I. Just. Felt. Like. Run.ning.

June 6, 2014 § 2 Comments

There is a bike path near my parents house and that follows a creek.  About 7 minutes out from my house, the path splits and there is a dirt path that runs parallel to the bike path.

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I know.  It’s freaking awesome.

On parts of it, you get some nice views of the mountains over the watermelon fields.

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Run along this path for just over 3 miles, and you hit the beach.  10K round trip.

And if you split off 2 miles in, it takes you to the lemon groves.  Which go on for miles.

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As I’ve mentioned before, it took me for.ev.er. to get back into running post-baby.  The weight, my joints, my work schedule, the exhaustion…it took a really long time.   Signing up for those two races (neither of which I actually did) was a good way to jump start my mileage, but I quickly realized that putting a race on the calendar didn’t fix the fact that I couldn’t run fast or as regularly as I used to.  And when I tried to force either, I usually ended up hurting something.

Over those months my goal completely shifted from hitting any sort of PR to feeling normal.  I just wanted to feel normal.

When I got back to CA, even though my days were pretty unstructured, I felt like I was drowning.  Paul was gone, the baby stopped sleeping through the night, and I had a lot of things to take care of and no idea where to start.  But I am very fortunate to have people in my life who made sure I had an hour every day to get out of the house for a run or swim.

And because I was so tired and there was so much other stuff going on, I could not care less about how fast I was going.  I just went, happy to have a short window where it was OK to put all of my other real responsibilities (finding a house, a job, daycare, insurance, taking care of the baby) on hold, listen to a podcast or let my mind just wander, without feeling guilty.

Then one day on a run I realized….it wasn’t that bad.  Without pushing at all, I was holding 9 min miles.  I can make quasi-decent bases in the pool.  My workouts are moderate in length and effort and I’m not in SUPER AMAZING shape, but I feel…normal.  And feeling normal feels wonderful.

When I stopped stressing about how far I was from where I used to be, or where I wanted to be, when I took the stress out of running, I made progress. For me it was just a matter of not pushing too hard and time.

To top it off, I actually look forward to that hour every day.  Heading out the door for my run doesn’t carry the same sense of dread it used to (maybe because anything is more appealing than writing another cover letter…)  When you’re an active person who is always looking to improve, it’s easy to forget how lucky you are to be able to go out and jog, or bike, or swim, or climb, or walk, or whatever it is you do, and just be healthy.

Hopefully soon I will want to wear my Garmin on my runs, be up for track workouts, and focus hitting a 1:45 half marathon.  But for now, being able to run and swim and feel normal is enough.  So I’m going to take a little time and just…enjoy.

IMG_20140606_130434sunset at the airport, the end of the bike path

Flying Solo

March 11, 2014 § 2 Comments

FxCam_1297975544963so lonely

Last week it became official: the three (nameless) individuals who I was supposed to run races with this spring (both Run the Bluegrass and the SLO Half) have, for various reasons, all backed out.

So I spent a lot of last week on the fence.  The weather was crappy.  Work was busy.  Shins were hurting.  I was exhausted.  Motivation was very low.  Training for 13 miles started to seem stupid.

On Thursday I made a deal with myself.  I would suck it up and do the 10 mile run on Saturday.  If I had any hip, knee, or shin pain, I would skip RTBG, mellow out on the longer runs for the next week or two, and re-evaluate for SLO.

Saturday morning I woke up really grouchy, not wanting to run at. all.  But (after a lot of bitching…sorry Paul), out I trudged.

The weather was…great.  And the run felt good.  Almost easy.

So for now, we’re sticking with the plan.  Sometimes flying solo isn’t a bad thing.

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Ice Ice Baby

February 14, 2014 § 1 Comment

IMG_20140212_112426weather confusion

Kentucky sits in kind of a weird place, where we get warm weather from the south, then the cold weather from the north, which in the winter means…ice.  Lots of ice.

IMG_20140212_101723 (1)the side of our house right now

Schools have been closed for like 3 weeks this winter (poor kids are going to be in school through July).  Last Friday it was 13 degrees, but midday the sun came out for the first time in what seemed like months.  And it was spectacular.

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You can’t really tell in that picture (maybe a little bit at the top of the tree), but the whole world sparkled.

Saturday Paul had to work all day, but the temps were reasonable (in the 20s) and Marsha said she would stop by and watch the baby while I went for a run.  And while it was freezing rain early in the morning, then snowing later in the morning, the roads were pretty well clear, which meant…OUTSIDE RUN!  So, out I went.

About 5 minutes in it became pretty clear that this was probably not the best idea I’ve ever had (see: herehere…).  The sidewalks were a total mess, and a lot of the side streets had not been salted or plowed and were covered what was basically 3 weeks worth of thick ice then snow then ice then more snow then more ice then nice, fresh snow.

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…and the snow was coming down pretty hard.

But I had someone watching the baby for an hour.  There was no turning back.

Mile by mile I ticked off what you would probably expect:

10+ min/miles:  Check.

(Multiple) rolled ankles from running on old, lumpy sidewalk ice:  Check.

Scary clown-man face with eyebrow and eyelash crystals:

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Check.

Dodging icy shrubberish obstacles taking over the sidewalk:

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Check.

Totally bailing smack dab in the middle of the street, sliding 5 feet on my stomach while throwing my phone half a block ahead of me:  Check.

Totally bailing a second time because I never learn my lesson the first time:  Check.

Broken bones: NONE!!  HUGE SUCCESS!!

Enjoying the scenery because it really is so beautiful when it snows:

IMG_20140212_103536Of course.

Very slow going, but whatever. 7 miles in the bank.

I’m flying to Boston this weekend.  Or, I’m “flying to Boston on American Airlines” this weekend…aka sitting in O’Hare while my flights get delayed and delayed until the airport shuts down.  Wish me luck.

FORTUNATELY:

HOC

No, duh.   At least I’ll have Claire Underwood’s wardrobe to keep me company.

Roundup: Week 2

January 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

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If Week 1 was the week that I felt like I was FINALLY getting back into the groove, Week 2 is the week that I promptly fell out of the groove.  It was brutal.  All week I felt as if the last 5 months of not sleeping through the night hit me in the face with the force of a thousand baby belugas in the deep blue sea (guess what Pandora station has been playing at home).

My energy levels these past 10 days have been off the charts low.  Throw in some travel for work (I had to leave at 6am on Thursday to drive to Indiana for a full day of seminars and meetings…on the way back I actually started to drift off the road even though my eyes were wide open)…and yeah.  Game over.

So while this week was one of the harder weeks I’ve had in a long time, it wasn’t a total loss.  Here it is, the week in review:

Monday: off

Tuesday: 3 mile run before work. no prob.

Wednesday: some sort of cross training on schedule.  Actually did: nothing.

Thursday: 4 mile run on schedule.  Actually did: nothing.

Friday: ALMOST stuck with my streak and did nothing, but instead rallied and got in a….2000 swim.  600 free warm up, 300 drill/kick/swim by 25 IM order, 8 x 100 free @ 1:20.  300 easy.  Quick and done.

Saturday: 4 miles in a blistering 15 degrees with a light breeze.  May have been the coldest run I’ve ever done.  It was, though, pretty wonderful to be off the treadmill…even if the Radio Lab app crashed THREE TIMES in less than 40 minutes and my face was covered with frozen boogers when I got home.

Sunday: 4300 swim (the whole workout was 5200, I jumped in late)
Main set:

  • Broken 1000 (200, 175, 150…25, followed by a 100 strong, 10 seconds rest in between each set)
  • 500 build every 25
  • 4 x 100 IM @ 1:50, descend to fast
  • 300 moderate recovery @ 4:45
  • 2 x 100 IM @ 1:50, faster than IM #4 above
  • 300 moderate recovery @ 4:45
  • 2 x 100 IM @ 2:00 REALLY FAST (faster than 2 above)
  • 300 moderate recovery @ 4:45
  • 4 x 100 non-free (I did IM) @ 1:50, descend 1-4 (descend was a stretch…at this point I was just happy I could still lift my arms out of the water to do survival fly)
  • 500 swim or pull, build every 4th 25

Enjoy your MLK day, here’s to hoping for a better Week 3.

Spring Training Schedule

January 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

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I have always found plans to be useless, but planning is indispensable.
~Dwight D Eisenhower

Sunrises lately have been ridiculous.

So last week I did one of my most favorite things: sat down and put together a training schedule.  I put some serious time into the presentation of my training schedules (that are generally excel sheets that only I see), color coding and making them look like this:

schedule

Because where’s the fun if you don’t seize every time you open up your schedule.

So, 2 half marathons in the next 4 months (late March and late April).  Time to get some structure up in these parts.

First: considering the fact it took me just about forever to feel normal running again, I am starting from the beginning.  Novice training plans.  No serious speedwork, no super hard runs.  I am not shooting to PR at either of these races, I  am just working to get my mileage base back since I’ve been out of the game so long and have found it so hard to get back.

Second: I have never been a competitive runner.  I’ve never had a coach.  I mostly run because just swimming all the time gets really boring.  But I do understand the basic structure of a training schedule for an endurance sport (thank you, decade and a half of swimming and coaching) and have done enough recreational running/triathlons to know at the very least what some of my limitations are.  Included in these are the fact that injuries tend to flare up when/if I:

  • Do too many consecutive days of running (especially after long runs)
  • Make every run a “hard” run
  • Don’t foam roll before and after every run
  • Don’t cross train/strengthen

One other thing that will be different this time around:

20140111_104104Yes, this.  I am working full time, (trying to) coach in the mornings again, usually running on minimal sleep, and dealing with a tiny HH.  Flexibility is really important.

When I put together a schedule for any race, I usually take a look at a few of the free options online (see: here, here, here, here for half marys…there are a ton) and build off of those.  (Runners World also has some more detailed training plans for a variety of different levels, but they cost money.)

Hal Higdon was my go-to when I trained for my first marathon.  Things I like about Hal’s approach:

  • He incorporates cross training/strengthening into the schedule.  It’s not just straight up running.
  • He provides alternatives on days that are not speed days or heavy mileage days, giving the runner some flexibility.
  • You can stick with his training schedule and avoid running multiple days  in a row.

Elements of Hal’s novice schedules that don’t work great for me:

  • The longest run on the schedule is significantly shorter than the race distance (10 miles for a half, 20 miles for a full).  Personally, I like to have one run that is close to race distance under my belt before race day, especially at this stage when I’m building back into a solid fitness level.
  • Race days are incorporated into the schedule.  I like this in theory, but in reality it probably is not going to happen.  Finding a 10K race somewhere in this region on one specific weekend requires a little too much logistical maneuvering than I am up for right now.  At this point I am less concerned with speed, more concerned with getting that base mileage in.

And so, for this spring, I have taken Hal’s basic outline and combined it with a slightly different mileage structure, and after taking into account a few other things (such as the fact that the race is on a Saturday instead of a Sunday…)

half mary
And yes, I am calling this a spring training schedule even though it’s January.

I will not hit every single workout on here, but it is what I’m shooting for.  I have, however, given myself five mandatory things I need to do each week (barring any extenuating circumstances, like an illness):

  • Complete the long run of the week, even if it doesn’t happen on Saturday.
  • Get at least 2 shorter runs in during the week, even if they aren’t the full distance.
  • On the days I can’t get a run or cross-training session in, complete hip/core strengthening exercises for at least 10 minutes, just to maintain a certain level of strength.
  • ROLL AND STRETCH before and after runs.  Because (a lot) of times I am squeezing runs into very tight time slots, this can be harder than it sounds.
  • Try to swim at least once a week at the very very least to stretch everything out.

You can also assume the majority of my cross training will be swimming (though the intensity/distance will vary), since I think I OD’ed on stationary machines the past 3 months.

Finished Week 1 yesterday.  So far, so good.

New Beginnings

January 6, 2014 § 1 Comment

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Today is arguably the most depressing day of the year.  And Kentucky (along with a lot of the country) decided to go all out for the occasion.

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Yes, that is 3 degrees Farenheit.  Plus 20mph winds.  The air burns.  It hurts to breathe in.  Our front door was frozen shut this morning.  Ice on the insides of the windows.  INSIDES.  I got brain freeze walking from the parking lot to the office (not exaggerating).

BUT TODAY!  Today is the Day 1 of Week 1 of Training Plan 1 for 2014.  Run the Bluegrass is 12 weeks away from this coming Saturday, and Margaret is flying to Kentucky for it, so there’s no backing out.

IMG_20140106_153425margaret!

And after 2 months of stop and go training, followed by weeks of painfully slow running (forcibly slow running on the treadmills is THE WORST), the shin pain seems to be under control (I’ve run for 3 weeks now sans pain), and Paul is done with interviews…I am so, so ready to get back on the post-baby horse.

Training schedule to follow.  Stay warm.

Wrong foot

January 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

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It is impossible to get up with the alarm at 6am, after being up at 3am for an hour, so you can pump/feed/change diapers and get out door for a 6:45am run when it is freezing rain outside and you know it won’t really get light until 9am.   IMPOSSIBLE.

Update: It is now blizzarding outside.  There go the odds of my after work run coming to fruition.

Twice the fun

November 6, 2013 § 2 Comments

IMG_20131106_112028I went for my run a little later than usual this morning, and the crossing guards for the local elementary schools were out.  They guarded me when I was crossing, which I thought was hilarious (because I’m not 3 feet tall) but also made my day.  It’s the little things.

The trees are out in full force.

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And leaves rain down on you.

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Paul is interviewing for residencies right now, and there’s a chance we’ll be back out in CA next year.  I think about that on these runs.  If we do move, I will miss running here this time of year.  A lot.

IMG_20131106_111259Speaking of running in the bluegrass, Margaret just sent me an email and let me know that she has registered…

Run the Bluegrass

…for Run the Bluegrass at the end of March!  Guess that means two races for me this spring.  I AM SO EXCITED!

Back on the Horse

October 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

SLO half

Sticking with my MO, my longest run in the past 8 months has been 5 miles (and I’ve since backed off because of pain), I still haven’t figured out how to fit a normally scheduled workout into my workday when I’m not sleeping more than 3 hours at a time, and I live in Kentucky.  But am I going to let that stop me from signing up for a 13 mile race in California?  HECK NO.

All registered and ready to roll.

Week 2

October 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

IMG_20131003_134335I took this picture on our front stoop as I headed out on my run on Friday.  Should I be surprised that I got caught in a torrential downpour?  (I actually really like running in the rain, except it does a number on your shoes and any electronics you might be carrying…which is why I almost always run with a dog poop bag for my phone.  Also comes in handy for other types of emergencies.)

SO!  Week 2 of exercise is in the books.  Unfortunately, after my last run (“run”), which was 5 miles, I started to have a little bit of that old shin pain that has plagued me for years.  God…

And so, last night I decided it was time for a change, I was going to take advantage of this clean slate and be responsible about these injuries and stop them before they start.

First: Even though it’s not a crazy distance, a friend of mine made a good point that jumping from 3 to 5 miles in 2 weeks is a significant increase in mileage (percentage-wise).  I think she’s right.  So I am waiting a few days until I feel no pain at all before running again, and when I do start up we’re going back to shorter distances.  Build slower.

Second: I realized that my shoes, even though I didn’t run much the past 6 months, have quite a few miles on them.  Time for a new pair.  Ordered them on Zappos (but the older model…so much cheaper).

With those two decisions made i was feeling pretty productive.  So my new super-proactive self decided the next step would be to establish a cross training/strengthening routine to prevent further injury.  I have some exercises I’ve done in the past, but it was time for something new.

So I Googled “shin pain from running”, compiled info from different sites (mostly from Dr Jordan Metzl’s videos from Runners World), and put together a routine of butt/hip/core strengthening exercises.

With my list written out, I changed into my living room exercise outfit (booty shorts that no longer fit, a tank top with coffee stains that I can’t wear in public, and my slippers) and proceeded to do a modified (it was, after all, my first day) version of the exercises, including plyometric (that soon turned into non-plyometric) squats and lunges.  I did about 1/3 of the squats suggested with less reps and more rest.

ANDDD!  …today I can’t walk.  My legs kept randomly giving out on me as I made the bed this morning.  I didn’t eat lunch until 4 because the baby was in “I’m going to scream if you put me down” mode and was worried that I would fall over with her in my arms squatting to get something out of the fridge.  And forget sitting down.  Paul heard me fall onto the toilet in the other room and thought something horrible had happened.

So, yeah.

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