Saturday, May 30, 2009

Heat and humidity haunt me again

After Thursday's run, I was sore, sore, sore.  Every part of my legs hurt, from my hips, to my knees, to my calves and my quads. The only thing that didn't hurt was my feet!

So I was very glad that yesterday was a recovery day and my intention today was to run as soon as I woke up.  Since I've been having so much trouble sleeping, that ended up being slightly later than I would have liked considering that the temperature for today was to climb to 78 degrees.  I first got up at nine, when it was 66 degrees and cool enough when I let the dog out that I thought I would be okay to go back to sleep a little longer and then head out.  But when I finally left the house, it was 72 degrees, and definitely humid.  I knew I was in for a tough run.

Remembering that heat and humidity always seems to really affect me, I started out slow, aiming for an 11-minute or so pace.  Within a few minutes, I was already overheating - there was almost no breeze, and with no shade, I was running in the direct sun.  I kept telling myself it was only four miles and I could make it.  I was focusing on the thought "This is hard, but it makes me stronger" and that actually kept me going.

As I got closer to the water, there was a slight breeze, which I was so grateful for.  The clouds overhead were floating around, but only seem to shade the road just ahead of where I was, never right over me.  Eventually, I did get to run through some shade patches, so I would take off my hat to let the breeze cool me off a little.  It was too hot to try that in the direct sun, which just seemed to zero in on my dark hair.

I made it to the two-mile marker right at my halfway point time-wise, which I was happy about.  But the second half of the run didn't give me a lot to smile about.  I was so hot, so thirsty, and so tired, I was sure I was going to have to stop to walk.  But I am also really stubborn, and I just wanted to run the full 45 minutes today and not take any walking breaks.  

When I hit 16 minutes left, I started to become a clock-watcher again (even though I know roughly distance-wise how much run I had left).  I kept thinking that if I could make it to ten minutes, I'd be able to finish without taking a walking break.  I was really struggling though, so I tried to focus on my music, think about the big glass of water I was going to have when I got home, anything except how much running was left.  

With five minutes to go, I thought, this is it, I can make it.  I decided at that point that I would stop after 45 minutes, whether I'd made it back to my starting point or not.  Then, there was four minutes left, and it felt like so much time.  I told myself I just needed to get to three minutes.  When I hit that, I told myself I just needed to get to two minutes, and so on.  Finally, with sixty seconds left to go, I told myself to think of the first week I started running, when I only had to run sixty seconds at a time.  I tried to tell myself that a minute was all I had to do and I just about made it.  I don't know when I've ever been so happy to stop and walk!

My body felt okay during the run, but I think I was so focused on how overheated I was that I wasn't thinking about anything else.  As soon as I stopped to walk, I could feel my joints aching again and my muscles tensing up - the muscle soreness I never mind, because it reminds me all day long that I pushed myself, but the joint soreness I could do without.  

I'm considering this a tough, but successful run - I ran 3.86 miles in 45 minutes, which is an 11:34/mile pace.  Slow, but I did run the whole time without stopping, so I've got to consider that a good thing!  Tomorrow, I've got a 35 minute run, and I'm hoping it will be cooler and less humid.  At any rate, I've already gotten in two good runs this week (well, an okay run, and a great run, so they even out) and I think tomorrow's will be a good one too.  We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

THAT'S IT! Running is HARD.

Okay, so remember the days when I couldn't run five straight minutes? When I thought 20 minutes would find me lying in a ditch on the side of the road, gasping for breath? Somedays, I still forget that I don't still think I have those limitations. But today, I FINALLY broke my five mile barrier and ran 5.6 miles in 60 minutes and 15 seconds. That's right, I ran for more than 60 straight minutes, 16 weeks after I started running. Holy cow.

I have to admit that the weather made a huge difference - it was great running weather: overcast, misty rain, chilly air and a bit of a breeze. Exactly what I needed. Now, if you're keeping track, you'll noticed that I'm missing a running day this week: Tuesday. Tuesday was also perfect running weather, minus the misty rain. But unfortunately, I was sidelined with a nasty migraine, the worst I've had in a while. It was bad enough that despite three Excedrin when I woke up, I still called in late to work for the first time ever - when you work from home, it's hard to call in sick, unless you are really, really sick and can't even work from your bed with a laptop (which I have done, by the way). The headache did go away, but the other symptoms stuck around for a full day, and I felt weak and yucky right through Wednesday. Ah migraines.

At any rate, I didn't get to run on Tuesday and boy, did I need to run today. As you know, I've been struggling with finding the motivation for longer runs, debating whether I'm a recreational or a distance runner. I just couldn't shake a vague feeling of struggle every time I thought about running or went running. But I feel like I'm starting to get past that hurdle. Yesterday, I read a blog post by Liz Waterstraat about running hill repeats (something, by the way, I hope to never do). She talked about seeing Bob Scott, an 80-year-old Ironman, while she was running (that's right, 8-0. He's the current Ironman World Champion for his age group - if I'm still running when I'm 80, please come and find me). When Liz talked to him at the top of the hill/mountain, after her sixth hill run, she told him "This is so hard." His reply - "OF COURSE IT’S HARD! But it makes you strong, Elizabeth."

"THAT'S IT!" I thought! (Picture Charlie Brown yelling this at Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas and you'll understand my eureka moment).

This IS hard.

I think that's all I wanted to hear - someone admitting that it's hard for them too (especially a pro-triathlete like Liz). Running is hard work, especially when you get into the higher mileage, and I'm not even running that far yet. You battle with your body, with the weather, with your mind, with your schedule, with your diet, all of that. Just to run a little bit further each time. To have a bad day, followed by another bad day, sometimes followed by a good day. It's HARD. But it's making me stronger. The muscles in my legs are feeling SO strong lately - I can feel them with almost every movement I make. That feeling, I love.

So there's my motivation. This is hard. But it makes me strong.

With that in mind, I prepared myself for today's 60-minute run. I would like to say I jumped right out of bed and ran first thing, but that wouldn't be true. The last two nights, it's taken me until after 3am to fall asleep, so I try to sleep as late as I can so I can be a functioning, productive member of society. Those of you who know me know that it's not pretty when I'm tired. Last night especially, I was feeling jittery, with my legs on edge. That was another sign I needed to run today, to push my body past fatigue so that tonight, I can sleep.

So I headed out on my lunch break with the goal of 60-minutes and the desire to again, break an 11-minute pace. The first two miles were great. My body felt good (of course it did after three days off!), I was keeping a good pace, and the little bit of humidity wasn't holding me back. Around the start of the third mile, I got a twinge in my right knee, but nothing serious. Unfortunately, my knees ended up aching right through the rest of the run, though I didn't let it slow me down! Miles three through five were definitely the worst - I felt like each subsequent mile was twice as long as the last one. But I was feeling good about it mentally as I passed Sunday's halfway point of about 2.5 miles and I knew that if I could keep up my pace, I'd definitely make it past my 5 mile barrier.

I just kept doggedly at my pace and sped up as much as I could when I got to the last half mile or so. With only a few minutes left, I knew I was going to finish strong - finally, another great run in the books. My body felt great towards the end again (minus the knee issues), but as soon as I stopped running to walk, I could tell I'd really pushed myself today - my legs are feeling it! But managing 5.6 miles in 60:15 for a 10:45/mile pace makes me very, very happy.

This weekend, I'm running 45 minutes on Saturday and 35 on Sunday, so we'll see how those go. Next week, I'm off to San Francisco, with a jam packed schedule, so I'll be interested to see how/where I can fit in some runs!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How Will I Survive the Summer's Humidity??

Although I was supposed to run yesterday, when my alarm went off, I was just too darn tired to force myself out of bed.  Plus, it was Saturday!  So I gave myself a break and slept in a little instead.  I also knew it was crazy humid yesterday and was hoping that a thunderstorm yesterday or this morning would cool things off nicely.

Um, not so much.

There hasn't been a thunderstorm yet, so when I headed out this morning at 8 (admittedly, an hour later than I wanted to run), it was humid, humid, humid.  Only 70 degrees, but with the sun shining on me the whole way, and the moisture in the air, I was not loving running today.  

Today's goal was a 55-minute run, the longest ever.  And boy, did it feel that way.  I knew I had to run slowly if I was going to make it the entire way, since I've learned that my body doesn't react well to the humidity.  I was hoping that giving myself 55 minutes would mean I'd FINALLY hit five miles.  Getting to five seems to be impossible for me.  It's like I've hit this wall, and I just can't get to five miles.  I know I will eventually, but in the meantime, it's been very frustrating.  

My body was feeling okay today, not too much soreness in the joints and only a little muscle fatigue, so from that perspective it was a good run.  Although, it could just be that I ended up so overheated that I couldn't think of anything except stopping and getting some water.  The first mile was okay.  I really slowed myself down, to probably around an 11-minute pace and just concentrated on running the whole way.  The second mile got a little tougher, but I just kept thinking about getting through that next stretch to get to two and a half before I turned around.  I did the math before I left (because I can't run and divide time at the same time), and figured that my halfway point would be 27:30.  I passed the marker that would be the halfway point to 4.65 miles that I ran earlier in the week, and thought I was in good shape.  But by that time, I was so unbelievably hot and tired that my mind totally stopped working.  I got it in my head that I had to turn around at 22:30 instead and made it to 25:45 before I realized that I should have turned around already.  And I was already SO tired.  But I told myself I'd just run the 55 minutes, instead of trying to run to where I started, because my body was starting to rebel against the heat and humidity.  

As I headed back, I started to feel really overheated.  I would take off my hat every few minutes and let the intermittent breeze chill my sweaty hair, but that would last only seconds before my dark hair was attracting the sun to my head like a beacon.  I kept up my dogged pace and kept trying to focus on just running.  I passed a lot of people who were out this morning (tourist season has officially begun here at the beach) - mostly bikers and walkers.  Only one other runner - only one other person as crazy as me, battling the humidity to get in a run.  I did see a group of women walking/running, and I wondered if they were doing the couch potato challenge because I only saw them run once, for about thirty seconds.  I felt pretty good that I was running the entire time they were walking, running and then walking again!

With about sixteen minutes left to go, I had to take a walking break.  I was feeling a little delirious because I was so hot, and I thought it was better to take a break than to pass out.  The breeze felt so good once I'd slowed down, and my body wasn't stiffening up like it normally does if I stop to walk in the middle of a run, so that was a good thing.  After two minutes, I started up again and kept trying to think about the end of the run, and the gallon of water I was going to drink when I got home.  I really wanted to finish the run where I had started it, but I was just spent.  Unfortunately, it meant that I had further to walk once I stopped running and it was only sheer force of will and the knowledge that I had water at home that got me to walk that last half mile.  I mean, I seriously debated flagging down a car and either a) asking them if they had a bottle of water or b) asking them if they would drive me home.  When I got home, I immediately took off my shoes and socks, my hat, and my RoadID, turned on the AC and drank a big glass of water.  Unfortunately, my Brita seemed to have developed a small ice issue, which kept it from letting me have any more water.  Of all days.  But I had a little lemonade instead and some yogurt, sat on the couch for a few minutes to cool off, and finally felt more like myself again.  It does make me wonder how I'll survive the humidity in July and August...

And for all that, I only managed to run 4.74 miles.  Seriously?!?  It was disappointing for sure, but I focused on the fact that I got out there and ran, that I managed to run 53/55 minutes on one of the hottest, most humid mornings I've run so far, and that it's still longer than I've ever run before.  So I am making progress, it just feels like it's at a snail's pace!  I was back up well over an 11 minute pace today, which is also frustrating, but I think I need to concentrate on the fact that I'm running at all, instead of how fast I'm going.  There's plenty of time to speed up, right?

So as I promised, I checked in with Coach J, who said tomorrow should be an off day (Sweet!), Tuesday, 40 minutes, Wednesday off, Thursday 60 minutes (I'd better hit five miles that day!), Friday off, Saturday 45 minutes and Sunday 35 minutes.  That sounds fairly reasonable to me, so I'm going to continue to take Jannah's advice of taking it one workout at a time and hope for the best!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Short Runs Can Still Be Hard!

Today I finally learned what runners are talking about when they say their legs are "dead." Holy cow, was today's run tough!

When I went to bed last night, my body hurt. Just ached in my lower back, my hips, my knees. Getting into bed, I hoped that a good night's sleep would solve my soreness and I'd wake up fresh and ready to run.

Unfortunately, that was not exactly how it went. I managed to get myself into bed by 11, but wanted to read a couple of chapters of my book first. I was definitely tired, but it was a scary mystery that had me convinced I heard someone downstairs in the house. Yes, despite the fact I have a very loud alarm system. I thought maybe someone had hidden upstairs earlier in the day while the alarm was off - can you tell I have an active imagination? So after tossing and turning for a while, I finally got up and checked every nook and cranny. Nobody. So feeling much safer, I finally tried to fall back asleep and was successful.

At about 6:45 I was jolted awake for no good reason. I peeked out of my eye mask (which I'm wearing in lieu of room darkening shades), and saw how sunny it was, so then, I was up. But I was feeling very tired, and still pretty sore, so I started the mental debate.

Do I have to run today?
Well, maybe not. Maybe I could take the day off and run tomorrow. Ugh, but then I'd be running back to back with a long Saturday run. What if I took two days off? Hmm, that might be too long. Everyone's expecting me to run today. Okay, so I guess I have to run today.

Then: maybe I don't have to get up and run now!

Well, I probably do. It's supposed to be in the eighties today, and remember how it felt to run yesterday when it was so hot? Oh yeah, yucky. Besides, even though you're tired, you're already awake, so you might as well get up and run.

But I feel so blah.

How about a short run instead? (Yes, yes, I know this was supposed to be a "short" 40-minute run, but I mean shorter). What if I just did 2 miles instead? I can run 20 minutes, can't I? Sure, a 20-minute run might be fun.

Okay, so I finally got up.

Checking the temperature, it was about 50 degrees, so I put on my running tights instead of shorts. Mistake #1 - I should have checked the humidity. Made it feel like it was 70 instead of 50, so I was hot the whole time I was running.

I headed out and started running and that's when I figured out what other runners have meant by "dead legs." I can't really describe it other than to say I'd clearly pushed the muscles in my legs as far as they were prepared to go, and they felt like they stopped responding. Sweet.

But I kept going. My joints hurt as usual, and I tried telling myself that it was just a short run, only two miles. Ha ha, only two miles. I crack myself up.

With running over an 11-minute pace yesterday, I figured I should give myself 22 minutes of running to make sure I got in 2 miles. When I hit a half a mile though, I really thought I should have decided to run only a mile. But ten minutes of running seemed so short, so I kept pushing myself. I pushed myself to 9 minutes, 10 minutes, and finally 11 minutes before I turned around.

By this time, my body was really letting me know that it hated me. I kept thinking that the total time running was so much shorter today than usual, that I had to just keep going and finish. Honestly, I'm not sure how I managed it, other than "Let it Rock" coming on my headphones at the right time, but I managed to do 2.35 miles in 22:30 - that's a 9:34 pace! I was surprised that I managed such a fast pace on a two mile run - that's the quickest I've ever gone on a longer run (my fastest pace is 9:32 when I ran a mile a couple of months ago). So clearly, I was pushing myself harder this morning again. I'll admit to knowing I was doing it too, because despite how tired my body was, I knew I could keep up a faster pace on a shorter run, and I wanted to see how I could do. Of course, now, I feel as though I need a nap and I'm about ready to throw a party because I get a recovery day tomorrow.

Today, I'm still having trouble finding my motivation for longer runs. Coach J suggested bribing myself with brownies, but let's be honest, I would eat those things whether I run far or not. I have been bribing myself with cupcakes, as in "Just think, when you get home, you can eat a cupcake." But again, I'd probably eat the cupcakes whether I run or not. I had hoped that registering last week for the 10k would be solid motivation, because when I registered for my 5k's, I thought oh crap, I'd better make sure I run, and run far enough, so that I'm prepared. But this week, I just keep asking myself why the heck I registered for it at all! This week has got me wondering a lot of things: am I really cut out to be a distance runner? Do I just prefer to run 3-ish miles three days a week? Maybe I overextended myself with the goal of running the LBI race this year, and should just postpone it to next year? Why did I go from loving running to not really loving it in about two weeks' time? Why can't I seem to get past this 4.5 mile threshold?

Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely pleased that I went from not running at all - a literal couch potato - to running three to four days a week, 2-4.5 miles at a time in about three months. That's a great feeling. But I am struggling with finding a balance between maybe having to be satisfied with being a recreational runner, who competes in 5k's and runs 10 miles a week, but feels guilty/disappointed that I can't/didn't run in the 18-mile race and a marathon and maybe just seeing this as a bump in the road, a fly in my motivation ointment, which I'll look back on as something else I overcame in a few months' time. It's hard to know what the answers are.

So in the meantime, my plan is to train for my 10k as hard as I can, and then re-evaluate after that. Coach J thought I had come up with a crazy schedule this week (I always prefer when he thinks I'm pushing myself too hard, because then I can relax a little!), so even though he actually has a crazy schedule of workouts in preparation for the LP Ironman in July, I will be bugging him again to let me know what I should actually be running. And I will be hoping that this is just a bump in the road!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guess which idiot picked the hottest part of the day to run?

Um, yes, that would be this idiot.

I definitely should have run first thing this morning, but watching Daniel Craig in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was infinitely more important than getting to sleep early last night. We all have our priorities.

At any rate, the weather here is gorgeous today - sunny, low-ish humidity, a cool breeze - just perfect. Unless you are a runner. Then, it's just a little bit too hot, a little bit too sunny, and the wind is either too strong or non-existent.

When I headed out to run this afternoon, it was already 77 degrees. After having to walk for a lot of Saturday's run because of the humidity, I knew I needed to pace myself well if I wanted to run the whole 45 minutes I had planned for today. I started out slowly and was running into the wind for the first half. Sometimes that was okay, because it would cool me off, but more often than not, it wasn't a very cool breeze, so it just forced me to struggle a bit to keep my pace up. I kept feeling like I was running so slowly that I was almost running in place, but after a few minutes, I could really feel myself tiring out, so I knew I had to keep it slow.

After the first mile, I was really struggling, and I was worried that I'd have to take a walking break. I think if I hadn't taken it so easy last week and cut myself a break, I probably would have walked a lot today. But because I felt like I didn't get a solid week of running in last week and I need to be able to survive that 10k in about three weeks, I continued to push myself. I reminded myself that my "happy life list" or "bucket list" or whatever you want to call it doesn't say "Run a 10k under a 10-minute mile pace." It just says "Run a 10k" (it used to say "Run a 5k" by the way - first thing I got to cross off!!). So although I like to think that I need to be running faster all the time, the main thing is that I'm running. And today, I ran.

I tried to think about the part of my route that was right ahead of me (especially since I felt like every time I looked at the time, I always had thirty-plus minutes left). And I just...kept....going. It was slow, but I was running. I had it in my head that I just wanted to hit the 5k halfway mark, that if I did, I would consider that a win for today. But then I passed it. And kept going. I realized that I was definitely going to hit four miles for today (which is not ALL that huge for running 45 minutes, but I was so hot and tired, it was a big deal to me today). Because I knew I was really going to be tired on the back half, I turned around about twenty seconds early and headed home. On the second half of the run, I got to thinking a bit (I love it when I can think about something besides how tired my body feels while I'm running, because it makes me feel less tired). I passed a group of people sitting on the beach (in bikinis - is it really bikini season already? I mean, I'm wearing shorts and a tee shirt, but I was running...anyway, I digress) and although I'm a huge fan of sitting on the beach and relaxing, I was proud of myself that I was taking a lunch break to run. A few months ago, the most athletic thing I was doing was scrubbing my bathtub and today, I ran four miles. That made me feel pretty good about myself! And it's made me feel like other things are possible in my life too.

As I was running, I also passed a woman on a bike - a serious biker. You can tell the difference, because leisure bicycle riders are wearing regular clothes and sit up straight on their bikes. They sort of meander along, and you can tell they're either trying to get from place to place, or their just enjoying the weather. The serious athletes are the ones with helmets, wearing spandex, and crouched over their handlebars like they're in the Tour de France. As she passed me, she waved and smiled and it made me feel like part of this club of athletes - people who work out when it's hot, or even when it's raining - definitely a cool feeling!

Despite that though, I've been having a bit of an internal debate with myself lately, wondering if I might just be a recreational runner, and not a competitive one. I really loved the experience of my two 5k's and have enjoyed all my training up until then. But since then, having to ramp up my running has really been a mental struggle and I feel like I'm trying to get over this threshold to become a real distance runner. I'm not sure if it was because I had two bad weeks of running right after the 5k's, feeling like my body was revolting against me and finding it hard to get back into the rhythm of running or if it's because I just don't want to run more than 3 or 3 1/2 miles at a time. I'll have to figure that one out. Mainly I have this question in my head before I run, but then when I get back home after a good run (or even today, after a tough run), I feel great and enjoy seeing how far I can run. So who knows?

At any rate, I finished 4.06 miles in 45:10 - an 11:07 pace. I wasn't very happy with being over 11 minutes again, but since it was hot today and I deliberately slowed myself down, I'm going to cut myself some slack. I think tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same, so I plan to get my butt out of bed earlier and run first thing instead, and hopefully I'll have some better speed. Tomorrow is a short run (ha ha, I love when I call 40 minutes a short run. It sounds short, but it sure doesn't feel that way!). Then I've got Friday off and I've got a nice long 55-minute run on Saturday. In about a week or so, I think I'll actually be running to the post office in town and back - I always thought that was so much longer than it actually is...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back on Track

I think last week just wasn't my week, and I include yesterday in that. Saturday night, I managed to tweak my knee, enough that it was still hurting yesterday. I felt like I just couldn't win. So I decided to start fresh with a Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule this week. My knee was still sore this morning, but I realized that it hurts more when I'm going down stairs and put pressure on it than when I'm going upstairs, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to run, unless I was going downhill a lot. Plus, I was really grouchy when I woke up yesterday and again this morning, so I knew I needed to run out some of my frustration.

With that in mind and looking at last week's time goals, I decided I'd do 50 minutes today, 45 on Wednesday, 40 on Thursday, and 55 on Saturday. Since I started running longer than 20 minutes (ah, remember the days when I thought 20 minutes was an impossibly long time to run? How I miss those days...), I try not to think about the run as a whole, because it overwhelms me. I'm still battling myself with wanting to meet the goal of a ten-minute pace on a regular basis, but knowing that it's more important to get out there and run for a certain length of time. I kept trying to remind myself during today's run that before February 12th, I wasn't running at all. Even as recently as on the day I turned 29, running anywhere wasn't a thought in my head. And now, just over three months after I started running, I've completed two 5k's and can run over four miles. At one time. Three months ago, I couldn't have run that far if an axe murderer was chasing me. So it's important to keep perspective.

Knowing that I'd really scaled back my running last week (getting in only one good run and one not-so-good run instead of four good runs), and going from running 30 of 38 minutes to running 50 today, I needed to cut myself a break. I tried to be mindful of my perceived effort today as I headed out, because I knew that overdoing it on Saturday in the humidity is what kept me from running the whole 35 minutes. Today's weather was definitely better - low fifties, not very much humidity, and overcast, it reminded me of the morning of my first 5k, minus the rain. And actually, my body felt pretty much the same today as it did that day - the usual joint soreness, but nothing major and nothing to really hold me back. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm also wearing exactly the same clothes as my first 5k too, even down to the socks, I think!

But anyway, as I started out, I kept my pace slower than I have been, and it felt like a 10:30 pace, which I was happy with. Of course, when I mapped my run, I found out it was more like a 10:55 pace, so I was a little disappointed (unless I mis-mapped my run, which is possible, because my halfway point was in a marsh with no real distinguishing landmarks). But since I've been running consistently under 11 minutes for a while now, I think I've got to be happy with anything under 11.

The first mile was tough, as usual, and then miles 2 and 3 were pretty good. Around about the end of the third mile, it started to sink in how much further I still had to go, and mentally that made me feel really tired. I kept thinking I wouldn't make it, so I reverted to my trick of imagining myself at a point further along the route - so when I was still back towards the municipal dock, I pictured myself running along the straightaway by the beach, and then when I reached that, I pictured myself running by the start of the sidewalk, about a half a mile from home. Fortunately, that worked, and I was able to finish the entire run, ending back where I started at 50:50. It looks like I ran 4.65 miles, which is less than I had hoped for, but when I finished the run, I felt like I was back on track again. So now we'll see how Wednesday and Thursday's runs go, and hopefully I can pick up the pace a bit, and then I'm really hoping to be over five miles on Saturday!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly

Today's run was less-than-perfect (and I'll get to that in a minute), but I want to start off with the thought that came to me while I was running.  Which was that some days are about failures.  I'm a recovering perfectionist, and some days I am less hard on myself than others.  My general M.O. has been that if I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do something perfectly, I just won't do it.  Not that I'm a quitter, but I just won't even try it.  Which may be why I never tried running before now.

But I've been working on that for a few years, and even more so lately, because honestly, trying to be perfect is hard work.  Not to mention it's impossible.  Someone told me recently that I was a perfectionist "up until now," so I've been trying to see it as something I used to be and am not anymore.  It occurred to me that when I look at things from the point of view of a perfectionist, all I can see is what I can't do, what mistakes I've made, what I could have done better.  That's a real "glass half-empty" view of myself.  But when I look at what I'm able to do, what's possible, and what I've done right, that's more of a "glass half-full" view - much better!

So what does this have to do with running?  Well, today's run wasn't a good one, and I realized that part of being a runner is having it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I've got to accept that there will be bad days, and great days, and that I can't have one without the other.  So despite having a tough week, I can still be a runner. I can still pick myself up after a bad run, and dust myself off, and try again tomorrow.

For today's run, I was coming off of two days rest, after a 40-minute run on Wednesday, which followed three days rest. Not my best week for running.  But between my teeth issues continuing to make me feel yucky and seriously limiting what I can eat, and then my puppy ending up at the vet with bad hot spots, allergies and an ear infection, not to mention disassembling and moving a bed, then assembling two beds in as many days, and whacking my head on a shelf in the process, it just wasn't my week.  

I debated running yesterday, but I was feeling so wiped out, that I figured I'd start fresh today.  That might not have been such a bad thing, but when I got up this morning, the humidity was incredible.  It was only about 60 degrees, but it felt as though I was running while wearing a wet blanket over my head.  Before I headed out, I was trying to decide whether I wanted to do my 35-minute run, or just skip right to the 50-minute run, and then get back to a regular four-day schedule next week.  I opted for the 35-minute run since I'd taken so much time off this week and headed out.  

The whole run was tough, right from the beginning.  Although my body had felt good all morning, as soon as I started running, I could feel the aches in my hips and my lower back - after taking so much Advil last week because of my teeth and my neck, I'm now avoiding it like the plague.  I tried to shake off the aches, but was already checking the time before I'd even hit a mile.  After about 13 minutes, I had to stop to walk. I was dripping with sweat, coughing the humidity out of my lungs, and feeling like I was on fire.  I walked for a minute, and then started running again.  I made it another few minutes, but again, had to stop to walk.  Eventually, I was so overheated that I had to walk for a few minutes.  With about six minutes left to go on my 35-minute goal, I knew I'd have to run the last six in order to have run 27 total minutes.  I pushed myself to do that, and then pushed myself to run another three minutes for a total of 38 minutes - 30 minutes running, and 8 walking.  When I mapped my run, I can see that I did 3.16 miles (which is about what I thought) in 38 minutes, for a 12-minute pace, which really tells me something - I pushed myself too hard when I was running for the level of humidity today.  If I could have relaxed a bit and slowed down, I probably would have been able to run the whole thing without overheating.  

But instead of beating myself up for having an "ugly" run, I'm working on seeing today's run as a success for a couple of reasons:

1) I actually got out there again after a tough week and made myself run.  Not to mention that I still ran 30 out of the 38 minutes.  
2) I learned that I pushed myself to run too fast without really realizing it, and when the weather conditions are telling me to slow down (We're back to checking the old "PE" - Perceived Effort!).
3) I still ran/walked more than three miles, which I never used to be able to do!

I know part of the reason I'm pushing myself and being hard on myself is because I have that 10k coming up in about four weeks, and when I was four weeks away from my 5k's, I was already running that distance. So that makes me really nervous.  But I did run 4 miles the other day, so I think I can push myself up to 6.2 in the next four weeks.  

Tomorrow's run will be a long one - 50 minutes - and hopefully I'll be running close to 5 miles.  We're supposed to get thunderstorms tonight, and I'm hoping that breaks the humidity, so I can run a bit easier!  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yes, I Took Three Days Off

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

I had every intention of running Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday this week, but after pushing my body a bit too hard last week, with disappointing results, an ever-worsening pinched nerve in my neck, and waking up feeling like I was getting the swine flu on Monday morning, I thought it was about time to skip a run. My body was rebelling, telling me that I needed a break - no running, no yoga, just lots and lots of rest. And I felt yucky enough that I didn't even feel guilty about skipping the run.

On Tuesday, I thought about running and giving myself an every-other-day schedule for the rest of the week, but I was still not feeling great. So I thought I'd stick to the original plan (minus the Monday run) and hoped that a full three days off would get me back in fighting shape.

I woke up this morning and felt like I'd been run over. My neck was sore, which it usually is first thing in the morning lately, and what I thought was the flu is actually periocornitis, which is a fancy way of saying that the gums around one of my wisdom teeth are infected (which makes me feel like I have a sore throat). I had this confirmed this morning at the dentist, who put me on antibiotics and said he didn't think I needed to have my teeth removed. Sweet.

As the day wore on, I felt a little bit better and decided that I needed to run. As you may remember from the last time I had three consecutive days off, too much time off from running can wreak havoc on my mind. So I knew that if I wanted to get back to it, today was the day. And it's perfect running weather today too - overcast, but with some sun, no humidity, 66 degrees. Just enough to get a chill as I set out in my shorts and tee shirt, which was a good sign for the run.

The first mile was tough, showing me that even three days off can hurt me a little in terms of endurance. I was pushing myself to keep a good pace today, because I want to be down around ten minutes again - I do have that 10k coming up after all! My body felt pretty good - I struggled to find my pace a bit right in the beginning, but once I got settled, I could tell that last week's residual soreness was mostly gone. So though 3 days off hurt me in some ways, I think it helped to let my body recover and remind me why I actually like running!

Miles 2 and 3 were the best - I felt pretty good, there was a nice breeze to keep me cool, and I knew I'd hit close to 2 miles by the halfway mark, which is where I'd hoped to be. Once I reached that last mile though, I was definitely feeling tired. But since I had let myself rest for three days, I wasn't going to take it easy today. I pushed myself to keep up the pace for that last mile and finished where I'd started just a little bit slow, at 40:30. I mapped my run, and it was 3.97 miles, so a 10:11 minute pace. I'm definitely happy with that after three days off! Actually, I'd be happy with that period.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a 35 minute run, but Coach J says to see how I'm feeling and maybe do Friday and Saturday back-to-back instead of today and tomorrow. If I can keep up close to a ten minute pace, I might actually hit almost five miles on Saturday, which would be awesome! But, one day at a time, right?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Starting with Long Runs...

Somedays, I don't have a very successful run. Today was one of those days. 


When my alarm went off at 7 this morning (yes, I know it's Saturday), I definitely wanted to snooze it and get some more sleep.  But I remembered to ask myself "do I really want this?" and that was enough to get me up and out.  Plus, I remembered how itchy and frustrated I'd been the day before, and I knew a run would solve that.

As I started my warm up walk (which I've shortened), I thought, "What a beautiful day this is!" The sun was shining, it was 62 degrees with a lovely breeze - perfect weather, right? Well, yes, perfect for a WALK.  But with high humidity and direct sun, it wasn't so perfect for running.  

I started my run and my body HURT. Muscles, joints, tendons, all of it. The only thing that hasn't been hurting are my feet and ankles.  I kept thinking that my body probably would have benefitted from an extra day off after my races, because I've struggled so much all week.  I've been trying to figure out why that might be, since it was really just two short runs back to back, and I've been running longer distances for a few weeks now, but I just can't figure it out.  All I know is that my body has been more sore and more tired this week than it's been since I started running.

As usual though, I knew I needed at least a mile to warm up my muscles, so I kept at it.  Since it was warm and humid, and my body was so sore, I didn't push myself too hard speed-wise.  My goal was to run 45 minutes today, and I wanted to make sure I met that.  By the time I got to the water, my body had warmed up, but I was really starting to overheat.  Almost none of my route is shaded, so that always makes running in the early morning sun interesting.  My halfway time was 22:30, but in my overheated state, I thought I was supposed to turn earlier, at 23:30, and by the time I realized, I was too tired to turn back around and run further.  Normally that wouldn't be such a big deal, but when I mapped my run when I got home, I realized I'd run 3.96...just 0.04 short of 4 miles.  That frustrated me.  But then I remembered I'd actually run further than where I started running, so when I double-checked my mapping, I realized I'd actually run 4.01 miles.  So more successful than I thought, though it could certainly be better! 

After turning around, I made it to 34 minutes, and I thought I was going to pass out.  I gave myself a minute to walk, which also frustrated me.  But that minute cooled me off enough that I was able to finish the rest of the run without passing out or throwing up, though I was definitely close - and that's key in my book!  I finished past where I started at 45 minutes, so even with one minute of walking, I still had an 11:10 pace.  So as I write this, I'm now thinking the run was a little more successful than I initially believed!  

Earlier this week, I aggravated the pinched nerve in my neck, and it's been getting steadily worse over the past two days, so I'm really looking forward to a rest day tomorrow.  It unfortunately means no yoga, since I have limited motion, but fortunately running only bothers it slightly.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring some relief, though with another two-hour drive ahead of me, I'm not so sure!  Next week, I'll be running Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and I'm already looking forward to my short run!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Will the Real Athletes Please Show Up?

Yesterday, I was reading a post by one of my favorite bloggers & triathletes, Frozentriette, about what success really means at the end of a workout. Something she said really stuck with me - "I want this and I show up for it." Wow. Right there is the difference between the weekend warriors, and the athletes. She's getting up at 4:30 am to workout, regardless of the temperature, regardless of the weather (and she's in Alaska, so definitely not as mild as it is here!). She went on to say about her workouts that:

"It may or may not go according to my expectations or desires, but
regardless, I'm there. Performance at this stage in my life is irrelative. I would love to arrive at the pool and swim like a fish for an hour and walk away with complete satisfaction.

"However, what truly makes my training a success is the simple act of showing up. Today, and Saturday's race, the performance was not there, but I was. Some days, we connect. Some days we do not. Regardless, I record it in my training log and show up again tomorrow."
Somedays, I want to beat myself up for not being able to run faster or longer, but the truth is that I'll get there. The important thing is that I'm showing up, putting in the work, finishing my workouts. Maybe I struggled on Tuesday with my first post-race run, but I still did it.

Just showing up was the thought that was in my head when the alarm went off this morning. It was another grey, rainy morning, but it was already 63 degrees (of humidity, mostly). I really wanted to sleep in a bit longer, but I asked myself, "Do you really want this?" And since the answer was yes, I got up, put on my running clothes, and headed out the door.

After talking to Coach J yesterday, my goals for the rest of the week are to run 40 minutes today and 45 on Saturday. Yes, kids, this is a 4-run week, which is what I'm now switching to. Gotta get ready for that 18-mile race in October!

I shortened my warm up walk this morning, in part so I would focus on how long I was running instead of the distance. I could tell I was running a bit faster than Tuesday (whew!) but my body is still a bit tired and sore. The first mile was tough on my right leg, which has some serious muscle soreness just behind my knee and lower thigh (makes walking up the stairs a joy, let me tell you!). But on the plus side, my hips felt great until right towards the end of the run, and once I warmed up, I felt pretty strong. I ran further than I ever have and figured I'd stop right where I started, at 40 minutes and 30 seconds. After mapping the run, I know that I ran 3.69 miles, with about a 10:58 pace. Not great, but certainly faster than the 11:43 pace I had on Tuesday! Now I've just got to bring my body up to where my mind already is.

Oh and for anyone who's wondering, I managed to put my socks on the correct feet this morning (On Tuesday, I realized that my socks had a "right" and "left" on them, and I'd been wearing them on the wrong feet all day). I'm not sure it made me faster, but it can't hurt to try!

Next up, a 45-minute run on Saturday, then I'm looking at runs on Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday next week!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Post Race Run

With only one day off in between my two 5k race weekend and my first post-race run, I knew I was going to be hurting. After Sunday's race, although I was elated, my hips were also pretty sore, which wasn't helped by a two hour drive home. I was so tired on Sunday night, once the adrenaline and excitement wore off, I could barely move off the couch to make myself some dinner - which was key, since I was STARVING. But eventually I fed myself and spent yesterday at work taking Advil and resting, and then made sure to do some yoga. I slathered on the BioFreeze. I even found my hip stretches from PT and stretched out my hips - I forgot how much some of those stretches could actually hurt!

When I woke up this morning to another gloomy, rainy day, I figured I would put off my run until lunch to give the Advil a chance to kick in and the temperature to warm up a bit. Coach J had told me to run my usual 3.4 miles, but not worry about how fast I got there. Uh, no problem there, since my body was definitely not prepared to let me run very fast.

Although I wasn't expecting much, today's run definitely wasn't great. For the last mile, I actually felt halfway decent - not too tired and my muscles were sore, but warm enough to keep going. But those first two and a half-ish miles were brutal. It was the first time during a run that I really wanted to cry. I felt like there was no cushioning left in my hips and knees, so that every step I took hurt. I took a walking break right after the first half mile because I wanted to take my fleece off - usually, I can do this and run at the same time, but I was so tired, I didn't think I could manage it today. So I walked for a couple of minutes and then ran the rest of the way, for a total of about 40 minutes. MapMyRun tells me I was at about an 11:43 pace, which is actually faster than I thought I was running.

But, I tell myself that the important thing is that I did get out there and run today, no matter how much I was hurting. So now I'm back to icing and Advil, and hoping that another day of rest will make for a great run on Thursday.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sometimes, I even surprise myself!


After 5k #1 yesterday, I was totally elated! I was happy to have it over with (after all my nerves) and excited that I met my goal of running the entire time. I was also pretty satisfied with my overall time!

The other thing I was: totally exhausted. After all of the adrenaline wore off and combined with my lack of sleep from the night before and a two hour drive up to my parents' house, I was TIRED. So tired, that I went to bed at nine-thirty, which for this night owl, is almost unheard of! I knew I also had an early start of 6:15 this morning, so I wanted to make sure I got as much sleep as possible. Turns out I just need to be racing in 5k's in order to fall asleep quickly and early!

I woke up a couple of times last night, which I attribute to nerves over this morning's race. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I was for yesterday's until right before we started running, but it was still going to be 5k in a new place, on a course I'd never even seen. Plus, I'd be running with my brother-in-law, former marine and corrections officer, who seems to just be one of those natural runners. I knew he wasn't planning on really going after the race today, because he had to work this afternoon, but I still figured I'd end up left in the dust at some point!

Race registration opened at 7, but with the race being at 9, I didn't think it was necessary to get there anytime before 7:30. We got our numbers (today I was 70) and our tee shirts (yay!) and walked around a little bit to warm up. The weather today was about as good as yesterday, except it definitely felt cooler. I think it might have been less humid, so I was definitely feeling the chilly bite in the air and spotty drops of rain. We spotted the current police class, with their shaved heads and matching tee shirts, and another runner told me they normally keep up a 10-minute pace (which turned out to be more like a 9-minute pace based on when my sister said they came into the finish). When my brother-in-law told me I could pass him and run my own pace, I asked him what he normally runs at. He said he's a pretty consistent 10-minute pace, no matter the distance he's running (unless it's a one-miler).


I mentioned that my fastest time (in training) was actually a 10:14 pace, so I told him that HE could feel free to take off and leave me behind. My legs were feeling okay, but I could definitely tell that the muscles were tired, and my right hip was really complaining - and that was before the race got underway. They had a chiropractic practice there to stretch out and tape the runners, so I thought I'd head over and take advantage of that before starting. The resident doctor asked me about any injuries, and I mentioned that I have bursitis and tendonitis in my hip, as well as trouble with my right hip. He said that if I were his patient, he'd tell me I couldn't run today.

Ha ha.


Good thing I'm not his patient. Because I was going to run as long as my legs were not broken.

So he started to stretch me out, which definitely pushed my pain threshold in my hips. As in, I probably could have squeezed out a couple of tears if I wasn't so tough (plus, if you know me, you know how I feel about crying in front of people). He talked about this muscle and that tendon, blah, blah, blah, and suggested, along with one of the other chiropractors, that I start up with physical therapy again, etc and so on. Since PT had actually made my hips worse, I'm a bit reticent to jump right back into it. So I plan to see how the hips do and maybe I'll think about it after I run a marathon.

That's right. I said a marathon. But that's more for another post.

Anyway, they taped me up with a fancy athletic tape that can stretch the muscles and aid in getting blood into them. I was loving having to have most of my hip exposed to the general running public so that I could get taped, and I can't say as to whether it really helped me run better or not. But I'm all for seeing what works! They also gave me a number of samples of BioFreeze, which I must admit, is doing a great job of helping my hip and knee tonight, which are definitely feeling the burn of two back to back 5k's.

So the race!

I lined up with my brother-in-law and we got out our headphones. Here, I'll digress again for a minute, because Coach J wanted me to point out that he HATES people wearing headphones during races. Apparently, it's illegal (not as in against the law, but against the rules) in most races - though I didn't see any rules about that in either of my 5k's. His reasoning, which is good, is best illustrated by an experience he had - a guy was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and was running a good pace behind a girl wearing headphones. She abruptly stopped to walk several yards in front of him, and he called out to her to move to the side so that he could pass her. She didn't hear him, because of the headphones, and when she moved right into his path, he tripped and fell. So yes, in those cases, I can see where headphones are irresponsible. I had a similar thing today with a kid who wasn't wearing headphones who abruptly stopped right in front of me on a narrow path about six inches above the ground, without looking behind him. I just about managed to avoid him. So maybe it's just about being conscientious and looking behind you when you stop or move over (which I always try to do). But I will say that I wouldn't wear headphones in a longer or more serious race. Perhaps I will just have to sing out loud to get me through...maybe Chariots of Fire (can you tell that I'm beyond tired and punchy?).

Okay, so back to today's race. They mentioned that there were 400 participants, and I could definitely tell it was a bigger race than yesterday. The proceeds were to benefit the Special Olympics, so that's a great cause to draw a big crowd for. I'd heard from another runner that the course was mostly flat (phew!), so I planned to try to keep up with my brother-in-law. My goal was to beat yesterday's time, which I know is a big no-no after racing the day before. Most of the other runners I know were telling me to go out and enjoy it, but not expect to run as fast, because I would be tired. But I'm such a type-A personality that even though I mostly wanted to just finish this whole race running, I *really* wanted to beat my time.

A police siren blared to start off the race (gotta love a police-hosted race, so many cops there!), and we were off! I started a timer on my phone so that I could tell roughly how I was doing time-wise. With so many runners sticking to a narrow path (we were in a park, not on the road like yesterday), it was tough to find a good pace right away, and I was worried it would really slow us down. We had to speed up a bit a couple of times to pass people and find some space, and I could definitely feel those little bursts of speed in my tired muscles. I reminded myself that I always feel tired for the first mile, and just thought about hanging in there.

Although I was very good yesterday about starting slower than I thought I should, thanks to everyone's advice, today, we definitely started a bit faster than I normally would have. I could feel myself get tired quickly and fell back a few steps from my brother-in-law. The back of his tee shirt said "Make it Happen," so as long as I was able to keep that in front of me, I felt pretty good. They didn't seem to have any mile markers, so it was anyone's guess as to what we ran the first mile in. I knew my general time should have had me between ten and eleven minutes, so I used that as my mental marker for the first mile. I was really tired by the end of that first mile, and struggling a bit. I fell back a bit from my brother-in-law, who was so nice and slowed down so that I could keep up with him - he did that a couple of times, and really didn't have to. I definitely credit him for encouraging me to end up where I did at the end of the race. My sister picked a good guy!

As we were well into mile 2, I started to think that it must be the hardest mile of a 5k race, because you're past the excitement of the first mile, but not yet into the final push of the last mile. I still had no idea of where the end of the second mile was, but when I saw a second water station, with a small "#2 mile" sign and checked my stopwatch, I was pumped to see it was at 19:52. I knew I'd started it a few seconds late, but if we were keeping up a 10 minute pace and I could put in a big push for the third mile, I knew we'd finish strong!

I really focused on leading with my hips that last mile, which seemed to help me feel less tired. I pushed myself hard, and even with a couple of little hills, managed to mostly keep up with my brother in law. By this point, a LOT of people had passed us - I guess a police race really brings out the true athletes, because almost everyone looked to be in great shape. There were a couple of people who looked pretty strong at the beginning, but ended up walking after the first mile, so that was encouraging for me. But it was still tough to be passed by so many people! I had to remember that running is more about me battling myself and not competing against other people, but I am naturally a bit competitive.

As the lights of the police cruiser came into sight, we knew that the end was near! On the big race clock, I could see it counting up from 30 minutes still - holy cow!! My brother-in-law and I put on a BIG burst of speed (just like I did yesterday), but I really don't know how I managed it because I was SO much more tired at the end of the race. We crossed the finish line at 31:02, giving me a 10-minute pace today - WA-FRICKEN-HOO!! Not only is that my fastest time EVER, but it's also 1:45 FASTER than yesterday!

I wanted to throw a party!

I wanted to lie down.

But instead, we walked a bit to keep from cramping up, grabbed half a banana and some water and celebrated with my sister, my niece, and my mom, who were there to cheer us on today! Yay! Since it was raining, we didn't want to stick around, and a celebration pancake breakfast was calling our names. So we headed to our hometown Jersey diner (ah...) for a well-deserved breakfast. It tasted so good!

FINALLY, they posted the race results online, in a place that I could find them - only took a few hours of web searching. Looks like I came in with an official 10:00 pace - WOO HOO! And I was 179/311, which, when I look at yesterday's race, I realize that I came in in the top 75% yesterday, but today, I came in in the top 58% - WOW! For my age group, I was still #9, but out of 17 this time, putting me in the top 53%, up from 60% yesterday. And I beat most of the younger girls in my age group - only four of the girls in my age group who beat me were younger than 28 (9 total girls with faster times were younger than 28)! It also looks like I came in 50th out of 126 women, so in the top 40% - cool! Now I am totally excited about today's race!! But mostly, I'm just thrilled that I got my first ever 5k done (cross that off my life goals list!) and that I ran two great (for me) races back to back. Yay!

So after another two hour drive back home (plus 30 minutes each way to both races), I am so tired and so sore, along with being SO happy. My hip does not thank me for running, and for the first time since I've started running, I'm feeling some real soreness & tightness in my muscles. I love it.

I talked to Coach J earlier, who has already got me thinking about my next step (no rest for the weary). He wants me to run again on Tuesday, so my body doesn't have too much time off, and I think that makes sense (though I *was* hoping for a Wednesday run). He says I can take as much time as I need to run my usual 3.4, but I need to run it. I'm ready. Well, I'll be ready on Tuesday. Plus, I have to make sure to move my muscles a bit tomorrow so they're not too stiff. No running, but I think yoga is definitely in the cards as is walking my puppy (despite the seven day rain forecast). Then, I'm ramping up to running four days a week, so we can see how that affects my body, and I'm in search of a 10k for early June, to be followed by a half marathon in August or September. Ah, I can almost picture running 13.1 miles in the August heat. But I have to say that after this weekend, I *finally* feel like a real runner, and I'm definitely hooked. Though I'm also very very tired...

I just want to say thanks again to all my family and friends (real life and online), whose support, enthusiasm, and advice both got me through my early run/walk days and this weekend's two 5k's. If I was alone in this, I definitely would have stopped on day 1 and everyone's strong belief in me means more to me than I can ever say.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Ran My First 5k!!!

So this morning was my first ever 5k - the 18th Annual River to Bay 5k in Victorian Island Heights, NJ. To say I was nervous would have been an understatement. Yesterday, I was practically jumping out of my skin all day. I got lots of great encouragement from my coach, friends, family and tweeters, so I filed that away to push myself on the run this morning. I wanted to get a look at the course, because someone had mentioned to me that Victorian Island Heights was pretty hilly (yikes!), so I headed out there yesterday afternoon and drove the course. It was fairly flat, but there was one big hill, right after the mile two marker, and I knew it would be my nemesis.

After taking twice as long to get home as it had taken to drive there (um, why did I decide to go anywhere on a rainy Friday afternoon at the beach??), I tried to get myself ready. I packed a bag of the things I would want, a sweatshirt that would stay dry in the car in case I got soaked, a protein bar and a banana, some water, my race confirmation, etc. I set out my clothes for the morning - my running tights, socks, sneakers, tee shirt, fleece and shorts in case it ended up being warmer than I thought. I checked the forecast about fifty times, and it always said the same thing - at 10am, 58 degrees, with a 50% chance of rain and 75% humidity. Ah humidity.

I was happy that I knew where the course was, and that I'd run in the rain before, but I was still nervous. I wanted to leave my house by 7:45 this morning, just to make sure I got there in plenty of time.

When I arrived, it was pouring - lovely. As I drove into the parking lot, I rolled down my window to talk to one of the guys directing traffic, and he said "You look like a runner!" Sweet. I have arrived.

I parked P MINI and headed into registration, which had opened early. One of the guys manning registration thought I looked like a "Carol" (really?), but we sorted out my actual name and I got my bag (plus free tee shirt! And free pens - I love free pens, they're all I write with!). My race number was 101. Now it was official - no turning back!

I cooled my heels in the car for a while, listening to some pump up music, trying to read the paper to distract myself, and posting updates and thank you's on twitter/Facebook. I heard the starting gun go off for the 1mile fun run, and 1mile health walk, and knew we were the next to go. With about half an hour to go, I found some pins to attach my number with, and hit the ladies room (along with almost every other woman there) before I walked over to the starting line. I saw that a lot of people had their headphones on, so I was really glad that I'd brought mine. I knew my playlist would calm me down and make me think it was just like any other run.
I backed up a bit in the group, because I wanted to make sure I wasn't run over right away! Everyone's advice was to start slower than I thought I should be running, because adrenaline would make me want to go faster, and I'd tire myself out too quickly. As we got closer and closer to race time, I could definitely feel the adrenaline racing and my heart pumping - I was so nervous!

Finally, the starting gun sounded and we were off! I forced myself to run a bit slower than I wanted to, and focused on leading with my hips, as per Miss Ive's suggestion. My body felt great for a change, which I think was definitely adrenaline! It was still raining a little, but that kept me cool and I just settled in for the run. A lot of people were passing me, but I knew I'd pass a lot of people later on because I was playing it smart and starting slower.

At the end of mile 1, I was at 10:47 - not bad, but not great. I knew I could run faster than that, but I also knew that I had that big hill coming up, and I didn't want to tire myself out too quickly and be forced to walk. So I just kept going and sticking with my pace and after about another half a mile, a lot of people started walking. I was happy that I was still running and it seemed my playlist knew I needed some great songs, so that kept me going too.

Mile 2, I was at 21:51, so I had an 11:04 pace for mile two. Again, could have been faster, but I was happy that I was still running and feeling pretty good. My hip was feeling a bit sore by this point, but with the rain, that's to be expected! Then, the dreaded hill was coming up...

My sister had pointed out to me yesterday that at least I knew it was coming, so I was grateful for that. A guy next to me sped up so that he could reach the top faster, but I knew that it would kill me if I did that, so I just tried to keep my pace up. My goal was to run the entire race, no matter what speed, so I focused on that and before I knew it, I was at the top! That same guy who sped up had to stop for a coughing fit, and I ended up passing him.

So then, it was all downhill (some of it literally). I knew I only had 1.1 miles to go, so I sped up as much as I could. After another 1/2 a mile, I was at 28:38, which meant I'd run half a mile in 6:27, a bit slow, but again, not bad. I really started to push myself and soon enough, I could see the finish line! There were a lot of people standing there and cheering as the runners came in and I could see one guy ahead of me. I really pulled out all the stops and ran as fast as I could past that guy (who turned out to be 64 years old) into the finish!! I unfortunately missed my official time, but since the race results are up already, I know that it was 32:47 - yay!! That puts me at a 10:33 pace, which is slower than my run on Wednesday, but considering it was a course I'd never run before, and there was that big hill, I'm very happy with it!

So out of 260 people, I came in 195th, placed 77/115 women, and 9/15 in my age group. I'd say that's pretty darn good!

Now, I can rest, but only for a little while, because tomorrow, is 5k #2 - the Hot Pursuit fun run, which I'll be running in with my brother-in-law. Apparently, he's nervous that I'll beat him...but he's a former marine, and a corrections officer, so really, the odds of that happening are slim to none. I just hope it's flat...

And a BIG THANK YOU goes out to all of my friends and family who have been so unbelievably supportive of me during this whole running process! I couldn't have done it without you!