Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A race report and....what's next.

Oh my goodness - so much happening in my running life!

**My third go-round with the Shamrock Run 15K is now in the history books. The medal this year was big, heavy and felt sweet indeed hanging around my neck. I felt great the night before, thanks to my lovely running peeps Jenn, Kim, Ronda and Donna and a fun meet-up/pre-race carb load:

Pasta! Awesome Friends! Purple Couches!

Race day was cold and dreary, and threatening snow. At least, it wasn't windy. Jenn and I stuck together and ran a fantastic race - I ended up taking 10 minutes off my time from last year. And - by far - I felt better during this race than I have during any other for a really long time - from start to finish. Our goal was 2:09; we crossed the line in 2:11 and change. I didn't even care that we'd missed that mark - I was simply ecstatic to finish as strongly as I did.

Heavy Medal!

**I've filled out the rest of my "racing" year quite nicely, with a few more events still on the fence waiting for a decision. This spring and summer will be liberally sprinkled with half marathons and a couple 10-milers, with the "Big Kahuna" being the Seattle Marathon in November. The most recent development - as in, today - is that I am now on a Ragnar team and will be running the Northwest Passage relay from Blaine to Bellingham, WA in July! I am crazy excited about this - never done a relay of any distance but have wanted to for some time.

**About a week ago, I crawled out on a serious limb and signed up for the Monument Peak 15K. This one is going to be all about elevation gain and mud, given the chart helpfully provided on the website, and the fact that it's only about 4 1/2 weeks away:

I am feeling the need to feed my trail running beast, though, and I don't want to wait until Timberline in June. I would be lying if I said I wasn't genuinely concerned about my ability to finish this race - it could very well end up being my first DNF. If I waited until I thought I was ready to tackle a challenge such as this, though, I'd probably never do it. I am hoping beyond hope that I'm not biting off more than I can even hold in my mouth, let alone chew. We shall see.

**I am still tracking all of my food, and although it's a serious pain in the ass, it really is helping. The weight is coming down, and little by little, I can feel my running workouts get stronger as I slowly get lighter. Only a few pounds from now, I will be at a weight I've not been at since about 2006. It's still hard to wade through the moments of weakness - I imagine it will always be hard to some degree - but it is wonderful to see this all paying off. The thought of getting to a "normal" weight - which to me will be my optimal running weight (whatever that is) is so exciting to me. One should never harbor regrets, as they serve no purpose other than to make one feel guilty and bad about themselves - but honestly, I really do wish I'd picked up this mantle 20 years ago. I mean, really picked it up rather than pretended at it, which is essentially what I think I did for the most part.

It is beyond high time to see what I am capable of doing, and capable of being. The rest of this year is going to be the test.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Banner Days

Even on the treadmill, sometimes it just all falls together in such a way that leaves you wondering why there was ever a time in your life when you didn't run - which for me, is a good chunk of it.

This morning, at o'dark thirty, as I climbed on the deck and situated my stuff, I was feeling tired, unmotivated and for some weird reason, a bit nauseous. All sorts of excuses were formulating in my head, but I plugged in the warm-up and started in.

I started out by bargaining with myself....since I wasn't feeling all that good, I would just do a nice, easy 4.2 - 4.3 mph and walk if I needed to.

After a few minutes, I was feeling a bit better so I modified the bargain - maybe bump it up to 4.4 for a while and then see how I felt.

About five to eight minutes of that and I was feeling even better, so up I went to 4.5 and more or less resolved to finish out the hour at that pace.

A little more time ticked away, and then on a lark I decided to increase the speed every few minutes to the point where it was just starting to get uncomfortable and see how long I could maintain it. Ultimately, I ended up at 4.8, a 12:30 minute mile pace, and held it for about fifteen minutes, bumping it up to 5.2 for the last minute or so that got me to 5K.  I recovered for a minute or two at 4.0, and then finished out the hour - a while at 4.5, then the remainder at 4.6.

It was fantastic - like my lungs and legs were all having one big party down there, with the exception of a slightly cranky ball joint on my right foot, but even that gave up after a while when it figured out how awesome the rest of me was. I might have even been able to do more, but I didn't want to push it too hard with a really tough 15K coming up this Sunday. Even so, giving how I felt at the end, I am pretty confident I could have coaxed even a bit more speed out the legs. Slowly but surely, I will get that sustainable 12-minute-mile back in my repertoire, and then....who knows?  :-)

I was one hot sweaty mess when I was done, which only served to fuel my feeling of accomplishment. Best of all, I was energized, not the least bit sore and absolutely ready to take on the day.

More runs like these, especially on those days when the treadmill is really the only option?

Yes, please!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ft. Vancouver recap (and a bit of motherly pride!)

Last Sunday was the Ft. Vancouver Run, wherein I ran my first 10K in quite a while.

My one and only goal for this one was to run without stopping. In other words, no walking. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. To this end, as my "no walking" goal included no walking water stops (and I still have yet to perfect the "Dixie Cup Shuffle") I carried my trusty Nathan handheld, filled to the brim with low-calorie grape Gatorade goodness (I LOVE that stuff - really!)

And....I did it. A couple of times I slowed to the point where switching to walking would have been barely noticeable, but not a single walking step did I take, from the time I started across the mats to the time I finished. My time was wholly unremarkable - 1:28 and change - but time was not my goal, so I am pretty satisfied with myself.

And, as a bonus, many of my awesome running peeps were there:

Now, you might notice in this picture the extremely bored-looking young man standing next to me. This is my 9-yr-old Nicholas. He decided a little late into the game that he really wanted to run the Kid's Race (1K), but I was not able to sign him up officially, as the kid's numbers had all sold out. However - the very nice folks at Energy Events let him run anyway, assuring him that if there were any medals left over after all the registered kids had received theirs, he could have one. As you can see, there is one hanging around his neck, so that was a total win.

Trust me when I say he was a lot more excited at race time:

In true, die-hard Runner Fashion, he even wanted to carry my handheld!

Obviously, a 1K isn't a very signficant distance, but when one is only 9, and has limited sustained running experience, 1K is a terrific beginner's stretch.

Right before the finish line - love the concentration on his face!
Just admire that beautiful mid-foot strike!

I was so proud of him. He clocked in at around 4:30, which, if he were to maintain that pace, would put him at roughly an 8:50 minute mile or so. Not too shabby, eh?  ;-)

Bring on the bling!!

He has told me he wants to do more, which makes my heart sing. I am really excited about introducing him to the Running World, and I am thinking of ways that I can help keep it fun for him while building up his stamina. And actually, this wasn't even his first race - last year, he did a Mother's Day kid's run, and before that, he did the Kid's Shamrock Stride - but up until recently, he hasn't shown tremendous interest.

As a sign of commitment - mostly to myself - I even had him fit for real running shoes, which we purchased at the packet pick-up for the race. Then we went to Target and got him his shirt and shorts - so now he is completely outfitted (in Dri-Tech, even!) and ready to rumble.

I am looking forward to the day when he will totally smoke me in a 5K.  I have a feeling it won't be too much longer from now, and that's just fine by me.

Next up - Shamrock 15K!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Friday Five

  1. Almost didn't pry myself out of bed this morning to go to the gym, but common sense won. As per usual, didn't regret my 4.3 mile run even one little tiny bit (even if it was on a treadmill.)
  2. It's getting lighter earlier, and staying lighter later. This is very exciting, because that means it won't be too long before I can stop having to run on the treadmill all the effing time.
  3. As a corollary to #2, I really should invest in some reflective running clothes, and this. And stop being such a weenie about running outside before it gets light.
  4. Sunday is the Ft. Vancouver Run. I am doing the 10K, and my goal for this race is to walk only through the water stops. Even if it means 15-minute miles while I'm running. Psychologically, this would be a big deal to me. Nicholas is going to run in the kid's race, too. And - bonus! The weather is supposed to be partly sunny and nearly 60 degrees. One cannot ask for better running conditions, oh no they can't!
  5. And last but not least - but the most exciting/nervewracking/only potentially disastrous thing - I have signed up for the Seattle Marathon on Nov. 25th. As in, the Full Meal Deal. The Whole Enchilada. All Nine Yards (or in this case, 46,112 yards!) The course is hilly, although not treacherously so, and the really sweet spot is the out and back on the I-90 floating bridge:
Sorry, Jenn - but this will be made of all SORTS of awesome!

I think I said at one point in an earlier post that I wasn't going to do a full this year, but....I reserve the right to change my mind. 

So, yeah - there ya go.

Happy Running, Friends! Get some good miles in this weekend (especially on Sunday in the great weather!)