Monday, June 28, 2010

Cheating my way to 7

I had to take a class on Sunday, the same day I was scheduled to run 7 miles. Wow that sounds like a lot, doesn't it? I had two choices - get to class super early and run beforehand, or wait until after and run instead of eating dinner. I decided to get it over with early, even though it was in the 85 degree vicinity and humid! So I ran inside again. Yes it's cheating, but I think it's ok here and again as long as I don't make it every time.

How was running 7 miles? Predictably awful. The furthest I've run in my entire life is 6.2 miles so jumping to 7 was pretty considerable, especially given that I seriously slacked last week and only managed 3 miles the entire week...

I got out the iPod, donned my favorite pink shirt and started out. I knew I was going pretty slow but finishing was much more crucial than any time. Around 6.2 miles my legs felt like lead and I thought I was going to throw up all over the track. So I walked it out for a few minutes and drank a little cold water. Then at 6.5 miles, my legs refused to budge one more step so I sat down right on the track and took a 4-minute break. Got up again and finished. I didn't finish strong, but I finished, which was all that mattered.

The total time was 1:19:03. Slow, but a good starting point to improve on for next Sunday when I do another 7 miler.

The last time I ran 6, I felt awful afterward and curled up on the couch, thinking "If I lay still long enough, eventually I'll fall asleep." This time, I didn't have the luxury of time but I didn't need it. Which is not to say I felt great - my hips were a little sore later that night, but I remained coherent enough to drag myself to class.

I need to share my history on the track team to explain what an enormous accomplishment it is for me to run 7 miles, to run 77 minutes. Soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No turning back now

Registering before the end of June saves runners $15 on the entry cost (it starts at $75 and increases the closer you register to the actual race). I knew this all along and I also knew that it's near the end of June but it didn't click until last night when I finally realized I need to get this taken care of! So I hopped online and within 4 minutes was all signed up for the marathon. I'm conservative with my finances, so now that I've shelled out $75 I'm determined to finish!

The registration had me estimate my finishing time to place me in the appropriate starting wave. It was broken down into 10 minute increments so I chose 4:40 - 4:50. Perhaps a little wishful thinking - I really had no idea beyond somewhere between 4:30 and 6:00.

The confirmation message had an uplifting signature: "We'll see you at the finish line October 17. You can do this." Thanks for the vote of confidence, Freep!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why are the short runs the hardest?

After my six miles on Saturday, I would have thought running 3 and 4 this week would be super easy. The four was ok enough, but the second three mile day was the hardest of the week and I don't understand why! It's a measly three miles. I regularly finish it between 27:40 and 28:30, so why at Elizabeth Park did I struggle to finish under 31 minutes? Granted the park lap is 1.05 miles so doing three laps gave me an extra minute or so. Even with that consideration, why did my per mile time jump from 9:23 on Tuesday to almost 10 minutes on Wednesday?

It's easy to get myself geared up to run 6 miles, but I seem to have this idea that 3 is absolutely nothing, that I can do it without any effort. Yet every time I run the distance I'm reminded that it's a decent length. I think the problem is that I tell myself 3 miles is a piece of cake, when in reality I spent nine weeks gearing up to run 3 miles. I'd almost rather do the longer distances because I can mentally prepare for those better.

Yet running 3 miles - in whatever time - really isn't that terrible. The time goes fast and I'd much rather run for 28 minutes than, say, stare at the wall. I'd definitely rather run than sit in traffic. Maybe I'll become a runner before this is all said and done..? Or maybe not. I tend to prefer the results to the process.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Yeah I cheated - I'm not stupid

Saturday's temperature was in the mid-80s with a heat index in the low 90s. It was also scheduled to be a six mile day. I knew if I forced myself to go outside - when I was sweating just walking 20 feet to the car - that I would last about a mile then give up. I didn't want to quit my long run so I went to the Y. I figured the mileage was more important than one more day on the pavement.

Was it cheating? Absolutely, yet it was also the only way I would make it through six miles. Even inside it was still in the 80s but the humidity was somewhat controlled. I normally try to eat as salt free and sodium free as possible, but I intentionally ate salt in the morning, hoping to hang on to some fluid. I don't know if that made a difference, or what it was, but I felt great throughout the run.

The entire six miles I was overcome with a calmness and knowledge that of course I was going to finish. I forced myself to drink every half mile or so, but for the most part I wasn't even thirsty. I didn't want to interrupt my flow for anything, even water. Was I "in the zone?" And if so, how did I get there? More importantly, how do I make it happen again?

When it was all said and done I finished in 61:30, by far the fastest I've ever done the distance. Even better, the last lap - the 60th was the fastest one.

The irony, of course, is that the next day was cool and cloudy and would have been perfect to run outside. Ah well.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Socks and Shoes

There is a trend toward running barefoot but I'm definitely bypassing that idea. I want the maximum cushioning between my feet and therefore my joints and the street. My shins were sore after two consecutive runs last week which meant it was time for new shoes. I had had the old pair a full year so I had pushed them beyond the recommended 500 miles. They always wear out exactly the same - the small diamond of cushion under the ball of my foot wears out and I replace shoes that otherwise look brand new. They're expensive too but worth every cent of preventing damage to my knees and hips.

Replacing shoes is easy. I go to the store and pick up the newest model of the Mizuno Wave 6. The whole thing takes 4 minutes. The only difference from year to year is the accent coloring. This pair is fuschia and black, last year was a hideous turquoise and chartreuse.

Buying the first pair, however, wasn't nearly so easy. I went to Total Runner in Southgate with my old shoes in tow. The man who helped me looked at my old shoes, measured my feet, watched me walk barefoot then had me try on seemingly every shoe in the store, watching me walk in each pair. Finally an hour later I left with the style I've stuck with for three years now. It was tedious, yes, but essential for a good, comfortable shoe.

I definitely recommend buying the first pair at a running or walking store, rather than a department store. I've found that running stores employ runners who can determine exactly which shoes will be the best, whether cushioning, stability or neutral, etc. I don't even understand all the terms, but he knew which shoes were the best for my feet. He also knew that running shoes might be a different size than street shoes. I wear a full size larger in running shoes which I wouldn't have thought if not for his help and advice.

As for socks, the only brand I wear now are Smart Wool. Wool socks? Absolutely! They're not hot or scratchy in the slightest bit. They're comfortable and wick moisture (pull it from my skin and push it to the outside of the fabric where it's absorbed as water vapor), keeping my feet dry and blister free. I've only found them at REI and paid anywhere from $4 to $11 for one pair. They come in different styles, but tend to run large.

In the winter I had a problem with blistering in the same spot every single run. They guys at Total Runner recommended slathering my feet in Vaseline before running. Sounds gross, but it didn't feel bad and it worked. A few weeks later the problem was gone. I hear Vaseline works for chafing too, but thankfully that hasn't been a problem!

With the old shoes, I kept one pair for yard work, kept a second pair for everyday shoes (I wear the current running pair exclusively for running) and donated the ugly pair to the YMCA. I'm not entirely sure what they do with them - donate to a school maybe? It seems asinine to get rid of a really good pair of shoes, but I have no use for them, so I use the bin to pay it forward. Maybe some little girl with big feet finally has a pair of good shoes :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Best run yet

This afternoon was 78 degrees, 53 percent humidity and cooled by a 7 mph breeze. It was hot and felt somewhat muggy but wound up being the best run I've had thus far. I had to pick up a new pair of shoes at the running store a stone's throw from Mom's house so rather than go back to the park and the monotony of laps I mapped out a 3 mile course around her house. www.mapmyrun.com is a decent website for calculating distance. It's full of ads and pop-ups but if you can get through those it's pretty good to either search for existing runs or calculate your own based on either a street view or a satellite view. It's free too :)

I mapped out a 3.05 mile run, grabbed the iPod (and sunblock, but not above my eyes!!!) and headed out. I read before that it's better on the joints to run in the street than the sidewalk because the former gives a tiny bit of cushion, the latter giving absolutely nothing. Where it's low traffic areas I try to follow that advice and today worked out great. There was almost no traffic and plenty of trees. It was also garbage day so there were no parked cars to dodge. Yes the trash liquid leaking on the streets smelled awful but whatever. It gave me incentive to run away from it :)

When it was all said and done I finished the 3.05 in 27:41, another personal best time for me, which destroyed the old of 28:13. Even better, it barely felt like work. Sure, I was aware that I was sweating and breathing hard, but the time went quickly and I didn't agonize over every step. I didn't even hit song #9 on the ultimate cardio playlist which has always been the signal that I need to wrap up the 3 miles. I tried to not think and the time went quickly. Maybe the answer is to not think? Not sure how easy that will be...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Must...Eat...

This afternoon was lousy for a summer weekend, but with a temperature in the mid-60s and a reasonable humidity and full cloud cover, it was a wannabe runner's perfect environment. I went to church in the morning, then knowing I was scheduled to do 5 miles, I wanted to finish it off before the rain came in and before the Tigers game started. Waiting until after the game was an option too, but it made much more sense to get it over with and not have it hanging over my head.

It felt relatively cool but I knew I'd be sweating so I grabbed shorts and a tank and set off for my five mile jaunt. I've done the distance a handful of times but today felt really difficult. I had water available but that did little to alleviate the cramp in my right side that made itself felt within the first mile. Nevertheless I grabbed a sip every .75 miles and kept chugging along. I felt awful and my per lap speed was equally awful but when it was all said and done, I finished the five miles in 49 minutes and change, the fastest I've finished the distance.

When I got home I entered it into The Daily Plate to revel in how many calories I had just burnt (836 baby!). Just for kicks I entered everything I had eaten and discovered that I forced myself to run five miles on fewer than 300 calories! It's not that I was deliberately withholding calories or food. I don't like to run on a full stomach, but it was more that I just wasn't hungry this morning. Yet I know that calories are fuel and energy, both of which my body desperately needs to get through the (relatively) longer runs. No wonder I was cramping in my side and had to drag myself through it. Note to self - eat more when you run more! Take care of this body and it will take care of you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity..."

We've all heard it. We've all said it. It's generally both the heat and the humidity, but today was all humidity. The temperature was a cool 73 so I put on long pants, not thinking about the humidity at a scorching 85 percent. Ach I was sweating before I even began.

28 minutes later I was done and realized my upper lip sweats. Gross! Yet still better than yesterday when sweat dripped off my forehead, mixed with sunblock and streamed into my burning eyes.

Yesterday and today both I did three miles. Yesterday's time was 28:13, today was 28:14. Ultimately the time doesn't matter so much as the distance, yet I do try to go faster each time or at least stay the same speed. Why drag it out when I can finish it quickly? Besides doing the math keeps my mind busy and therefore not thinking of the task at hand.

The temperature was great, the wind was great, but I can do without the humidity. It was a good run today and even better, I completed the entire run and cooled off before the rain (and therefore saved my shoes from the mud).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Maybe there's something to this morning running thing

I was up before 6 this morning and for a few minutes seriously considered getting up and running. I came to my senses, however, and went back to sleep. I was up for good at 9:30 and immediately tested the weather to determine if I was running early or late. I opened the window and the humidity hit me like a blast oven. Yet I knew it would only get worse so I figured why not? and left before I could talk myself out of it.

When I left home it was very hot and humid so I wore shorts and a tank, but when I started a quick warm-up walk it was cold and made me wish for a long sleeve t-shirt. By the time I started running, it was hot again. What's that line about Michigan weather? If you don't like it wait a few minutes...

Running early on Saturday felt great, but today, not so much. I had to stop once for water, but I wasn't really dehydrated, so much as bored. For as miserable as I felt, though, I did the same distance as on Saturday but finished 19 seconds faster today.

After I finished I enjoyed the rest of the day knowing I didn't have the run hanging over my head. I think there's really something to be said about getting up and getting it over with. Now if only work didn't get in the way!