Sunday, April 3, 2011

Race Recap and a Winner

Running friends and the cheering section!
Today was the Knoxville Marathon and Half Marathon.  I ran the half. It was a wonderful day for a race - a little chilly at the start, but nice and mild by the time we'd run a few miles.  We got to the start line with just a few minutes to spare, thanks to my stomach.  I had an upset stomach all night (in spite of eating carefully) and I had to take two Immodium before I left the house.  This doesn't usually bode well for a race, but I was committed, so there was nothing else to do but go on.

The corrals were very crowded, and I got into my usual 10+ minutes per mile corral.  The first mile was very congested, and I was dodging people right and left.  It was a slow mile, because you just couldn't get moving.   Once we passed the first mile I said goodbye to my training partner and started pushing the speed.  She was doing a training run and didn't want to push, so we arranged to meet at the finish line.

Our friend Kate (the tallest girl in the photo at the top of the post) is expecting a baby soon, and so she did not run.  But she came out to cheer us on, and since she was very familiar with the course, she caught us about every three miles.  It was amazing! She is the best cheerleader on the planet.  My niece stayed with Kate and the two of them were very motivating!

I was still dodging people right and left, and I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was running about 9:20.  This is a good pace for me, but it felt good so I just kept going.  I slowed a little on the hills, but never got over 10:00.  I stopped for a potty break at mile 6 (which, incidentally, was under the hour mark), but was still going strong.

I kept up the sub:10-minute miles up until about mile 11.  Just before the 11-mile point my back tightened up and my stomach started cramping.  I stopped at the next porta-potty, but that didn't help. I got a Gu, thinking that the sugar might help my stomach, but it didn't.  It felt like my Immodium was wearing off, and I still had two miles to go.  This was not good.  There was nothing to do but finish, though.  I slowed down to about an 11:30 pace (very slow for me these days) and plodded along through mile 11 and mile 12.  Even so, I hit mile 12 at two hours - again, very good for me.  At mile 13, I told myself that I had less than 15 minutes to run and I was able to push myself and speed up to about a 10:50 pace.  Still slow, but better.  

I finished the run in 2:14:13 per my Garmin. I'd hoped for 2:10 or better, but this was all I had in me today.  On the other hand, I finished. And then couldn't find a potty to save my life after reaching the finish line - let's just say that I was very close to needing a shower instead of a potty by the time I finally found one.  My back was very sore, but the post-race party featured an assisted stretching area with trainers and physical therapists to help you stretch out the soreness.  I stopped by while I was waiting for my training partner to finish, but I didn't think it would help much. Boy, was I wrong! The deep stretches really helped and I was much less tight when I finished. I always forget how good a post-run stretch feels! I really need to stretch more often.

I'm not unhappy with today even though it was not entirely what I'd hoped for, because I am just two weeks out from re-injuring my back and I had the raging trots (I know - TMI!) all night.  I can tell I'm getting stronger - I was able to keep up the sub-10:00 miles during the first ten miles.  I'm not at all sure I'd have been able to continue beyond that even if it hadn't been for the other issues, because I'm still building my speed and endurance, and ten miles of hard running is the most I've done to date. So, odds are good that I was going to slow down at mile 11 no matter what.

I think I want to do another half sometime in May or June, just to see what I can do with it.  I'm convinced that I can (someday) pull off a sub-2:00:00 marathon.  Not in May or June, but surely within the next year.  That's my goal, anyway.  We'll see!

And, now that you've read my whiny post, I know you want to know about the giveaway!  Well, I found some great things while shopping, so I chose two numbers.  First, number 43, is Kim, who just ran her first half-marathon today!  Kim posted: "I am a follower!"  Second, number 106, is Kristen, who wrote: "I Facebooked the giveaway!"  I have just started reading Kristen's blog, and she is newly hooked on the half-marathon, as well.  Kristen and Kim, please contact me at trp100329(at)cs.com so we can get those Easter "baskets" on the way!  A great big thank you to everyone who entered, and wait 'til you see what I come up with in May! :)


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Half Marathon Weekend

It's race weekend here in Knoxville! The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is tomorrow, and Melissa and I are running the half.  Today was packet pick-up at the expo.  I love race expos.  Seriously, love them.  I love hanging with other runners, and I love the shopping, and I love all the informational booths, and did I mention the shopping???  Speaking of shopping, I got a few cute things for my Easter basket giveaway. There's one more day to enter, if you haven't already. 

I also got a new pair of shoes - half price! I didn't really need the shoes yet, but it won't hurt to have another pair to rotate, since I have dedicated one pair of shoes to trail running.  I know they make great trail shoes but I don't run trails often enough to feel justified in buying a pair.  If I keep running trails, I may re-evaluate that, but right now I'm content to use a slightly used pair of running shoes.

I also discovered that we have a local health shop with an Alter-G treadmill, and a Bod Pod, and VO2 max testing, among other things.  Right here in our own little town! How cool is that? There's also a local chapter of Girls on the Run, and a wonderful wellness center - all within easy reach of my home.  I'd never have known about any of it without the expo.  

And tomorrow is the run - Melissa is using it as a training run and taking it easy. I'm going to push it, I think.  Not an all-out effort, mind you (it isn't worth starting over with back rehab) but a solid effort, and we'll see how it goes.  I'll post a race recap (and the giveaway winner!) tomorrow.  Who else is racing this weekend?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Busy!

Crazy busy here right now, and some family drama about which I won't elaborate, but it was pretty bad.  I should get back to regular posting if I survive this week!  Ran 3.5 miles yesterday without pain, so that's something.  Half marathon this Sunday - still not sure if I'm going to race it and try to PR or just run it for fun and finish.  I think I'm going to see how I feel that morning, and take it from there.

Have a great night, everyone, and I promise I'll make the rounds of your blogs and get caught up this weekend!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Week Sans Weekend

This weekend I'm attending an anesthesia review course with our junior students. So, it's the week without a weekend - the course covers 10-11 hours on Firday and Saturday and 7 hours on Sunday. In fact, I'm posting this on a quick break. I envy all of you who are running or racing this weekend.  On the other hand, if I had to pick the perfect weekend to rest my back, this is probably it.  I'm wearing one of those ThermoCare wraps and taking it easy today. And, yes, I feel horrible about not running - but it's only three days.  Three days doesn't make or break your fitness, right? Right?  Please tell me I'm right - I have a half marathon next weekend!!!  Oh, well - I'll finish it, that much is certain. Here's hoping your weekend is better than mine!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bringing Stupid Back!

Yep, I'm bringing stupid back.  I know, I know - it never left, right?  Well, this morning I was working out at the gym, and I was using fairly heavy weights, because I do not believe that nonsense about women and light weights and toning.  Utter BS. However, let me add the caveat that if you are a woman in her mid-40's who has allowed her fitness to lapse and then tried to regain it, perhaps you should not be squatting with 120% of your body weight just a few weeks into resuming weight training. There's heavy and then there's stupid.

You already know this isn't going to end well, and sure enough, it didn't. I completed a repetition, thought, "Hmm. I'm feeling that rather more in my back than in my legs..." and then completed another rep. Why?  Because I had two more reps to go, and heaven forbid I don't finish the prescribed number of repetitions. The sky might fall in, and chaos would ensue, or something.  And on the last repetition, my lower back seized up.  So, I stood up as best I could, and cussed and whined a bit.

And then, of course I went immediately to the showers floor exercise area, where I proceeded to do walking lunges and box jumps.  Yes, my friends, I am afraid I did that.  Because I was just certain that it was just a severe twinge and it would go away if I kept moving.  Then I tried to go get on Jacob's Ladder and my back protested so loudly that I finally got the message and went to the showers.

Now I'm sitting at my desk with a heat wrap on my back, lamenting my own stupidity.  I was just getting to the point where I could do half-mile repeats at an 8:30 pace!! I have a half marathon in two weeks that I was hoping to PR.  Instead, I will have to slow down and go back through the rehab sequence again. Yay. Anybody know any good lower-back strengthening exercises?  Looks like I'm going to need 'em!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Running

This has been a wonderful running weekend! On Saturday, I joined my training partner (Melissa) and my friend Kim for a long run.  Kim, her husband and I planned a 12-miler and Melissa wanted to run 5.  So, Melissa ran with us to the 2.5 mile point and then she turned back.  The rest of us continued on.  We were running the local Greenways and by the time we got to mile 3 we were in a part of town that I had never seen before.  I told Kim that she'd better not leave me because I didn't think I could find my way back to the car!

Kim was having a rough day - she didn't want to quit, but she definitely wasn't feeling very good. She kept going, though - she was determined to log those long run miles.  I was proud of her - if every run were easy, everybody would be a runner.  It's the tough ones that define us and make us stronger.  So, 12 miles on the book for Saturday.

Today, Melissa and I drove out to the local nature preserve for a trail race.  It was my first trail race, and I didn't really know what to expect.  I did expect to be a minute or so per mile slower than my normal pace - ha! Try 3-4 minutes per mile slower! Now, Melissa was having a rough time with the hills (and some of them, seriously, were almost completely vertical), so she walked many of them.  I would run them and then slow down and wait for her on the downhill. She kept telling me to leave her, but I was afraid to - the trails were really rough and if either of us had fallen and broken a leg or something it would have taken hours to get us out of there - if anybody realized we were hurt. So, I could (maybe) have knocked a minute or two off the per-mile pace, but to what end? I still wouldn't have had a competitive time, and why risk a broken ankle over a ten-dollar trail run?

Look at that view!  Yeah, we climbed for it!
Now, that makes it sound bad, but the truth is that we had a blast. We worked really hard, even at the slow pace, but it was just fun to be running up and down hills and over logs and rocks and creeks - I felt like I was somebody on The Discovery Channel, or something - the scenery was that rugged. All in all, we covered 6.5 miles of gnarly woods for a simple white tee shirt and bragging rights.  This will definitely not be our last trail run!

This run also finished up the Cupcake Marathon for me, and almost knocked it out for Melissa.  To that end, we needed some photos:

Melissa - love the skirt!

Me in my Moving Comfort Alexis tank - LOVE that tank!
Yes, the angle makes us look short and stocky.  Oh, who am I kidding - I am short and stocky!  But take a close look at our previously-white shoes and you'll get an idea of the kind of fun we had just before these shots were taken!  See Ms. Garmin on my wrist?  She goes with me on every outdoor run these days - how did I ever live without her?  

I ran 18.5 miles this weekend, and I feel great! How was your weekend?

P.S. If you haven't entered my Easter giveaway, scroll down! :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Runner's Easter "Basket" Giveaway

I've been toying with the idea of a giveaway, partially inspired by Leah and partially inspired by my love of all things Easter.  I love Easter so much that my youngest child is 20 and I still insist on coloring eggs every year.  I buy everyone in the house an Easter basket, and frankly, they're kind of tired of it.  So it's your turn - well, one of you, anyway! Maybe two if I'm having fun with the thing.

So, here's the deal - leave me a comment on why you love (or hate) Easter.  If you don't celebrate Easter, you can substitute the spring holiday of your choice.  One of you (maybe two) will win an assortment of runner's Easter basket (or spring basket, if you don't celebrate Easter) goodies.  I probably won't send an actual basket on the assumption that you'd rather see me spend that money on goodies. However, Easter shopping has been known to make me a little crazy, so there is no telling what you'll get!

For extra entries, follow my blog (leave a comment telling me you're a follower) and post this on your blog, or FB, or Twitter. I'll draw a winner on April 3rd.  Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Interview

Well, we drove to Memphis, spent a very pleasant evening downtown, took a carriage ride back to the hotel and I went to bed early for my interview.  I was sooo nervous - I woke up at 3, and then 4, and then 5 and finally at 5:30 I got dressed and went to the hotel gym to run on the treadmill.  The gym was nice enough, but it was so hot in there that I had to take three water breaks during a five mile run.  Finally, toward the end of the run, I found the thermostat - figures, doesn't it?  Somebody had it set on 75  - too warm for an indoor gym! And I like warm!

Then back to the room for a shower, and into the monkey suit for the interview.  We left early for campus because neither of us knows much about Memphis.  Fortunately, the place was easy to find.  I made it to the interview site about half an hour early.  

I got called back, we spoke for about twenty minutes and then it was over.  I fumbled some things I wanted to say, and couldn't think of other things I'd meant to ask or emphasize.  But the interviewers were very kind and engaging, and I just have to hope that it was enough. Then the six-hour drive home and I'm back at work tomorrow.  Thanks, everyone, for the kind words and positive thoughts.  Since a doctoral degree is required for me to keep my job, I hope they let me know soon!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Lazy Evening

On the couch, with snuggling chihuahuas, is the perfect cure for what ails me.  Well, that and a glass of wine! I have my doctoral interview across the state this week, and so I leave tomorrow for a road trip with the hubs.  Wish it were for something fun, instead of something nerve-wracking!  Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

BlisterZilla's Revenge

Well, BlisterZilla has had the last laugh.  I decided to run today because my weekly mileage was low and because I love running at this time of year - I have the day off and can run outside, and no way I was going to waste an outdoor spring run when everything is blooming and the air feels (and smells) sooo good.  Also, I had arranged to meet some friends for breakfast at IHOP and there's no way I can eat pancakes on a non-running day!!!

So I ran an easy 5-miler, and it was fantastic.  At one point I was running on a long downhill and I could see the sun rising over the Smokey Mountains in the distance and everything was right with the world.  If I could bottle that feeling and sell it I'd be a millionaire.  And then BlisterZilla broke.  She had a giant moleskin pad over her, so there was some protection, but I could feel her break and the last two miles back to my house were NOT fun.  

On a positive note, my average pace for this run was 10:09 - and it was an easy run.  Not laid back, have a picnic easy, but conversational, pleasant easy.  There was a time (not so long ago!) when holding a 10:30 pace was a maximal effort.  So from that standpoint, I'm getting stronger.  

But now I have neosporin and a bandage over the remains of Blisterzilla, and I'm wearing padded socks and Crocs.  Such a great look!  Have a great Sunday, everyone - I'll be staying off of my feet!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

BlisterZilla

I had a lovely 11-mile run planned today, with my friend Kim (who just ran 11 miles for the first time EVER today - stop by and congratulate her if you get a minute!), and it was a beautiful sunny morning, and I was rested and hydrated and even fed!  And the run felt great - we were keeping a brisk but manageable pace through the first couple of miles, and then I needed a bathroom.  The only potty I knew of was back at the start, so I decided to run back to the start (for a total of just over 5 miles) and then run back out and catch Kim and her hubby on the way back.  

So, I ran back by myself to the potty, and it's a darn good thing I did (the less said about THAT, the better!), and then ran back again to the point where I'd left Kim and her hubs, and things were still fine, and then about mile 6 I started feeling a hot spot on the instep of my right foot.

Now, blisters are nothing new to me - I've fought them for years.  I've used BodyGlide, and deodorant, and duct tape, and special socks and moleskin.  I've tried walking barefoot outside to toughen my feet.  Nothing really prevents them.

Moleskin is really the bomb, as far as I'm concerned - it really works once I get the inevitable hot spots.  So, for years I have carried it with me for long runs.  But about three months ago, I stopped having blister issues and I thought the problem was gone forever.  Boy, am I an idiot.  

Because by mile 9, the hot spot was seriously interfering with my run.  I had to apologize to Kim and cut my run short.  I finished ten miles and then went straight to the car to peel off my shoe and sock, and this is what I found: (Warning: Do NOT scroll down if gnarly runner feet repulse you!!!)



I have named her BlisterZilla.  She is evil.  I am going to smother her in moleskin tomorrow and run anyway, but darn it, darn it, darn it! I know better. I know I need to carry moleskin with me for every long run - heaven knows, I buy industrial-sized rolls of the stuff! Why, why, why didn't I put a few squares in my CamelBak pocket? This is what happens when you let your guard down - stinkin' blisters!

I am so angry with myself over this that I could scream - sheer carelessness caused this blister, and now it will take at least a week to heal.  Stupid blister! Stupid foot!  Do you struggle with blisters?  If so, how do you handle them?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1: I am tired.

2. I am tired.

3. I am tired.

Hey, I didn't say three different things, did I? I'm so tired that I originally typed "Three Thongs Thursday" as the title of this post.  Think on THAT one awhile!

But, the weekend is coming - one more day and I can sleep in a little.  I have an 11-miler planned for Saturday (with a friend), but I think we'll run mid-morning, so I can sleep until 7.  That's like half the day!  Have a happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The 8:31 Mile

Thank you, Google!
So, last week I broke the 9 minute mile barrier.  I honestly didn't think I had it in me - in fact, the 9-10 minute per mile pace feels like a pretty hard effort to me.  But, it was 60 degrees out and the sun was getting ready to set and I've been doing most of my runs on the treadmill, so it felt great just to be outside.  And I was pushing the four-mile loop around my house and I just felt really strong on mile 2, so I decided to push that mile just about as hard as I could.  And I ran it in 8:31, according to Ms. Garmin. I haven't done that since I left the Army, at least 7 years ago.

And, if I can do one mile at 8:31, I can build up to do more miles at a little slower than that pace, right?  Surely I could do more miles at the 9:00 pace. I could run a 10K at that pace. I could conceivably (someday) run a half-marathon at that pace, couldn't I?  Now, I'm not going to do it next week, or even next month... but I wonder if it's doable within the year? Am I out of my freakin' mind?  What say you, running guru buddies?  What's your best speed-building tip?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Home Base Raffle

Stephanie at Running to Health is hosting a fabulous raffle to raise money for wounded veterans.  You may have figured out by now that I have a soft spot for our military, and so this was a cause I knew I had to support.  Leave it to Stephanie to find the way to sweeten the pot in such a way as to be irresistible to runners - you really have to check out the prizes! Compression gear, hydration belts, Bondi-bands... the list is amazing!  Stop by, check it out, and support a fellow runner for a great cause!

A Lazy Weekend

I'm having a lazy weekend, and I think it's okay.  I've worked for two weeks straight before this weekend, and worked out almost every day (I think I took one day off of the gym in that two-week period).  I had a run planned for Saturday, but issues with my son and car trouble left me unable to complete it, and today it is cold and wet (we even had snow for about an hour!) and I am completely pooped, so I'm giving myself the weekend off.

Tomorrow I'll exercise in the morning and I'm seriously thinking (because I am certifiably nuts!) of starting P90X alternating with short, fast runs in the evenings. A rest weekend before I start that insanity is probably a good idea.  And even if it isn't, I'm taking it.  So there! :)

How is your weekend going?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon!

Some of you may know that my son recently completed an overseas tour of duty in Afghanistan.  And, like most Army moms, I was very anxious for most of the deployment.  The only respite from that anxiety came during an R&R tour when my son came home for two weeks. The USO arranged for us to surprise him at the airport and bring him home with us.  This is just one of many little things they do to support our troops overseas.


I know this is a cheesy beer commercial, but this is what the USO organized for my son's return, and in Atlanta the volunteers tell me they do this for every soldier, any time of the day or night.  They have food and drinks available for soldiers on long layovers, and that's just what they do for our men and women returning from deployment.  Overseas, they provide phone time so soldiers can talk to family members, and they support wounded troops, and provide entertainment programs (which really help with the stress of a tough deployment, and I think that one could make the argument that any deployment to the middle east is a tough deployment), and supply care packages, and generally look out for the well-being of our soldiers.

When Joshua got home safely, I felt this overwhelming gratitude that he had made it safely home.  And then my thoughts turned immediately to his buddies, and the thousands like them, who are still serving overseas.  I've become friends with the family members of some of these young men and women, and I know they pray every day for the safe return of their loved ones. And I had to do something for those who are still over there, serving patiently so that I have the freedom to think and speak and write and worship as I choose.

So, when I saw that I could run the Marine Corps Marathon to support Team USO, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give something back to the men and women who are waiting for their turn to come home. And, because I have to drag my training partner along with me in everything I do (or maybe she drags me along - or a little of both?), I conned Melissa into signing up, too!  Ok, that's a lie - I didn't have to do any conning - Melissa is a retired Marine, and she jumped at the chance to support the troops and run the People's Marathon.

Of course, now we have to do some fundraising, because if we run but don't raise anything we haven't supported the troops at all.  So, I'll keep you all updated on our fundraising efforts as we go along.  If you have any great ideas, I am happy to hear them! And if any of you are interested in joining us, you can do so here: Team USO. There is a fundraising committment, but we have nearly nine months to make it happen, so I think we can manage!

Oh, and I think we have to push Greece back a year - Melissa has her heart set on running it for her 50th birthday, and what's another year?  So, there will be another year of adventures before I have to change the name of this blog!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Jeff's Virtual 5K and The Cupcake Marathon 2011

I love the idea of virtual races.  I need motivation to keep running, but racing every few weeks can get expensive and time-consuming.  So, I'm running Jeff's Virtual 5K early this month, and I just discovered The Cupcake Marathon for later in the month.  Two great races to keep me going though March!

The best part is that you can run these on your own time, at your own pace.  You can even run the marathon over several days - that's a great way to motivate me to put in my weekly miles!  Jeff, Jason and Christel have even found sponsors for their races, so you can win prizes.  So, if you need a little kick in the pants to get out the door into this not-quite-spring weather, check out both of these great races!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

And a WINNER!

Oh, and lest you think I forgot (which I did forget, but just briefly!) - I just used random.org to pick a winner in my CSN giveaway and the winning comment was the very last one - #41! How often does random.org pick the LAST number?  I'm not sure I've ever seen that, honestly!

So, the winner is Liz - congratulations, Liz! Get in touch with me and I'll send you the code.  Thank you, everybody, for entering!

Home Again!

We're home again - it's so good to come home! :) I've had a good week, though - got some ideas to incorporate into our curriculum, made some great contacts,  mapped out (tentatively) my doctoral project (you don't do a thesis for a clinical practice doctorate - instead, you do a big capstone project) - all in all, a very productive week.  

I also managed to work out every day at 5:30 a.m. - running on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and a whole-body weight workout on Friday.  Our organization's wellness committee hosted an informal walk/run every morning, and the group pace was a bit faster than my comfortable pace, but I hung in there with them for the faster runs.  Every mile this week was a sub 10:00 pace - some of them as fast as 9:05, which is pretty fast for me.

I also wore heels every day (which I never do - my "uniform" is scrubs and sneakers, with a white lab coat for the office).  I mention the heels only because I started having some shin pain on the left leg this morning after the workout, and I wonder if it's the fact that I ran harder for several days, or the heels, or a combination of the two.  

My goal several months ago was to break the 10:00 barrier.  I think I've successfully done that, at least on the shorter runs.  I'm now wondering if I shouldn't take a bit of a break and do a few runs at an easier pace to see if this pain goes away.  I can always pull the inclines back out, because with those you get a kick-butt workout without all the pounding of a fast pace. Tomorrow is slated as a weight workout with  short period of cardio after, so we'll see how I feel.  If I'm having pain, I'll go at a slower pace on a high incline and just make it a hill workout. Or maybe just hop on Jacob's Ladder for twenty minutes - if any machine will kick your tail, that one will!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Random Randomness

I'm sitting here watching these folks on The Biggest Loser and reflecting that, even though I think my workouts suck, that they would suck a lot more if I were three times my size.  And if they can push that hard, I can push a little harder.  That's what this show does to me - it strengthens my resolve to push myself.

I really am tired of winter.  We're having a little warm spell here in East Tennessee, but I know there's going to be at least one more cold snap before winter gives up the ghost for the year, and I dread it.

My feet are in terrible shape.  I want spring to come in the worst way, except for the whole sandals thing.  Putting ugly feet in pretty sandals doesn't help the feet or the sandals. I have one toenail that may never grow back.  I guess that's the price we pay, huh? 

Speaking of toes, chihuahuas do not like having their nails clipped.  But they do like being bribed with chicken to hold still while their nails are being clipped.  It balances out.

There's too much drama involved in a relationship when you're 19 or 20.  It wears me out, just trying to keep up! They're on again, and off again, and on again... and when they're on again they looooove each other so much that they never want to be apart. Until the next day, when they're off again.  It's like a soap opera, right here, in my own house! This is what all of you out there with little ones have to look forward to.  Just warning you!

I'm on my way to a faculty conference in Florida tomorrow.  Luckily, I have grown boys at home (see above) to look after the house and the animals (and my car, but that's another story!). I probably won't be able to post again until Sunday. In the meantime, have a wonderful week, and if you're racing this week (Disney, anyone?), good luck!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Perfect Run

Yesterday I had one of those perfect runs.  You know, the runs where you feel strong and fit and happy and the sun is shining but it's not too hot and there really isn't anywhere you'd rather be right that minute than running?  Well, some of you may have those runs every single day, but I get one about once every few weeks.  Often enough to keep me coming back, to be sure, but not often enough for me to consider a training run a "fun" experience.

In fact, sometimes people will say, "But you like running!" Well, yes and no.  I really like the way I feel after a run, and those perfect runs (like yesterday's) are amazing, but most days I'd really rather sleep in than get up early and drag my butt out for a workout.  Many times it isn't fun, but the results are wonderful and so I do it anyway.

But yesterday - the temperature was about 60 degrees, and the sun was shining.  There was a little wind, but not too much, and I was running with two buddies.  One of them is several months into her pregnancy, so we tend to let her set the pace - yesterday she felt comfortable at about a 10:30 pace, so that's what we ran.  

We ran about six miles, which was as far as our mama-to-be wanted to run.  Then we said goodbye to her, but we wanted to put in a few more miles, so Kim and I ran four more, still holding steady at about a 10:30 pace.  We finished our run in about an hour and six minutes, which represented an 8 minute PR for ten miles for Kim - isn't that wonderful?!

Kim didn't want to brag about her accomplishment, but I think that she deserves to brag.  She's lost over 80 pounds and she runs nearly every day, steadily getting stronger and faster.  And fellow runners are the only ones who can truly appreciate the effort that goes into knocking almost a minute per mile off of your long run pace. So, since Kim won't brag, I'm bragging for her - thanks for a perfect run, Kim, and congratulations on your PR! And thanks to the rest of you for letting me ramble.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway if you haven't already, and here's hoping we all have a wonderful, fabulous, injury-free, perfect running week!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CSN Stores Giveaway

You all may know that I'm a fan of CSN stores.  I got my lovely foam roller from CSN, and last year I did some of my Christmas shopping through CSN. The prices were great, delivery was quick (and shipping is often free!) and I didn't even have to leave the office.  Which is good, because it's my second home.  The office, not CSN stores. :)

Which brings me to the giveaway - CSN stores has generously offered a $35 code to one of my readers! You can use your CSN code on anything from foam rollers or fitness equipment to the Le Creuset French Oven I've been drooling over. (Yeah, the hubs and I are foodies!). Wouldn't a lovely batch of boeuf bourguignon taste better out of this little beauty??

To enter the giveaway, just follow my blog.  That's it. Let me know in the comments that you're a follower, and I'll make sure you're entered in the drawing.  Oh, you want extra entries, do you?  Well, alright - blog or Facebook or Twitter about the giveaway for an extra entry. Stop by the CSN store linked above and tell me what you like for another extra entry. Leave a separate comment for each entry, so that I can make sure you get credit for everything.

I'll draw a winner on February 27 and do my best to post that the same day.  Good luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Incline Work

Who had the bright idea of all this treadmill incline work?  Because, let me tell you, that person needs a smack upside the head! Oh, wait - that was me! Yeah. I'm an idiot. Anyhoo, I've worked up to 4-5% incline now. It still stinks.  I know it works, though, as evidenced by my recent excursion through the very hilly backroads of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee.

Melissa and I are four weeks into Body for Life, and we can definitely tell a difference.  There are little muscles peaking out here and there!  I love feeling strong and fit again. We'll probably do two cycles of the program (24 weeks total) and see where we are at that point.  Well, I'll do 24 weeks and drag Melissa kicking and screaming along with me! The weights are not her fave - she's a cardio girl.

Oh, and I have a little problem. My clothes don't fit any more. Yep, it's true.  I wear scrubs most of the time at work, and those can be baggy and nobody cares, but we have a faculty conference next week and I am scrambling to find appropriate clothes that fit. The petite departments around here contain clothes that look like my grandmother OR my teenage nieces should be wearing them.  As much as I love those gals, their clothes are not suitable for me at this stage of the game.

I know, I know - half the people in the world would love to have my problem. I'm not whining - at least not much!  But I leave for the conference in a week and the pickings are pretty slim in the wardrobe department.  Anybody know a good tailor?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Commenting Difficulties

Well, for some reason I am having trouble leaving comments on some of your blogs.  If you are on my blogroll and you didn't get a comment from me this evening, it was not for lack of trying! I'll try again later in the week.  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When You Run With A Cold...

You shouldn't be surprised if you wake up the next day and the cold is worse.  I started coughing right at the finish line of the half marathon and have been coughing ever since.  But it's going to be 55 or 60 degrees outside today, so I may have no choice but to get out and do a slow recovery run in all that warm sunshine! Hey, it's therapeutic, right? (Cough, cough, hack hack!) Hope you're getting some warm sunshine wherever you are today!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A NEW PR!!!

Well, I just finished the Strawberry Plains Half Marathon, and I PR'd it! By about 14 minutes! My time was 2:15:10 for 13.18 miles (by Garmin - official results will be ~2 minutes slower because I paused Mr. Garmin for my potty break). It did take a little bit to get going again after the stop, but if I hadn't stopped heaven knows what would have happened.  There aren't many leaves on the bushes this time of year, if you know what I mean! 

Now, to be honest, when I was running in the late 90's and early 00's, I probably had faster runs than this.  I was in the Army, and I was pretty fit, and I know my times were faster because my two-mile PT test was always under 17 minutes.  Which is not blazingly fast, by any means, but it is a respectable pace.  However, I never really kept track of times back then. I just ran.  So, it's probably a PR solely because I didn't record the faster runs in those days.

However, it's a definite PR for the me of today, and that's really what matters, isn't it? Here are the splits:


100:09:441.0009:44
200:09:281.0009:29
300:09:341.0009:34
400:10:021.0010:03
500:09:451.0009:45
600:09:551.0009:55
700:10:411.0010:42
800:10:221.0010:22
900:10:261.0010:26
1000:10:301.0010:30
1100:11:011.0011:01
1200:10:311.0010:31
1300:11:141.0011:15
1400:01:480.1810:11



Mile 7 was a GU break and right at mile 10 was a potty break, so mile 11 was a little slow - I had to get into my running stride again.  Mile 13 was slower simply because I'd been pushing it, and by that point I was just about pegged out.  That was okay, though - you know you've had a good run when you really think you might throw up at the finish line.  Presumably it's a great run if you DO throw up at the finish line, but that hasn't happened to me recently! 

The course was gorgeous - through lots of farmland and by a winding river - but it was very hilly.  This is East Tennessee, and one thing we have here in abundance is hills. However, since I've been doing a crapload a lot of hill training, the hills weren't so bad.  I didn't walk any of them, although plenty of people did. The big one was right around mile 7 - it seemed to go on forever! But I just kept plugging away, and that strategy worked.

Overall, I am pleased with my race today and I think this is evidence that my treadmill training strategy (which sucks, if I haven't mentioned that already) is at least effective.  I think I'll keep it up for another few weeks and then see what happens.

I just want to give a shout out here to all the folks who volunteer for races - my husband, my son and my son's fiancee all got up this morning and went to the race with me as volunteers.  About 90 people worked hard over two days so that some 700 others could enjoy a nice race on a gorgeous day.  Hug a volunteer, people!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dreadmill Work

It's winter, and I work long hours.  That means that the bulk of my weekly runs are on the treadmill, because I leave home when it's dark outside and get home after dark in the evening.  And I was getting to the point where I actually preferred the treadmill to a run outside. You're in a sad state, my friends, if you'd rather run on the treadmill than out in the fresh air - at least if the external temperature is over 35 degrees fahrenheit!

You may remember, too, that I want to get faster.  Running the same treadmill run every week will maintain my fitness baseline, but I won't see any improvement.  So, I did a little research and came across this little gem: Treadmill Effort Chart. And I realized that running on the treadmill without an incline is easier than running outside.  I preferred the treadmill because it was easier than running outside - my innate lazy nature was coming out! I had to nip that in the bud.

So, for the last month I've been doing my treadmill runs on an incline for as long as I can stand it.  I can hold a 3% incline at a 10:00 - 10:30 pace for 35 minutes now, and I expect to increase that to 45 minutes over the next month.  It sucks. Massively. But I am getting stronger and more fit, and I hope I'll see some good results when I get back out on the road again this spring.

I have a half-marathon this weekend, but it's going to be cold so I don't think it will be a true test of my training.  I think I'm going to have to wait until March or April to see if there's any benefit to all this incline running.  I hope there is, because I'd hate to waste all this misery!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Turning a Corner

If you've ever been really fit, and then let it lapse (for way longer than you meant to!) and then regained that fitness, you know what the title of this post is about.  There's a point in your training that you know you're on your way back. You just feel it - your clothes fit differently and your muscles have a different tone and you even move differently.

I've reached that point this week.  Now, I'm not going to tell you that I consider myself "fit" right now - I still have a ways to go before I'll be satisfied.  But I've turned a corner, and fit is just down the block! I can see it! I know I can get there from here! Up to now I wasn't so sure - I was beginning to think that letting my fitness go for anesthesia school had been a grave mistake, because it has been much more difficult to regain this time. If you're over 40, think very carefully before you put your fitness on a back burner! The rebound at this age is not much fun.

If you've let your fitness lapse and you despair of ever regaining it, hang in there and keep training.  If you hit a plateau, shake things up with some new moves.  Do something completely different from your usual routine: find a workout buddy with a different routine, or take a spin class, or borrow a new DVD, or hire a trainer for a session or two. Most importantly, keep moving!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Groundhog Lied

Thank you, Google!
I think the groundhog lied - we're expecting snow tonight, and more cold and snow next week.  My Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full swing, and it feels like all I do is sleep and eat and work and exercise.  Which is an improvement, because usually in the winter all I do is sleep and eat and work. Lather, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum, until I wake up in the spring.  I'm sure I was a bear in another life!

But General Beauregard Lee didn't see his shadow, and we're supposed to have an early spring.  All I can say is, it can't come soon enough! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Newbies in the Gym

I was working out this morning (at 5:15, because Melissa and I are idiots like that) and watching one of the newbies at my gym work on the elliptical trainer in sweats and a heavy cotton hoodie. And I was pretty warm in my short-sleeved tech tee, so he must have been dying under all those layers.  Maybe he wanted to sweat some weight off?  At any rate, that's what got me thinking about newbies in the gym.

We all know what January and February bring - all the New Year's Resolutioners come out to the gym in droves. And they hog the machines, and they don't understand letting someone else work through, and they just get in the way.  And most of the regular gym-goers grit their teeth until March or so, when the rush dies down and most of the New Year's Resolution crowd has gone back to their former ways.

I think, though, that we should all welcome and encourage new people to come to the gym, or join us on the trails.  Even if they slow us down a bit at at first, and even if they get in the way.  Here's why: even the most athletic of us was new to the gym or to the trail once.  We've all been there! Maybe somebody was kind enough to mentor us, or maybe we soldiered through on our own, but we were all the newbie at some point.

Additionally, obesity and inactivity costs money.  And we all pay - to the tune of $147 billion a year or so. Some researchers predict that if we keep going on our current path, half of the US will be obese by 2020. Think about that - half of the population.  It's mind-boggling! And, yes, a person can exercise regularly and still be overweight, but I really think that a lot of the health psoblems associated with obesity are also a result of inactivity - if a person who is overweight is exercising regularly, I think it's safe to say that they'll have fewer complications than someone who spends the day on the couch.

It's also true that fitness feels good! But it doesn't necessarily feel good while you're getting there, and if you've never been fit you don't know how good you're going to feel when you do get fit and healthy.  Wouldn't it be great if everyone in America could feel what we feel after a good race? Maybe that newbie just needs a little encouragement so they can get past the initial aches and pains and start feeling the rewards of their hard work.

Finally, the more people engage in a given activity, the more resources are alloted to that activity.  So, if a large part of your community takes up cycling, for instance, it's a pretty good bet that more cycling trails will be built, and there will be more cycling events to participate in.  Numbers = resources, and which of our sports couldn't use a few more resources? And I can assure you that those of us at the back of the pack are perfectly happy to support those of you at the front of the pack - and we do so, by paying entry fees into races we have no hope of winning, and by buying merchandise from the vendors that sponsor you, and by simply admiring you as you race ahead.  More newbies means more dollars to go into the prize pots, and more sponsorships for elite athletes.

As to gym and trail and race etiquette, well - that can be taught.  So, consider taking a newbie under your wing this year.  Teach them to share the trails and the gym equipment, and teach them to line up appropriately at the start of a race. I think you'll find that helping someone else has rewards of its own!