Thursday, November 28, 2013

Race Report: TXU Energy Turkey Trot

Finish Time: 1:21:35

Charity: Sheltering Arms

As awful as the last race was, this one was in the Goldilocks Zone in so many ways.

One of my constant anxieties is arriving to a race on time; at the same time, I have never been able to figure out how to adequately warm up for the event itself. Even though I awoke at 3:30AM and never managed fully falling asleep again, I managed to awake on time and leave with an adequate cushion to navigate traffic and park. I parked far enough away so that I had a decent warm-up walk and could slip into the starting corral with 15 minutes to spare.

Another one of my anxieties is dressing adequately. It was cold and clear and sunny perfection. In that moment of insomnia, I thought to layer my Thanksgiving tee over a long sleeve tee rather than using sleeves and wear gloves that could be stowed easily. I wasn't too cold pre-race thanks to not waiting around too much (see above) and the body heat of my fellow participants. I shed the gloves at mile 2 and was comfortable the rest of the time.

As for my performance, I was able to keep up a steady pace until about mile 4. Normally, a race becomes a lonely experience fairly quickly. This time, even though I was passed by many, I was able to keep up with the pack for a good 2/3rds of the route. I saw the lead runner coming from the turn-around at mile 2. I saw the tail-end of the 10K runners well into mile 4 (almost mile 5). So, no, I didn't run the entire thing, but I also didn't settle too much into a walk; considering my gallbladder was exploding my last 10K, a PR was pretty much a guarantee.

I also made the decision to run with joy--whether I ended up taking walk breaks or whatever, I was going to have a good time. And there was much fun to be had! I'm thinking of developing a turkey trot Bingo card--turkey hat, full turkey costume, cartoon character costume, funny race signs ... I was worried about clogging with the 5K participants; but the course seemed to separate at just the right time, and the starts seemed adequately staggered. Each mile was marked (a feature of which I am fond), and there were enough water stations that I probably could have ditched the fuel belt.

ZOE_0003The best part was the finish--but not for obvious reasons. I pushed through the last mile and gave a kick toward the end. As I crossed with a grin (noting I had shaved off 8 minutes from my finish time last May), I saw a handsome guy in a neon-colored Jayne hat! My daughter suggested meeting me there, and her daddy agreed. I was content to take myself, but having someone to cheer me at the end made the whole experience completely wonderful!

IMAG0009Oh, and he brought hot chocolate and drove me back to my car.

This race is definitely on the annual list. Granted, much of my enjoyment was due to circumstances (not to mention my attitude), but I give a huge tip of my hat to the organizers, supporters, and volunteers. This is the kind of race that makes me want to run another one as soon as possible.

For little things and big, for family and friends, for the ability to move and delicious food--for these things and more I am truly grateful and give heartfelt thanks.

May your Thanksgiving be full of love and your Hanukkah be full of light.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Race Report: Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Finish Time: GPS never kicked in; I'm guessing about 45 minutes, give or take

Charity: American Diabetes Association

That was miserable.

The weather has taken a sudden drunken turn to rainy and cold--one of those sudden drops that go from mid-70s to mid-40s in the past 24 hours. But that's just an opportunity to show how bad ass I am, right? Except when I'm standing in the rain and soaked through just to pick up my bib. Bleh. Even though the rain let up a little into the run, my feet were drenched so much that my toes were numb, and I'm pretty sure my socks gained at least a pound each with the water.

The route had two paths--the 5K for runners and the 3K for walkers. I could tell at the line-up that it wasn't going to go that great. There were obvious walkers* in the front of the line that had to suddenly get out of the way when the runners started. I settled into a steady pace and watched runner after runner pass me. I tried desperately not to let this throw me. But evidently I was so slow that a police officer made ME stop so that traffic could go through.

At least I looked cute.
And then we joined up with the Wall of Walkers.

Right before going up the hill.

Again, I tried to not let this throw me. I dodged, weaved, and frequently yelled, "PASSING ON THE LEFT!" to no avail. I was nonplussed by the walkers who thought they were "funny" to head back before the turn-around. I was annoyed with the water stop (only one when two were promised) that was simply an unmanned, wrapped slat of water bottles.

The Wall and the Hill ended up winning, and I ended up walking. A lot.  I just never got my mojo back. I tried to make some kind of spiritual metaphor of the whole experience. I tried to remind myself that this was for my mom. My inner coach would scream, "Are you going to let this get the best of you?"

And I would answer back, "Yes."

And the GPS never started.

When the Finish came within sight, I gave a kick, sprinted through, and kept walking right on to my car to go home.

There might have been some crying.
I am grateful, however, to everyone who donated and supported. This is a worthy cause, and although I doubt I will participate in this particular event again,** I regularly give to the organization, and they do good work. I also know that my mom is still honored, not in a one time event but in healthy choices and a generous spirit.

I wanted to earn my Doctor Who virtual run medal with this event too. Yes, I'm counting it because sometimes we save the Universe in a million little choices rather than one giant triumph.

I refuse to let this one get too much in my head, especially with a Thanksgiving 10K next week. Running Momma warned me that these races are notoriously jacked up since there are many participants who don't "know the rules." It can't possibly be more jacked up than this one.

Every day is an opportunity to learn, regenerate, and try to do better. Like the Doctor. Or butterflies. Or me.

* Before I am accused of sounding elitist, someone pushing a regular stroller with layers and layers of coats is an obvious walker.
** I am seriously reconsidering anything with the word "fun" or "walk" in the name.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day in the Life: Remembering How to Cold and Other Thoughts

I have officially forgotten how to cold.

This morning, it was high 30s when I went out for my run (in Houston, this is considered COLD). So I dressed in layers like I did a year ago. About a quarter mile in, I realized that I had seriously overdressed. At about the 1.5 mile mark, I hit my first walk interval and shed a layer (while adjusting my reflective armbands and still holding on to the dog leash--ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED).

It occurred to me that the change was not so much the weather, but me. A year ago, I was still doing more walking than running. Today, I finished up week 12 of a 10K plan that had me doing three sessions of 18 minutes running with a one minute walking interval. The cold weather was an added plus in my speed (which isn't super important but nice to discover); I actually got to a below 11 minute mile. But I'm definitely going to have to rethink how I dress from now on.

Before I get too self-congratulatory, though, I decided to Eat All the Things at a work get-together and am feeling a little sick and shamed. It's not about the weight, but a little self-control is attractive.

In other news, I intend to kill myself with another hour long session with a Bob Harper video. I did it on Monday (okay, most of it), and I'm still sore. Seriously, how crazy are you when the 5 mile run is the easy day? A colleague asked me why I would even do such a thing if it hurt so much and took so long to recover. The best answer I could give was, "Pushing through it makes me feel more alive. It's a rush."

Yeah, I've become one of Those.

Don't forget I've got a giveaway ending tomorrow.

Also, Step Out for Diabetes is a little over a week away. I'm running in memory of my mom, and any donation/participation/good thought is appreciated.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giveaway: Nerd Runner Decal

So a cool thing happened--my Facebook page now has over 500 followers.

My blog (and by extension my page) is really for my benefit--it keeps me accountable, it keeps record of ups and downs. Plus, there's nothing I do that I can't talk excessively about it. And if my journey inspires, I find kindred souls, and I have a forum in which to ask questions, so much the better.

That being said, I really have been thinking about what my page and its message/theme. A lot of it is summed up in a decal I have on my car thanks to Gigi of Running on Candy.*

What do I consider the tenets of the Nerd Runner?
  • As Wil Wheaton says, love what you love in the way that you love it. Now add running. Wear a tech tee that shows your fandom. Run in a costume (what I like to call "athletic cosplay"). Use the Run, Zombies app. Plan your training like a game or an RPG. Whatever motivates you, that's what's right for you. 
  • Find others that love what you love in way you love it. I saw a quote that said every runner is a mentor to every other runner. Encourage. Inspire. We all belong here.
  • You do belong here. This is not high school. This is not The Breakfast Club. Yes, there are faster runners. Yes, there are runners who go farther. But if you run, you are a runner. This is your tribe.
  • You can't level up without playing. No one starts with the Final Boss. We all start at Level One. Just go.
Want a decal of your own? Of course, you do. So here you go: Like my page (natch!), Like Running on Candy (who provided said decal), and leave a comment below as to what you believe makes a Nerd Runner. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends Friday, 15 November. (I'll try to find a few extras to toss into the mix as well. Because I love you.)

And because it would be creepy and greedy and mean to make you donate to/participate in Step Out to Stop Diabetes, I won't--but your generosity and good thoughts are always appreciated there as well.

* She also made a 10 mile decal for me too, which is tough to find! Lurve!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

October in Review

Miles Covered: 46.6

While I'm not to my 500 mile goal, I seem to have arrived at Rivendell earlier this month.

No October races.

This month has been about endurance, and my inner coach has been working overtime. Here's the kind of things my inner coach says:

  • Every time you feel like quitting, take a sip of water.
  • You finished C25K in the hottest part of the year while recovering from surgery. You really going to quit now?
  • You completed a 10 mile race in 80+ degree weather and 100% humidity. You really going to quit now?
  • You can run 30 minutes continuously. What's another 15?
  • 15 minutes is just five, then five, then five. You can do five. Just do this five. 
And so on.

Which is not to say that I haven't had some spectacularly bad runs this past month. I've got a ton of excuses that aren't worth typing out. But I've had some good runs too. And I've been able to add in some weight work and yoga as well.

I think I can safely say that I have recovered almost fully from my surgery. There's still some nerve damage around the scar, but even that's beginning to fade.

I have high hopes for November--cooler weather and a ton of races. Bring it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Race Report: Firefly Run

Finish Time: 0:40:44 (9th in my age group)

Charity: Houston Food Bank

A week out from my race-aversary, and I'm already bored by the fun run.

I had originally signed up for this because: 1) I really enjoyed the Electric Run; 2) there was a Groupon; and 3) when I mentioned the name of the race to Mister, his response was, "So, it's a race where dresses like the crew from Serenity?" To which I replied, "It is now."

I aim to misbehave.
I fear, however, that the race experience wasn't what I had hoped it would be. Here's what I didn't like:

  • The original start time was pushed back an hour to 8:30PM because of a game that was in the same area. That meant that, even though I arrived an hour before, it was pretty dark already. It was hard to see signs to the event itself, and I couldn't appreciate the costumes as much.
  • No one commented on my hand-knit neon-colored Jayne hat. I'm going to blame the darkness, not the ridiculously young crowd.
  • Start time was 15 minutes late (did I mention it already being pushed back an hour?). While there was some dancing on the stage, I was there to run. It's about this time I had the realization that I may be getting too old for this--like the time I got mad at people commenting during a midnight showing of Young Frankenstein when I just wanted to watch the movie. 
  • The starting corral was very disorganized, and the waves uneven.
  • Unlike the Electric Run, there were no light elements along the route whatsoever. I basically ran in the dark, which I do in the morning anyway, only with a bunch of people who didn't understand the concept of slower to the right. I was bored.
  • Did I mention that slower people/walkers/families with distractable children should stay to the right? They didn't. Much bobbing, weaving, and occasional "Passing on your left!" (Yet another sign that I may be getting too old for this.)
  • The finish line was poorly marked. Normally I like to give a kick at the end. The only sign was a few more spectators/volunteers, and then suddenly the clock. It read 46 minutes. I went out in the second wave, and my Runkeeper said 42 minutes. I turned it off a couple minutes after what I guessed was the finish; I'm waiting on chip time to determine how I actually did.
  • No water handed out at the end. Minimal free food (I think there was some yogurt somewhere).
Hanging with Optimus Prime
Here's what I did like:
  • Free massages, short line.
  • Some good costumes.
  • Great reflective, light-up bands in the packet that will be great on my morning runs.
  • Cool weather. It was so cool that I wore compression sleeves while waiting to start; I quickly ditched these as soon as I got moving.
  • IMAG2328
    A Tron Guy (not THE Tron Guy)
  • My intent was to finally run a 5K all the way through, and I mostly made that goal. I walked through the water station and up the last hill. Other than that, it was a steady pace. I don't know that I completed the run any faster than my previous time, but I'm proud of myself that I kept it up. I suspect I will do even better at Step Out to Stop Diabetes in a couple weeks.
So, yeah, only a year later, and I sound like a running snob. But, really, had I not taken advantage of the Groupon, I would have considered this one a rip-off in terms of night running experiences. I'm already signed up for the Glow Run (which at least offers a medal), I have high hopes for the silliness of Bad Prom, and I definitely would be interested in the Electric Run again.