Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pictures in the Meanwhile

Sorry for the silence. I've been in a sorry state around here. My foot has kept me hobbling since Sunday, I tweaked my back on Tuesday, and have been sick since Thursday! Yup, total whammy week for me.

But on I'm the up and will be posting soon. Lots to catch up on!

In the meanwhile, here are pictures of Nugget and his milkshake (technically it was for the three of us, but someone didn't get that memo).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reality Check: Lessons Learned from My GW Parkway Classic Race

I ran a good race (for me) this weekend, but there is always something to learn.  Here are my takeaways from the 2012 GW Parkway Classic 10-miler:

Refuel before you need to refuel:  My original plan was to take a Clif Shot Gel at the 5-mile mark.  But when I passed the 5-mile post, I was feeling really good so I changed my mind and decided to take the gel at the 7-mile mark for added boost at the end of the race.  Bad idea.  By mile 5.5, I was spiraling downward fast.  I took my gel and had some Gatorade, and ran miles 6 & 7 faster.  (I am wondering though, can I train myself to go without fuel for longer periods of time?  Or is that unadvisable?  Hmmm...)

My fuel of choice this race via  ClifBar

Know your limits:  I told myself that I would push really hard through miles 8 & 9, but I didn't have enough in me to sustain a push that long.  Not to mention I completely forgot about running mile 10.  Instead, I should have stayed on pace through miles 8 & 9, and pushed hard at mile 10.  I possibly could have ran every mile sub-9:00, and finished with a better time.  It would also help if I learned how to do math.

via SparkPeople

Smile!: I'm making this a running goal, both in races and during my regular runs.  I try to smile as much as possible when I run (yes, to the point of looking like a crazed maniac) because it reminds me that I really do enjoy being out there torturing my body pushing my limits, and I feel that reminding myself of that makes me a better runner.  And its not just me.  Ultrarunner Krissy Moehler believes that too.


What lessons have you learned from a race?

How do you develop your race strategies?  Through experience?  With a coach?  By the seat of your pants?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

GW Parkway Classic Recap

I ran the 28th George Washington Parkway Classic 10-miler this morning.  It is put on by Pacers, a running store local to the DC area.  The race was executed flawlessly.  But before we get to the race, lets talk about getting our little family unit to the race.


The race was held in Alexandria, VA, about an hour from our house.  It is a point-to-point course, meaning the start and finish lines are (in this case) 10 miles apart.  Buses were provided so runners could park at the finish line and get shuttled to the start.  Not to mention, the start line was at Mt. Vernon and there was no parking available nearby.  The race details encouraged runners to get to the buses by 6:30, with the strict warning that the last bus would leave promptly at 7:00 (the race started at 8:00am).  

With this in mind, I told the hubs that I wanted to leave our house by 5:00, so that in the event we hit traffic into Alexandria, the likelihood of me getting to the buses by 6:30 was still high.  Which meant I needed to wake up by 4:15.  I guess I was really nervous about this race, because I woke up at 3:45.

I ate a leisurely breakfast of a banana, two pieces of raisin-walnut toast with almond butter and a cup of coffee.  To get me pumped, I read Born to Run (absolutely loving this book, but I'll talk about it once I'm finished). The hubs was downstairs by 4:30.  I got dressed, gathered last minute items, and loaded everything into the car while the Hubs grabbed Nugget.

Ready to race!

 The kid was amazing.  He didn't cry or fuss, and he seemed eager to be going on an adventure so early in the morning.  His two demands: juice and music.  Once he had both, he was golden.  Sadly, he didn't fall asleep AT ALL on the hour drive to Alexandria, which caught up to him (and us) a little later in the day.  But he was still a trooper.

We encountered ZERO traffic on the way into Alexandria.  Such is the curse of over-planning.

I kissed my cheering section good luck, boarded a bus to the start and off I went!  I guess the Hubs found a great parking spot near the finish, so they just hung out in the car for an hour (which is probably Nugget's favorite thing to do anyway).  

My cheering section staying dry until race time.

Complimentary coffee, bananas, bagels and water were available the start, as well as Vita Coco Coconut Water.  I had a sample of Pure and found the taste slightly odd (you'd think it would be in my blood to love this stuff, right?  Considering I am half-hawaiian.  Too long I've been here in haole land) yet very refreshing.   Definitely put an extra spring in my step.  Will be checking that product out for future runs.  

Complimentary coffee shots!

A half-hour before the run I also had two Clif Shot Bloks.  Today I had one orange flavor and one mountain berry flavor.  I enjoy the mountain berry, I LOVE the orange flavor.  These things really work for me, plus the orange flavor totally reminds me of the Tomoe Ame candy that I devoured as a kid, minus the dissolving rice paper.  Always puts a smile on my face. :)

The weather was cold, drizzly, and windy.  Free heat sheets were on hand and, omg, those things work.  The hour-and-a-half wait was bearable due to these awesome amenities.  Pacers knows know to put on a race!

Due to my foot, I was changing my race goal from sub-9:15 minute/mile to sub-10:00 minute/mile because I didn't want to push too hard.  I positioned myself at the start line accordingly.

Hindsight being 20/20, I could have started in an earlier corral.  Que Sera.  Was still a good race.

The Race

The first mile was pretty much downhill.  Not a steep downhill, but enough to make it difficult to find my rhythm from the git-go.  People were passing me left and right, and I had to fight with myself to reign it in; if I pushed too hard at the beginning, I would burn out and/or injure myself.  By 0.8 miles or so, I hit my stride and gained some ground.  I ran mile 1 in 9:56 and was pleased that I was 4 seconds faster than target.  I was feeling good so I challenged myself to run mile 2 in 9:00, and was able to run it in 8:45!  Thats a total "Hell Yeah!" moment for me.  I was pushing hard, but not too hard; I felt I could sustain this pace for the rest of the race, so thats what I set out to do.  I wasn't entirely successful, but I'm happy that I was able to maintain a sub-9:00 pace for most of the race:

Mile 1:  9:56
Mile 2:  8:45
Mile 3:  8:58
Mile 4:  8:55
Mile 5:  8:51
Mile 6:  8:48
Mile 7:  8:51

I told myself I would take a Cliff Shot Gel at 5 miles, but I was feeling pretty good so I revised my plan and opted to take it at mile 7 for a boost through miles 8 &9.  Bad idea.  By mile 5.5, I could feel my energy levels plummeting quickly.  I have heard/read that you should refuel before you actually need to refuel, but seeing as how I'm new to this running scene, I wasn't sure at what point that was for me.  Turns out, 5 miles is about right.  As soon as I felt my body drop, I whipped out my gel.  Gave me a good kick plus we hit an aid station with Gatorade, so I think that also helped (as you can see above, my pace improved through miles 5 & 6).  

Embarrassing admission: I can't do math on a sunny day in June, and I sure as hell can't do math halfway into a 10-mile race.  I was planning on gunning it at mile 8, thinking I only had two more miles to run.  I COMPLETELY FORGOT that you actually need to run the 10th mile.  So I was mentally preparing myself for a race that was a mile shorter than the race I was actually running.  Pure genius.

Mile 7 was a bit tough.  I wanted to kick but told myself to reel it in because it was too early.  I was trying to stay focused and prepare myself for the kick through miles 8 & 9 (because I forgot about mile 10), when I saw a mile post up ahead that says...11?  No that can't be right.  I'm not wearing my glasses, so things in the distance look blurry.  Does it say...1?  That also can't be right.  It must say 7.  WHAT?!?!  I thought we already passed the 7 mile post.  I thought I was already running mile 7!!  Oh no!  I'm screwed!  I'm mentally one mile ahead of my body!  "I can't do this!," I thought.  "I should just die.  Or throw myself into the Potomac.  Or maybe less dramatically, just curl up in a ball on the side of the road.  Or just shut-up and keep running."  My mind was all over the place at this point.  Luckily, there was a chipper couple next to me who noticed that it was a 1 mile post...for the 5K earlier that morning.  So turns out my body and mind were still together, on pace.

But only just.  My kick at mile 8 quickly fell apart when I saw the hill that I was fast approaching.  The course was relatively flat with just a few rolling hills, so this was the first significant incline we had seen all race.  Damn you race directors!  But it really it was my fault for not having paid more attention to the race details.  At any rate, my body could not sustain my increased pace up that hill, so I had to dial it back considerably.  We also hit another shorter but steeper hill in mile 9 and while I ran that one strong, my body was pretty fatigued.  

Mile 8:  9:05
Mile 9:  9:02

And then I had to run the mile I completely forgot.  The final mile was a flat straightaway, and I wanted to finish strong.  I picked up my pace considerably, but couldn't sustain it the whole way through (note to self: practice mile sprints!) and ended up slowing about a quarter-mile out.  Still, despite the fact that I couldn't run at that increased pace for the whole mile, it was my fastest mile of the race, and I think I finished strong:

Mile 10:  8:40

I saw DJ Research and Nugget as I was closing in on the finish, which made me so happy.

I used the RunKeeper app on my iphone while running, and I think the stats from the app are different from what the Pacers timing device logged.  According to their device, I finished in 1:31:31 with an average pace of 9:10 minute/mile.  I'll take it.

Rank: 2206 overall / 362 in Age Group (F, 30-39) 
[out of 4822 entrants overall / 1058 entrants in my age group]


We didn't stick around for the post-race activities due to the weather and the fact that Nugget was getting cranky because he was so tired.  He put up a half-hearted fight when the hubs strapped him in and promptly fell asleep as soon as we turned the car on.  Woke up immediately upon getting home, so not much of a nap either today.  He's still bursting with energy though.

If I may say so, I'm very proud that I was able to not only beat my amended goal for this race, but beat my original goal of sub-9:15m/m by 5 seconds, despite not being 100% today.  I think running a 10-miler sub-9:00m/m is not beyond my reach, and I look forward to training and pushing myself to meet that.

Still want to share my podiatrist appointment with you, but will have to post on that later.  Blogging in exhausting!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Game on!

Sorry I've been silent this week. It's been busy, plus I've been sulking since I haven't been able to run until today. It went well and I will still be running the GW Parkway Classic 10-miler tomorrow. Though the goal has now changed to "finishing without getting injured," so I will be running much slower than desired. Still, I will be so happy to be out there.

I saw a podiatrist this week and thought the appointment interesting for a slew of reasons. More on that later this week.

Right now I've got to turn in since I have to be up at 4:15. This race is kinda a logistical nightmare for us (more on this later too). I should have read the race details before signing up. That's what I get for being too eager. It will still be an adventure.

The weather is supposed to be in the low 50s, windy and rainy. I'm ready, even if I'm really not.

Race outfit.  

Water resistant jacket options: $30 or $0.25

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Still Recovering

Yesterday I decided to take the day off.  Totally, completely, no workout.  Instead, I gave myself a heart attack:

Chili Mac'n'Cheese.  So bad for you.  So yum.

I ate that entire portion, and was so disgusted with myself at the end.  But it was oh so good.  I can't figure out how to rotate the image, so you'll have to rotate your computer screen.  Or your head.  That might be easier. 

I'm still hobbling around today, almost 4 days after my long run.  I'm concerned, so I've made an appointment with a podiatrist.  Hopefully this podiatrist will be better than the podiatrist that my husband went to see, who responded with incredulity to my husband's report of his recent run, "What?!  You ran seven miles?! With your feet?!??"  Ok, maybe he didn't say that last bit, but thats how my husband tells the story, and its so funny.  The podiatrist I am going to see has ran a marathon and handful of local races, plus she hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro with a broken foot.  I'm taking that to mean she's not afraid to push her boundaries, and not that she didn't know her foot was broken (despite all my husband's joking).

Hopefully this doc can tell me whats wrong.  I know what I did wrong--went too hard too soon--but I want to know what I injured, how long it will take to heal, and less importantly, if I can run my 10-mile race on Sunday.  Ok, maybe that last bit is the real reason I made an appointment...because I've already paid the fee and picked up the shirt!!!!  I don't want to DNS (do not start), but I'm bracing myself for the news that I will have to rest, rest, rest.  

And I find it so ironic that all of the podcasts I listened to today and all the blog posts I read have the same theme: Don't think you are superhuman.  Listen to your body and know when to pull back and know when to rest.  Ok, running gods!  I get it!  Please let me run again!!  

Le sigh.  Seriously though.  I do get it.  I hope I haven't done any major damage, but I am definitely taking it slower from here on out.  I recognize that I am not superhuman, even though I have the cape that suggests otherwise.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Best Day Ever

This is a guest post by little Nugget.

salak ioalsk wk famaoisfva xskvnowhgrgjvblbvsj     askkkslaf pwejf   eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'ajs 'ijsd ajri
v'dsoj woo!woo! ';KV'P LDS; jpa9iuosdi dslkjwwwwwwwwwwww;     JF LKSLAK V9oLJLKDSAN

[Translation:  Today was the best day ever!  'Ama let me stay up past my bedtime, and we ate ice cream while watching a parked woo!woo! (fire truck).  It was so red!  And whenever I felt particularly inspired, I would yell WOO!WOO! and point at the fire truck, just in case anyone forgot it was there or what it was.  It was so much fun!  I have the best 'Ama! (and my 'Ada is pretty cool too!)]

Reality Check: Lessons Learned from a Long Run

I had an awesome run on Saturday...that actually left me feeling not so awesome.  On Saturday I ran 15.3 miles, which is the longest distance I have ever run.  My goal was 15 miles, and I'm proud that I accomplished it, and then some.  Problem is, I could barely walk after my run, and am still not comfortable on my feet more than 48 hours later.

I started feeling pain in my achilles tendon around mile 8, but nothing so bad that I had to stop.  It got progressively worse during the run, but I was determined to finish my 15 miles.  As soon as my brain registered that I had reached my goal, it sent a message to my foot saying, "Mission accomplished.  She needs to stop now," and my tendon promptly tightened and I wasn't able to run anymore.  I had to walk the mile back to my car.

It was during my return that my arches also starting hurting, particularly in my left foot.  I realized that my feet are not yet strong enough to run long distances in my minimalist shoes.  I pushed them too hard too soon, and they weren't too happy about it.  I should have iced them as soon as I got to my car, but for some reason, that important detail slipped my mind.

So is this really a bad run?  I set a personal best by running 15.3 miles, but I'm still paying for it more than two days later.  Did I do well or did I do poorly?  Was my awesome run really awesome, or not?

View of Lake N. from one of the trails

After spending a good part of yesterday trying to answer this question, I realized the answer is YES.  My run was awesome because I pushed myself farther than I ever have before, AND because this run taught me a lot.  My goal of running to become a better runner means I should really be asking the question: What did I learn from this run?  Because thats what this is all about: pushing my limits, but in a smart way.  This run provided me with great reality (aha!) moments and helpful reality checks:

Reality:  I CAN run 15 miles!  I felt great the whole time.  I was mentally engaged and loving every minute.

Reality check:  I should have given myself more time to adjust to my minimalist shoes.  I can do 10 miles, no problem, but I should have gone up to 12 miles rather than jumping immediately to 15 miles.

Perhaps I'm being punished by the running gods for my poor fashion taste?
Or for the fact that I tie my shoelaces like a 3-year old?

Reality:  I LOVE running in the morning.  Provided I can get my butt out the door, once I'm breathing that crisp, cold air, I am in total heaven.

Reality check: I am slower than I thought I would be at 10+ miles.  No big deal.  Just means I have to adjust my goal for the GW Classic 10 miler this weekend, from sub-9:00 to sub-9:15.

Reality:  I LOVE talking when running.  About everything and nothing.  I am a strong introvert, and have mastered the skill of standing awkwardly in the midst of any conversation.  I am horrible at small talk.  But get me running, and I will gab your ear off.  If no one is around, I will talk to myself.

Reality check: Transitioning from road to trail was much more challenging than I thought.  I ran the first 10 miles on paved surface and the last 5 miles on trail.  As soon as I stepped on to the trail after having been running on hard surface for almost 2 hours, my feet practically freaked out.  Every root felt super sharp (!?!), every rock felt like it was out to get me.  I think this drastic change is part of the reason why my feet hurt so much the next day.

Reality: I LOVE running and I AM a runner.

The "river" I need to "forge" on my run.  A few yards down I could just jump across,
but running across this log is so much more fun. :)

Obviously, I took yesterday off, and I will take today off from running too, focusing on core and doing yoga (or at least trying to; I am horrible at yoga).  Hopefully I can run again on Tuesday, but I'm going to play it by ear.  I really want to do well this Sunday, so if that means resting for most of the week, I will.  But at least you'll know why I'm cranky. ;)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Its a wrap

Nugget and I went for a mini-run at the lake, mostly so I could get a feel for the hiker/biker trail.  It is quite nice and I look forward to many more runs with my son there.  However, I really need to incorporate a run-with- jogging-stroller into my weekly training plan, because running with a stroller is no joke!  Especially when you need to sing to keep your kid entertained.  I apologize to anyone who may have heard me; that wasn't a bear, that was just me singing.

We ran 2.6 miles in 28:03 minutes at an average pace of 10:47 m/m.  Man, oh man.  Looking forward to improving that pace!

Short but sweet run, and a great way to wrap up our day.  Will forever cherish these memories of spending time with my son (even though he kept yelling, "I'm done!" every two minutes).

Hydrating after our run.  Its exhausting being so cute.

Nugget's New Trick

My son has a new trick he likes to perform at mealtime.  He will partially chew his food, spit it out on the table, then point to it and say, "What's that?"  Super gross.  Today he took it to a new level by picking up his partially chewed food, and putting it in my bowl.

Line your daughters up, because my son is one class act.

I'm not worried though.  We have 40 years to work on his table manners before his first date.

Hmm, I wonder how this muffin will look regurgitated?

I'm home with Nugget today because his daycare is closed for professional development.  We spent the morning putzing around the house and watching his favorite youtube clip of fire trucks responding (just a montage of the big engines on the road with lights flashing and sirens blaring).  Then we went upstairs where I attempted to do laundry, but got lassoed into reading the most recent issue of Outside Magazine.  Nugget wanted to look at all the helicopters, bicycles and cool shoes, while also spicing up the photos in his own way.

Nugget furnished his own editorial pizazz to Outside magazine.

I hope Outside Magazine does a construction site issue.  The kid LOVES construction vehicles.

The weather continues to be gorgeous, so we went for a walk around the block and to the neighborhood playground.  Sans shoes.  I mean, I was wearing socks, but decided that on such a nice day, shoes were really unnecessary.  Nugget insisted on wearing his shoes, which were also completely unnecessary because he also insisted I carry him the whole time.

And yes, as you may have guessed, my impromptu sock walk was motivated by my intrigue with barefoot running.  I've transitioned to minimalist shoes, but would like something even more minimalist...even less shoe.  So I've taken to walking sans shoe/only sock as much as possible.  Thankfully, DJ Research is also joining me in my crazy (he walked home from the bus stop yesterday in just his socks--carrying his shoes-- and got a few funny looks from the neighbors).

The walk was fine.  Apparently, I am a strong heel striker when walking (even when walking barefoot!), but I noticed my gait really changed when walking on the wood chips at the playground.  I was more inclined to mid-foot strike without really thinking about it, though I'm not sure why.  Maybe I was self-conscious about being shoeless around the group of SAHM at the playground, that I wanted to walk correctly in front of them?  I dunno.

Nugget will awake from his nap at any minute, so I need to wrap this up and get the laundry started.  We're planning on meeting DJ Research at the lake after work, so hopefully I'll have some pictures for you then!

Rocking Elmo to sleep in attempt to avoid his own nap.

For the vanity of it

The weather has been gorgeous recently, and I've been lucky enough to get out for a run on most days.  Wanting to practice proper skin safety (what the bleep is that?), I've been applying 30+ sun block on my face.  And this totally freaks my husband out.  The sun block is Badger Natural Sunscreen, which I bought for my son last summer when he was just shy of a year old.  And while I think its a great product, it doesn't rub in very well, leaving my face exuding a white ghostly glow that my husband just cannot stand.  Its hilarious.  Our post-run conversations are usually face-to-side, because he just won't look at me.  And when he does, he'll stop talking to say, "You look really, really weird right now," and then turn away and resume talking without looking at me.  I think its hilarious that hes so offended by this sunblock, but he doesn't seem to feel the same way.

So anyway, to get my husband to look at me post-run, and because I, like most people, enjoy getting new running gear, I bought a white, reflective Under Armor visor when our family unit was bopping around the new athletic store in town.  And I wore it on my run yesterday.  As soon as I put in on, I felt cool and strong and athletic.  "Wow!" I thought, "This visor makes me feel 10 seconds faster!"

My new visor!

And then I remembered the rest of my outfit:


What the hell am I wearing?  Especially those socks with my running shoes?  Ai-yai-yai.  

Luckily, I don't really care what I look like when I run (its true, I don't.  I appreciate looking nice when I run, but I'd prefer that to be a fortuitous accident rather than something that I plan and strategize.  When it comes to fashion, I am totally clueless, as evidence by above pic.)  So off I went for a fast run through that hilly neighborhood near work.  I managed three loops (3.85 miles) in just over a half-hour (33:53), which gave me a good base for realistic goals on this short, quick lunchtime route.  Next time I'm going to try for 3 loops and back in 30:00.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shoe Shopping

Yesterday, our little fam unit popped into the new athletic store in town, just to check out their goodies.  There, in the center of the store, were the New Balance Minimus Zeros, in all their ultra-lightweight glory.

NB Minimus Zeros via

The sales clerk wasn't sure if they were carrying the road model or the trail model, so the Hubs told him.  "These are the women's trail shoes.  The WT in the shoe code stands for 'women's trail.'"  Oh, DJ Research.  You know the most random things about the most random things.

The Zeros were bleepin awesome.  I wouldn't say they were comfortable, due to the fact that they are super minimalist shoes.  In other words, you could really feel the ground in them.  But thats why they are so awesome.  In my wonderful Saucony XC2 Shays, I can barely feel the ground, and as much as I love them, I think I want an even more minimalist shoe.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Minimus Zeros are the shoe for me.  I am cursed with long, narrow feet.  A shoe that fits me length-wise is usually to wide width-wise.  This is true for the Zeros.  Apparently, NB runs wide, so we were never destined to be together anyway. :(

The Minimus did fit the Hubs, however.  And he LOVED them.  We didn't buy a pair because we do have to discuss the hefty $110 price tag.  But the smile on the Hubs' face as he was prancing around the store was priceless.  The man is awesome.  He really does deserve a good trail shoe.

Of course, Li'l Nugget did not want to be left out.  He kept pulling shoes off the shelf to try on himself, always cognizant to put the shoe back when he was done (usually with our prompting, of course).  While the Hubs tried on the Minimus, Nugget wore daddy's shoes around the store.  He was very proud.

Are there any female runners out there with my same problem: long, narrow feet?  Have you found a minimal or trail shoe you love?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My mojo has left the building

For the past two days, my mojo has decided to enjoy the beautiful weather outside without me, leaving me to workout indoors.  Alone.  With no spunk.

Actually I wasn't alone.  I just wanted to feel sorry for myself.  Because being spunkless just isn't bad enough.

Yesterday I did core exercises, and then threw in a cardio kickboxing DVD since I have to miss my kickboxing class this week.  I LOVE this cardio kickboxing DVD, and the super-peppy instructor is usually able to get me pumped no matter how many times I've watched the routine.  But something was really off yesterday.  Even Miss Super-Pep couldn't pull me out of my super-funk.

Maybe it was because yesterday was technically my day off, and I really debated with myself whether I should work-out, or whether I should go shopping.  I figured shopping isn't a good enough reason to be lazy, so down to the gym I went.  Little did I know my mojo went in the other direction, exited the building and was strolling in the sunshine, while I round-housed with very little enthusiasm.

The work-out wasn't an entire waste.  I did get some good reps in during my core exercises, and the kickboxing session does end with a killer core workout.  Still, I felt a bit betrayed by my mojo.  Maybe tomorrow will be better, I thought.

Well, tomorrow was today, and today was my dreaded cycling class.  My mojo was still absent.  I'm pretty sure it went for a hike.  I really had no desire to cycle up fake hills and then cycle back down those same fake hills (or maybe they're different fake hills?  I dunno.  They're fake.)  But I had already committed to this class, and I knew it was going to be a good workout.  So in a desperate attempt to lure my mojo back, I did a very brazen thing:

I smiled.

Last week, I listened to the Krissy Moehl interview on URP, and her advice to ultrarunners?  Smile.  She always makes a point of smiling as she comes into an aid station.  Also known for her smile?  Ellie Greenwood, whose most recent accomplishment is back-to-back wins at the American River 50.

Ellie Greenwood still smiling after 40 miles

There must be something to this whole smiling thing, I thought.  So, I smiled the whole damn class.  I probably freaked my fellow fake cyclists out.  But I told myself the pain wasn't worth it if I wasn't having fun, so just enjoy this crazy class and smile.  And it worked!  My mojo came back!  I finished strong and I had a blast.

Moral of the story?  Smile and you will never lose your mojo.*

*To clarify: I am using the term "mojo" to refer to one's self-confidence and self-assuredness in general, and not to confidence in specific places or in specific horizontal positions.  This is not that kind of blog, people!

Monday, April 9, 2012

First Trail Run

Confession: for the past two weeks I have been listening non-stop to and to the Trail Runner Nation podcast. I'm obsessed (so is DJ Research). I listen and laugh and nod my head like I know what the hell they are talking about (I don't) and dream of running the trails they talk about. But full disclosure: I've only ever done a trail run once. And I hated it.

When we first started running in 2009, DJ Research wanted to try a trail run.  I wanted to sit on my butt and watch TV.  He convinced me to join him, and we headed to a nearby park known for some of its trails.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  The trail wasn't difficult, but it wasn't what I expected, which is to say it was much hillier and rockier than I thought it would be.  As a running newbie that was still getting accustomed to running on flat surfaces (i.e. road), I thought this trail running thing was not for me.  DJ Research actually felt the same way, so we went back to running roads.

As I became a stronger runner, I started having dreams of running through gorgeous scenery (after I gave birth to my son, I had a crazy strong urge to go running in Patagonia).  I really love the idea of planning vacations based on beautiful places to run.  And it only recently dawned on me that when I imagine running through these gorgeous places, I'm picturing myself running on trails.

Hence, this weekend we decided to attempt another trail run.  And it was incredible.  Running under trees, next to a lake, over rocks and dirt--rather than along a dang road--made it feel less like running and more like...AMAZING!  It was so much fun!

The first half of the trail was relatively flat and wide, so it was easy to work on speed.  The second half was more technical and not as well marked.  I ran off the trail a bunch of times (but not to the point of concern; it would be really difficult to get lost on this trail), and explored a number of random paths before realizing I was either on-track or running in the opposite direction (again).  Also, I totally ate it.  While looking for the path and not paying attention to the trail as I was running, I tripped over something...rock? root? air?...and skid my way to an abrupt stop.  Note to self: the ground is REALLY hard.  Luckily I didn't hurt myself at all (should learning how to fall be part of my trail running training?), and just kept on running.

I ran the trail 3x and covered 10.5 miles in 1:48.  I was happy with that effort.  DJ Research and Nugget hung out by the lake as I ran, playing with bears and their sunglasses.

Hello Mr. Bear.  I believe these are mine.
We went back to each get another run the next day, though these were much shorter runs since one of us had to stay with Nugget.  DJ Research ran first and did two loops in 40 minutes.  I ran after him, and decided to add another trail that I noticed on the map the day before.  Turns out, this trail is quite hilly!  Very excited to incorporate hill work on my next run along this trail.  I was hoping to keep running for 40 minutes, but got back to li'l Nugget in just over 35 minutes, and I find it very difficult to resist those cheeks, so I just called my run right there.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous that I would discover I am not a trail runner.  Considering how much I've been thinking about it, it would be such a disappointment to find out I didn't actually like it.  I am happy to report, I LOVE it.  Our local running club has a few trail races over the summer, and DJ Research and I want to jump in on most of those.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 6, 2012

So whats the plan?

Its a beautiful day here, a perfect day for a picnic dinner.  I called the Hubs at work and suggested we grab a bite and go to the nearby park to enjoy the trails and beautiful weather. 

"That sounds great," he said, "But I was hoping to get a long run in this evening, so that you can get your two long runs in this weekend."

Isn't he awesome?  Gently reminding me that we both have running goals we want to achieve, and that we have to work together to get there.

To do this running thing seriously, there will have to be trade-offs.  So I don't get my picnic dinner today.  But I will get my two long runs in this weekend.  And probably a picnic lunch, since the weather will still be nice. 

Admittedly, this is a very small trade-off.  The trade-off I am most concerned about is time with my son.  I work 8 hours a day, so I see my son for about an hour in the morning and about 2 hours in the evening.  I get two glorious days with him on the weekends.  How much of my training will take away from time with my son?

What the heck are you training for? you may ask, as well you may.  Full disclosure: I want to run an ultra.  Ultimately, at some point in my life, I want to run a 100-miler.  Not tomorrow.  Or even next year.  Or even in three years.  Theres still a good amount of time between me and my first 100-miler.  But I don't think a 50K is completely out of my reach in the near-ish future.  How much do I need to train to run a 50K?  How much time with my son will I have to sacrifice?

These are questions I need to think about.  I need to draw up a plan that balances our goals and our reality, and make sure the trade-offs are in all the right places. 

I know I can get there.  I know I can train well and right.  I know I can be a mom, a wife, AND a runner.  

Plus, how awesome would it be for my son to have an ultrarunner mom?! :)

Jen Benna (my idol) via

I love reading Jen Benna's blog.  She's an ultrarunner mom that was back running 100-milers FIVE MONTHS after her daughter was born.  She is truly an inspiration.  (Plus she pumps when she races!  How awesome is that?!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hill meet Legs. Legs meet...wait, where are you going?

I do not like hills.  I'm pretty sure hills do not like me.  But hills and I need to become very good friends if I'm going to become faster and stronger as a runner (not sure what the hill will get out of it, but I'm thinking it doesn't really care).

Yesterday I decided to do hill repeat and chose to tackle the two steepest hills in a nearby neighborhood.  Although I am unsure of the incline, one hill was 200m and one was 194m.  I told myself I would be happy with just three reps, but I was shooting for six.  In the end I just did four.

I ran the 200m hill 3x, finishing the first run with a time of 1:24.  Aiming to knock at least one second off that time, I was super stoked when my second run clocked in a 1:20!  Yippee!

But something changed by the time I got to the bottom of the hill.  Maybe it was the fact that I had to run past this guy that wanted to talk to me as I ran, and I was tired of his tired jokes the third time around.  But really I think it was because I lost focus.  I got so excited about my 4 second improvement that I forgot to concentrate and wound up finishing the third run in 1:23.

I tried the 194m hill next, to avoid the overly-friendly resident, and finished that first, and only, attempt in 0:58.  And that was it.  My legs felt tired.  Plus, I told myself, I would have to push to get back to work before my lunch break was up.  I really should head back to work.  But really I had hit a mental wall.  I didn't want to do hills anymore.  The hill wasn't being friendly (unlike that neighbor), and I wanted a hug.

I'm not sure this qualifies as a bonk, but I felt like it was.  As I was running along that flat, paved road to my building, I felt the adrenaline rising for a final push.  "Where the hell was that push 10 minutes ago?" I asked Self.  Self shrugged, and I pushed anyway, because why the hell not?

My mental state didn't improve much today when I mounted my stationary bike for cycling class.  My colleague next to me apparently has legs of lead because she was cranking along, but I just couldn't muster 100%.  I probably performed about 75%.  I realized that I've been pushing hard for a week and a half, which is a lot for me - someone who runs occasionally and never more than 4 miles at a time - and I need a break.  So thats what tomorrow is.  No work-out.  Not even easy core.  Instead of running on my lunch break, I'm going to Target.

And then my husband comes home with this. Which makes me want to run all the more.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mission Easter Stickers

Yesterday I wasn't able to get a morning run in (time management is everything!  And I am so bad at it!), so I decided to literally run an errand after work.  I needed small goodies to put in the Easter eggs my son will be giving his classmates later this week, so I laced up my running shoes for a quick jog to the town center, about 2 miles from our house. 

DJ Research reminded me that it would probably get dark while I was out, so I should take all the appropriate reflective gear and the running light.  I assured him I would, then promptly forgot as I ran out the door.  I had only 16 minutes to get to the store, and in my haste to make it, I completely overlooked safety.

Since I am writing this post-run, I clearly made it home fine.  But its not a mistake I would like to repeat again.  As you can imagine, the road to the town center is the busiest in the area, but surprisingly, there are sections along this busy road that are not at all lit.  I felt like I was running blind. 

The errand itself took longer than I anticipated.  I had to stop at 4 different stores (I made it to the toy just as they were closing.  Plus they didn't even have Easter stickers!) before I found something that would a) fit in the plastic Easter eggs and b) was less than $1 each, because as much as I love these kids, I'm not about to go broke buying them gifts for Easter.  It took me almost an hour to some Easter stickers.  Geez.

Anyway, the run back is almost all downhill so I made really good time.  All in all, I ran 3.78 in 30.47 for a pace of 8:09 m/m, though considering the hour break between my arrival and return, I'm not sure this run is an accurate indication of my speed.  I was proud of my push on the return though, so the feel of that push will be my takeaway for this run.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Sweetest Moments

We rocked back and forth quietly, listening to the melody of the lullaby. Despite his active day, or perhaps because of it, he was having a tough time falling asleep. Little Nugget, nestled in my lap one minute, would flip and turn an almost complete 180 the next, then suddenly bury his face between my arm and the rocker. Sensing maybe he needed a different rhythm, I stood and swayed to the music, holding my precious son close in my arms. Little Nugget lifted his head off my shoulder and brought his face close to mine, his sign that he wants to give me a honi, a kiss. His spontaneous and silent way of saying, "I love you, Mom."

Moments like these beat any PR.

Just Get Out of the House

Nothing beats an early morning run.

Except, of course, sleeping in.  When that 5am wake-up call came, I reeeeeeeeeally just wanted to  roll over and go back to sleep, despite the fact that I had spent an inordinate amount of time the night before coordinating my running outfit because I was so excited.  With the blankets thrown off but my eyes still closed, I told myself, "Just get out of the house.  Get dressed, get out of the house, stand on the porch, and if you still feel like going back to bed, you can."

Moving ever so slowly, I got ready and went downstairs for a light breakfast and a cup of coffee.  There on the kitchen table, ever so strategically placed by my husband, was the most recent issue of Runner's World.  I thumbed through as I ate my breakfast, feeling the excitement from the night before begin to tingle through me again.  I was ready to get out there.  DJ Research made a brief appearance to give me a good luck kiss and remind me, "Start slow," then he went back to bed.

Outside it was crisp and cold.  I was glad that I had covered my ankles, despite the Hubs' teasing the night before.  "How are you supposed to become a good runner if you can't even run with cold ankles?!" he had asked.  Baby steps, my friend.  Let us just applaud the fact that I got my butt out of bed before the sun, before asking me to run with cold ankles (I HATE the cold, in case you have yet to figure out).  I walked a few yards to loosen up, and off I went.

This was the first time that I had run when it was still nighttime-dark outside.  It was eerie.  Our neighborhood is relatively well lit, but I still felt like the boogeyman was going to step out from behind a tree. I was all ears and eyes alert, and ready to claw the face off of anyone stupid enough to interrupt my run (at least, thats how I felt).  The adrenaline of being so alert probably affected my overall energy levels, so thats something to keep in mind next time.

By the time the sun came up, I was just cruising along, talking to myself as I am prone to do.  I won't give you a play-by-play of my run since it really wasn't that interesting.  In summary, I finished in 1:43:48 at an average pace of 10:15 m/m.  I was slightly disappointed with the time since I was hoping to run at least a 10m/m pace.  But I told myself I wouldn't look at my phone (using the RunKeeper app) at all during the run, so I just kept pushing at what felt like 65%-70%.  If I had looked at my phone periodically during the run, I would probably have pushed harder to meet my goal, which may or may not have been a good thing.  Overall, though, I felt it was a good first effort.

My husband says that since I've upped my running I've been "positively glowing."  I'm going to take that as a sign that I'm on the right track. :)