This is what Vegas does to people

It robs you.
Not of your money.

It robs you of your groove.
And hydration.

No matter how much Gatorade or water you drink while you’re there, no matter how closely you monitor your urine color – really I did this like it was my job – you arrive back home utterly and completely dehydrated.

Okay maybe it wasn’t just Vegas.
Maybe it was Vegas and airline travel.
But you arrive home utterly and completely dehydrated.
And you feel like hammered crap*.
And you miss your mid-length run on Thursday night because you are utterly exhausted from the dehydration.  And the delayed “last flight out of Atlanta to Memphis”.
Either way, you miss that Mid-Length Run that might have told you that your ‘Knother Knee was still a bit bothered from that sharp incline you ran down during your last Long Run – you who are unaccustomed to running down sharp inclines – so that you wouldn’t have come so completely unstrung when you had to cut Saturday’s nine mile run short when The ‘Knother Knee started screaming speaking loudly at the 2.5 mile mark.  Then making the (wise, prudent, forward-thinking) choice to turn around at three miles and walk – yes I said W-A-L-K – back the entire three miles.
And trust that your training for your first half-marathon (in 54 days from today) isn’t completely off track and that you will finish the race.

BUT!
To my credit, I did run while In Vegas and On Vacation.

I ran four miles.
Okay, I ran most of four miles.  I went up and down a lot of stairs.  I used them as my walking intervals.  There were a lot of walking intervals.
And I did not knock over any of the other tourists who were in my way on the sidewalks at 7:30 am.

But I have things to catch up with here.
Like my newest tattoo.  Herbert The Turtle.  And what he means to my running.

And I shall.
After tomorrow’s run as a Coach!

*Steel Magnolias reference.  Forward to 0:33 if you don’t want to watch the entire clip.

I left my title on the trail

Yesterday about halfway through this week’s Long Run (seven miles), which was actually the week’s only run that still went absolutely great, I had a title for this post come to mind and evidently it got left on the trail. (My empty Gu packets did not however get left on the trail.)

I finished the seven miles with zero negative input from Ye Olde Knee. Not a twinge, grimace, whine, or yap. The Secret was Pace.  (Wait!  That was my title!) Plain, pure, and simple! I started and stayed at a consistent 11:45 – 12:00 per mile pace from the beginning.  And intervals. Intervals are also key.  I ran to each half mile marker (about 5:30 – 6:00 minutes) then walked about a minute – long enough to take a sip of water and get my breath, but not long enough to let my heart rate drop completely – then started running again. And it worked like a charm!  So much so that I went ahead and downloaded the un-free ($4.99) Endomondo App so I can customize a 6:1 interval workout that will cue me when to walk and how long a minute is.

Next week we run eight miles and the week after that nine, and so on until Labor Day when we’ll be up to thirteen miles which allows for a taper week starting the weekend before our Half Marathon. And for the first time in a long time I can really see me doing this.

But!
One of my single greatest running accomplishments starts tomorrow evening at 6:00 pm. Tomorrow evening I will be wearing a bright gold singlet with five red letters on the back: C-O-A-C-H as a Volunteer Coach in the Women’s Running Training Program that got me started with this madness on this path.

This time last year I showed up in a gravel parking lot with about 600 other women milling around in the insufferable Mid-July Memphis heat wondering:
A) What on earth I was doing there;
B) What made me think I could run;
C) How far – or shortly – into this I was going to drop dead from a heat-and-being -overweight-and-out-of-shape induced coronary; and finally
D) When someone was going to come along and talk some sense into me instead of saying things like “I admire you for doing this Jules!” “I am so proud of you Jules!” and especially HCRP who kept insisting on saying “You can do this Honey!”
How was I gonna quit in the face of all that belief and pride and encouragement?
But then, caught up in what was quite obviously a protracted endorphin high or the after-effects of near heatstroke, the day after our first Run With Coaches I emailed the Head Coach of the Beginning Runners Group and told her I was already committed to being a Volunteer Coach next year. Which is now this year.
I did this for a couple reasons.
The aforementioned obvious endorphin/heatstroke thing.
Being impressed with the Volunteer Coaches who were giving of their (seasoned, farther-than-I-would-ever-run-ever-in-my-life-runners) time, and genuinely caring about my overweight, middle-aged, out-of-shape self and wanting to (hopefully) be (maybe a little tiny bit) like them someday.
But really mostly to put myself so far Out There with “this running thing” that I had absolutely zero opportunity to back out. Or quit running once the Graduation 5K was “in the books”.
I know me.
I’ve seen me start something with great enthusiasm only to fizzle out because there wasn’t a long-term end game.
So I gave myself one.
To be a Volunteer Coach would mean having more experience than “Oh, yeah, I did this last year but haven’t seen my running shoes since September but I’m sure it will all come back to me.”
Of course I wasn’t counting on this running thing to become everything it has.

Really, it hasn’t “become” anything.
It has simply given focus, direction, and physicality to things that have always been part of me.
The determination to do something no matter how difficult, inconvenient, or sometimes painful it may be.
The drive to keep with something even when I have every valid reason to “just let it go”.
The realization that The Goal I began with wasn’t so much The Goal as it was a stepping stone to The Next Big Thing.
The knowledge and understanding that the race I’m running is mine and that whether I’m first or last crossing the Finish Line isn’t the point. The point is that I kept going from Start to Finish and got there (in the words of Jeff Galloway) “vertical, breathing, and ready to do it again”.
I have learned:
That, like causes and battles, there are a million races out there and I simply can’t run them all. Mostly because there are only so many Registration Fees in our budget, but still . . . you have to pick your races.
That the races you can’t run, you can always be there to help with and cheer others on through.
That pace is everything.
That water is our friend.
That hills – even the steep ones – make the run more interesting and are less painful in the long run.
That it’s all about the shoes and supporting The Girls. And you will pay for cheap shoes one way or another.
That I can do this.
And if I can do this I can do anything!
And if I can do this, and anything, so can you.

See? I was born for this Coach thing!

Mary Chapin Carpenter sings lies

For many years Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song I Feel Lucky has been a favorite of mine. Well that came to a scuhreeching halt today! (Maybe not really, but at least for tonight.) The numbers did in fact, as we Southerners are wont to say, lie on me! And on HCRP, but I liked his lie better than mine.

We ran a course that I came up with last year when I was a fledgling runner that I just “knew” I could do “with not much problem”. Without rehashing the entire Newbie Runner Enthusiasm Fiasco let’s just say that particular course has come to be known as “Julianne’s Folly” or just “The Folly”. Sunday as we were driving home from San Antonio to Memphis we had a little time to plan our next few weeks’ runs taking into account the 5K we’re doing this Saturday night and the 10K we’re doing the 23rd and with an eye towards the longer long runs we have to do in preparation for our half-marathon in September.
We decided to run The Folly as Monday night’s short run, run the upcoming 10K course on Wednesday as our longER run, then pull another mid-distance run Friday night and then just have fun doing the 5K on Saturday.

I have to digress a second here to say how surprised I remain to hear myself talk about 5K distances as “Just a little over three miles!” and “Just a fun run”.
/End digression.

We didn’t run Monday night.
We were still fatigued and sorely dehydrated after Sunday’s thirteen hour drive.
I was wiped out from First Day On A New Job Syndrome.
Strike One.

We didn’t run Tuesday night.
Truth be told we used “too tired/too stressed” as a perfectly good excuse and went so far as to feed our tired/stressed state with cheesy-cheesy (but to our credit thin crust) pizza.
Strike Two.

And today I just flat didn’t drink enough water.
I had access to water all day long and simply wasn’t diligent about consuming it.
Strike Three.

But we came home, changed, and ran Anyway.
(It was nowhere near that philosophical or high-minded, I just love any excuse to share that quote.)

In short: My. Run. Sucked.
I was under-hydrated.
I was stiff and (yes, already) out of condition from skipping Monday’s run.
And in all honesty The Folly isn’t exactly an easy course. Lots and lots of long, long hills.
I walked, easily, as much as I ran.

And even Technology was against me!
As I was slogging along, walking up a hill I should have been running up, I decided to check my phone to see just how far I’d gone. Lo and freakin’ behold Good Old Endomondo had arbitrarily decided I had finished my run and had ended the program and was finishing the process of uploading itself at 1.72 miles!
What The What?!
So I finished the upload, restarted, and kept going.

Let me tell you what is annoying on an already bad run:

  1. Discovering that you have inadvertantly put not one but two different songs on your ipod playlist twice back-to-back with themselves.
  2. Realizing that NO amount of BodyGlide is going to make up for the bra strap pads you decided you didn’t need on a “short four mile run”.
  3. Helpful, encouraging people honking their horns as they pass you on the road when you know you are sucking at this run like you’ve never sucked at a run.
  4. Knowing with every lead-filled, failing-at-running, even-sucking-at-walking fiber of your being that you have absolutely no one to blame for this but your own dang, non-water drinking self.
  5. Resigning yourself to “Screw it, I’m just going to walk the rest of the way!” only to round a curve and see some intrepid soul running UP the hill you are walking down. This means only one thing: You simply must run. It’s run or risk looking like either the biggest slacker runner on the planet OR the most cocky, over-prepared walker on the same planet with your wicking headband, wicking running shirt (that has “RUNNER GIRL” of all things emblazoned on it), and water belt.

So you run.
And you keep running.
And you finish. Running.

And when you get to your Personal Finish Line (after shouting to your HCRP “Get out of my way!” because he has the nerve to stand on the sidewalk between you and the Driveway Finish Line) and consult your Benedict Arnold GPS program you find out it has given you credit for a combined total of only 3.58 miles which you know for certain is shorting you a good half mile.
And you wonder “If I’m so dang under-hydrated where did all this freakin’ sweat come from?!” when you realize your shorts are literally dripping down the backs of your legs.
Yes, I’m certain it was sweat.

And for the record, according to Google Pedometer the total distance I kinda-ran/halfway-walked: 4.56.
There was clearly some rip in the GPS space/time continuum since HCRP’s GPS program gave him credit for running over nine miles, many of them in four and five minutes per mile.  It was GPinSanity! 

Maybe eventually I’ll finish the post I have saved as a Draft about our Vacation Runs.
Now those? Those were some really good runs!

Sometimes it’s just about going the distance

I’ll save bandwidth for the nice people here at WordPress and simply give you a link if you’re interested in seeing the map/elevation/splits for tonight’s run.
The Stats:
Distance: 6.01 miles
Duration: 1h:16m:27s
Avg. Speed: 12:43 min/mile
Calories: 896 kcal (Again – ROBBED.  It’s the heat and the humidity people!)

As I run along I have this monologue that plays in my head.  I thought I would try to recapture some of it and share with you here.  You’ll thank me.

On Playlist Choices:
If you have adult life experience memories from the year a particular artist was born, you probably have no business using their music to set your running pace.
On the other hand, if you have high school sweetheart memories associated with a particular artist, their stuff is probably exactly what you need to be running to.
There’s no walking when Boom Boom Pow comes up on your playlist. The BEPs don’t play that.  (I call them “The BEPs” because we’re tight like that me and them.)
I don’t care how much you love any song off of David Bowie’s 1983 hit machine album Let’s Dance accidentally having them duplicated on your playlist makes them annoying.

On Running/Biking Trail Etiquette:
Dear Cyclists,
Two phrases: “On your left!” or “Behind you!” Pick one.  Familiarize yourself with it.  Practice it while you’re putting on those funky, colorful bodysuits, and USE THEM WHEN COMING UP BEHIND A RUNNER!!
Sincerely,
Pricing Tiny Little Stop-Sticks in Memphis

Dear Fellow Trail Users:
If you are fit enough to carry the Gu Packet in with you, open it up and suck out its contents, I’m pretty sure you have the strength to carry the empty packet out.
Sincerely,
You are an embarrassment to us all.

Dear People Who Live Along the Trail:
Do you have to fire up your grills and make food smells while people are running?!
Have you no decency?  No compassion?
Sincerely,
You’re just mean

On The Run Itself:
Is that a twinge?   No.  No, that’s just tightness.  Tightness is okay.  I can work through tightness.

WTW?!  Where did that cyclist come from?!  Dude!  Bell.  Get one!

Feelin’ pretty good now.  Wait.  Slow down!  You will pay for this if you don’t!

Later That Same Run: I told you to slow down back there!

Gotta get-get, gotta get-get
Gotta get-get, gotta g-g-g-get-get-get, get-get
That’s right!  I’m running with The BEPs!  It’s me and Fergie and Will-I-Am and . . .  Yeah me and them!  Let’s get that Boom Boom Pow!

I need to walk for a minute.  No.  Wait. I can totally pass those walkers up there first.  Okay, cool.
Passing the walkers…  Gotta look cool and Runnery and strong.
Keep it going, here we go . . . Have they no manners?!  Don’t they know The Rule: Slower movers to the right?  Yo!  Two abreast at most not six!  *sighs*
Okay got around them.  I need to walk a min . . .  No.  No.  I’m not going to pass walkers and then start walking.  Just keep running.
Got it.

How many times has the smiling-a-little-too-much dude on the bike turned around and passed and re-passed me?  This is suspicious.  What if he’s a serial killer?  HCRP is miles ahead of me and won’t know anything has happened until he gets back to the car and I’m not there.  Crap.  I could call him.  No, wait, that’s stupid.  Back-and-Forth Guy is probably lost and can’t remember which end of the Greenline he started at.  Yeah, that’s it.  There he is again.  Hmmm…  Okay here’s The Plan: IF Back-and-Forth Guy turns out to be a serial killer and forces me off the trail I’ll drop my sweat towel HCRP will totally see that and know something is amiss.  I can keep my Endomondo program running on my phone until we stop then quick end the program and it will upload and they’ll know exactly where I am.  See?  This is why I never miss an episode of Criminal Minds.  I would totally make a great FBI Profiler.

Who moved the mile markers?!  I would have sworn that 2.5 miles was just past this overpass.  It was here the last time I ran this far.  Maybe that’s why Back-and-Forth Guy keeps doing his back and forth thing.  He’s moving the dang mile markers!  Jerk!

There it is.  There’s the twinge.  Time to walk.  Dammit!
Great, I said a cuss.  I can’t blog a cuss.  If my mother is secretly reading my blog she’ll be so mad at me.
Okay.  We’re walking, we’re walking. We’re stopping to stretch.
Remember Julianne, it isn’t about the time it’s about finishing the distance.
Right?
Right.

Ya’ know what?  I am totally gonna be able to do this half-marathon in September!
And that 10K next month.  No matter how hot it is.  Or how many hills there are.
Wait.  Terri Lee says Mutherhill and Jr. Mutherhill are on that course.  Crap.  I’m gonna die.  The Mutherhills are gonna kill me.
Okay if I keep adding a mile every week between now and then by June 23rd I’ll be up to . . Wait what’s today?  The 19th?  The 20th?  Where’s a calendar when I need one?  When did figuring dates become like math?

Okay, I need to walk now.  No.  Wait.  Dangit!  There’s that wad of teenagers I am totally not going to be walking when I get to them.  I was running when I passed them going one way, I will not be the ‘old fat lady’ who had to stop running and walk.  Run past them.  Correction: Run around them since they clearly didn’t get the “Don’t Walk Six Abreast With Three Dogs” Memo!  *GAH*  Kids!
Okay, got around them.  Run a little further.  Good.  Good.  It’s cool to walk now. 

There’s the 0.0 mile marker we are Home Free now baybee! Just hush and keep running.  Finish.  Running.  Always finish running.

And so it goes inside my brain while I run.
It’s no wonder HCRP decided to reduce his time and run ahead of me.  He’s been treated to all of this leaking down through my sinuses from my brain into my mouth and out past my lips more than a few times.
Don’tcha wanna run with me?!

The truth is I went into this run filled with more than a little nervousness since the last time I ran six miles was The Last Time I Ran for two months.
I kept telling myself that it’s different this time.
I have fully rehabbed my injury (Runner’s Knee if this is your first time stumbling across me).
I have trained gradually and am pacing myself.
I’m not running for the first time in brand new, different brand/type shoes.
I even have on new, better socks!
And at The End of The Run it wasn’t The End of Me Running and I did six miles that I finished running rather than limping or sitting at a corner waiting for HCRP to come back with the car to pick me up.
Yes, there was a mile in there that I walked almost all of (mile 5 at a nearly 16:00 minute/mile pace).  And as much as I had wanted to come in at about four minutes less than I did, I kept telling myself that (for now) it isn’t about time – it’s about ever increasing distance and finishing running, vertical, and wanting to do it again!
And I did all of those things.
I really needed this! 

That worked out quite nicely

We did not run at 5 am.
I have decided that my genuine dislike for running in the pre-dawn dark far outweighs any dislike of running in heat.  And this time of year in this part of the country that’s what it comes down to.  A choice between darkness and relative cool or daylight and heat.
I choose heat and light.  
Besides, all that sweat streaming out of every pore has to be good for the body on several levels.

Which isn’t to say that the transition from running in the pre-dawn cool(ish) temperatures to the after work everything-but-cool(ish) ones is an easy transition to make.
There are lessons to be learned.
Things to be taken into account.
And in no particular order those things are:

  1. Wardrobe.  Not just light weight, but light colored.  The magenta tech shirt I was wearing today was, I swear to you, seeking out rays of sunlight to absorb!
  2. Hydration.  This is a three-fold consideration and I made mistakes at every fold.
    Fold One – Pre-Hydration:was sucking down fluids all afternoon to insure that I went into the run fully hydrated. Good for me!  However, rather than focusing on plain water I drank Crystal Light Pure (zero artificial sweeteners and tastes like grape Kool-Aid).  The problem with this was that it gave me a false sense of feeling ‘full’ that carried right straight through to my run time.
    Fold Two – During-Hydration: I had my water belt and both 10 oz bottles were filled with water.  Room temperature tap water.  Having it starting out a tad on the cooler-than-room-temp side would have been nice.
    Fold Three – Post-Hydration: It would have been very beneficial to have had some chilled Gatorade for after the run.

This was also my first ever experience doing a trail run and I have to say I really enjoyed it and will definitely be keeping this particular hilly trail as part of our conditioning runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays.
So far I like the ‘softer landing’ of the dirt and loose gravel.
I think having to be mindful of how and where my feet are landing is also helping me to keep my tendency to run like a duck (heels in – toes out) under control and land my feet pointed more straight forward.  From what I’ve read keeping one’s feet straight goes a long way towards helping with the tracking of the patella and reducing strain on the patellar tendon.
Having to be mindful of footfall and terrain also keeps me at the more Ye Olde Knee Friendly 12:00 min/mile pace that works best for me.
I also think the unpaved trail went a long way towards ratcheting YOK’s noise making down from The Scream to merely voicing a few complaints in a clearly audible voice.  That yes, I listened to.
And there’s just something that feels so much more Runner-y about running off the beaten, sidewalked, streeted path.

The only real downsides are:
Pebbles in socks/shoes.
Dust in . . . well dust just everywhere.
No real shade to speak of – at least on this trail.
And here where we are there are a somewhat limited number of off-road trails for running. But I’ve only just begun to do this so I have miles to go before I start getting anything close to ‘bored’.

Oh, and that “Just run for the fun of it” thing I was planning on?  That was in there too.  In between the “I should have thought of this before!” moments I really enjoyed running the trail just for the running of it.

Tonight’s Stats:
Distance: 3.24 miles
Duration: 41m:12s
Avg Speed: 12:44 min/mi
Calories: 482 kcal (I was robbed – it was hotter than 482 kcal)
I’ll take that and run with it.  More importantly – I’ll continue running with it. 

Wanted and Got

WordPress has decided you don’t get to see a picture of tonight’s run.
I have decided that you can click on this link and see it.

Stats:
Distance: 2.98 miles

Duration: 35m:46s
Avg Speed: 12:00 min/mi
Mile 1 – 11:27 min/mi
Mile 2 – 12:33 min/mi
Mile 3 – 11:48 min/mi
Calories: 454 kcal

Maintaining a consistent pace was the goal.  I achieved that.
Finishing the run without placing undue strain on Ye Olde Knee was important.  I did that.
It’s a fairly hilly course, and with the exception of one very steep, short hill that followed one very long, gradual hill I ran the ascent of every hill and did my walk intervals on the flats.  I ended up doing one more walk interval than I had intended because I developed a pretty hard stitch in my right lower back.  I wasn’t paying attention to my breathing.

There are a million little things to think about when you’re training for a particular purpose in running and not just running.
My purpose is to finish a half-marathon in September.  To do this I have to learn to hold a consistent pace.  I have to learn to know when to push and when to slow down for a recovery walk.
My goal is to get to the point that I don’t need a recovery walk but every three miles.  Right now I’m good for about a mile and a half unless I’ve pushed it too hard on a hill.  Then it’s closer to the one mile mark.
But I’m getting there.
After all, this time last year – I couldn’t run five minutes without gasping and gagging.  And probably not even that unless someone was chasing me!
Just look at me now!

Let’s just call it LessonS Learned

I sat here earlier today, icing my knee, and wrote an absolutely beautiful, funny, (dare I say?) epic post about this morning’s four mile run.
There were lessons along each and every mile.
There were lessons about pace.
There were lessons about pain.
There were lessons about the human experience. (Couldn’t make that start with a ‘p’.)
Then, at the very end, there was a lesson about the importance of writing blog post drafts in Wordpad, Notepad, or Word rather than directly in the browser window because one little mis-click and *poof* (which does start with ‘p’) it’s all gone!
*le sigh*
Yes I tried ctrl + z.
Yes I tried my browser’s Back Button.
Yes I tried seeing if it had saved as a “Draft”.
None of the above worked.
Nothing.
Zero.
Zip.
Zilch.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo: Nada!

So.
The RDCV (Reader’s Digest Condensed Version) is this:
Mile 0 – Mile 1: I ran along with HCRP (there’s no wikipedia page for him – he’s my little secret) and kept up!
Pace for Mile One: 10:44 min/mile

Mile 1 – Mile 2: I continued on my own after walking a couple dozen feet just after crossing the one mile mark. I made it to 1.5 miles, walked a few feet then continued to the 2 mile mark which was my turn-around point.
Pace for Mile Two: 11:11 min/mile

Mile 2 – Mile 3: I slowed to a walk, took a couple sips of water, and started back running. I got about a quarter of a mile when I felt It.
“It” being a major league, tears-in-your-eyes, panic-inducing twinge in Ye Olde Knee.
I slowed way down to a near crawl-paced walk, stopped to stretch, walked a bit further, resisted the urge to panic and text HCRP and say “I’m never gong to run again!” and as I went along tried to figure out exactly where the wheels fell off my run.
And then.
It hit me.
I hit the two mile mark at 21 minutes 54 seconds (I knew this because the nice Endomondo Lady told me so when I got there). Some quick math told me this was an average 11 minute mile with fairly little walking.
This.
Was.
Too.
Fast!
Entirely too fast a pace – which meant my feet were landing hard on that pavement – for my third week back running in two months.
Well Shazam Andy!
It is a previously proven fact that a twelve minute mile with built-in recovery walking intervals is a good, reasonable, doable pace for me to run a sustained distance. I have run as much as ten miles at that pace and with walking intervals.

We have identified The Problem.
We have identified The Solution.
We have identfied The ‘Nother Problem.
What’s a twelve minute per mile pace and how do I know when I’m running it?
I am great at following another person’s pace. I can – and will – follow it until I just can’t follow any longer. (Yes, I realize the pathology and recognize it as a lifelong pattern having nothing to do with running. Hush. That’s a whole ‘nother blog for a whole ‘nother day.)

So there I was, nearing the end of Mile Three and I hear coming up behind me this faster than a walk but not really a run sounding pace. Since I was schlumping along at a slow walk (and grateful that I was no longer semi-limping or feeling pain) it wasn’t long before I was passed and in that slow flash I saw My Pace moving away from me along the path.
Pace for Mile Three: 16m:27s
Endomondo put a turtle on this leg of my run. But I disagree with this assessment.  I would say this was the mile I got the most out of.

Mile 3 – Mile 4: Since My Pace had overtaken me right at the beginning of Mile 4 I had a good quarter mile to study it and ingrain it in my head. At the 3.25 mile point Ye Olde Knee was showing no signs of pain, and before it was too far ahead of me I wanted to try out my newfound pace.
And.
It worked!
I jog/ran the second quarter mile of Mile 4, walked the third 1/4, and finished running the last 1/4.
Pace for Mile Four: 14m:54s 

I stretched, waited for HCRP to finish his six miles and cool down then it was home to shower, put on fresh duds, and ice Ye Olde Knee.

And put together a playlist for my ipod that will keep me at that 12:00 minute per mile pace.

Today’s Stats:
Distance: 4.07 miles
Duration: 54m:07s
Avg. Speed: 13:17 min/mile
Calories: 596 kcal (I was robbed!)