A little housekeeping

I am thrilled anytime I get one of those little emails saying “You have a new follower on your running blog”.
Seriously.
I appreciate the people I know ‘live and in person’ following me here.  You’re my cheerleaders!
I get a huge kick out of those total stranger follows.  I am resonating with people who know nothing more about me than the fact that I am a runner.

This past week I got an email telling me that “Someone” is following my blog.
No email address.
No other identifying information.
And frankly, that has me a little wary.
I wouldn’t mind knowing exactly who you really are.  You don’t have to personally identify yourself in a comment here; however, please message me and let me know who you are so I know you’re not some crazy stalker.  Message me here, on Facebook, or email me please.
Until I know that, I’ll be playing my “where I’m running/training” and “races I’m doing” hand a little closer to the vest.
Hope you understand that this is a personal security/safety thing for me and nothing more.

In other actually-running-related news we’re doing this week’s 8 mile training run tomorrow rather than today.  It is c-o-l-d and majorly windy this morning and we have a ton of other things going on the rest of the day – not the least of which is a planning meeting for the 5K I’m Race Director of – so we decided to make this morning’s 8 miler tomorrow afternoon’s 8 miler.
As I said on Facebook: Rest assured – eight miles will be run this weekend!  By us!

Five Treadmill Miles

I have officially reached the point that treadmill runs bore me.  However, given the fact that it’s completely dark on either end of our work days here treadmill runs are our best option for training runs through the week.

Saturday we extend our long runs to eight miles.
I reminded myself of this – repeatedly – as I approached the four mile mark of tonight’s run and wanted to start ‘backing off’ pace and overall effort-wise.  And I didn’t.  In fact the first quarter of that last mile I increased my pace by 3/10ths of a mile per hour.  (5.2 – to 5.5 mph)  I’m pretty pleased with that.

For now I am wiped out and ready for bed!  But I wanted to post here.

And marvel for a minute that I have become one of those runners who says “Treadmill runs are boring!”  That kinda blows my mind a little.

Monday evening Short Run

Tonight’s run was a 30 minutes at a comfortable pace run.  The part of me that was wore slap out after Saturday’s 6 miles (okay, I confess 5.95 miles) was grateful for this ‘break’ run.
As was the part of me that didn’t have her compression shorts because I didn’t pack my gym bag last night.
As was the part of me where my no-longer-properly-fitting running bra rubs a raw spot.

The one cool moment was being part of an actual conversation with actual athletes in the women’s locker room while I was changing from work clothes into workout clothes.  These   girls were all noticeably younger than me and in n-o-t-i-c-e-a-b-l-y better shape than me.  But when I added my $0.02 about having to wait for a treadmill and followed that with “My husband and I are training for our first half-marathon” instead of being met with looks of skepticism I was offered congratulations and wishes for good luck and a great run.

I had a conversation with athletes and rather than being condescended to or blown off, I was acknowledged and respected for my efforts.
That was huge for me.  Even if tonight’s run wasn’t all that long.

DOUBLE The Distance!

Today we ran six miles.
Six.
Miles!

Six months ago I couldn’t run one mile.
Four months ago I could run most of three miles.
Until six weeks ago a 5k – 3.1 miles – was the furthest I had ever run in my life.
Today I came within a quarter mile of doubling that number.

Eight weeks from tomorrow my husband and I are running in our respective and collective first Half-Marathon.  After driving the course last Sunday we decided to change the route of our Saturday training runs to incorporate the beginning and end of the Half’s course.  Today we ran the first three and last three miles.

This is the course we ran.
THIS is the elevations.
That steepest elevation spans 1.5 miles.
That is a LONG 1.5 miles.
And we ran the entire last – steepest – half mile of it!

I wanted to quit.
I didn’t.

I wanted to stop running and walk.
I didn’t.

That last short, steep elevation kicked my butt, so I ended up walking half of it.But the last 10th of a mile?  I kicked it into high gear and finished strong!  Rich says that will happen most races as soon as I see the Finish Line.

I hope so.
That was a great feeling!

Pickin’ it up – Switchin’ it up

Our Half-Marathon training has turned a corner and is increasing in mileage. Instead of two  half-hour easy runs through the week and a long run on Saturday, we’re now up to one half-hour easy run, one endurance run, and increasing long runs on Saturdays.

In order to have time to run AND get to our day jobs we’ve had to switch from running early (5 am) to running after work. While I completely understand the necessity of having more time for longer runs, and I definitely slept great last night after running four miles, I have to admit I have missed starting my day with that head-clearing run and the energy that follows me all day long.

Saturday we run six miles. I’ve never even walked six miles all at once just for the sake of doing it. I find myself excited about, looking forward to, picturing the rounte in my mind, and the thought of adding distance every week. That’s the part I find myself most terr-excit-ified about!
This is NOT me people! Well not the me I was before running.

I’ve switched blog templates here in order to have a larger, more legible font; however I need to get on the external drive where my background and banner images are stored. I’ll do that this weekend. I know, my vast following of readers all missed seeing my running shoes every time you came here. Apologies.

I had a conversation with a co-worker, actually we’ve had the conversation twice, about the whole concept of “goal weights”. Here’s the thing (I say that a lot): I honestly don’t know what my goal weight is right now.
I know what I’ve weighed when I starved myself.
I know what I’ve weighed when I abused diet pills and laxatives.
I know what I’ve weighed when I was over-exercising.
I know what I’ve weighed when I was ‘fighting my weight’ to make someone else happy.
What I don’t know is what I weigh when I am eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly and resonably. (Although there are those whose idea of “reasonable exercise” has nothing to do with half-marathon training/conditioning…)
And that’s the part of this whole little adventure that makes it both exciting and terrifying all in the same moment.

For the first time ever in my life (I’ll be 47 in a month and two days) I am appreciating my body, nurturing my body, treating my body with care, and honestly getting to know my body. What it needs, what it is capable of (a lot more than I gave it credit for), and in learning those things I am going to find out what a truly healthy weight is for me.

My biggest struggle is going to be peeling myself away from “A Number” on the scale. I’m already seeing that despite what seems to be a ‘stuck’ scale my clothes are fitting looser and I feel better all around. The running is getting easier and I am able to go further before I start feeling the fatigue and have to push myself to keep going. And so that’s what I’m learning to use as my barometers.

No, I’m not going to “pitch the scale” there is a certain satisfaction in knowing “That Number”, I just have to learn not to get discouraged when it isn’t exactly what I have in mind as being what it “should be”.

So while my running didn’t necessarily start out as a weight loss thing – although I was hoping for that ‘happy accident’ along the way – it is reframing weight and health for me.

Saturday’s Run: 5 miles!

Saturday we increased our run to five miles!

I felt good the first couple miles, felt GREAT in the third mile, and found out that The Wall exists right around 4.75 miles.  It wasn’t time for a walk interval, but I had to walk a few steps.  My legs felt like lead and my lungs were just done.  But I finished running.

Sunday after church we drove the race route for the half marathon we’re doing in March.

Ho. Ly. Cow!!

First: Thirteen miles is a really long way!

Second: Who ENDS a race with a hill!  An UP hill at that?!

I was more than a little freaked out and intimidated by the time we finished our little driving preview.  Thirteen miles is a long way to run!

The running trail we’ve been using for our Saturday outdoor runs is pretty much hill free.  The course for the half-marathon is notsomuch hill free.  This could be a problem.

So we’ve decided for next Saturday’s six mile run we’re going to modify the course basically running the first and last three miles.  And every Saturday thereafter we’ll expand that route by a mile.

I’m already looking forward to being able to do longer ‘short runs’ after we’ve completed this first Half in March.  And that statement alone is proof positive of the power of running to change a person.  Not “a person’s life”.  A.  Person.

And if not running, then walking.

Bicycling.

Swimming.

Old-School Aerobics.

Anything!

Just get moving!

It will change your life.

Turn it up!

Another Thursday, another treadmill training run.

I upped my pace, running the first four sets at 5.0 mph; the fifth set at 5.3; and the last set in steadily increasing speeds beginning at 5.0 and ending at 6.5 for the last thirty seconds.  And it felt good!

Until I got to the adductor stretch when my previously strained groin muscle in my right leg made its presence known.

I don’t think it’s “strained” again so much as just reacting to being in the groove of consistently running.  So it’s good that tomorrow is a Rest Day.

In other running related news we had another meeting of the Planning Committee for ‘my’ 5K.

I call it ‘my 5K’ because really, the idea to put this race on was . . . well . . . mine.  (For reasons I don’t quite understand it’s a real stretch for me to embrace ownership of that.)

It’s a 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis.  Almost as important as that is that it is being run in honor of the memory of one of the single best human beings I have ever known or known of in my life.  John “Bad Dog” McCormack.  John was a native Memphian, and a local Radio ‘Personality’.  I say ‘Personality’ in quotes because that really doesn’t do him justice.  John was both bigger-than-life and one of the most humble, down-to-earth, unassuming people you could ever hope to meet.  For twenty years John worked with his on-air colleagues Bev and Tim putting on an annual fundraiser for The House (for them the Ronald McDonald House was simply The House) and in those years they must have raised literally millions of dollars.  

In October 2009 John received his own diagnosis of Leukemia and his first reaction was gratitude that now he could truly relate to what The Kids at The House went through every day of their young lives.  In February 2011 John summoned up every ounce of strength and courage he had in order to be there for the 20th annual fundraising event.  And shortly after that he lost his own battle.  Arguably one of the most touching tributes to John was written by his friend and fellow ‘Local Celebrity’ Joe Birch.

Because of John’s dedication to The House, the idea of doing a race benefiting The House was inseparable from doing something to honor his memory.  I have been honored to receive consent from the people in charge of Bad Dog’s trust, as well as having been put in touch with an amazing group of people – many of them lifelong friends and colleagues of John’s – who comprise my committee.

Because the race was my idea I am the defacto Race Director, and my committee has designated me their Chairman.  I’m still wrapping my brain around both of these ideas.

The reason I’m going on about my race is this: If I hadn’t taken up running last summer putting together a 5K would never have crossed my mind.  I studiously avoid things that claim “This will change your life!”  In fact, the quickest way to move me in the opposite direction of anything – be it a book, movie, seminar, vitamin supplement, what-have-you – is to tell me it’s going to change my life.  Based on that please take it in the spirit in which it is meant when I say:

RUNNING HAS CHANGED MY LIFE!

I can trace everything that has ‘opened up’ for me in recent moths to having taken up running last summer.  I’m still working through all the whys and wherefores of it all, but basically I think it comes down to the fact that I tried something I had always thought I would fail miserably at and I.  Didn’t.  Fail!  I started slow, I followed a carefully drafted program, I put in the work, and it worked!

And there’s just something about that level of success that makes you want to experience it in other areas of your life.

Like planning and executing a successful 5K.

So thank you running.

And runners.

Back On The Treadmill Again . . .

So…

Remember how I said in my last post “My legs really didn’t hurt after my four mile run!”
I did say that, right?
Okay, if I didn’t I meant to because I was really proud of that!
I ended that run (winded and sweating) but feeling pretty good leg-wise.

I woke up Sunday morning expecting pain.
A lot of pain.
And there was none.

Go me!
I’m in better shape than I thought I was!
Woo Hoo!!!

Until later in the day.
It took a bit for the impact of the difference between running on a treadmill for thirty minutes and running four miles on pavement to show up, but rest assured show up it did.
My quads hurt.
That whatever-it-is that runs on the front part of your ankle hurt.
The longer the day went – and the more laundry and cooking I did on my feet – the more it hurt.

I woke up Monday morning hhhuuurrrrrrrtiiiiinnngggg…..gggg….g!
I was not hopeful for this morning’s treadmill run.

Tuesday morning dawns cold and dark (it wasn’t actually ‘dawn’ until about half an hour after we had been to the gym and were back home again…  I digress… ) and all thing being equal I would have much preferred to stay under the flannel sheets with my warm, oh-so-snuggly husband.
But.
That wasn’t going to have me ready to do a half-marathon in two months and eight days.
Besides, at 4:50 am Mr. Snuggly announced “Let’s get going!” as he got up and headed to the bathroom to get dressed for the gym.

And we ran.
Again, Tuesdays and Thursdays are “short run” days.  Thirty Minutes at an “Easy Pace”.
This is completely counter-intuitive to me, but apparently both Hal Higdon’s and  Jeff Galloway’s training programs support this so we’re doing it.
As previously stated the first twenty-five minutes may belong to Hal and Jeff with their Run 4: Walk 1 thing, but those last five minutes are M-I-N-E!
So I did my 4:1’s between 4.6 and 5.0 for five ‘sets’.
The last ‘set’ I ran one minute at 5.0; one minute at 5.3; one minute at 5.6 (we’re talkin’ miles per hour people!); and the last minute was thirty seconds at 6.0 and thirty at 6.5.
Miles.  Per.  Hour.
And.
I FELT LIKE WONDER WOMAN!
If only for thirty seconds, but I was pounding that treadmill!!

We finished our cool downs, stretched, and headed home comparing our respective Last Five Minutes.

And the thing is my instinct to really “Push It” that last five minutes – the last 60 seconds in particular – is spot on from a race perspective.  Rich’s philosophy from his Cross Country running days is “Finish Strong!” and honestly that just feels ‘right’ to me.

I mean who wants to do all that work in getting ready to run your race – whatever the distance – only to cross the Finish Line dragging and panting?  Not me!  And I’m not a particularly ‘competitive’ person.

In discussing my seemingly ‘inherent’ need to speed up at the end of this morning’s run I realized that Saturday at the end of our run, when I got to the equivalent of the “Point One” of the end of any race I had picked up my speed without prompting from Rich or even thinking about doing it.  It just happened.

Rich affirmed for me the benefit of making that a part of my ‘practice runs’ on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For me – someone who has never run unless forced to by some draconian late-70s P.E. Teacher – this next part is huge.
H-U-G-E!
Here’s what I am already looking forward to:  I am looking forward to Spring, when it is no longer pitch dark at 5 am when we do our runs, and we can start road running every running day.
I am looking forward to a “short run” being five miles and a normal Saturday run being ten.

Me.
The woman who until last July hadn’t voluntarily run since Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
Me.
The woman who once thought running thirty seconds at 4.0 was really doing something.
Me.
Me!
I Am A Runner.
(If you’re going to tire of hearing me say that just stop reading this blog NOW!)

One other (for me) Major Triumph this week is one for This Little Blog.
This week my little Running Blog experienced a ‘breakthrough’ from a purely ‘blogosphere’ perspective: I picked up a Random Reader/Commenter/Follower! 
To date everyone who has read and/or commented on this blog  has been someone with whom I have had an existing relationship.  (Or one of a bajillion spammers…)  But this week my blog was found/stumbled across, read, commented on, and followed by: bearrunner.
 He is what I consider to be a Real Runner.
On his blog’s “About” page he says “This is about my journey towards another marathon”
Another.

Marathon.
Meaning of course that he’s done at least one.  That’s a Real Runner in my book.
And he’s reading My.  Blog!
With no other connection to me than the fact that I  have the audacity to categorize and ‘tag’ this blog identifying myself as A Runner.
How freakin’ cool is that?! 

Four Miles!

Saturday is our “long run” day.  It’s also our “run outside” day.

And so, we did.

We chose a local ‘rails to trails‘ park for our run and it was a really great location!  We maintained a consistent pace (12.5 minute mile) and did the four miles in right at fifty minutes doing 4:1 run:walk intervals.  A half-marathon is doable doing it like that.

Lessons Learned:
It is vital to be sufficiently hydrated not just in the hour or two before the run but throughout the day, all day, every day.
Being well-fueled is an every day thing.  I wasn’t on Saturday and I felt it.
I can run four miles! 

This week we up our running speed on the treadmills Tuesday and Thursday and on Saturday we run five miles.

I have never, ever in my life run four miles.
I can’t say that ever again.

We woke. We dressed. We ran.

I began my work day today with a full-on, run-induced Endorphin High. I’m sure I was pretty unbearable for my poor husband on our commute to work.

I actually had the thought: I can totally do this Half Marathon in March! go through my mind during this morning’s run.

The first twenty-seven minutes of my treadmill runs belong to Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon, but the last five minutes are mine!
Today’s Last Five Minutes went: 2 minutes at 4.6; 2 minutes at 5.2; 1 minute pounding it out at 6.0. Pretty sure that last minute is where the Endorphins came into play.

My endorphins, and probably my lunch, have worn off.
Going to bed early will be zero challenge tonight!