Saturday, October 25, 2008

Home Run 5 Mile RR

I'm currently in my bed typing this, recovering from the ice bath and then a nice warm shower. With my race goal achieved beyond my expectations, my only goal for the remainder of this day involves figuring out what to eat for dinner!

Today was the Home Run 5 Miler at Bernheim Forest. If you've read my other blog entries, you'd know that Bernheim is probably my single most favorite place to spend my time! That being said, this race was my most anticipated race of the year, with the exception of my first race ever back in March, the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic. Coincidentally, I first learned about the Home Run 5 Mile race from a postcard that was placed INSIDE of my Anthem 5K Fitness Classic packet! From that day, I planned to run this race. Funny, looking back, I remember doubting myself because I didn't think I'd be able to run 5 miles and that I'd have to put in so much training to be able to even complete it!

My mom's been bitten by the race bug since we did the American Heart Walk together. Since, she's completed two races, including today's Home Run 5K (they held a 5 mile race AND a 5K, simultaneously). DBF has run a couple of 5Ks with me this year (his first was the Anthem 5K as well) and at the last minute, he decided to register and run the 5K as well. It was great to have them there, especially before the race for the company and after the race to cheer me in--they were both finished with the 5K by the time I finished my 5 miles, so they were waiting for me at the end!

The start was casual and this was not a chip timed event, but most people running it seemed happy and a lot of the runners I spoke to have been running this for a couple of years or more. It's just one of those races that you love to do because of the beautiful scenery and the overal feeling of the event. It's a great cause--benefitting the Home of the Innocents, a non-profit organization that helps children in severe need of assistance with just about any crisis--from pregnant teens to autistic children, and even abused and displaced children. The course was lined with signs stating figures and facts related to the Home of the Innocents and their causes, which was a GREAT thing! It was a great way to inform us and help keep us focused on why we were there!

The 5K and 5 Mile course started at the same location but split off at two points--once around the 1.5 mile mark and meeting again less than a mile after; and then splitting off again near the 5K finish to have the 5 milers run an uphill/downhill section before finishing our race.

I definitely wasn't in the mood to run today, just didn't feel in the "zone" at all. Plus, it was a little chilly and I just couldn't get into it. I started pretty far back, just to hang out with my mom and DBF before the race and as I said, it was a pretty laid back start so I wasn't too worried. My goal was to be very conservative for the first 2 miles and then run an all out 5K, because I knew I could do that without any problems and I'd still get in at a respectable time for me. I was hoping for 55:00 but expected to come in around 1:00:00, especially since I wasn't feeling like putting in the effort!

During the first mile, I was just focusing on running a smooth, easy pace and then I felt a tap on my shoulder--I looked over and it was DBF running with me! What a nice surprise! We ran together for about a mile, and I multi tasked, focusing both on my pace but also on his, trying to keep him focused and strong so that he wouldn't burn out before the end of his race. At the first mile marker, my watch (which I had synced with my start line cross, not the race start time) showed 11:39. I worried I might have been going too fast for me for 5 miles but I was feeling good so tried to maintain the pace through mile 2. Eventually, the first course split appeared where the 5 milers had to veer off to take another course, the volunteer yelled, "Ohh c'mon, don't let HER be the bigger woman!" DBF didn't even hear her! He ended up with a respectable finish for his 5K and I'm really proud (and happy) that he ran it! I know he had fun and I'm glad he did well!

After running around Ten Toms Hollow, which consisted of gently rolling hills that weren't too challenging, the 5 mile course merged again with the 5K course. This proved to be both exciting and a little annoying! My mom spotted me (she was looking behind her to find me I think) so I focused on steadily approaching her. It was a rush of adrenaline to run beside the 5K participants because some of them were genuinely impressed (even by little ol' slow me) with those of us running the 5 miles. I heard comments like "I don't know how they do it..." and my favorite, "Move over honey, let the more serious runners through!" :) Of course, there were the annoying ones, but there were definitely less of those than at any other race! I had to maneuver through quite a few people walking, but 99% of the time, when I yelled out "On your right/left" they moved quickly and without problem.

At mile 3, my watch showed 31:xx, which for me, was great. I was happy that I was going at a decent pace but again, worried that I was going to burn out so I kept telling myself to slow down a little. After mile 3, I really started to push my pace and felt that I was working harder than normal--which was fine, this IS a race, after all! By the time I reached the second course split for the 5 milers (where the 5K finished) I realized where they were taking us and I was NOT happy. I'm familiar enough with the course to know that they only road they had left to dedicate to us 5 milers was Fire Tower Road. This displeased me. Why, you ask? Because it's one long road that goes completely uphill on the way to the Fire Tower. Sure enough, that's where we ran the last leg of our race--a constant uphill battle! I was so happy (and sad) to see a fellow forumite pass me (he was running downhill while I was running up)--happy because I saw him and it feels good to see SOMETHING familiar or fun when you're tired of running, and sad because I know he's a faster runner than me and if he was going downhill at that point, I knew I had a LOT left! LOL

I found a couple of ladies to pace myself with, they looked pretty strong so I just stayed with them for the duration of the uphill. Once we turned around to start the descent (and the stretch that would lead us to the finish) I figured everyone would glide down. However, my "pacers" stayed steady at their current pace. I felt good enough that I decided I wanted to push this downhill and take advantage of the forward motion for the final 3/4 mile or so that remained. I pushed past the ladies and quite a few others and when I got near the finish, it was AMAZING! There were so many people cheering and clapping and it was just an awesome experience. DBF walked over to me and cheered me on (and told me to sprint, which I declined!), and I saw mom clapping and happy on the side, cheering me in too! She finished her 5K well, too, and had a blast. I'm so glad she has such a good time doing something so good for her!

At the finish, which I somehow totally missed...I almost missed the chute and was still running full pace because I never saw the finish line! At the end of the chute, I finally stopped running and realized that the finishers in front of me also had no idea where the finish was, so I felt better! My watch had me finishing at 53:20, which was over a minute faster than my WISH time! That made my pace for this race 10:40, which is just such an amazing improvement for me. It's just so great to see the improvements--not just in time but in overall fitness DURING these events. I don't find myself gasping or panting, and my muscles all feel stronger. My endurance is greater and my speed is coming and I'm so happy that my hard work pays off!

On the flip, though, I'm going to have to figure out my "push point." I had SO much more energy left after this race, it was unbelievable. I was running for a cool down, I was running to the car to get my pants and pullover, I was running wherever I found the chance--AFTER THE FREAKING RACE! Mom, DBF and I went to Denny's after the award ceremony and I couldn't sit still, my legs were constantly moving. So when we got home, I actually went out and ran around my neighborhood. So, if I was able to run and feel comfortable doing so AFTER the race, I think it's fair to assume that I didn't give ENOUGH during the race.

I guess my goal now is to determine what amount of "push" is just enough.

Next races--I have nothing concrete plannned but I will probably be registering for the Polar Bear Grand Prix to get me through the winter. More on that later.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I think I might need a second job...

Register for a race with it, kitteh!

It's not like the individual races cost that much, but when you start adding them up, it can be expensive! Now, I will say, I believe it's far worth it--PLUS, I went 5 months WITHOUT one race, so I'm sorta making up for lost time here. But the enjoyment I receive from getting up early on a Saturday morning and running around for no reason other than to prove something to myself (plus the excitement after teh race of eating lots of food to "recover" really gets me going too!) is worth every penny. Besides, what else would I do with it? Probably eat out one too many times, or buy a shirt or save it (that would be responsible) or buy something I don't really need. In a way, racing is my entertainment. And it definitely keeps me focused on training and my health!

Here's my current race list:

1. I registered for the KDF miniMarathon last month, which isn't actually until April 2009.
2. I am running the Home Run 5 Miler/5K this Saturday.
3. I would like to do the No Boundaries 5K or 10K on Nov. 1, especially since it's at 8AM. I LOVE earlier races, I have no idea why. Call me crazy.
4. I just completed the Race for the Cure 2 weeks ago.
5. I plan on registering for the Polar Bear Grand Prix (three races) very soon.
6. Registration just opened for the Louisville Triple Crown and I definitely plan on doing need to register today for it but I want to secure my spot! :)

I'm going to start a business in the third bedroom just to pay for my races!

What do you think?

Naw, not really. But a girl can dream, can't she? LOL (For the record, I found that picture on google images, and is not at all property of mine)!

Today's run was BLAH. I got off work and just had no desire to do anything other than sit around on my butt. But I didn't. I got dressed and ran. The first mile was fine I guess, but soon after, my legs felt like BRICKS! I did an easy 3 that was an out and back and on the way back, I felt like my whole body weighed a ton. I felt so lethargic but even so, I was unable to slow down enough to run at my planned pace--13:21. Throughout the run, I kept telling myself to slow down, but I ended at 38:56, which is a 12:59 pace. Just couldn't slow down enough to make goal. It's amazing how much I've progressed though. During today's run, I had two thoughts:

#1 -- The fact that I'm running as strong as I could and focusing on my form even though I felt so lethargic said something for my running mental health AND makes me feel like it'll be easier to get through both the easy AND the hard days, now.

#2 -- My easy and LSD runs used to be in the mid 14:00 area (earlier this year), and that took a lot out of me. Now I find it very difficult to slow down enough to run a 13:00 pace. That means I'm getting faster and/or fitter. I'm proud of my improvement!

Tomorrow is my tempo run but I'm going to have to do it at a track--hopefully I'll be able to find one that's open to the public!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One Week In...An Update on Last Week

Exactly 7 days ago, almost to the hour, I was getting fitted for the first time for a new pair of running shoes. I felt legitimatized! :)

This day also marks the beginning of my training week, and the beginning of week 2 of training for the miniMarathon in April. It's a long way away but I'm so worried about my ITBS flaring up that I'm working on an extended plan that slowly increases my mileage and will allow me to run 13-14 miles a couple of times before the Mini. One thing I've learned about myself in the last few months as I've increased my mileage to levels of which I've never before been capable is that the first time is very difficult. The second time is noticeably easier. And the third time, it almost feels like I've been doing it for months. So if I can get at least 3 13+ mile runs in before the Mini, I'll feel pretty good about completing it.

This week in training was a successful week and a quality week. I didn't log a gigantic amount of miles but that wasn't my goal and it will not be my goal for the first month. I logged more than the plan required but within reason and in good health. I challenged myself, I worked hard, I took it easy when I had to and even though it was just the first week, I feel great about my ability to continue on this path for the next 5-6 months.

The weather is perfect for me right now, but I know that soon, it will get cooler and darker and maybe we'll get snow and ice and I won't want to get out there. But I will and I'm trying to make it easier to do so by shopping for winter gear right now. If I have what I need to tough the streets in cold, snow and ice, I'll have no real excuse this winter. And I'll finally be HAPPY to not have to run in the morning, since the temps will be so freaking cold!

I hope everyone else is doing great!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What dreams are made of...

This is one of the first views I saw during my warmup this morning (and boy did I need the warmup! It was chilly willy out there, man!) Anyway, if you can't make out that little white dot, it's the moon! During my ride to Bernheim Forest, the sun was rising and it seemed to be really cloudy. But once I got there and started my warm up, it cleared up and looked so beautiful. In fact, this day has been gorgeous. This is why I love Fall!

I headed around the main arboretum road (a generally smooth concrete road with a wide pedestrian/bike lane off to the side), which is a loop around the park and services the main parts of the arboretum--including an education center, several shorter trails, a conference center (also used for weddings), BEAUTIFUL scenery and the award winning visitors center. Made from recycled wood and complete with a a green roof, the visitors center is nice to look at AND pleasing to the environment. It also uses geothermal heating and cooling, reuses water from roof runoff and rainfall and my favorite, the fact that it was constructed in a manner that will allow it to be "unbuilt" so that the parts can be used for something else in the future. Here's a picture I took some time ago, so you can see the general idea--though I think it is MUCH more beautiful than the picture tells:

If you care to see more pictures, you can view the gallery on their website: Visitor's Center Photo Gallery

Inside, there used to be an EXCELLENT casual cafe with coffee, tea, a great house salad, and a fantastic assortment of sandwiches and wraps. It was the kind of place you could go and warm up or cool down and just sit and chat for hours. They even had live music on the weekends! But I assume it was too expensive to keep up nearly year round and they've toned down to a mostly self-service, grab and eat type place. It just occurred to me how wonderful it would be to sell them some of my baked goods--or better yet WARNING: BIG DREAM ABOUT TO INSERT ITSELF IN 3...2...1... I could revamp the whole place, call it my own and do what they did only ten times better, and maybe with the help of one of my culinary-inclined friends! Coffees, hot chocolates of all varieties, pies, cakes, cookies, sandwiches, vegetarian friendly...the whole nine!

Okay, I apoologize, that wasn't running-related at all. Unless you want me to say that I will focus my new cafe on small pre-run meals and healthy recovery meals. Yes, that's it. Now, it's all running-related!

Back to my long run--I decided to hit a short but GREAT trail early in the run. It's named the "Sun and Shade Loop" and runs you right beside Lake Nevin without you even knowing until you get there! :) It was beautiful, easy to navigate and such a treat for my feet, eyes and mind.

The beginning was a dirt/gravel path that was pretty open...

At the back part of the loop, this is the view of the lake...

I headed back out to the main park road and headed off one of the side roads that leads to more heavily wooded areas and more hiking and bike trails. This run was amazing--think one way concrete roads with yellow and orange leaves sprinkled throughout and more beautiful scenery. This is about the time that I decided to name my Mizuno Wave Nirvana 4's their new name--the Acorn Eaters. DBF prefers "Squirrels." These shoes are notorious for scarfing up acorns during my runs. It's actually funny, if not annoying.

If you can tell, they have a pretty sizable gap in the heel that seems to really invite huge acorns--though I've only noticed in my left shoe...apparently the right one isn't "nuts." Har har.

I ran around Ten Toms Loop, which is a moderately hilly path that is bike, car and pedestrian friendly. Then I headed further down to Guerilla Hollow, where a short but incredibly hilly 1.2 mile trail exists. My mom, DBF and I tried to do this trail many months ago but it was deer season and they had it closed. This was my second favorite portion of my run today--it was very serene and fortunately well-marked because with that many trees, twists, turns, hills and a sea of fall color on the ground, there is no way I could have found my way out!

By the time I finished my run, it was nearing 10AM and apparently the scarecrow at the entrance and all of the "event parking here" signs were for a purpose!! They had a park-wide event called "Color Fest" that started at 10AM. It was a family friendly event with artists and craftmakers, educational booths, food, music and other fun--like Zap! Electric cars on display! Very fun, and it was so crowded--I hadn't noticed during most of my run because I wasn't in the central portion of the park, which is where all of the festivities were taking place. I called DBF to let him know I was heading home and to get his "order" because I wanted to stop and pick up some breakfast, but he decided it would be more fun to ride his motor-cyyyyy-cle out to the arborteum and have "breakfast" with me. I say "breakfast" because we actually ate grilled hamburgers, chips/pretzels and Sprite! We shopped a little, walked around and then drove up to the Fire Tower, which remains closed, much to my dismay.

Concerning the run itself--it was the most beautiful, peaceful and effortless 7 miles I've ever done. I could have done more. My legs felt strong, and thanks in part to the cooler weather, I felt good all around. It was an amazing run and I don't think I'll ever be able to duplicate this experience, but you can bet your ass I'll try!

Oh and one final thought consisting of two very important words, frightening to the faint of heart and comforting to the legs of runners everywhere...


I've got this thing down great. This doesn't mean that I enjoy it, though once I'm in, I feel this weird happy lunacy.

1. Fill your tub up with cool-cold water, about 6 inches or enough to cover your legs. I've got monster thighs so I have to go up a little higher! LOL

2. Go make a hot beverage--I prefer coffee.

3. Get 3-4 trays of ice and dump in a container big enough to hold that much ice.

4. Grab your training log to write down today's info and/or a RunnersWorld magazine (to keep you distracted)

5. Take off your running clothes, except for your underwear (assuming you wear some) and put on a hooded sweatshirt.

*This part I'm not so good at*

6. Get in. Slowly or quickly. Just get in.

7. Have DBF/DH/DGF/DW or anyone that you think might want to secretly have revenge on you dump in the container of ice. But make sure they know to be careful and not hit your legs with the tumbling ice.

*DBF enjoyed doing this the first time. I think he got a kick out of it. Today though, he was feeling a little less like torturing me and I think he felt bad about doing it. I had to explain to him that it's GOOD for me even though it doesn't feel good at first. He even turned the heat on for me--that's love!

8. Sit there uncomfortably for the first 60-120 seconds. Be miserable. Really. Shiver a little. Keep the coffee close and the hood on. Don't even think about reading, you won't be able to concentrate.

9. After the initial discomfort passes, you'll forget you're cold. You'll have 5-10 minutes of good reading time.

Ironically, I picked up an older copy of RW for today's ice bath and there was a story on *drumroll* ice baths. They discussed how they worked, which was pretty cool to know. Let me copy and paste the pertinent info that I found on RW site just now:

Cryotherapy ("cold therapy") constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. "Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles," says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.

Anyhow, I'm feeling pretty good after my long run. I thought I might feel pretty sore and tired today after doing so much running and incorporating the far more challenging trail running into the workout, but I feel pretty good and I think that's because of the ice bath and my recovery foods!

I LOVE RUNNING! I am so grateful for today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No running, just updating nothing

Today was my rest day, and I drank some wine and somehow fell asleep at the computer. I just woke up in the bed after a nice little nap and feeling pretty good about the whole experience. Me and Running will have make up love tomorrow.

I miss my shoes though. But I just had the best dinner, I LOVE Fazoli's chicken broccoli bake. I don't think anything should taste that good, and it's not good for you. Nothing that tastes REALLY good is actually good for you.

Based on my Smart Coach Training Plan, I have an easy run planned tomorrow--a mere 2 miles at a slow pace. I'm going to have to fight the urge to do more than that or go faster--I guess this is where the modifying takes place. I don't want to do too much but 2 miles at 13:21 isn't much of a workout. I guess I could make it into one...and spend most of my time on core exercises and strength training. Thanks for letting me talk that out with you! :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New shoes, new plan, fun times

I started my "extended half marathon" training yesterday based on the personalized Smart Coach training plan and two days in, so far so good! With running, I am plan-oriented for the most part. It's easy for me to "fall off the wagon" if I don't have a piece of paper or a website of which to be accountable. Yesterday's run was a simple, easy run and today's was a tempo run. I was pretty proud of my performance today--tempo pace was supposed to be (don't laugh) 11:42 per mile for 3 miles but I ran 11:49 for 3.3 miles instead. I realize it was a little slower than plan but gimme a break! Those hills that I run are killer to me!

I'm enjoying my new shoes! Yes, I finally went and got fitted. I struggled the day before trying to decide whether I should go to Fleet Feet or Swag's but I stuck with Fleet Feet. I'm so glad I did, it was so much fun and the young lady that helped me was so nice and *ahem* helpful! They've got a nice crew there and I (as I'm sure many others do) appreciate them!

So here's what I'll be training in for the next couple of months--the Mizuno Wave Nirvana 4.

I can tell a difference in stability for sure, especially today when I had to run on acorns instead of pavement. LOL Everything is falling from those trees and lands either on ME or on the ground and I have to either dodge them or step on them--in my old shoes, I would have broken my ankle 3 times over today. :) I'm going to wear them in another day or two, hopefully it'll be smooth sail...errr...running!

I took a small section of trail after my run today and it was so beautiful. I'm going to have to head out and do some long trail running very soon, perhaps this weekend! I'm so excited!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Elation, Deflation, Realization, Visualization

Today's 5K Goal=35:00.

I've heard never to get too happy or too sad...keep your emotions balanced so that the ups won't take you so high that you crash too hard when you go down. Today was my first race in over 5 months--the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. I was excited to participate in such a great event with a worthy cause and a great turnout. The event helped to raise more than $500,000 for local organizations involved with treatment and prevention, with a portion benefiting research and other efforts at the national level. Just being amongst all of the people, I could tell it was crowded but an estimated 10,000 participants were down there. We had GREAT weather and a start that was actually a few seconds early--which beats the usual late start!

Now for the stop reading if you don't want to hear the story of my deflation.

Runners who wished to be timed were required to pay $5 extra and received a chip and a blue bib, to help distinguish the timed participants from the others. When I went to line up, I looked for blue bibs so that I could get to the front with the other runners. The problem was, I saw about one blue bib for every 7 or 8 people in any given several feet radius. At the start, runners were having to get past people holding hands, walkers in lines 3-5 people across, walkers with strollers--you name it, it was in front of us and all around. Now, call me self-absorbed if you want, but runners who paid extra to be timed should have been at the front while everyone else stayed behind. I blame both the organizers of the events where this occurs AND the participants. Race organizers have a responsibility to make the race comfortable for EVERYONE--not just runners, not just walkers. This is my first year racing but in all of my races this year, not one has had pacing corrals or any sort of indication at the start where participants should run up, based on their ability. I can't imagine that doing this would be very difficult and I think it would definitely make the experience more enjoyable for everyone there. Runners can run safely and not bob and weave past people that have no business being up front holding hands and walking slow, and walkers don't have to worry about fast teen boys nearly tripping them as they walk in support of the cause.

I was frustrated at the start but soon got over it as I started to break away from the crowds of walkers. I focused on maintaining a fast but comfortable pace for me for the first mile. At mile marker 1, I was at 11:14, which was right on track for my goal. After the mile marker, I decided I needed to push a little harder and I felt good enough to do so...but at some point, I started thinking "where the hell is the half point?" LOL It was an out and back course and just as I really started getting ready to run the last half of the race, it appeared. I was a little surprised because even though I was feeling a little rough, it seemed like it was a little sooner than I would have guessed. When I got to mile marker 2, the woman called out "9:20!" I was so confused by this that I actually had to ask a nearby runner what she had just said. His reply?

"9:20. She just gave us the actual time. They don't know what the hell they're doing."

I was thinking to myself, "How on EARTH did I just run a 9 minute mile?" I know to many of you, it's laughable that a 10 minute mile is a goal of mine, but it is! So the thought of me actually running that mile in 9 minutes blew my mind. I second guessed myself and thought that if I actualy ran a 9 minute mile (which would have been the first time doing so) that I was pushing too hard and I was going to fizzle out if I didn't calm it down a notch.

The last mile+ was pretty crappy but I stayed strong and was excited to see my mom passing on the other side of the street! For the first time ever, I pushed myself so hard that my stomach truly felt like it was going to refund the yogurt and water from earlier in the morning. I kept breathing and telling myself not to upchuck, even when I ran into several puddles of someone ELSE's upchuck. LOL

ELATION: Rounding the final turn, I decided to push a little harder just to ensure a PR, even though I had NO clue what the current time was by this point. I looked over on the side and saw DBF cheering me on, checking his watch and he shouted out "Great time!" I still couldn't see the finish clock but when I did, I had to do a double take. It read 30:23. I was in disbelief and pushed in to get 30:30! I felt like I was going to topple over but I didn't and ran for some water!!

DEFLATION: Finding out that the certified 5K course you just ran and PR'd was actually poorly executed and was only 2.79 miles.

REALIZATION: There are several ways to look at this.

1. This was my first ever 2.79 mile race. 30:30 is an automatic PR.
2. A 30:30 time in a 2.79 mile race averages out to 10:55 min/mile pace.
a. At 10:55 min/mile, my estimated 5K time for today would have been 33:50, which is definitely FASTER than my goal for today.
b. At 10:55 min/mile, this is the fastest pace I've ever run in a race (my current best is 11:52) and therefore is testament to my training, my improvement and it's something of which I am very, very proud.
3. No matter what, I just supported a very worthy cause, earned a new PR for a crazy random distance, proved to myself that I DO run faster after training appropriately, proved to myself that I undoubtedly would have earned a 5K PR, and participated with my mom in her first race ever. That alone made it all worth it.


On the horizon, I have a 5 mile race and several 4K-4 mile races before the end of the year to complete--all new chances to earn an official PR, to have fun, to support great causes and to train for my first ever half next year. I'm going to keep pushing forward.