Monthly Archives: December 2010

Running Partners

I haven’t been feeling 100% this week (3 migraines in one week will do that), but I really wanted to keep up with my training.  I think running should help to stop the migraines, and I would probably feel worse if I just sat on the couch all day.

Since I didn’t get my run in yesterday, I planned to do 3 easy miles today.  I wanted to keep it at an easy pace, but my goal was to complete the run in 30 minutes.  My splits:

  • Mile 1:  9:55
  • Mile 2:  9:52
  • Mile 3:  10:05
  • Total:  29:54 (9:58 average pace)

As I started my last mile, an older man caught up and started chatting with me.  We had passed each other a few times on the run, and he asked if I was training for anything.  We talked for about 0.25 miles before he peeled off, but it was nice to have some company.  It took my mind off the fact that I still had a mile to go!

Sometimes I like running by myself, alone with my music.  Running alone gives me a chance to focus on my speed, and go faster or slower as it feels natural.  But there are many times where it is so nice to have someone to run with.  Even though it was a short run today, I definitely could  have used a running buddy to make the time go by faster!

Do you prefer to run by yourself or with a partner?

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A Spoonful of Sugar…

Today was day two of training, and 2.25 miles of speedwork was on the schedule.  My plan was to alternate 0.25 miles of slow jogging/recovery with 0.25 miles ran at a 9:00 pace.  This didn’t sound so bad, until I realized I was going to be running indoors on the treadmill.  We had 100% chance of rain with isolated thunderstorms.

I walked to warm up, jogged the first bit, and then ran my first 0.25 miles at a 6.6 mph (9:05) pace.  And then I had to stop and get off the treadmill.  I felt like I was barely going to make it just that quarter of a mile.

And then I got back on, jogged a bit, ran the second 0.25 miles, and got off the treadmill again.  I started to wonder why I even care about speed, and considered trading in my speed work runs for another easy run each week.  But I knew it was only 4 intervals, and I was determined to get through it.

I feel like speed work is like the medicine I took when I was a kid.  You know it’s good for you, but it tastes so bad, you can only take it in small doses, so I would slowly sip my medicine until it was all gone.  Am I the only one who did this??

Well I took my speedwork in small doses today, and got off the treadmill to cool down a bit after each sprint, but I finished all 4 quarter miles at a 9:05 pace.  I did 2.5 miles total in 33 minutes, but for all the breaks I took, it was probably closer to a 45 minute work out.

My legs felt a bit wobbly by the time I finished, and I felt like I had nothing more to give.  I wasn’t even running that much faster than I can run a mile outside, but it’s amazing what 15-30 seconds faster can feel like.  That, or maybe my treadmill is just way off 🙂

What is your “spoonful of sugar” that helps you to get through speedwork exercises?

Training Day One

My half marathon training officially started today.  Day one was supposed to be an easy 3 mile tempo run.  It was anything but easy.

I woke up with a migraine this morning.  When I get migraines, it’s not pretty.  I tried to sleep it off for a few hours, but I had to work today.  I felt mostly better, but the headache never completely went away.

I was also a little scared of this run because I had not run for over ten days.  I’m not sure how long it takes to lose your fitness level, but given that I’d only been running for about 2 months, it felt like a long time, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to run 3 miles straight anymore.

And it was cold and windy.  The first mile it felt like I was running directly into the wind, and it was trying to push me back.

Okay, all complaining out of the way, I’m happy with today’s run.  My goal was to run 1 mile as a warm up, 1 mile at half marathon goal pace (10:17) and 1 mile as a cool down.  Sounds easy enough right?  Well I pushed a little too hard on mile 2, and wore myself out halfway through the “speedy” mile.  But I ran the entire time and was happy with my overall time.

My splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:22
  • Mile 2:  9:35
  • Mile 3:  10:27
  • Total:  30:26 (10:08 average pace)

Merry Christmas!

Santa’s been good to me this year! 

After a nice brunch of egg whites, hash browns, grapes and toast, we opened some gifts. 

Elsie (my parent-in-laws’ dog) wore her best sweater for the occasion:

I received some awesome gifts that will help motivate me as I train for the half marathon.  My husband got me an arm band for my iPod.  I’ve just been carrying my iPod, so this will be very helpful.  It will keep me from skipping songs or accidentally turning the volume all the way up or down while I run!

I also got some great new running clothes from my in-laws.  My mother-in-law actually took me shopping just before the holidays so I could try the clothes on, but it was still a nice surprise 🙂

A Reebok sweatshirt – even in Houston, it’s starting to get cold!

A good, supportive sports bra – something I’m lacking, and it’s even reversible.

And running pants.  They have a pocket in the back, which is great since I sometimes find myself carrying my car key when I’m running!  While also carrying the iPod.

I also got the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  I just recently finished In Defense of Food, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Christmas dinner was delicious.  While the rest of the family enjoyed prime rib, I enjoyed my vegetarian turkey roll.  This stuff is seriously good.  I actually love everything I’ve tried from the Quorn brand.  And only 90 calories for 1/5 of the roll!

It goes into the oven for 45 minutes, still in the wrapper.

And comes out looking and tasting like turkey!

Sides included bread…

green bean casserole…

and cheesy hash browns.

The hash browns are my favorite!  Which doesn’t make much sense because I don’t like potatoes.  But I guess if you put enough cheese on just about anything, I’ll eat it.

Dessert was a french silk pie from Village Inn.  We at there earlier this week, and they were giving away free pie.  It made the perfect Christmas treat!

A special thanks to my brother-in-law, Tim, for letting me use his camera and pictures today.  I’m now convinced I need a DSLR.  Is it too late to ask Santa for a DSLR?

Half Marathon Training

I haven’t done much any running this week.  Something about below-freezing weather, icy roads and snow that won’t stop falling that’s gotten me out of the habit.  But that will change next week!  Once we’re back down south, I’ll get back to where I was with my training, and I’ll have my treadmill if the weather gets bad.

Since I’m not running, the next best thing is to plan.  I’ve created a 17 week training plan based on articles I found on Runners World, Hal Higdon’s training plan, and plans from other bloggers.  I decided that I want to run 4 times a week, and I’d like to mix in some strength training (I currently do none).  I also included the 10k in February, since I’ll be training for that too!

My plan is to do the same type of run each day of the week:

  • Monday:  half marathon pace tempo runs
  • Tuesday:  cross train or rest – I’ll probably rest most of these days 🙂
  • Wednesday:  speed work
  • Thursday:  easy run + strength
  • Friday:  rest
  • Saturday:  long run
  • Sunday:  stretch + strength

I know that this is my first half marathon, and my focus should be to just finish it.  But if I don’t have a time goal while running, I find I start telling myself it’s okay to walk.  And not start running again.  So I’ve set a lofty goal of finishing in 2 hours, 15 minutes.  This is about a 10:17 pace.  My best 7 mile pace so far has been 10:32, so I have a bit of work to do, but I also have 17 weeks.  I think if I follow my training plan and really focus on the speed work, this could be achievable.  Hopefully.  And if I don’t hit 2:15, I hope to finish in under 2:30!

Any advice, tips, or suggestions from half marathoners out there?

Race #1: Mistletoe 5k

I registered for my first 5k with my friend Maggie, just a few weeks after I started running outside.  I was a little nervous, not so much about the distance, but more about not knowing what to expect at a race.

The race was on December 5, 2010.  It was to benefit Run over Cancer, an organization that helpfs families suffering from the disease to pay their bills.  The website mentioned costumes, so we decided to go with a candy cane theme, complete with candy cane striped tights and red and white shorts.  But once we got to the race, I was surprised to see that there were not many costumes at all – we definitely stood out!

It was so cold that morning.  We got out of the car to get our packet, and then went straight back to the car to stay warm until the race.  I was glad we had the tights on, but I decided that I was going to wear my sweatshirt too.

We had about a quarter mile walk to the start line.  There were no chips at this race, but we hung back a bit to let the more serious runners go first.  It wasn’t long before we were off!  The first mile was a little slow (10:42), as people were weaving in and out.  We sped up a bit during the second mile, and started passing a few people here and there.  I also took my sweatshirt off during the second mile.

About halfway through the course, the high school cheerleaders were lined up, cheering as the runners went by.  With no other spectators on the course, it was fun to have a bit of encouragement.  The final 1.1 miles were our fastest.  I got excited as we got closer to the finish line.  We tried to run hard for the last quarter mile or so (according to my Garmin) and then I realized that we still had a ways to go to the finish line – I think the course was a little long.

The finish line was fun – there were a lot of spectators for the last little bit, and everyone was cheering.  I’ll admit, I’m embarassed to have a crowd watching me run, but at the same time it was really exciting!  There was also a camera… I was aware of the camera, but wasn’t sure if I was supposed to smile or ignore it, and I think I ended up doing both.  No way am I paying $30 for this picutre!

My official time was 31:42.  I stopped my Garmin when I thought I had hit 3.1 miles, and according to my Garmin it was 31:40, so it wasn’t far off!  The splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:42
  • Mile 2:  10:10
  • Mile 3.1 pace:  9:42
  • Total:  31:42 (10:13 pace)

I’m excited for my next race!

My Running History

My history with running has mostly involved a treadmill.  I used it occasionally throughout college, but stuck more to the elliptical.  In grad school (after gaining quite a bit of weight), I joined the local YWCA and became better friends with the treadmill, frequently running 2-3 miles.  This lasted about 9 months, until I injured my knee.

Injury

I injured my IT band in September 2008.  I was running intervals on the treadmill and thought I’d up the speed.  It felt like something cracked in my knee and I felt an intense pain.  As soon as I switched to walking, the pain went away, so I thought I would try running again, but the pain came back almost immediately.

At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong with my knee.  I continued to try to run on it for a few days, and then decided to try a bit of rest and ice.  It didn’t hurt to walk on it, but anytime I went back to the gym (or tried stairs), I felt it.  After close to 2 months of this, I finally went to see a doctor.  He took an MRI of my knee to confirm it wasn’t something more serious, and then sent me to a physical therapist.

I started working with the first physical therapist around November, and it didn’t help.  I did most of the exercises (I probably could have put a little more effort in), but I was getting frustrated at this point, especially when she told me it could be the next summer before I would be running again.  When I came back to school in spring 2009, I decided to try a different PT.  The new PT was wonderful!

Having never been to PT before this experience, I didn’t realize how weird it was that the first PT didn’t even touch my knee.  The second PT used more massage therapy, hooked my knee up to a machine that stung a bit but seemed to help, and gave me exercises and stretches that made more of a difference.  He was also much more encouraging, and had me running again (just a little bit) before summer.  Which was great, since I got married in June 2009!

Back to the Treadmill

In July 2009, my husband and I moved across the country to start new jobs.  We lived in an apartment with a treadmill, and I tried to work out as I could, but I was probably running just 2-3 times a week, if that.  In January 2010, we adopted a puppy (Bailey) and in February, 2010, we bought our first home.  I don’t think I exercised at all those few months!

Bailey

In our new home, I no longer had convenient access to a treadmill like I did at the apartment, and I was not comfortable enough with our new neighborhood to run outside (there are very few sidewalks).  In March 2010, I convinced my husband that we needed to buy a (used) treadmill.  So we did!

I’m glad we got the treadmill, but I quickly became bored.  At first, it had been so long since I ran, I couldn’t run a full mile without stopping to walk.  I built myself up to 2-3 miles, but I wasn’t keeping up with it and found myself cutting workouts short due to boredom.  In November 2010, I finally decided that I wanted to try running outside.  My husband went with me to a nearby park the first few times, and I quickly realized I could run easier outside than I did on the treadmill.

Ditching the Treadmill

I found that I loved running outside.  I didn’t get tired as easily, and it was okay if I ran a little bit slower.  I realized how much fun it was to people watch – the first week I went to the same park, I think I saw Mr. Yale wearing the same t-shirt each day!  It wasn’t long before I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner, and then it became even more fun, tracking my progress and playing with the numbers on the GPS.

I began hitting milestones that I never thought were possible before:  On November 13, I ran 6 miles, a new distance record for myself.  On November 21, I ran 7 miles for the first time.  7 miles!?  I’m a slow runner (my average pace was 10:39), but I ran the entire time.  When I was home for Thanksgiving break, I ran 5 miles straight with my dad.  This was a big deal for me because my dad has been running for years, and runs 5 miles on an almost daily basis.  This was the first time I have ever been able to run 5 miles with him (although he did slow his pace a bit for me).  I also hit speed goals that I’ve never been able to do on the treadmill – for the first time, I ran 3 miles in under 30 minutes (29:24!).

Racing

Running outside gave me a new confidence, and I registered for my first race (5k) with a friend.  I’ll save the race recap for a separate post, but it was so much fun!  Even before the race, I was already thinking about registering for a 10k.  When I got an email this week about a half marathon that is 17 weeks away, I decided I should try to go for it.  I love having goals, and I these races seem to be the motivation I’ve needed to get my butt in gear.  I’ve found I actually enjoy running now – I’m no longer running just to burn calories and get a work out in, but I’m running toward a goal.