Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After The Doc...

So yep, he says 14 days, but I'm going to try to do a long run after 12 days (don't really want to miss my running club for the long Sunday run). That being said, how will I best use this running break?

First, I'm going to lose some weight! Its hard to reduce calories when you are running, as the energy is sooo needed before and after a run. But if I'm relying on the elliptical for my exercise (and maybe even get those kettlebell exercises in that I've been wanting to do but haven't found the time!), I can easily do less calories and still not feel so drained. So, I'm saying it right here for all to hear...doing strict "healthy" Atkins starting today. Extremely minimal carbs, except maybe once/day (after all, I need some fruit some times!)....but absolutely no bread, pasta, rice, cereal, etc. Heavy on the veggies and protein (goal of at least 100 grams/day) and no added fat/carbs/sweets. I can't see going under 1200 calories/day, but I'll try to target 1000, knowing I have room for more if/when I need it. I'll up my B vitamins and ensure I take everything I need.

Goal: Drop 8 pounds in 14 days. Now, that being said, I'm sure 4 pounds is just water weight, so I only expect to drop 2 pounds/week of real "fat" weight.

I think this is doable. I know its going to take a serious effort, but I'm focused. Thanksgiving is over, and the kids scheduled events are finally over for the semester, so we can be better at cooking proper foods at home...and seriously, thats why its been so hard to lose any weight these last 3 months!!! Schedules have been so hectic that we eat whatever is convenient, and while most of it is at home, its still not always the best options. But, I haven't gained anything, so thats something. I just seem to continue to go up and down within a 7 pound range without effort....but since I haven't really tried (even though the lukewarm desire has been there somewhat) I am hopeful that I can sustain it for the solid 2 weeks.

I would really love to his the 140s prior to Christmas...and this could get me there! I need to look at this 2-week hiatus as an opportunity to lose weight, rather than focus it as a punishment not to run.

What's strange with weight loss and weight gain, at least that I've found for me....is that it is so easy to put on weight. Really, we can add an extra something every day and before you know it, we've gained more than just a few pounds of water weight. But, to lose weight? It takes a real concerted effort! Our bodies are perfect machines (at least somewhat), since our bodies naturally plateau within a given weight range. Cutting back calories a few hundred/day really doesn't work. I can easily cut back 300 calories/day and count religiously for weeks and not see a single change in the scale. Seriously, all else staying the same, I should see a difference! Our bodies just quickly adapt to the different energy levels available. But, if I severely cut back calories and increase (even temporarily) my energy demands, my body simply cannot adapt...so, I lose weight. Problem is...losing weight has to be a dramatic effort. Gaining weight takes no effort. I'm ready for the dramatic effort. Its been months since I've focused on this (actually right before I started this blog was my last true effort..and I did really well!), but I feel I'm ready again.

So, whats the problem? I have Bit 'O Honey in my bag, and I will have to hide it from myself now :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back on the wagon...but with a break

Long weekend is over. I got in some miles but not nearly as many as I would have liked. That being said, I'm going to take 10 days off from running, starting tomorrow. I'm seeing the doc then, and I'm predicting that this is what he will say. I can handle it...it will bother me, but in the long run its good. In a few days, I'll jump on the elliptical for some low-impact exercise and keep up my miles with that regimen. It won't be the same, but that's ok. I'm focusing on the big picture right now.

My next race is scheduled for 12/16....a jingle bell run. I should be 100% for that. And, its only a 5K, so I'm not stressed. My goal is to do it in under 29 minutes. Possible? Yes. Probable? We shall see!

In the mean time, I'm going to play around with my training schedule to see if this is going to seriously stress my plans. Again, elliptical will be my focus, so I'll get something in there...just not running.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Trot 5-Mile Race

This was a first for me...this is truly a non-profit race at its finest. There were an estimated 750 runners and no race fees. Yup, you heard that right. No race fees whatsoever. It was suggested that you did preregister for this race, as on-site registration was expected to be limited. So, I pre-registered a few weeks before the event. The guidance was to arrive with 1) something for the food bank, and 2) bring some food/drink to share. Yup, that was the entrance fee....food.

Obviously, the race still took a lot to put on....and did I say that this was a timed event? So, the expense was real, but because the desire to collect a ton of food seemed so worthy to the Bradenton Runners Club, they put the whole thing together with no expectation of any reimbursement. Now that I have seen it in action, I must say, I'm very glad that I joined this club. Its quite an endeavor to do all of this! Between the cones and the course marshalls, and the police stationed at the half-way point, organizing the medic tent and having the medics drive the course, the street closure, the bibs, the timing, managing/posting the results....all to collect a little bit of food...its certainly a lot of effort!

I digress...so, we got there around 7:30 (race was scheduled to start at 8am). Joe dropped off me and the kids, while he parked. Given that this is a national memorial surrounded by residential streets, the parking required a hike...and given that my son walks as slow as molasses, he just HAD to drop us off. So, we first took our two bags of food donations to the drop space (I cleaned out our pantry last night and identified all the food that would expire in the next month which I don't think we would consume), and then we went to drop off the two boxes of protein bars that I brought to share....then we headed over to the registration table and got my bib.

There were definitely people signing up on-site, but I realized afterwards that many didn't have "proper" bibs (pieces of paper with names and scribbled numbers), so they obviously ran out of them...that being said, I suppose I can assume that the race exceeded 750 runners then. I'm so glad that it doesn't appear that any runner was turned away though!

We stopped by the porta potties and my son INSISTED on using the blue potty (after all, it is his favorite color), and then ran into a few people that I've run with before as part of my sunday runs with the running club. We eventually ran into someone we were expecting to see, Alissa....she has a child the same age as my daughter, so the husbands played while the kids played while the mothers run. The plan was that once we started the race, they would walk the trails throughout the park and play. There are mangroves, boardwalks, and trails right against the water, and its almost entirely shaded with a beautiful secluded view of tampa bay on the southern end. Actually, its a perfect place to bring kids to play, even if there is no playground in the area!

So, we line up....close to the front. I knew we would be passed by a lot of people, but then again, the immediate road was so wide, I don't think we would be in anyone's way...which proved correct. Honestly, I did think I was ok with the pace even though it was faster than normal...about 9:30 minutes/mile. We ran south and then towards Robinson Preserve, and then through some other quiet neighborhoods where there is a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. The water stop was right before the 2 mile mark, and right at 2.5 miles, there was a turnaround...easy to spot since there was a police car there with the lights flashing. On the return, I grabbed some water and slowed for a little walk. I actually was very pleased with my time...first 3 miles was solid. But then, the dreaded wall was hit. The next 1.5 miles was a series of short walks and runs....
had difficulty finding the stamina to continue on under a 10 minute/mile pace. Actually I was quite disappointed in this. Every time I would look at my watch, I'd realize that there was just 17 minutes, 12 minutes 6, minutes, etc to go...and say that I could run that....and then a few minutes later, I found myself walking for 30 seconds.

So, I'm on the final leg...about 4 minutes left and I run the rest without a break....that being said, I found a kick at the end. So, I think the problems I was having was definitely more mental than physical, as I obviously had something left. My final 200 yards was actually nice! It felt solid and fast and gazelle-like! As you can see from the above chart, I was speedy that last portion of the race!

Final official time has yet to be posted, but I think its right at the 50 minute mark. While I wasn't pleased with the walking breaks (yes, they were all very short, but they were also very common...just look at the next chart!), the overall total time was respectable.

In fact, I do think I'll be pushing for a 1 hour 10K in mid-January...and it seems plausible that I could do that with the right training between now and then. I just need to get in the miles and not over-do the front end....so I won't have to suffer on the back end.

So, would I do this race again? Absolutely. First, its so convenient. Second, its a great distance to push yourself, as its after a lot of the neighborhood/regional 5Ks and before the half marathon season. Third, its for a good cause. Fourth, it was a seamless operation...really run well. While yes, its a small race, I didn't see a single area that had to be improved upon, except for maybe seeing some runners come with a single can of green beans and thats all. Sadly, I bet a lot of runners didn't even come with anything, but there is nothing you can do about that...people are what they are.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Are you a smart racer? Run the tangents!

I remember looking at my garmin after the women's running 5k race, and I saw that I completed 3.19 miles. Now, the race is obviously only 3.1 miles....so was my garmin wrong? Or, did I run much more than I needed to?

So, stepping back...what do I mean by running the tangents? Well, to understand that, one must understand how a race is calculated by the race director. A race is measured by the shortest distance along the route. This rarely follows the drive a car would take on the road.

Its natural to run in a "lane", but this encourages many racers run a longer distance and thus increase their time for the race. A tangent is a straight line that just touches a curve. In other words, its the shortest distance possible between point A and point B while staying within the confines of the road/course marks. When a race-course is measured and certified, the course follows the tangents to the curves, and by running those tangents, you run the measured distance. If you don't run the tangents, you run a longer distance. Look at the diagram that follows:

The black line clearly delineates the road. A car/bike will follow the green (assuming you are not in England!). If you want to minimize the distance you are running, you should run the red line.

Strangely, I was running the tangents, or so I thought. I remember several moments during the race where it felt as if I was the ONLY person doing so....so I can only imagine how long of a run most raced!

Now, why would you NOT want to run the tangent? There are some obvious benefits to not adhering to this rule 100%. Some prefer to run the yellow line...its not cambered at all. So, there is less chance of knee injury, but then again, it can be slippery (more of an issue for the barefoot runner). Also, running the tangent can be riskier since its often more crowded and there is more debris, and since its more crowded you can't always see the debris that you shoud be dodging!

Obviously, you don't want to run more than you need to if you are running for time...and who isn't in a race! At the time you save is not as important as caring for your safety....so its a balancing act.

Long Weekend...Ready to pack on the miles!

I've been planning out my next few weeks for the half marathon training, and I do think I will take 10-14 days off of running for my knee to be 100%. I'd much rather do that early in the training than be faced with this dilemma 2-3 weeks prior to a big race! Now, one could say that putting in all these miles now will just worsen my knee. But, I do think it won't make it worse. Its consistent...always a bit of discomfort here and there for a few days after a run. But, it also always goes away after that. Its never so bad that I feel that its truly injured and needs major rest, but its there nonetheless. So, I'm considering a longer break, but I want to get my miles in before to somehow counter the break. So, I plan on putting in significant miles this week/weekend:

  • I ran last night.

  • I have a group run during lunch today.

  • I have the 5-mile turkey trot tomorrow morning.

  • I will run again Friday after work (I fully expect that we'll let everyone out early).

  • We are traveling to legoland Saturday, so I'll try to run after dinner there...fortunately the park closes at 6pm and we plan on just grabbing a rotisserie chicken from Publix for dinner, so while Joe preps that, I'll run.

  • Then, Sunday, I'm hoping for a longer run.

  • Monday is another group run during lunch...then I'll take a hiatus.

Total miles-wise, this will still put me behind my mileage goals, but I'll try to use the elliptical religiously while I'm taking the time off to keep in shape. I just need to listen to my body right now, as I don't want this pain to continue throughout the half marathon training. But, I guarantee that the miles will be done via the elliptical! Gotta dust that baby off now!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just not motivated?

I wasn't. First day of my training regimen, and I swear, I simply didn't want to leave the house! I got home, and Joe quickly disappeared to go play basketball. Fed the kids, washed the dishes, got dressed in my running apparel....waited and lost every ounce of motivation that I had (and it wasn't much to begin with!). Joe got home, and I quickly put on my socks and shoes and garmin....and sat. I know if I didn't go now, I wouldn't go at all. And, I knew that I had to go....after all, this was my first official training run! So, I headed out the door.

I got about 30 feet and started running. It was not a great run, speed wise, but very solid. Even performance throughout and a slight negative split at the end. A few months ago, I would have been so proud of myself...but it simply felt blah to me.

But, the point is...I did it. I wasn't excited for it. I didn't want it. But, I'm glad I did it.

Now, maybe I'll look forward to my little run tomorrow with a tad more enthusiasm :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Half Marathon Training - Week 1

Today is officially the first day of my 12-week half marathon training! I started with Hal Higdon's Novice plan, but modified it to incorporate the running club's standard runs on Sunday, as well as my running schedule during lunch at work (with my newly-formed running club)...and sprinkling in some additional runs at home by myself. I think it will do the trick.

I feel like I have a very solid base now. The only worry I have is my right knee. I fear its going to plague me for several months....but we'll work through it week by week and pull back if it simply seems to be too much.

So, this week, I plan on the following:
Tuesday: Evening Run at Home - 3 Miles
Wednesday: Lunch Run at Work - 2.5 Miles
Thursday: Turkey Trot Race - 5 Miles
Sunday: Morning Run in Orlando - 4 Miles

So, the long run for the week is actually a no-chip timing for-bragging-rights-only charity run Thanksgiving morning. Fortunately, this is just 3 little miles away from home...so how could I say no! I won't be running a long Sunday run with the running club, as we are going to Orlando for Saturday and staying over the night....but don't worry. We will get our exercise, as we are going to walk around Legoland all day on Saturday!

I also need to find a way to squeeze in 3 kettlebell strength training sessions every week....maybe just 20 minutes each. Should be doable, but I just need to stay determined and focused in order to avoid any excuses that I dream up!

So, 15 miles are planned....lets see how well I can hold to it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Women's Running 5k Race

Got up at 5:45am, made myself a shake, got dressed and was out the door by 6:10am. St Pete isn't too far away, and I do drive by it every day to/from work, so I knew the route pretty well....got off the 175 highway right around 6:45, and followed all the "hard to miss" signs directing drivers to a parking lot. Unfortunately, the signs directed everyone to the same lot, or so it seemed. Weird since there were other lots south of this location, which would have been easier to access from the 175 highway. I digress....there I am literally parked (or at least it felt that way) for a g00d 25 minutes just trying to enter the parking garage! Once in I realize it had nothing to do with the amount of parking spaces left, but moreso to do with the length of time the entrance machine takes to process a single $3 parking charge! But alas, I am eventually parked and head down to the Al Lang area where the 90+ porta potties reside. I make the requisite visit to the porta potty, and then 5 minutes later I get right back in line...a necessary step for me. I then venture down to the 5k corral area, which really wasn't an area at all....actually it was just outside of the formal half marathon corral area. We were basically behind them with no formal "corral lines" surrounding us, so we got bumped around a bit with the half marathoners trying to get into location. Not a big deal, but it did make it hard to spot my 2 runners from work. I did manage to find one prior to the race, and we made another trip to the porta potties together :)

Went back to the corrals and headed up to the starting line. I was about 8 rows back, so not too much traffic to contend with in front of me. Got through the finish line with nary a bump.

First mile was steady and slightly uphill from the waterfront. Sights seen.....a high school cheerleading squad (surprising, but nice!), a small band (played quite well...great street sound), and then a nicely-equipped water station at the 1-mile marker. The next mile was flat and looped around mirror lake, and then met up with the next water station at around the 2-mile mark. The final mile ran slightly uphill again, and then was downhill most of the way back to the water. Strange, as one would think the downhill would be easy, but seriously was fighting major wind at this point! The final .2 miles was along the waterfront, and the finish line was right in front of the Dali museum. I managed to push it and really picked up the pace the final leg. Garmin isn't exactly 3.1, but definitely indicates what I experienced. Average cadence was 88spm, with a max cadence of 91spm. Pleased.

We did eventually find the other runner....waited by the food and she came in soon after the first one. They were 37 minutes and 38 minutes...quite well showing for first time runners. Both have less than 3 months of running, so I was quite pleased with seeing their pride!

So, we shared some bananas, granola bar,s frozen strawberries and water....then had a few cookies from Publix (soft batch kind...yummy). Check our my "official" stats...final time was 29:42. Overall, I was #136 out of 1063 finishers. I was also #17 out of 132 in my age group. Yes, I was quite pleased!

So, after hanging out for awhile and seeing the gazelles which are the top runners in the half come in, I head back to the parking garage....lo and behold, cars will not be able to exit for an estimated 2.5 hours! Yikes! Everyone was displeased about this, even the half marathoners that parked there. Apparently, there were signs in the stairwells and elevators which indicated this, but they were mostly torn down the day prior (per the security guard). That being said, it was soooo unclear from the womensrunning website where the parking garages were situated...and even if you knew where it was, the entrance to the parking lot wasn't clear on the map, so even if you did compare the garage to the closed roads, you would be wrong. All of the information from them was spot on...but this one map provided only online was so hard to read, that I basically gave up on even trying. Sure, they did provide all the detail on the anticipated road closings, so maybe its partially my fault here, but seriously, in the middle of darkness arriving here, one should expect that if you are directed to a parking garage that it would be somewhat accessible escaping after the fact.

So, we wait. Its a tad before 10am, and the police tell us that they will try to get us out in the next 10 minutes. So, we pile into cars and go down the winding exit ramp several floors below. Unfortunately, there were two parked cars blocking the way! I would presume that since they were told that they were blocked in for awhile, they went for a stroll. While I don't entirely blame them, they must also realize that it is simply unacceptable to leave your vehicle if its not in a "proper" parking space. The police said that they cannot tow since its private property and the security guard said he's not necessarily authorized to tow (thinking because he told everyone that they probably cannot escape for another 1+ hour?). So, the police finally give guidance...have the guard call a tow truck. But that will take some time.....in the meantime, they will open up the "entrance" so all the cars in this winding garage exit ramp had to back up and go down another winding garage entrance ramp to escape...but we get out, and I'm home before 11am :)

Both coming and going with this garage was insane. That being said, every other part of the race was fabulous. The layout of the race, the entertainment, the water stations, the directions, everything great. I hope next year they make the parking map much more legible and maybe even indicate suggestions were 5kers should park.

Will I run this race again next year? Oh yes...I'll be going for the half marathon :) So, even if the parking issue doesn't improve, it won't matter since I'll be finishing way later than this year!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Race Goals

So, I'm torn....I've convinced a few newbies to run the race with me...it will be their first 5k distance! I'm excited for them, so I'd enjoy running with them. But, I also want to see if I can run a 5K in under 30 minutes. Honestly, they don't expect me to run with them...they think I'll just wait for them to cross the finish line and I'll cheer them on, so I'm tempted to try to run my best. But, these are my little chicks...I got them running during lunch with the C25K program, and I'm so proud of them. But, if I run alone, I will finish ahead of them and will be potentially able to take pics of them crossing the finish line...which I'm sure that they would appreciate.

Run with them? Run alone? I suppose I need to make a decision soon enough! But, I will think about it one more night :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Frostbite in Florida

I know I have sensitive skin...this is no surprise. But, I had the ice pack on my knee for an entire 20 minutes...and now have three areas of frostbite. Argh. I hate this. Its happened before and usually takes a full 24 hours to dissipate, so I'm glad that I'll be wearing pants tomorrow.

Suppose I should remember to put something between the gel pack and my skin, but the ice knee pack simply isn't designed that way. Am I really the only runner out there with such sensitive skin?

Women's Running Expo

Just got back from the expo. I actually went with a newbie runner (one of my girls from the running club at work that I conned into running the 5K). She was quite overwhelmed by the entire experience...so I thought maybe others would be as well, so I'll summarize the steps that we went through.

First, you follow the signs for "race packet pickup" and find your name on the board to identify your bib number. For a large race like this, emails are typically sent to the participants with their number, so no need to look it up...but in case you didn't bring your email and/or memorize it, the board is handy.

If you brought the email for pick-up, you simply sign/date the form. If you didn't, there were plenty of empty papers available to fill out.

We immediately got into line at the 5K table to pick up our bibs. The 5K tables are separate from the Half Marathon tables.....we received blue bibs and the others received pink bibs. I was hoping for pink, but alas, I can easily live with baby blue :) They took our signed consent form, checked our ID, handed us our bibs and encouraged us to steal four safety pins.

There are two tear-offs from the bibs received. The first one provides you a goody bag, which was adjacent to the bib pickup tables. We gathered our "oh so pink" designer goodie bag. So, what was in it? The pink bag, magazine with a TON of inserts (as usual), gu chomps, two dole snacks, emergen-c, softlips sugar & spice (nice), aquaphor sample, freeze-it sample. All in all, not bad.

The race shirt was picked up next...man, those run large. I requested a Medium, and it seemed definitely at least one size too big. Cute and simple...no advertisement on the back, which is a plus. I just wish I ordered a small....if it doesn't shrink, my daughter will gladly use it for PJs!

We then entered the expo. Immediately picked up some cute give-aways from Publix (one of the main sponsors). They provided a plastic flexible/foldable vase....yes, you heard that right. Fill this little pouch with water and it expands and holds its shape. If you are ever given a bouquet of flowers without a vase, you can immediately pull one out of your purse and say "voila!" ...everything is right with the world. Actually, this thing may come in handy at work when flowers are delivered to me...hint hint hubby :) Also, we received a pink Publix-logo "yowie" multi-functional headwear....I could use this in the winter maybe. You never know.

Next, we ventured over to the Sweaty Bands store. I do like their store set-up....easy to try everything on, which they encourage. But, more importantly, no shipping fee :) I picked up 3...couldn't resist. The more I run during lunch at work, the more I value a good headband to look ok in the afternoon. And yes, I know they are all polka dots...they simply attracted me today, what can I say?

After that major expense, I did view the Women's Running booth...didn't take a cover photo of their magazine, but did pick up a properly-sized medium shirt that was just too cute not to pass up. It is a nice cotton stretchy shirt (perfect with jeans or whatnot) that says "Live Laugh Run" and it was only $15...easy to justify :)

My pocket was empty after that, which is fine...because I didn't really NEED anything else. We did check out the current season items for RunningSkirts and SkirtSports, as well as added our names to a few chance lotteries. Who knows...maybe we will win a shopping spree at Fit2Run or SweatyBands!

All in all it was well organized. We did get in the registration line at 11am, which is when it opened, and while they were a little late opening the doors, everything was smooth. I cannot imagine what the place will look like after work today, so I'm very very pleased that we did it DURING lunch.

So, 2 more nights and we will be up at the crack of dawn ready to run!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trust the Training Program

Even when you start out with baby steps, such as the C25K program, you need to do the work and trust the program. So many people become disengaged and too easily give up on the effort. Why? Because they don't think they will complete, so wasting 9+ weeks and having nothing to show for it seems ridiculous...giving up early is too easy.

Erin has just started the C25K program. She is in week 4 and is dying (not literally). She thinks she's failing because its still so hard. She's ready to quite. So, what did I tell her? Quite simply, I told her to do Week 2...just one day. She needs to do this to prove to herself how far she's already come. She can easily do a day in Week 2's training and sail through it easily! Only when you step back do you ever realize how far you've come!

What does this give you? If gives you a sense of accomplishment when you need it most. It gives you a sense of purpose, that moving forward and pushing yourself will get you there. And, it gives you a sense of pride.

Trust in your training plan. It may not be the best, for you...but it will get you where you need to be. Once you are there, you will have a better sense of what worked for you and what didn't and then you can tweak that plan or ditch it and grab a new one entirely. But, its worth it...stick with it and reap those rewards.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knees please...

I have not run since my long run on Sunday. I really wanted to run to my daughter's softball game (and back) last night like I've done for the last several weeks....but I was still a bit tentative due to my knee pain. I'm pretty sure its bone, not muscle/ligament/tendon. I'm glad I didn't push myself...but I just had to get outside today.

So, I ran a tad...nothing significant...just with the Lunch Bunch crew, working on their C25K Week 6 Day 2. 2 miles in the books. Sure, its not much, but at least I don't have a big old goose egg for the week anymore.

Lets just hope I don't feel any issues! I plan on running Friday night, and then again at the 5K race Sunday. Pray to the knee gods for me, please?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How do you become a better runner?

What is "being a better runner”? What does it mean to you? Does it mean you want to be faster? You want to run longer distances? To run injury-free with better form? To get better, you need to understand what your definition is. Maybe its all of the above....

I want to be a better runner. And while I want all of the above, I'm focusing on small steps...incremental improvements to get there. If you've ever taken a Franklin Covey class, its all about reviewing your long-term goals and finding small things you can do on a regular basis towards attaining that big goal. So, right now, I'm focusing on increasing my mileage to handle a 10K race (in January well). Once I feel that I can easily run 6 miles straight, I'll work on increasing that speed. Once I manage that, I'll increase my distance again to handle the half marathon distance (in February-April), and once I'm confident about that, I'll focus on increasing that speed.

I simply can't take a bite out of everything...so I need to work on one little goal at a time, something manageable and not too overwhelming or unobtainable. So, speed will be set aside for now, while I work on getting the mileage in and strengthening my bones. While I know my bones have strengthened since I started, they are still not 100% for the 10K distance. How awful it would be to finish a 10K race and feel great about it, only to take off 4-6 weeks of running to recover, and because of that, not be able to run the half marathon races I've signed up for! So, I'm taking it small....handling it in increments, and hopefully will reap the rewards.

Not quite right..

So, I wussed out. I only ran 6.9 miles today (delayed turning the garmin on at the beginning, so the garmin reading is a tad low). I was going for more...but my knee has been reminding me for a few days that its not 100%. I would have ventured and done more, but when I got to the running location for the club, some had already decided that they wanted a shorter run....so that made it so easy to scale back.

I'm very glad I did for 2 reasons. First, I absolutely KNOW that you should NOT increase mileage from 6.3 miles on your long run one week to 9+ miles the following week. Second, I felt that I needed to ice my knee TWICE today (once immediately after and once several hours later).

So, fate dealt me a nice hand today. I'm not sure how I will get my miles in next week. I plan on running at work only twice this week and also my normal run Tuesday nights to/from my daughter's softball game, and Saturday we are off to Orlando (Joe has a baseball tournament there, so I'll take the kids to the Ice! experience), and Sunday is my Women's Running 5k. But, maybe the unintentional taper will be helpful for Sunday's run...I really think I can go under 30 minutes...at least that is my goal!

Maybe I'll try to run Friday night (while Joe and the kids are off at a football game)...time will tell. Hopefully I can get in at least 5 miles. Wow....did you hear that? "At Least" ....those words came from me! Who is this girl that I've become!?!?!?! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Year is 2025...

...and my children are 19 and 18. They have grown up and become valuable, thoughtful adults. But, how would their lives be different if I didn't change my ways?

If I didnt get fit....my children would always think that being healthy is not something anyone should strive for, and being the typical inactive "couch potatoe" is normal.

My adult children are mildly overweight, which is the norm in this country. I don't think they are anywhere near being diabetic, but it always worries me. We think a size 12 is perfectly fine for women, and yet its quite large if you look at any European country. They are "normal" by these sickly American standards. They do not exercise, and since gym has been cut from the educational budgets, they don't even know how to play sports...but rest assured, they do know the rules simply by watching television on the couch every night. My daughter is consumed about her appearance. She is mildly obsessive about her weight, and goes through stages of loving the attention that she gets about her breast size, but also stages of hating her legs, arms, face. She simply doesn't appreciate everything her body can do for her. It is not a healthy view of her own abilities/body. This sometimes leads her to be a bit more depressed than she otherwise would be. She seems to thrive on male attention as a result, to counter this negative worry, and I fear that she is being more risky in her behavior than is healthy. This worries me, especially when she's away at college. She has put on additional weight due to the emotional stress of being away from home, and I fear her health is being negatively affected.

If I stayed where I am (now)... my children assume that being active and healthy is something we all simply do, not the minority. Its been a part of their entire lives and they wouldn't know what to do without!
My adult children are active and healthy. My daughter is a freshman in college and runs throughout the week, and she plays college softball on a partial scholarship. My son is a senior in high school and runs track. They are both athletic and have high self esteem. My daughter is proud of what her body can do. She seeks admiration of her speed and agility, and as such, has a strong sense of selfworth. She is interested in boys, but only mildly, as she has her own pursuits and if the boys can't keep up, she won't stop for them! She eats healthy most of the time, and indulges some of the time. She is accustomed to competition that sports has taught her, and enjoys the comradarie of being a part of a team, but also loves to excel individually as well.

Now, I focus on my daughter in the above analogy, simply because girls worry me more than boys. Boys are socially more active, and they obsess less about their weight and appearance than women do. Young girls are also more prone to view their body's faults than view the amazing things their bodies can do! There is also a significant correlation between a young girl being in athletics and achieving high academics; likewise, there is a correlation between athletics and less teen pregnancy and less drug/alcohol experimentation. Given this, its now more important than ever to be strong, fit role models for our own children!

Of course, some may say that the results of not being healthy are far from normal, and the results of being fit are atypical. But, the statistics support these two views. Being fit and active, especially as a young woman, encourage a girl to see herself for more than just her gender. I'm so fearful that she will only seek out positive attention from others, through any means necessary, rather than find pride in herself. And, if me getting fit and staying fit helps support this view, I will do it as much as humanly possible. I simply need to remind myself that my two little ones won't be so little soon enough...and I only have so much time to mold them to be healthy adults.

Schwaggle This!

Ok, I'm officially addicted to schwaggle, and my wallet hurts. Have you ever tried this site out? Its actually managed by active.com, but they simply don't advertise it nearly enough! Schwaggle is a deal site, where they have some incredible offers on a regular basis. Some are location based (eg SF area), while others are online deals. Now, given that I live in a sleepy little beach community, there are rarely going to be deals in my area, so I focus on the national online deals. But, I have been able to try out Zenzah compression socks for a mere $25 (with free S&H), PR Bars, and a few other items that I simply couldn't justify trying before....afterall, this stuff is not cheap...and if you don't know if you will like something or not, you simply cannot afford to pay full price! But, for half off, you may be able to justify it. Now, they did just start the "tampa" deals, so maybe I'll actually be able to take advantage of some of these, since they are quite close to my office...hmmmm....this could be dangerous!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Strides per Minute

We have heard of cadence and strides...but what is optimal for a runner? What does it all mean?

Simply put, stride rate or cadence is the number of footfalls taken by a runner, usually measured in minute increments. Its important to learn good form to minimize running injuries...and cadence is one of the primary elements to this!

First, let me state that generally speaking cadence is measured in "strides per minute" or "steps per minute" ...now, most runners will equate this to the number of individual footfalls/steps per minute, while garmin equates this to strides per minute (how many times the right foot lands, or left foot, but not both). Garmin is unique in this approach, and yet, this is how "cadence" is defined for cyclists, so to be consistent in the use of their equipment and therefore their definitions, SPM is strides per minute. So, if your Garmin is stating 90 spm, this is generally considered 170-190 spm in layman's terms....so shoot for 180!

Your cadence is not a result of how fast you are going. If you are running fast, you generally do not have a higher cadence than if you are running slow. If you are running fast, generally your stride length increases.

A cadence of 90 strides per minute is generally considered optimal for a runner. Why? According to Jack Daniels in Running Formula:

The main disadvantage of this slower turnover is that the slower you take steps, the longer you spend in the air, and the longer you’re in the air, the higher you displace your body mass and the harder you hit the ground on landing. When you consider that many running injuries are the result of landing shock, it’s not surprising that experienced runners tend to turn over faster than beginning runners do.

Simply put, the more steps you take in a minute, the less shock your body is undertaking. So, now that you know WHY you should be striving for foot turnover, how do you do it?

The best method is to select music for your target cadence. There are running metronomes, as well as garmin's footpod to help you better analyze your current running cadence. I found that just having the footpod has made me more aware of my cadence. I started in August with an average cadence of 82spm (garmin-speak) and now average 88spm. My speed has also greatly improved as a result! I have yet to focus on lengthening my stride, so I know that my speediness is primarily a result of foot turn-over. Of course, what my perfect cadence is may not be another's, but simply being aware of it and its impact in your overall running goals can certainly help you step in the right direction!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm going for time....

Next race is on 11/20...the Women's Running Magazine 5K in St. Pete. My goal.....drumroll please....under 30 minutes.

According to my handy dandy calculator on my "tool" page, if I can run 1.6 miles in 14:21, I should be able to run a 5K in under 30 minutes...so thats what I'm going for.

Yep...I'm stating it for all the world to see. Hope I rise to the challenge!

Pray to the Running Gods...

I find myself really good at guiding others what to do when they take their first steps and try to run. I tell them the most important thing (and drill it in until they can repeat it), when you are new...never ever run back-to-back days. They get it...and when they do run back-to-back, its never more than 2 miles. I find that I'm successful in that regards.

However, for myself, I often find myself forcing myself to run cautiously...reminding myself to pray to the running gods. After that initial stress fracture when I first attempted to run, I have had no injuries....a sore knee on a few occassions, but thats it. Not even a blister has come my way!

And yet, I'm planning on foregoing this "safe" practice next Sunday. I want to run that entire 11 miles with the club. I think i can do it. But, is it safe? No. Is it significantly more miles than I have ever run at one time? Yes. You know that 10% rule for runners....I'm so pushing that off of a cliff. Even if I chose only to do the 9 mile run, its still a lot more than I ever have done.

Yes, to the running gods, I will pray....please let me pain-free after next Sunday's run.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rock n Roll St Pete Kick-Off Party

Took place at Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill, which is adjacent to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

While they did have a discount for registering (which came with a tee), I didn't do that since I already registered. That being said, I did get a preview of the course!

So, it appears pretty flat...of course. and some chances for some decent views, but also quite a few chances for wind. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Coach Wannabe to Future Coach

I was just discussing not too long ago about my interest in getting the RRCA coaching certification....lo and behold, this morning I receive an email and they will be offering the coaching class in my backyard next March! So, I signed up...looks like I will be an official RRCA Coach early next year!

Now, am I really qualified to utilize this title? Well, not yet. But by the time the course takes place, I will have two half marathons under my belt (as well as one 10K and one 15K), which makes me able to tell people that I'm really a runner :)

So, why do I want to do this? Sure, its kinda cool to have this certification...but I think its two-fold. First, I want to see how I can improve my own running. I've seen great improvements due to everything I've read and tried to incorporate, but I want to know how to do it right. I know it doesn't replace having a coach which can SEE what you are doing (unless someone videotapes me of course), but maybe I can help myself along significantly? I don't have a problem being my own guinea pig :) Besides, its cheaper to get this and work on what I learn from this experience than to pay a coach for a few months.

Second, I'm really taking on the "coach" role as part of our running club at work. While I can talk the talk to those that have no experience, I really would like to gain some confidence that I'm doing it right, you know? I certainly don't want to ruin the experience and guide them incorrectly...so this would certainly allow me the opportunity to know I'm doing it properly.

So, I'm excited about the opportunity...but also a bit intimidated. Do I really belong there? Is it appropriate for me to take space in a class opposed to someone more qualified? Since technically anyone can register and get certified, I suppose I may be the minority but certainly not an oddity.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

First Group Run....a Success!

So, I finally felt confident enough to join a group run with the running club that I joined months ago. I wanted to start in August, but thought it would be too much pressure for the pace/distance. So, I had that strong 4.5 mile run Friday night and said, sure...I'll go for it.

So, the first 4.5 miles was on and off again. The wind was strong, and they apparently were running faster than typical, so part of it was more effort to keep up, but I did it and was not last :) Then, there was a short 10 minute gatorade/powerade/water break, and then the group did another 1.5 mile out-and-back. I felt strong after that still, but the first 2-3 minutes after the break was tough on my legs...they thought they were done working for the morning! But after the initial 2-3 minutes, I was actually able to pick up the pace and get near the lead group (which primarily consisted of teens). We stopped back at the water stop for a few...and I made the decision not to go all the way back with the bigger group. I felt strong at that point, but didn't want to push it too much. After all, I did just do 6.3 miles (longer than I ever did before), and doing the entire 11 was probably too much of a shock to my system!

So, the "water duty" person gave me a lift back to my car....otherwise, I would have had to wait for the trolley (which is free at least) to go back to the beach parking lot.

I really felt good though...I do think I would have been able to finish the additional 4.5 miles! Granted, when I got out of the car after that 5 minute drive, I felt my legs immediately, but after walking for a minute or two on the way to my car, they felt fine. Yes, even after this, I think I could have completed the 11 miles.

I'm actually a bit surprised by this! I wasn't the slowest out there, but again, I was exerting more effort compared to the others where this is by far their slowest run. Doesn't matter though....I was proud of my accomplishments...and I do think I'll go for that 11 miles next week :) If I'm able to do most sunday runs with them, I will definitely be ready for my first half in February! Maybe I can even target 2:15 as my goal, right? Sure, there are two significant breaks on this 11 mile weekly jaunt, but I will be so prepared and have a solid base going into the race! I'm excited to join them again next week!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dear Santa....

I've been really good this year, and my list isn't too long. Maybe you can help a girl out?
  • Knuckle Lights or Firefly for night running...afterall, Santa wants me to be safe, right?
  • Given Brand Arm Pocket...there are a few capris that have NO zipper...and this is much cheaper than a new pair of capris!
  • FitBit because I really want to make sure I eat enough, but still lose weight and get proper sleep...Santa wants me to be healthy, right?
  • Saucony Headband, because warm ears are important this time of year!
  • Houndstooth Running Skirt, because Santa wants me to be stylish!
  • Chocolate Run Love shirt, because my arms get chilly...and more importantly, I would look so cute in this!
  • Moji One, because none of my body parts should hurt after my half marathon next year.
  • Zenzah Compression Socks, because my half-marathon training plan these next few months require quick recovery, and they will feel oh so good on a plane/car when traveling for said races.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seasons Change...Clothes do as Well!

So, I ran tonight. Was 60 degrees. I stepped outside first and it was chilly (remember, we live in Florida and everything under 70 is frigid!). So, I decided for capris and a long-sleeve tech tee. The capris worked out great! But, when the wind was blowing, my upper body was cold...and when there was no wind, my upper body was hot. Argh....how to regulate for that! Guess I'll need to experiment. I do think I may have been too cold in a short-sleeve tee though. Not many options in between, right?

My Nose is Running when I'm the Only One That Should be Running!

Just imagine (I know its a stretch right now), that you are running outside on a cold day. Your body doesn't want to breathe in cold air to your lungs, so your nose tries its best to warm the air first, before sending it to the lungs. Tiny blood vessels inside your nostrils dilate, helping to warm up that air. While the dilation does help warm the air, it also increases mucus production! Isn't that nice ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Select a Race

Sure, only selecting running races if you are a runner is a good start :) After that, obviously, you want to make sure its a proper distance given the training time and days to the race. And of course, if one needs to travel to get to a race, is the cost/time appropriate. These are all the basics, but what I want to focus on is how you will feel after a race!

Yes, selecting the proper race can have an effect on your self esteem. Who knew, right? Now, if you are not a natural competitor, you can disregard this entire blog postings....but if you are competitive (even if you have never partaken in a running race before - you know who you are), read on.

Step 1: Find a race that meets your initial requirements of distance/location/cost
Step 2: Look at last year's race results
Step 3: For your age/gender, where would your expected finish time rank? If you PRed, would you still be on the bottle half of your rankings? If you ran awfully (compared to your ability), would you still be well ahead of last place?
Step 4: Decide

Yep, I must admit it...thats what I do. I ran a poor race at the Creaky Bones (most of it beyond my control) and yet still placed in the upper 50% for my age/gender. But then a few days later, I run a PR at the Boo Run and still place in the lower 50% for my age/gender. Now, that was disheartening...sad to say.

Sure, I know I'm improving and its all good, but if your goal is to be a certain place in your age group, make sure your expectations are reasonable based on last year's results.

Appreciate your Accomplishments

We often focus on things we cannot do. Human nature.

But, we should always take the time to reflect back on how much we have accomplished. I know the last few days, I've been a bit reflective and have focused on my race pace as not being where I thought it should be on the "official" records. But, I need to rethink that...remember that I could not have done this just a few months ago! I've seriously come a long ways!

I was speaking to my husband last night about the scheduled half marathons next year and he said "I don't know how you can do that" ...he was not being dismissive or unsupportive, but simply thinking that he could never run that distance at a single time. While I'm nervous about it, to say the least (afterall, I have taken a big bite out of this running/race thing), I also realize that I've only been running for a tad over 5 months. I have a very solid 5K base to work with. I have over 3 months to train, and I'll do everything the training says to do!

Sure, its a lot of work...but then again, I need to remind myself, when I'm feeling overwhelmed, about how far I've come...and know that I will get through this. Before you know it, I will have a series of medals on that wall showing how much I have completed in one short year.

Appreciate everything you have gained. Appreciate all that you are. Appreciate everything that you are capable of.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Race Results Postings

There are so many places to post race results online. Seriously, a multitude of websites will "host" the race results, the bigger ones being these three:


There are also all the other regional/national companies that handle the chip timing. Often these companies will post the results on their own websites for posterity.

The running club will also post the race results on their own website for future reference.

Now, that being said, the results that are posted on the first three sites will probably be there almost indefinitely! If a chip timing company fails, the website will fail. If the running club determines not to continue posting an older race, they will remove it. Just be forewarned....if you want to keep your results indefinitely, print out the club's/company's results for yourself. If its on Athlinks, Cool Running or Active, you can rest assurred that it will not simply go poof one day.

There are also a few sites that will post race results even for races that they do not properly host. Running in the USA is an example. But regardless of where its posted, just remember that no company is required to keep your results online forever...hopefully its on one of the bigger sites which host a ton of international events. But if not, save it yourself!

Athlinks & Your RPI (Race Performance Index)

Have you ever used this site? Its a great place to store all of your race results, and better yet, a new feature that they are rolling out later this month actually "grades" you according to your nation-wide peer group! They snuck this feature in a bit ago on everyone's personal results page (simply click on "results", then click on a race listed):

The RPI listed is your "Race Performance Index". As of right now, your RPI lists your performance against your peers in a specific event (Age, Gender and Overall).

The RPI will eventually be universal...across regions/climates/elevations/terrain/distance. Coming soon, your RPI can be used as a measuring point against which to size up, search for, and connect with other runners, triathletes, cyclists, and other endurance athletes in the community.

Plans for the RPI:

  • RPI will be rolled out on for a limited number of race distances in November:Running - 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon.Triathlon - Olympic, Half Iron, and Ironman.

  • During November, Athlinks will gather feedback and additional data points to further develop and massage the Index with a goal of 85% predictability for race finishes based solely on RPI.

  • When the above analysis is complete, Athlinks will calculate RPI for all distances of races....your "goal" pace or target for any other event, not just the ones you have completed!

For the math geeks out there...

  • Combined finish times, totals, and historical and geographically relevant data for each race from 2008 to the present.

  • Plotted those times on a measurable scale from 1 to 100 including one decimal point (1-1000).

  • Accounted for statistical anomalies and normalized the times to account for extreme conditions such as high altitude, heat/humidity, freezing temperatures, etc.

  • Examined each of a user's results at each distance and graphed them along the above scale.

  • Accounted for and removed any high peaks or low valleys outside the normal bounds of good/bad day performance fluctuations.

  • Assigned bonus and penalty points for various markers (to be detailed at a later date).

  • Calculated final RPI scores for each member.

So, for all of those people out there that don't know how they will do in a race...this is it. Only ever run a 5K in warm weather and want to know how you will do in a 10K in cooler weather? This is it. Only run a half marathon near the beach and want to know how you would do in a tri in high altitude? This is it. This system has a ton of potential...I for one cannot wait to see it. So, if you want to be one of the first to play with their predictions, sign up now for a free account!

Also, don't be discouraged if your race isn't readily available in their system. You just supply some basic information, and they will review the race and post the results so you have all of your race results in one place! Kinda cool, eh?

n updated post for RPI is here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Running in the Dark

Well, I wrote about running in the cold and what gear is needed, but then I realized that running in the cold is typically done in the dark! Due to the time change that occurs next week, it will help out a tad, but still, before you know it...all running at home (except on the weekends) will probably be in the dark!

So, am I prepared? I did purchase a new jacket, the Brooks Nightlife jacket. I think its actually last year's model, which is fine with me. I teeter-tottered between the black with yellow and the yellow with black. I knew the yellow is bright! I usually would stuck with the black one (as I would use it for more than just running), but then after rethinking it...I have a ton of other jackets that are versatile with jeans and other apparel, but none that serves this purpose. I realized that the only reason I was ordering it would be to be seen in low light, so why risk not being guaranteed seen? So, I succumbed to the yellow. It is definitely bright and is a bit overhwhelming at first, but I'm comfortable with it now.

I purchased gloves on clearance awhile ago...Brooks Pulse Lite gloves. I actually had a chance to use these when I was running up in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. Its the same yellow/black combo as the jacket. They were very comfortable and the yellow stripe is extemely visible in low light. Absolutely a great investment.

My RoadID/ShoeID also has some reflective stripe on it....its an extremely valuable safety piece to have, and while I wouldn't buy it just for the reflective stripe, every little bit helps!

I must say though, while scouring RoadID's site for the link above, I came across a new product of theirs: FireFly. This is a nice little product regardless of weather...would definitely be used in our house, as my husband often runs at night. In fact, I just put this on his christmas wish list for him :)

Sure, you can also cover your head with some type of reflective gear...hat or something, but I will stick with something that focuses on keeping my ears warm, as my hair covers my neck and head sufficiently for warmth but still allows breathability. There are also tons of options for capris/tights with reflective ability, but I think the above sure do work well. Its a little bit of an investment, but these items will last 10+ years! Seriously, how much wear and tear would a running jacket really get? And a ShoeID? Those things are indestructable! Think of them as investments in your personal safety...no less important than pepper spray if your running in a secluded area.

Chip Timing...Is it that great?

Well, while chip-timed races are better than non-chip-timed races, they are certainly not all created equal! Without chip-timing, there is no verification of your time....its your personal recollection that you can brag about. This is fine for some, but I really like that confirmation of a good race...and besides, I want to link to it for posterity!

But, there are certainly many different types of chip-timing...some just ok and some stellar, and lots in between. But, just for a summary of these (that I've seen so far), here is a ranking (from worst to best):

Scanned - Everyone starts at the same time (gunshot), and when you pass the finish line, your chip is scanned (like the hand-held scanners you see in grocery stores). In this case, to get the best representation of your time, you must start at the front of the start line, and also once you cross the finish line, there should be no pause in getting your chip scanned. Both are impossible, but significant deviations can be mitigated. These chips are often imbedded into your bib.

Gun Shot (No Chip-Timed Start) - Everyone starts at the same time (gunshot), and when you pass the finish line, your chip is scanned by the mat below your feet. In this case, to get the best representation of your time, there should start at the front of the start line. If you start near the back, you will you encounter a ton of congestion and it may take you a significant amount of time simply to cross the start line. These chips are often tied to your shoelaces.

Net Time (Chip-timed start and chip-time finish) - The gunshot is heard, but your "starting time" does not start ticking until you cross the start line. Similarly, the "finish time" does not stop until your cross the finish line. This is the best representation of your personal "net" time. These chips are often tied to your shoelaces.

A few things to note...

  • USATF's standards are based on gunshot when determining the overall winner and/or top awards for age/gender. This is the reason why even great huge amazing races usually seed the best runners to the front of the line.

  • Just because there is a mat at the starting line, don't assume that your "net" time will be recorded. I made this assumption once and it was very disheartening. If you think you are going for a PR, got to the front and then when you pass the start line, just make sure you are out of the faster runner's ways.

  • Oftentimes, your overall placement/time and your "net" time will be available in the official online results, but not always....look at prior year's race results to see how they were presented.

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