Friday, January 31, 2014

Random Thoughts from This Morning's Run

- Vlog post will not get done this week. Filmed, but no time to do the little editing that I do. Not that anyone is screaming for it.

- It was not so painfully cold this morning. Still, it can't be good for one's health to go from two layers in order to run back to short sleeves. Please choose one, weather.

- Fartlek is a brain workout as much as a body workout. I started out doing one mile slow, which was angrymaking. Then came four sessions of 5 minutes fast with 2 minute slow intervals in between. Even though I didn't get below a 10:50 minute mile, it was work--keeping up the pace while keeping in mind how much farther I had to go, push but keep some energy in reserve. There was no zoning out, no dreaming, just all the Now, the steps, the breath. (And I did NO walking during the slow intervals. Yay, me!) I was so relieved for that last mile slow. I ache in a good way--both mentally and physically. 

- "Fartlek"--hurr hurr hurr

- I chafe in areas I never imagined. I've got a boo-boo on my hip thanks to a seam. That's just so weird.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trouble with Training

In many ways, January has been a gift. I did a switch at work that meant no weekend work at all this month. We've managed to get out of town. I've had a couple of Icepocalypse days where I gotten to stay home. Lots of naps. Lots of creative stuff. Plus, I've gained a duty at work that is a welcome challenge.

Ran like whoa. #slowisthenewfast #humblebrag #iamarunner
Ran like whoa.
Likewise, my running speed has vastly improved. My "easy" pace is about a 12:30-12:45 minute mile, which seems to be average for "slow runners." Last week, when I was running an "easy three miles," I actually kept up a 10:30 minute mile pace (going below a 10mm at one point). It felt like a break-through! Running Momma suggests trying a 5K at an all-out pace, just to see what would happen.

I have been struggling with my training, though. Since I've set my sights on a half marathon in April, I thought I should switch my plan from a sub-65 minute 10K to an actual half marathon plan. However, the only plan that ended on time was a beginner half that concentrated only on mileage. I started to do it, but I found myself instantly bored and angry and finding excuses to quit. (Hello, Blerch. Glad to see you encouraging me to be a general PITA to my family as well.) This week, I switched back to the sub-65 for the novelty of the speed work. I figure since it includes a couple of long 9 mile runs, I'll still be prepared enough for the half. After April, I'll look into a "proper" intermediate (!) half training, which should give me enough time for a race in the fall.

Still, the scheduling has been tough. The icy weather has been disruptive. Also, the training has me doing speedwork on Saturday, long run on Sunday; with church involved, I'll have to switch them (or postpone the long run if it's a working weekend as this coming one will be).

The running does help my mood tremendously, though. I think the addition of a calcium-magnesium supplement as my doctor suggested might also help me in beating back the Blerch.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hooray for Consistency! Another Vlog!

Another vlog is up--this time I talk about the basic parts of my cosrunning wardrobe:


It was nice to have the time to work on it thanks to Icepocalypse 2014. Essentially, we had a bout of sleet that iced over all of Houston. While the rest of the nation is laughing at us getting all wound up over temps in the 30s, I am glad to have to stay put--I personally have not lived with ice and don't really know how to drive in it (Hera knows, the rest of Houston doesn't).

Thankfully, I got my running done yesterday. The temps should go up a little, so tomorrow shouldn't be that painful either. The Blerch has been less brutal this month, something for which I am very grateful.

Today, I am indulging in comfort and creativity, which is good for my health in a different way.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Race Volunteer Report: Chevron Houston Marathon

Total Time Volunteering: 4 hours

Charity: Run for a Reason

It doesn't do any good to set your alarm for 5AM on your phone if you don't make sure that the correct day is also checked. This is not the first time I have done this.

Thankfully I'm a planner. I had my clothes laid out, my pockets stuffed with necessities (chapstick, hankie, hand sanitizer, wallet), layers prepared, grab-and-go breakfast pre-made in the fridge. I had done a dry-run to where I would park a couple days before (to compensate for my bad sense of direction). So, even though I woke up 25 minutes later than planned, I managed to make it out the door and to the checkpoint on time.

Mary, our team captain, has been volunteering with her husband at the Marathon for over fifteen years. She set us all up with shirts, jackets (if we signed up early, which I did), credentials (aka badge), and went over our task. We were at the point of the route where the half marathon split from the marathon (about mile 8); we were to watch the color of the bibs and try to steer runners in the correct direction--the irony was not lost on me, considering my navigation skills.

While we waited, I met a couple of nice women--Blanca and Nancy. Blanca was a runner herself trying to get back to doing at least six halves each year; we talked which ones were worth registering for, etc. We had some time for me to stash stuff in my car, eat breakfast, and hit the porta-potty.

And then the runners came.


The elite runners are just gorgeous ... long limbs, tight cores. Watching them lope by, I thought, how can I call myself a runner? These are runners.

And then the rest of the runners came, and I felt part of the tribe again.

As I was shouting instructions, I called out to the nerd shirts as I saw them--and got a couple of big grins in return from a Spiderman and a Captain America. A few cosrunners were present--a full-on Flash, some onesies. Only one Wonder Woman, and that a t-shirt (not that there's anything wrong with that).

One of the other volunteers suggested that I should be pointing as well as shouting; by pointing out individuals, I was able to direct a little better. Some runners, though, were plugged into their music and looking down. I understand running can be introspective--that's how the bulk of my morning runs are--but why pay for an experience and not have all your senses engaged? As the shift wore on, I started changing up my standard, "Half to the left! Full to the right!"
"Half to the left! Full to the right! Choose your own adventure!"
"Half to the left! Full to the right! Decision time!"
After a while, the runners became exclusively half marathoners. And then just walkers. But I stayed to the very DFL and cheered her on. Because that's what a tribe member does.

After four hours, I was frozen through, hungry, and didn't have much of a voice left--but exhilarated. It was early enough (and I was in the neighborhood), so I went on to church to meet my family, which is where the fatigue hit.

I've always tried to thank volunteers, but being a part of the process in even the tiniest way was illuminating as to how much work goes into every race. needs to do this at some point. I intend to try to run this one next year; but if I don't make the lottery, I'm going to volunteer again just to be a part of the tribe.

Either way, I'm going to pay more attention to how I set my alarm.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Meeting Resolutions OR Hey, a Vlog!

I'm endeavoring to meet some of my resolutions. First off, I finished an episode of my vlog, Cosrunning with Chunky Wonder Woman.


I've made several attempts at vlogs, but I'm really going to try to be consistent with this one.* This is raw, but as my friend Somer of Kitchenstitches says, sometimes you just got to plunge ahead. I figure if I get at least one written entry and one vlog a week, I will meet my post twice a week goal.

One of the plans for this vlog is to include some Google+ Hangouts with makers and doers. So, if you run in costume and/or make costumes for runners and would like in on the conversation, please let me know (and some of you I will be contacting, so brace yourself).

I also made a goal to wear more hats. I will be wearing this one at the Chevron Houston Marathon where I will be volunteering at the half marathon turnaround (about mile 8, according to the map).

I'm nervous, but very excited about volunteering. I think it will give me a new appreciation for how much work it takes to make a race come together. It has also feels great to have an answer to, "So, are you running?" and know I'm still a part of this event.

If you're running, make sure to give me a wave. I'll be cheering you on!

As far as other resolutions, I've just started a little bit of speed play, and I think I may have found my second half marathon.

How are your resolutions going? Still on track? Hang in there--we've got this.

* Yeah, yeah, we'll see, sez the Blerch.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Every Run Its Own

I've started week two of the sub-65 10K training, and the vacation seems to be ending.

Today was three miles plus strides (essentially three rounds of 20 seconds fast + 2 minutes steady). I was a little jumpy about the whole process--I was so afraid to go very fast for fear I wouldn't have the gas when I had to sprint. Which is the point, I guess. But a 14 minute mile is still, well, a little disappointing. Nonetheless, I made my strides and have lived through the first round of it.

Even though I can compare runs in my head, I am increasingly aware that every run is its own. Yes, I can now finish a half; but this two and three mile runs, right now in this cold, is kind of a bitch. I still find myself pushing, yelling, coaching my way through.

Shouldn't this be easy now?

In a way, it is. I am not only able to physically do more, I can identify the Blerch for what it is and push past it. But that damn Blerch is there. Every. Single. Run.

I am also aware that the past week the Blerch has been playing with my hormones. PMS has been ragingly bad. I spoke with my doctor about it, and we have a strategy. (Related: my well woman tests and mammogram both came out normal. Not that there was a doubt; it's just a relief, especially after the health problems of last year.)

I'm hoping volunteering at the Chevron Marathon with bring back a little mojo.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Holiday Hangovers

Today is the Child's first day back to school. The Christmas stuff has been put away. The house is mostly devoid of rich foods and sweets.

I guess the holidays are officially over.

Well, *I'm* cold.
It's been really chilly (for us) lately, which doesn't make it easy to get out of bed and get going. (Luna, who is an affectionate dog by nature, has been particularly cuddly in a don't-get-out-of-bed-yet way.) Plus, I want to eat a lot of bread, cheese, and sodium-laden soup. I'm feeling rather bear-like in many, many ways (not all good), but hopefully some normalcy will help.

I started a sub-65 minute 10K training program this past week. Right now it's in the let's-get-started 2 and 3 mile easy runs, but will include fartlek running sessions and long runs up to 9 miles. It seemed to have the most benefits for me and is versatile enough to use for a 10K or another half. I haven't figured out how to fill the other days yet, and I may run into some snags later on in the training in terms of my calendar. I'm just going to plunge ahead and see how it goes.

That being said, I haven't really committed myself to any race yet. I'm probably going to do the Awesome 80s Run, despite the fact that I'm convinced I'm going to be annoyed; then again, there's a Darth Vader medal, and if someone will come with me, I might surprise myself. I do want to do the Houston Rodeo Run (10K) in March, despite the fact that the 10K training will not quite be finished. I've glanced at the Blue Bell Fun Run and Rhythm & Blues, but I'm not enthusiastic. I just noticed the Navy Marathon has been cancelled, which is a pity.

While I'm not running in the local biggie, the Chevron Houston Marathon, I followed the suggestion of a MRTT member and signed up as a volunteer (I will be at the half marathon turn-around). It's a good opportunity to give back to the community that embraced me.

So that's January, I guess. I'm working on my other resolutions, but it turns out I have a Blerch in other areas as well.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolutions for 2014

I suppose I should write down a few goals for the year.
  • Complete 4 half marathons. I'm not sure how many other races I want to do, but for some reason, this seems to be the magic number for halves. And hey, I am already a quarter finished!
  • Work in speed play. I've seen a free Runkeeper training where the goal is an under 60 minutes 10K. I don't know if it is possible. Then again, I didn't think I could run more than 2 minutes. I'm going to give it a shot.
  • Get back to weightwork on non-running days. I may just have to buy the DVD instead of continuing to check it out from the library.
  • Get/make a proper medal holder. Because I'm worth it.
  • Get bifocals. I've been flipping my glasses on top of my head about a year now. Time to give it up and give in.
  • Take more vacations from work. I tend to hoard my vacation time in fear of being sick. But I learned this past year when I had to tap into FMLA that I can generate most of what I will need at this point. I also discovered that my workplace can still function just fine without me. Instead of waiting until the end of the year when I'm cranky, I'm going to space out longer bits of time off.
  • Blog at least twice a week. I have so many thoughts that float around. Good thoughts. I ought to inflict them on you. 
  • Consider a once a month vlog/Google Hangout/podcast. I have this idea for focusing specifically on running in costume (a friend suggested calling it cosrunning). I'd like to include some interviews with makers, wearers, and designers. Let me know if you want in.
  • Set aside at least one night for crafting--for gifts, for fun. So much Pinterest, so little time.
  • Related: clean out my craft corner. Since we don't have a garage, we need a place to park bikes, weights, workout gear, etc. I have an idea, but I need time and energy to do it.
  • Set aside at least one night for reading. I tend to fall asleep to YouTube or Netflix these days. While there's nothing wrong with that, I have so much on my to-read list. The 50 page rule will be in play.
  • Wear more hats. Everywhere.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Race Report: Texas Marathon (Half)

Finish Time: 03:15:19
Charity: Marathon Challenge

Running Momma said this was the one to do.

Yes, it kinda blows to party and drink less on New Year's Eve. Yes, it's kind of mean to drag the family out at the buttcrack of dawn and drive for an hour to the site, and then set them free for several hours while I put myself through pain.

But it's totally worth it, and here's why:

1. The Course: It was gorgeous. It had the benefits of a trail run with trees and a lake while being paved and flat. It was twice around the loop for half, four times for full. The trail was not super narrow, although there were times when I had to negotiate passing people. A good portion was two-way, but there were sections of one-way; for me, that meant a nice balance--I didn't feel as lonely as I usually do at races, but there were times where I had more space when I was feeling "peopled out."

2. The Runners: What a nice group of people! The race is populated by both full and half marathoners, and everyone was so encouraging of one another! Since you have to make so many loops, you end up passing people several times. This is where it helps to be wearing a Wonder Woman costume--people naturally want to cheer on a superhero.* At one point, I was behind a couple women, and they kept wondering why people were singing out, "Wonder Woman!" until they looked behind. I even paused to take a picture with a guy in a kilt because he liked how our skirts went together.**

For the love of Hera, do not turn around.
There's always the hard core scary person who's balls-to-the-wall, and yes, that was present. But there were a lot more people who were slow, who walked, who were enjoying themselves. That alone made the whole experience really cool.

There was also the shirtless guy in creepy shorts, but that's to be expected.

3. The Organizers and Volunteers: At first glance, this seems like a small-time operation (the participation caps at 700, which is why I was on a waiting list). But these folks have been doing this for 15 years, and the kinks are pretty well worked out. Communication was good. The flow of packet pick-up was great.

Water stations were at about every mile and a half, and one station had gummies, pretzels, and tissues, which I really needed toward the end! Pizza at the finish started at 10AM and was delivered every hour, so there was plenty for all.

Don't be dissuaded by the aol e-mail--these folks know their stuff and run a great event!  

4. The Spectators: Since this is sort of a neighborhood event, there were lots of folks on the way cheering us on with funny signs. Should have gotten a pic of the "Run faster--I farted!"

5. The Stuff: It should be enough to get a squeezie elephant with my place written on it, as well as a HUGE medal (1.1 lbs for the half, 3.3 lbs for the full). But the swag bag was a nice travel bag (complete with laptop carrier), water bottle, wicking cap (which I love), and beanie (which I've been needing).     

As for my performance, I kept a pretty good pace through mile seven. Mile eight, the joints of my toes started to really hurt. Mile ten, I became emotional, as that had been my longest distance so far and the distance left was my original goal. Mile eleven, my hips started to hurt; actually, most everything started to hurt. It hurt less to run, but I was so tired I couldn't keep it up. Sheer will at that point--I can't imagine doing another two laps.

In the meantime, those same runners who still had a way to go were cheering me on.

Even though I ate a good breakfast and used fuel, I was HUNGRY by the end. At the same time, I was having some digestive issues; I didn't hit the porta-potty during the race, but I needed it pretty badly afterwards. The pretzels earlier on really helped.

I snoozed a little on the drive home. I had a good soak in the bath (which I think will be a habit for anything 10 miles or more) and a long nap. It got rid of the post-race shivers and settled out my stomach. I'm still very sore, but I'm feeling a little recovered and now want to eat ALL THE THINGS.

Just now it's beginning to sink in this thing I've done. It's kind of cool. I may even do it again.

Happy New Year!            

*Although a couple people called me Super Woman, bless their hearts.

** Dude, I had to leave before you finished. Find me and share the photo!

2013 in Review

Total miles: 592.2
91 miles walking
501.2 miles running


The original goal was 500 miles total. Turns out I just did that (and more) in my running sessions. I did the most walking in January, and it leveled off in August.

My most productive month total was April with 61.2 miles, while December had the longest miles for running sessions with 59.3 miles.

SHM Virtual Cumulative Half Marathon
I Tink I Can (Virtual)
Princess in Training (Virtual)
3W Heart Throb (Virtual)
Rhythm & Blues 5K
Color Run
Color Me Rad
Hetherington Fun Run
SBEF Running for the Arts 1K
Texas Flower Country Women's 10K
Electric Run
MRTT Running Mad
Katy 10
Firefly Run
Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes
TXU Energy Turkey Trot
Color in Motion
(There were a couple more virtuals in there, but I think I paired them with training runs)

I almost ran at least a race a month, which was the original goal.

I am finding myself turn away from virtual races (although the medals are so very, very pretty) and novelty races (enough with the color, already!). Whenever possible, I reach for the 10K rather than the 5K.

Ima gonna need this.
I'm seeing a definite mental shift in my running. Something happened when my gallbladder exploded--starting from zero somehow meant no more excuses. I completed both the Couch to 5K and the Couch to 10K; now I can run a little over an hour continuously. Which means whenever I want to walk before it's really time, I can usually talk myself out of it. Usually.

I'm suddenly very self-conscious about how slow I am, though. It's a push to keep up a less than 12 minute mile. A couple people have pointedly called me a jogger because of this, and that stings. Really, like I'm not hard enough on myself without help. Doesn't the distance make me "legit"?

One habit I seem to have taken up is to ditch listening to stuff and simply be present while I'm running. I had trained for the 10K in May listening to music the entire time, so that when I was at the race, it seemed interminable. Plus, recovering from surgery also pulled me more into experiencing the moment. Plus, I've had a couple of spooky moments during morning runs that make me want to be more aware of what's going on.

The other habit I've been trying to cultivate is adding in some cross-training. I have found a weight-work video that kicks my ass, but I notice much more support in my core when I'm running. I'd like to add in some yoga as well, but I haven't found a video that works for me. I should probably look into a class, but I admit that I'm scared of being fat-shamed (which I know is weird but not unfounded). Maybe I'll make that a resolution.

Not that it's about the weight, but I lost a ton when I had surgery ... and then gained a bunch back. Still, my size 18s are loose, and I'm wearing jeans that I almost gave away a long time ago. I still eat like crap, though. Mister (who does a majority all of the cooking) flirted with veganism for a while. I just like cheese too much.

Speaking of my surgery, I think I can call myself fully recovered. It's still a little numb around my scar (I expect the nerve damage will take quite some time to heal yet), but when I do core work, it feels like working-out hurt instead of regular hurt. My digestive system has mostly sorted itself out.

Luna is shaping up to be a really good dog as well as a good running companion.

I was looking for wonders in 2013. I think I may have found a few.