Saturday, April 30, 2011

The plan...for now

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on my last post. It's always nice to have feedback and heck, since this blog was just supposed to be a way for me to track my training, it's a double-bonus that anyone is reading, period! So thanks for being here in the first place. ;)

Anyway, I've figured out what I'll be doing the month of May. I'm finally cashing in a Groupon I bought in January for a local fitness club (not a typical gym, more of a group/personal training facility) that gets me one month of bootcamp for $40. Additionally, the facility is doing a promotion for the month of May where they're offering twice-weekly kickboxing sessions free to the public! And knowing this particular facility, the sessions should be fairly intense.

So, my schedule will look something like this:

Mon: PM Kickboxing
Tue: Free (Run? DVDs?)
Wed: PM Kickboxing
Thur: PM Bootcamp
Fri: Rest
Sat: AM Bootcamp
Sun: Free (Run? DVDs?)

I'm actually really happy with the schedule and am really looking forward to mixing it up a bit fitness wise. I know I need to keep up on the running, so I hope incorporate some miles into my free days or even a short, easy run in the mornings before work a few days during the week. Nothing like two-a-days to get your body revved up! So, that's the plan for now. I'm pleased I have a schedule that I'm excited about!

Today was the first bootcamp workout and while it was a good one, I couldn't help but think it could've been just a little tougher. We did a series of warmups (lunges, high knees, duckwalks, etc.), ran several series of stadium steps, lunge holds, squat holds, bleacher pushups and tricep exercises. But we also took a LOT of breaks. I think we rested between each exercise, for at least a minute each time. People were sitting down. All I could think is "Let's get moving! Active recovery! At least give me some sit-ups or something!" Yes, I was out of breath, but I wasn't anywhere close to dying. Maybe I need to push myself harder? I felt like busting out jumping jacks while everyone else was sitting, but being the new kid I didn't want to be "that girl." After I was already on the road home, I realized I should've stayed and done a few laps around the track for a little bit extra burn. Oh well, maybe next time.

At the end of the class, one of the women said "Great job hanging with us! It took us 4 months to work up to this level!" Her comment made me realize I still underestimate my fitness ability. Maybe it's my ongoing confidence issues or maybe it's just that I don't realize how far I've come since this time last year. But now that I know what to expect from class, I plan to push myself harder next time to see if I can get to the "what the hell was I thinking" point.

And who knows, maybe I'll bust out some jumping jacks while everyone else is resting.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Now What?

I'm in the training doldrums. I'm suffering from post- half-marathon malaise. Developing an unhealthy level of exercise ennui. I haven't exercised in more than a week (the half marathon was the last day I did ANYTHING) and am taking the "recovery period" a little too far, probably.

The problem is that I don't have a new goal an no events on the immediate horizon to keep me motivated. Sure, my first sprint triathlon is growing ever closer, but it still doesn't feel urgent enough to get me off the couch. Not to mention the fact that I don't even have a bike...or a suitable swim suit... So I'm stuck and not sure what to do with myself next.

I figure I can go one of three directions until it's time to start getting serious about tri training (which I expect to start near the end of May).
  1. I did really enjoy the half marathon (and really, REALLY enjoyed training for the half marathon), despite those last 3 painful miles, and it WOULD be nice to do one again with the goal of not wanting to die at the end. However, the next half that's nearby is in early June, which could be an issue from a heat/humidity standpoint. I have an option of running one in Iowa in late June, but again, weather could be a factor, not to mention medals are only guaranteed to the first 400 finishers. What's the point of doing a half if I'm not guaranteed some bling? Finally, cost is a factor for both races. We recently bought a "new" car and I obviously need to start thinking about a bike purchase, so I'm not sure dropping $50 on a race is a good use of my money at this time.
  2. I could go back to the 5k distance and start working on my 5k times. My last 5k, in March, was a PR for me, but I know I can really work to improve that time. And I know that some shorter-distance training will probably help me more in the tri. Financially, 5ks are easier to manage, even if they do lack the bling of a half, although they tend to add up if you don't watch out and limit yourself to just a few. There are way more options for local 5ks, and I could easily run one a month if I wanted to. I know I will be running the Horsethief 5K this year no matter what. It's the first 5K I ran last year--my first official 5K ever--and I'd like to use the race to see how much I've improved over the course of a year.
  3. The last option, which seems like the one I SHOULD do but also the one the one that will be hardest TO do, is to run just for the hell of it. Run just because I can, because I want to, because I enjoy it. Leave the spreadsheets, watches, maps at home and just go. "Race" if I feel like racing, but don't actively "train" for an event. I'd love to say this is the option I'd choose, but I know how hard it is for me to stay focused and motivated to do anything when I don't have a deadline or some other external factor to push me along.
I guess the good news is that I do have options and I really have only a month or so before I can/should start training for the tri. But a month is a long time for me to go without having a plan of some sort, and the I know the longer I go without a plan, the harder it will be for me to get going again. A Mom in Motion needs to stay in motion!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Race Report: Kansas Half Marathon

Alternate Title 1: A 10 Mile Warm-Up for the Toughest 5k I Ever Ran
Alternate Title 2: Good God, That Sucked. When Can I Do It Again?

Well, my first half marathon is done! I have to say that physically it met my expectations in that I managed to accurately predict the general time it would start sucking and becoming more painful and less fun. I don’t think I was quite prepared for the mental aspect of it, however. Preparing yourself for the physical pain/discomfort doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the brain melt that comes along for the ride. Things got pretty dicey around Mile 11, and I know I wouldn’t have survived had M not been there. Honest to God. But more about that below…

Our day began at 5:30am after a good night’s sleep and a hearty spaghetti dinner at home the night before. I showered, because I'm one of those weird people that HAVE to shower every morning or else I don't feel normal. M and I had a bit of breakfast and coffee and started getting dressed for the race. M had secured matching shirts for us to wear and they were awesome. Perfect color, fit, feel, size, everything! We double-checked our packs, grabbed our chilled water bottles and head out the door about 6:40 or so. Luckily, the event site is a mere 5 minute drive from my house--yay for in-town races--and we sat in traffic for only 5 minutes before we got in to park. It was a fairly chilly morning (upper 40s at that point) so we walked around a bit trying to stay warm, hit the potty and chatted with a couple of my other running buddies a bit until it got close to gun time. All morning we debated whether or not to take our jackets on the run. We knew we’d need to lose them eventually, but it was so chilly at the start we weren’t sure how quickly we’d get to the ditch point. Luckily, as the sun started peeking out over the trees, it started warming up pretty quickly and we knew we’d be fine without them. We ditched our jackets a few minutes before the start and headed toward the pack. There were supposedly about 1,100 people running--that's all three races combined (5k, 10k, half), with somewhere around 700 running the half. We situated ourselves a little behind the 2:30 pacer, since that was our unofficial goal time. They started the race right on time, I think, and that was it! We were on our way!!

The beginning of the race was full of the usual optimism, joviality, and silliness that you feel when your race adrenaline is pumping, nothing hurts and you have all the confidence in the world. We spent the first 3 miles entertaining ourselves with "Half Marathon Bingo," and listing all the different categories we’d put on our bingo cards (getting smoked by a pregnant lady, getting smoked by a little kid, getting smoked by an old dude, guy in super short shorts with a boner, over-zealous runner throwing water on himself at an aid station, barefoot runner, etc.). We kept a pretty steady pace for those first 3 miles or so, according to M’s Garmin, and kept the 2:30 pacer close. About mile 3 or so, I was feeling a little rubbing on my arches so I had to pull over to adjust my sock a bit. Hit the road again and felt alright (or at least managed to ignore any foot pain for the next 3-4 miles.

We finally hit the halfway point, which was simultaneously encouraging and DIScouraging, if that's even possible. On one hand, I was all "YAY! We're halfway done!" and the other hand I was "WTF? We're only halfway done???" The 2:30 pace group was way ahead of us at this point, so that was discouraging and my feet hurt royally so I was getting pretty bummed. But M was very encouraging and kept me going when I felt like I couldn't continue. I was getting pretty quiet and surly at this point—our bingo game had lost its appeal and I found it hard to think about anything other than simply putting one foot in front of the other—so there wasn't a lot of talking. We popped some energy chews around mile 8 and that helped a bit. When we FINALLY reached the 10 mile sign, I realized I was officially running longer than I ever had before! Hurrah! I tried not to focus on the fact that I STILL had to run a 5k before I was finished and instead take it one step at a time.

At this point my legs and feet were dying and resisting every step and I was mentally beaten to a pulp. It didn’t help that the last 3 miles of the course was a portion we'd already done (with a few decent inclines thrown in, of course) which made it even MORE tedious. Oh and the 2:30 pacers were LONG gone, so I knew we probably weren't going to come close to our goal time, and M had stopped giving me Garmin updates, so I thought that definitely was the case, which made me even MORE bummed. Anyway, my legs were tired so we did take a couple of walk breaks those last 3 miles. Just about the time I thought I couldn’t possibly run any more, we hit the last mile marker and I could hear the finish line, so that kept me going. There were a few times before that I was pretty close to bursting into tears because I just wanted it OVER WITH—it was definitely mind over matter at that point. We turned into the stadium and had only 3/4 of the track left to run before the finish line. I managed to get a burst of speed (adrenaline for the win!) and we finished strong, hand in hand, as they read our names over the loud speaker! YAY!!!! It's FINALLY OVER, and what a glorious feeling. My first half marathon complete!

M stopped her Garmin at 13.1 miles, which was before the official finish line (we probably cut some distance off the course by switching running the inside of the road vs the outside and running the tangents), and it gave us a 2:28 time, which shocked me. The official finish time was 2:31:58 (okay, essentially 2:32), so quite a difference. But I'm going with the Garmin and taking the 2:28 time, which means we hit our goal! (Or close enough, right?)

My other running buddies were waiting at the finish line for us so we chatted with them a bit, got our medals (hooray for race bling!), grabbed some snacks (cold milk FTW!), and I finally took off my shoes because my feet were killing me. Yeah, turns out I had 2.5 inch blisters on the arches of both feet, which would explain why those last 3 miles sucked so much. We hung out just a bit longer, got our official time print outs and headed (hobbled) home.

Overall, and not having any other half marathon experience to compare it to, I’d say the day was a success. Yes, it was not without pain and discomfort (serious discomfort), but there was not one single moment when I regretted running that race. Even that brutal last 5k, when the pain was the greatest and my mental fortitude was its lowest, I STILL knew I’d do it again someday. Over the roar of the pain receptors firing away and warning beeps sounding their alarms in my brain, I could still hear that little voice saying “Oh, come on. You know you’re going to do this again in a few months, right?” And I know for a fact I couldn’t have pushed through without M by my side. She was the perfect running partner—encouraging at the right times, tough at the right times, quiet at the right times. Without her there I would’ve walked longer and more often and I don’t know that I would’ve had the guts to pull myself through those last few miles. Even though she didn’t necessarily say anything that spurred me along, just having her here made me want to push MYSELF. I can’t thank her enough for being willing to fly down here and run with me!

So yeah, I might already be thinking about when my next half will be. I’d like to see if I can get to the point where I don’t hate those last three miles. I think I would’ve done okay THIS race had it not been for those blisters, so you’d better believe my next race investment will be better socks.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 13.1 sticker I need to affix to my car.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Week in Review: Training Week 11

Holy cow! I almost forgot to post a training report. Not that anyone was worried or even missing the silly thing, but man. Here were are, mere DAYS away from the half, and I haven't even reported on my training. Tsk, tsk.

Without further ado...

I realize that I sort of did a wacky report last week since my long run was on a Friday. So, I guess this week will go Saturday to Saturday? Oh, who cares anyway. ;)
  • Saturday--Fitness, Ripped in 30 L1: I started a new challenge with the Shredheads group I follow on Twitter, where we're all (supposed to be) doing the Jillian Michaels DVD Ripped in 30 every day for the month of April. This was Day 1, as I am only doing it on my non-run days. Good workout, very typical of her 3-2-1 style.
  • Sunday--Brew 2 Brew Leg, 5.6 miles, ?? minutes, ?? pace: My part in the B2B relay, that was more of an experience than a race. A great day, even if the run itself was pretty miserable. You can read the full report in my previous post.
  • Monday--Fitness, Ri30 L1: More Ripped in 30.
  • Tuesday--Run, 5.18 miles, 1 hour, 11:34 pace: 5am run with a friend. Lots of walk breaks, I had a bit of a cold which made a little "meh" about the whole thing, but I needed to get in 5 miles and we did.
  • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday...Oh, who the hell knows. Why do I even bother trying to report this stuff. Srsly. Pft.
  • Saturday--MY LAST LONG RUN! Woo, hoo! 10 miles! 2:03! 12:21 pace!: Okay, so the time/pace aren't that great, but for my first double-digit mile ever? I DON'T CARE. I got up early to run before it got too hot, and I'm so glad I did. I opted to go without the iPod because I was in love with the birds chirping, and I ran as the sun rose and the town slowly woke up. The first 5 miles were great--I felt awesome, my energy was good. I'd planned to run the same 5 mile route twice so I could stop at my car for a water refill halfway through, and that worked out really well. The second half of the run was slower and definitely more trying, especially miles 8-10. Every fiber in my legs hurt those last two miles, but I finished. I did it! Yahoo!!
This week is taper week, which I'm embracing in grand style in that I haven't done squat. I know I need to do SOMETHING, but this week has been so busy I haven't had time to get any miles in. But I'm so excited that in just a few days M will be here and we'll be psyching ourselves up for a half marathon! Yahoo! I can't believe I've come this far and that the big day is almost here! I imagine the next post you see will be my first-ever Half Marathon Race Report.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pseudo Race Report: Brew to Brew 2011

I say "pseudo" because this race wasn't your typical race--it was an experience. A 44-mile course spanning the distance between the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, KS, and the Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence, KS, is hardly your typical race. It can be run solo (egads) or relay-style, which is what most "competitors," including my team, opted to do.

I was contacted by a running buddy early last week asking if I had any interest in filling in for someone who couldn't run his leg of the race. My leg would be 5.3 miles, marked "easy" on the course map. I would be an early start, but I could be back home by 1:30 if I chose to hitch a ride back early. The rest of my team would be comprised of women from my early-morning run group, some I knew well, some I barely knew at all. But at least I knew some of them were fun. I'd known about the event for years, well before I'd ever considered being a runner. Even then it sounded fun and something that gave you a certain clout to be able to say you did. I couldn't pass up the offer, so I agreed to participate. There ended up being a bit of confusion as far as fees, shirts, etc., which soured me on it at first, but I eventually realized there wasn't much I could do about it and that I needed to make the most of the situation.

Fast forward to last Sunday, and I'm up at 4:40 to shower, make a PB sandwich, pack a clean shirt, socks, deodorant and anything else I think I need to be away from the house all day after a run. Weather forecasts called for hot, sunny and windy, so at least I wouldn't need to worry about staying warm. I arrived at the house of the person driving, and we hit the road.

Arriving in KC about 6:30, we managed to see one of the early waves take off. People were in costumes of all kinds, some themed, some just silly, and others were "serious runners." We find a parking spot and head to the line for the bathrooms. And hey--look free beer! This is my kind of race. ;) I did pass on the free beer--it wasn't even 7:00 after all--but I did snag another cup of coffee and we waited until it was time for the first two runners in our group to head out. As soon as they were off, we were off too, packing it back in the car to get ourselves to the next stop where we'd tag off and I'd run my leg.

We got there in plenty of time--thank goodness, because the port-a-potty lines were ridiculously long--so we sat in the car and waited. And waited. And waited. There was a lot of that this day. Finally, we opted to watch for them as we knew they'd be coming any time now. We stood next to a highway in rural KC, KS, and cheered on other runners as they came in. Oh, and we tried to steady ourselves against the CRAZY west wind. Eventually they arrived, we tagged and off I went. Up a hill. Into a 30mph headwind. For the next 5.3 miles.

The longest 5.3 miles of my life.

Running on the shoulder of a highway isn't glamorous, especially when you're dodging trash and road kill (ew) and you're generally miserable from the heat and wind and incline. My legs were sore from a previous workout and I ended up having to take several walk breaks. I was pissed and grumpy and was cursing myself for allowing myself to get talked into this thing. I wasn't even getting a shirt, for Pete's Sake! I paid $43 to run uphill and I didn't even get a GD shirt!!

It was about this time that I realized the road had leveled off and my legs didn't hurt quite so bad and heck, I might even be enjoying it a bit. And that was about the time I noticed that the next station was just around the bend and I was done! HA! Oh well. Thank goodness. I tagged the next two runners and off they went, and my work was done.

Of course, I'd forgotten to start my watch so I have no idea how fast or slow I ran the leg, which is probably for the best. I'm sure it was embarassingly slow and I'm better off not knowing.

The rest of the day was a blur of costumed runners, cold beers, driving from stop to stop, standing outside in the heat and wind and dust. Rinse. Repeat. I felt bad for some of our later runners, as temps eventually soared into the upper 80s/low 90s. The last half of the run was tough. And as tired as I was (I hit a wall about noon and about fell asleep standing up), I was glad my run was finished before 11:00 and I could relax the rest of the day.

We eventually made it back to town for good around 3:00 and waited for our final runner to cross the finish line. She made it, which is no small feat considering the conditions, and we all headed to Free State for free food and beer. I finally got home 12 hours after I'd gotten up, tired, dirty and sunburned but with the memories of amazing experience with a great group of women.

One of the best parts of the day was that it allowed me to get to know some of those women better and bond with them over a unique experience. I'm happy for that. Another thing I really enjoyed about this race was how it didn't feel like a race. Yes, there were plenty of people who took it seriously--VERY seriously. But there were more people who were there just to have fun and enjoy a day of running and camaraderie...and beer. I liked that it didn't matter if I was slow or had to walk--no one was depending on me to perform. It was all in good fun.

Unfortunately, one of my friends took advantage of my tipsy, sleep-deprived state and may have convinced me to do a marathon. MAY HAVE. The jury's still out on this one, so don't look for a marathon race report any time soon.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Week in Review: Training Week 10

When I typed the title of this post, I had to double-check my schedule to be certain that Week 10 was correct. How in the heck did it get to be week 10 already?? Keerazy!

This week was difficult, I'll be honest. My blasted ankle hurt most of the beginning of the week and then I had a minor cold/allergies/sinus B.S. towards the end of the week. I salvaged the week as best I could, but it wasn't pretty.
  • Sunday: I did absolutely nothing. My foot/ankle hurt so badly, I spent as much time of my feet as I could and kept it iced. Oh, and stupid KU lost to VCU. That was a bad day all around.
  • Monday: Supposed to have been a 5-mile run, but thanks to my ANKLE I skipped it. Plus, the Hubsters schedule that day and Tuesday was pretty tight, making any evening run near impossible.
  • Tuesday: A little stretching and leg/glute workout. Trying to build strength and flexibility and responsiveness to help my ankle as much as possible.
  • Wednesday: 5 mile run, 56ish minutes, 11:11 pace--The time is a total guess, as I forgot to set my watch and the time-keeper finished before I did. So, I met the girls for a 5:30 am run, and it was great. A bigger group than last time, which is fine because it allowed me to go at my own pace and not have to have a conversation with anyone. Oh, and this was the first day my foot didn't hurt AND I wore different shoes, my old, first-pair-ever Sauconys. Since my feet felt fine throughout the run and after, it pretty much solidified the suspicion that my Brooks were doing me in. More on that later...
  • Thursday: I started feeling stuffy/sick in the morning, but I decided to run by the shoe store after work to see about a new pair of kicks. By the time I got home, I was feeling like death warmed over. I had enough energy to ingest some tomato soup, rye toast and Theraflu, and I hit the hay about 8:30. Needless to say, there was no exercising that day, unless you count the .5 mile I did on the 'mill to test the new shoes.
  • Friday: 9 miles, 1:41:25, 11:16 pace--I went into Friday knowing I needed to do my long run that day if I hoped to do it at all. I'd been talked into running a leg of a local relay on Sunday, and I knew I couldn't (shouldn't) run 9 miles one day and 5 the next. So, I knew Friday's weather was going to be nice, I had my new shoes, my foot was feeling good, I wasn't feeling as sick as I'd felt Thursday night, so I brought my running gear with me to work in anticipation of an evening run. Thankfully the stars aligned and it all fell into place. Managed to get out of work a little early, the weather was PERFECT, I had my water bottle, sports beans, mapped route and new shoes. It was truly a LONG RUN. I was feeling it at the end, for sure. But damn, it felt good to run 9 miles in one stretch! What an accomplishment for me! And honestly, I'm pleased with my time. I did walk a couple of times to get out my sports beans and chomp those--I can't seem to run and fiddle with my fanny pack (hee) at the same time--and I didn't stop my watch at every short break for traffic. So, I'm not complaining. Well, I am a little. The ball of my right foot was cramping by the end, but maybe that's normal? Maybe it's my new shoes? Goodness, I'm so tired of shoe issues. Anyway, all in all a good run. And as an aside, is Nestle Quik and milk the best recovery drink or what? Man. That stuff HITS. THE. SPOT.
About the shoes: So, on Sunday, the family all trekked out to Famous Footwear to see if I could snag a decent pair of shoes at a reasonable price since I had a few coupons. I knew the odds were low--even though my first pair of Sauconys were from there, I'd never been able to find another pair of good shoes there, and especially so now that I had an injury. But sometimes budgets trump common sense. You know? Anyway, I found a pair of Sauconys that I thought would work. They didn't feel as sturdy as I'd hoped but the price was right and they were comfy enough.

As soon as I get home, buyer's remorse has set in. I KNEW buying desperation shoes was a bad idea, so I never really took them out of the box. I looked at them a few times. Tried them on once more and pretty much decided they needed to go back. So, back to square one. Meantime, my friend M has generously offered to mail me a pair of her old stability shoes in the chance they'd work. Bless her heart, she even sent them priority so they'd arrive on Wednesday. Unfortunately, they were too small and I couldn't have made them work for any long distances.

By now it's Thursday, and the Hubster has told me to stop worrying about the money aspect of the shoes and to get what I needed to keep my feet healthy and so that I could continue to enjoy running. Have I ever mentioned how awesome he is? If I haven't, then I should. Because he is. So, I head downtown to my LRS (local running store). They've seen me before, as I bought my last pair there and have been in numerous times for supplies and advice. I was happy to see my favorite clerk working, so I immediately knew I'd be taken care of.

I explained my situation and told her that I needed to keep costs low as I was under a tight budget. She analyzed my gait, said that I did have some slight pronation on that bad ankle and assured me she'd figure something out for me. She comes back with three pair: Asics, Nike and Saucony. Immediately I know I want the Sauconys to work. Not only are they my preferred brand, but they were ON SALE. If that isn't a sign, I don't know what is. Luckily for me, they fit the best of the three, were just the amount of stability I needed AND I got 10% off additionally for being part of the women's running group. Huzzah! I walked out spending only about $25 more than I had spent on the returned Famous Footwear shoes. And they were soooo much more comfortable.

I broke them in with a 9-mile run on Friday. My ankle felt awesome. The ball of my right foot did start cramping up around mile 8, but maybe I was landing funny? Or maybe my sock was weird? Ugh. I don't know. I hope it's just one of those random things, because freals--I'm tired of shoe issues. And maybe my feet are just getting used to knew shoes with more support and stability? That could part of the issue. Who knows. Let's just cross our fingers that all the wrinkles fall out eventually. I think they will. Things are only getting better from here!

(Golly, this post got ridiculously long. If you are still reading, gold star for you!)