Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mileage goal for 2013

Happy New Year! 

I need your help!  Last year on January 1, I posted an announcement on Facebook that for anyone who "Liked" my status update, I would run 1 mile for them in 2012.  A few people commented and added extra miles for me and when everything was tallied up I'd been assigned 69 miles to run.  That kept me busy through mid-April.  

For this year's goal, I want to incorporate something that will build on or enhance the 3 key goals I've selected for the year:  hit the gym more often, do more core work (sit-ups / push-ups), and complete a 1/2-marathon.  To that end, I've decided to set an overall mileage goal for the year, and as needed, will add stationary bike mileage to the mix.  

Sooooo, here's where you come in.  

Pick a number between 1 and 20 and write it in the comments. I'll add up all responses here, on my LoseIt! site, and on the Lake Run Club Facebook page, and commit to logging that many miles of walking, running and / or biking in 2013!

BTW, No annoying daily Miles Updates this year, I'll use my new Training Calendar (thanks to my wonderful brother and his wife!!) and post a monthly update for total miles.

Bring it on!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This is NOT a list of New Year's Resolutions

I was thinking today about goals for next year.  NOT RESOLUTIONS, goals.  It's an important distinction for me.  Goals are flexible.  Resolutions are... well, they're made for breaking and giving up on.  There's probably another rant on this topic, but that's for another day.
Here's my list (aside from the ever-present "get to Goal Weight" goal):

  1. MORE CROSS-TRAINING!  I run plenty, need to hit the gym more often and strength train.  Maybe ride the stationary bike once in a while.  I've been on this "extended break" from the gym for FAR too long.  I think for January I'll start with insisting I get to the gym at least one day each week.
  2. MORE SIT-UPs & PUSH-UPs.  I hate core work but it's absolutely necessary and will take me to my ultimate goals so much faster.  Gotta get over it and learn to love it.  I'm gchallenging myself to 20 each, 20 days in January.  Then amp it up each month after that.
  3. Complete a half-marathon.  I've done 3 10Ks and I like that distance, but it's time to take on the scary Half.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I find the 13.1 a bit intimidating.  It scares me a little, which is why I have to do it.  I really take issue with being afraid of something so simple as a little extra exercise.  This must be addressed.  Now I just have to decide which one.  I've registered for the 10K at the end of April.  I could upgrade my registration to run the 1/2, but I'm not sure I'll be ready for that.  There will be another chance at the Twin Cities 1/2-marathon in September.  And a few others in the area that I know of.  
So that's it.  It's a short list but a tall order.  

BRING IT, 2013.  I frackin' dare you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Getting "Real"

I spent some time today considering what is, in the world of runners, an age-old question:  Who or What is a "Real Runner"?

Where do you draw that line?  Is it based on pace - do you have to run a 7-minute pace to be considered Real?  What about 10-minute miles - is that acceptable?  What if you're only holding a 12-minute pace?  What if you walk and run and average 13:45 - what then?  Sorry, you can't be in The Real Runners Club.

Maybe we should decide based on distance.  Endurance is certainly key to being a Real Runner.  Can you run  one mile without a walk-break?  Two?  Five?  That's a lot easier to do if you run an 8-minute mile versus a 12-minute, so distance might not be the best determining factor.  Duration, then.  How much time does one have to spend running, without walking, before she can be considered Real?  Twenty minutes?  45?  What if you walk some, but only for strict, short duration?  Would walking less than 60 seconds at a time qualify, or should you keep it to 30 seconds or less?  If I'm going to do this thing, I want to Really do it.  The last thing I want is to be a poseur!

Perhaps it's better to compare ourselves to others.  Do I have to place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in my age group in a race, or must it be an outright win?  In EVERY race, or just once?  One race a year?  What if you run regularly but don't ever race?  Do you just have to speed up & pass everyone you see out on the trail each week?  (Then I'd be winning, right?)  If I hate the treadmill and therefore drop out of my training for three or four months a year when it's cold out, do I lose my standing and have to start over each March after the ice thaws?  People run faster on roads than on trails, how shall we judge them?

If I sound sarcastic and dismissive, it's because I am.  There are runners out there in the Running Community (mainly the blogosphere from what I can tell) who are presumptuous and pretentious enough to say things like "You're not a Real Runner unless you're averaging better than an X-minute pace."  More importantly, I hear people saying, "yes, I run... well, I'm not a Real Runner - [now fill in the blank with your hedge of choice:]  I do a lot of walking/ I'm slow, really I don't like to use the word 'run' I'm really more of a jogger/ I always come in last - but I really enjoy it."  I hear it from people, especially at my running group (particularly in March when the "newbie" group starts up!), and especially from women.  I think women are more susceptible to this... perhaps we are more likely to denigrate ourselves, place others above ourselves on some imaginary pyramid of validity.

I object to the whole line of thought because I dispute the premise.  The premise that there is some definitive line we must cross in order to be Real.  I am offended by my own hesitancy to accept that over the past few years there has developed a new aspect to my personality, my definition of Who I Am or What I'm About:  I am a Runner.  It was new and different and rather difficult to get my head around at first but there it is.  And I made it ever more difficult by having to work around this invisible line of being Real.

I thought that a Real Runner was long and lean and fast and as a woman, of course they weigh about 60 pounds less than I do.  The picture in my mind looked a lot like this:

But Real Runners come in all shapes and sizes.  The folks in my running group are a great example - there are some who are built JUST LIKE the woman in the photo above, but others look a LOT more like I did in this photo.  (In the running for Worst Photo Ever Taken of Me.)

Yup, this is me in 2010.
The group is full of all sorts of body types:  big guys, women with big ole' butts, heavy people working hard to get healthier.  And many of them have run multiple marathons.  Some were athletes in high school and college, exercised their whole lives, always loved running and doing exercise of all kinds.  Others (more like myself) taught themselves to enjoy exercise and being out of doors later in life, or just got started last year with their first Couch to 5K program.  And in my book, they are as Real as it gets.

I think about this a LOT.  I think about it frequently while I'm running, while I'm racing.  When I see someone running who is overweight, over thirty, or who is slower (I place myself solidly in all three of those categories), I wonder - does s(he) question whether s(he) is a Real Runner?  Do they know that I know how hard it is to do what they are doing, and how much respect other runners have for them?  If they are part of the running community here, then they know.  The community here is incredibly supportive and communicative.  If they're not part of that group, I hope they have a family who is giving and supportive and respects the time and effort they're putting in.  I hope their family makes them feel like a Real Runner.

When did i become a Real Runner in my own mind?  I'm not entirely sure, but here's one thing I repeat like a mantra when I'm out on the road (something I saw on a Facebook post and have no idea where it came from, so I apologize:  I can't provide a source)

You are what you repeatedly DO.

I don't know when it happened, but the moment I became a Real Runner is the moment when it stopped being something I was TRYING to do and became simply "something I DO."

But this Christmas .. well, now it's official.  I didn't realize it wasn't quite official until this morning when I opened my presents, and each branch of the family gave me something to support my habit!  A training calendar, a hydration belt, a hook to connect the dog leash to my belt so I can keep my hands free, a reflective vest for night runs.  My family is so incredible and supportive, and it turns out, they think I'm a Real Runner too.

Thank you, everyone, for your support.  And Merry Christmas!

By the way, there are a lot of great posts on this subject.  I've read many over the past few years, which is partly how I've clarified my own views on the topic.  Here are a few I've read recently:
And this one has some great tips, ostensibly for "beginners" but great to remember even if you're already a Real Runner...

And a quote on the topic:
 I often hear people say,’I’m not a real runner.’ we are all runners, some just run faster than others, that’s all. I have never met a fake runner.
— Bart Yasso (@bartyasso), joined Runner’s World in 1987 to develop the groundbreaking Runner’s World Race Sponsorship Program, creating a vehicle for Runner’s World to work with over 7,000 races representing 4 million runners per year. Inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions. (via

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My dog is smarter than I am.

Coty was right & I was wrong.
I told her we'd go for a run this morning, then decided to wait out the rain first.  She was mad.
The rain let up and we headed out around lunch time... had a great run - 5.5 miles total, ran 4 of that, felt great!  And still got rained on for about half of it.  All I really accomplished was to delay the start of my day from 9am to 11:30.
My dog is smarter than I am.

I tried a couple of little experiments today:  wore a "belly bag" somewhat like a belt, and ran it through the hand-hold of her leash.  It was great having both hands free!  Bonus:  when my head got hot I had a pouch to put my hat in.  It bounced against my leg a bit while running, which I was worried would be annoying and distracting, but that wasn't bad.  Coty ran right at my hip for the first mile, then got the idea and started testing out the system, running ahead, hanging back to sniff things, just like normal. All in all it worked out well!

The other experiment today was working on endurance again.  If I'm going to join the 1/2-marathon training group, I need to be able to run longer distances without walking breaks.  My training over the past few months has de-emphasized the endurance factor and prioritized speed.  I'd like to keep working on both, but think I've been relying too heavily on those short breaks after each mile marker.  It's easy to justify the breaks since I'm always running with the dog, and her priority has nothing to do with distance or endurance!

So today I ran 2 miles without stopping (well, as best I could... Coty insisted on a couple of quick pee-breaks which couldn't be avoided).  I'd like to build up to running 5 miles without a break.  Two wasn't really that hard - I knew it wouldn't be - so maybe next time I'll go for three.  I may have to convince the dog it's a good idea.  :-)

One funny thing... lots of squirrels on the Trail today and not very many people, so after about 3 miles I let Coty run off-leash.  She had a great time chasing them around in the woodsy area at the edge of the Trail.  She kept coming back to me, and giving me a look as if to say, "See the squirrels?  They look FAT and JUICY and SLOW."

I told her, "I know... but so do I this week, which is why we have to KEEP RUNNING!"

My dog may be smarter than I am when it comes to procrastinating our running, but I know why we do it, and that's good enough for me.  <3

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Decisions, decisions... and a nice surprise

I've gotten a few good runs in this week and feeling really good about that.  One great part of getting out there for a longer run is I get a big chunk of time to think (and talk to myself) (and talk to my dog).  My thoughts this week were running (no pun intended) along the lines of, "where am i with this whole dieting / weight loss thing?" and "what's next right now?" and "goal? what goal? better get on that."

I made a couple of decisions along the road.  First, gotta get through December.  Christmas cookies and holiday pies to bake, New Year's celebrations, a week of stress at work to close out the books for the year... recipe for disaster, right?  Better get used to the idea that I'll be up 3 or 4 pounds by the end of the month, right?  That way I won't feel the need to beat myself up about it.  Doesn't have to be that way.  The plan for the rest of the month is to stay right where I am:  maintain current weight for the next three weeks, then kick it into high gear in the first week of January.  Maybe not an aggressive decision, but I think it's a reasonable & attainable goal.

After setting my strategy for this month, I started wondering... what, exactly, has been happening recently.  It occurred to me I haven't been paying terribly close attention.  Mid-August through the end of October is the busiest time at work for me, lots of travelling, lots of late nights, 8pm-pizzas at the office, working till 10 or 11pm in a hotel room, very stressful.  It's a great excuse to eat way too much fast food, McDonald's for breakfast, second helpings at dinner, an extra cookie here & there... well, you get the idea.  With the travelling especially, it's difficult to get any exercise in, and so hard to eat right.

No need to wonder, of course!  I log all weigh-ins, food and exercise on my LoseIt app, and took a look at a chart of my weigh-ins over the past few months.  It turns out, I've pretty much been in Maintenance Mode since early September.  Up and down the same few pounds through all that mess at work, even through our (much-deserved) Mexico vacation and Thanksgiving, but I haven't gained or lost really over all.

[I have this great chart I exported from LoseIt, but I can't find a way to paste it in here...]

Today's weigh-in brought a welcome surprise   down 0.8 lbs... the first "real" loss since September!  Lost a "new" pound, so great news!

I said I've made a couple of decisions... well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.  I've been thinking more and more about when I'll be ready to take on the challenge of a half-marathon.  I feel like I need to get a couple more 10k's under my belt, but the training runs for a half wouldn't be all that much longer than the training runs I did for my last 10k.  It's starting to feel... well, not "possible" yet, not "do-able", but... "not outrageous".  I'm also thinking hard about participating in a Marathon Relay - 1/4 of a marathon is right up my alley, I just need 3 people to join in the fun and train with.

So that's where I'm at right now... ready for another week of work, and hitting the road for a few more miles this week with my trusty companion.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

10:37 is the new 11:30

I've had about a 3-week hiatus from running recently.  Travelling, vacation, the holidays... just haven't been running much since my last 5k race at the end of October.  The good news is that as of today I've lost all the weight I put on during our lazy drunken Mexico vacation (followed quickly by the infamous all-you-can-eat-Turkey Thursday), so I'm officially back on track with my weight loss efforts.

Coming back from even a short break always feels like I'm starting completely from scratch!  I find it really discouraging, running shorter intervals and walking more, etc.  So I tried something a little different this week.  I took the dog for her walk yesterday afternoon - it was crazy-warm, temp in the 60s in Illinois December! - and I decided such beautiful weather called for a longer walk in celebration.  We walked and did a wee bit of jogging to the junior high about a mile from home, then ran a Test Mile.  NO WALK BREAKS ALLOWED, just run until the Garmin says a full mile completed.  I said to myself, "None of this interval crap - your body knows what to do, and your MIND is the only thing keeping you from doing it."

Test time:  10:37!!  Pretty good for a slow, overweight runner-girl! My previous Test Mile in September was just under 11 minutes.

This got me thinking:  if I can run one mile in 10:37, I can run two at that pace... or three.  Like, in a row.  So I decided 10:37 is my new medium-term goal pace... 10:37 is the new 11:30.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

0.2 LB this week

I was travelling and working till 11 pm-midnight each night last week. Not logging my food... Completely mentally & physically exhausted by the time I came home Friday... then worked a full 8-hour day Saturday and I'm headed in today

Suffice to say it's been a rough week. But despite not always making the very best choices - good (ish) foods but portion control was totally out the window, and FORGET about exercise, there was just no time - I managed to STAY STEADY with my weight this week!!!

That 0.2 LB loss is a BIG WIN today, I'm very happy with it.

I'm going to try to take that win and turn it into a productive day at work, and use that positive energy as leverage to make it through next week without eating a box of donuts or a gallon of ice cream!  (Just say "NO" to stress-eating.)

This post is necessarily short and sweet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More travelling blues?

Last week I was travelling yet again, this time to Solon, Ohio, again for business.  The week didn't start out well:  I arrived at the airport at 5am ready to catch my 6am flight, which was cancelled.  The next flight out would get me to Chicago about a half-hour after my connection to Cleveland took off.  The airline had me on standby in Chicago but couldn't guarantee me a flight to Cleveland until 4pm, which meant possibly a full 8-hour shift at O'Hare... and they couldn't or wouldn't provide me access for the day to the business center so that I could work during my layover... so I opted to rent a car and DRIVE to Ohio.  It was a LONG day (especially since, after making the determination that it would be fast and easier to drive, I found there would be another hour or so's wait for the rental office at the airport to open! It WAS only 5:30am at this point after all.) Along the way, I found I had a very scratchy throat.  By the time I reached Solon and my hotel, the scratchy throat had graduated to a full-on Sore Throat, and maybe a bit of a cough... not good.

By morning I was Officially Sick.  I was a mess, and I was in a hotel and scheduled for lots of meetings with lots of people.  I'll skip the gory details of my week, but it was long, there was NO exercise, but I didn't have much trouble avoiding "bad" foods.  My hotel has a little kitchenette, so when I arrived on Monday I headed straight to Trader Joe's and picked up a week's worth of groceries.  I was able to have a healthy breakfast and bring a lunch to work each day, and - what I'm going to call "reasonable splurges" for dinner each night, cooked in my little kitchen.  For a travelling week, it was an unmitigated success!  (And I forgot to weigh in so not sure where that stands.  I'll find out this weekend.)  My flights home on Friday went exceedingly smoothly and I arrived home before noon, no driving for me.

I was feeling marginally better by Friday, which was good, because I had PLANS.  Friday was the 10th... the first day of my Birthday Week, and my friends' band, Triple Charge Time, (oh, and check out their YouTube page here) was playing at a new venue in Peoria.  I took the dog for a walk, took a nap, and then got cleaned up and took every bit of cold medicine in the house to ward off the gunk, and headed out for the night.  Jason had to work in the morning so I was flying solo - which was kind of a fun change of pace, but also meant I needed to take it easy on the beer, as I would be driving myself home.  All good things actually, since if you remember from my Glendale post, I had a race Saturday morning, the Evergreen 5K out at the lake.  An early evening going BIG on the music but small on the beer worked all the better for me.  I had a wonderful time, got to catch up with my friends and see a few people I haven't had a chance to talk to since I left the firm three years ago!!  It was great.

Saturday morning's 5k was... well, fine.  I was feeling better, but definitely not over my cold yet.  I decided "Hey, I've paid the registration fee - I'm going!" But didn't feel well enough to run at all.  So I compromised.  I took Coty with me, and we walked the whole thing.  She enjoyed a new route in completely unfamiliar terrain, I enjoyed the INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL weather, nice, flat course, and a lovely 3.1-mile walk.  We finished last and really enjoyed ourselves.  I picked up my t-shirt, commemorative pint glass, and visited with some of my running buddies during the after-race festivities.  Our unofficial time was about 56 minutes... a far cry from a record!  (Though maybe not my LONGEST time...?)

I spent the rest of the week in "recovery" mode.  I'm nearly over this cough, and last night when I walked the dog, I tried some running, to see how my lungs responded.  I managed some intervals:  2 minutes (then about 8 minutes of walking), then three, then four, and after more walking, I found we were about a half-mile from home and tried a 5-minute interval.  After each interval, I suffered a ridiculous hacking coughing fit, but I was able to get through it well enough.  I hope by Friday I'll feel well enough to do a long run.  I'm still training for that 10K next month, and I'm pretty sure there's another 5K in the meantime, for the McLean County Autism Society.

Aside from that, the most exciting thing I've done the past two weeks has been watching Boardwalk Empire.  Jason and I have watched the whole first season On Demand - I like it!  We've started in on Season 2 tonight while I've been writing.  Guess I'll get back to it now.

Have a lovely evening, all...

Where does the time go?

Okay, so once again I've been a long time between posts.  I really need to figure out how to fit writing / blogging into my normal daily / weekly routine, just like the exercise.  I think it's important, a good way for me to keep my own thoughts focused and to remind me what I'm working toward, and why.  But I guess that's a subject for another day, cuz today I'm gonna get you caught up on recent news.  Luckily, it's been a relatively uneventful couple of weeks.

My last post was written via my iPad, on the rooftop patio of the hotel bar where I was staying during my visit to Glendale for work.  I always enjoy going to California for work because I can usually work in a visit with my family.  All of my immediate family lives in southern California and it's hard living so far apart.  I miss out on so much, but with work the past few years, I've had quite a few opportunities to have quick, one-day or one-afternoon visits.  This time, I was there only for Monday thru Thursday, so a trip to see my brothers and their kids wasn't an option, but my mom and dad each came to see me.

Mom and I had a little sleep-over in my hotel room.  She didn't pack much for the one-night stay, but she brought a suitcase full of treasures and memories to go through!  There were photos, letters we kids wrote when we were little, and all sorts of goodies.  The best part, though, is that she sent me home with some really wonderful pieces:  TWO Judith Campanaro originals (oil paintings, the artist is an old friend of the family, my mom's best friend and soul-sister)
I'm not sure the official name of this piece, but my mother has always called it "Madonna with Child"

This one is from a series that Judi did, memorializing various influential women in her life.  "Miss Terry" is my mom.
and this great piece... not sure if it's a painting or a print, or even who the artist is, but it's something my mother has loved all her life.  It was a gift to my mother's mother's mother, on her 18th birthday:  February 24, 1907.  It's such an honor to have been entrusted with the keeping of this piece that has been in possession of the various Matriarchs of my family for over 100 years! 

I'm afraid the resolution on these photos is not as detailed as I would hope; I took them with my phone so that I could post them as soon as I got them hung up at home, so mom could see they'd arrived safely and found their new home comfortable.

So, mom and I had a great visit (if short), and I headed to the office in the morning, leaving her at the hotel to lounge as she saw fit and head back to her grandchildren in San Diego (a visit she had interrupted to come up to LA for the night).

The following night after work, my dad came and picked me up.  We went to dinner at this great place called Damon's - a sort of tiki lounge joint known for their great steaks. Complete with a piano bar and Mai Tai's.  Dinner was terrific and we talked about everything under the sun - raising children, caring for grandparents and vets, stories from his childhood and college days, and the project closest to his heart these days, the AV Wall - a 1/3-scale model of the Vietnam War Memorial.  You can learn more about the project here, or on their Facebook page, and find out where you can go see it, or how to bring the travelling wall to YOUR community, or of course, make a donation to the cause.  It's a great service they are providing, giving vets and their families opportunities for healing and remembrance, and another means of honoring their comrades.
The fabled Mai Tai, and dad's choice for dessert:  Orange Whip - very tasty, I must admit!
A couple nights later, the night before I headed home, I had opportunity to spend the evening with MY "soul sister" (if you like), Robert.  Best of friends since we were in grade school, Robert knows where all the bodies are buried, even helped me dig the graves for some of them.  We had a wonderful meal on Sunset Strip with his partner Sam, talking shop (we're both accounting / business professionals with a long history in public accounting firms), catching up, and laughing about the bad old days.  We took some pictures with our cell phones but I don't have them handy right now, will have to try and remember to upload those another day.  All in all, it was a great week in sunny SoCal.

All that good food (and the fact I remembered to pack all my workout clothes, with the exception of the essential Workout Bras, meaning even my one opportunity for a workout was a bust, no pun intended) and the lack of excercise did not bode well for my weight that week:  2.5 lbs gained!

But right back on track once I returned home, I hit the road for some great runs with Coty and with my weekly running group, and it was workworkwork and runrunrun all week.  In truth, not much more to say about that week, except I managed to work off 1.8 of those nasty Traveling Pounds.

This post is getting a bit long... I'll continue and finish up the past week shortly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ah, woe is me! Race Recap: MCATF 5k

This week has been another busy one! Saturday was the McLean County AIDS Task Force 5k race at Tipton park. This is fun, conveniently located just a couple of miles from home, and for once the weather gave me a break and it was lovely weather for a run.

 I didn't get up all too early but as it turned out I was the first participant to show up and get checked in. I was surprised by this but didn't think much of it at the time. I've run it once or twice in years past and it's a small race but well supported by the community. Or at least it has been in the past. We'll get to that.

My first clue that this would be an Especially Small Race came when I told the volunteers that I was per-registered, and they said "oh, YOU'RE the one!" This is not a good sign. I was the only person in the entire community - a community of over 100,000 people and with a lively GLBTQIA community as well as several active and engaged running groups - the ONLY person to register ahead of race day. I was truly shocked to hear it. It got worse...

I have a dear old friend who volunteers for the MCATF and whom i really only see once or twice a year at events related to the Task Force. I hung out in the check-in area and we talked for a bit while the other racers arrived and checked in. I took a 10-minute walk around the park to warm up and headed to the starting line. The race started a little late; I think the organizers were hoping more people would show up. When we finally got going, there were exactly TEN runners. TEN!

I could hardly believe my eyes. Five men (well four men and ontoilette boy on his bike - oh so cute riding while his mom ran!) and five women. I felt just terrible for the organizers of the race - I imagine they must not have raised enough money in registratin fees to cover all the T-shirts they'd printed! We were joking at the start line about how everyone was likely to get a trophy or ribbon today, just out for showing up! 

So the proverbial gun went off and we headed out. It really was a beautiful morning for a run around the park. I was, of course, dead last (the dreaded DFL). In a group this small I had no illusions of beating anyone to the finish line. It's ALWAYS just me, competing against myself, in every race, but never quite so literally as today. I initially planned to run about a half-mile at a time, with short walking breaks, but in the first leg I felt so good - like it could just keep that pace up forever - that I decided to run the full first mile before taking any breaks.  I had my Garmin on and saw my pace for that first mile: 11:11 - good but not so good I was worried about going out too fast and bonking half-way through. Of course, a 5k isn't as much of a stretch as it once was! It's not unusual for Coty & me to head out on a 3-mile run on a Monday night.

So I'm feeling great, still in last place (I preferred to think of it as being in 10th!), but you know, I found there's a certain clarity of purpose that came with the knowledge that, yes, I'm going to be THE last person to cross the finish line today. This race really was All About Me. I decided to shoot for a PR. Time to beat today was 37:41, or a pace of 12:20, and it was looking totally do-able! I never lost sight of the older gentleman who was next ahead of me. He looked around periodically and I knew he was checking to make sure I was still hanging in with him. With so few racers and volunteers only placed at the mile markers, we runners we're looking out for each other. I was only about 20 seconds behind him at the first mile, but he was pulling away (slowly, but definitely pulling away).

 I ran all of Mile 2, as per my revised Plan for the race, and hit the water stop with a pace of just under 12 minutes for Mile 2. I walked a bit longer through the water stop and poured some on my head, as it was beginning to get quite warm. At this point there were runners passing me going the opposite direction, after the turn-around point which was around the 2.5-mi mark. Everyone was passing on a good word as we passed one another - "Keep it up!" "You're doing great!" I was keeping an eye on my Garmin, checking the average pace and starting to get excited - it looked like I was on track to beat my Personal Record, but it was going to be close.

 I did take another short walking break about a quarter of a mile from the finish line, gearing myself up to run hard the last leg. My last mile was at a pace close to 13 minutes, but the Garmin had my final pace at an average of 12:06!! Alas, the Garmin was giving me credit for time I wasn't moving, like when I picked up water at the stop, etc., and my total time was actually 38:11, so no PR for me today. Still, a good pace and I really enjoyed the race. Plus, I was still looking forward to my first (and likely ONLY) ribbon for placing in the top 3 for a race!

 The overall women's finisher was a young girl (woman I suppose), maybe 19, maybe in her early 20's. Aside from her, there were four of us women and I figured at least one of them was under 30, so it was reasonable to think I'd get 3rd place ribbon for my age group, and I had spent about 38 minutes of my 38:11 running time enjoying the prospect. But it was not to be. Go figure, 5 women compete, and ALL FOUR of us were in the same age group!!

The male competitors (including the little boy) were spread out a little better between age groups, so each of them won a ribbon of some level. I was the only participant in our little 10-participant race who went home empty-handed. Ah, woe is me. :-)

 After the race, I got home and realized there was no one else to walk the dog(!) so I decided to take her out while I was still enjoying the remnants of my runner's high. Believe it or not, we ran another 5k! Albeit much more slowly, as we needed lots of walk breaks and of course had to pee on everything as we went (that's Coty, not me - I swear). It was lovely.

 Next race will be about 2 weeks from now if I remember correctly: the Evergreen 5k, out at Lake Evergreen /Comlara Park. I think it's a Trail Race (as opposed to Road Race) and if so, it will be a first. The time since Saturday has been very busy; I've been traveling and got to see the family (some of the family, anyway) but I'll have to update on that another time, as this post is plenty long enough as it is. Suffice to say I'm writing from sunny southern California (or it was sunny when I started writing in any case; it's past dark now) and won't be home for a few days yet. Till then...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

All caught up

After the 4th of July race, I had 5 whole days off work to recuperate.  It was nice to have such a nice, long weekend, but I didn't veg out the whole time like I usually do... not this time!  I walked the dog every day, got in two more runs - about 3 miles each (which felt like marathons in the heat), and got some household projects taken care of.

Free image courtesy of
Often when I have a big chunk of time off work, I go completely off the rails with my diet and exercise.  I don't normally use this blog as a food log and discuss much of the "diet" portion of my diet & exercise regimen, but I will say I managed to indulge during the week without going crazy.  It helped that we didn't have any big plans with friends or family during the week.  Jason had to work part of the time, so I had a couple of days all to myself, and a few days to hang out with my hubby.  We went to our favorite watering-hole a few times (confused bartenders wondering what we were doing there in the middle of the week) and had a few beers and a few burgers, but managed to stay within reasonable limits.  My weekly weigh-in showed me at +/- zero pounds for the week, and I called it a win.

What fun could we have during five days off???  Well... we were watching a lot of television, specifically a lot of Holmes on Homes and Kitchen Crashers, which prompted a lot of speculation about what we might be able to do to spruce up our own kitchen.  This speculation grew to a conviction that, yes, we could tile our back-splash; nay, we should; even we WILL!

By Sunday (the day before I had to go back to work, yes, we procrastinated even with all that conviction behind us) we had been to Lowe's, Home Depot, and Menards several times each, for ideas and options, and finally settled on a plan of action.  But until Sunday morning, we hadn't bought a thing.  First order of business:  buy stuff!  Lowe's supplied the tiles themselves, and we got everything else we needed at Menards.  (We had a couple of rebate credits from Menards so most of the supplies were covered by the rebates, thus the extra trip.)

By the end of the day Sunday, we'd laid all the tile. ("Laid"?  Is that what you say when you put it on a wall?  Whatever... it was up, anyway.)  All that remained was to grout, caulk, and seal it.  It didn't sound like much work left to be done, but grouting certainly turned out to be a bigger chore than we expected.  I really thought that was going to be the easy part!  We got the grout and caulk done on Tuesday and left it to cure for a few more days, and finally I got it sealed on Saturday, so the deal is pretty much done!

Leave it to us to stretch a weekend project out for 6 days.


The down side of all this crafty home improvement project activity is that basically, as soon as I went back to work, all formal exercise came to a halt.  A sudden and complete halt.  Finally last Saturday it was time to get back in gear.  I declared "BREAK'S OVER!"  I got up just after Jason left for work and took off for a nice long run with the dog.  We got a five-mile jog in, and felt just great!

Perhaps my body was really looking for a break from the routine... my weigh-in on Sunday:  down 2 pounds for the week!  Go figure...

This past week, just doing my regular routine, work, workout, run, hit the gym, help make dinner... blog!

Whew!  Now, finally I've caught up after my little hiatus.  Now I've got to get ready for my next race:  only a couple of days away!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Race Recap: Park 2 Park 2012

I've caught up to FOURTH OF JULY!  Yay!

So this was the big day:  my third run of the Park 2 Park 5-miler.  This is a FUN race: park your car at the finish line, take a bus (or catch a ride) to the start, warm up running around beautiful Miller Park and listening to the animals at Miller Park Zoo rustling around, calling out to everyone, expressing their curiosity as to why so many visitors are milling about but none have come to visit them, listen to the Star Spangled Banner and run back to your car!

It's a 5-mile route from Miller Park to the "Corncrib" - the ballpark home of our local Frontier League team, the Cornbelters.  The route was changed two years ago - they used to run from Miller Park to Fairview Park, one of several locations where the community hosts fireworks in the evening.  This was my first run of the new route and I was hoping the changes would take us through some more shady areas!  The first time I ran P2P - you'll never believe it but it's true - it was raining and actually quite chilly.  It was fantastic!  I finished in just over an hour.  The following year, I was not so lucky:  it was hot and I got dehydrated during the race.  I had to stop at the mile-three water-stop for about 5 minutes and take several glasses of water and Gatorade.  My time definitely suffered in the heat.  I was hoping to beat the "hot" time, even dreaming that with all my recent training I might bust out with a PR...

Jane and her husband and son picked me up a little after 6am, and it was already near 80 degrees.  Wow, but it was HOT!  (You'll notice this is the theme for the day.)  This was her son's first-ever race!  I think I was more excited for him than he was.  The ride over was fun, he had all sorts of questions about the logistics and I was pleased to have enough experience with racing to be able to help answer some of them.  It made me feel like a real pro!

We got there early enough, we had plenty of time to mill around and chat with friends from our running group, stretch and use the facilities, and take a 10-minute warm up walk around the park.  With the route change, the starting line had been moved and I got a little confused at first, but we found the crowd before the singing was done and set ourselves up at the back of the pack.  Jane took note of the police cruiser that would be following at the end of the line and said something I'd never thought of before:  "There's the vehicle we have to beat!"  Indeed, as long as we don't get to the finish line in the back of the cruiser or an ambulance, I think we've done as well as need be!

Just before the start of the race, I noticed a soldier in full gear, boots and rucksack and all, prepping directly ahead of us.  I was in awe that someone was even considering such a feat in this weather.  It is amazing what our soldiers are trained to do.  He was ahead of us much of the way, and steadily pulling ahead in fact.  I lost track of him somewhere between Mile 3 and Mile 4 but someone posted photos of him online: (link is to the LRC Facebook page, which is an open, public group, but I didn't get a chance to ask if it would be alright to post the actual photo here).  Pretty inspiring stuff.

Jane and I had decided to start the race together, and I was using my new Garmin to help me maintain my pace and not head out too fast, which has been my habit the past couple of races.  The plan was run 6, walk 1 and stick to about 11:30 pace while running.  The first mile was great, good pace, feeling loose.  We passed right by my friend Tony's house, but I wasn't paying attention and forgot to look for him.  We were on a street heading East, with a little breeze at our backs.  After about a 1/2 mile we turned North and lost all the shade, and the breeze.  I'm guessing by now the temp was somewhere in the mid-80's.  We stuck to our intervals and kept right on trucking, going strong.

Mile 2:  Got some water at the first stop, still feeling pretty good.  I was carrying a water bottle with me, but it was already turning into warm water.  Maybe slowing down a little, but the Garmin sort of yells at you when you go outside the pace-range you've defined for your workout, so I was able to dig a little deeper and keep up.  Here's a picture one of the volunteers took around this point:[Side note:  Notice my shirt: it's a promotional shirt for the We Care Twin Cities half Marathon event.  This is the first location 1/2 marathon in our community, being organized by the Lake Run Club for the last weekend of September.  I'll be running the 10K event and volunteering for the 5K, hoping to help with the organizing in some way over the next couple of months.]

Mile 3:  The half-way point.  This is where I started flagging.  Seriously, I know I'm harping on this, but it was HOT out there and it was really draining me.  I started ignoring the Garmin's prompts to "Speed up!" and taking longer walking breaks.  At this point I switched to Gatorade at the water-stops and the main purpose of the water-bottle in my hand became to pour liquid on my head rather than into my mouth.

Mile 4:  Still, by the way, searching for the SHADY part of this route!!  See that picture up there?  See any shade in that picture???  Nope, none.  Straight up North, no shade.  The breeze was nowhere to be found, blocked by buildings and houses.  I could tell I was starting to hold Jane back and told her to please feel free to go ahead without me.  I was almost able to keep up with her but just... not... quite.

Pretending I'm not dying.
Finally, with about a mile and a half to go, we turn West and THERE!  Oh thank heavens, praise all the gods that are or ever were, there's a BREEZE!!!  Still no shade, but that breeze was like jumping into a pool.  (At this point I'm completely soaked, stem to stern, and let's just assume it was from pouring all that water over my head, so that breeze really cooled me off more than it should have.)  Here's another picture from somewhere in the Mile 3-4 time frame:

Shortly after that turn into the breeze, the route headed North again.  have I mentioned how this whole route is on a slight incline?  The elevation increases slowly but steadily pretty much the entire time you're travelling North.  And of course, the temperature is rising as well, this year...

Walking as much as running now, I trudged along up this short strip of Constitution Trail and hit the 4-mile marker in the shade.  There was someone there with a camera, but I haven't been able to locate any photos of me.  Must have dodged the lens!  At this point I'm seeing people actually running BACK to the starting line... they've completed the race, recovered a bit, and they're headed home!  How do they DO that??  But it was refreshing to know I had less than a mile to go:  even if I walk most of the way, I'm done inside of 15 minutes.  I still had a slim hope of at least beating my time from 2010, but I no longer really cared.  I wanted to know I finished again.

That last mile was, at least, mostly in the shade (a blessing as it was near 90 degrees, maybe more by now.  All I know for sure is when I arrived at home and checked, it was 98.)  I took one last walking break with about a quarter of a mile to go, just as I crossed the street and entered the Corn Crib parking lot.  Lots of folks were out along the route now, seated in lawn chairs even with the sun beating down on them, cheering on all the runners and shouting encouragement.  I took a deep breath, said "F**kit" under my breath, and got my legs moving again for the last push.  Made it across the finish line and managed not to collapse until I was out of the chute.  Jane found me, she was with her husband and son - he had a GREAT first race experience and it was fun to hear him tell how it went (while I attempted to regain consciousness).  After a while, I made my way to the snacks and Gatorade, found my husband and cooled off in the ballpark's breezeway.

Ultimately, it was a good race and I'm proud of how well I did under the circumstances.

Official Park 2 Park finishing times:

2009 (cool and rainy):  1:09:3.4
2010 (warm and dehydrated):  1:13:0.2
2012 (freakin' HOT):  1:10:47.7 - 2 minutes shaved off of last time, and less than two minutes behind 2009.

As tough as it was, this race went pretty well and I'm pleased with my time overall.  As usual, not as well as I had hoped, but well enough.  I beat the cruiser anyway!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A new running partner and a very tough run

Still updating from my little hiatus:

The Saturday after our last TNAM meetup, I met my new friend Jane for a morning run.  She lives right in my neighborhood and we've been in both Catch the Wave and Heat Wave groups together.  We hit the Trail with a plan of running 6-minute intervals, walking 1-2 minutes, and running another 6.  We jog/ walked about 4 miles that morning, but I was chattering away like a silly girl half the time, and we ended up walking quite a bit more than planned.  It was great to have a chance to get to know each other better.  I really enjoyed having a one-on-one partner to run with - quite a change from my normal solo runs.  It's funny, even with the groups, because I bring the dog with me, I'm often running a bit behind or ahead of others to make sure Coty stays out of the way of the other runners.  It was a great run, and I'm looking forward to doing it again some time soon.  

Free image courtest of

The Monday following, we met again for our weekly Heat Wave group.  I know I've mentioned the radical heat wave we've actually been experiencing here, and this day was pretty extreme.  The high had been 103. At 5:30pm, I parked the car at the park where we meet up, and just before I got out, the radio announcer said the current temp was 98.  He was about to advise the Heat Index (how hot it "feels") but I decided I just really didn't want to know!!  I wanted to get out there with my girls and get going before I changed my mind!

Free image courtesy of

I had a really tough run that night.  Even Coty seemed to be struggling a little (not running ahead much, keeping pretty close, etc.) but MAN, I was really BEAT!  I did have a water bottle with me, but couldn't keep up with the planned intervals (just a 4-5 minute interval).  Looking back, I realized I hadn't had enough water during the day at work, and had maybe not eaten enough at lunch either.  The heat was really brutal and I was struggling, big time.  Jane stayed back with me for about half the time, but I could tell I was slowing her down and told her to feel free to go on ahead.  The group leader caught up with me at the turn-around point and stuck with me till we got back to the park.  That was seriously one of the toughest runs of my life... and it was only 2 miles!!  Took me about a 1/2 hour to do that much.  Really, REALLY tough night.  

I learned my lesson, though, from that night's bad run.  Wednesday would be July 4, and I was registered for the Park 2 Park 5-mile race here in town, and the temperatures were NOT going to let up before the race.  I spent all day at work Tuesday drinking water, water, and MORE WATER!  Tuesday night, since we both had the next few days off of work, Jason and I headed to our favorite local bar for dinner.  I had two beers and 3 gigantic glasses of ice water, and a cheeseburger.  Headed home to bed early and set the alarm for 5:45am.  Jane was picking me up to drive to the race together.

 More on that tomorrow, with a P2P race recap, and my official time for my 3rd try at this unpredictable race.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

TNAM 2012!

Two years ago I completed my first "marathon" with an official finishing time of 6 hours, 10 minutes, 21 seconds.  This was after completing the Lake Run Club's Thursday Night Accumulative Marathon.

The program works like this:  for the meager sum of $13, you get to run with a group each Thursday at Lake Bloomington.  The group runs the same route as the Lake Run, 4.37 miles - which is an accurate 1/6 of a marathon.  Over the course of 8 weeks, you run at least 6 times and a lovely gentleman by the name of Kirby records and tracks the time you submit for each run.  (Honor system here.)  There are NO PERKS in the program:  no water stops, no snacks afterward, no music, no organized start / finish line, no well-defined start time even.  Just get your ass out there (with your bottle of water and hopefully your dog) and run your ass off!  No matter how many times you do the route, Kirby counts your 6 best times and accumulates them toward your Marathon finishing time.

(I hope you're laughing at this point, because I've completed this program TWICE, mainly because it cracks me up!  It's a group running program with a great sense of humor.)

At the final TNAM group run, you get your fresh, new running shirt (this is maybe the best part... the shirt has the TNAM logo, and the following slogan:  "I did it, but I took my time; 26.2 miles, 8 weeks"), fancy door prizes (translate:  little trinkets from the Dollar Store), water and some snacks, and your Official TNAM Certificate of Achievement!

Free image courtesy of

This year's final Thursday night run was two days into our ridiculous, freak heat wave toward the end of June.  It was 103 degrees at 6:30pm when Coty and I arrived, and I didn't even bother to put my running pants on... I had already completed 7 of the required 6 routes, so we were going to do some walking, and not the full 4.37 miles, either, in that heat!  I got there and visited with Kirby and some others from the group (several people recuperating after actually running the route - brave souls), then walked around the lake homes and wandered around a bit.

I knew it was time to go when Coty decided to jump into the lake.  Apparently she has determined she is not only a hunter, she's a fisherman as well.  She heard a catfish or something, and dived in!  We were both melting.  So I gathered my shirt and my Fabulous Door Prize and my Certificate.  My official finishing time for 2012 TNAM (my SECOND "marathon") was 5 hours, 47 minutes, 37 seconds.

Well, look at that!  I cut 23 minutes off of my "marathon" time!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Too hot to think!

During the past 10-12 days it's been miserably hot - we had a crazy heat wave that really sapped my ability to function properly.  I kept thinking to myself, I need to sit down, spend some time thinking about this process, and write a blog post.  But I really haven't felt like it was within my power to draft a complete sentence without assistance, let alone a coherent post worth reading.  Now that the weather has eased up, I feel like I can THINK again.  I feel like I can MOVE again.  In short, I feel like I can WRITE again.

Over the next few days, I'll post some updates to bring you up to speed.  It's been a pretty active couple of weeks overall:

  • Final TNAM group run (sort of) and official time for TNAM
  • A terrific Saturday morning run with a new running partner!
  • Training in 103 degree heat / humidity
  • A 5-mile race on the 4th of July, again with heat index over 100 degrees
  • I had 5 days off, and logged 11 miles during that long weekend!
  • How I managed NOT to gain weight (for once) during my mini-vacation (reference all that exercise, above)
  • A kitchen update?  Yes, that's right... a kitchen update!

There WILL be pictures.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday: A Typical Workout

I've gotten back to the gym this week and I am really enjoying my workouts.  My "training schedule", ideally, is to get a workout in 4 weekdays each week, plus one on either Saturday or Sunday.  For me, "workout" means either a run, walk/run interval training, or doing an iPersonalTrainer program at the gym.  It isn't always how it works out with the schedule, but that's the goal.

I'm doing pretty well this week - I got my Monday night run in with the HEAT WAVE group - about 45 minute walk/run and got in about 3 miles.  Tuesday AND Wednesday I got to the gym - basically a miracle the way things have been working the past few weeks!!  Tomorrow (Thursday) I take Coty to the last meeting of the TNAM group.  I'll get my finisher's certificate and shirt, and do one more run.  Though with temperatures predicted to top 103 degrees, I expect it will be a short walk and not a 4.37-mile run.

I thought this might be an opportune time to give a rundown on what a "typical" workout looks like for me when I hit the gym.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I use an app on my iPhone called iPersonalTrainer.  There are several options for setting up your workouts, but I like to use the Circuit Training program.  With this option, the app selects a set of 5 muscle groups and designs 2 exercises for each muscle group.  You do 1 exercise for each group, repeat that set twice, then do the other 5 exercises and repeat that set twice.  In the end, you do a total of 10 exercises, three times each.

[Side note:  I recently discovered I could rearrange the order of the exercises to make it so the order makes more sense logistically - in other words, if there are three exercises using the cables, do those together rather than cables, mats, bench, cables bench, etc.  (This way I'm not running all over the gym wasting time getting from one exercise to the next all over the place - big improvement!)]

I've been wanting to do some speed work when I'm at the gym, where I can workout on the treadmill and really lock in my speed, see what it feels like to "comfortably" run at one speed or another.  So to warm up yesterday, I started out with a 5-minute walk and then did some interval training:  2 minutes running followed by 1 minute of walking (strictly enforced!) and to make it a speed workout I amped up the speed for each running interval.  I started a 5.0 mph, then 5.2, 5.4 etc... and ended with two intervals at 6.0.  I'd like to make this a weekly part of my routine - it was fun and I really felt like I was pushing.

Wednesday's workout focused on Triceps, Quads, Calves and Core. (three sets each)
  • Leg Press: 45 lbs, 10 reps 
  • Calf Raise on Leg Press:  45 lbs, 15 reps
  • Cable Lawnmowers:  10 lbs, 10 reps
  • Cable Triceps Extension:  20 lbs, 20 reps
  • Bowing Crunch:  10 reps
  • Step Up:  10 reps each side (stepping up on the weight bench.  I'm too short (or the bench is too tall) and have to bring a 3-inch aerobic-step over to give me a boost.  Otherwise, it hurts my hip something fierce, and my form and control goes all to shit.)
  • Rope Cable Row:  30 lbs, 10 reps
  • Wall Jumps (exactly what it sounds like):  30 seconds
  • Single Dumbbell Kickback (bent over the weight bench, working your triceps by extending backward with gravity and the dumbbell as resistance):  5 lbs, 10 reps
  • Reverse Crunch:  10 reps - this was something I've never tried before and the first set was hard. I suspect I was using poor form.  Once I figured out how to do it, I really liked it. Here's a video demonstration (obviously not me).

And the best part of every workout:  my gym's tanning booth!  Every workout earns me a tanning session.  You know I'm really rules-oriented, and the rule is, I don't get to tan unless I've done a workout.  I imagine I could allow tanning after a road run, but I'm afraid that would lead to tanning "when I'm planning" a run, so that's a non-starter.  We'll  have none of that.

So that's what a "typical" gym workout looks like for me. Thank goodness you don't have to see what I look like all sweaty and puffy and red in the face when I'm done!  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Oh, Poor Puppy!

This is a bit off-topic for the blog, but had to share.

Coty went into the front yard this afternoon, sat down in the grass... then yelped! Turned around and started biting and licking her hindquarters.  Then I saw a big, fat, yellow bumblebee fly out from under her butt!  She sat on a bumblebee!  It was clear she'd been stung by the little bugger.  She snapped at it a few times in protest but then was so distracted by the sting, she let it go and went back to licking her leg.

I called the vet to ask if there was anything to worry about.  He said if she appeared to be having an allergic reaction, we could give her a dose of Benadryl.  She calmed down and let up on the licking after a few moments, so I made a judgement call.  We went on our planned run and I kept a close eye on her, willing to turn around any time she made a protest.

She did well with our run, a little over 3 miles, not much limping and didn't stop to try & lick her leg or anything.  But now, poor thing, she's limping around like a three-legged dog.  Really favoring her leg.  Once we get her up and walking around a bit, it seems like it loosens up, but she's definitely got some swelling and soreness.

Oh, poor puppy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sometimes, it's the Little Things

Sometimes it really is all about little things.

I had a great afternoon.  Took a half-day off from work, to head to my wonderful hairdresser's for a cut, color & style (LONG overdue, I might add - I had to cancel my appointment in early May because I was out of town on business and couldn't get back in to see him any sooner!).  Left the salon looking like a rock star.  Went home & relaxed for about a 1/2-hour, then changed clothes and headed out on a run with, you guessed it, my trusty companion.  I wanted to get in my Thursday Night 4.37-mile run, but didn't want to go to the Lake.  It's too hot, and with the new route that's been put in place due to construction on the bridge out there, there's just not enough shade for either Coty or myself.  So we just headed out from the house and hit the Trail.  Coty calmed down quickly in the heat and after about a mile she happily pulled in behind me and even without her leash she stuck pretty much by my side or about 5 feet behind.

By the second water stop, about 2.2 miles, where we would turn around, she was insisting on a break.
She took a drink from the doggie fountain and then plopped down in the shade and wasn't going anywhere.

I sat down with her and we took five.  What the hell, it's hot out here.

So we got going again and headed home.  Now, for the little thing:  about 1/2-mile from home, I'm getting tired - which is really more mental than physical.  [Side note:  There's a point during every run that I have to make sure Coty's back on her leash, because she can get away with murder... I'm too mentally distracted by running and breathing that I can't properly focus on her and make sure she doesn't chase the wrong rabbit or head into the street or roll in the nastiest thing she can get her face on... etc.  This is also the point in any run when, if I think about it, I get really nervous about the possibility of injury.  Everyone knows what a klutz I can be when I'm not paying attention.]

Really, I'm getting to the little thing, I swear.

So about a 1/2-mile from home, I felt something under my shoe - a rock, maybe a twig, I don't know, maybe it was just some uneven concrete on the sidewalk - and I could feel my right leg begin to slide forward.  I had visions of an ugly fall, bloodied knees (AGAIN!) and potential broken bones.  But I shifted my weight, adjusted my stride and the angle my torso was leaning, and recovered with nary a missed step.

I'm telling you now, this would NOT have ended so well a year ago.  In fact, I think I have photos of the last time something like this happened.


I wasn't even running that day:  just taking a nice leisurely walk with my hubby and my dog, and less than TWENTY FEET from home, I tripped on a bad bit of sidewalk and completely lost my shit.  I mean, how ridiculous is that???

Okay, I looked it up.  The pics are from July 2010.

So today, I am appreciating my ability to avoid a potential spill: STRONGER legs, FASTER recovery, BETTER core strength.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mid-Week Recap

I didn't have a terrifically "good" week last week in terms of eating well, but I did get some great runs in so I didn't know quite what to expect for Sunday's weigh-in.  It went surpassingly well - down 3.2 pounds (bit of a correction from a gain the week before), which brings me to a grand total of 20 - TWENTY - pounds lost since I started tracking my food and exercise last October!!  I have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I received after sharing the news on Facebook.  I have enjoyed reviewing the weight-loss graph on my LoseIt! home page.  It reminds me that no matter how slowly, the extra weight has been coming off.

I set a new mini-goal on LoseIt! - goal is for BMI under 30, and only need to drop another 5 pounds to get there.  My "recommended" weight is still 39 pounds away so it's a long road ahead but I'll keep on trucking.  

This week, my new running group started up.  The LRC has a summer running program for women only.  It's designed for runners of any level, training for a 5K distance.  It is appropriately named the HEAT WAVE.  And it was very hot but we had a nice breeze and that time of day there's plenty of shade on the Trail.  I do need to be training for a longer distance, since I have a 5-miler just two weeks away, and a 10K at the end of September to keep in mind, but I like running with a group once day a week, it's a nice change, and since they meet and run on the Trail, I can bring my trusty partner Coty.  The TNAM group is still going, out at the Lake, so this week and next, I have two group runs. 

Coty's ALWAYS ready for a run.

I should probably get back to the gym sometime soon.  It's been more than a week since I got any strength training in... Will definitely report back when I fit that into my schedule!

That's about it for me... this week is flying by and I'd better hit the hay pretty quick here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Race Recap: Steamboat Classic 2012

Today's race went fairly well.  It was the Steamboat Classic 2012 in Peoria.  Here's the breakdown.

I have been running the TNAM route as often as possible - about once a week, 4.37 mile route - as my training for this 4-mile race, so I felt pretty well-prepared, but haven't been running as often as I would have liked.  It may have been a mistake to run 4.37 yesterday morning, but I just couldn't help myself:  I had the day off work and it was great to get out there on Constitution Trail in the morning with my dog!  We took it pretty easy, did plenty of walking and didn't push too hard, knowing I was racing this morning.

I laid out all my gear last night, got up at 4:45am, hit the showers, dressed & headed out the door.  I planned to get coffee at the gas station on my way out of town but had to wait several minutes as they weren't open yet when I arrived!  It was me and the 5 old men who clearly gather there each morning for their coffee klatch, waiting for them to unlock the joint.  Got the coffee but in my caffeine-deprived state, I forgot to put any sweetener in it (guess it's been quite a while since I hit up Casey's for my morning joe) - turns out it wasn't half bad.  Maybe I can start reducing the amount of artificial sweetener I use each day??

Hit the road about 5:35 headed for Peoria (about 40 miles), feeling behind-schedule but knowing the race doesn't start till 7am and my race bib / chip / packet had already been picked up by my good friend and former boss, Joe.  I made great time - ate most of my PowerBar on the way so my stomach wasn't empty, parked the car and texted Joe right about 6:10am. (It was already over 70 degrees and fairly humid.)  Joe and I failed to properly designate where we were meeting so that he could give me my bib and timing chip, so a bit of confusion followed.  I did get a good stretch and warm-up walk in while waiting for him to meet up, but ended up making a last-minute rush to find him (amid approximately 5,000 people) and get my gear on with just a couple of minutes to go before the starting gun!

Last-minute snafu aside, I found the group of 11-12 minute pacers and headed out.  I felt like I was stuck behind a whole bunch of really slow runners, might have joined the group too far behind the starting line... but then I got to the first mile-marker and my phone (MapMyRun app) announced my first mile was at a pace of 10:40!!!

I knew I was in deep trouble.  I started out WAY too fast.  Tried to get my pace under control at that point, but it was tough because the runners never really spread out the way they normally do:  usually, within the first mile, especially if you're relatively slow like me, the pack spreads out quickly and you can find a nice space where you're not jockeying for position and cutting through / around groups all the time.  This didn't really ever happen with today's race... it got better after about the 2-mile mark, but not until the last 800-1000 meters did it really clear up. 

There was also the issue of water-stops (or in this case, the lack thereof).  When I ran this race two years ago, there was a stop with water and Gatorade just before the 2-mile mark.  My habit of running with a bottle of water in hand saved my bacon today for sure.  In the heat today, even with my bottle (which was getting warm and also a bit salty from all the sweat on my lips as I took a sip every few minutes), I was looking for the water stop, hoping for a few ounces of Gatorade to keep me going.  NOPE!  The first water-stop was just before the THREE-mile marker today, and then another was set up at about 3.5-miles.  (I'm still pondering what the hell was the point of that.)  And, you guessed it, no Gatorade.  Just a couple of really nice families, filling pitchers from their front-yard garden hose!

At this point in the race, having started out way too fast, I was flagging.  My walking breaks were getting longer, and my running intervals were getting shorter.  I was really pushing, using all my willpower, to run for just 3-4 minutes at a stretch. If I remember correctly, my phone told me I was at 23 or 24 minutes at mile 2 (still not bad for me, but I was really feeling spent already), and about 37-38 at mile 3.  I was getting slower.

One really great thing about Steamboat is the route for the 4-mile run.  It's essentially an out-and-back route, on major roads near downtown Peoria, with a (mostly) gradual uphill terrain for the first two miles, and mostly flat or downhill heading back.  I pushed on and found a little energy once I saw the "800M to go" sign.  Not coincidentally, I think that was about when the leaders in the 15K race began to pass us.  Then "400M to go" and finally rounded the corner for the final straightaway to the Finish Line and I REALLY found the Afterburners!  For better or worse, I did finish strong.

Steamboat had a kind of disorganized post-race party.  I had trouble finding water, and food, but they DID have plenty.  In fact I wished they'd had little grocery bags or something to carry things in, because I grabbed a couple of granola bars, a banana (only at a little of that, was NOT what my body wanted today), and a nectarine, plus a can of Diet Pepsi and an ice-cold bottle of water.  Did you catch that word, "nectarine"??  I say this is the best damn post-race party anywhere, I've never seen nectarines after a race, and wow, do I LOVE me some nectarines!!  What a great surprise!  I went back for a couple more after I rested a bit.

I went and found Joe, with his brother, his son, and two of their friends.  We compared notes and decided to head back to the food/ water area and get our free beer.  There really is nothing quite as tasty as a Bud Light at 8:30am after a hard-run race in the heat!!

I didn't take any "Before" picture today, and normally don't take "After" pics, but when I met up with Joe, and the others they insisted on taking several.  I haven't seen them yet but I'm certain I look positively abominable!  If they are at all presentable, I will consider posting one (but don't hold your breath).

OK now for the stats:  I've run this race only once before, and two years ago at that.  Time to beat today was 52:45.  I haven't checked online yet for my official time.  I was concentrating so hard on sprinting to the Finish Line that I failed to check the Big Clock, but my phone said I ran today in just under 54 minutes.  This would be disappointing, except the phone also says (based on GPS) that I ran nearly 4.5 miles! (Not the 4.0 that I was racing...)

So, drum-roll, please...  (I'm sure you'll wait patiently while I go check the web site.)

OH SONOFABITCH!  The results haven't yet been posted, though the race has been over for 3+ hours!!  Guess you'll have to wait along with me!