Friday, March 29, 2013

SFB is now on Facebook!

Last night I decided I'd like to turn my personal Facebook page, well, back into a Personal Facebook page!

To that end, I set up a Stronger, Faster, Better Facebook page!  This is where I'll post links to great articles that I read, funny / insightful / inspirational pictures, messages, memes, etc... and notify whenever I post a new entry here on the blog.

Feel free to "Like" my Facebook page here:  Stronger, Faster, Better

Hope this Friday is indeed a Good Friday for you and yours... I'm going to a concert tonight with friends (to see a band I've ALWAYS wanted to see perform!!!) so I'm expecting GREAT things for this Good Friday.

Happy Easter... see you on the flip-side!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How did you learn you love running?

Lately I find myself in a constant state of amazement at what my body is capable of. 

When I first started running, after every 5k race I participated in, even if I did a significant amount of walking in order to finish, I was barely able to walk the next day, let alone go out and get some more exercise.  Now, I think of 5k's like "another training run" - one I will really push myself on.  I can even go for another 3-mile run/walk the afternoon of a race, without experiencing any muscle soreness the next day.  The day after a race, I'm ready for another run, (preferably this time with my dog).

I'm reminded of this today because my Wednesday night Ride the Wave group had our first "Hill Workout" last night.  (I did take the dog - she was ecstatic - it was her second walk of the day!)  I was expecting we would pick a big hill and then run up and down it a bunch of times, but I was mistaken.  We ran as a group, 4 1/2 miles in a figure-eight loop on the streets of a hilly neighborhood.  It wasn't as grueling as what I expected, but it was certainly a really tough workout.  We earned it last night.  (What did we earn?  Well, I guess that's up to each of us.)  And this morning, I marvel at how my legs aren't even sore

I was talking with someone during the run last night (and last week too, I think... hmmm, I must talk about this a lot.) about how slow my weight loss has been over the past 18 months.  Running helps me stay focused and committed despite the slow progress.  I focus on the running because that's where I can always see improvement. It's not always on the scale. It's not always on my ass or in the way my clothes fit. But it's right there on the clock.  If I work hard and stay consistent, it'll be there every damn week.

Shoot I think I just found myself a motto. Or at least an answer to that age-old question:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two Great Workouts

I have two workout rundowns for you today - both a bit overdue.

Last week's group run was a Speed Workout - an entirely new experience!  First, a weather report, because it's Illinois, so the weather is ALWAYS a factor.  Yeah, it was FREEZING, and WINDY!  Temps were in the 20s, I'm not sure the exact number, but it was freakin' miserable out there!  But sunny... it was the first workout after the time change, so that was a big plus.

We met at a local high school track, and once we finished bitching about the cold, we got started just a quickly as possible.  Here's the plan we followed:

  • 1-mile easy jog to warm up
  • 400m (once around the track) FAST, 400m recovery jog - do this 4 times
  • 200m recovery walk/ jog
  • 200m FASTER (you're only going half-way around the track, MOVE IT!), 200m recovery jog (try really hard not to walk now... but that's tough)
  • Cool down walk / slight jog, 800m.

It was really great - I think if not for the cold I might have actually enjoyed it!  Total mileage was about 4 miles, and we were at it for about an hour.  Hard to tell about the time; I think I stopped and forgot to restart my Garmin during one of the intervals.  The best part is that it was a true "group run".  Normally, we in the "Relaxed Runners" group have such disparate paces that we spread out quite a bit during our weekly runs, end up running in even smaller groups - sets of 2 or 3, or on my own - which is fine, I still get the motivation and accountability of being with the group, and I enjoy running on my own as much as anything, but with this set schedule, we stuck in a tighter unit.  I got to know several of the other women a bit better.  It's funny how the conversation flows during the "recovery" intervals - we were working hard, getting tired, and at least for myself, getting honest.  I find myself talking about things I don't normally think about, much less talk about.  Funny how everything is so interconnected.  Diet, fitness, health - it's all mental, it's all physical, it's all the same.  I'm turning into a freakin' Zen runner?

Okay, whatevs... I have another run I want to share, and this one has pictures!

There was a big snowstorm coming this weekend, scheduled to start Saturday night, so I planned my long run for Saturday.  (Good thing, too, since the storm was worse than I expected - good god, we got over 8 inches!  Started Saturday night as planned, didn't stop until Monday morning!)  But Saturday.  Saturday was perfect.  I took Coty to the vet for her checkup, then out for a run to work off her anxiety.  It was warmish - in the 40s, no wind, sunny skies.  Cool enough to run comfortably without a ton of gear and layers on!

I wanted to do between 7.5 and 8 miles, so we headed out from the house and then north to the very end of the trail, and then a bit further, until my Garmin beeped 4 miles.  I was so glad I remembered to bring my phone - I took some pics along the way!  Right at the start, Coty had a little run-in with a cat.

"Wait!  Come back!"
I wasn't quite quick enough on the draw with my phone, but it was pretty entertaining! This was during our warm-up walk anyway, not an interruption.  Once that little distraction was past, it was time to start running. My goal for the day was to run by and large the entire route, with a short break every two miles.  Due to various factors, some dog-related stops, ran into a couple of people I knew, etc., it ended up more like a short break every mile.  The only two miles I ran solid were #s 5 and 6, but man, it was a great time, I don't regret that one bit.

Here are some photos I took along the way:

Before - all keyed up!

Coty, before her Running Rehab.

We came across some geese who landed just beside the trail where we were running.  Coty couldn't resist!

The End of the Road (but we went just a bit farther)

Looking to the north-east at the turn-around point.

The view south-west from the turn-around point.

Looking back the way we came.

The road ahead, at the turn-around point.


Coty, half-way through!

This one is my favorite!

We've done this before.  Back in August, when I failed to blog for a couple of months, I went on this same route twice.  Once to see if I could go 8 miles (it's still the longest long run I've ever done), and again because I didn't have a camera the first time.  But I never did write about it, and I always wanted to.  Now I have.

Have a good week - I intend to.  After two great workouts like these, what could go wrong?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Where I've Been, Part 1

Image courtesy of anankkml /
Last week, I said "over the next few days or so... " I will be reflecting on my previous excursions on the path to a healthy body.  Knowing my proclivity toward procrastination, perhaps it would have been prudent to say "over the next few weeks..."  In any case, this is my version of getting started.

I want to start by reiterating that this blog is something I do for my own benefit.  As motivating as it is to think that others sometimes read it, that there are those who appreciate these writings, who get some benefit from reading it (the same way that I get something out of reading other blogs) - whether it's inspiration, motivation, ideas, tools, tricks for staying on track, recipes, workout tips, or just the comfort of a shared experience - As much as that idea motivates me (after all, i could be writing all this stuff in a private diary rather than posting it online for the world to see), at the end of the day, the blog is for my own benefit.

With that said, I don't feel the need to go into ancient history in trying to figure out all this stuff.  I didn't have a traumatic childhood experience that haunts me as an adult and needs exploring, and that is NOT what this is about.  (To steal a phrase from a blogger I read frequently:  "This is not that blog.")  Don't get me wrong, I had my share of painful and distressing experiences as a child and teen - some may even argue more than my share - but what's there is ancient history.  I'm a well-adjusted adult, pushing 40, and if I did still have lingering childhood issues, I doubt if a blog post would be the best forum to work it out!

So I'll start with reflecting on who, what, and where I was in early 2001.

You know, tomorrow.  
In the meantime, here's a pic from around that time:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 St. Patrick's Day 5k Race Recap

Found on Facebook, posted by - check her out!

Another awesome run in the books for 2013.  You know I've had this great optimistic feeling that this year's racing season is going to be full of great things, right?  Well, so far, so good.  The weather was chilly - about 30 degrees - but not too breezy.  Jason and i drove over together - he was working the finish-line / water stop - and hung out at the VFW for a while, mingling with other racers before the start.  When it was time for him to go help set up the water stop, I took about 10 minutes to jog and warm up.  It was cold enough to wear my windbreaker, but I wasn't sure if I would still want it once I was on my way.  I knew I'd need the gloves for most of the run, but the jacket... I was pretty cold.  I decided to keep it.

Here's a pic from before the race:  It's not an awesome pic of me, and you can't see the green in my tights! 

And off we went!  I remembered how much jostling I had to do at the start of the last race and tried to set up a little closer to the middle of the pack today.  It's crowded up in there!  Still had a lot of trouble in the first few minutes making sure I did trip over anyone's feet in front of me, but eventually I found my spot and settled into my pace.  I was wearing my Garmin (of course) and tried to just push without focusing too much on the watch, just running by feel, trying to ensure I felt like I was running a hard, but at a pace I could maintain for the full 3 miles.  It's tricky, because with all the adrenaline I don't want to go out too fast, but I don't want to cheat myself by pacing too conservatively either.  

At about the 1-mile mark, I couldn't take it anymore and took my windbreaker off, wrapped it clumsily around my waist.  I should have known better!  I was all warmed up and too hot!  Kept the gloves though!  (Actually, I ditched those before I hit the 2-mile marker...)  I glanced at my watch periodically to check my current pace and focused on keeping it below 11:30.  I did catch it occasionally a little below 10:00 (but also a couple times over 12:00, so who knows?)  On the home stretch, once you get to where you have about a half-mile to go, it's a straight, flat shot and you can see the finish line the whole way, so I concentrated, refocused, and kept repeating my new mantra:  my world, my record, my pace.  As soon as the Garmin chimed at the 3-mile mark, I ripped the jacket off my waist, threw it to the side of the road and BOLTED just as fast as my body would go.  

I could see the timer and groaned aloud as I watched it go from 34:59 to 35:00 and on as I approached in the last 10 seconds or so!!  ACK!  I really thought this might be the day I beat that 35-minute goal.  

I stopped my watch right as I crossed the finish line, didn't even look, I was just out of breath and looking for some water (and my husband!).  When I found them, I looked. 

Guess what?  All that jostling at the beginning of the race?  Yup, I crossed the start line about 30-40 seconds after the gun went off, so my time:


And I'm so happy that Jason was there with me today - he was so supportive and proud of me.  I couldn't speak, I was still so out of breath when I got to him - he asked "How did you do?" and I just showed him my watch - he knew just what it meant and he was SO SUPPORTIVE and PROUD of me!!  "You did it honey!!  You are so awesome!"  Best.  Moment.  Ever.

So here are some stats for you, for comparison:
Last year (the weather was crazy hot at this race last year, and you can see that reflected here):  I came in 56th in my age group, out of 62, # 627 out of a total of 657.  My time was a whopping 41:31, average pace 13:24 per mile.  That was about 30 seconds slower than the Miller Park race two weeks earlier.
Today's results:  for my age group, I came in 58th out of 77, and 567 overall of 692.  Race time 34:31, for an average pace 11:08

Here's my Garmin stats for the run:  Check out how consistent those times are for each mile!!  I didn't get negative splits, but damn, those are some solid times.

Full Garmin stats here if you're interested
In review:  2013 Fitness Goals:  
1.  Hit the gym more often for weight training (in progress)
2.  More sit-ups and push-ups.  (Oops this has gone by the wayside... hmmmm)
3.  Complete a half-marathon (planned for September)

2013 Running Goals:
1.  Run 500 miles (in progress - 134 so far)
2.  5K time under 35:00
3.  10K time under 1:12:00
4.  Run a half-marathon (yes, this made it onto both lists...  I've been known to repeat myself.)
5.  Test mile under 10:00

Two down, which will fall next?

Oh yeah, and it's Sunday so I weighed in this morning... down 1/2 a pound.  Yeah, I'll take that.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It's Time

Jason reminded me tonight that, while I have been complaining about my slow weight-loss the past 6 months, he has noticed some very tangible and practical differences in my body, my behavior, etc. (No, I'm not about to tell you TMI about our sex life or anything... I'm talking practical stuff!!) Like he no longer lies awake at night - his words here - hearing me snore "like my great grandpa". Now, this made me laugh, but even I have noticed I sleep better these days and feel more rested when I get up in the mornings.

I had a GREAT run Wednesday night with my Ride the Wave group.  We ran 5 miles and the only little break we had was a short (maybe 1 minute or so) walk at the half-way point.  How long did it take, you ask?  Well, I'll happily tell you we finished in exactly one hour.  (Okay, not exactly one hour.  It was 1:00:24.)  Great pace for a relaxed run with the girls.

Jason wasn't feeling very well Thursday, so I skipped my planned gym workout and stayed home to make dinner and pamper him a little.  It's our anniversary this weekend, so I worked a half-day and spent the afternoon doing some housekeeping so we could relax over the weekend in a clean house.  The weather was absolutely beautiful so I took my Little Running Buddy out for a run around 4pm.  We did an easy, relaxed 3 miles or so.  I didn't time it or anything, and I let Coty determine our pace, so we spent a lot of time walking and sniffing things, ran maybe half of the distance... I was just really enjoying being out there without a coat, wearing ONLY ONE SHIRT, and capri running pants!

On the run I got to thinking about:

  1. how I'm really not crazy about the phrase "my weight loss journey" - it's so cliche and reminds me of all those "self-help" books that I hate - but there's no other appropriate term.
  2. when did all this start?  I mean, I've been working to lose weight since October 2011 - about 18 months ago - but that's just this time around.  Before that, I lost about 30 lbs with WWonline in... I think 2008, and before that, I lost a bunch of weight (can't remember what my starting weight was) in the two years running up to my wedding in 2004.
  3. what did I get right in each of those attempts?  What did I get wrong?  why did those attempts ultimately fail, in that I gained all of the weight back (and probably a bit more)?

I think it's time I spent some energy reflecting on these questions and writing about that history.  I suppose I knew when I started blogging that I'd get to this eventually, but I avoided it.  I didn't want to write some sad-sack BS whiny cliche about how "I've struggled with my weight my whole life... it all started when... " Blah-blah-blah.  That is SO not me.  HOWEVER, I am a big believer in understanding where I came from to help direct where I'm going, and I know there are great lessons to learn from the successes I had, and even bigger lessons to learn from why I ultimately failed to achieve a lifetime weight loss that I could maintain.

So over the next few days or so, I'm going to do just that.  I'm hoping I can find some clues in the process to help me break out of the stubborn plateau I've been on for the past 6 months.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This I Believe

Great little ditty I read on Monday - and a terrific start to my week, I must say!  The following was posted on the Run Junkees Facebook page (if you haven't "Liked" them, I highly recommend it - great inspirational posts every day, from all sorts of perspectives!):

Met a fellow runner named Chet over the weekend. He was an old school marathoner, completing his first in 1987. He shared a story which inspired this pic.

While running a marathon Chet happened along side a fellow runner who was best described as short and stout. Chet engaged the runner in a brief conversation and said "How's it going?" The runner confidently said "Great! I'm running at world record pace". Chet inquisitively replied "World record pace, huh?" The runner answered "Yep. My world. My record. My pace."  
This REALLY got me thinking, and it's been stuck in my head ever since. What a great way to summarize my own view of what I'm working toward!  MY world.  MY record.  MY pace.
I love it so much I'll quote it again.

MY world. MY record. MY pace.

I put such stock in Ownership of this journey.  I am Responsible for what I eat, what I do with my body.  I'm a huge believer in Choice.  It's maybe the core belief I really hold true in my life.  I'm not a particularly spiritual or religious person, but I believe that in life and love, in so many things, You ARE the CHOICES You Make.  That may be why I love love love the quote attributed to Aristotle: "You are what you repeatedly do."

Photo credit:   bridget_willard  via photopin cc

Every day, I wake up and choose to be with my life partner, I choose to care for him and for myself, and for our son.  I choose to go to work with a positive attitude.  I choose to exercise (or not to).  I choose to work through problems (be they at work or at home or in my own crazy mixed-up mind) with an aim for SOLUTION, rather than spend my time and energy on simple complaints about "the way things are."  These things are my responsibility.  No one else is responsible for my actions.  I own them.  I choose




I could literally spend the entire day ranting and raving on this subject.  It's just that important to me.

It's also why I have a tendency to kick myself so hard when I screw up.  Screwing up is not something that happened to me.  It's something I did to myself.  I LET it happen (whatever it was).  I got distracted and lost sight of my goal.  I allowed myself to ___________.  I chose to eat a pint of ice cream.  I chose not to workout for a week (or a month, whatever).  I chose to walk instead of run.  I chose to eat fast-food breakfast every other morning and told myself I "didn't have time" to make something healthy before work. 

Yes, I make terrible choices now and then.  Sometimes I make terrible, unhealthy choices every day for months!  And sometimes, I make wonderful, healthy, life-affirming choices on a daily basis, with the occasional unhealthy choice mixed in for balance.

I'm learning to be gentler with myself when I screw up.  (Translation:  I am choosing to accept small failures and move forward, rather than choosing to dwell on them and allowing those small failures to accelerate and spiral into larger ones.)

So the way I see it, everything in life comes down to the choices I make every day.  Yes, some things are beyond my control.  Certainly!  We don't choose to have a sick family member or a death in the family.  I did not  choose to get laid off from a job I loved, where I got to work with people I really care about.  But we do choose how to respond to those major and minor tragedies.  (Of course nothing ever feels so minor at the time!)

We choose how to live.  How to go on. 
Will we breed bitterness, anger, sadness? 
Or will we breed joy?  Love?  Excitement? 
A sense of adventure? 

What are you choosing today?

Photo credit:  Photo Extremist via Photopin cc

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Random Thoughts and a Lunch Recap

I started writing this post on Monday, but got pulled away and didn't get back to it until today (Wednesday), so bear with me if I do a little time-shifting as we go along today...

I'm definitely feeling the effects of yesterday's long run today.  I have that Good muscle-soreness that tells me I worked hard yesterday, building strength and endurance train my body to do more the next time I head out.  I honestly have grown to love that feeling.  Makes me happy, knowing I've done good for me

I don't have a lot of interesting stuff to report so far this week on the exercise front.  I took a cue from my body and had a lovely 2-mile walk on Monday, basically a recovery day from the long run, and Tuesday I worked in our Out Of Town office, which is a 90-minute commute each way, so it was a long day with no exercise after work.

Food-wise, it's been another erratic week but I'm working to keep myself on track today.  That could have been a disaster today but think it worked out... here's what happened.  After getting up at 5:15am Tuesday, I was inexplicably AWAKE until after midnight, leading to oversleeping a bit this morning and a frenzied attempt to get out the door on time, which lead to packing a "lunch" which consisted only of random raw veggies (carrots & zucchini), about 2 tablespoons of french onion dip to go with them, an orange, and an apple.  Oh and the breakfast I grabbed was only half of a nomal breakfast... a single 130-calorie portion of yogurt!  I knew I'd have to get something more substantial if I was going to make it through the day. 

Lunch time rolled around and I headed out to run some errands.  I decided to stop in at this Super Gyros place around the corner.  I got a regular gyro, no sauce.  Now, I'm sure you've had these before - but I'm not sure what the bread is called... is it a pita?  is it Na'an bread?  Whatever, it's a cross between a pita and a tortilla, a small round of bready stuff, with a relatively large portion of meat - I think it's a combination of lamb and beef made into a sort of sausage - but the meat seems pretty lean.  No fries, no drink, no chips.  [Note to self:  should have taken a picture of it but you ate the damn thing so fast, there is now only an empty paper bag.]

I have no idea what the stats are on this thing, nutrient / calorie-wise, but it was delicious and now that I've had some time to digest it, I don't feel overly full, just satisfied.  I ate some of my raw veggies and about half of the dip with it.  I'm gonna guess it was in the neighborhood of a 600-700 calorie meal.

With all that said, I think I might be okay for my calories for the day, because I have a longish run planned for this evening:  5 mile Tempo Run with the Ride The Wave group.

So there's your mid-week update - happy Wednesday!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

No coincidence

Today has been a whirlwind!  The past week was a little rough on the old diet and exercise plan... a 12-hour workday on Monday (including lunch at *gasp!* Buffalo Wild Wings), good workout followed by pizza on Tuesday, group run Wednesday (and pretty clean eating all day - a win!), working out of town again on Thursday (let's just say there were cookies involved and not talk about it)...

But I was back to routine for the weekend - a terrific group run Saturday morning - the group raised over $1,000 for the local Child Protection Network!!  I had a bunch of housework to do and was afraid if I did a long run I'd be too tired to get to it, so I kept it short - 3.5 miles, about 40 minutes.  Spent the rest of the day doing laundry & various housekeeping.

Saturday night was the usual round of debauchery... er, I mean a fun night out!

And today, Sunday... Weigh In Day.  I was a little bit dreading it.  Anyone in their right mind would, considering the week I had.  So here's the damage:

I was down 0.8 pounds!  Believe you me, I must have checked it 6 times.  Put me at exactly 168.0 - my "mini-goal" weight set nearly six months ago!  So a goal achieved today!!

This puts my BMI at 28.8.  I set a new goal of 10 more pounds, which will put me at BMI of 27.  Let's hope this takes less than 6 months!

Here's what I have to say about all this:
a)  I set that last goal in late September, just before the busy budgeting season at my old job.
b)  That's about when I really found out just how much I didn't like that job.
c)  I lost a total of 2.4 pounds between then and the first day on the new job.
d)  Since starting the new job (which I'm loving), four weeks ago, I've lost 2.2 pounds.
Coincidence??  I think not.

On with my day:  since yesterday's run was shorter, I had a long run planned today.  I took Coty to the Lake and we did the normal 4.4-mile "lollipop" route, but extended it by running the "loop" portion twice.  It was raining, but not too bad.  Mostly sprinkling, but with occasional bouts of real rain.  It would rain really good for five minutes or so, and then pass us by and go back to sprinkling / light rain.  The weather was WARM (yes, 50 degrees definitely counts as "warm" for mid-March in Illinois).  There was still some snow on the ground in places, which created this really neat mist here and there that we got to run through.  I ended up running 6.75 miles in just about 1 hour, 24 minutes.  

I can't wait to see how I fare in the St. Patrick's Day 5k next Sunday.  I'm super excited about it - it's on a Sunday, Jason's day off, so he's going to volunteer at the finish line - I get to have my hubby waiting for me at the finish line, and we get to drink some green beer afterward!!  

February 2013 Goals & Challenge Update

It's about time for the February Miles Update!
Reminder in case you weren't paying attention at the first of the year:
My official goal for 2013 is to run, walk and / or bike 500 miles as quickly as possible.
The other Challenge items for this year are:

  1. Ultimate mileage goal is to run/ walk 500 miles (excluding bike miles).
  2. Complete my first half marathon race.
  3. 5K race time under 35 minutes.
  4. 10K race time under 1 hour 10 minutes.
  5. Test Mile time under 10 minutes. DONE
I ran this month's miles for:

Additional stats for this month and year-to-date:

Random facts for February:
One Trip to Lake Bloomington
One test mile
One test 5k = "unofficial" PR
Zero races
Three group runs
Six runs in snow / ice
One ice-related injury
Three workouts skipped due to work obligations
Six workouts either cancelled or cut short due to weather conditions.
Weight change for the month:  1.2 lbs.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Planking it

Random thought of the day: 
There are few things worse than a gym-bag full of frozen athletic wear.

This was my thought as I headed to the gym on Tuesday this week.  It was snowing (AGAIN!) and my gym bag had been in the trunk of the car all day!

Highlights of this week's Cross-Training:  20 minutes on the bike, interval training, level 5 (still hard but getting easier) = 5.5 miles, max heart-rate 150.  Weight training:  arms, shoulders, core.

Core work was where it got interesting.  Here is what the iPersonalTrainer had in mind this week:

Swiss Ball Plank Rotation - harder than it looks!  Three sets of this, 5 rotations in each direction.

Swiss Ball Plank - Feet on Bench - difficult to get in position; VERY difficult to STAY in position for 30 seconds... three times.

Jedi Mind Trick

After the MPZ race, I headed home knowing I still needed to walk the dog.  (Saddest dog EVER watching me leave in the morning in my running gear!)  With all the weather we've been getting lately, she's gotten a lot of "quickie" walks and I wanted to do right by my little running buddy, so I decided she deserved a good 3-mile excursion.  So basically, I went and did another 5k.  This one was MUCH slower, took it really easy, about 45 minutes and plenty of walking.  We both had a grand ole time.

Saturday night was the usual... drinks with friends and a burger basket at our local watering hole.  Woke up entirely too early on Sunday for no good reason.  Jason was awake too, so after my weigh-in...  Ah, yes, the Weigh-In!  Down 1.8 lbs this week!  This puts me at a BMI of 29.0 and less than 1 lb from my next "mini-goal."  The current goal was just 6 lbs, set on September 22 - Man, this one has been SLOW coming.  But slow loss beats steady gain EVERY damn time, right??

Anyway, after the weigh-in we decided to go out to breakfast and do some shopping.  I broke my cardinal rule & took off without doing anything with my hair or makeup... so of course we ran into my new boss at TJ Maxx!  Never, never, ever leave the house on Sunday without makeup!

Once we decided we'd had enough running around, it was time for my workout.  I drove Coty to the park & hopped on the Trail for another 3-4 miler.  My legs felt really heavy.  I really left it all on the course Saturday and my shit was t-i-r-e-d!!  But instead of calling it a tough day and walking it, I used a little trick I learned in Catch The Wave... Walk 5 minutes to warm up, then run 2 minutes.  Walk 1, run 3.  Walk 1, run 4... etc.  Just keep upping the running minutes in each round, and by the time you're up to an 8-minute running interval, you've gone 3.5 miles!  It's the old "shut up, you can run for another 4 minutes... it's only 4 more minutes!" trick!!

Yes, it's my own personal Jedi Mind Trick.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2013 MPZ Stampede

Saturday morning it was (once again) snowing.  I became momentarily fascinated with my footprints on the driveway and took this photo... then realized it was really similar to the logo for the Miller Park Zoo Stampede, for which I was preparing to head out and run!

I packed up my pre-race PowerBar, a big bottle of water, and my coffee, and bribed my dear husband to take some quick pics before he headed off to work at 7:30am...

Of course Coty got in on the action!
The race didn't start until 10am but I had read somewhere (or maybe I read it wrong...) that packet pickup would be ending at 8:30, so I got there shortly after 8am... really early for a 10am start, but I sure had plenty of time to get ready!  I got my bib & shirt, then went back to the car to warm up and finish my coffee. When I came back in, I found my friend Peg and chatted with her for a bit.  About 9:30 we decided to walk for a while and get warmed up.  We ended up at the start line with still about 15 minutes to go, so we used that as a photo op (see below for "before" and "after" - we had a similar photo op last year!) and then I headed off on my own to jog for about 10 minutes and get loose.

Peg & me, last year's MPZ 5k.

Peg & me, one year later!
 It was preeeety cold, but 10 minutes of jogging did the trick.  My legs felt loose and strong, my bruised thigh muscle wasn't giving me any guff, and me knees were good, too!

I kept looking around for my friend Cheryl but once again I knew she was there and never saw her.  I swear that girl wears an Invisibility Cloak at races!!

Finally, at the appointed time, the gun went off!  I had lined up way at the back of the pack, which was a bit of a misstep, as I had to do a lot of jockeying for position with other runners / trying to pass people during the first 5 minutes.  Annoying, but I wouldn't say it slowed me down much.   That may have even been a good thing, since on race days I have to guard against going out too fast.

Mile 1 felt great... I was wearing my iPod and it was just 3 songs (better known as 11:04)
Mile 2, still going strong, didn't even have an urge to slow down or take a walk break.  Now that I KNOW I can run over 3 miles without a break, I certainly didn't want to take one during a race...  A little slower but still solid:  11:44
Mile 3... hit a couple more rolling hills, they weren't bad, not really, but in Mile 3, a lengthy but slight incline still feels like an obstacle.  Near the end, on the last of those small hills, my body (my mind?) (something) wanted to take a walk break.  The guy running next to me at that point may have thought I was losing my mind, because I just suddenly started speaking to myself.  Yelling, perhaps.  Nah, just firmly talking myself through that moment of doubt.  It went a little something like this:  "No.  Nope.  No way.  Why the hell would you want to do that now?  You're almost done and you know DAMN WELL you can do this.  You don't need a break.  Shut the hell up and pump those legs!  You're strong, you're fast, you're light as air.  Move your ass!"

So I got through that, no walking. With about a hundred yards to go, I pulled out all the stops and did a dead sprint to the finish line, where my friends Meg and Robyn were working as volunteers and cheering everyone on!

We've been over this:  ultimate goal for the year is a 35:00 minute 5k.  My official personal best was 37:18 last October. I have an "unofficial" best from a few weeks ago of 36:12.

Official results for the race can be found here.  I was # 237 overall out of 323 participants.  The race was not chip-timed, so I crossed the finish line 10 to 15 seconds after the official clock was started.  My official time was 36:06 - a record on its own, but I'm sticking with my Garmin time, which I started as I passed that start line.
Can I make this photo any larger??  No, it turns out I can't.  We'll just have to live with it this size.  :-)

Hell yeah, 35:49!!

Needless to say, I'm very happy with the results!
I'm really proud of myself and that 35:00 goal is SO within reach this year!

Here's the Garmin chart of distance, speed & elevation.
Full Garmin stats here if you're interested.
Check out that sprint speed at the very end!  Garmin "says" I hit better than 7-minute mile pace (for a second, at least!)

For comparison (and because I'm a bit of a stat-nut) here is some data about my performance in last year's MPZ Stampede:  #303 of 326 (this year #237 of 323!!), official time was 41:07.  (Yes, I actually had to re-check that - it was over 41 minutes, just one year ago!), # 27 in my age group, pace over 13 minutes per mile.  This year I'm #17 in my age group, pace just under 11:40 per mile.

I have some more to tell you about the day, and the rest of the weekend... but it's bedtime again, so let's see if I can get another post together tomorrow night.

Monday, March 4, 2013

This is Not A Race Recap

I'm so, so, SO tired today.  Had a fantastic race on Saturday and can't wait to write a race recap... but can't write it tonight, I'm way too tired.  After that great race experience on Saturday, went out with The Hubs Saturday night and had a lot of fun... but woke up for no good reason Sunday morning at 7am.  Ugh.  Felt like I got no sleep!  Jason was in the same boat, so we headed out to breakfast and ran some errands.  (Picked up some new running clothes, of course... what else??)

Got to bed around 11pm, not sure how I managed to stay up that late!  I was headed to the Danville office this morning so needed to get up by 5:15am, so I wasn't going to get a full night's rest anyway.  And then the phone rang.  At 3am. A minor emergency, but an emergency nonetheless.  The Hubs got The Teenager & headed out to save the day for our friend in need.  I tossed & turned for an hour till they returned, then passed out cold.  That is, until the alarm went off.  And out the door I went.

Had a good day at work today, but MAN... I'm tired.  So the race recap will have to wait until tomorrow.

Night, all.