Monday, August 31, 2009

Race Report - Madison Mini Marathon

So you know a couple of weeks ago when I said I was going to focus on running shorter races for the remainder of 2009? I fell off that wagon. Just briefly. I had a trip planned to southern Wisconsin for this past weekend for a family event. And then happened to see on Tony's blog that he was running the Madison Mini Marathon on Saturday. And Madison is only about an hour from where I was going to be staying . . . can you see the wheels turning? So I signed up.

After 6+ hours in my mom's little Honda, with me seated quite comfortably in the back seat between Sophie's car seat and my niece's booster seat, we made it to Madison at about 7:30 Friday night. I dashed in to pick up my race packet and we stopped at Noodles for dinner. We got to my grandparents shortly after 9:00. After visiting and letting Sophie run off her long day in the car, I finally got to bed at about midnight.

That 4:30 a.m. alarm Saturday morning went off for about 5 minutes before I realized what was going on. I was tired! I forced myself off the couch I was sleeping on and got ready. My mom and grandma (who apparently also heard my alarm - sorry!) got up to keep my company while I got ready. I choked down a couple of pieces of toast and I was out the door. I stopped at my aunt and uncle's to pick up my sister and cousin (who graciously agreed to be my cheering section for the day). Because it was still pitch dark, I had some trouble remembering where exactly my aunt and uncle lived. Pretty sure the car that saw me driving slowly up and down their street three times called the cops. Honest, I was not casing the neighborhood.
I finally found them and we were off to Madison. We found a parking spot in a garage very close to the start. The spots were metered and had a two hour limit. As it appeared that many people running the race were parking in this garage, I decided to roll the dice and park. I filled the meter with as many quarters as it would take, reminded myself that I was driving my mom's car not my own (so any parking ticket would go to her), and we headed towards the start. I had plenty of time to do my thing and look for Tony. Unfortunately, it was very crowded and we were never able to connect. The blogger meet up will have to wait for another race!
I crammed my way into the starting corral and was once again reminded that there are a lot of girls who wear full on makeup to races. What? I don't get it. If I thought a nice thick application of eyeliner would get my a PR, I'd be all over it. But I can just imagine that stinging myself dribbling down my face. Anyhow . . . national anthem, countdown, and go!
This was the BEST half-marathon course I have ever run. The first part traveled through the UW campus area, the state capitol, and downtown Madison. Then, suddenly, it was as if we were running in the woods around a lake. Once we finished the lake portion, we went through a residential area, and then onto another lakefront path. I was having a great time, and the miles seemed to be going by very quickly. I kept a 9:15-ish pace for the first 6 miles or so. At about mile 7, I started to get lightheaded and tired. A Gu chased with two cups of water helped a lot. I picked it up, but was not able to resume the pace I had kept for the first half.
As I saw my Garmin ticking closer to the 13 mile mark, I began to get a little confused. We were running on a gravel path along the lake, and it did not appear that we were anywhere near the downtown area. I had seen the finish line from the start and new it was in the middle of the campus buildings. How on earth we were going to get back there with only a quarter of a mile to go? And then I ran past a building by the lake, around a corner (and straight up a hill, by the way) and realized we were back near the campus buildings. Who knew? I saw my sister and cousin cheering my on, and turned the final corner to the finish. I felt like I gave one hell of a kick and sprinted to the finish. 2:07:22. Not a PR, but I was happy with it (and a 20 minute improvement from my Mora half two weeks ago!).
As I was walking from the finish to meet my sister and cousin, I felt something flapping at my side. I looked down, expecting to see a ripped bib. Instead, I saw the tag from my shirt. Yep, I had my shirt on inside out. Loser.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hill Workouts are SO Easy

I'm going to save this jogging stroller. When I am 60 and Sophie is 30, I'm going to plop my wrinkly ass in the stroller and make her push me half a mile straight up hill while running. And, for old time's sake, scream "Run faster mommy" the whole time. Good times.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Biking 26.2 Miles is Easier than Running 26.2 Miles

1. I can eat pancakes half an hour before going out and not have to worry about pooping my pants, puking, or both.

2. Having all of my sportsbras in the wash machine doesn't mean staying home and stewing about a missed workout.

3. 4:00 miles? Yeah, that never happens when I'm running.

I rode 30 miles this morning. I called Jim when I was on my way out the door and told him I would meet him at his house so he could ride with me. He decided to ride to meet me instead. Unfortunately, I went the long way (all tar roads) and he took the shortcut (dirt roads). We finally found each other 10 miles later. Oops.

It ended up being a really fun ride, which surprised me. For some reason, I thought spending that much time on my bike would be boring. I definitely need to invest in some padded bike shorts though. My girl parts? Ouch.

Now we're just waiting for Sophie to wake up from her nap so we can go out golfing and enjoy this beautiful day. Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fresh Start - Fast Fall

I'm going to let you all in on a big secret: I am a huge nerd. Oh, you already knew that? Okay. Part of my dorktasticness is my LOVE for all things school. I love the back to school time of year. The thought of buying a nice, clean new backpack and loading it up with fancy mechanical pencils, pink pens, and crisp notebooks gets me quite excited. I almost bought a protractor at WalMart today. I just can't stop myself.

Unfortunately, going back to school isn't an option (at least not until I pay off the $60,000 I owe from the first go-round). But I can mimic all the back to school sports that are starting up. The tennis team with their drills, the cheerleaders with their learning how to spell DRAGONS, you get the picture.

I have been running without a plan since May and my big marathon PR. June, well that was a recovery month. July, I went on vacation, focused on golfing and drinking, and barely ran at all. So far in August, I've managed to eek out a 2 second 10K PR and crap out a 10+ minute half-marathon PW. I feel like I need to hit the reset button.

My focus for fall is on shorter races - a 5 miler and fun 5K in October, and two 5K's in November. Last year, I set successive PR's in all of these races without really training or trying to do so. So I started thinking about what I could do if I actually trained for the 5K. I have never specifically trained to get faster in a 5K.

Welcome to the new plan. Speedwork at the track on Mondays. Tempo runs of 5-8 miles on Wednesday nights (well, on Wednesday nights after golf is finished -- only two weeks left). And faster "long" runs on the weekends. Easy runs throw in between. The "long" runs aren't really long at all - 6-9 miles. But I am planning on attempting these at a significantly faster pace than I run true long runs. We'll see how it goes.

If I can improve my 5K and 5 mile times, I will consider the plan a success. An added bonus? I'm hoping that the faster "long" runs will give me a good boost going into marathon training in January. Now I just need to go pack my running clothes into my new backpack . . . some things never change.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Race Report - Mora Half Marathon

Or, more aptly titled, "Non-Race Report."

Don't worry, I showed up. But I definitely didn't race. I'm not sure what it was -- maybe that craptastic month of training (or not training) that was July, Sophie being up all night Friday night, or the heat and humidity -- but I just wasn't feeling it yesterday. When the race started, I began running the first mile thinking I would shoot for a 9:15 pace. After the first mile marker, I decided that I just didn't feel like running and didn't really care what my time ended up being.

We kept plugging away. My running partner Jim was really struggling and just shy of the four mile marker told me to beat it. He stopped to walk and I just kept going, telling myself I would walk at all the mile markers. By the time I got to the halfway point, I was pretty concerned about Jim. He never wimps out and is usually pushing me to toughen up. Since I had already decided I didn't care what time I finished in, I turned around to find him. You should have seen the looks I was getting from the people I passed going backwards. Maybe they thought the heat was getting to me . . .

I found Jim and he was still having a tough time. We ran/walked together for a couple of miles and he insisted again that I go ahead. I fought him - I wanted to support him, but he said feeling like he was holding me back was making him feel worse. I kept moving.

By the time I got to mile 11, I was over it. I thought about walking the rest of the way. I didn't feel miserable, because I hadn't been running hard at all, but I just did not want to be running and did not want to be out in the sun anymore. I resisted my temptation to walk, and barely resisted my temptation to jump into the lake and swim the rest of the way, and finished. 2:27:something. Seriously. Worst. Time. Ever. Thank you, Mora Half Marathon, for the new personal worst!

Highlights: the volunteers were AWESOME. Especially the guy at the 5 mile water stop who drenched me with cold water. What is your phone number? Because I would like to marry you. Oh wait, already married . . . Also, my mom and Sophie were at the finish. After Sophie's sleepness night, I told my mom not to worry about coming to the race because I thought Sophie would be too crabby and difficult. But I was so relieved they were there (and to be done running), I almost cried when I saw them.

Taking it easy definitely had one benefit - no heat stroke (which I suffered from last year during this race), no sore muscles, and no post-race exhaustion. And later? Chipotle for dinner. Yum.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Not To Wear - Traffic Court Edition

If you ever find yourself in a position to go to traffic court and you think you might want to convince the prosecutor and/or the judge for a good deal, I'm going to give you a little bit of inside advice. Don't wear the following items:
  • Black satin tapered leg pants with a bright orange cotton tank top (that I'm pretty sure I saw on the floor of WalMart recently)
  • Ratty t-shirt and cut-off jeans. Oh, and did I mention that the t-shirt had a picture of a giant hand flipping the bird on the front? Classy.
  • Transparent, gauzy black fabricky shirt (likely also from WalMart) cut so low I had to consciously avert my eyes. To avoid not only the ridiculous cleavage, but also the ginormous tattoo (heart with thorny roses, as if you needed to ask) that appeared to completely cover the left breast.

Three words: guilty, guilty, and guilty.

In other news, it's about 90 degrees, the sun is shining and it's T-minus 1 1/2 hours until golf league time. Anyone want to place bets on whether I will (1) drink too much and fall on my face again; (2) along with Erin, earn enough points to clinch our first place position; and (3) drink too much and laugh my fool head off?

Oh, and because this is a running blog, I ran 6 awesome miles last night. Perfect. I'm trying to ignore the forecast for Saturday (90+ degrees and humid). Half marathon? How about march of death.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hello Summer, Bye Summer

After a decidedly fall-like summer, we are finally getting some hot and humid weather around here. I'm not complaining, because I love summer, but I must admit I really enjoyed running in the cooler weather.

At the same time, I'm getting all sorts of reminders that summer is almost over. Our local fair has come and gone (with a successful boycott by yours truly, but that's another story). Back to school specials are everywhere. I'm making plans for Labor Day weekend. Sophie's new (insanely cute) habit of saying "night-night sun" as the sun sets is happening earlier and earlier every day.

Usually I would be on the brink of depression realizing that my beloved summer days are numbered. The thought of freezing cold, short days, and losing my husband to his mistress -- ice fishing -- usually sends me to internet searching for jobs in California or Hawaii.

But this year? I'm sort of excited for fall and winter to come. I'm changing my focus in order to change my attitude. Don't I sound like a self-help book? Instead of focusing on how freaking cold it's going to be, I'm focusing on what the second week of January will bring -- Marathon Training.

I've kept to my word and not run another marathon in 2009, but I am already gearing up for 2010. I liked running my marathon in May, so I've been looking at the May marathons. Right now, my number one choice is Madison. So even though I know when the time comes I will certainly do my fair amount of whining about the cold and snow, right now I am excited to be back on a plan and have a big goal to work towards. Plus I will no longer be tempted to skip running for golfing (sidenote to the track: hope you didn't miss me too much last night, it was just too nice to pass on a night of golf with my hubby and Sophie).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Proof that Running and Alcohol Don't Mix

In each of the three marathons I've run, the token frat boys have been on the sidelines at some point during the race offering beer. I've always been tempted, but have never tried drinking beer while actually running. The closest I've come was my lukewarm sip of beer after finishing Green Bay, which nearly made me hurl.

Last night, I received conclusive proof that I should definitely not drink and run. Wednesday is golf league night and I have to preface my story by saying that my golf partner (Erin) and I have two main missions this summer during league: (1) drink alcohol every week; and (2) take a picture every week to add to our summer collage of golf pictures. For the last month, we have had a particular picture we have wanted to get which involves another member of our league and her very unique method of lining up her putts. (Yes, Erin and I are complete bitches and we like to make fun of other people. It is was it is.)

We had just finished putting on the sixth hole when I heard Erin say, "There they are." We looked over to the 7th green and saw our dream picture opportunity waiting for us. I started sprinting for our cart. Erin was right behind me. When I got to the cart, I threw my golf clubs on the ground, grabbed my camara, and kept sprinting towards the seventh green. As I started to run past a group waiting to tee off on 7, someone tripped me and I fell flat on my face. Okay, no one tripped me, that was a lie. And I don't think I can blame a rock, a stick, or an errant piece of grass. I fell over my own two feet.

I heard Erin in the cart behind me laughing. The ladies waiting to tee off started walking towards me, asking if I was okay. I just bounced off the ground, with the front part of my golf sandals now stuck underneath my toes and flapping awkwardly against the ground, and kept running until I was close enough to get my picture. Mission: complete. Once I was safely returned to the cart, I turned to Erin and said, "If that little antic broke any of my running parts, I'm going be seriously pissed at myself tomorrow." And she promptly laughed and spit her drink in my face.

Note to self: don't drink and run.

Disclaimer: Further studies need to be conducted to determine the adverse effect on running of one sip of beer 20 miles deep into a marathon versus four mixed drinks over a period of two hours. Maybe there's a difference?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

All Good

Never underestimate the power of running. As a runner, I am constantly asked, "How can you do that?" How can you go out day after day and pound the pavement? I often want to ask, "How can you not?"

As fellow runners, I think most of the readers of this blog don't need a lecture on the physical or mental benefits of running. But it never hurts to be reassured. I have been dealing with a lot of crazy at work. Yesterday afternoon, I had an hour long meeting with a client that brought me down. Way down. I left the office for the track feeling exhausted and questioning whether I ever do anybody any good.

Ten minutes later, I started my track repeats. I decided to do 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400 to mix it up a little. As soon as I started the fast repeats, my self-doubt started to disappear. Because there's no room to feel exhausted or worthless when you are using every ounce of your being to fling yourself around the track as fast as possible. And when you're focusing all of your concentration on getting to that finish line (or in this case, the spot where my G2 was waiting) without puking, it's hard to feel bad about yourself.

I left the track, having accomplished exactly what I set out to do. I was proud of completing a tough workout. I was sweaty and tired, but nowhere near as exhausted as I was when I left the office. And even though my difficult clients were still waiting with all of their drama and problems, running reminded me to put everything in perspective. I don't create people's problems - I just try to fix the messes they get themselves into. Doing this job isn't what defines me and if I have a bad day, it doesn't mean that I am a failure or a worthless person. But being a runner (and being a mom and a wife) DO define me. Succeeding in those things is where my sense of self worth comes from. And if that doesn't keep me going to the track, I don't know what will.

After I got home from the track, my hubby, Sophie and I headed out to golf nine holes. My general Pollyanna sense of happiness just kept going and going - we had a perfect night of golf, with perfect whether, and a perfectly behaved near-two-year old (is that an oxymoron?). I went to bed last night feeling like it had been the perfect summer day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Race Report - Pine County Fun Run 10K

Let me start by saying I don't think I really like 10K's. They're just too hard. Short enough so you feel you have to run fast (and remember, fast is relative, because I am not fast) and long enough so you feel you are going to die. Anyhow . . .

Saturday I ran the Pine County Fun Run 10K. This is the ONLY race I know of that is held within 6 minutes of my house. My friend Cheryl is the race director. I always help with registration, so I was out the door at about 6:45 Saturday morning. We had a very busy hour registering runners (twice as many runners this year than last year!), and then it was time to start.

My goal was to run an 8:30-8:45 pace. My training for the month of July has been a little lacking, so I thought that was a reasonble goal. We started off and I immediately started out too fast. A ton of people were running the 5K, which started at the same time, and I'm blaming those fast 5K runners for my fast start. First mile: 8:07. I backed off a little the second mile and managed to get closer to my goal pace at 8:24. Once the second mile is finished, you turn onto a stretch of road that I simply refer to as "that bitch." It is a long, wide open expanse of hell. I started feeling nauseous and I'm sure it was just the mental block I have in my head about this stupid road. Mile 3: 8:45.

We finally hit the turnaround and I was on the way back. A little over a mile of my nasty road nemesis and then it was back into neighborhoods. At this point, I was just out of steam. I really felt my lack of training taking its toll during miles 4 and 5. I did not want to have any 9:00+ miles, but just could not get my legs moving. Both 4 and 5 clocked in at 9:17. I picked it up during the last mile, knowing I was closer to the finish. When we turned the final corner, I realized that I may still have a shot of finishing in under 54:00, so I really pushed. I just missed it, crossing in 54:02.

Which is a PR. By two whole seconds. So I should be happy, right? But I feel sort of crappy about the race because I don't think I ran very well. And I feel disappointed in myself for slacking during the month of July. On the plus side, I am finally feeling super motivated again where running is concerned. I want to get my miles back up this month and be ready for my short races in October and November. I also got some running loot for my birthday - my hubby bought me new running shoes, and with my birthday $ I bought a new sportsbra and some Gu (because Gu is like birthday cake, right?). I'm headed to the track after work to try out the new shoes. Hopefully all this broccoli I'm eating for lunch won't make a reappearance . . . .