Mar 31, 2007

what = running success?

for me, the day i became i "real" runner was the day i ran a marathon & got that mylar blanket at the finish. i had run a half marathon 3 times before i did a full - each time i crossed the finish at the half, i'd see all the marathoners with those blankets. i saw them as real runners. i wanted to be one of them. i wanted a blanket.

the day before my marathon after i got back from my 3 mile run, i sobbed in my kitchen - overwhelmed & overjoyed by all that i had accomplished. i realized that it was all about the training. the marathon was just the icing on the cake.

i got my blanket. at the time, that equaled success. i had made it. but then it was - what's next? what's the next goal? how can i do better next time?

ran a some 5k's, a 4 mile race, a 10k, etc ... each race was a sucess & yet each race held its' disappointments in missed goal times, etc ... but through those dissapointments came all the lessons i'll apply to next race ... and i suppose it just goes on & on from there. i'm always analyzing how i could have done better. what went wrong? i'm really amazed by the constant learning ... i learned from my slow start at the 10k that its' ok for me to line up in the front of the pack - i've earned a spot closer up. i learned from today that when i'm running a race & feeling fabulous -- the whole time; that i'm probably not working hard enough. i didn't suffer enough. will apply that lesson to the half marathon in a few weeks. i love gathering up all these tidbits of lesson learned and applying them to next race, the next training run ... life.

disappointment from today's race aside ... i ran this same race last year; so one year, a half marathon, a full marathon, a coach & some serious training later - i shaved 2 minutes off my pace time & had i actually done my best, made it hurt, it is more likely 2.5 minutes.

it drives my husband crazy that i come home disappointed in my race times -- when in comparison to last year, the progress i am making is amazing & i should be overjoyed. he asked if i'll ever be happy with my time. i don't know, i suppose that even if i make my goal time, there will always be something i could have done better. i also suppose that perhpas my goals might border on unrealistic ... should give myself more of a range - more wiggle room ... but, don't we all think we can do better? why else would we keep doing this?

so, what equals running success to me? sure - the mylar blankets, the prizes for placing, qualifying for a seeded number... its all good. and believe me, i'll keep striving for more! but those are just the tangibles ... the best is the physical and mental results - that as a result of my 4am wake up calls to running, track tuesdays, long runs, sore muscles, all the hard work; i get a body transformed, i;m constantly learning new things, i'm a healthier, stronger better person now than one year ago, heck- than 20 years ago ... and i've earned a spot up front on race day.

Mar 26, 2007

oh! i remember why i do this now ...

....because i LOVE it!!! with all the obsessing over times, pace, heartrate, keeping up with the big dogs, etc ... i had forgotten why i do this. it was getting hard. i was getting tired.

if i just turn the brain off and go run - all the bliss comes back. the pure, fast, this is why i do this, i am runner woman hear me roar bliss.

i run because i love running and running loves me. we got a good thing going ... i love how strong and beautiful it makes me feel, love the muscles it puts on my legs. love the constant amazement at what my body is capable of accomplishing ...

love turning the corner to my street, passing the workmen who are standing around with their coffee & i fly by them - knowing i look shit hot. running made me feel that way.

love the constant challenge - trying to figure it all out. like - how is it that i can run an 8:16 pace so comfortably today, but am sucking wind on an 8:30 pace run with the big dogs? its a head thing ... think i need to stop worrying about keeping up & just run.

ahhh....its going to be a great day.

Mar 24, 2007

mouse waco

i forgot how much the heat beats me down. it was 80 when i finally left for today's 9 miles ... i read somewhere that when you are running, it feels like the temperature is actually 20 degrees hotter. so that would mean i just cranked out (albeit barely) 9 miles in what felt like 100 degree heat.

i had every intention of trying to beat the heat & get this run done early today ... but then, i hadn't planned on this (which happened last night):

cooking the family of mice apparently living in the insulation in my stove.

i was fairly beaming with pride & a general feeling of grown-upness when i cooked fish for my family last night. fish intimidates me - i really don't like it in the ocean & really, i don't like it on my dinner plate either - but it felt grown up & responsible. suffice it to say - i had never done this ... nor had i used the broiler. ever. (we have lived in this home for 8 years). in a nutshell, my husband kept wondering what smelled so bad (i'm not even offended by this - just think the poor man has been so culinarily deprived that he just doesn't know what cooking fish smells like) - (apparently, the smell of mousey death escaped my nostrils). when the smoke detector went off, i knew dinner was ready. really. not trying to be funny - thats' just what happens here. its like a dinner bell in this house. we were completley perplexed by the amount of smoke pouring out from the stove & i thought it was going to combust at any moment ... my husband finally lifts off the top tray which revealed a lower tray COVERED in mouse droppings, lifting this tray revealed the fabulous spread they had for themselves in among the insulation. i am simulatneously mortified & laughing so hard i cannot stop ... we leave the house, music playing, half drunk glasses of wine, stove pulled out to middle of kitchen & we were off to Lowe's for a new stove. had to sit on front lawn when we got home to air out the death-smell that had permeated the place & drink more wine with friends while we retold whole story.

Three glasses of wine later & i knew i'd highly likely be hitting snooze when the call to running went off at 6am.
and that's exactly what happened ... so, after hitting snooze for an HOUR & A HALF; i wake up and get my daughter ready for ballet, and have a little breakfast that i feel will fuel my run when i get back (in an hour) ... but then, i hadn't planned on this:

my dog having a seizure in the front hall.

this was a first for us & i thought he was actually going to bite it right then. right in front of us. honestly, (and this is awful, i know) my husband & i are waiting, hoping, wishing for it to happen. the dog is like linus ... just a cloud of dust, dirt, hair, stink & god knows what else follows him around. there's more, but i'll spare the details of how he's just let all sense of any sort of doggy decorum out the window. i'm finished with the dog thing. so while we want it to happen ... we don't really want it to happen. and certainly not in front of us, not in front of the kids. poor poor unloved little ball of filfth. well, just as i am feeling really sorry for him & worried about the kids who are FREAKING out -- all of a sudden, seizure is over (i'll spare the messy details) - he gets up, shakes it off and is himself again ... still, i insist my husband take him to vet. i take my daughter to ballet. i'm convinced the vet will say "we really should put him down - this is clearly the end" ... i even have my speech to the kids all planned out ... suffice it to say, $100 later i am driving home with the damn dog in the car ... & he just looks at me, fat, dumb, stinky, shedding & happy.

now - home, dressed & ready to run. finally - go out front door ... daughters see me heading out & want to run with me. they beg. how can i deny them? i must encourage this love of running. it takes 45 minutes for them to get organized & come with me. we go 3 blocks, turn around & go home. i get the mail & must stay home for a while & celebrate the fact that my son got into the school (public - yes, we have to actually apply & get accepted) of his choice!! we have a very happy 6th grader-to-be.

with all this craziness, i didn't bother to eat again (it is now 5 hours after my little breakfast) - when i am going to learn that if i want my body to run 9 miles, i need to put gas in the tank? must be nicer to body. it was a rough run ... but i did it.

i love my crazy life.

Mar 23, 2007


5 miles on schedule today.
5 miles that I just blatantly didn’t do -
for no other reason than i just thought


i didn’t die.

my muscles didn’t atrophy.

who knew?

Mar 20, 2007

track tuesdays

track tuesday, a.k.a - a day in which i am rendered completely useless. a day in which i drag myself through in an utter fog of oxygen deprivation & screaming, sore muscles, a day during which i wonder how i can ever muster up the energy to run again.

a day during which the biggest thing i might accomplish is; trolling the aisles in a zombie state looking for what has been promised to me as nothing short of rocket fuel coffee; and believe me, i need rocket fuel coffee. so i search the aisles, desperate for the coffee ... every muscle in my body is begging me to go back to bed. but i if i do nothing today but get this coffee, it is a good day. these are my tuesdays now.

alarm goes off at 4:10 & my first word is f--k! why do i continue to do this???? (it's a rhetorical question ... there is no answer. really. no answer for this sort of insanity).

i had 7 x 800's @ 7:30 w/ 1:30 recovery. That's running around the track shit-ass fast TWICE, with one easy jogging lap in between. 7 times. apparently, this torture is meant to make one faster. i'll keep you posted on that one ...

there is, however, something strangely zen about running around the track in the dark; with nothing to hear except your struggle to breathe & each painful footstrike, and you can hear coach closing in behind so you kick it in so he doesn't lap you. again. just run between those two white lines ... the ground somehow just moves beneath you. it's easy to get into a zone.

albeit a crazy, painful, throwing-up-is-a-viable-option, i-don't-even-have-the-energy-to-spit, wtf am i doing out here zone. but a zen-like zone nonetheless.

and now i have rocket-fueled coffee to get me through post track/zen run next tuesday.

Mar 17, 2007

busting my ass for sub-48

maybe i should have busted my ass a little harder - i missed it by 1:48.
i should be immensly pleased with overall time & improvements, and i am. really.
but of course, i am beating myself up over the minutae of that lost 1:48 ... let's analyze ...

i started too far back ... i thought it was a little "who do i think i am?" of me to line up towards the front & instead went further back where i somehow got myself behind the runners who were just out for a saturday stroll ... took forever to make way through. i am an idiot. note to self: (and my coach & husband said the same thing) i am a fast runner - i deserve to be up front.

heart rate was only 163 at the highest ... have learned from big dog runs that i can sustain 170 for about 2 miles ... should have kicked it in.

am sure there is more minutae that could contribute to the lost 1:48 ... i'll obsess over it all day.

at any rate - here are the numbers ... not bad at all. why am i not on cloud nine?

49:48 ... 8:01 pace
28th finisher in age group (out of 455 finishers in age group)

now - lets compare that to last year:
1:00:06 ... 9:40 pace
150th finisher in age group.

i moved up 122 places. and 1:40 pace per mile.

AND - i qualify for a seeded number at same race next year. seeded number, people.
AND - i beat the woman who kicked my ass in the homestretch of 5k two weeks ago.

not too shabby. but damn that 1:48.

Mar 15, 2007

my new gig

for better or worse, the 5am thursday runs with the big dogs are my new gig. as are 5am track workouts with coach on tuesdays ...

so here it is - big dog run day again (so soon? seems like just yesterday i was killing myself to keep up). major improvments today: i could actually eek out a couple of sentences ... last week i was just struggling to breathe - speaking was not an option.

there were only 6 of us today. us - good god, i'm one of them now. i stayed with them (for the most part) for the first 5.5 miles ... was so excited about 25 minutes in when they head to the park & i think we are going to stop for h20 - i start to veer ever so slightly over towards fountain when much to my dismay, they keep going -- and we're running, we're running ... right through hospital parking lot which i thought was convenienent - just in case.

i really was immensly proud of myself for keeping up ... even when i was bringin' up the rear, the pack was still essentially, all together - so it wasn't as demoralizing as it was last week when i could barely see them. although there was a definite point when they kicked it in & i fell way back -- with little over a mile to go ...

during this last leg, i was simultaneously amazed & alarmed by heartrate - which was holding steady at 170 (my max during field test is 173) ... my thoughts went from: i am moments away from collapsing, should i warn coach; to - hey, i can maintain 170 way longer than i thought. cool.

the best part is this - we ran faster & farther than last week. didn't even feel like it. i'm not saying it was a walk in the park, but collapsing at any moment didn't strike me as a viable (i.e more preferable - since i wouldn't actually be running if i was face down in the pavement) alternative this time around. now that's progress.

Total time and distance was 7.04 in 58:01 versus 7.02 in 58:35 last week. beauty.

Mar 8, 2007

just trying to keep up ...

...with the big dogs that is.

there were no text messages from the coach this morning giving me a reprieve due to lightning (last week), or sickness (week before). weather was gorgeous & he was healthy. shit.

after two cancelled runs though, i am really over the whole, ineedapaperbagtobreatheinto sort of performance anxiety & just want to get it over with.

so this was it. my debut as guest runner with the big dogs:

  • night before - get gear together, don't want to be scrambling to find shit at 4:30 in the morning - would be bad form to keep coach waiting. (i wondered if it was bad form to collapse on group run).
  • sleep in running clothes. (an attempt to buy some time & eek out any extra zzz's) -- try to relax & visualize a strong run, but can't get this visual out of my head: me - collapsed on the side of the road, running group so far ahead they don't know i am in need of CPR, patiently waiting for ambulance to come by & scrape my sorry ass off pavement ... drift off to sleep.
  • wake up at 4:15 ... brush teeth - keep checking phone for text from coach that lets me off hook. no such luck.
  • watch news, eat GU ... pee way too many times in 15 minutes. (clearly, some of the performance anxiety still lingers) decide against wearing heart rate monitor ... don't want to know what hr is right before i drop dead.
  • coach arrives, drive to the park ...wait for other dogs. one by one the cars start pulling in ... jesus - how many people are in this group?? ELEVEN. 8 men. 3 women.
  • a little chit chat - coach introduces guest runner ... and we're off.
  • i didn't even wear a watch - (figured i would leave that job to coach ... besides, took enormous focus to just run & keep up ... no way i had extra energy to lift my arm to check time anyway). but i'm guessing we're about 15 minutes in & i'm already sucking wind. there's no way i could even concieve of talking -- have moved way beyond the "comfortable conversation zone" -- although rest of group is carrying on a conversation as if we're all just sitting in a coffee shop. BUT - i am in the middle of the pack.
  • must. try. to. maintain. this.
  • hmmm ... not so much. but get this - soemone from the back yells ahead that he can't keep up the pace & is dropping out. AND ITS NOT ME!!!! it wasn't me - i am still there. barely. but still there.
  • i'm no longer in the middle of the pack, but in the back - with coach who stayed with me the whole time ... but there is still someone BEHIND us ... i am not the last one.
  • now i love this - they all stop. at a park. for water. and chat a moment - its a beautiful moment & i am thanking my lucky stars that we have stopped for a bit. may have been a minute. maybe two. then we're off again & i think - hey ... that tiny little stop was all i needed & i can totally stay with the pack a bit more now.
  • ha ha ha - i laugh at your optimism little guest runner ... they all took off like a shot. and once again, i was in the back (not the back, back - there was still someone behind us).
  • my coach says something to the effect of "they are really fast today" ... obviously, this is to make me feel a weensy bit better about the fact that the little reflective moving stripes are WAY ahead of us now.
  • at some point - 6 miles? he says, "they're picking it up now" ... NOW? Now they are picking up the pace? what was it called three minutes into this run when i was already winded? that wasn't picking it up? i am so so so out of my league.
  • for most of the run, i have no idea where i am ... i'm almost dizzy at one point (oxygen deprivation will do that, won't it?) ... but at one point, we're coming up on a traffic light & i know that the car is a left turn & about 1/2 mile away. right before this light, he says "only about 4 or 5 more blocks now" . WTF???? i am dying here. i know the car is THERE. right there.
  • 4 or 5 more blocks, left turn - of course, a nice big steep hill looms in front of me ... i kicked it in - booked up the hill & there we were ... back to the park where we started ... slow 1/8 mile to car & it was over. i made it.
  • a little over 7 miles in 58:17. Average pace was 8:13 i think, but more specifically, the first 20 minutes were 7:45 - 7:50 pace. hello - people, that is race pace here. race pace @ 5 am.
not being the very last one in the pack - priceless.

Mar 3, 2007

12 mile training run ... and a race.

today was the 1st leg of a series of races here -- today was the 5K, in 2 weeks, its a 10K, then two weeks later, a 10 miler. 3 weeks after the 10 miler is the mini. (a.k.a half marathon) -- around here, its' referred to as the mini. nothing mini about it. still a HALF marathon - but mini makes it sound so much nicer. cute. easy. mini.

anyhow - i've signed up for all three races (this is the 4th go around at all of them) & today was the start.

i'm late for the race - need to leave at about 7:30 so i can run nice & slow; leave room for a loo stop of i need one ... i leave at 7:40, run one block, decide i'm over dressed & turn back home to do a last minute change into knickers - dump the hat, dump the gloves ... my husband yells after me - "why don't you just drive?" -- what? why would i drive?

never in my wildest dreams did i ever think i'd be one of those people who run to a race & then run home.

but now i am that person - and i like her. she's cool.

a few blocks into run - (now its' 7:45 & race starts in 45 minutes - and i've got 4.2 miles to go) -- i realize i've left one of my GU's in tights that are sitting in a heap on basement floor. no biggie - there's one more GU stashed in my sports bra - lord knows there's plenty of room in there for extras.

i run to the race ... too fast (despite listening to my sunday morning chill mix on nano to try & relax pre-race jitters & stay slow) - was convinced i'd be late. but i have 15 minutes to spare ... i do the whole pre-race pee thing, some sprints, and head up to front of pack -- (this is new for me - times are just falling away since i've done this series of races last year & now i can actually line up with the 7 minute milers). and the fact that i actually do some sprints up to "race pace" before lining up cracks me up too. who am i?

i feel way cool. am hanging with the 7 minuters.

then i realize that my "5K" list did not load onto nano for some reason -
the 5K list i specifically picked out & arranged just so for this race -
the perfect - iamrunnerwomanhearmeroariamgoingtokickass list. not loaded.

its ok. its ok. just shift gears & put on "run really fast" list. seriously - that's the name of the list. the songs are a little tired - but am just going to go with the flow.

i go out way too fast - look at my watch at 30 seconds & tell myself i got about 23 more minutes and need to take it way down. i lost a lot of love after mile 2 ... just felt like the juice was gone. i was suddenly STARVING & i needed to pee. i just gave up here & stopped caring about my time, pace, placement, etc ... & tried to tell myself its really just a training run - this is my 10 minutes X 2 steady states in the middle of the whole 12. had to pee so badly that i knew if i tried to haul ass in the last half mile, an unfortunate accident would be highly likely & i just didn't want to go there ...

so, i lost the love, had no juice, had to pee ... passed a woman on the homestretch, felt slightly smug & invigorated - then she passed me (absolutley FLYING, i might add) ... then i looked at my watch & realized i could actually beat my last 5K time & get a new PR!
holy shit. how did that happen? i gave up a half mile ago.

so - there it is ... a PR 5K (by exactly 6 seconds).

7:35 pace
the 18th woman in my age group.
the 94th woman to finish.
606 overall.

out of a field of about 7000. at least i think that's what the announcer said - jesus jones was blaring in my ears ...

not bad. not bad at all.

then, a little GU, a bagel, my "chill" list & a nice, slow, satisfying 4.5 mile run home.

12 miles. done ... monday begins an easy week.