Monday, November 14, 2011

I love to race. I hate to race. I love to race.

It's amazing how you can both adore and abhor one thing with so much passion. Some people have a love-hate relationship with a person, or a dessert, or a narcotic. For me, it's racing that I love. And hate.

I can't think of many moments in my life that compare with the high of crossing a finish line. But getting there--man, it is crazy what we runners go through just to feel the weight of a medal around our neck!

Yesterday as I forced myself by sheer will to run through miles 10, 11 and 12 of the Ft. Lauderdale 13.1, it hit me that the tough moments of a race are kind of like childbirth: you do forget the pain once you've hit the euphoria of the accomplishment. I am so, SO happy right now that I finished my race without injury, fainting or even stopping for a minute to walk that if I weren't writing them down now, I know I'd forget the following moments of misery by tomorrow:
  • The way the tag on my pants dug into my skin (I was bleeding by the end of the race)
  • The way my hand ached from gripping my little hand towel
  • That I was so thirsty despite my water intake that I finally gulped down a cup of Powerade, which always makes me throw up (and was no exception yesterday)
  • The forlorn feeling I felt as I saw the pace card carrier with the "2:00" sign run steadily past me (so much for a PR!)
It was a beautiful day for a race. That might have been the biggest problem: the fresh, cool ocean air and the excitement of seeing all the other runners inspired me to run the first nine miles much faster than I should have. Then despite the massive handful of Jelly Belly sport beans I shoved into my dry mouth, I suddenly lost all steam at exactly mile 9:39, and ended up hobbling pathetically to the finish line 10 minutes later than I fantasized about and five minutes slower than I could accept happily. 

It's okay; this won't be my last half-marathon, and next time I'll have a better pacing strategy in place. I'm looking forward to rocking the ING Miami Half with my Team in Training buddies! Looking forward to it but also somewhat scared of it--but that's just the way I roll, I guess. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Running for a reason

True, everyone "runs for a reason," whether it's to burn off last night's fajitas, train to become the next Kara Goucher or to escape the paper boy who is demanding, "I want my two dollars!" I've done plenty of runs myself to counteract caloric misadventures in Mexican restaurants, and plenty of runs aimed at shaving a few seconds off my stubbornly midpack pace...but the runs that have meant the most to me have been runs for Team in Training, an organization that raises money for lymphoma & leukemia research.

This year, I'll be doing it again. This time I'm honoring my friend Deena Heinrich, a really awesome woman who is fighting breast cancer tenaciously, so it means even more to me. I'm also helping out as a mentor for TNT this year. 

Want to help raise money to fight cancer? You can join TNT yourself...and/or you can support my run with a tax-deductible donation.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mama's got a new pair of shoes!

I'm so sorry, Nike, but I've moved on.

Conceding that my chipped toenails and sore feet post-run might be due to my feet growing a size while I was growing Charlie, I finally gave in and went to Runner's Depot to get properly sized for running shoes. While I was there, I had them do a gait-check, too.

My profile: A mild over-pronator with flat feet who runs with correct form (ie on the balls of my feet, not the heels or toes.) And who needs a size 9.5 running shoe. (Sob!)

The Runner's Depot guy did have Nike Lunars in my new, jumbo size, but he didn't want to sell them to me, because he said I needed some stability, and not so much cushioning. I told him I really didn't care about that, as long as the shoes felt "light." That's always been one thing I've loved about every pair of Nikes I've run in: the airy stride.

So he hooked me up with Saucony Progrid Mirage Lites, in a funky charcoal and deep pink color. I was skeptical but he promised me I could take them back for new kicks in 30 days if they gave me blisters, soreness or any other problems.

I haven't put that much mileage on them yet, but so far, I am loving them. They are lightweight indeed, and the extra room in the toe feels luxurious after months and months of pinching my big feet into shoes that didn't fit. I also think the lack of cushioning is forcing me to take on a better running stance; I feel more muscle development in my upper leg and better release in my knees and ankles. I realize now that I had been running kind of stiffly in my old shoes, partly because they didn't fit and partially because all of the pillowy cushioning might not have been doing my stride any favors.

We'll see how they fare after my long run tomorrow--but I have to say, I have high hopes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Was my 5k awesome? Well, it Depends.

Today I ran my first race in what feels like a decade, but was actually just a little over a year. (The last time I was doing the bib-and-safety-pin dance was in January 2010, just a month before I'd have bibs and safety pins of a totally different variety back on my radar again.)

Some awesome things happened today:

-My pace quickened. I tried hard but not to the point of hyperventilating or puking, and I clocked in at 26:22 net time, a minute and a half quicker than my last (pre-baby) 5k time.

-My mood calmed. I remember feeling frenetic and aggressive, even mean, in previous races. "Get outta my way, hairy backed jerk!" was a typical thought to pass through my brain as I clawed my way ahead. Today felt like my usual 3ish mile morning run--but with a lot of people sharing the road with me.

And something not so awesome happened:

-My pelvic floor revolted. "Three pregnancies without leaking and now you want me to stand firm while you run hard, too? Sorry, lady!" I actually muttered, "Stop it!" to my bladder at one point like it was being an annoying kid sister. Ultimately I ended up running with my knees pressed together to prevent the unthinkable from happening.
I am waiting anxiously for race pictures; hopefully no one caught the mermaid-legged running stance on film. Next time, I think I'm going to make Depends part of my raceday gear. Although if it ended up scoring me my best time ever, maybe running like you really need to get to a bathroom is my calling card to even faster times in the future.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Afraid to ask: Might I need larger shoes?

I thought I managed to survive three pregnancies without growing a shoe size, but it probably is NOT a good sign if your fresh pedicure chips as soon as you run, right? At first I blamed the cheap nail salon where I was getting my toes done ("It had to be fake OPI! Chipping just one day post-pedi??") but then I went to a more expensive place, and I still had the chipping right after I ran.

So either OPI nail polish isn't as long-lasting as it used to be...or my toes don't have enough room in a size 8.5.

(Please, please tell me OPI sucks! I don't want to be a 9!)

I'm also afraid my favorite running shoe, the Nike Lunar Glide (now available as the Lunar Glide 2) is no longer the perfect match for my bigger and probably flatter post-baby feet.

But with all that I went through before I found the Lunars, I'm not sure I'm up for another session of match-making.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Running in my sleep

I'm back at it, the 5 a.m. morning mile. Pre-coffee, pre-breakfast, pre-dawn. I am SLOW. With some caffeine and carbs I can get below a 9 minute mile for a 3-4 mile run, but with an empty stomach and a sleepy head, I'm about 30 seconds slower than that. But I am PROUD. It's nice to come back to a quiet house, the baby just starting to stir a little (I hear the movement over the baby monitor as I hop in the shower) and know that when most of the world was sleeping, I ran past the Starbucks and McDonald's and two elementary schools and back. Now if only the rest of my day would go as smoothly...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pop quiz for the pet people: Runner vs. dog walker

I almost titled this post "Runner vs. dog," but then when I thought about it, I certainly can't hold my four-footed fellow trail trotters responsible for what is really bad behavior going on at the other end of the leash.

So here's my question for those of you who have dogs.

Say you're out walking your dog on a running/bike trail and you see a person jogging towards you. Fido has a history of getting spunky when squirrels scurry in his direction, and the woman headed your way is in head to toe slate-colored Spandex; she could easily be mistaken for a gigantic, 5 foot, 4 inch squirrel (she even has that bushy ponytail sticking out of her cap.)

Do you:

A) Hold the leash a bit more tightly to prevent Fido from lunging after Squirrel-Girl
B) Tell Squirrel-Girl that she'd better watch out; Fido is up for a good chase
C) Do absolutely nothing. If Fido wants to chase/gnaw at Squirrel-Girl, that's her problem. If she doesn't like dogs, she can just go run in the street.

I don't have a dog myself. But being the kind of parent who prevents my kids from hurling Saltines at other diners when we're out at restaurants, I tend to think that if I were a "fur mama," I'd be of the curb-my-dog, A or at least B variety.

In my few years of running multiple times per week, I find that most dog owners are As. I might have met a handful of Bs. I didn't even know Cs existed till this morning, when I ended up running into a bush to avoid becoming a chew toy.

But maybe I'm wrong to think the Cs are doing anything wrong. I really don't know what the etiquette is here. Maybe all runners (and walkers, and bikers) are supposed to yield to dogs, or assume that they are prone to chasing and steer clear. What's your experience been?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When 5.31 miles is harder to run than 8.0

Last Sunday, I had a shockingly easy 8 mile run (well, as easy as 8 miles can be). I wasn't even all that sore afterwards; I felt great the whole time, went pretty fast, never contemplated stopping.

Today, feeling pretty cocky from my previous performance, I thought I'd go for lucky 7 miler.

All I can say's a miracle I made it 5.31 miles without stopping, because when I did stop, about a mile and a half short from where I planned to end the run, I came pretty close to throwing up. And the majority of the run, I was wondering, "Are we having fun yet?"

It's amazing how the conditions surrounding a run can determine whether you kick asphalt or the asphalt kicks you.

Conditions of my 8 mile run:Started running at 7 a.m.
My Garmin battery was dead, so I forgot to worry about my pace
I ran with a friend who is a faster runner than me
It was in the 60s outside
Flat, easy course; no hills. The first two miles are a path around the Weston Town Center (a sort of mini-mall) and then the last six are a straight shot up and back the incredibly hill-free Bonaventure Road.

Conditions of my 5.31 mile run:
Started running at 9:30 a.m.
Garmin was alive and kicking
I ran alone
It was humid, in the 80s (and I forgot to bring water)
Very hilly course (Indian Trace on the stretch between Saddle Club and Bonaventure) with narrow paths so you have to accelerate or slow down if another runner/walker/biker is approaching

I'll have to see if I can do the hills in cooler weather at an earlier hour with more success. Right now, hours later, I'm still a little sweaty, and my stomach is not a happy camper.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just try to trot slowly to this one.

Was just minding my own business, plunking down one foot after the other and then BAM! This song cued up on my playlist.

Whooooooooooooooo-ah!! Got to keep 'em separated.

I was flying. Heart fluttering high and steady, legs light on the ground, every ache and annoyance on the trail suddenly forgotten. The high's lasted all day. One of those moments when you're like, "Oh yeah, THIS is why I run!"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thank you for smoking

I'd just like to thank the kid in my development who was out walking his dog and sneaking a cig while I starting off my morning run. Nothing's more gross than inhaling smoke while you're running. (I really don't know how people who run in cities deal with that--plus city bus fumes, smog and more.) I took off as fast as I could to pass him. And then I slowed down, but I still ended up running faster than I thought I could the rest of the four-mile loop.

I'd probably do pretty well in a race if I could get the people at the water stations to light up so I'd want to pass them instead of slow down. You never run so fast as when you're trying to run away from something, after all.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Speeding up & slimming down (yay!)

Being a new mom is all about numbers. How many hours did the baby sleep? How many times did he feed, spit up, mock Pampers' marketing claims that their diapers are "leak proof"?

And then there's that important number we don't always like to talk about: the one on the scale. How close (or far) are we to pre-pregnancy weight?

When you're a new mommy who also runs, there's another number that matters to you, a LOT. Your pre-pregnancy pace.

I am thrilled and honored and ecstatic and delighted to report that I am tightly closing in on both these numbers. I've got five pounds to go to be the old, pre-baby me, and thirty seconds per mile to go to get my old, unencumbered pace back. My clothes aren't quite zipping up the way they used to due to a stretched out belly and a little extra padding on top (thanks to nursing.) But for the most part, I feel like the old me. Yay!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Am I starting from square one?

Confession: I really did think that one day, I'd have my husband watch my newborn son, put on my shoes, and run an easy 6 miles in slightly less than an hour.

Now that scenario may happen... but it's not happening anytime soon. He's 2 months old, and right now there's nothing "easy" about 6 miles. And I certainly couldn't finish them in less than an hour.

Today I ran 5 miles. And afterwards, had the runner tummy issues I previously only experienced after doing major long distance runs.

The concept of "muscle memory" seems to apply to spin class, the elliptical and just about everything BUT running. Sigh...