Saturday, November 29, 2008

I think I fell in love today...

Last night, I started thinking about this "guy." I thought, "Hey, I haven't seen him in awhile, I should go see him tomorrow morning."

I was a little apprehensive about it though--for many reasons. This "guy" is no stranger to me. I grew up around his neighborhood and hung out there a lot as I was growing up. When I was younger, I was often with my mom. But as a teenager, I was around him a lot more. I guess you could say we grew up together--but even back then, he was pretty mature. He's the kind of guy you want to get to know if you don't already know him. But he's also the kind of guy that's very hard to get to know. He's popular, he's nice to look at, and all those years when I was hanging out around him, I saw him but I rarely tried to get to know him intimately. It wasn't a big deal to me then, as I had other interests.

I've heard a lot about him lately--he's one of the most popular men in Louisville. He's in a great neighborhood, and did I mention he's beautiful? He's also full of athleticism. I don't remember him at all, either, as it's been about 10 years since I saw him last. That's why I was a little apprehensive to go see him today.

Well, as soon as I got there, I remembered why I liked him so many years ago. Though he was a little cold at first, I knew he'd warm up after I was there for awhile. I worked on getting to know him more intimately--it's a difficult thing to do, you see. He's complex. You think you might be able to go one way with him, and all the while, you're going in a different direction. You have to move carefully with him.

He treated me well today and made me feel welcome and comfortable. There were lots of other people there to see him and they too were welcoming and friendly. I felt at home. I fell in love with him today and I can't wait until I can see him again. I actually hope I can get my friends to meet me for a group run there to see him and to get to know him more intimately as well.


Those of you from Louisville will know that Cherokee Park is a BEAUTIFUL place, but you will also know that it's pretty difficult to navigate if you aren't familiar with driving or walking/running it. It's confusing as hell. But that's where I did my long run this morning. It was great.

I unintentionally PR'd on distance, as well! Before I left the house, I printed out a copy of a 9.5 mile route so that I wouldn't get lost. I cut the first 1/2 mile off so that I would just do 9 miles, as that was my scheduled distance for today. It was a confusing run, just because I didn't know quite where I was at any given point--not at ALL familiar with Cherokee, just with Seneca Park. So after I exited Seneca, I was pretty much running blind. I saw Scenic Loop and decided to take it, as so many other runners were there as well. After completing it once, I realized I had NOT gone the way directed by my planned route (which I never once looked at when I got out there, it's not like it would have helped me. If you've ever been to Cherokee, you'd understand why. I'm sure it gets easier once you've been there once or twice!) and figured that I was probably shorting myself on distance (I could also tell by the time) and I decided to complete the scenic loop a second time to get in the extra 2.4 miles so that I would *hopefully* get to 9 by the time I reached my car back at Seneca Park.

Great people out there, talkative and friendly. Decent hills--nothing horrible but noticeable enough to cause you to do some extra work. I liked it. Going around the loop a second time, my mom passed me in the car! We looked at each other in awe! She (I eventually discovered) drove over to Seneca Park and parked right behind me--she did her workout there until I was done with mine.

After doing Scenic Loop twice, I decided I should head on back to the car. That second loop really tired me out but I pressed on and felt like I kept a decent pace considering how my legs were feeling and my feet were sore. I ran back toward Seneca Park without getting lost and decided to take the shorter way back (as opposed to doing a true out and back) and I just couldn't take it anymore. I got to the I-64 overpass and my legs just wouldn't let me go any longer. I had been fighting them for about 1 mile and I just couldn't fight anymore. I ended up walking back to the car with ULTRA SORE LEGS AND FEET.

Now I know why I was so sore--I did 10 miles on accident! DISTANCE PR! I completed the 10.07 miles in 1:56:03, which averages 11:32 min/mile! That's a GREAT pace for ME! I'm so proud.

I'm also VERY back hurts and my legs are asking why I did this! LOL I'm so happy right now!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Run 2008

LOVE these! They're the bamboo and wool socks from Feetures. They are soft, sturdy and comfortable!

I hope everyone had a fantastic and fulfilling Thanksgiving! What was your favorite dish or your favorite part of your Thanksgiving Day? You can comment and let me know, if you'd like!

I started my Thanksgiving at 6:30AM--woke up and had a small cup of yogurt. I took a hot shower to loosen up and got ready for the Iroquois Hill Runners Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Run! I had a little trouble getting DBF out of bed, and I can't blame him! I decided to drive because he didn't feel like driving and I was pretty much wide awake! When we pulled into Iroquois Park, I almost immediately saw Tom and Joe in front of the Ampitheater! We did a quick ~1 mile warmup together and enjoyed the music that was being played near the playground area. I had a little pain in my legs but I ran through it because I knew I needed to warm up to get past that discomfort so that I could run a good race.

Eventually, mom showed up and she, Joey, Tom, Joe and I hung out for a bit which made for a relaxing and fun time prior to the race. I waited in a long bathroom line (not many people but for some reason, these fools were slow IN the bathroom!) but talked to a couple of women--both who had run this race before. I actually ran past one of the women around mile 3 and tried to get her and her friend to pick up the pace but they were tired!

The race itself was one of my favorite because of the entertainment. Rounding the turn on Rundill Road (where Iroquois Park Rd meets) there was a group of men wearing kilts and playing bagpipes! Then, at the turn onto Uphill Road, there was a group of young cheerleaders--they were EXCELLENT and so energetic! There was a super friendly and excited gentleman volunteering just after that--equipped with a radio blasting tunes for us! Then at the first lookout, there were a few folks singing for us! It was so much fun and such a nice distraction during the run! Race directors, take note!

At mile one, I was just at 11:55. I was a little disappointed but I knew that (as usual) I was running a conservative (read: slow) start and I typically speed up. I actually did try to speed up just a little bit and I started to pass people slowly. By the second mile, I was just over 23 minutes. Honestly, I think that point was where I was feeling pretty crappy. I wasn't in a zone, I felt tired and I just kept thinking about how I wanted it to end. Luckily though, things turned around. There were a lot of cool people running and I just started chatting with the folks around me. I stayed with a couple of women and we discussed food and how it effecs our running! Eventually, I told myself that I was going to have to let go and RUN hard. It was a hard run, I definitely pulled something out of myself to push as hard as I did.

Honestly, I don't remember the time at the 3 mile mark. I just remember grabbing the water right around there and feeling like crap. I also remember the side stiches I was getting and how miserable I felt--it's been a long time since I had those. I tried to slow down a bit and breathe differently until they disappeared.

During my training leading up to the race, I always tried to make the first lookout on the way BACK DOWN by 35:00. Normally, it was tough but I could do it. During the race, though, I surpassed that goal without even realizing it. I started heading downhill and thought I should check my watch...I was pretty happy about that and that gave me enough motivation to keep pushing, in spite of the discomfort I was feeling.

At mile 4, I was shocked because I was just over 41 minutes--I knew then that either something was WRONG or that I was running faster than normal. I HONESTLY did not know which was correct. At that point, I am typically around the 44 minute mark--so I kept pushing because I was a little anxious that I was running poorly. I ran strong downhill, around the corner and back toward the finish. It was HARD for me, but I kept running as fast as I could.

On the way to the finish, I didn't look at my watch, I just remembered the conversation I had with Tom about how that portion of the run is ALWAYS the most mentally challenging for me, and I just tried to fight it. That last 1/2 mile was probably the most horrible for me. I felt SO tired, my legs ached. But I knew I was giving it my all and I couldn't stop pushing. I ended up crossing the finish line at 51:xx. My watch shows 51:20, from the time my body actually crossed the finish line to the time my body crossed the finish. NEW PR!!!!!! I ran my last 5 mile race at Bernheim just one month and two days prior and my time was almost 2 minutes slower then--but it was the fastest minute per mile pace I've kept since I "re-started."

Using my "unofficial" time of 51:20 from the Thanksgiving Race, that puts my average pace at 10:16 per mile! That's amazing for me!!!! That's nearly 25 seconds faster per mile than last month's race of the same distance!!

Overall, it was a beautiful day, decent weather and I felt that race was very well organized and executed. Definitely a winner!

I also want to add--I don't want to beat a dead horse but I absolutely love Tom and Joe, my friends from Run the Ville. They are supportive and nice and just AWESOME! If you all are reading this, I'm not trying to kiss up but I am just so thankful to have met you all! I appreciate you both very much and all that you all are doing for me and for our local running community! Coincidentally, apparently they both PR'd at the race too. We must have the winning formula, I tell ya!!!!

Looking at tomorrow, I'm hoping to get in a good 9 miles--wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nothing more than an update...

So the majority of you all like it long and slow. :) In the last poll, 66% of you prefer long, slow distance runs! Apparently, the challenge of the longer distance at a comfortable pace (and probably on a relaxing off day) is the most enjoyable training run!

Speaking of long runs, I had the pleasure of running with some friends on Saturday morning at Bernheim Forest. It was my first group run experience (I've run with one other person before, but that's it!) and I really enjoyed myself. I was pleasantly surprised at how great it was--I've always been apprehensive about group running for many reasons, including the fact that I'm comfortable running alone, I thought it would be uncomfortable to talk to people during the workout and I also worried about performance/fitness differences within the group (i.e. being left all alone because I'm too slow! haha). However, all of my fears were put to rest during my run with Tom and Joe and in fact, I had a great time running with them and a great run. It is amazing how easy the run felt and how quickly it went. I can't wait for the next group run with them! Maybe we'll get some more cool people to join us, too!

This week in running--Thanksgiving is race day! It's my first T-Day race! I'm fairly excited about it and I hope I can finish the 5 miles around the 55:00 mark! My last 5 mile race was last month and I completed it in just over 53:00--but this race course is more hilly and I doubt that I'll be able to complete it in that time. I'll try though!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! This is my favorite holiday of the year and I can't wait until all of my cooking and preparation is done so that I can enjoy my race and the holiday! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feeling lighter on my feet...I hope.

The Mizuno Inspire 3.

Went to Swag's Sport Shoes today and asked to be fitted for a new pair of shoes, after dropping off my registration for the T-Day 5 miler. The gentleman that helped me was VERY friendly and nice. I explained my issues with my current shoes to him and asked for something lighter, just as stable and something that would allow me to do a little bit of trail running comfortably too. He asked if I had allegiance to Mizuno (since I was wearing them), and I explained to him that I wanted whatever shoe made my feet feel good, as long as they were in my budget.

I tried on a great pair of Adidas, the Supernova Sequence (have to say I'm sorta sad they didn't work, I really liked them but the fit in the toe box wasn't for me at all), and a pair of Asics--both of which I've never had before. The Asics he offered just didn't have enough give--I like a more flexible shoe than that. I ended up with the Mizuno Inspire 3 (last season's model), so I got a GREAT price on them. And since I came in under budget, I decided to buy a few extra GU's so I could try some new flavors!

I'll definitely hit up Swag's again for shoes. I go there occasionally anyway for other items but for shoes, I believe I'll patronize them again. Always great people in there.

Maybe I'll go back to buy these:

Just joking...for now, anyway. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A run in the park...and in the streets!

I woke up at 5:41 this morning and laid there wondering if I should go ahead and start my long run or sleep in a little longer. The second time I looked at the clock, it read 5:46, and I figured since I hadn't fallen back asleep yet, it was time to get up.

After some yogurt, a hot shower and some stretching, I headed out to the park for my long run. This was a big day for many reasons--but mostly because I had to try my new running tights and jacket. :) I was nervous about the tights but they aren't so bad once you're out in them. You forget about them, which is what you WANT in a running pant! The jacket was PERFECT. I highly recommend this (and any other C9 gear, especially the RUNNING specific gear) to any women out there.

Here's the jacket, although not the best pic ever:

The ONLY way this jacket could get better for an outdoor runner is to put zippers on the pockets, and quite frankly, I can't figure out why they didn't. Honestly, though, the pockets are nice and deep and I carried sunglasses, lip balm and a piece of gum the entire run and they didn't move. So basically, non-issue.

I also LOVE how the hood fits around your face without bothering you AT ALL. The zipper goes all the way up to your chin, keeping your neck and head nice and warm and protected from the elements.

When I left this morning, the closer I got to the park, the less rain there was. It was dark and cool and the streets were relatively quiet. I decided to run the streets first (as opposed to running the park loop first) because I knew traffic would be much lighter this early AND because I knew that if I had to run the loop last, it would force me to finish. Running the streets makes it easier to turn around and head back to the car. But if you're running a 3.3 mile loop, it's not as easy to do that. :)

Honestly, as much fun as I had running this morning, it was not a pleasant physical experience. Nothing bad happened, but I just never felt like I know I should have. And from mile 1, into mile 4, throughout the 9, I never felt really, really good. I've run 8 before and had 4-6 great miles, where I felt strong and able. But today, I never really felt that for more than about 10 minutes at a time.

One time when I did notice an increase in performance was after my pit stop and I decided to try half of the GU (my first GU ever, and it was strawberry banana, for those who are curious). Yes, I did down a good amount of water, as well. I honestly needed that little bit of energy to keep going and for a few minutes, I felt okay, like I could keep running forever.

Isn't that the feeling we all are after when we hit the roads? It's an awesome feeling. It occurred to me today that the feelings we experience during a run are a compressed version of our experiences in life. Those tough times we go through in life (relationships ending, deaths, job troubles, illnesses, etc) make us feel like our life is so bleak and that it will never get better. Sometimes it's really hard to push through those difficult periods, but you know what? Most of us realize that AT SOME POINT (who knows when) things WILL get better for us, and those times we truly have to appreciate. In running, it's those uphill battles that make your legs feel weak, and you think you can't breathe another breath and all you want to do is just STOP. But what happens if you stop? You never get any better. What happens if you keep going, keep pushing through the pain? You reach the top of that hill and there's a smooth path (or maybe even a downhill stretch) in front of you. Your breathing evens out, your legs regain strength and suddenly, you feel like you can run forever. Or at least until that next uphill. ;)

I came home today after my 9 miles shivering and despite wanting to take a nice, long, hot bath, I warmed up, ate breakfast and started the ice bath. I stopped at Speedway on the way home for a pumpkin cappucino (and choco milk for recovery on the way home) to drink while I sat in the horrid ice bath. I had to turn the heat up to 80* before I even felt comfortable THINKING about that ice bath. But once I got in today, it didn't feel so bad. I think I might start with slightly warmer water from now on, at least until it gets warm again. I'll just add more ice during the winter.

I feel like going for another run right now, I have no idea why. I've been experiencing some minor-moderate ankle, knee and hip pain in my left foot since I purchased these shoes and I'm considering being fitted for another pair--this time at Swag's. I MIGHT go there tomorrow, just depends. I just can't tell what's going on with my leg, and I don't want to fall apart. I've been training so well and I'm seeing such improvements...I don't want injuries to keep me from doing what I love.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Running--The Present

So maybe you read my Nov. 2 entry about my running experience from childhood through now...

Remember this portion from the previous entry:

For many years, I said that my peak running fitness was during my college years. I started running more seriously around age 19 and because I had a few friends from my school's track team, I was doing more intense workouts with them and actually contemplated walking on the team, myself. I frequently ran 4 miles every other day, and to me, that was MAJOR.

Notice the term "for many years?" I can't say that anymore. I am currently at my peak running fitness--almost 10 years later. I'm nearing 29 and though I'm not fast (and I probably can't run the mile as fast as I could then), I'm definitely in better running shape than I was back then. I just ran over 8 miles yesterday (distance PR) at Bernheim--through difficult trails and on gravel and concrete. Give me a hill to run and I'll take that baby on. I know what a tempo run is. I work my core. I love to road race! I WORK HARD, I FEEL GOOD AND I RUN. I'M AT MY BEST EVER. PERIOD.

That's how I feel about now. Even after a rough 3 days--because I'm more than those days. I'm proof that putting forth effort and being dedicated WILL help you achieve your goals.

2008 was MY year with Running. I know that I will look back at this year with pride. I will be able to look at my racing bibs from this year (I keep them all and laminate them after I write my time on the back) and remember that it was a year of many firsts. We have had a great year together and I know that I can take the credit because I stopped wondering when Running was going to do something for me and started planning what I could do for Running. When I took responsibility, I finally reaped the benefits.

I've raced, I've gotten faster, I've conquered fears and done things to my body that I never thought was possible. I've worked on my mental strength and learned a lot about MYSELF. And I HAVE LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

Next up: The Future.

Iz Tired! An update...

Poll results: Turns out us runners aren't as nasty as I thought we were! I asked the question "What's the most disgusting thing you've done during a run?" There was a tie (33% each) between "spitting" and "blowing snot." In second place, a tie between "peeing your pants" and "vomiting." Nobody's ever pooped...or are you afraid to admit it? LOL

So, moving on...this week in training didn't go as planned. I had a nice easy 4+ miles on Monday and took Tuesday off since I was feeling under the weather. Wednesday, I didn't feel well (plus had WAY too much candy at work) but decided I had to get out there and fight through it. I had the worst run ever for the first 2.5 miles. My legs were too heavy to lift and I was constantly telling myself "run!" I actually had to remind myself to put one foot in front of the other--normally when I run easy, I'm having to remind myself to SLOW DOWN. SO I knew something wasn't right. But I got through the first part and suddenly, felt GREAT. I decided to up it another 3+ miles...great run all in all and I'm proud I pushed through the "pain." But after the run, I knew it was too much. My legs ached, I was tired and my body just shut down.

This week was a scheduled taper week BUT I didn't really follow through on that during my early week runs--and because of that, I've sat out for the remainder of the week. I have rested well, but it's been difficult mentally because I've WANTED to run. I KNOW it's best that I rest and I KNOW I should have followed my taper week and I will remember this next time.

Just a reminder to all of you out there--it's nothing you don't already know but it's the truth:

1. Take it easy every few weeks or so if you're in the midst of a disciplined training plan. Don't push forever, because if you do, you will be doing more damage than good.

2. Listen to your body. Your body can't communicate to you the way a person can, but it has its own way of expressing itself--fatigue, soreness, aches, pains. Listen to those queues and give your body the nutrition, activity and rest that it needs.

Happy running to all of you! Cooler weather is coming so start preparing yourself for those cold outdoor runs!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Seems like everyone's talking...

I've seen a lot of discussion about goals recently--maybe because we're nearing the end of the year and it's just the time that we evaluate and look back on what we've accomplished (or failed to) during the year. Nonetheless, it got me thinking about where I am with my current goals and what my future goals might be. When I started this blog, I did so more out of necessity for myself--as I felt that I needed a way to keep my focus on running and to give myself a play-by-play of my training and my experience. But I have a couple of visitors now (which I'm so happy about!) and I thought it might be nice for me to tell you all what I'm really doing here. You guys read about my training runs and races, about my shoes and what I love to eat and whatever else I feel like spewing out but maybe you want to know WHY I'm doing this and what I want out of it. We all have our own love affair with Running (come to think of it, Running sure does get around...) but we're in the relationship for different reasons and with different goals in mind, providing each of us a unique (but related) experience. I know you guys know that I want to do well for my first Half Marathon in the Spring but there's more to my running "career" than that!

Childhood--the period of my life when I met Running. Though I thought Running was cool because it got you to places more quickly (like the ice cream truck or to avoid the dreaded "tap" during a game of freeze tag), I mostly cared very little about it, only using it when I needed it and on my own terms.

Ages 13-16--the only running related goals I had during this time probably involved avoiding it as much as possible. I didn't participate in sports, though I DID enjoy playing basketball. However, when I look back, this was probably my least athletically active period. The Mall and the movies were more important to me, I think.

Age 17--this is when things changed. As I grew up, I started to realize that I wanted to do something for myself--something I could possibly be good at. I guess Running was the "boy next door" for me. Running was always there, but I didn't really pay it any attention unless I needed to. By age 17, though, I started to look at it a little differently. Was Running worth a second look? I thought so.

I remember the first day I went out and ran--*cough*--attempted to run. I geared up (athletic shorts and t-shirt and whatever athletic shoes I had on hand) and stepped out of the door. I did a few stretches and walked out to the sidewalk (helluva warm up there, huh?) and started to run. Because that's all there is to it, right? I ran down the street...YES! I was doing it! I was running! I made it all of about 5 houses and I was exhausted and huffing and puffing. Talk about feeling total, complete defeat and failure. I remember the embarassment I felt, too--as if everyone were in their homes that day, sitting beside their front windows waiting for a chance to see me run by their house, just to see if I would make it. The house you stop (read: fall over, clutching your chest as you gasp for air and wondering if your legs will ever stop burning) in front of is inevitably the house where there's a family reunion or birthday party going on, and the weather is so nice that the entire party happens to be OUTSIDE and of course they are watching YOU during your most disappointing moment.

Actually, my experience wasn't so dramatic. But it was no less disappointing. Somehow, though, I kept trying. I would go out each day and try to run a little farther. That summer, I went from running a distance of 5 houses to running around the block to running to the next neighborhood. By the end of the summer, I was frequently running 1-2 miles away from home and then returning. I felt so accomplished, as I should have.

College years--For many years, I said that my peak running fitness was during my college years. I started running more seriously around age 19 and because I had a few friends from my school's track team, I was doing more intense workouts with them and actually contemplated walking on the team, myself. I frequently ran 4 miles every other day, and to me, that was MAJOR. I was in good shape, (thanks in part to my daily trips to the gym that was free and totally awesome) and I really felt good about myself and my conditioning. Then I got mono--I was still running 4 miles with mono for 2-3 weeks. I had no idea why I was feeling so horrible all of the time but my logic was "if I am getting a cold, and I stop running, my body will totally give in to the cold." Stupid, maybe. But after I found out what was wrong with me, and after I was unable to get out of bed easily in the morning...and found myself actually having to sit down in a PUBLIC shower because I felt SO bad...I stopped running for a period. My very early 20's came and I kept running but I was never able to run more than a mile or two at a time, even though I got lots of inspiration from a very attractive and fit neighbor of mine who would go out and run every day. :)

It seemed like no matter what I did, I just couldn't progress. I learned about different exercises and training methods and actually took to hill running and plyometrics and I saw small improvements there but nothing major and I still couldn't run 4 miles.

Mid-20's--This was by far the most rocky period of my relationship with Running. Off and on, love and hate. Sometimes I wanted to, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't. Running wasn't having the same effect on me as it did when I was 19. I wasn't proud of myself when I was with Running. Back then, I thought it was Running's fault. I know now that it was my fault. I wasn't giving it the love it needed to give love back to me!

Let's fast

2007 (age 27)--I FINALLY decided to give myself to Running, once and for all. I didn't want to be one of those people who get to the beginning of the new year and START exercising. I never have liked that. I want to prove to myself that it's an actual lifestyle change and so during the fall of last year, I started getting serious again. I started my own personal walk/run program. I kept at it. I'd come home on lunch and walk...and walk...and walk...until I felt strong enough to start running. And I'd run...and run...and run...until I could run farther and farther. One mile was KILLER. Two miles I hit a plateau. Then I just kept pushing. I didn't want to give up because I remembered how awesome it felt to run and to love it and to feel good doing it.

2008--My first race was in March and it was a 5K. All it took was that one race and I knew that I didn't want to give up on Running, and I didn't want to give up on myself either!

I've come SO far personally. And the discipline that I've had this year has shown me just what I can do when I set my mind to it. I realize that there are so many people out there that are so much faster and can run so much farther than me but I'm proud of them too! I can be proud of my own accomplishments because I can see them so clearly and with each improvement, it gives me the motivation to push even harder and to not give up as I have so many earlier times.

Next up: The present.