Thursday, July 1, 2010

Week #1 of Marathon Training

Well, I am officially 18 weeks from the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, so it's time to start serious training. I finally settled on a training plan - Hal Higdon's Novice II. I really like the HH plans - I run Tuesday (short), Wednesday (sorta long), Thursday (short) and Saturday (long). It's predictible, builds mileage gradually, with taper weeks built in. And it makes the OCD part of my brain very happy.

So I'm done with the midweek workouts - 3 miles, 5 miles and 3 miles - all went really well. Have 8 on the schedule for Saturday. (Will have to be early morning, as the blast furnace is on full power down here in Texas.)

Lately I've been struggling mentally with the idea of actually running 26.2 miles.

Can I really do it?

What if I don't?

Well - here's the thing. Nope, I can't do it right now. That's why it's necessary to train for a marathon. I can gut my way through 3.1 miles (see my very first blog post about my very first road race for reference), but 26.2... not so much. Every run I put in during the next 17 weeks, whether it's 3 miles or 20 miles, has a purpose and will ultimately help me when I line up at the start line on October 31. Every single run is important and I know if I follow my training plan as closely as possible, I will be okay. I will be more than okay. I will be a marathoner. And I can't wait!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wounded Warrior Half Marathon - Race Report

What a great event! This is the inaugural year of this event and as such, it's one of the smaller races that I've run in with close to 1200 runners. Definitely a different experience from the two mega-halfs that we ran earlier in the year (Disney and Rock N Roll, both of which draw 10,000+) - but it was really cool. They had good entertainment after and plenty of food, water, Powerade and even wine and champagne after, along with massages and a chiropractor. With the smaller field, it was cool to see the same people that you ran with wandering around the finisher area.

We were sadly under-trained for this, and it's June in Texas (hot, humid) - and we ran the Komen 5k event yesterday, so we went out just planning to run this one conservatively.

Of course, I am a runner, so there is that little psychotic voice in my head that likes to remind me of my PR times before any given race. (My PR is 2:26 for a half - in March though, NOT June.) So I just happened to line up near the 2:20 pace group. You know, just in case.

I kiss my husband, tell him to have a good race (we no longer race together - he's faster and besides I like to know he's watching me finish.) ;) and turn on my iPod with my special race playlist - made just last night. With such embarressing, but inspirational tunes as the Glee cast version of "Don't Stop Believing". I know, I know - but I can't help what inspires me.

Mile 1 - I am following the girl in blue who is holding the 2:20 pace group sign. It's warm and humid, but not full-on HOT. I'm feeling good - hmmm... if I just stick with her, just maybe...

Mile 2 - The girl in blue gains a little space, but she's still in my sights and I can still hear her talking to the girl next to her. (Mostly because my left earphone decided to die, and I now only have tunes in the right ear.)

Mile 3 - If I squint, I can still see the girl in blue and her pace sign. At least I think it's her. I'll just take this mile easy and turn up the pace a little later to catch her.

Mile 4 - We enter the park and I'm thankful for all the trees and the shade they're providing. No sign of the girl in blue. I realize that it's not a PR day. I need to just worry about finishing. Period.

Mile 5 - We're going by the equestrian center and they have one of those huge crop sprinklers going. I wonder how long of a detour it would be to run across the field and through it. Nah... extra mileage is a really bad idea at this point.

Mile 6 - We're still in the park and I notice (slightly panicky) that the police/medical support is rather um... sparse. There are water/powerade stations every couple of miles, but no medical tents. I tell myself that if I'm going to collapse I need to be strategic about it and wait until I see a police officer, EMT or something - so I have a better chance of getting quick help. (Seriously, this crossed my mind.)

Mile 7 - The sun is out and SWEET MOTHER, it's hot. There is something dripping down my back. Sweat from my ponytail. Gross. The 2:30 pace girl passes me (bitch!) - she's all by herself. I wonder if she needs some company and briefly consider trying to keep up with her, but I just don't have it in me.

Mile 8 - Ahhhh, there's a police officer on a motorcycle so if I go down right now, I should be ok. As I run by in a pack of 2 other struggling runners, the officer yells at us, "Remember - You signed up for this nonsense!" Thanks, Dude. Just to show him, I WILL NOT collapse in front of him - I keep going.

Mile 9 - The water station is out of water. And Powerade. But they have icy papertowels. I take one and squeeze the icy water all over me, then put it on my head.

Mile 10 - I stop looking for places to die and decide that for the rest of the race it's one mile at a time. I pass through the water station and there is a man with a sprinkler who asks if I want to be sprayed. Yes, please! He's very enthusiastic and even manages to soak me down my shirt - front and back. But it feels great.

Mile 11 - At this point I can taste the finish and I wish I could see it! Toward the end of this mile there's a photographer, so I manage to straighten up and I sprint by her with a huge grin, no doubt looking like one of those cover girls on the front of Runner's World. Or something.

Mile 12 - Between ice towels, water and sweat I am literally a soppy, drippy mess. But it's mile 12 and in the words of Queen, "Don't Stop Me Now! Cuz I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball..." Uh huh. That's what came on in my right ear during mile 12.

Mile 13 - The home stretch. Some kind soul was at the "half mile left" point with water (not an official stop - just some kind-hearted person). I drank and decided that was it - sprint time to the finish.

Finished in 2:43 (or something close - I barely glanced at the clock and forgot to stop my Garmin at the finish.) Still waiting for the official results.

Even with as under-prepared as we were and how hot it was, this has been my favorite event so far. Well organized, cool medal and how inspiring and humbling to see all of the current and former members of the military out there running, cheering, volunteering and supporting. Awesome!!

ETA - Official results are in and I was actually a little faster than I thought: 2:41:52. Sweet!

Friday, June 11, 2010

During an otherwise uneventful run...

So I started this blog and then almost immediately ignored it. Sorry about that! Here is where I should promise to be better about writing regularly – but that will probably just set me up for failure. So I’ll just do what I can do and hope someone out there reads it besides me!

Enough of that – I came here to share a funny/feel good running story from my run yesterday.

I leave the house about 7:30am hoping to beat the heat. It’s only about 75 or so degrees, but the humidity is up around 80%, which is really incompatible with breathing when you’re NOT running, and just a killer when you ARE running. So the plan is just to take it slow and walk if I need to. Around mile 1.5 I am really feeling gaspy – despite running straight through someone’s well-timed sprinklers – so it doesn’t help in the slightest when a little white-haired old lady whizzes by me on her cruising bike… this thing has a basket on the front for crying out loud! I push her out of my mind and tell myself just to concentrate on my run.

A half a mile later I make a turn and head toward the golf course. Up ahead I see the little old lady stopped at the side of the path. As I approach she flags me down, so I stop.

“Have you seen an old guy – my age – on a bike?” she asks me.

“No, I haven’t…” just then a sputtering white-haired guy piloting an identical cruising bike, basket and all, emerges from the same path I’d come from.

“Harold! There you are! I was getting worried.”

“God damn it, May! It’s f***ing HOT out here, and I’m out of water and you’re going too fast. I can’t keep up!”

I can’t stop myself from grinning as May says, “HAROLD!”

He sees me, blushes and says a little sheepishly, “Sorry about that, Young Lady. Good morning!”

“No worries – good morning to you too,” I say, “Can I see your water bottle?”

He looks a little confused, but hands it over. I had my amphipod hand-held water bottle still ¾ full of water, so I refill his bottle from mine. (I was pretty sure he’d have turned me down if I’d offered, so I just did it.) I hand it back to him and he thanks me. We chat a couple minutes and I turn to go. Though I’d turned down my music when I first stopped, I still had the earphones in my ears so maybe they thought I couldn’t hear the following exchange as I’m jogging away from them:

“See Harold? You meet nice people when you get out and exercise!”

“Yep, cute ones too…” Harold attempts a half-hearted whistle noise.

“Oh for christsake…” I can practically see her eyes rolling.

This little encounter cracked me up and made my day. And Harold? Don’t tell anyone, but I think you’re kind of cute yourself. Happy exercising!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Not Running Related

 (And I need to get back to serious training *and* blogging about it... I will, promise!)

In the meantime I need a place to store these, so I can print for teacher gifts tomorrow.  I *love* how they came out - hopefully the teachers will love them too.

Wordle: Mrs.Walters 1st Grade

Wordle: MrsFurr 3rd Grade

I'm going to print these out and have the girls paint and decorate picture frames for them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My first post, an intro of sorts

Before launching into posts about training runs and cross-train days, I thought I'd give a little background on me and how I landed in the running world, and eventually fell in love with running.  (Besides this fuels the notion that there may be someone out there actually reading this - besides me.) 

It started with a first date.  Yes, that's right.  An innocent, check-each-other-out Sunday morning meet-up at Starbucks in May 2008, where I found myself sitting across from a disarmingly handsome former Marine. We fell into an easy conversation and I liked him right away - even wanted to impress him, so when the conversation turned to fitness and he mentioned that he liked to run, I may have ever-so-slightly exagerrated when I called myself "a runner" and I told him about "my 3 mile loop" from my house.  In my defense, there is a 3 mile loop from my house and I'd run/walked/staggered around it lots of times - just trying to get out and do something, but never thinking about pacing, distance or any of that.  At the time I'd never heard of a Garmin, didn't know what a tempo run was and if you'd said anything to me about a fartlek, I'd have been offended.  We left the date with a promise that he'd call to plan a real date, and I made a mental note to step up the effort on that loop.

Second date, Monday night (Memorial weekend) and we're sitting in a local bar listening to a two-man band, having drinks and getting to know each other when he mentions that there is a 5K run coming up that he's planning on doing in a couple of weeks - do I want to do it with him? *gulp*  Luckily I managed to keep myself from cursing out loud (not really a good idea on a first real date - even though I do at times have a mouth like a sailor) and instead managed a non-commital shrug and something like, "Um sure" before quickly changing the subject and thinking that would be the end of it.

Proof I didn't know my future husband very well yet.

The next morning I checked my e-mail was slapped in the face by this:  "Thank you for registrering for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure..."  This time I couldn't stop the 4 letter word from escaping my lips as I opened the email and discovered I had exactly 12 days to train for my very first road race.  Now I'm in a bit of a panic.  I am not one of those pretty runners.  You know the ones: they show up at races in full makeup, with glossy ponytails and matching outfits.  This is not me.  I'm attractive enough, even cute at times, but running is NOT one of those times.  I sweat, I work hard, my face turns red, my hair goes limp and it's not pretty.  It's not second date material.  I still haven't let this man see me without makeup - and he wants to RUN with me at 7am?!  Sweet Jesus.  At least I'll know where I stand when it's over.

For the next 12 days I trained my ass off.  Literally maybe.  I had no idea how to properly train and I'm probably lucky I didn't hurt myself.  (I later learned I was wearing improper shoes, a size too small.)  I just ran.  Every day.  In my all-wrong-for-me-shoes.

When race day rolled around we lined up at the start and though I'm not religious I think I prayed.  Maybe a lot.  The gun went off and off we went, my date insisting on running beside me the entire time.  (Dammit!  No walking!)  But you know what?  As we made our way through the course, I started to feel more and more relaxed and even exhilarated.  There were bands and cheer squads and tons of ordinary people lined up on the sidelines cheering.  For us!  There was a well placed water stop with a whole bunch of volunteers handing out water cups and yelling things like, "You look great - keep it up!"  There were the other runners and the general feeling that we are ALL runners, no matter the shape, size or pace - we are all in the same boat, and you could feel the cameraderie in the air. (To this day that's my favorite thing about racing.)  And at this event, particularly inspiring are the numerous breast cancer survivors who don pink shirts and run right alongside everyone else.  We got through the race in a little over 30 minutes.  (31ish, I think - I wasn't into times yet, and we didn't have chips.)  Crossing that finish line with the cheering crowd, I don't know if I've ever felt better than that.

Until the very next moment when my date, Jamie, took me in his arms, kissed me and said, "Man, I really dig you."  And that, my friends, is how I fell in love with running *and* with my husband.

Here is a shot of the 2 of us coming up to the finish line of that first race.  I'm the one in pink and black looking near death, and Jamie is the one next to me in gray looking effortless:

And here we are almost 2 years later getting ready to run the Dallas Rock n Roll half marathon, our 2nd of 2010: