wear a hat. With short hair, it's tough - I like to wear a hat to keep it out of my face (and avoid crazy runner hair), but heat escapes from your head, so it actually makes me hotter. I'm still working on the balance and basically just waiting for the cooler weather so I can be happy again about running.

After my second five-minute walk, I started to run again and realized that I had turned around too late and was actually going to finish the run pretty far from home. Ugh. By this time, I was so thirsty, I felt like I'd never make it. A police officer passed in his car, and I actually wondered if he might have some water in there and think I looked pathetic enough to stop and give it to me. He didn't. But I wanted to finish my six minutes, so I kept at it, ending up with what I thought was a sharp pebble in the back of my shoe with about 90 seconds left to go. I kept telling myself "You can do anything for 90 seconds," and then the same for 60 and 30 and 15 seconds. Finally, I was done. I wiped at the pebble in my shoe, but it kept bugging me, so I finally sat down to take a look. No pebble, just a nice blister - I guess my sock had slipped down a little! I limped for a few minutes until the pain became manageable and I cooled off a bit. Realizing how far I still had to walk, I got bored quickly and decided I could make it another two minutes. So I pushed myself to run another two minutes, which definitely did me in.

By the time I got home, I was very excited about two things:

1) That I had air conditioning. Which was on.

2) That I had remembered to fill the Brita the night before, so I had a lot of cold, cold water waiting just for me. So. Good. Although really, I kept thinking about Pepsi, which I've been limiting lately. I think it may be just too good for me to actually give up, no matter how bad it is for me. I just have a sweet tooth that won't be denied!

I was also very excited about the post-run shower. Until I got in and remembered how much it hurts to run water over a fresh blister. Good thing I just wear flip flops around the house. The joys of running.

Despite that, I was very satisfied with making myself get up and run today and I'm really feeling the exhaustion in my legs, which have stiffened up nicely. I still wasn't thrilled with having to walk some, but I'm redefining success for this summer as being any running at all in this humidity. Although I felt like the humidity beat me today, someone pointed out that it really was more of a tie, so I'll take that. I'll reassess when the nicer weather arrives in the fall, and I'm very excited to get back to some real running, when the only thing I'm battling is the limitations of my own body. Hopefully tonight I might get in a bike ride or swim, but I might put those off until tomorrow morning. It's still a constant struggle of always being happy and satisfied when I do workout, but still putting it off as much as possible. I'm blaming the weather - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Missing those Humidity-less Days!

Well, faithful readers, I have again been neglecting my blog, and my running! After the final ORC Summer Series 5k, I found it tough to get back into the swing of running, despite my best intentions. However, last Saturday, I woke up early, saw that it was only 70 degrees outside and felt that I NEEDED to run.

I gave myself the goal of 35 minutes, but it turned out that the humidity was pretty high that morning, which sapped all my endurance. I decided that rather than beat myself up for getting so tired during my runs lately that I have to include some walking breaks, I'd just admit that the summer's humidity was getting to me, and make the best of them. So I managed to get in 25 minutes of solid running, broken up with a total of ten minutes of walking breaks. Not too bad.

After that decent run, I felt motivated to get back into my three-day a week schedule. I decided that part of my problem was not getting to bed early enough, so I've been working (successfully) on making myself get into bed and trying to fall asleep before 11, to give me a solid 8 hours of sleep before a 7am run. However, it seems that my body has had other plans. Every night this week, starting with Sunday night, I've had a violent nightmare, scary enough to wake me out of a deep sleep. And since I'm such a great sleeper to start with, it then takes me anywhere from 30-60 minutes to fall back asleep, which has left me exhausted in the mornings. So I've been skipping the runs.

However, much to my own surprise, I haven't been sitting on the couch. Sunday morning, I took a nice thirty-minute swim at the condo pool (which sounds cool, but honestly, I can only do the breast stroke, and only with my head above the water. I'm so sporty.), and Monday and Wednesday, I took evening bike rides. Monday was my first time on a bike in about fifteen years - when I was a teenager, I rode my bike through what I thought was a small pile of sand. It turned out to be enough to turn my wheel and result in a crash - nothing like falling right onto sand and pavement. I haven't really been on a bike since, but my dad recently got new tires for my bike (which I honestly didn't still think we had) and my brother-in-law and sister dropped it off last weekend. So it was clearly time to get back on the bike.

I didn't want to put the bike in my shed, partly because I knew it would be a convenient place to just forget about it, and partly because my creepy neighbor was sitting outside at the time and I didn't want to deal with his interrogation and snarky remarks about my bike. So instead, I'm storing it right in my living room. I've found that's a good motivator. So Monday night, I took it easy, cruising around some of the side streets near my house and realizing that if you're going to live at the beach, you really should have a bike to ride. I would have ridden again Tuesday, but anyone who's been away from bike riding for an extended period of time, only to come back to it again, knows that it takes a WHILE to readjust and get comfortable.
Yesterday, after yet another nightmare ruined my plans for a morning run, I figured I'd give an evening run a shot. Until I saw that the temperature at 5:30 was 90 degrees. And it was still humid. While some people like to run in the humidity, it gives me an almost instant headache, so I decided instead to break out the bike again. This time, I pushed myself hard, putting the bike in a tougher gear than Monday's ride and pushing myself a bit so I could really feel the burn in my quads. When I run, I really feel the run more in my calves, so I think biking will be a good off-running day activity to really strengthen my legs. I rode about 5 miles in a half hour (I want to think that's pretty good, but I think some triathletes are doing between 25-30 an hour, so I feel a bit wimpy as usual). But I definitely felt as if I could have fallen right over by the time I got back home, so I was happy with the workout nonetheless.

This morning would have been a perfect morning for a run, because it was cool, low humidity and raining. But I again had a crazy nightmare that woke me up, and the sudden wake-up combined with the weather was a recipe for the perfect migraine. So instead of running, I took three Excedrin migraine, ate a yogurt to coat my stomach, put my eye mask back on and tried in vain to get comfortable or fall back asleep. So no running today, but some yoga might be in the cards for tonight! I'm hoping this weather sticks around for the morning, so that I can get a nice run in tomorrow!

I'm also looking forward to those humidity-less days that will hopefully come with September. I found a new plan on for doubling my mileage (for those 5k slowpokes like me), and once it cools off a bit, I plan to put it into effect. But meanwhile, I have to get my mileage back up for the Run for the Fallen run coming up in a couple of weeks - good thing we'll be breaking at each mile marker, though I still highly doubt I can keep up a 9:30 pace with those soldiers!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Humidity, Bugs and the Final ORC Summer Series 5k

Tonight was the final 5k in the Ocean Running Club's Summer Series. I felt far less grouchy about it than I had last week, mostly because my legs were feeling pretty strong after Sunday's run and three solid days of yoga. When this morning dawned grey and rainy, I took that as a good sign that maybe the weather would be cool enough for the race. Unfortunately, the only thing the rain brought with it was heavy humidity, so much so that it felt more like you were wearing a wet blanket than standing outside. And with the humidity came the tiny bugs that are common here at the beach. I figured that at least the threat of bugs biting me would motivate me to run faster!

As race time drew near, it started to pour outside. I had high hopes that it would keep up, so that the rain would keep me cool. But it eventually stopped, leaving us with a pocket of humidity and bugs right in time for the race. Good times.

But I was ready. The kids headed out for their one-mile run, and the first runners back were hitting 6-minute miles - pretty impressive! Then, the race-walkers headed out. There were only four of them this week, and I managed to pass two of them during my run, so I thought that was a vast improvement. Finally, it was race time. We lined up, slowpokes in the back as usual, and a woman standing next to me asked if everyone racing was a serious runner. I told her that a lot of them were, but that she wouldn't see any real competition from me. She had just come to the park for her regular run and heard about the race, so she signed up. I thought we'd pace each other throughout the run, but she was much faster than me from the get-go!

The race finally started and we headed out. I kept a slow-ish pace to start with, not wanting to push myself too hard and burn out from the humidity too early. After the first mile, I was at 10:07, five seconds faster than last week's first mile. I knew I'd have to push myself the rest of the way if I wanted to finish faster than last week's time. I dug deep for the second mile, rounded the water stop and hit the second mile marker at 20:34, MUCH faster than last week's time of 21:14. I knew if I kept it up, I would be on pace to beat last week's time at least, if not my first 5k. So despite feeling the effects of the humidity, I continued to push myself through the third mile. I alternately felt nauseous and lightheaded, but figured as long as I didn't pass out, I was in good shape!

Coming into the last tenth of the mile, I kept the finish in sight and it looked like it was just moving further and further away. But finally, I was there! Finishing at 32:03, a full minute ahead of last week's time, also a full 44 seconds ahead of my first 5k! Still a minute more than my PR, but someday, I'll be faster!

Afterwards, I was soaked with sweat, so bugs were sticking to my legs and the rain was picking up again. It didn't look like too many people were sticking around for the limited pasta, so instead, I headed out to Sonic for the first time, to celebrate with a strawberry limeade, which tasted remarkably like key lime pie in a cup - delicious! And now it's back to more week-day runs, starting with Friday!

**Update: Official results from last week put me at 101, with an official final time of 33:04.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Run, Lindsay, Run and Good Causes

Though I have been remiss in blogging lately, I actually haven't been remiss in running...well, mostly. But since I'm working on dedicating any time away from the office to becoming a professional beach bum, I haven't been as vigilant about keeping up on blogging about my athletic pursuits.

Last Sunday, I was too unmotivated to run, so I made the decision to delay it until Monday. Although the weather was beautiful this weekend, there have been a couple of odd humid days (which you know I love), so on Monday, I decided to follow some of Cool Running's advice for beating the heat and planned to break up a thirty minute run into three ten-minute runs. I'd had a nagging pain in my right knee for a couple of days, so I'd also picked up a knee brace to run with. My first ten-minute run went pretty well. It was definitely hot, but I made it just over a mile in the ten minutes, so I felt pretty good. My knee was sore afterwards, but I pushed on for the second ten-minute run around lunchtime, slowing my pace to account for the increase in temperature and running in the direct sun. After that, I was really feeling some soreness in my knee, so I decided to nix the third run for the day.

The following day was week three (week two for me) of the Ocean Running Club's Summer Series 5k. The weather was beautiful, but despite this, I had little to no interest in driving thirty minutes north to run 3.1 miles. My leg hurt and I was in a bad mood, and I just felt like sitting on the couch and watching tv. But of course, Coach J got wind of my malaise and threated to come down here to kick my butt, so off I went. I tried to psych myself up for it, first watching the kids one-miler (which, by the way, is not billed as a kids race on their website. And I think that's why there was one adult running in it. He came in slower than my one-mile time would have been, so I felt pretty good about that). The first five kids to finish were all girls, which meant a lot of cheering from the crowd. But as I looked around, I realized that again, most of the group was serious runners. I had high hopes for myself in my age group, since when I registered I was only the second one on the list, but I was still feeling my amateur status. We finally lined up after the 5k racewalkers had taken off - and let me tell you, they may look funny, but they are FAST - and again, they told those of us who "weren't competitive" to head to the back. I like starting in the back anyway, because I'd rather pass people than be passed. But it's a little disconcerting to run with the group that has strollers and dogs with them, and they're keeping pace. Also, when you only pass one racewalker the whole time. That's just sad.

Anyway, the race got underway, and I pushed it. I knew what my time had been the week before, and I wanted to improve on that. After all, my first two 5k's were much faster than last week's, though I am trying to take into account the fact that they were both in early May, when it was cool and overcast, versus high 70's/low 80's in the middle of July. The first mile was tough again, but knowing the course helped a little. I tried to start out slower than I had last week, and managed to get to the first mile at about 10:12. I knew I'd really slowed down after that in week 1, so I tried to keep my pace, and came in to mile 2 at 21:14. Not fast, but better than the previous week. At this point, I felt like I was running through a rain forest. Even though it was less humid and cooler than the previous week, it still felt tropical for a run to me. I kept telling myself that the end of the trees and the finish was just around the corner, and finally it was. Despite being one of the last few to come in (still no idea of overall placement, because they don't post full results), I managed to come in at 33:03 and 101st overall. Unfortunately for me, two other girls had signed up in my age group and both had come in much faster than me, so I was fourth out of four. I have a long way to go if I ever want to be fast.

Afterwards, I was dripping with sweat and hurting. My knee pain had morphed into knee pain, plus some sharp and dull calf pain, so I was super excited to drive thirty minutes using that leg. But I knew a lovely ice pack and some ice cream awaited me at home, so that was good motivation. I was glad that I'd be taking a couple of days off, and figured rest, Aleve, ice, and sports cream would make the difference. Unfortunately, though my knee seemed to loosen up, my calf seemed to get worse every day. By Friday, I had a dull ache constantly, with sharper pain whenever I was walking, especially on stairs. Very strange. I decided to nix Friday's run in exchange for more rest, but yesterday, I knew I needed to get another run in before Tuesday's final ORC Summer Series 5k if for no other reason than to be able to tell myself mentally that I could do it. I thought stretching would be in order, and I've been trying to motivate myself to return to yoga, so I did thirty minutes of yoga last night, took some Aleve, put on some sports cream and headed to bed.

When I got up this morning, my calf was worse than yesterday. I still knew giving a run a shot would be the only way to know if this was a sidelining injury or something I could work through. I wanted to do a 35-minute run, and although I normally like to hit a certain distance with that, I decided that the more important thing was just running. My leg actually felt worse when I put on my sneakers, which I thought didn't bode well, but I headed out anyway and started running.

Strangely enough, though both my knees hurt (which they always have), as soon as I started running, I couldn't feel the calf pain anymore. There was one point in the run where that whole section of my leg went numb, but otherwise, it didn't really hurt. Because of my love of sleep, I was running later in the morning than you really should in the summer (though I wasn't the only one out there), so it was pretty hot. But I trudged along, doing my best and not running much slower than my normal pace (which, let's be honest, is pretty darn slow already). I turned around at 17 minutes, and around 20 needed a walking break. Cool Running's website says walking breaks can be important for new runners, and I still consider myself a fairly new runner, having been at this for only 5 months. After three minutes of walking, I picked up the pace again, and took another two-minute walking break with five minutes to go. I finished the last three minutes pretty strongly, and was surprised at how good my calf felt. Even stranger, it's been fine the whole rest of the day. I can feel a twinge of residual pain now and then, but it seems that the run actually helped! I also followed it up with another round of yoga, and plan to do some more tonight, so we'll see how it holds up over the next couple of days and during the last 5k. And although I think it's been good for me to do something structured like the ORC Summer Series, I'll be glad to get back to more of my preferred MWF routine the following week so I can sleep in without guilt on the weekends!

In other running news, I'd like to direct everyone to a blog from another Hamilton graduate - Tim Marman's sister is running in the NYC half-marathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Tim was diagnosed with cancer just before Christmas of 2008, and has been chronicling his battle on his blog, Beat My Cancer. He was recently able to announce that he's currently cancer free, which is awesome, but since there are so many people still battling this terrible disease every day, I think it's important to continue to support the cause. So check out Ally's page here, and please donate. I know it's tough in this economy, but even $5 can help. She's about $500 shy of her goal, and I think it would be awesome for her to blow by that!

Also, another Hamilton graduate, Carlin Mallman, will be running in the Chicago marathon this year to raise money for Team McGraw, on behalf of her mom, who's been battling a brain tumor. She kicked butt in her fundraising and I know training for a marathon is TOUGH, so if you wanted to donate to her cause, I encourage that as well! I think it's pretty awesome when running and good causes come together!

This week, I've got the ORC 5k on tap for Tuesday, and then I'll do a Friday run again. But right now, I have to nurse today's sunburn and do some yoga!

** As an addendum, I just noticed that ORC DOES in fact post the full race results. For my first 5k, I finished in 33:22. Last week's results are yet to be posted.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Run for the Fallen

Despite the best intentions, I gave myself two days off after running on Tuesday. Even with that break though, today's run was still tough for some reason. I think I'm still getting back into the swing of things and have to give myself a break. I figured I'd run 30 minutes today - an easy run, and shorter than the 34 minutes I ran on Tuesday, without being too light. I have to keep in mind that I'm running 5k's for the next two Tuesday's after all!

Ah, but my best laid plans...

I started out feeling pretty good. Even though it's the middle of the day (I should have run first thing this morning, but I just like sleep too darn much!), it's still beautiful out. Low seventies, cool breeze, no humidity - PERFECT weather. At this point, I know you're asking why I'm sitting at the computer writing this blog instead of enjoying the weather outside, and that's an excellent question. But I digress. Once the first couple of minutes went by, I felt the fatigue set in, and the weird ache I've been getting in and around my right knee since yesterday started up. I reminded myself how much I hate the first mile, and thought about how good the second mile had felt on Tuesday. So I hung in there. Unfortunately, the second mile was just as tough as the first, so after twenty minutes, I gave myself permission to walk. Because I'm not training for anything really hard or long, I feel like I can mentally give myself a break sometimes because the point here is to really love running, not to make myself do it until I can't stand it anymore. So I gave myself five minutes to walk, and then ran the last five minutes, pushing myself to go a bit faster. Although I didn't run for 30-minutes, I still got a 25 minute run in there, and my muscles are definitely feeling the burn. And hey, the important thing is that I got three decent runs in this week, and it's been a WHILE since I could say that!

As I mentioned, I'm not training for any big races, but yesterday, I got some news that will motivate my running for the next month. Run for the Fallen was started in 2008 by 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary's best friends and classmates from Hamilton College (my alma mater). Michael was killed in Iraq on December 19, 2005, only a few shorts weeks before he was to return home and marry his high school sweetheart. Although I didn't know Michael (he was a year behind me), I certainly saw him around campus - Hamilton is a small school where everyone knows everyone, and everyone's business. The team that created Run for the Fallen wanted to honor Michael and the other military men and women who have lost their lives fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Beginning Flag Day, June 14, 2008, a dedicated team of runners ran across America from Fort Irwin, CA to Arlington National Cemetery, one mile for every Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, and Marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. For ten weeks, team members marked each mile with an American flag and signcard in an apolitical reflection of remembrance of each service member.On August 24, 2008 runners from around the world joined Run for the Fallen in remembering our fallen. Over 9,000 participants ran over 35,000 miles in remembrance of those fallen in OIF and OEF. Just incredible.

I remember learning about Run for the Fallen last year, and I really wanted to do it. But I wasn't a runner, and I thought my inability to run even a mile wouldn't do justice to the sacrifice that these men and women, and their families, have made. But this year, I am a runner! I thought about Run for the Fallen yesterday, and googled it to see if they were doing it again this year. It turns out that a team of 24 dedicated runners will run from Cape May, NJ, to Holmdel, NJ, and they will be running right up Route 9 through Barnegat, a five minute walk from my house. They didn't say anything about signing up other runners, but I thought maybe they'd let me run some of it with them. So I emailed the guy in charge, who said they'd love to have me and now I'm just waiting to hear back about when they think they'll be hitting Barnegat - it's a two-day run. I'm so very honored to be able to remember our fallen heroes this way. I don't think the miles I run will ever be more meaningful than the ones I'll run to remember those we've lost. In particular, I'll be running for my cousin's West Point classmates and friends, Lt. Todd Bryant and Cpt. Tim Moshier, as well as Michael Cleary.

Although no contribution is required to run and remember the fallen, I'd like to raise as much money as I can for this important cause. Run for the Fallen NJ is to raise awareness for the fallen soldiers of New Jersey and their families. All proceeds above the event expenses will be donated to the Gold Star Mothers' Monument being built in Washington DC. A Gold Star Mother is a mom that has lost a son or daughter while in defense of our country. If you'd like to make a donation, I've set up a page to do that. As you may know, our military means a lot to me, since I've had a number of friends and family serve, so any donation you make really means so much to me personally.

So now my running takes on some new meaning - nothing spurs you on to push a little harder than thinking of the soldier or the marine who faces danger every day, just so I can run down the street freely.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ocean Running Club's Summer Series

So tonight was the big test for my running comeback - the Ocean Running Club's Summer Series. The series started last Tuesday, but I had a migraine and there were thunderstorms, so I nixed the first week (although that means I'm not eligible for a tee shirt - darn!). But today, I was determined to get there. I knew thunderstorms were again on the agenda for today, so I figured I'd play it by ear and make a game-time decision about whether I'd run the one-mile or the 5k based on how humid it was. I knew the one-mile would be a piece of cake (-ish anyway) and that the 5k would be the real test of how much my running has suffered lately.

When I got there, it was decently humid, but pretty nice with a good breeze, so I decided to run the 5k. It turned out to be a good thing that I skipped the one-mile race anyway, since that seemed to attract more kids, and it would be tough on the ego to be beaten by the kiddos, even though I know they're much, much faster. The 5k attracts the more serious runners, which is always a bit disheartening to me, but I put my game face on and headed for the back of the pack. As one guy put it, "Rabbits in the front, turtles in the back."

The race started out pretty decently. We were running in a park in Toms River, NJ, and it was quite nice in there. The course was not as flat as promised - it was pretty flat, but when you train on a road with literally NO incline, you notice every tiny hill and bump. The first mile felt like it took forever, but I managed to make it in about 10:40 (though it turned out my stopwatch was off by a few seconds). I reminded myself that I usually struggle the first mile, and started to relax into the run a bit. I also tried to slow down a bit, because the humidity was starting to take a toll on me a little. The second mile was better, though a bit more up and down, and I got to the second mile marker at about 22:36. Then, it was time to nail the finish. I had been pacing myself behind these two women for most of the race, and managed to pass them right around the halfway point at the water stop. There was another girl, right around my age, still keeping pace with me, but I pushed myself a bit and managed to lose her behind me. I passed a couple of other people, but most of them had a reason to be slowing down - one guy had a baby carriage, and his baby was crying, so he'd picked him up and was walking, another guy had a dog who needed to stop for a get the picture. But hey, I didn't come in last!

I finished right under 34 minutes, which is 3 minutes slower than my fastest time, and about a minute 15 slower than my first 5k, but I'm pretty happy with it. Being my first 3 mile run in 2 1/2 weeks, I was expecting it to be a tough one, and the heat and humidity (although relatively mild), still played a factor. I was definitely dripping with sweat by the end! I came in 127th place and beat three other girls in my age group, so I'm happy with that. The series goes on for the next two Tuesdays, so I'll be curious to see how I can reduce my time (if I can) and how I feel at the end of it! They're having a pasta party afterwards, and judging by how hungry I am tonight, I'll be ready for it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Despite hosting a 4th of July party that lasted until 1am (ending with a viewing of Quantum of Solace - love that Daniel Craig!) and kept me up until 2:30 putting my house back in order, I was determined to get up and run this morning. If I was one of those people who could survive on five hours of sleep, I would have thrown on my shorts, tee shirt, and sneakers at 8am when the puppy got me up because it was GORGEOUS outside - cool, sunny, not humid and with a lovely breeze. But alas, I love sleep way too much and instead slept a bit longer before finally getting up and easing into the day. Which meant that I started my run just before noon, the hottest part of the day. Awesome.

Fortunately, it was still beautiful out, and though it was really warm, it wasn't that humid and the breeze was still nice. I could have easily put the run off in favor of heading right to the beach, but I'm determined to get back in the habit of running. I decided I'd run 20 minutes today, and I did stick to the plan. The distance felt manageable, but I was still tired at the end, which tells me that so much time off lately has definitely affected my endurance (no surprise there!). But again, the important thing today was that I got out there and ran. Also, my body felt pretty good, and I'm taking into account the weather for the next two months as a big factor in my running, so I think it was a successful run today.
Next run will be a 5k on Tuesday night, with the Ocean Running Club. I'm a bit apprehensive, both about the weather and my ability at this point to run a full 3.1 miles, but I'll give it my best shot! With that run on Tuesday, I'll do a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule this week and see how it goes!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A big decision to make...

Wow, it has been a WHILE since I wrote a running blog. And that's mostly because it's been a WHILE since I've gone running! I will say that after my 10k, I did do a 6 mile run the following Sunday, which just about did me in. I was so miserable and thirsty the whole run, and ended up walking about 8 minutes of a 70 minute run. Ugh.

When I got home from that run, I didn't feel very accomplished. When I first started running, and right up through my 5k's, whenever I ran, I would come home feeling like I'd really accomplished something. Even on days that I didn't really feel like running or when I had a tough run, I was always glad after I'd pushed myself to run. It was very...satisfying. But as you know, after my 5k's, I just couldn't seem to get back into the groove of running. I would take a few days off, more than 2 in a row sometimes, and each time I ran, it was a tough run. It didn't matter what the circumstances were, I struggled. And it was a much tougher battle with myself to get out to run in the first place, and to hit my goals each run. There were a couple of bright spots in there with good runs, but mostly, the longer distances I was running, the more miserable I was becoming.

Finally, the 10k was upon me, and you all know how that went. I realized last week that after my two 5k's, even though I was so tired and sore, I felt so invigorated and exicited. I felt like I'd really done something, accomplished something. But after my 10k, I was just glad to have it over. I'd wanted to skip out on doing it the whole four weeks leading up to it, but because I'd signed up already, I pushed myself to do it. And I didn't feel accomplished; I just felt relieved. And very, very tired.

Because I was so unhappy, I started to give my running some serious consideration over the last couple of weeks. I was on vacation, so I had a lot of time to really think about it. I talked to a few people, and I realized that I was really starting to hate running again. I dreaded pushing my mileage up instead of having that feeling of "cool, I can now run x miles." I even dreaded the "shorter" runs, which to me, still felt so long and exhausting. I started to think that I couldn't carve out that kind of time in my schedule or deal with the humidity, all just excuses to put off running. In short, I was done.

So I had to make a decision - continue to train for the LBI 18-mile race or content myself with being a 5k-ish runner? I knew that physically, I could probably get myself in shape to do 18 miles in October, but that mentally, it might destroy me to do it, and I'd probably never run again after that. But I also had the internal battle of having put the LBI race and running a marathon on my life goals list. Also, I had told a lot of people of my plan to run the 18 mile race - would I be letting them down? It finally came down to a question of what would make me happy. And the answer was to put off the LBI race for at least a year, and instead focus on really learning to love running and to make it a part of my life permanently.

Let me tell you, what a relief it was to come to that decision!

I talked to a few people and they all agreed with me, which made me feel a lot better. A friend reminded me that just because I won't be running the LBI race this year, doesn't mean I can't do it in the future. Even my coach said "Good for you." So that settled it, and now I'm starting to feel excited about getting back to running again. I've decided to go back to the three-day a week schedule (because 4 days was just too much to wrap my brain around), to run 2-4 miles at a time, and get myself to the Ocean Running Club's Summer Series - of which I missed week 1 last week thanks to a migraine.
So the next hurdle was actually starting to run again. I've been away from running for almost two weeks, and in between my 10k and the 6 mile Sunday run, I'd only run for about 10 minutes maybe. I've run about 14 miles in the last 3 weeks, most of that in two runs. I knew I just had to get out there once, see where my body was, and not beat myself up too much about what I've lost. After all, now that I'm not training for a long distance race (though I plan to keep up with 5k's), I don't have to panic if I'm not in top form!

With it being so humid lately, I figured I'd start out with an easy 1-mile run today, follow that up with 2 miles on Sunday, and then head to the ORC summer series 5k on Tuesday night. I really wanted to run about a mile and a half today, but it was pretty humid (since I didn't make myself get up early on my day off or anything!), so I didn't push myself too hard. The important thing was to get back out there. I ran about 0.9 miles in 10 minutes (about an 11:06 pace) and I think it's a good start. I think if I can get myself to keep a consistent schedule, even in these hot, humid summer months, my running will really start to blossom in the fall.
So I plan to be back to my regularly scheduled blogging, and I hope that the shorter runs will do their job of keeping me healthy and lowering my stress, as well as reminding me of how I fell in love with running a couple of months ago. Tomorrow, I'll be celebrating the Fourth of July with friends and family, and especially thinking about our troops, and the sacrifices they've made and are making to give us the freedom we celebrate tomorrow. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July, and if you see a service member, remember to thank them!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I know, I know I've been delinquent...

I know it's been a while since I've posted, and some of that is because I took a little time off, and some of it is just because I've been swamped at work.  My best laid plans to run in San Francisco went right out the window, because my dad did decide to stay behind to be with my mom with everything going on with my grandma, so I was on my own to handle the conference.  With the extra workload, there was almost no time to run (let alone breathe), and then when I did finally have some time, I ended up with a migraine so bad that it wouldn't have been advisable.  Plus, one of our very sweet lawyers insisted that I get a massage at the hotel instead (and when I say insisted, I mean, he actually took me by the elbow and escorted me to the concierge, where he said "this woman has been working too hard! She needs a massage!"  So no running for me, despite my belief that it probably would have helped my stress level and it would have been a cool way to see San Francisco.  And I'd even traveled with all my running stuff, and hunted down the hotel's map of where to run.  But alas, it wasn't meant to be.  I'll just have to go back!

As for an update on my grandma, she's hanging in there, but she's been through a tough time.  When she was admitted to the hospital, they realized she'd had a series of strokes, and after running some tests, also found out that she has colon cancer.  They were able to surgically remove the tumor, at which point they realized she also had gall stones and decided to remove her gall bladder as well.  She's still in the hospital and recovery is slow, but not bad for a woman about to be 86 on Thursday! But it's still a lot of work and worry for my mom, who's been at the hospital almost all day every day since she's been there, and it's been a lot of worry for the rest of the family as well, especially since she's certainly not out of the woods yet and will now require full time care of some type.  

So with all of this going on, I flew home from San Francisco last Sunday and was totally wiped out and jet-lagged. It always seems silly that the three-hour time difference hits me harder than six or 12 hours, but for some reason, it's just enough time that I'm not tired enough to fall asleep earlier at night but I'm still wiped out in the mornings.  Plus, I was planning to take the next two weeks off for vacation, so I was working late this past week to cram in as much work as possible before I took time off.  Eventually, we decided it would be better for me to work Monday and Tuesday before taking two weeks off, because I just have too much post-conference things to finish up.  Oh, and in the meantime, I was also supposed to be training for a race. Today's race.  A 10k.  Yikes.

Coach J had told me to get back to running on Wednesday, after I talked to him on Tuesday afternoon.  He suggested I start with 35 minutes on Wednesday, 45 minutes on Friday and just think of today's race as my long run with water stops.  I kept telling myself it would be only about five minutes longer than my longest run ever, so it probably wouldn't be a big deal.  On Wednesday, I ran the 35 minutes about mid-day, and it was great running weather, so it was a good run.  After nine days off, my body felt great and rested, and although I was really worried about where I'd be, I was running okay.  My legs were a bit tight on Thursday and when I ran Friday, but I ran 4 miles in 44:10, which I was happy with, especially since it was nice and humid.  I was so preoccupied with work and family this week, and with my niece's christening this afternoon, I almost forgot that I had the 10k.  When my brother-in-law asked me yesterday if I was ready, I thought he meant for the christening, and it took me a minute to remember my race!  Good thing I remembered my sneakers...

I tried to forget the jitters last night, although I thought about Coach J telling me that when he's nervous, he knows he's ready to race.  I managed to get a good night's sleep, and woke up around six, before my alarm.  I was ready to get this over with.  I'd had a sudden worry that there would be a lot of hills (and if you know where I train, you know it's totally flat), but there wasn't a lot I could do about it.  I suited up, packed my bag with water, Advil, and some post-race snacks and headed out.  When I arrived at the race, there weren't a lot of people checking in yet, but the ones who were were all SERIOUS runners.


You know the type - long lean muscular legs, spandex everywhere, all the right footwear, eyewear, headwear, the works. I knew I was in for it.  I reminded myself that my goal for the day was just to finish.  I really wanted to finish under 70 minutes, but I mainly just wanted to finish.  I tried to remember that I wasn't really competing against anyone, that this was just my run today, and that helped.  After I registered, put on my race bib, and this chip for my shoe (I had to ask about that, feeling like a total idiot for never having seen one before), I was ready.  But there was still about forty minutes left.  So I put my tee shirt and bag in the car, and realized that the same chiropractors (including a very cute one) from the Hot Pursuit 5k were there.  I headed over to them to get stretched, and they're into the kinesiology tape (a la Misty May Treynor in the summer Olympics).  I wasn't sold on it after it didn't seem to make a huge difference in my hip during the last race, but I gave it a shot on my knees this time, and I have to say that until it peeled off in the rain, my knees actually didn't hurt for the first time since I started running. So now I'm officially a convert.

Finally it was time to line up.  The emcee of the event said, "We're here in Woodcliff Lake.  That's right, we have woods. We have a lake. And yes, we have hills."  


But I was there, and determined to do my best. I could tell that as the runners gathered, I was going to be late in the pack - I picked out the people I thought I could beat (and I don't think I beat a one of them), but mostly, everyone was not kidding around.  Even the emcee said "this race separates the runners from the wannabe runners."  Well, I thought, I'm a runner, so I told myself to stop feeling like I didn't belong and just settle into my race.  Finally, they sounded the horn and we were off!

I knew I'd probably start off a little fast, so I tried to concentrate on running slower.  I felt really tired after only half a mile, which I thought didn't bode well for the rest of the race.  Plus, we hadn't actually gone up any hills yet.  I reminded myself that I always hated the first mile, and kept going.  Before I knew it, I was at the mile marker, and I'd run it in 10:37!  Not bad, but a little faster than I was planning on (though I hate running the 11-minute miles, it's been where I'm at lately, and I was trying not to push it so soon after a long hiatus).  Right after the first mile marker, there was a BIG hill.  Sweet.

I told myself it was no bigger than the one I ran in Island Heights, so I focused on pushing myself. I mean how many hills could there be right? HA.  I lost count there were so many!  But mile two, I had the first big hill, and then a lot of it was downhill, so all of the energy I'd really expended pushing myself early on came back, because I almost got a break on the downhill.  Not that downhill is a piece of cake, because it's tough on your quads, but it was certainly easier!  I managed to make it through mile 2 at 21:49, so 11:11 on the second mile.  The third mile was about more hills and a little bit more downhill (though mostly up).  I hit the end of that at 32:50, 11:01, so I was really speeding along.  I felt okay and was happy that I was almost halfway through at that point.  The weather today really helped too - the day started out really chilly, overcast and not too humid, and when the race started, so did the rain, so that helped too.  Not great to stand around in before and after the race, but great during! 

Mile four was more up and down, but manageable, and I got to 44:39, 11:49 for that mile.  Not great, but considering that was the furthest I'd run in two weeks, not bad.  

The fifth mile was all about "you've got to be kidding me!"  After we'd run along some good flat ground by the reservoir, we turned around and faced this huge hill.  I knew it was coming, since I'm familiar with this road, and it was the hill that I was dreading being a part of the course.  The woman next to me wasn't sure she'd make it, but I told her it was easier to run it than walk it.  Believing my own BS, I made it to the top of the hill happily, and thought they were sending us straight on downhill.  But no.  Instead, they sent us to the right, right into another hill.  I couldn't believe it.  I made it up that hill too without walking, but when we hit only a bit of a flat, and then another impossibly high hill, I had to walk for two minutes just to be able to keep going.  I'd had a mental argument with myself about it, because there was a woman near me almost the whole race who would walk a lot and then run a little, but her legs were so darn long that she seemed to keep up with me the whole time - and ended up beating me!  I really didn't want to walk any of it, but my legs just made the decision for me and slowed down.  Plus, a lot of people in front of me had started walking much earlier, so I consoled myself with the fact I'd put it off as long as possible!

I made it to the end of mile five at 56:48, 12:09 after the previous mile marker.  I just kept thinking about the finish line, and I had a lot of time to think to myself, since I was almost all alone on the course at this point.  I'd see another runner periodically, but mostly, it was all about me, which helped me run the race I was capable of running today.  I'd also see water stations every once in a while, and people directing the race, and they were great about cheering us all on (even us slow runners).  For a while, I was actually convinced I was last, that anyone I'd passed had just given up and DNF'd, but fortunately that turned out not to be true.  I know someone has to be last, I'm just glad it wasn't me - although, when I post my results, you'll see it almost was.

So the last mile was upon me, and I was feeling pretty good, mostly because I knew it was almost over!  I did have to take another two minute walking break on yet another hill, but I finally saw the six-mile marker and headed into the parking lot of the school for the last 0.20 miles.  Although in my last two races, I've been able to speed up for the end, that simply was NOT happening today.  I'd given everything I had out on the course with all those ridiculous hills, and just didn't have anything left.  I came in at 1:09:41 (69:41), and although it was *just* under 70 minutes, I was happy with it.  I came in 157 out of 172, but I did beat one girl in my age group - I was 6/7.  And I was really happy about that, because she was one of the people I saw at the start who I didn't think I would beat.  It looks like the fastest group was mostly in their thirties, forties and fifties, which you don't see a lot and clearly, I would need to train a lot more/harder if I want to get anywhere near that group, who kept a 6:00 pace.  My official pace was 11:13 (not bad!) and I came in 64/75 women.  Not the most satisfying run I've ever had, but I'm definitely happy with it considering all the factors going into it!  

So after a lovely christening and party for my niece, where I wore high heels, and two walks with the puppies today, my legs are rebelling and exhaustion is threatening to overtake me.  I did go back to the chiropractors to get my legs stretched out after the race, which made me decide that I should have someone around to stretch me out every time I run - that would be great!  I do plan to take the next two days off from running, learning from the revolt my body put up after my two 5k weekend when I only took one recovery day, and then hopefully I should be back to my regularly scheduled blogging/running. At least until I head to Athens in late September. Yes, right before the LBI run - perfect timing :)