Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 30th, 2012 – 3.50 Mile Run

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Happy Halloween!!!! I’m not a particularly big fan of Halloween but any excuse to dress up like Michael Jackson is alright with me.

Last night was the first run I’d done since the Half on the 21st. It was great and I am *so* glad that I let myself take a full week off so that my calf could heal completely. It was the first time in quite awhile that I ran without any pain or even discomfort.

I got an e-mail with a free week pass to 24 hour Fitness. Normally you would never catch me in a gym. I am a BIG fan of open air exercise. Not only because it’s free but because you are less likely to catch a bug from the cologne-soaked, herpes infected college coed running sprints on the machine next to you.

Really, dude? I’m 40 years old! Go try making eyes at the Lycra-covered hottie on the elliptical machine with the bouncy boobs, sweating to Justin Beiber!! She’s more your speed and your cologne is seriously causing my brain to hemorrhage. Seriously, who wears cologne to the gym?!

Anyway, creepy college kids and obvious STD and Staph infestation aside, the gym has equipment that is *WAY* cooler than mine!!! My treadmill is at least 3 years older than the kid trying to catch my attention and while it will allow me to set a mph pace, it doesn’t allow me to set, say a 12min/mi pace for a quarter of a mile, then a 10:50min/mi pace for the next 2.5 miles, then a 9:30min pace for a three quarters of a mile then a 13min/mi warm down.

Also, their treadmill seemed to be much easier on my joints. I felt like I could run for hours on that thing! Certainly, it wouldn’t do to train on such nice equipment exclusively. A 13.1 mile road race after training exclusively on treadmills as soft ad puffy clouds, with “The Big Bang Theory” playing overhead, would be a rude awakening indeed. But I’d highly recommend it for people who want to comfortably work on speed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21st, 2012 –The Marla Runyan Half Marathon

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Who goes out and runs a Half Marathon without even training for it?

This girl!

While a minute part of me is impressed with the badass mutha that must make me, the majority of me knows how silly and potentially dangerous that could have been.

Fortunately, I have a pretty solid base of running experience so I was fairly certain I wouldn’t do any permanent damage but this one was pretty hairy.

My previous training run, about 5 days before the race, was supposed to be a 3.85 mile sprint. Exactly one mile from home, I strained my calf muscle and had to walk it in. I knew I’d hurt myself pretty badly and that had never happened before so I wasn’t quite sure what to do. However, I figured, I’d better rest well before the race.

Also, two weeks prior, I ran the RAD 10k in Agoura, a beautifully scenic and extremely hilly course which left me in sciatic pain agony for about 3 days.

All of these things combined, meant I didn’t get the full distance in even once before this race. The longest run I’d done was just shy of seven miles.

So I was facing this race injured and ill-prepared. What to do? What to do?!

So my options were to:

1) Run the race and risk further injury.
2) Walk the course and enjoy the scenic topography of Camarillo. Or
3) Forfeit my entry fees for a great cause, stay home and recover completely.

When I am faced with a running (or any other) conundrum, I seek the council for four men: Jesus, my husband, my brother, and my good friend Lloyd.

Jesus said, “You can do all things cuz I give you strength”. Awesome! Thanks, Jesus!!!

Chris said, “Go. And if you hurt yourself CALL ME and ask for a pick up. If you keep going and really mess yourself up, I’ll be mad at you! Now eat something and go to sleep, you have an early rise tomorrow.” Thanks, Babe, for knowing that I couldn’t back down.

Frank said, “I’m sure you’ll be fine. You’ve been running for years… You’re well prepared, if not overly prepared… Stop trippin’ and just go run it!!!” It’s so cool to have a badass ex-Marine brother who runs like chocolate lightning. He *so* gets me!

Lloyd said, “As long as you aren’t injured, just treat it like a long easy run. Do very short easy runs during the week if possible. No run the day before.” Sounds good. Lloyd always knows what to say. Of course, at the time I wasn’t injured. And had I taken his advice on the “easy does it” part, I may not have been injured at all.

As it was, I was belly up to the start line, not sure if I was going to be able to see the finish. The course was a steady climb until about the 5.5 mile mark, then a steady decline. But it was relatively flat.

I had readjusted my goal from PR, to finish in under 3 hours, to just don’t get swept up!!! (There was a rather generous 4 hour course limit).

Throughout my entire running career, I have always struck with my toe. Because of that, I tend to take smaller steps but I tend to suffer fewer injuries. It’s always worked well for me and aside from some occasional AT issues and the *very* rare blister or complete toenail loss, I saw no reason to make major adjustments to my stride.

However, having strained my left calf, planting with my toe had become excruciatingly painful. So I had about 3 days to train myself to run 13.1 miles, planting with my heel…. But only on the left!

Um….. What?!

I was already set with a good plan for hydration and calorie replacement so no worries there. So when the gun fired, it was all about getting used to this new stride and getting comfortable with it.

Miles 1 and 2 were pretty sloppy. That’s normal. The first couple miles are always a little miserable for me.

Miles 3 through 7 were about focusing on the distance and discovering that a major race is *really* the wrong time to work through a brand new running form.

By mile 8, I was literally in tears. At this point, I had run through all of my mantras and mind tricks. Michael Jackson had done all he could do and now it was time to call on a Higher Power. So I switched to my Gospel Jams and begged Jesus for help.

As usual, He was right on time. Up through about mile 8, I had maintained about an 11 minute pace. I was happy with that but it had become clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. I thought, if I could just get to mile 10, I would consider myself a success and allow myself to walk it in.

Mile 10 came and right on schedule, there was The Wall. Still, I couldn’t make myself stop. I know I should have but I thought, as long as there is breath in my body, I had to keep running. I knew a PR was out of the question but I could still make it in in under 3 hours if I just kept going.

Why? No one’s paying me. No one will think any less of me if I stopped. Even if I walked the rest of the way in, I wasn’t in much danger of being swept up. Why keep running? Certainly not to maintain my dignity! I’d left my dignity somewhere after the 9 mile mark when I arrived at the Aid Station breathless, weeping openly and unable to properly thank the kind volunteer who refilled my water bottle for me because I couldn’t get my fingers to respond to the commands my brain was sending. Why keep going?

Because I had to…… I just did.

So with my head bowed, my eyes closed and in very real danger of veering off course and into traffic, I kept running.

I can’t tell you how I got through miles 11 and 12 but I made it through. When I saw the 13 mile marker, I was so happy!!! My pace had dropped to 13 minutes but I didn’t care! This one had almost beaten me….. Almost.

This turned out to be the worst and the BEST race I’d ever done!!! Never had I ever gone into a race so discouraged and unsure of myself.

To top everything off, I made it in in under 3 hours and at the Finish Line were my two good friends: Lisa and Devin. This was Lisa and my 3rd race together and Devin and I work at the same office. It was *so* great to have people there with me after such a hard-fought victory… and yes, it was a victory!

Lisa and I did packet pick up together the day before and got to meet Marla Runyan herself! That was an honor!!!

We were all so happy to have run the race and to be done with it! I actually had a beer! I’d never had a beer after a race before but I’m given to understand that a cold beer tastes best after a long run.... And they were free to all of the Half Marathon finishers!!! I’ll have to take “their” word for it cuz I can’t imagine drinking beer just because. Ew!

I felt GREAT afterward!!! We all did! Sure, the muscles will cool and the pain will set in. I will likely have to see a doctor and I will certainly need a week to fully recover but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

These are 3 sets of very tired, very happy feet!!!

The human body is an amazing machine….. Able to withstand all manner of self-inflicted torture. I can’t wait to do it again!

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 6, 2012 – Agoura Hills RAD 10k

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

This was a great race!!! One of my favorites. It’s hilly and brutal but it actually has a net downhill. There was a 10-miler option but I have a Half in 2 weeks so I didn’t want to push it.

I had a few goals with this race. First and foremost, the goal is to PR. I finished in 1:13, which is not an overall PR but its 4 minutes faster than I finished it last year, so I’m still calling it a win. Secondly, I wanted to pace it like I would the Half I have scheduled in two weeks. Typically, I like to stay in the 12 minute mile region for the Half and for this race I was at 11:27, another win. Finally, I wanted to aggressively hydrate and refuel during this race. This was new for me.

Typically, I don’t refuel during a 10k. I always hydrate but I usually leave the Gu and Shot Bloks for the Halfs but during my last 10k in Pasadena, the aid stations were bare and I had to fight through that one with almost no supplies.

What I learned about myself is that, no matter how I fuel up before a race or run, I am at the bottom of my fuel by the 1.5 mile mark. I can power through it and hit my second wind by mile 2, but by mile 4, I am completely out of juice. Hmmm….

What if I were to hydrate throughout the race and replace my calories every 2 miles?

That was the plan!!

It worked.

While I didn’t PR on this race, it was a PR for this course. I never ran out of fuel and I never hit The Wall. I powered up the inclines and coasted down the declines. I hit all my walk intervals and finished strong. It was good. I was happy with it.

If I can do this for the Half, I’ll be satisfied.

It was a long day. Right after the race, I went to Ventura with my mother-in-law for the annual Harvest Festival. We do it every year and we shop for crafty items and Christmas gifts.

One of the vendors is a professional photographer who shoots cool landscapes and famous locations. He had shots of Penny Lane, Liverpool, the cornerstone of the hotel where John Lennon died, the gates of Graceland and all kinds of other famous graves and landmarks.

Among his super cool collection: The Gates of Neverland Ranch!!! My mother-in-law bought it for me as a belated birthday present. SCORE!!!! Love it!

This is me with my pic and my pretty baby girl before Chris and I went to the Beer Festival in Moorpark. Yep! Same day!

By the end of the day, I was exhausted but it was a GREAT day!! A PR on a killer course… A great afternoon with my mother-in-law and a super cool gift to go with it…. And an evening of holding hands and hanging out with my best guy.

You can’t beat it!

September 4th - 3.06 Miles
September 7th - 7.38 Miles
September 8th - 3.36 Miles
September 11th - 3.37 Miles
September 15th - 3.38 Miles
September 17th - 3.16 Miles
September 22nd - 5.37 Miles
September 23rd - 4.05 Miles
September 24th - 3.85 Miles
September 27th - 4.27 Miles
September 30th - 3.72 Miles
October 2nd - 3.10 Miles
October 4th - 3.50 Miles
October 6th - 6.47 Miles --> The Agoura Hills RAD 10k