Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Running Mad Works!

Some of you may remember my mentions of "Miss Ive," whose blog tagline is "Run mad as often as you choose." I'm not generally mad when I run, so I haven't had too much chance to test this slogan out. The one time I did run mad, it wasn't my best run ever. But today, it worked for me.

I suppose I wasn't mad per se. I first woke up this morning at 4am, with strong winds battering the house. You'd think I'd be used to that by now, but since it was SO HOT the last few days, I went to sleep last night with all the upstairs windows open and the attic fan on. So when the wind started blowing like mad and rattling all the shades at 4, I had to get up and batten down the hatches. I left the windows in my bedroom open, but with the rest closed, it was quiet enough to fall back asleep. But when my alarm went off, I thought, there is NO WAY I am getting up to run. In my sleepy mind, I figured I would just run at lunchtime. When I finally did get up, I realized that I already had a commitment at lunchtime, as well as a phone call around ten, and the rain had started. Joy. So then, I was mad at myself for not getting up and running.

And things didn't seem to get better from there. Not that anything in particular went wrong, I just felt itchy, like I couldn't settle in my own skin. The dog was nudging me and it bothered me more than usual. I felt like I was trying to get a bunch of work done, but I wasn't really finishing anything. Just a stop and start sort of day. So around two, I decided I had to take my lunch break and just RUN. I felt like I was jumping out of my skin, and it was the only thing that would tire my body out enough to stop that.

Of course, it was forty degrees cooler today than it was at the same time two days ago. Ah April. But at least it had stopped raining.

And my old nemesis was back: the wind. I know I said I missed the wind on Monday, but I lied. It was strong enough today that I really struggled in a couple of places. But that being said, when I left the house today, my goal was to run 3.41 miles in less than 36:25. I wanted to beat my 10:41 pace from Monday. What do you think, did I do it?

I started out pretty strong, though my joints were much more sore today. Whenever the barometric pressure goes up with a storm, my hips let me know! I kept telling myself it was nothing major and I just needed to warm up, so I kept going. At my first landmark, which I normally reach at about 6:15 into my run, I was there at about 5:45 instead. So that spurred me on. And I felt like I was reaching each subsequent landmark faster too.

But my lungs were struggling again and my hip was causing me some trouble. I basically ignored that and doggedly kept going, just putting one foot in front of the other. Once I passed the halfway mark, I slowed down a touch because I had a side cramp that went up into my shoulder. I just kept telling myself that it was only pain and would probably go away, and fortunately, it eventually did. This not psyching myself out thing is really working!

The last mile and a half, I kept mentally picturing myself at the next landmark point instead of where I actually was, which worked great. I also remembered something else Miss Ive had told me, a suggestion to lead with my hips when I run, and for some reason, I finally understood what she meant today and was able to do it. And it made a world of difference - for the last half mile, I felt less fatigued and stronger, and that was when I knew I could really push myself.

I kept checking my time, and when I hit one of my last landmarks with about 7 minutes to go (I'd set a 38 minute timer), I thought, there's no way, I'm going to beat my 36:25 time. But I figured I'd give it a shot, so I sped up as much as I could stand. With about two blocks left, and 3:45 left on the clock, I knew I was going to blow by Monday's time, so I really dug deep and ran as fast as I could. I hit the end of the block, and my finish line, at 35:05 - a full minue and twenty seconds faster than Monday!


I was so excited, but my body was definitely not that happy with me. But I did it!

When I set out today, I wanted to be able to prove to myself that I could run faster when it was cooler, than I did on Monday, when it was 72 degrees and humid (it was about 54 when I ran today). And since it's my last long run before my first 5k on Saturday, I wanted to make it a good one - and it was!

I'm extremely excited to say that today, I ran at a 10:17/mile pace, bringing my pace down by 24 seconds!

I guess running mad or frustrated does work, and by the end of my run, I'd tired my body out enough to get rid of the itchy feeling. Now it's on to my 5k's and seeing what I can do there! I think my goal for both of those is to have fun and just run the 3.1 miles!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Broke an 11 minute mile today!!

I think it was the blueberry waffle I ate before I ran.

Or maybe because I got more than 3.4 minutes of sleep last night.

But whatever the reason, this morning, I broke an 11-minute mile. In the direct sun. At 72 degrees. WOO HOO.

After managing to get about seven and a half hours of sleep last night, I'd like to say I woke up raring to go. But not so much. I was certainly better rested, and motivated to run when I realized that in thirty minutes this morning, the temperature rose from 66 to 72 degrees. I knew it was going to be a hot day (and in fact, it's about 95 right now), and I definitely wanted to get my run in before it got too bad out there. I had a little bit of an unsettled stomach when I woke up and a leftover headache from last night, so I popped a couple of Advil and stuck to my blueberry waffle plan. My goal for today was to run 3.4 miles in less than 38 minutes - yes, I know that seems to be my goal a lot lately, but I KNOW I can make myself run faster.

As I started running, my body felt pretty good. My muscles were tired, but no real pain anywhere. Yoga definitely helped last night and I learned an important lesson - although I could tell that my legs were stronger when I did lower body yoga last week, doing a PM yoga workout last night showed me that my leg muscles are too tight. I can normally touch my heels to the ground when doing downward dog, but last night they were definitely a inch or two above ground. So I really do have to do more yoga, even (and maybe especially) on running days. I know I've said that before, but because I really pride myself on being pretty flexible, I really mean it this time - I've got to get my legs stretched out!

I gave myself the first mile to feel tired, but despite the muscle fatigue, I still pushed myself to run faster than I have been. I kept thinking about something Coach J had said on Saturday night - he was talking about his own race, but said that he had to remember that pain doesn't always mean you have to slow down and he should trust in his training. I think sometimes that I'm too afraid of having to stop early in a run and walk, so I don't push myself as hard as I could. It's safer that way, and I know I can finish a longer run then, but I'll never move forward if I don't. I've got to trust my body and my training. Plus, it reminds me of something Liz Waterstraat said that if you push yourself and you fail, then you're not ready and you can adjust. But if you don't push yourself, you never know what you're capable of. I definitely want to move forward, so I guess I have to keep pushing myself! And here, I thought running period was going to be enough...

I also read a blog post last night about running in the heat, and the author said he likes to run when it's hot, because he knows that if he can do it, he'll have great runs when it's cooler. It was definitely hot and humid this morning, but my lungs were feeling a bit more open today and I knew I'd have to run faster the entire 3.4 miles to cut my time down (obviously). I can officially say that the day when I miss the wind has arrived - there was only the barest of breezes blowing every ten minutes or so (which may have been from trucks passing me) and I was wondering where my strong breezes were hiding! But if I could run faster in the direct sun, at the warmest temperature I've ever run at, with no breeze, then I can definitely have great runs when it's cooler!

As I passed a few of my landmarks, I was hoping that I would to finish about a minute ahead of my usual time. But as I passed the little beach by my house, the sun's strength really started to kick in, and I revised my goal to just running the entire 3.4 miles (I give up so easy, don't I?). I didn't slow down, but I told myself that I wasn't going to feel guilty if I didn't finish in less than 38 minutes.

You might think that running by the water is ideal on a hot day, because of a lovely bay breeze. But today, you would be wrong. Not only was there no breeze, but the sun was reflected in the water and it's power magnified, so it was as if two suns were shining on me as I ran. It felt SO much hotter than 72 degrees. This made me very sad, because I realized that I'll have to actually get up early to run. Like before 7am early. Crap.

But anyway, I made it down to my turn-around marker and headed back. I still felt pretty good, but could feel myself wearing out a bit. After I passed about two and a half miles, I had to slow down a fraction just to give myself enough of a break to keep going (and keep the air coming into my lungs). My mind really wanted me to slow down more, but a favorite phrase of the Marines popped into my head - "Pain is weakness leaving the body." Then I thought about what the Marines would do to me if they saw me running, and that made me laugh a little. Even though I know I would never survive a Marine Corps boot camp, I could at least run a little bit faster on a warm morning!

I was still checking my landmarks, and thought there was a slim possibility that I'd finish a minute earlier than usual. Coming into the last three blocks though, I knew it for a fact. I pushed myself as fast as I could go and managed to squeak out 3.41 miles in 36:25. Unfortunately, a group of about eight or nine young kids were waiting for the school bus right at the finish line of my run, so when I abruptly switched to walking, panting, and holding my side, I'm sure I scared them all into never wanting to run again. Gotta love an audience.

As I dragged myself back home, all I could think about was lying down on the cool tile floor in my entryway. I felt like I was on fire from the inside (it also didn't help that the sunburn on my back seemed to be a magnet for the sun, despite being covered with a tee shirt). So I made the executive decision to turn on the air conditioning and drink a big glass of cold water. I know I'm supposed to have some protein right after a run, but I felt sick enough that I couldn't even picture drinking a glass of milk. Fortunately, Special K puts out a protein water mix, with five grams of protein in it, so I thought that would be at least a little bit of protein. Being so overheated and tired, it tasted like the best water ever. Plus, I felt GREAT because I'd pushed myself and finished in under 38 minutes - two full minutes faster than my time on Saturday! Totally wiped out, sweat pouring off of me, but GREAT.

After plugging my run into, and wondering how it could possibily think that I was running a slower mile today than on Saturday, I decided to do some of my own math to figure out what my times have been like lately. Turns out algebra does come in handy in real life...darn! But it turned out to be a pretty rewarding exercise, since other than Saturday morning, I've gradually been decreasing my per mile time every time I run in the past two weeks! My first recorded run on (and I'm only looking at runs recorded there, since apparently I used to think I was running a lot further than I actually was!) was on 4/13, and then I didn't record a run until 4/21 (though I did run during those in between days). So it looks like this:

4/13 - 11:17 minute/mile
4/21 - 11:11 minute/mile
4/23 - 11:09 minute/mile
4/25 - 11: 16 minute/mile
4/27 - 10:41 minute/mile*

*see, that's where I broke 11 minutes! And not by a little bit either, but running 28 seconds faster per mile than the best time I had in that two week period!

I also checked my short run, which was definitely the best one ever - that was a 9:26 minute/mile. Holy cow! If you'll remember back to when I started this (or if you've recently looked at "why I'm running"), my fastest mile before starting this process was 12 minutes (probably more than 12 minutes, but 12 is the number I remember). So in about three months, I've shaved off almost three minutes. Which makes me feel pretty awesome!

Tomorrow is definitely an off day, though I will definitely be doing yoga (today too!). Then, I'm curious to see how my run will go on Wednesday - it will be my last long run before Saturday's 5k and it's supposed to be raining. But at least it will be cooler, so I'll be keeping a check on the weather to see if I need to be running at the crack of dawn or not!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Holy Heatwave Batman!

So here we are, another April with a week kissing ninety degrees.  Um, what happened to spring?  I'm not a big fan of jumping right into summer, and running yesterday in the humidity showed me that I really appreciate cooler temps for running!  Plus, heat and humidity turn me into a serious grouch, so I prefer to put that off for as long as possible!  (So if you're keeping a list of what makes me grouchy, it's: heat & humidity, lack of sugar, being hungry, getting up early, and vegetables.  I don't like seafood, but it doesn't make me grouchy the way vegetables do.  There's more on the list of course, but that's all I've mentioned in my blogs so far).

Because I had a crazy day planned for yesterday, I actually got up and ran first thing instead of leaving it until the middle of the day like I have been doing lately.  I was also motivated by the knowledge that the day was only going to heat up.  It was only about 54 when I got up at 8, but the humidity was already high enough that I felt like someone was sitting on my chest for about 75% of my run.  Lovely.  

On the plus side though, I didn't get a stitch in my side like on my recent runs.  I suspect not eating before I run (even when I leave an hour or two in between eating and running) makes a difference.  I'm going to try having a blueberry waffle before heading out on my runs this week (I'm always tweaking!), so we'll see what the answer turns out to be.  I'm hoping to get it sorted out before Saturday's 5k!  To say I'm nervous about my double-header 5k weekend would be a huge understatement.  I'm already feeling like throwing up and panicking!  Or panicking and then throwing up.  Gotta dig deep for bravery on this one...

But anyway, back to my run.  Although I had a deliciously lazy off-day on Friday, my body was feeling sore and tired when I got up yesterday morning (might have something to do with the 12 hours of housework, yardwork & errands I did on Friday).  So I set my goal for the day at running 3.4 miles without walking.  I was hoping to get it done in 38 minutes, but I knew if that didn't happen, the main thing was making sure I was always running.  Once I got past the first mile, I had passed my fatigue threshold and was able to settle in to the run nicely.  Other than the trouble I've had breathing while running lately, (which is making me think I should check in with my doctor to see if my asthma is hunting me again, or if my lungs really WERE scarred by the four bouts of pneumonia I've had) the run was great.  I was a bit behind on my time, but only by 25 seconds, so I was satisfied with that.  My legs felt nice and tight by the end of the day, which is my favorite feeling lately - sore muscles always remind me that I've been running and that feels great!

My original plan was to run yesterday and today, because I had it in my head that I wanted to get three runs in before my 5k this weekend.  Silly girl.  But after seeing how tired my body was last week after adding a short run, I decided that I'd plan on a Monday/Wednesday/Saturday schedule (with Saturday's run being the 5k), and I'll look to add in a short run on Thursday or Friday.  With tomorrow again in the eighties, I will definitely be getting up to run first thing.  Which will be awesome, since I got about five minutes of sleep last night - despite running at least three days a week for the past three months and attempting to avoid caffeine in the evenings (all right, so I had a Pepsi with dinner.  It's a weakness.), I've been having bunches and bunches of trouble falling asleep.  Last night, I was tired enough that my eyes were closing as I was reading around midnight, so I snuggled into my cool sheets and squishy pillows and hoped the breeze from my open windows would sweep me off to dreamland.  Unfortunately, along with the breeze, the open windows brought the sounds of my neighbors enjoying the cool evening outside.  And, it's as if the minute the lights go out and I lay my head down, I'm not tired anymore!  The other night it took me three hours to fall asleep.  Last night, it took about two, and it was one of those nights when I was never that deeply asleep.  I kept waking up on and off, couldn't get comfortable temperature or position-wise.  I was also hosting Coach J at my house, who was racing about thirty minutes south of here this morning.  He was up EARLY and despite being unbelievably quiet (as in even with my light sleeping status, I didn't hear him), when he opened the front door at 4:42 (I checked), the alarm beeped in my room to let me know a door was open.  That definitely woke me up!  I fell back asleep for about an hour and eventually gave up my attempts at sleeping at 6:15.  Since the morning sun shines directly on my face, even with the shades down, it was futile.  I really need room darkening shades...

Though I would normally be very grouchy about being up so early on a weekend (as I said, NOT a morning person), the weather was so beautiful and cool at that time, that I decided make the best of it by getting some coffee and siting on the beach to watch the sun rise higher (it was up much earlier than I was!).  I followed that with sitting on my deck in the shade with the paper and my puppy for a couple of hours, which was the perfect way to spend my morning.  I'm sure I'll pay for it tomorrow, but it was a lovely!  

Though I know the details of my off day aren't that exciting for those of you interested in my RUNNING, I know it will all impact how tomorrow's run goes.  Though I'm hoping for the best, I advise preparing for crabbiness.  I am going to try to combat any further insomnia with some yoga, which should also help with the stress of watching my NJ Devils give up three goals in two periods of game six of a seven game series against Carolina in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  We'll see how that goes...

Oh, and as an aside, for anyone wondering how Coach J did in today's sprint triathlon, he came in 11th overall, and 3rd in his age group.  So basically, awesome. When I saw he had a 6:47 mile pace for the run, it made me feel very, very tired.  If I could break ten minutes, I might throw a party.  Good thing I'm not in this to win...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wind & Bad Drivers

Forecast for today: wind. Seriously. Although it's a lovely 54 degrees here, it is super windy again - 20 to 30mph winds. Ah, coastal living.

But I knew I couldn't put off today's run if I wanted to stay on schedule and keep motivated. After having a lot of trouble falling asleep last night (what else is new), I figured I'd push off the run until around 11:30am. My goal for today was to run 3.4 miles again in 38 minutes or less. With the wind as a big factor though, I wasn't sure that I'd make it. Good thing I'm so stubborn.

I started off slowly, but since I check my time at certain landmarks, I knew I was managing to run close to my usual pace. The first ten minutes were tough - my legs were tired from running three days consecutively and it takes me about that long to push past the initial muscle fatigue. But although I was running slowly, I felt like I was keeping up a steady pace and not struggling too much as time went on. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing in every direction, so I didn't get a break from it when I switched directions - if anything, it got stronger! Although it made it harder to run, it did keep me cool. It's not very hot today, but I feel like I overheat quickly when I'm running, and the breeze kept that from happening.
On the second half of the run, I was reminded why I wear my RoadID when two cars passed me around a turn and actually swerved INTO the bike lane. I run far enough over that they weren't anywhere near me, but pay attention people! It reminded me of a story that Miss Ive wrote about a run where a group of her neighbors didn't get out of her way when she was running, and she ended up crashing right into a tree. It's hilariously told (albeit resulting in non-funny bruises), so I definitely recommend giving it a read. I always think of her whenever cars pass me (since there aren't a lot of people standing in the bike lanes), because there seem to be three types of people:

1) Those who worry that I don't see them (though I run against traffic) and so they drive practically or entirely in the oncoming traffic lane at far greater peril to themselves than to me;

2) Those who use their common sense and adjust a little bit so they don't blow past me too closely; and

3) Those "runner haters" who ride the side of the road so closely that I could probably touch their side mirrors as they pass me.

Fortunately, they're few and far between. I can understand their road rage to a point, because I get all riled up about people who bike in packs on the weekends, barely obey traffic signals and hold up entire streets' worth of cars as if we just want to check them out in their spandex while driving 10mph. But here at the beach, there's a very wide bike lane for me to run in (which I do unless it's flooded, and in those cases, I wait until cars pass me to run in the road), and the road itself is plenty wide enough that they don't need to be swerving towards me! I should probably mention that two of the three drivers that passed me were talking on their cell phones. Where is a cop when you need one?? If a car ever does hit me, I am prepared to punch the driver right in the face. After I call 911, of course.

So anyway, back to my run. As I got closer to the end, I could tell I'd have to speed it up a bit to finish in 38 minutes, so I picked up the pace as much as my protesting lungs and legs would let me. And I finished in EXACTLY 38 minutes. I was hoping to finish a bit faster, but taking into account the wind and this being my third day of running in a row, I've got to be happy with it!

Tomorrow is definitely a rest day, though I will be making sure to get some yoga in there. Then, I'm running on Saturday and Sunday, but this time, back to back 3+ miles. Since that's what I'll be doing next weekend, I'm curious to see how my body will react!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's an off-day...

All right, so it's an "off" day today (and by "off" I mean I wasn't supposed to run, not that I'm feeling strangely). But with my 5k weekend coming up in ten days (TEN DAYS?!?!), I'm feeling the pressure a bit (okay, a lot) and wanted to make sure I didn't lose the motivation I was feeling yesterday. So I thought I'd throw in a short run today. Part of me also wanted to see if I could break an 11 minute mile if I was running a shorter distance. And a bunch of runners I know were running today, and hearing about their distance goals for the day motivated me to get out there myself!

Fortunately, I managed to sneak the run in just before the rain, because once it started raining, all of the bike paths were flooded - that would have been miserable. I thought I had a pretty good idea of where the half mile marker was, so I checked that on Map My Run before I headed out. It turned out to be just over half a mile, so I figured that I'd push myself and hit that distance anyway. My legs felt pretty good today after running 3.4 miles yesterday, but my hip was definitely struggling. Since it's been so rainy lately though, I'm attributing that to weather and just making sure to ice it!

Because I was only running just over a mile, I figured I'd push myself a bit by speeding up (did I really write "only" there? Wow, I've come a long way...). I know eventually I'll be able to run faster, but right now, I still feel like I'm running so slowly! When people talk about running 6 minute miles, I think about how I run about half a mile in that time! I do think I'm at least running faster than I could walk, which is an improvement, and I'm definitely running faster than the classic Chariots of Fire slow motion running. Plus, twelve weeks or so ago, I couldn't run even a mile, so I have to keep things in perspective a little.

At the end of my run, I really pushed myself to run as fast as I could. Of course, this almost killed me. It took me about two blocks of walking to feel like I could get air into my lungs again. I should mention that I'm now wearing a Road ID - basically, you put your name, town, and home phone number on there, as well as the numbers for two emergency contacts, so that if you do pass out on the side of the road, the people who (hopefully) come to your aid will have someone to call. Uh, actually, I think it's more for if you were to get hit by a car while running/training, but in my case, I think passing out on the side of the road is also a valid concern. You can also put a short saying on there, like a reminder to yourself to keep going. Mine says "Defy Expectations!" because when I started out, I never thought I'd be running more than three miles without being chased or needing hospitalization. But anyway, for anyone who is worried that I'll end up alone in a ditch somewhere, people will know who to call to help me (by the way, Dad and Mandy, you're my emergency contacts).

The end result of my run today was that I ran 1.22 miles in 11:30. Map My Run seems to think this is a 9:25 mile pace, while yesterday was a 11:10 mile pace. I'll take it! I'd love to always have a 9:25 mile pace, but as I said yesterday, I'll settle for just finishing both my races and running the whole distance. Plus, both 5k's have tee shirts, which, as you know, is my main criteria in running any race. Though, I saw a picture of the medals they gave out at the Boston Marathon...that would be pretty cool too...oh dear...

Anyway, I am glad I was motivated to put in an extra run today for a few reasons:

1) Seeing that I can run a 9:25 mile during a short run gives me the confidence that my training is working. Not that I had too many doubts, but I was feeling so grouchy and disheartened by running last week that I was worried I wouldn't get back to it. Also, I managed to do some lower body yoga last night, and I could tell that there was a big difference in how strong my legs are. They felt much more powerful, and what a great feeling! And fortunately, I know a woman who started out as a non-runner like me, and became a triathlete in less than a year, so I know it's possible to reach awesome goals! (This is why building a community of athletes around you is so, so important! Can't stress that enough...)

2) I needed to ramp up my mindset a bit. If I take more than two consecutive days off from running, I start to feel like I'm not really a runner anymore and all my old habits start to come back. Someone said to me recently that if you're not moving forwards, you're moving backwards. Doing nothing is still moving backwards. That is so true for me, so if I want to stay one step ahead of my head and the little voice that tells me I will fail, I need to stay on top of my training and keep after it. Liz Waterstraat posted an excellent blog today on the very topic of confidence and fearlessness in training. Sometimes, I feel like she's reading my mind!

3) In addition to being confident in my training, I needed to get some general confidence and remind myself that I am supposed to be enjoying this. I knew I could do a shorter run pretty easily now that I've been running over three miles at a time, so I wanted to cut myself a break without taking a regularly scheduled run to do it, if that makes any sense.

4) I really, really, really, really want to be a runner. Really. And skipping a workout last week, after having a run where I had to do a lot of walking made me wonder if I was cut out for this after all. I think I'm in that crunch time, the moment when they separate the men from the boys (and I may have another moment of this after I complete my goal of doing a 5k - you know, that feeling of, "okay, now I'm done," instead of "yes, I'm just getting started"). This is when I have to dig deep and find the motivation I need to keep going. It helps that I have a non-refundable registration for both of the 5k's, but somedays, it comes down to battling with myself. And I want the runner in me to win, always. Today, the runner won...and I'm so glad!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Athletes Run!

Okay, okay, I know I've been remiss on the running blogs lately. Last week, I skipped a run for the first time ever (shh, don't tell Coach J! Crap, he reads this blog...). I planned on doing a Monday/Thursday/Saturday schedule, because of cold rain on Wednesday and a general feeling of malaise on my part. But then a 7 hour alarm install overlapping with a migraine pushed me to a Monday/Friday/Saturday schedule. Friday's run was brutal - I re-opened my blister and had a stitch in my side the whole time. I ended up taking a couple of walking breaks, so although I ran the entire 35 minutes, I didn't run them consecutively.

That run showed me one very important thing: it was time for new sneakers. Here's the thing - I love my sneakers. They're well-worn Asics which I bought especially to wear for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Which, admittedly, I walked back in October of 2007. I think I bought the sneakers in April of '07. So I've had them for about two years and have certainly logged some miles in them, training for the Avon Walk, actually doing the walk, and many walks/runs since then. These are the sneakers I learned to run in after all, so they hold a special place in my heart. But I'd already replaced the inserts a couple of times, and they were undoubtedly the cause of my blisters. Plus, my sure sign that sneakers are ready to go is that the laces won't stay tied when you're wearing them. And the last two weeks, I've been double-knotting my right lace just to keep it tied. I knew it was time.

I figured I'd give them one last run on Saturday morning (also testing my ability to run two back to back days, which I'll be doing in about a week and a half for my two 5ks). But when I woke up on Saturday, with a to-do list a mile long and couldn't walk properly because of my blister, I knew it was time to officially skip a run. I've been feeling guilty about it ever since (despite a number of twitterers who said they also skip workouts from time to time) and only today's run helped me to get mentally back in the game.

One of Saturday's errands was getting a new pair of sneakers. I'd done a bit of research online, and learned that I have under-pronated feet - basically, I have high arches. The Asics website told me that "A runner with under-pronating feet is more likely to experience shock transmission through the lower legs, and should choose shoes from the Cushioning Category or those shoes that meet the needs of Under Pronating to Neutral runners." With that information in hand, I headed out to my local Dick's Sporting Goods - as an aside, I've never been there before, and it is awesome! From the outside, I thought it would be all camo and guns, but they had very knowledgable staff and a huge running section! I will definitely go back there again. I found a sales associate to talk to, and told her about my arch issues. She knew right away which shoes I should look at, and recommended I try Nike instead of Asics (though she also brought a pair of Asics out for me to try too). I knew from Coach J that the sneakers should be immediately comfortable, none of this "oh, I'll just break these in." So I tried on three pairs of sneakers, compared them, walked around a bit, closed my eyes and tried to really "feel" whether they were the right ones or not. Finally I settled on my Nike Air Max Moto+ 6 sneakers, "which features an Air Max unit in the heel for exceptional cushioning on impact, as well as a Zoom Air forefoot for comfort and lockdown. The CUSHLON midsole delivers a plush ride, and the BRS 1000 outsole ensures long-lasting durability." Of the shoes I tried on, these were the ones that felt like they held onto my foot the best. I also picked up some arch supporting socks and my new favorite tee shirt, which announces "Athletes Run." Heck yes they do! Even better, I got to chat to another woman picking up some new sneakers. She's running/walking in a half marathon in a few weeks time, so I mentioned that I was doing a couple of 5ks and she actually saw me as a runner! It was the first time I've been able to introduce myself to someone as a runner - very cool.

So, I had every intention of testing out the new sneakers on Monday morning, but woke up to a nasty rainstorm pounding the coast. Although I'm not opposed to running in the rain, the lashing wind and sideways raindrops were not enticing me. Add to that the fact I was feeling a bit under the weather (no pun intended), I figured I would go with a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule this week. But with three days off last week, followed by a bad run, and then three more days off, I was definitely a bit apprehensive when I set off about noon. It was supposed to rain again today, but the sun came out mid-morning, like a sign to me that I was supposed to get my butt out there and run.

My plan today was to run at least 35 minutes, keeping in mind the distance I would need to run in order to make at least 3.1 miles. Also, I didn't want to take any walking breaks. The run started out tough as usual, and today I could really feel it in my calf muscles. But my feet felt great, so I just continued to push myself to keep going. I passed the 3.1 turnaround marker and decided to keep going a bit further. I was definitely getting a cramp in my side, but that falls into the category of "I can ignore this and keep running," so that's what I did. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful today, albeit a bit humid, so I was really enjoying being outside and getting a bit of sun. I started to get really tired towards the end of the 35 minutes, but I could tell that I'd need to run past the countdown to make it at least 3.1 miles. I gave myself a mental finish line and just doggedly pursued it. When I was about a block away, I dug deep and pushed myself to run as fast as I could to get there. It wiped me out enough that I forgot to check my time, but I think I was at about 38 minutes overall. When I mapped my run later, I realized that I'd run about 3.4 miles - not bad! I'm still a little over an 11-minute mile pace, but I keep telling myself that when I started, all I wanted to do was be able to finish a 5k, so however long it takes me to do that will be okay.

I definitely pushed myself hard today, but with my two 5ks a week from Saturday, I need to make sure that I'm settled into running 3.1 miles. I'm sure adrenaline will push me on those days too, but I'm trying to think of them as just another run (with a tee shirt at the end). That's good motivation to get me out there again on Thursday and Saturday, and then I think I'm going to try for a Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday schedule next week, since I'll also be running Saturday and Sunday at the end. Thinking about it makes me tired. And hungry...

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Great Run with a Disappointing Finish

Yesterday, one of my running friends mentioned that she really hadn't felt like running, but she went anyway.  I sympathized with her, because I've definitely had days like that before, but nothing like today.  When I woke up this morning, I REALLY didn't want to go for a run.  I didn't know if it was that after completing the couch potato program, I mentally finished with running, or if I was just tired, but I was super unmotivated.  Instead of giving up entirely, I told myself I'd run at lunch, put on my running clothes and hoped that motivation would come.  

It helped that the weather was beautiful today, warming up to the low fifties by one, and fortunately, Coach J checked in with me to see what my plan for running was this week.  It gave me the push I needed to make sure I got in my run today and he suggested that I just get out there and run for 35 minutes to see how far I could get.  Since I was so sure I was already running three miles, I thought it would be great to see how much further I could get in five more minutes.  I took a pedometer with me (one I'd used in training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and it was admittedly faulty then) and just focused on running.  I also made sure to check the landmarks where I started, turned around and finished, so that I could check the mileage later with my car.  

I think Monday runs might be my favorite, surprise surprise.  It's got to be because my body has had two days of rest, so it's not as tired when I get out there.  And I think I might run at lunchtime whenever I can, because I really think the run goes better when I do.  Today's run was great.  I ran further than I've ever run before, and other than a pesky cramp in my side for the second half, I felt great.  I paced myself so I would be able to finish the whole 35 minutes without wanting to keel over.  So when I finished, I was sure I'd run way more than three miles.  I checked my pedometer, which said about 2.95.  


Then I remembered all the trouble I'd had with it before the Avon walk, so I told myself not to be disappointed and wait for the official distance when I tracked it with my car.  Disappointment averted.

After posting on Facebook about my pedometer, another running friend suggested I check out Map My Run, which let me find my town and map out the actual route that I run - very cool!  However, when I did this, it told me that I only ran just over 3.1 miles, which is what I'll need to run to do my 5k.  And it deduced that I'm running about a 11:06 mile pace, which is slower than I thought.  I still figured I'd check the distance with my car, which I did, and it came back with the same result.  


I thought I had been running longer and faster - who would have thought I'd be disappointed with a 3.1 mile, 35 minute run?  

I chatted with Coach J afterwards, and he reminded me to look back at my first blog, when running for 60 seconds felt like forever, and five minutes was impossible.  He also pointed out that it wasn't that long ago either.

Oh yeah.

I had forgotten so quickly what a big accomplishment (for me anyway) that three miles is.  I did remember when I was running, and passed the 20 minute mark that not so long ago, I was thinking there was no way I'd be able to run 20 minutes without ending up collapsed on the side of the road.  And now I can run almost twice as long and feel great.  I'm still on the journey to becoming a longer distance runner, so I can't expect myself to be able to go out and run five miles yet - not that I thought I'd run five miles in 35 minutes, don't worry!  But I thought I could manage 3.5 miles.  I'm sure I'll get there.  

In other running news, I'm about to sign up for my second 5k! Yes, I know I haven't yet done my first 5k, but after running 5k today, I'm confident that I could do it.  The next three weeks will be all about getting comfortable with the distance, and trying to run a little bit faster (or maybe longer).  My brother-in-law found the second 5k I'll be doing, the Bergen County Police Hot Pursuit 5k Fun Run/Walk - he tells me that there's a tee-shirt, so he knew it would be a good race for me!  There's only one little catch - it's the day after my first 5k!  At first, I thought it would be silly to try to do back to back races, so I figured I would check with the expert.  Coach J thought it was a great idea, and told me to get out there and enjoy it, reminding me that it's only 30-35 minutes of running two days in a row  So that's the plan - first the Bridge to Bay 5k in Victorian Islands Heights (down here in south Jersey), and then the Hot Pursuit Fun Run (up in North Jersey).  Thinking about it makes me want to lie down and have some ice cream.  I don't suppose that will make me faster though...but I'll do it anyway.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Woo Hoo - the Couch Potato Plan is FINISHED!!

I can officially say that I've finished the couch potato plan.

Yay for me!  

So for anyone who might doubt their own ability to become a runner, it turns out that it IS possible to go from not running at all and HATING running to running three miles, three days a week!  Who knew? It feels like I've been running forever, but really, nine weeks ago, sixty seconds of running exhausted me and I felt like I would never be able to run even a full mile - now I can run three and I'm getting ready for my first 5k!!  I'm even hitting a ten minute pace - yes, I know that's not really THAT fast, but for me, the girl who ran her fastest mile senior year of college at over 12 minutes, it's a miracle.  

Oh, and did I mention that I actually *like* running now?  I might even love it?  I don't even recognize this girl!  Am I the same girl who took a gym sabbatical senior year of high school? (Admittedly, I was sick on and off, but I probably could have gone back sooner than I did).  The same girl who told her gym teacher freshman year of high school that she couldn't run the mile because of her asthma?  And now, not only am I running, but I'm liking it and even running in the rain?  Crazy!

This week was a bit wild, so I got away from my regularly scheduled blogs, but I did run Monday/Wednesday/Friday, doing 30 minutes without taking any breaks - not bad!  In fact, after Wednesday's run, I checked my distance and I thought I might be slightly under three miles.  So on Friday, I made myself run a bit longer just to make sure I was hitting my three-mile goal for the day.  I want to be prepared for my 5k in May!  When I started this program nine weeks ago, who would have guessed that on the last day I'd not only run the 30 minutes without complaining, but push myself further? Not this girl.

So on to the last two runs themselves: Wednesday's run was pretty good.  The first half was tough, but as soon as I turned around to head home at the halfway point, I felt myself settling into the run and feeling good. My goal all week was just to run the full time without having to take a walking break.  So whenever I felt myself getting really tired, I would just slow down and relax and it worked!  By the end of Wednesday's run, I felt great, not too sore, and happy to get two 30-minute runs in back to back.  On Thursday, I had a friend come to stay with me and after a great day of catching up, we headed out for a nice dinner.  I definitely ate WAY too much and when I went to bed, I kept thinking there was no way my poor body was going to want to run in the morning.  But I knew it was the last day of the plan, and I wanted to finish it - I never skipped a planned run the whole nine weeks! Which, by the way, is an accomplishment in and of itself.  I'm a chronic workout skipper - I can find an excuse to blow off any athletic activity.  So not only am I running three miles, but I never skipped a run in the plan - I ran in new places, I switched days and did back to back runs, all just to make sure I would get them all in.  Not bad!

So Friday morning rolled around, and I forced myself to get out of bed and into my running clothes.  It was a clammy morning, not ideal for enjoying running, but definitely good for a run.  I felt itchy during my warmup walk, like I just wanted to get started running and see how my body would feel.  I find more and more lately, I get itchy.  Itchy like I just want to be running. Mostly it happens during my warm up.  But sometimes, it happens on days when I'm running later on.  Or on off days.  I hear that itchiness is normal for runners, so I told myself I needed the warm up and that the running would start soon enough.  However, the minute I started running, my right achilles tendon started to protest.  It's been too tight all week, and Friday it decided to go on strike.  It was yelling at me - "no running, no running, NO RUNNING!"  

But I didn't stop! I figured it just needed a bit of time to warm up, so I kept my pace really slow (hence having to add extra time on to the end) and just kept pushing myself.  I figured that if it snapped, I would stop.  Fortunately, it didn't, and it loosened up enough that I could run without stopping for the entire 30+ minutes.  I'm paying for it now of course, but mostly only when I go up and down the stairs.  My hips on the other hand are feeling pretty good!  Lots of things feel sore when I'm running, but nothing dramatic or longlasting, which I feel is a great improvement!  Plus, I'm still sporting an awesome blister from the rain run, which makes me feel even more like a real runner (as a side note, I want to say how awesome Band-Aids blister bandaids are - they've made all post-blister-forming runs possible and relatively pain free!).

I feel like I should sum up everything I've learned since I started the couch potato program.  And I also suspect I should change my twitter profile from "learning to run" to "runner."  I think it's official now.  So what have I learned in the last nine weeks?

- Running isn't half bad!  Just kidding - actually it's great!  I think it might even be more great for me, because it's something that I had kind of always wanted to do but I faced this obstacle of really hating to run.  Starting slow, taking other people's advice, and focusing on the journey took me from struggling with 60 seconds of running to enjoying 3 miles of running.  It's one of the most tangible accomplishments in my life, and I am actually pretty proud of myself.  I can't wait to finish my first 5k.  The other day, I found a list I'd started of life goals.  On it was "Run a 5k." I'm so excited that soon I can cross that off my list and maybe add some new, tougher goals!

- I'm stronger than I thought I was.  I really, really, REALLY didn't think I'd be able to run without taking walking breaks.  I just didn't think I could manage it.  I'd never run the mile in school (from grade school all the way through college), without having to walk some of it.  I've never been particularly athletic.  I love yoga, but even that falls to the wayside in favor of things like sleeping or tv watching (yes, I really am a couch potato).  I do like to joke that I'm freakishly strong, because I can lift very heavy things despite the fact that I don't do any weight training.  But I wasn't so sure I could finish this program.  Which is why after I programmed all the workouts into my Outlook calendar, I never looked ahead more than the week in front of me.  I didn't want to psych myself out.  And here I am, nine weeks later, and I finished it!  It was just like Liz Waterstraat said - "Do the work. It will pay off."  It turns out that stubbornness and a plan works.

- Motivation is key.  For me, it wouldn't have been enough to say, I want to "lose weight" or "get healthy."  I needed to have specific goals along with my plan in order to give me a reason to get up and run.  Otherwise, I would have given up a long time ago.  I had a few goals, which I could rotate on any given day to dig deep and find the motivation I needed.  My first was training for the LBI 18-mile race in October.  I knew that if I couldn't finish the couch potato plan and regularly run three miles, I'd never stand a chance of running 18.  So somedays, my motivation was that I needed to move forward in my running so I wouldn't be falling behind in my training.  Then, I added in the goal of running in a 5k.  Because that fit in with the couch potato plan so nicely, and it was a much more manageable chunk of distance, it was easier to consider that I would actually make it to a 5k and finish it.  Especially once I signed up to do the Island Heights 5k, I knew I needed to make sure I stuck to my training!  I was also motivated to run after telling everyone on Facebook, Twitter and through this blog what I was up to and what the plan was.  Knowing that people would be watching and cheering me on made me feel accountable. A couple of days, I really didn't want to run, but I knew somebody would ask me how it had gone, so I knew I had to find it in myself to do it.  And of course, one of my main motivations has been my own innate stubbornness.  I don't like to fail.  This plan looked manageable to me, I had said I was doing it, and so gosh darnit, I was going to do it!  I was not going to let running beat me!! Plus, turning thirty next year reminds me that there were things I wanted to accomplish in my twenties, so I'd better get about doing them.  

- Get a coach.  Seriously.  Coach J has been a HUGE help to me throughout the whole process, and if it wasn't for his prodding, suggestions, nudging, cheerleading and expertise, I might have quit pretty early on.  It helped to feel accountable to a particular person, somebody who knew what the plan was and would know if I was skipping workouts.  Plus, whenever something wasn't going well, like my early trouble with feeling tired too quickly, the increase in migraines, my general aches and pains, he had suggestions and solutions that he knew worked from experience.  And his crazy workouts in preparation for various triathlons made my little runs seem clearly manageable (did I mention that he came in 140th out of 3000 in the Ochsner Ironman in New Orleans?!?!).  So if you're looking to run, find somebody who runs already and can pass along their experiences to you - it's made a big difference to me!

- Diet makes a huge difference.  No, I haven't given up brownies - though, come to think of it, I haven't had any in a while...don't worry, I've been supplementing with Ben & Jerry's and Hostess cupcakes.  But making sure I get enough protein is a big deal.  A big enough deal that now that I've focused on getting more into my diet, on days when I don't have enough protein, I can actually feel a difference.  I try to keep protein bars on hand for those days.  But in general, increasing the protein in my diet hasn't been a huge struggle, and in addition to helping my running (since protein fuels you for longer), it keeps my head clearer.  Plus, I actually enjoy finding ways to eat enough of it!  

- Running is a mood elevator.  On days when I wake up crabby, running works better than a cup of coffee.  Overall, it's boosted my mood in a big way - I feel like I'm doing something good for my body, so that helps my self-esteem and of course, new leg muscles are exciting!  I'm getting fresh air and sun (sometimes) for thirty minutes three days a week, which can help to get rid of the winter blahs that are rampant for me around March/April.  Plus, I get to see the ocean every time I run, and the ocean is the reason I moved here in the first place!  Running has given me a community of running friends online, who I feel like I've really bonded with and connection is always a good thing.  Setting out to achieve a goal and achieving it is very satisfying.  And the endorphins can't be beat!

- Like in life, there are good runs and bad runs.  I always thought that if I stuck to the plan, each run would just get progressively better.  Um, not so much.  While overall, I do feel stronger and have greater endurance, each run for me was different.  I've learned that that's true for all runners, and that a bad day has it's purpose, just like a good day.  The important thing is always that I've gotten out there and given it my best shot.  

So those are the couch potato to 5k lessons that I've learned.  I'm really looking forward to actually running in a 5k, and working towards my 18-mile LBI run.  But for right now, today, I'm just enjoying the fact that I'm really a runner.  And that surprises nobody more than me!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Running in the Rain

This morning, I had every intention of getting up early, going for my first three mile run, and being ready for the day. You know what they say about the best-laid plans...

So I did not exactly have a very good night of sleep, which kept me snoozing my alarm this morning. Coupled with the raging thunderstorm outside, I thought it was best to put off running until lunch if not tomorrow. I knew that I should really get my run in today so as not to get off my schedule, so I kept one eye on the weather to see if the thunder and lightning would let up a bit. It did, and it looked like the rain was reduced to a drizzle, so I thought it was worth a shot. I ate a protein bar, drank some water, took some Advil, and gave my body an hour to feel "run-ready."
After Friday and Wednesday's runs were not successful in terms of being able to run the entire time, my goal for today was to run the entire 30 minutes, no matter how slow I needed to go in order to make it. When I stepped outside wearing my tee shirt and running tights (it's 55 degrees), my breath caught at the initial chill and feeling of getting wet. I knew I was only going to get wetter and that once I got past the walking warm up, I'd feel fine, which is exactly what happened. And it turns out that I love running in the rain! I'd always suspected this, but it was nice to get it confirmed.
Unfortunately, living on the coast means that it floods whenever it rains, no matter how much. And because I run on a main road, it's inevitable that I will have to run through puddles, no matter how much I try to avoid them - it's either that or get run over. So within a few minutes of running, my feet were soaked through. I didn't feel any noticeable heaviness in my sneakers, which was a good thing, but because I have only a half insert in, it was positioned just in the right spot to give me some nice blisters on my arches. But other than that, once the rain had soaked through my clothes, it was awesome to run in. I can't really describe why you would want to run soaking wet, with the rain sliding down your arms and dripping off the brim of your hat, splashing around your ankles in the deeper puddles. But it's great. It gave me a bit of a chuckle every time someone would drive past me, because I remembered being a driver in the rain, seeing a runner, and thinking, "Now that's just crazy." Now I'm one of those crazy runners, running in the rain! Even better, I managed to meet my goal of running the entire time. I started to feel a bit tired towards the middle and I was getting a cramp in my side, so I just focused on slowing down and relaxing. With that mindset, I was able to get to thirty minutes easily (I can't believe I said "easily" but I didn't use that word lightly) and felt great at the end of my run for the first time (in terms of how my body felt, aside from the blisters).
Fortunately, I'll be running three miles for the next few weeks, instead of ramping up again next week. I'm glad I'll get a chance to settle into it before my 5k, and maybe speed up a little. I'm also starting to see a real pattern with enjoying runs that happen later in the day, so I'll have to test out my theory on Wednesday morning, when I run first thing. If that run doesn't go as well as today's, I might switch to running at lunchtime every time I run!

Switching it up: Running along the Potomac

On Friday, I had my first opportunity to run somewhere besides Barnegat - National Harbor, Maryland! I was there for the Legal Marketing Association's Annual Conference, and had heard when I arrived that there were some pretty nice places to run, so I was looking forward to it.

When I got there on Wednesday, it was drizzling, grey, and foggy - very depressing. Even more depressing was that my hotel room overlooked an indoor hallway, so there was no way for me to see what the weather was like, or even have any natural light at all. Fortunately, there were big windows near the conference area, so I was able to see the sky, albeit from indoors. The hotel was so big that there was no need to ever leave - one of the delegates even joked that there were no exit doors. It definitely felt that way! After Thursday was chilly, rainy and gross again, I was seriously debating whether I would make it outside for a run, especially when Friday morning was more of the same. I knew there was a gym at the hotel, but I had been told that there were only six treadmills and six ellipticals for the entire hotel. Unless I was going to get up at some ridiculously early hour, I figured I'd never make it on a treadmill!

But by Friday afternoon, the sun had come out and it had warmed up quite nicely. The wind was blowing fiercely, but that was nothing new for me, and since my body was so sore after sitting through conference sessions for two days, I was definitely in need of a run. I have to admit that I was craving it! I skipped one of the afternoon sessions to check out the scenery outside. The concierge promised me an almost two mile loop if I stuck to the sidewalk, so I put on my headphones and headed outside.

What followed was probably the best worst run I've had yet. The weather was gorgeous, and it felt great to stretch my legs and run somewhere new. I really enjoyed looking at the beautiful Potomac as I was running and exploring the new little town that they were building up in National Harbor. But my body was so tired from the activities of the past couple of days, and it definitely was not the flat run that I was used to. So I ended up having to take a lot of walking breaks, and probably walked as much as I ran. Plus, my phone seemed to have the hiccups and would go from taking away seconds to adding them back on the clock. It was also warm enough that I was wishing I had brought shorts to run in instead of my running tights - I felt overheated pretty quickly, but the wind kept me a bit cool. I was worried that I'd lose my hat to the river, but I managed to keep it on my head and just enjoy the view. The main problem I seemed to have was that I could either run on the sidewalk, which was super hilly and went more through the town than by the river, or I could run down the stairs and along the Potomac, but it was a much shorter span. I mixed it up between the two, and ran along some of the docks as well. I focused on enjoying the experience of running in a new place instead of trying to hit the day's goal, and I think that's why I had such a great time!

Now that I know I'm brave enough to run in unfamiliar territory, I'll be willing to try it whenever I travel!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Watch out for the HALTs!

This morning, I woke up with a case of the HALTs - that's Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  And I was definitely all four when I got up - not a great way to start the day!  I fixed the Hungry quick by having a waffle - a banana just hasn't been cutting it for me right before my run, so I thought a quick dose of carbs might be more helpful (and yes, Coach J, I'm eating lots and lots of protein otherwise! Lots).  The Angry was brought on by an unnecessarily rude email I received, which I was able to respond to later and forget about.  I've heard people recommend running when you're mad and I hoped my run would help get out some of my frustration.  I knew nothing would fix the Tired except sleep, and I'm not likely to get a lot of that until I get home this weekend because this afternoon, I drove four hours to National Harbor, Maryland for the Legal Marketing Association's Annual Conference, a whirlwind of networking events, conference sessions, and trips to the exhibit hall.  Normally, I feel like I float through the conference a bit, bumping into people like icebergs in the night, which definitely doesn't help the Lonely.  But fortunately, my twitter networking helped me to get a core group of people to meet with here, so a 5pm "tweetup" fixed today's Lonely!  

So on to my run - I think if I had been less tired when I woke up, running mad would have made for a great run.  I do have to say that the run was still good today - not as awesome as Monday's run, but still better than it has been lately!  It was murder-mystery misty out this morning, with a strong sea smell, which I just love.  Although 41 degrees is not warm, I seem to heat up so quickly once I start running, so the fleece I wore over my tee shirt turned out to be too much for me this morning. It was a bit breezy, as usual, so that definitely helped me for a change.  And for the most part, my body felt great.  Though, I'm getting a better understanding of what Jannah (super inspirational awesome runner/blogger/triathlete - read her blog!!) meant when she said a few weeks' ago that her legs tired out before her body did - I really felt that way this morning.  The rest of me was going strong, but my legs were ready to quit after the first ten minutes!

But I was excited to figure out yesterday that I'm definitely running about a ten-minute mile - my fastest time EVER!!  I finally checked the mileage with my car, and I'm hitting the couch potato goal of 2 & 3/4 miles for this week, in 28 minutes.  I might even be exceeding it just a little.  So that gives me a lot of confidence that I'll be able to run 3.1 miles in May successfully and that I've got plenty of time to settle into running 3 miles regularly.  

Today, I did have to take a minute walking break about midway through because I was getting a funny pain in my chest, which did go away quickly.  Although I definitely prefer to run first thing in the morning, I think sometimes my body would prefer if I ran about midday after it has had time to warm up to the day a bit.  I might have to play around with that and see.  In other good news, my foot felt a bit sore, but with no time to ice it after my run as I tried to get a myriad of things accomplished before I left, it now feels fine.  That gives me hope for Friday's run when I will certainly not have ice - I understand there are a number of great running trails around this crazy hotel complex, so I'm excited to check those out first thing Friday morning!  As long as the promised thunderstorms aren't happening - in that case, I'll be checking out the gym.  

In the meantime, I'm sure I'll get quite a workout in just walking around this hotel, which is ENORMOUS.  My feet hurt already, and I've only been here for about five hours!  More networking to come tonight, and even with all the legal marketing talk, I've already been encouraging other people to take up running!