Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Perfect Run

I was all set to run on Saturday, but the flash flood changed that. Hal says once you've missed a run it's over and you can't make up for it. I understand that, but as much as I didn't want to run 14 miles on Sunday, I also didn't want to miss the training step. I really didn't want to run. I don't like Sunday running, I don't like running 14 miles. Sigh. I had a defeated attitude before I even began.

It was 61 and felt like rain was on the way. My friend in Ann Arbor 30 miles west of me said it wasn't raining there. Even so, I know my track record with rain this year :( So I compromised. I told myself I would run until it started raining. TWO MINUTES in, it was raining. Am I cursed or what??? It was a light misty rain so I figured I'd do the 2.6 mile loop and if it didn't stop, I was done.

It stopped. Damn I had to keep running. I got seven miles from home and it started raining again!!! Thankfully it was just little mist again for a few minutes.

My whole goal on the run was just to log the miles. If I averaged 11-minute miles I'd be really happy. I was nowhere near 11. The first 12 miles were all under 11, with crazy consistency. I got tired and sloppy toward the end, so if I exclude the last two miles, my first 12 were within a 33 second window. Even if I count the last two, there was a 54 second difference between the fastest and slowest miles. Wow!!!! Consistency is usually my biggest problem and I nailed it on Sunday!!!!

Part of me feels like I was "slow." The other part - the rational part - says in no uncertain terms "Shut up!!!!! YOUR goal is to run a 4:33, which means averaging a 10:35 the whole way. You just ran FOURTEEN MILES at a 10:37 pace. MAJOR VICTORY!!!!!!"

I tried to come up with reasons why it was such a great race: good weather - 61 and sunny, adequate calories and hydration, sufficient water. I think the biggest one is that I only did 2.6 on Saturday. All along Hal has had me doing half distances the day before so I'm doing my long run on tired legs. This week I pretty much had a day off before the 14 and I was flying. Huh, I guess he does know what he's doing :D

I had largely forgotten (repressed) how much it hurts to run that far and I was pretty beat up when I finished. Well my joints felt great, I was just tired and dehydrated and dragging. Thank goodness for Harry Potter weekends! Cookies, milk and Harry Potter. Yup, I like that recovery plan :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The week I get upset with Hal

This summer is the 5th time I've followed one of Hal Higdon's training programs, and whether it was novice 2 or intermediate 1, I always have the same reaction in week 7.

The pattern is the same every week - short run, moderate run, short run, day off, long run. Or in the intermediate program it's short, moderate, short, off, half-distance, long run.

The first six weeks, the short runs are exactly that - 3 miles. Week 7 they become 4 miles. Not a huge difference and a change my body can handle with ease, but it's a huge mental change for me.

Unless I'm going up to Hines Drive, I always start at home, cross Dix Ave. and run in Allen Park. The short runs are all residential and I don't cross any big streets.

Long runs cross Southfield Rd. and go through more residential areas. Something about crossing Southfield automatically makes it a long run, and now I have to do every single run as a "long" run. Waaaaah!

Speaking of whining and crying, Saturday's run was a doozy of a whine-fest. It was cloudy and cool but dry all day and I had trouble getting started. I finally set out around 6 pm. SIX MINUTES into my run the skies opened up and POURED. There was lightning and really loud thunder, so it didn't make much sense to run 8 miles from home. I did the easiest route I have - 2.6 miles and to say the heck with it! I'm so sick of being rained on! I'm sick of sloshing through puddles, of my shoes being perpetually wet. Forget it!!!! I'll try and make up some of the miles tomorrow, weather dependent.

Here's a lousy joke I just made up - how do you prevent Michigan from having a drought this summer? Make sure Michelle keeps running :(

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

6-week check-up

To be ready for the Chicago marathon, I got back together with Hal on June 9, which means I've finished six weeks, and none of them have been easy. Throughout I've had massive motivation problems. I know I CAN do it, I just don't want to! It was actually easier the first few times because I knew I HAD to do every run in order to be ready. Now I know I'm in shape and can get through it, so I've justified skipping a few shorter runs :(

Not my phone! Found online :)
The long slow Saturday runs have been especially problematic. I know they're the crux of training, but the first several weeks I couldn't manage to do a single one as prescribed.

Week 1 - I was in Paris without water. Completed 6.02 / 8

Week 2 - It was insanely hot and humid and I was forced on to the dreadmill. I ran for a solid hour without any walking, stopping or water breaks, then the machine automatically stopped. I stopped for a minute for a big drink of water, fully planning to do another half hour, but the hot sweat was dripping and I was DONE! Had I been able to change my shirt, I could have done it, or if the machine went all 90 minutes without stopping, I could do that too, but the break psyched out my groove. Completed 5.03 / 9

Week 3 - Yeah I managed to do it, but it was a "recovery" run of "only" 6 miles. Somehow this one doesn't feel like it counts because it was a shorter distance. Completed 6.0 / 6.0

Week 4 - Up north for a long July 4th weekend. I took ALL my running gear, including the foam roller, water holster and stinking shoes. Woke up at 6:30 am, and ate two Clif Bars, then just couldn't get going. Part of it was the route - there was nowhere good to run! The best choice was run along a 45-mph road with no shoulder or trees into a sketchy looking subdivision. Yeah, I passed. Tried to make up for it on Monday, but there was a big storm coming so I tried to stay close to home and ran the worst route possible. Completed 5.0 / 11

Week 5 - Hal said to do 12 miles and I knew I HAD to do it, I couldn't keep procrastinating the distances. It was hot and humid and it got done. I seem to reach a point in the long summer runs when my clothing is completely saturated with sweat and I've had so much water that I feel squishy, but once I reach that point, I can go forever. Completed 12.68 / 12

Week 6 - The mid-distance runs seem harder than the super long ones. It was "cooler" and less humid, but felt so difficult. It was painfully slow, but I finished. Completed 9.09 / 9

Today was interesting. I had dinner plans, so my choices were run early, or digest for hours after dinner then try. It was "cooler" (Ha! It was in the mid-80s!!!) so I went mid-afternoon. It was hot and sunny so I applied my sunblock and headed out. I made myself stop at the library to refill my water, even though I didn't necessarily need it yet. By mile 2.5 the weather had quickly changed from sunny to HAIL!!! Do I have a rain cloud over my head or something???

I just ran through it and I haven't felt that good during a run in a long long time. (Although the hail hitting my neck and bare arms hurt!) Tried a different route for variety but I had forgotten the street doesn't go through, so 7.0 became 8.16. Cool :)

I'm 1/3 of the way through training. In some respects I feel like I could do a full this weekend or next, but in others, I feel nowhere near ready. Keep trusting Hal. He knows what he's doing!!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

When I'm feeling only half crazy

I've never run a half marathon. It's funny and has become a game to see how long I can go without doing one. I'm doing the Donald Duck half at Disney in January as part of the Goofy challenge, so it made sense to me to wait for that to be my inaugural half.

"Indy" was telling me about one of his running friends who was planning to do the Goofy as her first marathon and I immediately hopped up on my soapbox and started ranting about what a terrible idea that was, that she had no idea how a full marathon felt, or the amount of energy she'd need, and doing a first marathon is soooooo difficult, that adding in a half the day before was just reckless.

What a second ... pot, kettle, black....

I've run a half or further in training many times, but I've always just logged the miles, never tried to run hard or consciously tried for pace. Add in that I receive e-mails every Wednesday from Randy at Running Fit with running tips and stories and publicity for the races they sponsor. One of the upcoming events is "The Legend," half marathon north of Lansing.

I'll be in Ann Arbor that weekend anyway and Hal says to race a half marathon the following weekend. I'll swap the two weeks and it makes sense! Besides I *heart* the pink shirt!!!! Add in a Headless Horseman medal and it's a great idea! :)

Hal doesn't say to do so, but I'm really thinking run at least 13 miles the day after so I have an idea of what's coming at Disney. Whee!!!!

Update: I looked at the 2012 results and my best half split of 2:17:30 would have placed me 8th out of 30. What?!?! I was anticipating something more like 20 / 30. Hmmm this could be intriguing...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Here Piggie piggie :) (Poster from the Flying Pig marathon)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer 2013 - How Michelle got her groove back

Through my first five marathons I didn't like running, not one minute of it. I did it because it was good for me, it kept my heart and lungs healthy, and enabled me to finish marathons, and who doesn't want to talk about the marathons they've completed??? All of summer 2012 I complained about running and how I didn't want to do a single run, yet I did them all.

Then sometime in the week between Indianapolis and Columbia City I fell in love with running and I really enjoyed it. That awesome feeling lasted about 8 months but now I'm back in the mind-set that I already paid a lot of $$ for my fall races, so I'm training just to get my money worth.

Motivation is a problem, interest is a problem. GET OVER IT!!! Five times a week I shut off my brain, put on my big girl pants and just get it done!!! Maybe the enjoyment will come back, maybe it won't. Either way, the endorphins are worth it, being able to eat Jet's pizza is worth it. Adding to my medal hanger will definitely be worth it.

Even though I've had zero interest in running this week, two of my runs were GREAT! Tuesday I did 6 miles and the rain felt great. Wednesday I did intervals on the treadmill and it was miserable during, but after felt like I had accomplished something.

If I can force myself to start, inspiration will find me and I'll finish. No one ever said long distance running was easy or fun, it's a commitment I have to make every single day, and it's worth it. Crossing the finish line is worth every single training run. Eyes on the prize, girl!

So there's that. When I'm not running, I work a nice job. It doesn't necessarily pay the bills, but it's a pleasant job and I enjoy it. During the summer, though, it's a total crap-shoot because I don't work with "my" students. Some summer assignments have been good, others have been so-so, and one was terrible.

This summer my boss assigned me to a 6-week position at the "terrible" district, and it's been GREAT!!! I'm working with a district teacher to help seven students improve their reading and math skills. Every day after the kids leave, Mrs. K. and I look at each other and marvel that we're still in the "honeymoon phase." The kids do all the work without any complaint, and always ask what's next? We've had zero problems. It seems like there has to be a catch, but half-way through the program, they're the best class ever, and we get paid for it??? :D

Add in a new relationship and 2013 is the best summer ever! Although I know Hal says relationships are detrimental to training. I know, Hal... Mrs. K. asked the most important question of all - does he know about my relationship with Hal??? Yep :) Thankfully he supports my running and understands that I need to check out for several hours every Saturday. My long Saturday runs are non-negotiable. They have to be. If I don't make them a priority, no one else will.

Monday, July 8, 2013


When I ran the Free Press marathon in 2010, the full never reached its sell out point. In 2011, I wasn't in shape to do another full, and the half was sold out in late September. In 2012, registration for all the races closed in late August so Homeland Security could approve the entrants etc.

In 2013, the full is already sold out, and has been for almost a month! There were 4,500 spots initially, but due to demand, the race opened up another 2,500 spots which also sold out really quickly. By mid-June all 6,000 spots were sold out. Crazy!

Good thing I registered at 12:03 am the day it opened. I was online at 12:00 exactly, but I had forgotten I needed my passport number so that took a few minutes to find. I was #131 last year and I'm hoping for a lower number this year. It's fun to have a 3-digit number when most of the numbers you see are 5-digits :D

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I'm going to borrow the idea of Wordless Wednesday from Jeff at the Detroit Runner :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Running in Paris

I can't think of anything more stereotypical American than going to Paris and running. People don't seem to run there, and any good places to run were difficult to find, and far away. Whereas I saw dozens of people running in London every day, I saw four people running around Paris over the course of six days.

I was in Europe during weeks 1 and 2 of Hal's training program, and I couldn't let vacation derail my training. It was easy to keep on track in London, but Paris was much more difficult. The biggest problem was that the sidewalks were narrow and crowded, and while there were many parks in the Montparnasse area where I was staying, they were very small, most less than 1/4 mile from end to end.

The first two runs I attempted were spent dodging people. At one point I went to a boulevard and ran back and forth and back and forth over the median. Each way was 0.1 miles, and I did several loops of that, but there was no way I could do 5 miles of it.

The last day in Paris, Hal wanted me to run 9 miles, which I had realized wasn't going to happen around town, so I took a 30-minute subway ride to Parc du Boulogne, which is outside the central city. The park looked huge on the maps I had seen, so surely there would be a place to run. If nothing else, I could run laps around Roland Garros Stadium (home of the French Open).

Parisians are much better dressed than we are, and I tried to look nice while I was there, but on running day, I was in my Mizunos, shorts and a sweat band. I smelled pretty rank on the way back, but tough! I was able to get a solid run done.

Hal said to do 9, I managed 6. It was really hot, and if I had water, I would have done all 9, but I ran over an hour, so it was good. He wants me to follow the training program, but he also wants me to enjoy life, so it was ok, especially that early in the training program.

I took my camera bag so I had a place for my room key and for my Metro ticket and took a few pictures. Happy running!

I took a picture of every park map so I knew where I was and how to get back when I was done!!

Tons of people were at the park, a handful of runners, but mostly walkers and picnickers.

Carmenita is awesome. She can find our location anywhere :)

Next challenge: finding an appropriate running course up north for my 11-miler. I'm definitely a creature of habit and don't like the uncertainty of finding and using new routes!!!