Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zero Miles and Zero Guilt

I haven't run this week. At all. Not a single mile has been logged into my dailymile journal. I'm not sure where my sneakers are at the moment.

I have set my alarm three times this week with the truest intentions of a morning run. I laid out my clothes and prepped the coffee maker. It was raining on Tuesday (darn!), and Wednesday (shoot!) mornings and today was simply too foggy to be safe (oh man!). Did I then feel guilty about it for the rest of the day and force myself to the gym in the evenings? Nope.

And you know what?

I feel great! My knees are happy. I'm not getting random shots of mystery pain in my legs and my shoes (somewhat) fit this morning. It's 10:30 am and I'm not considering eating my arm as a mid-morning snack. I'm not exhausted. My shoes fit easily this morning because my feet aren't swollen. My energy level is up and I'm willing to walk to my coworkers office instead of emailing. I'm not panicking on the inside about decreasing mileage or gaining a pound or ten.

Huh? What's happening? Who is this girl? Didn't you say you can't go three days without running for fear of the world as you know it completely coming to an end? Are you and running fighting again?

Relax, I'm just resting.

On Saturday, I accomplished my goal of racing or participating in 100 miles in 2010. With four half marathons, two 10-milers, and a handful of smaller events, I successfully raced 104 miles from February to October. Those 100 miles do not take into account the hundreds of training miles and hours of cross training.
As I set out on an easy run on Sunday, my legs let me know that they were D-O-N-E. I could barely maintain a 10:45 minute pace. After 2 miles, I gave up and walked home. This was a huge 'listen to your body' moment. The pain in my shins and calves as I ran was more than the typical discomfort. It was threatening. With each forced step, my legs were saying, "If you don't stop now, we're going to make you stop." In my head, they sounded like my mom would while giving the I'll-give-you-something-to-cry-about threat.

I feel like this week off is allowing my body to play catch up. I've slept well these past few nights and have woken up feeling rested. Because I'm not burning through every calorie consumed and my body isn't working as hard, the bizarre cravings have also subsided. They've been replaced with a want for veggies and meat which means I was probably low on protein.
My appetite has decreased significantly and when I do get hungry, it's not accompanied by a lightheaded desperate feeling. I'm not HANGRY (hungry + angry = hangry). I bought a jar of peanut butter on Tuesday night and it's still unopened. That's saying something, people.

I'm not worried about losing my "runner-ness" because I know that soon my legs will be asking me to run and a new race will come my way that I'll want to train towards. This is the runner's cycle. You run until you hate it and then you rest until you need it. In this interim, I won't have to schedule runs or have distance/pace goals. I love the "off season" season because running returns to it's fun roots. I'll be out there because I feel like it and because I can.

My next run will be on Saturday with Girls on the Run as we do our 'practice 5k'. I predict that with running back and forth, I'll log 4 miles. And that's just fine with me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A 10 Mile Run Down Memory Lane

October 16, 2010. Octorara Covered Bridge Classic

A few months ago my family started telling me about a 10 mile run sponsored by the Octorara Community Recreation Center/YMCA. They finally figured out that if the pull of home-cooked food, free laundry and fun kid times wasn't enough to get me home, the promise of a bib and a free tshirt would surely do the trick. And my niece told me about it, so how could I say no?

I loaded up my car with three weeks worth of towels, socks and "Woolite Clothes (read: my nice work clothes that only Mom knows how to wash without ruining or have some kind of stain) and headed home for a weekend to run the Octorara Covered Bridge Classic 10 Mile Run.

I was really looking forward to this run as a private homecoming of sorts. While I grew up in the Octorara area and went to school there for 10 years, I've never truly felt like a huge part of the community. The problem with a small town school is that your role in life until you're 18 is defined when you are in elementary school. The fact that I didn't find cashier at Dutchmanns Grocery Store to be an acceptable career path really set me back socially. Having your mom as a teacher in the gauntlet that is middle school didn't help my case either. Oh, and I never shut up and was definitely a "late bloomer."

This was a very low key event and I honestly didn't know what to expect. The registration website crashed three times while I was attempting to register and I ended up just emailing the race director with my information. My new running philosophy is just have fun and relax so I wasn't stressing about it all. I was mostly concerned that I'd get lost along the hilly backroads of Atglen and Christiana. I was trying to not think of the hills.

The morning of the race, I woke up feeling great. I never sleep as well as I do in my old bedroom. My parents drove me to the starting which was nice change from me having to be coordinator, parking finder and arrangement maker. The registration was the parking lot of the church in Atglen. If you grew up in the area, you know exactly where I mean. The starting line was in front of what used to be the Atglen Market. It's boarded up now.

As we waited in the church basement, I joked with my parents that this could be first race where I could potentially finish last. There were maybe 100 runners milling around. Gulp. And while you can never judge a person's speed by their size, terrors of being last flashed threw my head. Everyone was really friendly and chatting about the unknown degree of hills we'd be encountering. The start line was just a guy with a pop gun, bullhorn and stop watch. This, again, was so refreshing compared to the 30,000 people crushing corral systems from bigger races. He yelled GO! and off we went.

We headed out Upper Valley Road. The wind was at our backs and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day for running. I forgot to start my Garmin until 3 minutes into the race. Oops. I barely remember the first two miles as I was running down memory lane passing houses of former friends and remembering what it was like to 13 years old again. As we came up to mile 2 and I was looking at the horse farm where Shanna S and Lindsay used to ride, I saw a familiar red SUV coming the other way. (Roads weren't blocked off for this event) It honks and out of the windows pop my nephew and niece!
My mom had called my sister and her kids to tell them the course and they tracked me down! I slowed down and slapped their hands. I asked for a ride but I don't think they heard me. How can you not smile and feel great when you have a carload of support! A few runners laughed as I threw my hands up and waved.

Behind my sister's car was an Amish buggy with a family of 4 watching in complete awe. I can only imagine what that family was thinking as they see a line of crazy Englishmen running with numbers on their shirts. For no reason. While they're freezing in buggies. There's work to be done! How lazy can they be to just run? :-)

As we passed farms, horses ran along with us and friendly, non annoyed drivers waved. It was a beautiful day indeed. At mile 3, I heard "LINDSEY! I MISSED THE START!" and a blue streak come whizzing past me. That blue streak was a very speedy Ashley Caldwell Landers. Though I wasn't friends with Ashley in high school, I remember her being one of the most genuine and nice girls in her class. I was happy to see her zip past and glad I've been able to connect with her through running and Facebook. :-)

We went through the Covered Bridge on Bailey's Crossroads and I was maintaining a smooth 9:20 pace. And then came the hill. It's like the opposite of a light at the end of the tunnel. It's a hill at the end of the tunnel. That hill ended up lasting 1.5 miles of steady incline. It was rough. And I ran it. I usually wimp out and walk up hills. This was a hometown hill and I was going to own it.
I remembered driving that hill everyday as it was part of Bus 18's route. I was the first one and last one off that bus for 8 years. I would talk to the bus driver, Mrs. Thompson, every day about whatever was on my mind. I even wanted to be a bus driver when I was a little girl. I thought about the antics and conversations and friendships and crushes and bumps that took place daily as the school bus hauled us around. Before I knew it, we were at the top of the hill! Fallowfield Road, consider yourself owned.

The massive hill ended at the top corner of Mocassin Run Golf Course where we turned right onto Highland Road. At the corner of the Golf Course, I see my parent's minvan and my mom and niece hop out! "HI LINDS! I BROUGHT YOU WATER AND AN APPLE!" I ran over and gave Hope a quick hug and took a gulp of the water before heading on my way again.

My sister and the kids surprised me by showing up at my first race ever and gave me the strength I need to finish. Mom and Dad were able to come to my first half marathon a few months later. I wish they could make it to more of these silly races because having people on the sidelines is so motivating and comforting. I was so happy and proud of them for coming! :-) I mean, I did practically run through their backyard. I still envision the images of my sister and kids on the sidelines or my parents during the really rough miles. It made me laugh they these two spotings of my family were the only support throughout the race except for the finish line. And my mom tried to feed me. Because that's how she does.

There was another massive hill at mile 5 but this one had a decline! The wind was a brutal at times and the chill in the air kept me moving. I paced with two ladies in their late forties from mile 5 on. I listened to them chat about IT Bands and their sons and husbands and travels while enjoying the gorgeous fall weather. I've driven Creek Road before but never noticed the little cottages on the banks or historic signs along the road. I had to resist the urge to stop and take pictures. I turned my Ipod on around mile 7 and my playlist was spot on for perfect nostalgic, easy music.

I looked behind me a few times and was relieved to see I wasn't last but there, um, weren't too many others back there. I've found a new running-spiration...fear of being last. I was also experiencing a wardrobe fail and may have accidentally exposed more of my bum to those behind me while attempting to roll the waist of my pants up without giving myself an atomic wedgie. Yep. That happened.

As always, by mile 9, I was ready to be done running. I had slowed to a 9:45 pace and my right knee was definitely letting itself be known. My dad made the astute observation earlier that mile 9 was sponsored by the local funeral home. I giggled about that for a bit and also thought about the family I used to babysit who lived along that road.

The last mile went into the wind and the final stretch went uphill. Will they ever learn? It didn't matter because at the top of the hill was my adorable mom and niece cheering! Ok, my mom was cheering. Hope was doing that "expressing excitement in the coolest way possible because I'm 11 and am in public" thing. I finished at 1:38! There was no hectic herding at the end or volunteers shoving bottles at you. Nope, I gave my bib tag to the volunteer and walked the two feet back to find my family. I gave Hope a sweaty hug and high five and finally took the apple from my mom. We stuck around for the awards ceremony-- five minutes later. Remember that blue streak from mile 3? Yeah, she came in second place! AWESOME!

Overall, I'd give this race an 8. I almost got hit by a huge SUV trying to make a left INTO runner traffic on a road that was closed off which I didn't appreciate. The course was challenging but not awful. The beginning of the race needs some attention as several runners missed the start and 3 different start times were advertised. There was water support at good locations and I loved being able to actually see the scenic route. After a year of big races, this small event was a great change. I think I'm done with the mass registrations, the huge expos and the hassles.

Afterwards, I got to go watch my nephew play soccer and then had a huge (free) lunch. And a nap. What else can you ask for?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Half Marathons: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Photos

Why, hello there reader who is not me checking in on my blog.

About a week ago (October 2, 2010--I have no concept of time lately), I completed my sixth half marathon! A half marathon is 13.1 miles. I sometimes like to say that I've also done three full marathons since you know two halves make a whole.

My first half was the 2009 Philadelphia Distance Run. I had fallen in love with running earlier in the spring while training for the Philadelphia Broad Street 10 Mile Run and figured, "Hey, what's another 3 more?" I remember hearing those words come out of my mouth before I had realized I even thought them. (This is some kind of genetic disorder thing I have. My mouth literally goes faster than my brain.) I ran a lot that summer but never with a true training plan. I followed the principle of increasing my long runs on the weekends and doing about 20 miles during the week.
I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself in to. I made every mistake there was to make. I didn't follow a plan. I ran in old shoes. I didn't hydrate. I didn't taper. I let my personal trainer put me through a killer leg strength workout three days before the race and was in so much pain. I ate nothing the day before. I bought new stuff to wear during the race. I drank too much gatorade. I took Gus for the first time in race and didn't even do that right! I stressed about it for days.

The only thing I did right for this race was have my parents come and find
me at mile 8. I run the same course in Philly a lot (Kelly and West River
Drive) and still see my dad and mom clear as day standing at Montergomery

I finished my first half in 2:21. I was so proud! And sore! And completely addicted to half marathons.

As most runners do, I immediately signed up for another half marathon. This is a side effect of what is called the runner's high. It's commonly experienced after races or anything involving bibs, medals and portapotties. I've since rethought this phenomenon which so many think is rooted in pride and endorphines. I think it's actually just our stomachs and brains being so incredibly happy that for at least two days, there is non stop and nonoveranalyzed eating.

So, to The Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon I went. This time, I encouraged/motivated/challenged/drug through hell my best friend Bethany to do it with me! This was a wonderful racing experience since there was a road trip, family, friends, Phillies, and a running all in one weekend. I was a bit smarter this time and much more relaxed. After a beautiful, but hilly, run through the city of Pittsburgh, I finished this race is 2:18. I shaved 3 minutes off my last! This is my favorite running photo ever.

In the spring of 2010, I added two more half marathons to my collection, bringing my full marthon count to two. I learned the value of eating well before an event and not mixing dating with running at the Rutger's Unite Half Marathon in New Jersey. I have a race recap of that already done. Thanks to a speedy demon friend and blissfully chilly temperatures, I earned a personal PR of 2:09--which is almost 10 minutes better than Pittsburgh and 15 better than Philly! This is where I decided to rename PR Progress Report.

Number 5 came in an poorly organized, mess of a race known as the Oddyssey Half Marathon in Philadelphia. We learned of this 'event' at the expo for the 2010 Broad Street Run. They coat-tailed themselves onto the BSR, claiming that you can keep your training going from BSR for four weeks and conquer a half. BSR is the first week of May and Oddyssey was the last. I really have nothing good to say about this event.The majority of the registration money was spent on high tech photography, tracking equiptment and stupid obstacles but not on porta potties or course support. There was a huge HUGE hill at the end that killed everyone and few spectators.

I finished this "race" in 2:12 and to this day KNOW my time would have been in the 2:05 range were we not ambushed with that incline. I had stuck with the BSR and Rutgers training plans (long runs on weekends, etc) and really ran well. I was honestly so stressed out at that point with a new job, graduate school and my social life that I had almost forgot about it completely. I actually went on a day date immediately following this race. I mean, I cleaned up as well as I could in a public bathroom on a warm May day. It's ok, he's a runner too so I actually got brownie points for being hardcore........and a little stinky.

After a glorious six weeks off of official training over the summer, it was time to gear up, hunker down, and get back into half marathon mode. I was confident that with my friend, speedwork, and the always decreasing times in the five other races, that I could achieve a sub 2hour finish time. I mean, at this point, I'm hardcore, right? I started at 2:21 and had a 2:09 PR. I'm a little runny know-it-all. A sub 2 hour race means running at AT least a 9:30 pace. For 13.1 miles. That would mean fast for a while with no walk breaks. Sub 2 in runners vernacular means 'legitimate runner who runs 13 miles in less than two hours, even if it's 1:59:45.
Psssssshhh.....I got this. This summer, I followed the Runner's World training plan for a sub 2 halfsie to the tee. I mean, there wasn't an easy run, speedwork or long distrance run I skipped. I.did.them.all. I got up early. I stayed at the gym late. I cross trained. I ate well (though never lost a pound). It was HOT this summer too, by the way. I did fartleks, mile repeats, tempo runs, hills. I had the plan on my fridge and entered into my Googely calendar.

My vision: A year and five half marathons later, I would return to the Philadelphia Distance Run and I would conquer it. And I would conquer it in sub 2 time. It would be glorious and the heavens will smile upon me and life will forever be grand. Every person in the world (or Philly) who has every hurt me would for some reason all find themselves on the Art Museum Steps as I breezed over the finish line. There could be confetti.
My reality: A year and five half marathons later, I ran the worst race of my life. Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you worked or how much you've already accomplished, or what you want-- some days, it's just not your day. The Rock-n-Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon (same event, different name) was not my day. I was miserable the entire weekend because I had put so much stress on myself to get that sub 2. When I realized at mile 9 that it wasn't going to happen, I just fell apart. I finished because I had some wonderful support, but it wasn't near 2:00. My chip time reports 2:16 and I'm going to be honest and accept that. No more but my "garmin says 2:10 because I stopped to pee." I wasn't in the portapotty that long. I walked and I cheated by stopping my garmin. It was 2:16. Still 5 minutes better than last year!
But after 5 half marys?

I didn't feel the runner's high. I felt the lowest I've felt since I started running. And I was feeling pretty darn low before that. But I didn't have too much time to wallow in my running grief because two weeks later, I had half marathon #6 to take on.

Enter, The Diva's Half Marathon in Long Island. My friend Bonnie, who ran Rutgers #3 with me, asked me do this with her in the summer and the event sounded so cool. I couldn't resist. Diva's was one of the few, though increasing, female distance races in the country. The event promoed boas, tierras, firemen, and a fast course. I couldn't resist!

I was still licking my wounds from Philly as I headed out for my last long training run in between the two. I decided to JUST HAVE FUN at Divas, to enjoy the energy of running with 10,000 other women and get back to my running roots. I wasn't going to attempt a PR. I had no time in mind. I just wanted to run and get a t-shirt. The race was well organized with great swag. Bonnie and I had such a great time traveling to and around the strange world of Long Island, that the run was the last thing on my mind. I had no plan. I didn't even look at the course map.
We actually...gasp...had two beers and a shot the night before. This is unheard of in runnery world. As we lined up in a sea of hot pink and happiness that race morning, I just smiled and let it all go. I let the pressure and the pain of the previous half go. (Wow--that sounds like a fart joke.) I will also write another post recap of this experience. I don't know whose legs I borrowed from miles 1 through 10, but thank you. I finished at 2:10. WITH A HUGE SMILE. Not a personal record but a personal best. I found that runner's high again but have resisted the urge to sign up for any other races! Divas will always have a special place in my heart because it was where I learned to let go and just..... run.

Good races aren't determined by your finishing times or your training plans. A good half marathon, or any distance, is determined by your attitude and heart. Bad races happen to good runners.
Ugly race photos, however, happen to everyone!!!! :-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I suddenly understand where Tom was coming from

I'm not afraid of spiders or bugs. I've made friends and roommates based solely on my ability to kill a creepy crawling thing using the closest object and without panic. Snakes don't really bother me either. Me'h. It's just nature. I grew up in the country.

For some reason, however, I'm really not cool with the whole rodent genre. Specifically mice and rats. I don't care about the little field mouse. I like to think it's scampering off to some try out for an animated movie. Rats. Ugh. The government can launch an awareness campaign that "Rats aren't bad" complete with commercials and funny movie and bus signs and I'd still be convinced their just little bundles of evil scurrying about. Dirty, rotten, disgusting, yuck.

On Monday morning, I tossed a bruised up banana into my trash can. Of course, the trash was towards the top and I did make a mental note to take out the trash once it stopped raining. I came home later that day and opened up the cabinet to throw out a paper towel or something. Imagine my horror to find a hole eaten out of the discarded banana. There were little teeth marks! It looked like a person with really stupid teeth took a bite out it! EWWWWW! And because they're just awful awful things, around the trash can was a trail of droppings. Rats are like Pandas but instead of Eats, Shoots and Leaves-ing- they Eat, Crap and Infest. (And major brownie points to anyone who gets the Panda and Eats Shoots and Leaves reference. Sneaky grammar book shout out!)

I did what any self respecting28 year-old women faced with something creepy and gross would do. I called my mom. Moooom! There is a mouse in my apartment! That night, I avoided doing the dishes or making coffee or any task that would take me near the kitchen.

I bought D-Con to poison the sucker. Yes. I'm setting animal traps and being very un-pc and so very anti-PETA. Rats multiply by the hundreds. There is no shortage of them. Sorry, I'm not sorry. "Ha!" I thought. "I have outsmarted the rat." I shall now avoid cooking for lack of skill, knowledge or ambition instead of fear of Ebola-infested rodent hiding in my trash can. I cleaned up the rat poop and gagged. I've cleaned toilets at a restaurant that served colon-cleansing like pasta sauce and not batted an eye. Rat poop, puke. Either way, it'll eat the D-Con, and then go drown and I shall prevail.

It's back though. I checked the cabinet today and there they were. Little rat feces just taunting me. In the words of my favorite television character ever, "Son of a bitch!"

I quickly made my nightly smoothie and retreated to my living room.

And here I sit. On my couch, battling a fear of going back to the room where rats have tread. I'm hungry for a snack but don't want to go into the kitchen. I'm afraid of some rodent that may or may not have at some point today ran through my apartment! I have a sink full of two-day old dirty dishes that I have no idea how they're going to get done until I know it's gone.

I understand where Tom in Tom and Jerry was coming from. I'm about to place an order with Acme.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Put Out the Cigarette Before You Judge Me.

I run. A lot. I do. It's not all I do, it just shows up in my social media life because one is a lot less likely to get fired or worse for having too many photos of crossing finishing lines posted than, say, one too many photos of drinking or crazy dancing. I have plenty of political opinions but I just chose to express them in less annoying and more effective ways than hitting a "press like if you ...agree with this hyperbolic statement about an extreme group...." I too have a schedule that goes like work, gym, study, dinner and feel relief on Fridays and angst on Mondays but just don't say it. I do run. I like to talk about it and mostly people are interested in hearing about it.

But, it's not all I do. I've noticed at parties and other social functions now that running is all people want to talk to me about. And that's fine and I'm happy about my little passion. I'm touched by the interest and find it baffling sometimes that some have said I'm inspiration? If my FB friends acknowledge the DailyMile posts in real life conversations, it means they've noticed them. Has anyone ever been approached about a TGIF PEEPS! status? And if they're annoying, just hide me. Or defriend, whatever. I will gladly offer advice and encouragement to anyone who is lacing up their sneakers for the first time in years or ever. Let's talk about it for a few minutes and then move on. There are many other ways to relate that don't involve running. Did you know that I also love to talk about the Phillies, electronic publishing, books, figuring out the ending to Lost, gossip-- celebrity or real, career related things (did you know I'm the youngest person in my office by at least 10 years? Advice on how get a group of perimenopasual women to like me without having to bake, have a baby , or get married would be more than welcome!), current affairs, music, education and travel. I'm not too hip on the movies and tv just yet though.

Also, if you don't run or exercise, please don't judge me for doing so. I'm not crazy for waking up at 5:15am to run before work because I have class in the evenings. I don't have leprosy because I like to sweat. Let's put this into perspective. Who is more crazy: Someone who takes care of themselves in a healthy manner by finding time for exercise and makes an effort to eat well OR someone who considers pizza, cereal and beer to be a well-rounded meal and done a minute of exercise aside walking outside to smoke. Yes, but the bleeping cigarette out before you judge my living habits. Put the beer down and get your head out of your a$$ before saying I'm nuts for getting up early in the morning. Please don't tell me you don't even drive as 5 miles in the morning. It's not helping and I certainly don't think it's funny. I find it just as hard to relate to your lack of activity as you would to my level of it.

(I fail to understand how when you're in a social situation such as a party or a bar demeaning another person could possibly work in your favor. I've been on dates before where the guy was like "that's crazy! I couldn't do that without a beer first." Which is when I would mentally check out and just enjoy the free meal. I had started a rule that the more you diss my sport, the higher $$ the entree I'd order.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dear Linds,

Hi, it's your knees here. We understand that you love your shoes and feel that adding a few inches to your height somehow makes you feel more adult-y. The leopard print heels our friend, feet, are rocking today are gorgeous and do spice up the typically dull outfits you chose.

However, if you're going to continue attempting to be some kind of running ninja diva, we're going to have to ask that you alternate some flats or sneakers into the corporate Linds collection. Seriously. You cannot expect us to be happy about the hilly miles in your long runs and the beatings of the treadmill followed by kicking and jumping like a poorly balanced drunken ninja and then make us carry your never decreasing weight around all day teetering in 3 inch heels.

Your ankles would also appreciate a rest. They would threaten to swell and puff out like a cankle but we all know that would be pointless. We've gotten some feedback from the feet and they're just generally uphappy all around at the way you've been treating them. A pedicure could make things better. Or a pair of runninig shoes that fit. Or maybe not wearing the above mentioned 3 inch heels for 9 hours a day. Its safe to say your entire lower body is not happy about recent shoe choices.


The two massive joints that hold your thighs to your never-going-to-fit-into-boots-calves.