Friday, August 31, 2012

The gadget splurge

Every morning I check Amazon's Deal of the Day. It's generally nothing I want / need, but every so often something strikes me. A few Mondays ago, it was the Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS watch with heart rate monitor. I absolutely did not NEED it, but I've been wanting one, and the price was right.
OBVIOUSLY I got the pink one :)

A solid week later it arrived and it's just ok. I absolutely despise the idea of carrying GPS on my wrist, believing with all certainty that the government monitors such things. Yet, I really like the convenience of it.

The 110 is the base model, which only tells me three things: total distance, total time, and average pace for the current mile. There is much gnashing of teeth online over the lack of "instant pace," but I'm totally ok with it. In fact, I prefer knowing my average time. Knowing my pace THIS EXACT SECOND doesn't tell me a whole lot. Knowing my average pace for the mile is really helpful because it lets me quickly and easily see if I need to speed up to hit 10:35 or if I can just maintain my pace.

For two years I've been using routes I calculated on Map my run, everything from 1 mile to 8. After wearing the watch once, I immediately realized the distances were different. What the heck?! Obviously one of them was wrong, but how would I even begin to figure out which one???

I did some research online and realized something significant: they're BOTH wrong. Argh! I've been using wrong distances for 2+ years :( Mapmyrun over-estimates distances because it tracks the middle of the street, and calculates every turn as a right angle. GPS under-estimates because it marks and connects individual points, so if I'm running a triangle, I might go both sides, but the GPS only calculates the hypotenuse. Or if I do a lollipop run, it might miss the circle at the end. The actual distance is somewhere between the measures.

I don't use the heart rate monitor when I run because it needs skin contact to work and fits right where my sports bra does. I'd rather keep the girls locked in place than know my heart rate. I tried it on the bike and elliptical before, just for kicks. Every single fitness magazine and article mentions how the machine heart rate sensors are so inaccurate as to be worthless, yet when I tested the elliptical, the machine was accurate to the Garmin WITHIN 2 BPM!!!

So it's ok. I don't love it, but I'll keep it for two reasons - it gives me freedom to deviate from my routes, and it lets me know if I need to speed up to hit 10:35, when I still have time to hit the goal.

There are many other options and most of them are tons fancier with more options, but for a casual runner, the 110 is just fine.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The "Plan your own Race" approach

Saturday's forecast was miserable - upper 80s and sunny. Great summer weather, but miserable for running. Hal Higdon said to run 17 miles. What a miserable combination. I knew the only way it would happen would be if I went early. Bah! Sleeping in late is one of my favorite things in the world! The alternatives were run 3+ hours in the middle of the day, or wait all day / evening and start later when it would still be hot and miserable. There was no other way around it.

Waking up early is extremely difficult for me. My cell phone still has the alarm saved that I used for the 2010 Free Press because even two years later, I can't believe I voluntarily woke up at 4 am lol (Side note: The full marathon sold out yesterday. I'm so thankful I committed to it early and registered within an hour of it being online).

Rather than think of it as a miserable morning run, I imagined it was a race I had already paid for, so I had no choice but wake up early, eat breakfast and water (but no coffee) and just go. I had even thought about putting $50 or $100 in an envelope. If I completed the run, I could have the money, if not, it was going straight to the church offering plate. I never physically did it, but I mentally set aside all the cash in my wallet for the same effect.

For some reason I woke up at 3, but laid in bed until the alarm blared at 6 am. It was still dark outside, so I kept hitting the snooze button until 6:25. I was outside by 7 and running by 7:15, after talking with two men who were smoking outside the Coney Island.

The early weather was humid but not too hot. It would have been beautiful if I was sitting on the porch. It would have been cold if I was at the beach. I was running, however, and within 5 minutes I was sweating. As the sun came up, so did the heat, but the humidity simultaneously dropped.

It got done and yes, it was miserable. The best part was finishing 16+ miles by 11 am, before my normal self gets out of bed. It was a relief to be done and not have a massive run hanging over my head all day.

The best part of the actual run was that my body didn't really hurt. My feel calluses are coming back, so those were a little sore, but otherwise my hips were fine, my lower back was fine, my shin was good. I don't know why everything felt good, but I'll take it!

Thankfully I only have 3 more "monster" runs before the race which is a mixed bag. I feel great about so few massively long runs, but in no way do I feel prepared to finish the race. Forget 4:33, I don't feel ready to cross the finish line. I just have to keep telling myself It's all mental!!!!! I've already done 2 marathons this year and I've followed Hal's program with 95% accuracy, including ALL the long runs.

Something else good is I did some cross training on Sunday and it was GREAT! Seriously! No sarcasm here! I ellipticalled 30 minutes at the gym, then did a quick circuit on the upper body weights. It felt so good (and so easy!) that I was marginally disappointed for no-exercise Monday because it meant I couldn't repeat the great exercise.

Next up: 18 miles. Ugh! Help me Hal!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In 2 months it'll all be over

It's August 22, which means in exactly two months, the Free Press marathon will be over. For the Martian I did a 26-week training program, for this one I'm doing an 18-week program and it still can't end soon enough! Running is all mental, but my body is really fighting me this summer. Every run is painful, even the baby 4-milers. There is no enjoyment in it, just slugging through the miles until I'm done.

Hal says to run 4 miles tomorrow. My legs are fatigued and I'm looking at a 17-mile Saturday. Despite the cooler fall weather we've had all August, the Saturday forecast is 87. Yuck :( So tomorrow is getting changed to cross training. I'll bike for 30-60 minutes, work my heart and lungs, but give my legs and my joints a break.

Training is really miserable this go-round :( Maybe I'll condense the spring 2013 training to a 10 or 12 week program. October 22 sounds really good right now - a personal day off work to rest, Jets pizza, sleep, really easy bike ride. I definitely EARN those Mondays off :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

2 races 2 days bad idea

I had one goal for the Milford Memories 1-mile "fun" run - to go all-out as fast as I could and set a pr for one mile. While training for the Martian I hit an 8:07 and thought I could beat that. Maybe in a perfect world I could have. Maybe if the course was flat, maybe if I hadn't done a race the day before. Could have, should have, would have. The runner from Hell commiserated with my failure:
Good job for 8:47 - even though you had a "bad" time. Remember, you did a very hilly 10 miler - THE DAY BEFORE. So use that as your excuse. 
Yes, I failed. The finish line clock was 8:53, but I know I missed a few seconds at the start because I wasn't toeing the line, so I'm calling it 8:47. As I crossed the finish line, the announcer said "Michelle Bemis of Milford, third overall." Seriously? Wow! Likely the ONLY race I'll ever finish in the top 3. I didn't even care that the top 2 were probably pushing strollers or had just given birth or something. I WAS THIRD!!!!! Wheeeee!!!!!

There was a little boy of 8 or 9 near me at the end. As we approached the finish line, I kicked up my speed and promised myself that even though I missed my time, I WOULD beat the little boy. I did :) I saw my brother's running friends at the finish and asked them if it was evil of me to pass him so close to the end? They assured me it was fine :)

I looped back on the course to meet my brother and his son to finish with them. The little guy is only 3 so it was a slow go :) When we got to the finish line, I slowed down so he wouldn't be the last place finisher.

At the end of the day I was 3rd overall and dead last loser with finishing times of 8:47 and 22+ Funny.

Afterward, the family went to the Rotary pancake breakfast. The race was over, but not the disappointment. There were certificates for all the 1-mile finishers. They were pre-printed and ready to go, but the race organizers wouldn't give us certificates!!!! They said everything would be given at the awards ceremony, but when with a 2 and a 3 year old, waiting over an hour isn't the best choice. One of the organizers offered to mail us the certificates. We'll see if they actually arrive.

I also emailed about the 3rd place finish. The website said prizes to the top 3 men and women in the 1-miler. Where's my award??? I don't even need a prize, just give me a certificate that says I was the bronze finisher! Acknowledge the ONE race I did well relative to the field.

So yeah, the shirts were cute for t-shirts, running with my nephew was fun, but the management of the race wasn't so great. There wasn't even anything to eat or drink at the end.

Had the two races been reversed, I absolutely would have broken 8 minutes, but I was running on tired legs, a sore quad and a tender hip. Excuses excuses, I know.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

You call that Hell?

Saturday was the run through Hell. All along I was anticipating upper 80s, high humidity and killer hills. The reality wasn't nearly as terrible as my expectations.

After a summer of hot dry weather, Hell morning was overcast and cool. The exact same weather that had me moaning and complaining before and during the Martian was a welcome relief in Hell. It was cool and super humid, but the humidity kept breaking into a light drizzle that was very welcome! The morning started cold enough for a sweatshirt, but I took it off within the first few feet and slung it over the gate at the ranch, hoping hoping hoping it would still be there when I was done.

The route started the same as the Halloween run, then turned left instead of turning right. The hills weren't too terrible, yet I know if it had been 85 degrees, they would have seemed like mountains! The biggest problem on the course was that the rain made the road slick and I was marginally concerned about slipping and falling on a downhill.

Something really good about Hell is that I somewhat ran it with someone. Well I saw him at the start line, at the finish line and a few times on the course. I've been emailing with a guy since the Martian who is transitioning from 5k distance to the Free Press half marathon. Hell was his first "long" race and it was fun to be his cheerleader. I saw him a few times throughout the race and tried to yell encouragement his way. When it was done, he was in great pain and having trouble walking. I couldn't help laughing, not because I was making fun of him, but because I've been there and I knew exactly how terrible it feels.

With very little hill training, my goal was 2 hours. Yes, I know that's only a 12:00 average. Obviously I hit it! :) I wasn't running super hard and I felt awesome within 5 minutes of finishing. I could have gone harder and faster. I'm not sure why I didn't. I was struck with how incredibly easy the race was, which tells me I was being way too easy on myself. Most races when I pass a mile marker I think "ugh that was ONLY 4 miles???" My reaction yesterday was more like "sweet, 4 done already! I'm cruising right along. Almost half done."

Finished the race and headed back to the gate hoping my shirt was there. It was!!! Sweet! I found it years ago on the clearance rack. It's nothing special, but I like it.

The race shirt, by the way, is hideous!!! It's super cheap quality and the design looks like something whipped together in 3 minutes. My friend got there before I did and picked up my packet for me. I saw him walk toward my car with a pink shirt in his hands and I thought "oh, he decided to do the weenie run (4.8 miles)." Nope, it was mine and it's going straight in the "painting / yard work pile." Race organizers - if you're reading this, I'll design your shirts next year! I'll do it for free!!

After the race I saw something tied around my side mirror. I had no idea what it was, or why something was on my mirror. I untied it and someone had tied a red "run through Hell" shirt to my mirror. My best guess is that one of my friend's friends did it. We saw them before the race started and we all chatted about how hideous the shirts were this year. There was a tent selling shirts from previous years. Did they buy me one? Did the man dressed as Satan send it my way? The women parked nearby who liked my pre-race snack of cookies and "Mexican" Coke with the real sugar? Whoever you are, thank you :)

Both shirts are in the washer now. I always order an extra large, because my 2010 Free Press shirt is an XL and it's none too big. The Hell shirts seem to have come from the XL section at the big and tall store. I'll post pics of both shirts after I attempt to shrink them.

Not the greatest race I've ever done, but not the worst either. 10 miles of rain and hills were tons better than the flat 15 Hal had prescribed. Would I do it again? Yeah, probably. See you all in Hell! he he he

Update: here are the pictures. I used the PhotoBooth program on my iMac and the pics are all reversed. Flipping them wouldn't fix anything :(

Race shirt front

Race shirt back

Mystery shirt front

Mystery shirt back

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The negative split

I don't like Tuesday runs. They're the shortest distance of the week, but generally the hardest, both mentally and physically. Mentally it's hard to get back in the running groove, physically my legs are still fatigued from Saturday's long run. When it's done though, my body is ready to really run again.

Tuesday was another hot, humid day. After work I had several errands I really didn't want to do. Laid down for a few minutes after, then as it passed 7 pm, my self-guilt started talking and said I had to get running. Grudgingly I turned off the Tigers game and set out. It was 87 degrees. Ugh.

Most days my only goal is to finish. If I can stay under 10:00 average pace, it's an added bonus. Within the first half mile on Tuesday, while I was thinking how miserable it was, how much I wanted to quit, I threw in a new challenge for myself - a negative split, where the run is divided into two equal parts, with the goal of running the second half faster than the first.

As I went through the miles, I considered the likely outcomes of my goal. I figured I would miss it by a huge margin, or miss it by a few seconds. If I accomplished the negative split, it would be by two or three seconds.

The first half time was 20:05, which was pretty good at a 10:02 average. I kept going through the second half and didn't look at my stopwatch until I paused it to wait for the street light so I could cross. I was at 33:30, so I had 6:30ish to finish the negative split. I've previously done the last section in 5:04 so I knew I could do it.

The second half time was 18:40. Sweet! I hit the negative split with a 1:45 margin. It would have been so easy to skip the workout, but I'm so glad I threw in the challenge and accomplished it :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bad Timing

Last weekend was bad timing all around. Yoga started at 6 on Friday and I was especially looking forward to it, to stretching and decompressing my joints after a week of work and running. Traffic was bad. It always is because every single route going south is under construction. I drove like mad and got there at 6:04. The teacher had "just" left. What???? She never starts before 6:10. I was soooooo bummed. At home yoga just isn't the same :( Grumble grumble complain.

Jump to Saturday. The forecast was for a furnace, mid 90s and humid. My only option was to wake up at 4 am, but that just wasn't happening so I resigned myself to inside running. Stepped outside at 10:30 to get the mail and it wasn't excessively hot. It was getting there, but I could have easily run at 8 and been comfortable outside. Booooo!!!

So I went to the Y. I ran. It sucked. The plan was 140 laps. I actually had thoughts like "less than 100 laps to go!" and "only 80 more laps!" then "40 more! Easy!" Then my iPod died at mile 11.6. Aaaaarrrrgh!!!! I actually kept going. I was pleasantly surprised at the quietness of both my feet and my breathing. Without the music though, there was nothing to dampen the screaming kids playing basketball below. Add in that every single piece of clothing I was wearing was soaked and needed to be wrung out. Both my hips hurt, both my heels hurt, my right arch hurt. I hit lap 125 and said "to hell with it." Enough was enough!

The forecast was sweltering all night as well - the reality was cooler with less humidity. Wth? I could have waited and run at 6 or 6:30 and been fine. Frustration!

That's not even the worst part. I drank roughly 60 ounces before running, drank 64 during the run and at least another 64 after the run, yet I was super dehydrated all night. I'm blaming work for this one. The school isn't air conditioned, and while we have portable a/c units, they don't do a whole lot. I drink 64 ounces of water every day before I leave work at 4 pm, and I'm constantly parched. The delicate skin around my mouth has gotten dry and flaky. It's like a cold dry winter on my skin. Add in a 2:21:15 run and I couldn't get enough water. At 11 pm, I pondered going to urgent care for an iv of fluids it was that bad.

I went to bed instead.

Woke up Sunday morning and thought "Gosh, I should run again today!" At first I thought my new and improved 7-mile loop was the way to go. The forecast claimed to be in the low 80s with low humidity. Pfft yeah right. Stepped outside and changed it to a 5-miler. Once I actually started running, 3.13 was quite good enough thankyouverymuch. Hal didn't even say to run, he said to cross train on Sunday. I figured a few extra miles wouldn't hurt me and they didn't. Just so thirsty!!!! I normally avoid added salt and sodium, but I feel like I should throw that idea right out the window and use it so I deliberately retain water! Who cares if I gain a pound or two in water weight? It has to beat feeling like I just crossed the Sahara in July.

I saw this on PostSecret. Me too!!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012


My buddy Hal says tomorrow is a 14-miler. Ugh that's miserable. Even more miserable is the weather, still 86 when I post this at 9 pm. Overnight will be in the upper 70s and all day tomorrow will be upper 80s to mid 90s. What the hell....?

Why aren't my shoes cute like this? 
This week was back to work week at a summer camp at the elementary school. The school isn't air conditioned and we have portable a/c units in each classroom, but they don't do a thing for temperature control. The blowing noise makes us believe it's cooler, but it's miserable if you're any further than 2 feet from the cold air fan on the machine. Each day I've drunk 64 ounces of water, and 20 of coffee by 4 pm, and I'm still massively dehydrated the entire day and night, despite several more glasses of water.

Residual dehydration, 14 miles, mid 90s. Awful, miserable combination. I feel defeated just thinking about it.

So I've resigned myself to running at the Y. I can't imagine how insanely boring it will be, yet there are a few perks - it's air conditioned inside, and I have a place to store my Nalgene bottle. I will have to figure out how to shut off my brain because it's going to be in the 2:20 vicinity to log the miles.

It sucks. Just thinking about the idea of 140 laps drives me crazy. Yet I have an easy choice tomorrow - boredom or guaranteed heat stroke. When I look at it that way, there's really nothing to consider.