Monday, January 30, 2012

Run for Sherry

Just a quick note....please consider running Saturday, February 11th for a very worthwhile cause!It rocked the running world, but we still need to bring non-runners attention to it. For details, please access the link below:

The Long Run...and its Consequences

So, yesterday, I upped my mileage. I did 10.66 miles! I met the group at Manatee Beach on Anna Maria Island and we ran 4.5 miles, then had a 5-minute gatorade stop (the running club provides the gatorade). We then ran an out-and-back of 2 miles, then stopped at the same place for a 5-minute gatorade break. We then ran all the way back to Manatee Beach for 4.5 miles. So, 10.6 miles in 1:47 (with 1:57 elapsed time, according to my garmin). I'm quite pleased with it!

Now, that being said, there were some consequences to this run! Yesterday, I ran Coquina Beach and I know I landed wrong one time. I felt an odd sensation, but my stride was ok and there was no lingering pain. I think it decided to linger until the next day.

Starting out yesterday, every 100-200 steps, I would immediately feel this quick pin pain in my right knee, right on top. Very strange. I tried to focus more on my form and was dreading the thought of having to walk back to the car so soon! I continued to feel it every 300-400 steps. I think I finally realized that the pain occurred when I was over-striding. I focused on taking shorter steps and within a mile, I never noticed the pain again. Note that my average cadence was 90spm (with a max of 99spm)! I've never run with such a fast turnover except at a race.

I felt ok the first 4.5 mile segment, although I know I was the only one looking at my watch! I am, by far, the weakest runner in the main group. They were all chatting away, exchanging stories, while I was just listening to their anecdotes and my heavy breathing :) It was an effort to keep up with them afterall. But, they all have been there, so they knew that I wasn't simply trying to eavesdrop :)

After the first 4.5 miles and that quick break, it always amazes me how hard the next 200 steps are! My body feels sluggish so quickly! My legs feel as if they are 200 pounds. Its like I don't remember how to run! But, I pushed myself forward and followed along. When I returned to the gatorade stop, I didn't dare stay still....constantly walking and stretching.

But, even at that point, I was thinking about asking how to take the shortcut back...there were a few splinter groups from the running club, but I stayed with the biggest one. The shortcut would have shaved off an entire mile. But, I kept my mouth shut and moved with the group. I knew the next 4.5 miles would be a struggle. I managed to keep up with the group for most of it, but the 5 guys were pushing farther, and the girls hung back about 100 feet. Obviously, I stayed with the 2 girls!

Eventually, a few guys left as they lived nearby, and one of the girls moved up to the front, and the other girl stayed back with me. This was helpful as she was a chatterbox. She had been there, and while she says she has great endurance, she has never been fast. Most of this group has done marathons, but many now focus on the half marathon. She had been in the group for quite some time, so its strange that I don't recall ever seeing her. But, hey, I'm new...its always hard for the new person to remember all the faces and names! Regardless, I was grateful for her staying a tad behind with me. I fortunately never stopped to walk, and she kept me going.

We got back to the car and I hung out for a bit to stretch. I knew once I got into my car and drove the entire 8 minutes home, I would be stiff. Not like stretching at this moment would make a big difference, but maybe it would make the stiffness not quite so bad?

Got home. Checked my email. Drank some water. Showered. Put my zenzahs on. Lied down watching my husband fold laundry on the bed. No way my arms could extend to even attempt to help...think he found this a tad funny. Afterall, he had taken the kids to breakfast that morning and now I get to take them to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese....yes, he definitely got the better end of that deal!

So, what consequences did this run cause? A few hours later I noticed some pain in my left hip joint. Strangely, my knee felt ok. The next morning (as I write this), my hip is still a bit sore. I'll baby it today, as I even wore flats to work! Let's hope it feels better by tomorrow. I have hot yoga tonight, and I really wanted to do the group bridge run tomorrow night. If I can't, its not the end of the world...but I'd prefer not to miss it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Group Run: Coquina Beach

So, I added a saturday group run into my weekly schedule...this one is on Coquina Beach. Coquina is actually in Holmes Beach (city) on Anna Maria Island, between Sarasota and Tampa Bay.

I got there just before 8am. I rather like being able to get up when my body is ready, rather than extra early for the Sunday runs (which start at 7am). What I also appreciate is that I'm equidistant to all of the running club runs, so I can easily participate in each one, as they are all less than a 10 minute drive away!

Every other group run so far has followed the same route. The Tuesday night Green Bridge/Palmetto runs, start at the library, head over the bridge, down the pier, a quick water stop at the marina water fountain then follow the back roads through the quiet neighborhoods to the west touching the water and back. The Sunday Anna Maria Island runs start at the main beach parking lot, head to the north end of the island and then curve southeast to Bayfront Park, head an optional short south out-back to the end of the road and then return. But, this run was different.

I had never joined this run, but once I saw the group assembled I walked up and everyone was separating! Someone knew my general speed/ability, so they told me to join a specific foursome. I walked up to them and joined....we headed out our own way. Ventured up north hugging the beach trail, then crossed the road to the causeway side, headed under the Cortez Drawbridge, and then back down the causeway side all the way to the southern tip of Anna Maria Island, rounded back to the initial meeting area, and then decided to do an extra mile out and back. Whats strange is that I rarely saw any other runners! I suppose some do just walks, or run-walk-run options. Some are super slow, but I also imagine that some are speedy.

Again. While I found a good group/pace for me, I was simply surprised at how the group quickly separated. I think this is quite normal. I can't find fault with it, but if I were a newbie and met up with them, and they had no idea how I run, I don't know what I would think.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Predicted Pace

Ok, small dilemma. Now, I like the idea of a pacing group...but what if this encourages me to NOT push myself as much as I should? While I'm not yet up to the distance, I think 2:15 is doable. Thats a 10:31 minute/mile pace, and I've been running under that...albeit not for 13.1 miles. But, if I can do under that for 8.8 miles, should I still run with the pace group?

For a first half marathon, I think I'm leaning towards the support that the pacing group could provide to will encourage me to run faster (not over my skill level) than I would alone. I tend to be slower when I run alone, except for short distances. I suppose I lose focus or motivation then?

Choice: Go with the pace team and be pretty much guaranteed (except for injury) a 2:15 finish time or go alone and risk loss of motivation/encouragement, but potentially finish ahead of the 2:15 time.

Both have their benefits. I would love to finish ahead of 2:15, but given that its my first half marathon, I'm inclined to just finish at a 2:15 pace. Even if I went it alone, I don't think I could do anything less than the benefits of the pace team appear to outweight the risks of going it alone.

Yep, I will definitely hunt down the pace team's table at the expo for more information!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pace verus Time

I originally always ran in the evening, and back then, if I tried to run in the morning, I would bonk immediately. It was actually quite demoralizing. I forced myself to run primarily in the mornings for a period of 3 weeks, and it did a world of difference. I was finally able to run in the morning equally as well as the evening! Now, I've tweaked it a bit since then, and I need to get up 2 hours before a morning race, hydrate and eat something immediately upon waking...this gives the food a ton of time to get to where it needs to be before race time.

Whats interesting, at least to me, is that I had to struggle and force myself to run in the mornings in order to overcome that hurdle. Now, I find myself faster in the mornings. My 5-6 mile Tuesday night run is consistently my slowest pace throughout the week (well, except for those massive mile runs). But, if you take an equal number of miles and compare the times those mils are run in the evenings versus the times those are run in the mornings, I know that the morning times would average around 20 seconds/mile faster. Thats considerable!

Now, how I changed this, I have no idea....but its interesting to hypothesize. Any guessers out there?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How about a pace team?

So, my first half is mere weeks away. I looked up my original entry and I listed my predicted time at 2:30, but that was entered back in July! things have changed! I know the race will have a waved start, so will my stated 2:30 fall into the proper corral to sync with my currently-predicted finish time of 2:15? Who knows right now...I suppose the only way to ensure this is to join a pace group.

I checked it out online and there is a pace group for the RNR Half. I'm not sure exactly how pace groups are structured, but I'm curious. Do they incorporate a steady run throughout, or do they incorporate run-walk-run or? Maybe I'll have to check them out at the expo?

Here is a snippet of the pace groups established... I'm just presuming I can sign up at the table to join Ben's pace group team and that will automatically get me into the proper wave start/corral placement. Afterall, joining a pace group should trump any predetermined corral placement, right? At least if I'm able to complete it somewhere around 2:15, I will at least be able to hear the headliner at the finish line! Flo Rida starts at 10am...and the wave starts at 7:30-7:45am, I think.

So, maybe I'll visit the pace group and find out more about how these operate....could be just what I need to remain focused throughout this long run.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Shopping Addiction

I admit it...every single time I am in a running store, I find the desire to get yet another pair of running socks. This time it was a pink pair of Injinji toe socks. Mind you, this was several days ago and I have yet to wear them.

What is up with this desire? Maybe I dreaded last summer so much that I need to find ammunition to beat the unbearable sweaty feet dilemma that will peak in just a few months? Running in Florida definitely puts a different spin on things, especially in the summer. Just imagine 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity and even an easy non-breazy 5k run. You are sweltering from the heat. Even now, I know I will be donning the singlets in just 2 or 3 months....but its the darn feet that get me the most. I swear the sun penetrates its heat directly through my shoe.

So, in anticipation of the hot humid weather coming up before I blink an eye, I will buy hopes of some day not having sweaty feet :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Half Marathon Training

So, its coming along. That few weeks off in early December due to my knee definitely set me back a bit and had me worried...but I feel like I will be ready. Two major weekly runs are prepping me well from this week forward!

Every Tuesday evening, I've been joining the running club for the 5-6 mile run over the Green Bridge. The bridge is about a 25-30' ascent, then we run the entire fishing pier and then the back neighborhoods. Eventually coming back to to the bridge. Its a tough run. Maybe its the bridge or maybe I'm just hesitant because the back neighborhoods are always dark. I push myself to run faster simply because I want to stay with the person who wears the headlight! :) I've been running this a tad under a 10 minute pace.

The Sunday morning run is on Anna Maria Island. I'm up to 9 miles and it maxes out at 11 miles...perfect for my long run. The last one was a stretch since it was the farthest I had ever run in a single day...and I averaged a 10:24 pace. Wow....I was sore that evening. My back hurt more than my legs, and I was still a little sore this morning. But, I'll push myself again next Sunday and the Sunday afterwards. I hope to get solid on that 11-miler without being sore the following evening/day. At that point, I'll feel ready.

Now, to assist recuperation, I'll continue to do the hot yoga Monday evenings. If nothing else, this will loosen my muscles and ease any soreness. Its also a ton of strength building since the hot yoga instructor is primarily a pilates instructor...the number of planks I do in that class is insane.

So, I feel that my running will be ok. I need to squeeze in another run during the week and I may go for an evening run or a Saturday morning group run (that one is around Coquina Beach and over the drawbridge (not as high as the Green Bridge) and through the fishing community and back. Its rather close and doesn't start until 8am, so an entire hour later than the long Sunday run. But, I haven't made up my mind on that yet. I have to find a way to squeeze it doubt about it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chafe This!

Longest run yet was this morning. Strange experience. With all the running I've ever done, even in the middle of the hot humid Florida summer, I escaped the experience of chafing....until today.

At the gatorade stop this morning at the turnaround point, I felt some chafing in my inner thigh area from my shorts. Not really bad, but I felt it. I readjusted the compression shorts and was ok. Got home and checked it out a bit more....definite chafe. But at least I expected this. What I didn't expect was some chafing in my inner upper arm! Seriously. I've worn this shirt countless times before and never had anything like this. It wasn't even humid today and it was a balmy 65 degrees throughout most of the run. Not sure why this occurred.

Its a good thing I'm a mother to some young kids. Granted, they have graduated from diapers quite some time ago, but there is always still a tube of A&D around the house. Its been used today. Trust me. I'm definitely going to use the body glide next Sunday when I attempt the 11 miles!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Balance Ringling Bridge Run

We got up early and headed off to Toyota to drop our car off for service (thankfully they allow
us to drop off before dawn) then headed straight down to Sarasota for the race. Parking was a breeze, but we were also there around 6:15am. We visited the potties, got our bearings and then went to G Wiz Children's Museum to drop off the kids in their kid care club. This was a fabulous benefit to us, since Joe and I finally were able to run together, sort of (more on that to come). Wegot them situated and left the children's museum around 6:45 and headed back to the staging area....made my requisite multiple visits to the porta potties and then cased the area for later. Designated our meeting place for afterwards if we lose each other and then hopped into the corrals.

They did have markers for general starting times, so we hovered around the 9min pace banner. Joe was a tad trepid about this move since he has run 1.5 miles in the last month (he's been having some leg/knee issues lately and has been playing it safe). But hey, if he has to fall back, so be it.

The gun went off and we were walking to the starting line...about 45 seconds of a walk, but once we passed the starting line it thinned out considerably. Went east towards 41 and then south. Once we were going south on 41 though, the road took an unexpected climb. Now, we've driven this road countless times but a road is very different when you are running...the only
thing in my mind is "wow...if this is hard, i'm so in trouble for that bridge ahead!" It must be said that I lost Joe around this area...know idea how far back he was, but thats ok...he wasn't competing against me. He just wanted to run the whole race.

But as soon as that thought entered my mind, it left just as quickly when the road slowly slanted down. We made a quick turn onto the bridge approach and there it was...staring right at our face. The bridge is BIG. The ascent was there, right in front of you and you couldn't even see where it peaked in the middle from the running road.

So, I struggled up the hill....focused on taking short quick steps and keeping perfectly upright....knowing that I would soon be able to glide down to the other side. I did take a quick 30 second walking break on the way up....I knew my time was too fast to keep this pace up, especially given the hill in front of me, so I convinced myself that the walking
break was appropriate and smart, rather than keeping me lax. After seeing the top, I opened my stride and leaned forward a tad so I was running parallel to the ground...this eased any issues regarding my stamina at least. I tried to look forward to see where the turn around was. I thought it would be around St. Armand's Circle, but surprisingly it was right at the base of the bridge! Yeah the midpoint in no time!

On the approach back up the bridge, it felt steeper but also shorter. I looked at my watch. My initial goal was to run in under 40 minutes (again due to the hill) and I was way
under that, so I walked a bit....wanted to keep up my energy for hitting the peak after all!

Back on top, I flew down again...and as soon as it plateaued I tried to keep up a somewhat decent pace, but I was tired at this point. I walked about 20 seconds and then went off again. Rounded the 41 corner and headed north towards the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center. And, what gives now! Remember when I thought that there was a hill coming from the start line? Well, apparently, there was a hill approaching the same finish line....just not fair. Thought I was done with hills! But, I struggled through it.

Rounded the final corner and finished with a chip time of 38:45. I was 60th in my age group out of 197. Not sure where I placed overall, but who cares. There were about 3000 entrances in this thing! Joe finished in under 45 minutes, so he pleased with that...and he ran the entire thing with no walking breaks.

Afterwards, we walked to get the kids which was the perfect after run stroll. Saw some of the 1 mile fun run while we let the kids play a tad more on the playground. Then, we went to get some food from the stands and let the kids play in the jump house. And of course my daughter had to get her face painted. The fact that the kids watch, bounce house and face painting were free was extra nice.

Now, would I do this race again? Yes. The parking was well handled. The food options afterwards were adequate. The course was clean. The kids activities made it feel that the event wasn't just for was a family outing with something for everyone. And more importantly, I know I can beat my time next year! What more incentive can I have?

Overall, I was pleased with my performance since my primary goal was to run in under 40 minutes. I should not have let this play so much into my running increments though, as I was allowing myself too many walk breaks since I knew my final time would be under 40 minutes. Next time, I need to push myself a bit more. The goal? Under 37.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'll only be a half fanatic...

Yep, you heard that right. You've probably heard of the national running group called Marathon Maniacs. But, did you know there was a half-marathon counterpart to that? Its called the Half Fanatics. After this season, I will be a member of that so-called partially mad, half crazy, fanatic group :)

I am planning on the following half marathons:

  • Rock n Roll St Pete

  • Princess

  • Sarasota

  • Iron Girl
That is all between 2/12 and 4/22 of this year. That will give me "Neptune" status for this virtual club. Sure, thats the bottom level....but hey, you gotta start somewhere! Maybe 2013 can bump me up to the next level?

Its interesting that they base their status levels on the skies and stars and everything related. A rundown of the different levels is here (and one must meet at least one of the requirements listed below the level to qualify):

1. 2 Half Marathons within a 16 day time frame.
2. 3 Half Marathons within a 90 day time frame

1. 3 Half Marathons within a 16 day time frame.
2. 6 Half Marathons in 6 consecutive calendar months.
3. 8 - 11 Half Marathons within 365 days.

1. 4 Half Marathons within 37 days.
2. 12 - 18 Half Marathons within 365 days.
3. 4 Half Marathons in 4 different US states, Countries or Canadian Provinces (any combination) 51 days.

1. 4 Half Marathons in 23 days.
2. 19 - 25 Half Marathons within 365 days.
3. 2 Half Marathons in 2 days (or 48 hours) must finish both races!
4. 9 Half Marathons in 9 different US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days.

1. 3 Half Marathons within 3 days.
2. 26-30 Half Marathons within 365 days.
3. 4 Half Marathons within a 9 day window.
4. 3 Half Marathons in 3 separate US states, Countries, or Canadian
Provinces (any combination) within a 10-day time span.
5. 13 Half Marathons in 13 different US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days.

1. 31 - 37 Half Marathons within 365 days.
2. 16 Half Marathon in 16 different US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days.
3. 6 Half Marathons within 16 days. With proper planning and rest this can be done!

1. 38 - 44 Half Marathons within 365 days.
2. 20 Half Marathons in 20 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any
combination) within 365 days
3. 13 Half Marathons within 79 days.

1. 45 - 51 Half Marathons within 365 days.
2. 23 Half Marathons in 23 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any
combination) within 365 days.
3. 28 Half Marathons within 183 days.

Sorry - Unattainable

1. 52 Half Marathons or more within 365 days.
2. 30 Half Marathons in 30 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days.
3. 20 Countries within 365 days.

Gotta love the VULCAN category.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Half...Approaching!

I don't know which I'm more excited official first half which will be the Rock N Roll St Pete inaugural, or the Princess Half.

Seriously, it was the Princess half that made me think I wanted to run more than a 5K, and I'm seriously stoked to do this, but then again, I have no plans on running the entire thing.

Its the RNR half that will be a true test. I'm not sure if I will be ready for it. I ran a 10K last Saturday, and another 6-miler this past Tuesday. Saturday, I have a hilly 4-miler race (two 55' foot ascents - bridge) that will be painful, and I also plan on doing at least an 8-miler Sunday morning.

My Tuesday evening runs will be the same 6-miles each week with the running that will be my staple. Its the Sunday runs which will push me in mileage. These group runs can be anywhere from 4.5 miles to 11 miles, so they will be perfect for me to get that mileage up! The Sunday before the RNR, I hope to do the entire 11 miles with them....then, I think I can call myself ready for the challenge!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Natural Competitor

Yep, thats me. Maybe not in sports, historically at least, but I've always known that I am a competitor by nature. This weekend just confirmed it for me. You think its about the 10K I just ran which justifies this comment? Nope.

See, a friend of mine, Carter, who lives in LA (by the way, I miss LA) just posted on Facebook yesterday that he finished his first half marathon. I didn't even know he was training for one! Carter is an interesting person....and now that I know he ran it, it really makes perfect sense. He's petite, very slender, has the energy of a two year old, can dance (not slow dance, but speedy physically-demanding dance) in LA clubs for 6+ hours straight sweating up a storm but still more vigorous than anyone out on the dance floor. All of this makes me think his aerobic energy and his frame make perfect running partners. And get this...he ran the half in 2:00:56. Stunned me. Seriously, there is no way that I can run my first half in that time!

Its simply not fair. But, don't think I won't try to beat it this year! I haven't really planned a time for my first half, which is the Rock n Roll St Pete next month, but based on the running calculator on my tools page, I am destined for a 2:17 if my 10K race is any predictor. If I have the mental focus and do well prepping these next few weeks, I can do that. And then, hopefully by April, I can beat 2:10! Pride is on the stake now!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Craziness Continues

Just officially registered for the Women's Half in St Pete in November :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

St Pete Beach Classic 2012 Race Recap

Bbbbrrrrrr. A chilly 50 degrees this morning. Thats downright frigid for us Floridians, but we bundled up and were out the door by 6:45. I rather like the fact that it was an 8:30 run, so at least we didn't have to leave the house at 5am!

The drive was pretty quick even though we had to venture over the Skyway Bridge. I was worried a bit about parking since the 5K took off at lots of people would already be there before us. Fortunately, the race committee arranged a lot of parking with th
e city. The designated lots were all taken when we got there, but all the "non parking" signs in the residential street off of the main road were available this weekend for runners. We were able to find parking a mere 5 minute walk from the start (and thats with holding my ever-so-slow son's hand).

The staging area was pretty open, probably because the 5kers had already left the starting area. I was able to make not 3....but 4 stops at the porta potty. Must have been my morning shake before we left coupled with a Monster drink on the drive :) Regardless, the fact that I was able to use the porta potties that many times WITHOUT a line was nice.

We walked around a tad to get our bearings on the food offerings and to sneak a few things for the hubbies that were there with us, then made our way to the starting line. Again, not very crowded and we ended up in 2nd-3rd row from the front. I knew we were surrounding ourselves with speedy people, but thats ok...we also knew we would move out of their way immediately.

Shotgun start (also chip timed start) and away we were. The road was ample. Easy on the eyes and very little camber in the middle half, so I tried to stay in that area as much as possible until I realized that I was not running the tangents. We ran through the first water stop and I gulped a few gulps of water and continued on. Thats about the time there were more turns....and thats when I realized that I had to start running the tangents properly.

While I love the logic of running the tangents, its so contrary to most always feel that you are the ONLY one doing this. Why is that? Its such an obvious piece of wisdom and yet people are just naturally inclined to follow the center of the road regardless of how much more they have to run simply because of nature.

We continued running and were pretty consistent with our times. We did walk through ever water stop for about 30 seconds or so, and I think this helped us both. It made sure I didn't bonk, and it made sure she didn't walk too much :) It helps that my running partner in this endeavor and I have about the same experience, and obviously the same pace, even though she's taller and younger than I am. :)

We got all the way to mile 5.5 (at the hairpin return) and decided to take an extra wa
lk break....ssshhh....this is so we didn't look absolutely exhausted and gasping for breathe in front of our kids and the finish line. Don't tell anyone, ok?

We finished 1:01:46 (results are here) and the kids were right there to embrace us! They apparently both did wonderful at the kids races which occurred while we were it was definitely a good day for all!

So, did I wear the right clothes? YES! At 50 degrees, I know that I need a long sleeve technical shirt, capris, gloves and something over my ears. I had ankle socks and this seemed sufficient for me. Occasionally I was warm when A) the wind wasn't blowing and 2) there were no clouds....but that combination was RARE today.

Would I do this race again? Yeppers. The parking was sufficient. The staging area was more than plentiful. The food afterwards had a nice selection...lots of bakery items, but also some hot items, and of course fruit. The beer I didn't partake in....too chilly! The timing was great because it was a timed start AND finish. The results were up within 6 hours of race closing. All in all, a good experience. Maybe next year I'll try their half? :)

And my results? Definitely a PR for me, whether its official or not. I'm so glad I was able to run under 10 minute miles for this duration. I was 28th (out of 52 in my age group), but was 151nd out of 323 female finishers. I'm more than ok with this time! Strange though, as the 5k isn't very competitive and I would have been close to getting an age group award, but no where close in this distance. Next week's 4-miler will be hard since its a major hill, but I'm ready...bring it on!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year....New Focus

I'm back at work....and with that comes a new sense of what I want to accomplish on a variety of fronts. On the home front, we are determined to get a we will be learning that this year. Thats my educational focus I suppose. On the physical front, the goals are plentiful.

Now, I don't mean to imply that these are New Years resolutions. Actually, I tend to refocus every few months. And honestly, the last month has been crap. I feel as if I've actually taken a few steps back, so I need to re-balance my priorities and now that the holidays (and the distractions that they bring) are over, its an appropriate time.

So, how did the 2011 goals go? I did finish C25k, and even ran a 5K in under 30 minutes! Those were big for me. I didn't finish Slim in 6, which is ok. And I actually gained weight this last month instead of losing that was a tad disappointing. But all in all, I am very pleased at what I've accomplished this last calendar year.

For 2012, I have a variety of physical goals. Most importantly are performing confidently in the upcoming half marathons. I know the first one will not be completed up to my standards, and thats ok. So, I'll be treating this as a baseline and accept it. If I do well at the half marathon goal, all the others will easily follow. I'm not going to stress over each and every one.

I'm going to focus the next few months on this one goal, and try to balance overall fitness with running. If I do well with this, I think everything else will naturally fall into place.

12/31/11 Manatee River Run 5-Mile Race Recap

We traveled to Kentucky for Christmas. I managed to get two runs in, but the hills were something I am simply not accustomed to. And I was still a bit ginger on my knee. I did a 4.5 mile run and a 5K while there. I was feeling a bit better with the knee, but surely not up to my standards. I suppose I was just pleased that I got two runs in. So, we travel back Thursday night and arrive back at home around 7am on Friday morning. It was a busy day, but we stayed at home for the most part.

Saturday morning, I wake up at 6am. I did manage to get to bed around 9pm the night before. I thought that would be sufficient, but I was still quite tired at 6am....definitely felt as if I could have slept another 3-4 hours! I have my shakeology (haven't had it in a week and my stomach was all messed up while I was out of town), so I was glad to have it back as part of my routine. Donned my running apparel and off I travel to Palmetto.

The race was at Sneed Island Preserve. Even though its a mere 4 miles (as the bird flies) from my house, I have never been near the area. It is in Palmetto...enough said. :) While I admit there are some nice areas of Palmetto, some of them are downright pitiful. There really is no reason to go over there, so we generally do not...except to get to St. Pete. I cross over the green bridge (over Manatee River) and head west. Parking is in a large open grassy area, quite suitable for today's crowd. I arrive around 7:15.

I actually volunteered to help work the registration booth. So, I'm busy for the next 1+ hours handing out shirts, bibs, bags filled with goodies. Before you know it, its 8:40. I run my stuff to the car, and then make the 1/2 mile walk to the starting line. There is no way the preserve (or any that I know of) can handle the parking requirements, so the trek is necessary. That being said, it was perfect for warming up for a run.

At this point, I don't know what I'm feeling. I know I felt unprepared. The runs in Kentucky (while much harder than the race this morning) left me feeiling anxious. If I couldn't even run 3 miles in Kentucky hills without stopping, how could I run here today? I know that wasn't accurate (if you saw the hills, you would understand), and yet I couldn't shake this. The last 5-mile run I did was Thanksgiving! My knee sidelined me for quite a few weeks, and even though I had been running for the last 2 weeks, my groove simply wasn't there. I had the expectation of a longer run than the Thanksgiving run, but wasn't sure how off I would be.

So, I am one of the last to cross the starting line. The shotgun was actually heard well before I saw the starting line. Note to self: next time I volunteer, definitely leave the booth 30 minutes before the race starts. I wasn't too stressed though, since this was a chip-timed start.

The first mile or so, I was passing all of the walkers. Remember, I was one of the last to start! After 1.5-2 miles, I had to walk a tad. I did this ever so often throughout the race. My drive wasn't there and I wasn't sure why. The course was great though. The markings were right on. The pacing was great. At each mile marker, someone was telling you the time. The water stops were at 3ish and 4ish miles, which was fine for this length. All in all, the race was well-equipped. But, something was still off for me.

About the 3.5 mile marker, I asked myself "Self, am I not doing well because of physical or mental reasons?" I think I was just assuming that the lax attitude I was taking was all a result of my knee and the fact that I wasn't physically ready for the challenge. But, my answer surprised me. My leg was fine. My breathing was ok. My determination and mindset were not ok. It was all mental at that point. For the rest of the run, I actually ran the whole way. Now that I knew that my issue was me and not my body parts, I had no problem pushing myself. Final time 56:46 minutes. An entire 6 minutes off of my last 5-miler. Pitiful, right?

Now, I don't mean to be too harsh on myself. Afterall, we did drive 12 hours (I drove about 7.5 hours of those) throughout the night and had no rest other than that just 24 hours prior to this race. So, while I know my mind wasn't ready for this effort, I have to think that some of it was me simply being tired.

Its interesting what you learn from yourself when you race. Some of the races are quite inspiring. Some of quite humanizing. This was definitely the latter.

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