Thursday, April 28, 2011

Face First

Remember when I had that amazing run last Sunday? Well let's just say that today's run was just a little bit different. Here's the proof:

This is how I cam home from my run. Not only is my chin scraped up and bloody, but both my knees, my right shoulder and palms are scraped up and raw as well.


I was tired going into the run. I should have listened to my body and turned around after 20 minutes when my legs felt like sandbags. But all I kept hearing in my head was that I wasn't going far enough and wasn't preparing well enough for my 12 mile run this Saturday. So although I wanted to turn around, I kept going. Five minutes later as I was crossing the Memorial Bridge, I tripped over something and went down hard. A nice older woman was sweet and stopped to help me. She seemed a little alarmed about my chin. I tried to suck it up and keep going, but after five more minutes of running I felt defeated. I walked/ran my way back home.

Unfortunately, I think my face looks worse in real life. Ryan also seemd a bit alarmed when I walked in the door. My left knee is also pretty swollen. But I guess this sort of makes me a little hard core, right? It's kind of like what they say about equestrians: You're not really a rider until you get thrown off and get back on.  So in that vein, I'll be hitting the pavement again on Saturday with Amy. Let's just hope it's not face first.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Sunday

As folks got dressed in their Sunday finest and went to church today to celebrate Easter, I went to my own kind of church by going on the best run of my life to date. Yesterday, my 11 mile run was about training. Today, my run was truly just about the joy of being outside and savoring time with myself. My mind was quiet, with no thoughts of self-doubt. Instead, I felt proud of how far I've come and what I can achieve. And my body felt wonderful; there were no aches or pains, no pangs of hunger, no desire to go too fast or too slow. It was a run where I listened to lyrics, rather than the beat and relished lines like, "I could never love again/ So much as I love you/Where you end, where I begin/Is like a river running through."  The kind of happiness and I satisfaction I found today is bittersweet, as I know it may be may weeks or months before I get to re-experience what I did today. Yet, I'm comforted by the fact that today's feelings will motivate me to keep running so that I can have another day just like this one.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Identity Crisis

I'm having an identity crisis. A runner's identity crisis, that is. Lately I've been thinking (that sounds so Carrie Bradshaw of me) about what it means to be a "runner" and if I am one. Although I've been running since January, have got 10 mile race under my belt and have a half marathon in my near future, I'm still a bit confused about what it all means.

This confusion has lead to a bit of paralysis. Although it would probably do me a whole lot of good,  I refuse to buy a watch that will track my distance and pace because deep down I'm afraid that this running thing might be just a fad. I won't even buy small ticket items that I need, like a waist belt to hold my keys and Gu. Instead, the other day I wore a vest on my hills run, which was completely inappropriate considering how warm it was outside. I almost died of heat stroke. I love Runner's World magazine, but I won't get a subscription because I'm afraid it won't be relevant to me six months or a year from now. And I'm terrified to make any fall running commitments, because well, what if I fall off the running wagon this summer in all of the heat and humidity? If I had to define my relationship with running on Facebook, it would be "it's complicated." I seem to have some commitment issues.

What's also intimating is that I get the sense that runners have this unique identity- they even call themselves runners. Do people who cycle call themselves cyclists in casual conversation the way people who seriously run do? And what makes you a runner? Last night as we were driving through the city there were plenty of people out jogging. Which of those people get to call themselves runners? Is distance the qualifier or is it frequency? Or maybe it's entering and running races? I've called myself a runner before, but I'm not quite sure if this is actually part of my identity or just wishful thinking. Hopefully, my continued training and my half marathon will help shed some clarity. Otherwise, I'll forever be stuck in the "it's complicated" zone and never be able to proudly state that I'm in a long-term relationship with running.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Competitive Edge

True confession: I'm pretty competitive. Holly and Jill can attest to this ;) I don't know where I get this from- I went to Quaker School! I actually think that my competitive spirit is why I did well in the GW Parkway Classic. Once I began running beside the older woman with the half marathon shirt (see GW Parkway Classic Race Recap), I couldn't stand the thought of her pulling ahead and beating me. As a result, I pushed myself probably harder than I've ever pushed myself before. Of course, I also did well because I set goals for myself and wanted to make my parents and Ryan proud. But it all goes to show that running is just such a mental sport.

Last night I set out for my five mile hills run. Unfortunately, since I don't own a watch that tracks distance, when I run outside on the roads by myself it's always a bit of a crapshoot as to how far I'm going. Usually, I can make a pretty good estimate, but sometimes I fall short. Last night was one of those instances. Instead of doing five, I did 4.54 (see below). 

Whatever I lacked in distance, I made up for in speed. I know where the 2 mile mark is along the route I run and I got there pretty damn fast (just under 16 minutes). I didn't mean to do just happened because, well... there was a girl my age who started running up the Army Navy Drive hill at the exact same time as me. Clearly I couldn't let her beat me! So I hauled it up the hill and for about the next half to three quarters of a mile. The dynamic was really weird and kind of awkward. We parted ways when I turned to run up another steep hill and she kept going straight. This was a relief since I don't think I could have hauled it up another hill.

By the time I was done with my run, I was bright red, sweaty, and completely happy. I'm determined to be ready for the half marathon on May 29th. Obviously, I'm going to have to sidle up to some unsuspecting runner in Boston and show him/her what I'm made of!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Boston's Run to Remember

Ever since I finished the GW Parkway Classic last week, I've been itching to sign up for my first half marathon. Well, I did it! I'm officially registered for Boston's Run to Remember on May 29th! AHHH! I'm kind of freaking out a little...

I picked this race for a few reasons. First, I will be in RI visiting my parents on Memorial Day weekend, so it will be pretty convenient. Second, I will have my parents AND Ryan to see me finish. Ryan couldn't make the last race because he was coaching. It made me really sad, so I'm thrilled he will be there to see me complete my first half! Third, I've got the racing bug and didn't have the patience to wait much longer than May to race again. Finally, the race is pretty big (a plus for me) and I think the course looks fantastic.
I've got five more weekends to train, which makes me feel really confident I will be ready. Here's what the next weeks will probably look like in terms of training (the weeks in the pink have occurred in the past. Tomorrow starts week 12).

1RestWeightsHot Yoga2 miles (15:50) & WeightsRest4 miles & WeightsHot Yoga
2RestWeights4 milesZumbaRest4 miles & WeightsRest
3RestRest5 miles & PowerFlexZumbaRest5 miles & Weights2 hr Zumba
46 milesRestRestRestRest6 miles3 miles
5Rest3 milesPowerFlexRestRest7 miles2 miles & Weights
6RestZumba4.53 miles & PowerFlexRest4 miles4 miles6.89 miles 
7RestIntervals 4.7 milesPowerFlexZumbaRest8 miles4.5 miles
8Rest5 milesRest5 milesRest9 milesRest
9Rest Rest4 milesRest3 miles7 miles 3.3
10RestRest~5 milesRest3 milesRestGW PARKWAY CLASSIC 10 MILER
11RestRestRestRest3.5 milesRest6.8
12Rest5 miles (Hills)PowerFlex5 miles (Intervals)Elliptical11 miles3 miles
13Rest5 miles PowerFlex5 milesElliptical 12 miles4 miles
14PowerFlex5 milesPowerFlex6 milesRest13 miles 4 miles
15PowerFlex5 milesPowerFlex6 miles Rest14 miles 4 miles
16PowerFlex5 milesPowerFlex6 milesRest8 miles4 miles
17PowerFlex5 milesElliptical 5 milesEllipticalRestHALF MARATHON!

The only downfall to the training schedule is that I won't have Amy to run with for my 14 mile run. She will be running a half marathon that weekend (and rocking the hills!). Maybe Holly will want to be my running buddy that day since I'll be in Philly that weekend ;)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Life After Grad School

I feel like I've been waiting all my life to write this post. It may be a little premature, but tonight I decided it can't wait any longer.

Working full-time and going to graduate school is tough (that's a pretty obvious statement, I know). But it's not just tough because I have homework to do once the work day is said and done. It's challenging because of all of the little things that add aggravation and having to rearrange my work schedule so that I can leave work at 2:00pm on Wednesdays to catch the bus that takes me to the Pentagon where I have to catch the metro into school.

Going to graduate school while working also means that I arrange my time with my husband, my runs, my meals, essentially my everything, around school. But in just a few short weeks, that will no longer be the case! I will soon have a big fat MPH after my name and a lot of extra time on my hands. I swear I will have this grin on permanently plastered on my face:

But don't think for a minute that I haven't already thought long and hard about how to fill my extra time! When I'm done with school I'm going to:
  • Subscribe to magazines.
  • Read books.
  • Cook my way through a cook book.
  • Run a 1/2 marathon.
  • Run a full marathon.
  • Sleep in on the weekends...and not feel guilty about it.
  • Watch Bravo TV all day... and not feel guilty about it.
  • Nap... and not feel guilty about it.
  • Get certified to be a group fitness instructor.
  • Go to happy hour and get tipsy on a week night.
  • Never again have to tell my friends, family or coworkers: I can't because I have school/homework.
After the balancing act I've managed for the past 2.5 years, you better believe that I will complete and savor doing each and every one of the things on the list above. But what I will certainly enjoy most of all, is spending more time with Ryan, my ultimate companion.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

GW Parkway Classic Race Recap!

I did it! I ran 10 miles! And not only did I do it, I exceeded the expectations I had for myself.

Here are my stats for the race:

Place: 1026
Sex Total: 287/2649 
Division Total 96/688
Five Mile: 42:28.3
Gun Time: 1:24:13.1
Net Time: 1:22:40.8 
Pace: 8:17

Race Recap
When I got on the shuttle this morning at Pentagon City, I was nervous. As the shuttle took the runners all the way down the GW Parkway to Mt. Vernon,I could help but think, "Wow, this is really far. Can I actually do this?" Once I met up with Amy at Mt. Vernon, I started to relax. Yet, when the race actually started, I experienced a lot of self-doubt. I was worried I was going too fast and that I wouldn't be able to keep up my pace the entire race. My brain then switched to worrying that I was going too slowly. For the entire 10 miles, I doubted my ability to finish and finish strong.
In terms of strategy, I chose people in front of me to follow and help pace me. I chose them based on how steadily they seemed to be running. Throughout the first five miles or so, I kept my eyes on a thin, middle-aged woman with a half marathon t-shirt on. She seemed to be running a steady 8.5 minute mile pace (in retrospect and based on my time, she actually was probably running a bit faster than that). At about mile five, I caught up with her and ran with her for almost the remainder of the race. Whenever I wanted to slow down, I wouldn't let myself do it since I didn't want to lose my pacer.
Right before mile nine, we reached a hill. I don't know where it came from, but I found the energy to increase my speed up the hill, causing me to leave behind my pacer. After getting up the hill, we turned and I was able to see the finish line in the distance. At this point, I made the conscious decision to leave all of my energy on the road. My quickest mile was probably my last one, as I essentially sprinted to the finish. I was able to wave at Brenna, Jake and Corey at mile 9.5, which gave me an extra burst of energy. Finishing felt amazing and I couldn't believe that I actually was able to complete the race in under 90 minutes.
  • First and foremost, I owe the success of the race today to thorough preparation. For the most part, I stuck to the plan that Amy created for us last December. Amy and I completed all the planned long runs, increasing our mileage every weekend. We also kept up with our weekly runs. I tended to focus on speed and hills during the week, which I definitely think made an impact on my time.
  • Living in a hilly area definitely paid off today. Although the course was pretty flat, there were some rolling hills that seemed to slow down a few runners. By running outside near my house and making the conscious decision to incorporate an extra steep hill into my routine once a week, I was able to keep my pace on the rolling hills when others were slowing down.
  • I took a cup of Powerade at Mile 4. BIG MISTAKE. The drink left me with a sour taste in my mouth and too much liquid in my stomach. I was uncomfortable for about a mile after taking it. In the future, I'll stick with water.
  • Although I wasn't crazy about the Berry Gu I tried a few weeks ago, I brought a vanilla Gu with me today. I ate it around mile 6.5. It went down super easy and actually tasted really good. I can't honestly say if it made a difference in my performance, but I will definitely try vanilla Gu again.
  • People say it all the time, but I truly believe that running is just as much as a mental challenge (if not more so) than a physical challenge. Even though I finished strong, I'm now doubting that I will ever be able to repeat such a strong performance...I guess I'm just going to have to prove myself wrong on this one. I think it's going to take a few more long races to get my confidence level up!
Future Training
  • Going forward, I would like to try to incorporate more weights into my training. Although I lifted about once a week, I could really benefit from two days per week.
  • I'd also like to incorporate more intervals into my routine. If I'm ever going to have a repeat performance of today's race, I will really have to work hard on my speed.
  • I wouldn't change a thing about the weekend long runs. Running with Amy is amazing; the pace is great and the coversation makes the time fly. My advice to any aspiring runners is to find buddy to run with, even if you can only run with that person once a week. I promise that it will make a world of difference. 
  • Hills. Hills. Hills.
  • The summer will likely bring a whole host of new challenges due to the heat, so I would like to start getting up and running in the early morning.
Right now, I'm incredibly sore. My whole body hurts, but in particular, my knees are screaming. Tomorrow will be a day of rest, but you better believe I'll be back at it again on Tuesday. I don't know when or where my next race will be, but I'm determined to be ready.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Breakdowns, Hair Cuts and Taking it Easy

Last week just about did me in. Between finishing up grad school, training for the 10 mile run next weekend, work and actual life, I felt completely overwhelmed. My husband is a saint and was wonderfully patient during an emotional breakdown on Saturday. On Sunday, I took a cue from Britney and cut off all my hair.

Okay, it's not that short. I have a bob and I think I'm liking it, which surprises me. Sometimes, I guess when you're feeling down and overwhelmed, it's good to mix things up.

Next weekend is the big 10 mile run. I'm feeling very confident right now about it and am eager to sign up for more races. I'm sure that a half marathon is in my future and I'm even considering a full marathon, which I never thought I'd say. So stay tuned!

As I mentioned last Saturday, I hurt my groin. I took it really easy last week and ran some shorter distances:
  • 4 miles (fast) on Wednesday night
  • 3 miles (slow) on Friday morning
  • 7 miles (medium pace) on Saturday morning
  • 3.3 miles (medium pace) on Sunday morning
I also bought a foam roller to help work out my sore leg muscles. All I can say is that if you don't own a foam roller, run out a buy one. They're pretty amazing. My groin is feeling much better having taking it easy last week.

Here's this week's training schedule:

4.5 miles
4 miles
3 miles

Enjoy your Monday!