Saturday, August 31, 2013

August in Review

Miles covered: 56.5 miles

If I were travelling from Bag End to Rivendell, I would have entered the land of the Trollshaws and the path would be getting steeper.

No races this month. 

Although I ran no races this month, a major triumph was completing the C25K program, at least to the extent that I can run 30 minutes continuously. Actually continuously running a 5K has yet to be tested. Since I have a couple of virtual races that I need to knock out, I will probably make the attempt either Monday or Tuesday.

My focus has now turned to the 10 miler I will be doing at the end of the month. This morning I completed six miles, something which I have not done since my gallbladder exploded in May. It was a slog--hot and humid. While I did see a general improvement on my feeling of endurance, I did not see improvement in my time. FAIL Voice keeps reminding me of my time limit for the race--02:45:00. Although I don't want to "think into being" anything, I've been preparing myself for a DFL.

What I'm most afraid of is a DNF. Part of me wants to go safe and just do the 5 mile race. But I know I will be furious with myself if the only reason I didn't do it was simply because I was too afraid to try. (Not to mention there's a finisher medal at stake.) A month is a lifetime when it comes to training, and this whole journey is about being bold.

Suck it up, buttercup.

Besides adding in distance to my training, I had been struggling with finding cross-training since I still have some post-surgery restrictions that won't end for another couple weeks. After floundering around, I finally settled on my old bellydancing DVDs. These seem to provide the stretching, core work, and resistance training that my body can handle right now. It's finally a "good hurt" rather than wondering if I've damaged something again. I've also seen a noticeable return of my waistline.

Pattern from Knits for Nerds based on
the dress from the latest Star Trek movie.
Difficult to see, but my necklace is
a science officer insignia. I know.
Speaking of, I know I always say it's not about the weight; in fact, I have gained back three pounds since my big post-surgery weight loss. HOWEVER, I am seeing NSVs in how my clothes fit.  I finished knitting a tunic that I had started when I was convalescing in a size that would have once been too small for my bust. My once way-too-tight jeans are now comfortable, even loose. I comfortably wear women's cut t-shirts without worrying about my boobs deforming the design (although the muffin top is still in residence if I don't take care).

Segueing into t-shirts, I've started a Wednesday thing on my Facebook page in featuring nerd-themed tech tees. Subreferencing t-shirts are a staple of most nerd wardrobes, but the only t-shirts I wear regularly are ones that I run in.* (I admit that I have become enough of a running nerd to prefer performance fabric.) Part of embracing this version of me as athlete has been finding a way to fold in the nerd identity that used to hold me back.** Oddly enough, I'm finding others in the same mindset as I am. All this to say that I got a shirt in the mail today that I can't wait to post about on Wednesday.

So much of this whole thing is brain-work, and I know how to do that; the body will follow.

* In my "civilian" (aka non-running) wardrobe, I show my geek pride in my jewelry. That way I can still dress professionally yet still send the correct signals to my Tribe.
**In other words, finally telling myself that "nerd" and "athlete" are not mutually exclusive; if anything, running is probably the "nerdiest" of the sports.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dog Day Predawn Run OR Let's Play "Will This Freak My Dog Out?"

It's funny how when I started this blog, every morning run seemed to warrant a thoughtful and insightful post. Then it becomes routine. Write a post? Meh.

And sometimes things happen.

Today's run was just 3 miles. (Did I say "just"? Yes, I did.) I figure that even though I'll be working on intervals for the longer runs, continuing to do at least 30 minutes of continuous running is still important for my brain; by establishing a habit of a continuous running session, I can tell my brain to keep going when it tells me that I'm tired on a 3 minute interval. (Seriously, I have to think this way.)

So I'm chugging along, thinking about my Facebook page, my work schedule, my training schedule, what I dreamed the night before ... It felt so natural. There was Flow.

You know what you did. Mom.
I get to the halfway point, and I see the sprinklers spraying over my path that I had encountered on a previous run. I decide to go through since it will probably be refreshing. At this point, I forget that my doofy, derpy dog may be a troublemaker at home, but she is a chicken-heart in the Real World.

Things that scare Luna:
  • Small dogs that are aggressive and/or stand their ground.
  • Car rides.
  • Apparently, sprinklers.
As I start through, she moves away from the spray. I pull her through sprinkler #1. When I reach sprinkler #2, she's hiding behind a bush. I call her and give a yank. She pulls the opposite way. Her collar pops off, and she quickly trots ahead of me. I know that if I chase after her, she will dash away in a panic. I call to her, give commands, try to keep my voice calm and low (again, if I yell, there's a chance she will panic). 

Things that I am thinking:
  • What if she panics and runs away? How will I get her back?
  • If she runs away, I'm going to be late to work.
  • Dammit, dog, I was making good time! Now I've got to correct my Runkeeper!
Thankfully, she pauses after we have safely passed the sprinkler line (aka Killer Hissing Spray of Death), and I'm able to wrangle her into the collar again. I'm able to return to my easy pace and keep it up for the rest of the run.

What I learned:

  • When dealing with most creatures, including myself, keep it calm. The yelling thing only makes me feel better for a little while; however, it doesn't ultimately help the situation.
  • I can keep up a pace. I can return to a pace. This is what runners do.
  • Run around the sprinklers, not through, when I'm with the dog. And check her collar too.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

C25K Wrapping Up OR 10 Miler Reving Up OR End of Summer Blues

I must be the only mom on the planet not looking forward to the beginning of school. School mornings mean fighting to get the child up and ready, as well as myself. School days mean worrying in the back of my head as to whether the Child is following instructions, eating properly, getting her work done--all the while knowing that I have no power to change it. School evenings mean struggling to get all the chores done, deal with any infractions/struggles of the day, check homework, listen to the boo-hoos, get the Child in bed on time, reconnect with the Mister, and get myself to bed on time so I can get up on time to get my pre-dawn run in and start all over.

Summer is hot and humid, but it's get up and go.

I'm seriously trying not to have an anxiety attack about next week.

But this blog is about running, right?

This week I'm wrapping up the C25K program, and I'm amazed at how far I've come. I can run 30 minutes continuously. Not only that, but I have finally found a pace that I feel like I can sustain a good long time. Which is not to say that it isn't difficult. But every time I feel the "can't" rising, I take a swig of water; sometimes those canteens get low, but I keep going. The real test is going to be if I can complete a 5K while continuously running; I still tend to clock it at about 40 minutes.

Now I've got to start shifting into concentrating on distance. The program I'm using doesn't specify how to do that, just the mileage. I've tried going back to the 3-1 intervals. I've tried distance intervals. I'm not sure which I like better or which will be the most efficient. I'm very conscious that I've got 02:45:00 to get it all done. Right now I'm more scared of a DNF than coming in last; at least with last, I'll still have the accomplishment and the medal.

What I'm really struggling with is the cross-training on my non-running days. I still have some weight restrictions until September. I'm still finding that I'm recovering from my surgery whenever I do any core work; it's a pop and a burn that can be both painful and worrisome rather than a hey-I-worked-out ache. I've tried yoga, Pilates, even belly dance. Most of those things are sort of okay, but if I bend or twist too much, it hurts the not-good way. My midsection will puff and numb a little too, which I don't think is a good sign. Is walking enough? Should I try swimming again? (Again, treading water is okay; but if I do long strokes, the above pain returns.) It's all very frustrating.

On the other hand, I've gotten a couple of comments that my waist is a little more defined these days. I guess the word is moderation ... which I don't necessarily do well.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In Which Our Heroine Finally Feels Like a Runner

The bib "quilt" on my office wall. Medals earned not shown.
I started this blog a year ago, and I confess that I feel like I've been lying every time I've called myself a runner.

Yes, I know the standard answer is that if you run--no matter how fast or how far--you are a runner. By these standards, I am a runner. I've been told that "hard core" runners run in all weather--rain, cold, heat. I have done all those things (although the coldest was only mid-30s). By these standards, I am a runner.

However, I am only now feeling like I can call myself a runner, and it's for the stupidest reasons that most people use to limit themselves--distance and duration.

Until last spring, I had only ever gone around 3 miles. The FAIL Voice in my head tells me that "anyone can do a fun run." But in May, I completed a 10K race--a trail race, no less, with a gallbladder on the verge of exploding. Now I'm prepping for 10 miles and seriously considering a half marathon.

The FAIL Voice will remind me that I spent a good portion of that 10K race walking, that I never could keep up the 3-1 intervals in my training. I didn't conserve my energy and let adrenaline get the better of me in both training and especially during races. But since the gallbladder surgery knocked me flat and forced me to go slow, I am finishing up the C25K program. Only this morning, I ran 28 minutes continuously--very slow, very steady, and very complete. And whoa nellie--the last three minutes I had one of those mythical runner highs (the front of my brain felt all tingly and happy). If that doesn't make me a runner, I don't know what does!

I used to think running was impossible. But I've clocked 422 miles of running since I started in 2012. I guess I must eat impossible for breakfast.

Am I a runner?

Yes, I am a runner.

Because I run.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ten Miler Training Begun--Highs and Lows

I'm well into week 2 of training for my 10 miler, and it's been going okay so far. I do, however, foresee some modifications that I'm going to have to make.

Monday: Cross
This translated to swimming at the Y, and I think it's a keeper in the plan. Normally, just switch off between treading water and using the water weights.

Week one, everyone was moved into the racing pool. I ended up doing very slow crawls back and forth. Don't get me wrong--this totally counts; I just feel inept. If ever I were to consider tri, there would have to be lessons for sure.

Week two, I was paying for some overindulgence on Sunday night (worked the weekend, so I thought I "deserved it"). I spent a good portion of that night in pain, and a good portion of that day in the bathroom. So I took things pretty easy for the most part. Lesson learned? Ha!

Tuesday: Run + Strength
Still following the C25K plan.

Week one: The 5-8-5 running intervals were surprisingly lovely. I fumbled around with the 10 lbs. sandbell and exercise ball afterwards. I think I'm going to need some more structured weight workouts.

Week two: Only got in the run, due to a very full schedule. However, I managed a 25 minute continuous run, which I have never ever ever done before.

Wednesday: Stretch and Strengthen
Week one, I tried a Pilates DVD. I was okay, but I'm still seeing that I need to take care with my core thanks to the surgery. I'm only now beginning to lie on my right side, but lying on my stomach is still extremely painful. Also, I ached, not in the hey-I-worked-out way but the I-don't-think-I'm-quite-healed-yet way.

Week two, I woke up too late to get the Pilates in. I picked up a yoga video from the Library and did that while Mister made dinner.* It was gentle--not too much on the stomach, felt good, felt worked, but didn't feel damaged. At one point, I was reaching forward, and Miss pressed on my back "like the [teacher] on the TV" (the instructor was helping one of the students); Mister shooed her away so I could finish, but there was a sweetness to it and I pushed a little farther. Lots of Savasana (corpse pose) incorporated throughout, as well as meditation--good for my mental health as well as my body. Truly, the perfect midweek activity.

Thursday: Run
Last week, the C25K plan called for two 10 minute runs, which I conquered. This week is another 25 minute continuous run, which I'm actually looking forward to.

Friday: Rest / Saturday: Cross
I work on Fridays and every third Saturday. The Y opens at 5AM on Friday and 7AM on Saturday (when I'm almost out the door if I'm working). So I'm going to switch my crosstraining day and my rest day so I can be guaranteed at least one morning that I get to sleep in (unless Miss gets me up on the Saturdays I have off--which she will).

Sunday: Long Run
Last Sunday, the C25K plan was to run 20 minutes continuously, at which I failed miserably. According to the 15K plan, I was supposed to get in 3 miles, which I did do. Fail? Win? At least I got out.

Since there's very little variation to the C25K plan at this point, I'm going to go back to intervals for my long runs. Let's face it--I'm not going to run 10 miles continuously. I will, however, have to learn how to conserve my energy for the distance. The 3-1 intervals that seemed so overwhelming during my 10K training now seem like nothing. In fact, I'm really looking forward to them!

All in all, I feel my body shifting again--stronger, more disciplined. My brain is too in an unexpected way, but that's its own post.

Now to set my Brian Blessed alarm for 5:00AM. Because that's how it's done.

* Mister does the cooking in our house. Good thing too; otherwise we'd be having cereal every night.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

July in Review (and Preview of the Months to Come)

Miles covered: 35.4 miles

If I were traveling from Bag End to Rivendell, we'd be between day 3 and 4 from Weathertop

Races: MRTT Running Mad Virtual


I hope I can call myself recovered because here comes the 10 Miler training! This past month, I've been working my way through C25K, but not really doing anything the non-running days. Now I'm going to finish that up toward the end of this month while adding in the cross-training and longer distances of the 10 Mile program. I'm following the Hal Higdon 15K plan for novices. It will take me up to an 8 miles in the training, which is an okay thing since I tend to do better the first time I try a distance.

I did, however, move some of the days around to accommodate my schedule better.

  • Monday: Cross (most likely swimming at the Y)
  • Tuesday: Run + strength (probably heavy bag, maybe light sandbells)
  • Wednesday: Stretch & Strengthen (probably Pilates video; it's the morning after my evening shift, which is always tough to get going; if I sleep in my workout clothes, I can roll out and get it done)
  • Thursday: Run (my family has evening activities; things need to be as simple as possible)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Cross (haven't figured this one out yet; if it's a working weekend, either a Leslie Sansone video or a simple walk with the dogs)
  • Sunday: Long run
As a way to keep my head in the game, I thought I'd add a health habit each week as well. This week, I'm going to work on getting to bed and getting up on a regular schedule. In the weeks to come, I'm going to try to get back to dumping soda from my diet and tracking my food. Not that this is about weight--I just know that I'm going to have huge cases of the rungries, and I want to rethink what I'm using for fuel. 

I do have some virtual races to knock out--Jedi Challenge, Unleash Your Inner Wonder Woman, and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Fun Run. I had so much fun with the Running Mad virtual that I think I'd like to do these with other people. I don't want to organize a race; what I'd like is to run them with other people running virtuals, and then go out for coffee together while we wear our medals. Anybody interested?

But back to FAQ of how I am doing: better. Walking around (and, of course, running) is better. Nights are better. Stamina continues to increase (but still lower than what it was). There's still a build up of pressure when I eat too much that's very uncomfortable. I still am not allowed to lift anything too heavy. I'm super nervous with the prospect of going 10 miles, but I'm leaving myself the option of paying the penalty fee to downgrade to 5. Which would mean no medal. I'm still going to give this a shot.