Saturday, January 29, 2011

A New Experience

Yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to the gym at work during my lunch break.  We have free access to our gym and yet I've never taken advantage of it.  Oh sure, I've gone in the bathroom a couple of times to change into outdoor running gear.  I've gone to the basketball court on blood donation days.  But I've never ventured into the cardio room, the weight room, or the locker room.  Until yesterday.

It's a pretty old facility and the locker room is a little nastophonic, but the cardio equipment is fairly up to date.  My real fear of the place stems from the tons of other people who use it.  I don't want anyone watching me workout-there's an aerobics room right behind the treadmills and the two rooms are separated with a wall of glass.  Even if no one is really staring at me, I know I would feel like they were the whole time.  Also, I don't want to share the locker room with anyone.  I didn't like changing with other people in high school, and I think I would like it even less with other worker type people. 

I decided to wait until after the rush.  I know most people go to lunch from 10:30 to 12:30 so I waited until 1:00 just to be safe.  Thankfully I was the only one in the locker room!  There were a few people in the cardio room, but no one in the aerobics room to stare at me!  Everything was working out great!

And then I ran.  It was the worst run of my life!!!  It wasn't bad because of the facility or anything.  The treadmill was nicer than the one I have at home so it was great.  I guess it was a little hot in there.  At home I have a fan clipped onto the treadmill and pointed right at my face.  At the gym there was no fan and no air flow.  So maybe that's part of it.  But mostly it was all me, I think.

I ran at a 1% incline for 22 minutes (I set out for 25) and went 2.19 miles (10:03 pace).  It was supposed to be my tempo run for the week, which means I warm up, run at my goal race pace for as long as I can, recover, repeat to the end of the workout, then cool down.  Recover usually means slow down to a comfortable run pace slightly below my normal easy run pace.  Yesterday recover meant stop the treadmill, stand there panting and sound like I have asthma, gulp water like I'e never seen it before, then a minute later get back on the treadmill and repeat.  It felt horrible having to stop in the middle.  And furthermore, it's the second workout this week where I've had to stop and rest!  I know I was sick for several days this week, and I want to blame it on my lungs still being clogged up, whether that's true or not.  But even if I do have a valid reason (and I'm not truly subscribing to that belief-I think maybe I made an excuse instead) it still felt horrible to have a run like that.  I'm too far in the training process to have to flat out stop and rest!

And because stories are more fun with pictures, here's one of me after a run I didn't hate:

See?  Happy!

Friday, January 28, 2011

"My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy."

~John Bryant

Wednesday night I finally got to run again.  It was A-MAZ-ING!!  I ran 3.04 miles in 30 minutes, or a 9:53 pace.  To date I have 31.1 miles on the books for the month of January.  I plan to run 3 more today, 6 tomorrow, and 3 on Monday which would put me at 43.1.  A couple of weeks ago I analyzed the numbers to try and see what kind of monthly mileage I should be shooting for so that I can run a PR at my half marathon in May.  This January I will run about 20 miles less than I ran the year that I had my best half marathon time.  I’m not letting this get me discouraged!  Instead I’m using this as my motivation to pick it up in February.  I will get my February mileage at or above the mileage I put in during the famous 2009 training season!

In other (related) news, I’m changing my work schedule so that I can get my mileage up.  It is a problem when your work begins to interfere with your running J.  I was working 9 hours a day every Monday-Thursday.  Then one Friday I would work 8 hours, and the next Friday I would have off.  I still worked 80 hours every 2 weeks, it was just spread out so I could have a 3 day weekend every other week.  It sounds nice, but it posed two problems:

  1. I don’t even run on Fridays, so it helped zero with that goal.  I spend my whole day off cleaning house while everyone else is at work/school.  That isn’t even fun.
  2. I have a 30 minute drive to work, so with a 9.5 hour day (1/2 hour lunch) and a total of 1 hour driving time I was leaving home in the dark and coming home after dark.  That seriously puts a dent in my running time and means most of the runs I do get in are on the treaddy.

So I am officially going back on a traditional 8 hour a day work week.  That’s the schedule I had when I PRed after all. 

Is it bad I have to rearrange my work because running is more important (well, you know…not money-wise, but happiness-wise)?  How do you fit in runs during the week?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Three Tangent Tuesday

Here is the Accidental Runner version of Three Tangent Tuesday because The Hungry Runner Girl asked us to :)

1.  I love love love The Biggest Loser.  It is hands down my favorite show.  I have considered two things very carefully:

  • Gaining extra pounds so that I can go on the show and meet Bob and Jillian (this wouldn't be that hard, given my propensity for McDonald's and ice cream), or
  • Contacting the producers and pitching my idea for The Biggest Loser: Mini Edition featuring contestants needing to lose 25 pounds or fewer.  Are we less deserving of the healthy eating/healthy lifestyle tips that Bob and Jillian impart?  I think not.
2.  I like watching football.  The thing is, I can't pick a favorite team.  I enjoy too many of them.  The Packers (thanks to my stint living in Wisconsin), The Cowboys (I heart the cheerleaders, since I use to be a cheerleader and there's no classier organization to aspire to in the cheerleading arena), The Steelers (who doesn't love being in the stands when all those terrible towels start flying?), Da Bears (passed down from generations), you get the idea.

3.  I think being a stay at home mom would be stellar.  Today I hung out with my sick kid and had a super fun day watching silly cartoons, reading cool books, and making grilled cheese while my helper looked on:

Notice the Colts Jersey?  Our football fandom seriously has a multiple personality disorder.

Of course there were some chores going on too, but I think it would be a fair tradeoff for all the fun stuff.

Cinnamon Sixes Anyone?

Saturday was supposed to be my long run but alas, it was not to be. We had 6 inches of fresh snow which is akin to running on sand. It was one degree outside which by itself wouldn't be a problem but combined with the snow gave me a perfect excuse to stay indoors.  My best laid plans were to run on the treadmill somewhere between breakfast and lunch.  We made "homemade" mini cinnamon rolls for breakfast, which involves cheating by using refrigerator biscuits.  But the filling and icing were the real deal:

They sort of came out mini cinnamon sixes instead of cinnamon rolls.  But the taste was right, and of course we made sure the girls knew they were the best we'd ever had!

We've been preparing to put our house on the market and planned to have a realtor over during the weekend so we were trying to get the house show ready.  That ended up taking much, much longer than we expected.  Interpret: me and the treadmill missed our date on Saturday.

Sunday was church followed by finishing touches on the house and the actual realtor appointment, and somehow the day disappeared without running again.  I didn't stress about it much because I developed some knee and hip pain after my Thursday night run and subsequent Friday workout session.  Oh yeah, did I mention Friday?

I had the day off work Friday and decided to take advantage of the time off.  I started off with 35 minutes of Spine Awakening Yoga.  Ouch!  Then I popped in our latest Netflix movie (Why Did I Get Married Too?) and put in a lovely 30 minutes on the spin bike.  At this point, the movie was really just getting going and I really didn't want to switch to the family room TV and try to figure out how to scene select to where I left off.  There's no place to sit down in the workout room, except on the spin bike so relaxing in there wasn't an option.  Plus, I figured I might as well get some more activity in, so I hopped on the treadmill just to walk.  I ended up walking for 50 minutes on a hill workout.  I felt pretty good initially, but later my knee and hip started to bug me.

So fast forward back to Sunday night and I figured a couple days rest was in order, since my number one racing goal this year is don't get injured.  Then Monday comes and lo and behold, I wake up with a sore throat, A. wakes up with a fever, and the winter flu season has arrived in our house.  Suffice it to say that the last two days have also not included any running.  They have included copious amounts of liquids, Gilmore Girls, and ice cream (hey...the cold stuff really soothes a sore throat.  Try it.).  I'm looking forward to getting a run in tomorrow.  I'm not so much looking forward to returning to work but it had to happen sometime.

Also, did anyone else feel really angry at the end of Why Did I Get Married Too?  I mean, where's the happy ending?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tempo Run, and Random Thoughts on TV

Tuesday night was my easy run, unfortunately I had to run on the treaddy so it was NOT easy.  I run so much slower on the treadmill than I do outside.  It just feels harder to me.  I ran at a 1% incline and did 2.5 miles in 25:00, so exactly a 10:00 pace.  Not too shabby.

Tonight was a tempo run, and thanks to 6 inches of snow (and counting) I was on the treadmill again.  I was kind of not feeling it.  I think it was the copious amounts of M&M's I ingested today.  Maybe not the best pre-run fuel.  Much better as a post-run fuel.  At any rate, I ran 2.04 miles in 20:00, 9:49 pace.  Not as fast as I was hoping for but still pretty good since I still have 3.5 months until my race.  I still have plenty of time to get the speed picked up.

My next run is Saturday morning's long run.  I really hope the snow is melted, or at least cleared off the roads by then, because long runs are much better when shared with friends.

Tonight I have big, big plans.  Chocolate milk, lasagna, and Thin Mint ice cream (not all at the same sitting) will be eaten while wearing fleecey pants and watching The Office and Grey's Anatomy.  There's also the possibility of trying out this new show Perfect Couples.  I rarely commit to new shows, but I'm willing to give it a chance.  Remember the good old days, when Thursday night meant Must See TV?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's Hard to Eat Spaghetti at Work

Because, you know, it's messy. And slurpy. I usually eat at my desk while I keep working. So I felt like a total pig today even though I tried really hard to eat nice and polite like. My cube neighbor must have loved me.

And while we're on the subject of food, yesterday Dave and I were rummaging around the kitchen looking for lunch. It was just one of those days where nothing sounded good. NOTHING. Dave suggested peanut butter and jelly and I threw a metaphorical fit because (and I quote) "I am not a child". So I continue to rummage until I'm in total starvation mode and then proceed to toast a bagel and top it guessed it...peanut butter and jelly. The funny thing was the jelly bottle had some clog issues and it came out kind of sporadic at first. After I finished squirting the jelly I noticed this:

Uh-huh. A smiley face. Even though "I am not a child". The timing of my accidental smiley face was just too perfect as my hubby was all too happy to point out. And yes, my banana already has a big bite out of it. I couldn't wait until I was properly seated at the table to start eating ("I am not a child"). And yes, it has peanut butter on it, because peanut butter with a side of peanut butter is never wrong.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Long Run Saturday

Yesterday morning I woke up early...6:00...on a Saturday.  This is highly unusual for me since I usually set the alarm and snooze until the last possible moment.  For some reason I have woken up at a time with a 6: in front for the last 3 or 4 Saturdays.  This particular Saturday I woke up feeling pretty blah.  I was having some major tummy troubles.  I thought maybe I was just being a wuss and would feel better after my run was out of the way (fyi, I was wrong).  I skipped breakfast (unusual) and headed out to meet the running group.  I tend to hang on their heels for the first mile or so and then drop off the back and finish by myself.  I had my iphone in my pocket and my earbuds strapped on my jacket (aka hanging from my zipper) so that I wouldn't be lacking motivation or distraction after I ended up by myself.  They ended up being an unnecessary nuisance since one of my old running buds (who has since sped up and took off at a new pace without me) is dealing with some hip issues and decided to hang back with me yesterday.  It was nice to have some company for the entire run.  Unfortunately there were a few times she had to circle back and pick me up because I was struggling!

She slowed her pace to stay with me, but I had to speed mine to keep up with her.  It was good for me, because I know I'm capable of faster than what I've been doing on my long runs but I have a hard time pushing myself to an uncomfortable pace by myself.  But I know that if all my long runs are comfortable I'm not going to get to a point of growth.  So, although I wanted to puke and thought I might be dead on my feet around mile 4, after the run was over it all felt worth it.  Doesn't it always feel worth it when you finish and the run becomes a memory?

We did 6 miles in 1:03:29, or a 10:34 pace!  I felt happy and speedy, she felt no hip pain and enjoyed a run where she could keep a conversational pace.  Or she was just saying that to make me feel better :)

We followed it up by meeting up with another of our speedier running buddies for some breakfast.  Bacon, eggs, hash browns, and buttered toast taste so good after a hard run.  And bless the waitress...she kept the water coming!

On a related note, I woke up this morning alarm free at 7:00.  Why can I not wake up early when I actually have somewhere to be?

Friday, January 14, 2011

By The Numbers

Last night I did a 15 minute tempo* run on the treadmill.  1.53 miles, overall pace 9:49.  I'm still a far cry from the 8:59 goal race pace I set, but I still have almost 4 months to get there so no worries.  And yet, it got me thinking about the numbers.

In May 2009 I ran my first half marathon in a respectable 1:58:59.  I had set 3 goals for myself:

  1. Finish.  Period.
  2. Finish faster than 2:30
  3. Finish faster than 2:00 (in a dream world)
Somehow all the stars aligned that day and it was one of those perfect runs.  I met my dream world goal and felt on top of the world.

Fast forward to May 2010 when I ran my second half marathon.  I was fighting an injury and trained far less than the year before.  I finished in 2:29:something.  Which might have been okay if it was a respectable performance, but instead I had to hobble/walk/run the last 5 miles.

Being the numbers person that I am, I got to thinking.  How many miles was I running while training for my stellar first many was I running while training for my dreary second half?  Where should that put my numbers for this year's third half, where I would love to PR?  Let's take a look, shall we?


Clearly I had a far better mileage base going into the race in 2009 than I did in 2010.  I know there was an injury that slowed me down in November and December and into January.  Then I had to build back up from there.  The thing is, I had knee and hip trouble in '09 as well but I didn't let it slow me down.  Was I running smarter in 2010...or wimpier?  Hard to know the answer.  What I do know is that to have a race that rivals 2009, I'm going to have to put in more impressive mileage than I did in 2010. 

So far in January I have put in 17.5 miles.  I still have about 2 weeks to go, including a long run tomorrow that should get me about 6 miles.  Projecting that out, I can expect at least a 45 mile month.  Looking at the numbers, that may not be good enough.  One thing I am certain of is that it's time to get the mileage up.

*I use the term tempo very loosely.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Dearest January

Dear January,

I am so very over you. Your daily snow showers and single digit temperatures are really starting to wear on me. Running on the treadmill has made me long for less slippery days. Driving down your icy roads has me metaphorically biting my nails. The school cancellations have grown to comic proportions. Frankly, you've worn out your welcome.


*is it a bad sign that I'm already counting down the days until spring?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Last night was one of my favorite TV nights…The Biggest Loser.  I love me some BL.  What I don’t love is when they send people home.  I wish they could all live there together for 16 weeks and learn lots of things about getting healthier before they have to go back home to the real world.  Unfortunately, the producers didn’t ask for my opinion.  On last night’s episode, though, nobody got sent home.  I thought it was great!  You could tell that Bob is getting a little honked off about the Unknown Trainer situation.  I can’t wait to see how that one plays out. 

While watching the drama unfold I worked out on the spin bike.  6.3 miles in 30 minutes…I’m getting faster!  Today was a super stressful day at work so I’m really looking forward to my 15 minutes fast (ideally at or below goal race pace) on the treadmill tonight.  My goal race pace is tentatively scheduled for 8:59 per mile, but that is still completely negotiable.  I'm hoping it will negotiate faster, not slower though.  It’s not a bike night, but I may do the bike too because I have some major stress issues to work out and what better way than with exercise?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lunchtime Run

Today I was scheduled to do a 20 minute easy run. I packed a bag this morning and brought it to work with me intending to run on my lunch break. I went to the gym at lunch and got all bundled up in my winter workout clothes. I left the gym and ran out 10 minutes then turned around and ran back to the gym 10 minutes.

It was a slightly awkward run because I had to navigate the work lunch traffic for part of the run. Most of it was largely uninhabited though. That was worrisome too because there is a LOT of wildlife around work and I worried that I would get mauled and there would be no witnesses to take me to get help. Can you tell I have an active imagination?

The other factor was getting ready to go back to work. I didn't care for getting ready all over again when I just got ready a few hours earlier. Plus the logistics of cleaning up at the gym were more complicated than getting ready at home.

All complaints aside, I am glad that I got it done early so I could come home and hang out with my family instead of headinb straight out the door to run. Or worse, having to hit the treadmill after the kids go to bed. I don't know if it will become a regular part of my running routine but at least for today I'm glad my run was finished early!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow...

Today was my scheduled long run. I really didn't want to go. Usually that's because I cant get out of bed in time. Today I woke up at 6:45 for some unknown reason so that wasn't the problem. What was giving me the bug to stay home this time was the snow. We only got about an inch, and normally running in the snow doesn't bother me in the least but I just couldn't get motivated. Nevertheless I dragged myself out the door and did my run. I ran an hour and only made it 5.16 miles thanks to the slippery roads. But it was one of my favorite runs in a long time because it was so quiet and peaceful with the rest of the world still in bed.

The sun was just coming up and the snow looked really beautiful in the sunshine.  Just as important, I got my long run done so I didn't have to spend the rest of the day scheming how to fit it in!

Afterwards, I came home and took my first ever ice bath.  I have a LOT of trouble with my knees and hips as my mileage increases.  I have read about the benefits of ice baths over and over again, but I am VERY sensitive to the cold so I've always hesitated to actually try one.  But I decided to take the plunge today.

It was cold!!  That first point of entry was the coldest and I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  But it actually felt good on my muscles so I soldiered on.  After the first 2 minutes I was ready to throw in the towel, but I figured less than the minimum prescribed 10 minutes wouldn't really give me any benefit and then the 2 minutes I had already invested would have been a total waste.  So I stuck it out for a full 10 minutes.  It actually got better about 4 minutes in, when I went totally numb.  I haven't decided yet if I'll try the ice bath again, but I must say that so far I haven't had any knee or hip pain today which is unusual after my long run.  Maybe there is something to it...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The "Official" Training Begins

I put official in quotes. I tend to have really great training plans and really lofty goals of sticking to them religiously. I'm sure you can guess that I don't always meet that goal. I usually end up flip-flopping runs or trading an easy for a tempo or getting sick and taking a week off. That sort of thing. This training cycle my main goal is don't get injured so if I have to tweak my training to do that then so be it!

Last night was day one and I was scheduled for 20 minutes easy. I got home after dark so I ran on the treaddy after dinner. 1.91 miles in 20 minutes. I'll take it for now. I really want to get faster this year but as Bob would say, baby steps. I finished sans knee pain - yay!

It maybe didn't help my speed that I was listening to slow jams while running...hey, that's all I was in the mood for.