Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Shoes

I'm so excited because I have two new pairs of shoes arriving tomorrow. I have a honking huge bunion on my right foot. I will not provide photos because it is gross. Anyway, ever since Adidas changed the bunion area of my beloved Supernova Sequence shoes from mesh to leather, that darn bunion just kills me on runs of any decent distance because of the added pressure.

Sooo, I have two pairs of men's shoes arriving tomorrow from Amazon. They are both Saucony, two different models that I want to try out. I have an older pair of Sauconys that are no good for running anymore, but they are men's and therefore have a wider toe box and also have a mesh "bunion window" so they don't bug my bunion as much as the Adidas. They fit me well and I am really hopeful that at least one of these new shoes will work out well.

I don't expect to run totally pain free, but it would be nice if I didn't feel like chopping my toe off at the end of a half marathon. Especially considering I would like to run two marathons this fall! Wish me luck. :)

June goal completed!

I ran four miles this morning, bringing my total for the month of June to 121.63. My goal was 120 miles, so mission accomplished.

My goal for July is 120 miles again. I should probably make the goal slightly higher since July has an extra day, but I'd rather give myself a cushion. A 120-mile month is still a big month for me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another day, another race registration

Wheee! I love registering for races. It gives me a sense of excitement and a little twinge of fear of the unknown. Today I registered for the Bastille Day 15K. I've never run a 15K race before, so that's an automatic PR no matter how much I stink it up. :)

The course is described as "hilly and challenging" which normally is something I would want to avoid. But this is not a normal year and I'm embracing hilly challenges as much as possible. It will only make me stronger for those fall marathons.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What I learned today

I learned that if you spend all morning sitting around doing nothing and then finally go for your run just as the rain is threatening to start, you may end up having a short tempo run (instead of the easy recovery run you were planning) when the rain starts pouring down on you and you decide that it's in your best interest to get home quickly before you get struck by lightning.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Solstice Run 10 Mile Race Report

This morning I ran the Solstice Run 10 Mile race in beautiful Northville, MI. David came along to cheer me on, but we forgot to bring a camera so there's no photographic evidence of the race. It was mid to upper 60s at the race start, with cloudy skies, so not too shabby compared to the overheated sweat-fest that was the Cheesetown Challenge last week.

Before I get into the blah, blah, blah of the race report, I just want to say that today was great. This was the first race I've done in quite some time where I didn't have moments of despair where I felt like quitting. I feel like I've turned a corner and I'm ready to head into marathon training with a positive attitude. Now for the blah, blah, blah part of the post...

The race started at Northville Downs, which is a horse racing track. We started out by making a loop of the race track. The guy next to me was making horse noises as we ran. It was pretty funny. I don't think they groomed the track, because I could see hoof prints in the dirt but it was easy to run on, so no big deal.

There weren't a ton of people behind me as we exited the track to hit the streets. David was there at the exit so I told him "I'm battling for last place again" and he laughed. But by the time we left the track parking lot (about 3/4 mile into the race) I could see that I wouldn't be last unless something went drastically wrong, so I decided to relax and enjoy myself. Also, no police cars were trailing the people at the back so even if I were last, I would have felt less pressure.

First thing we came upon after leaving the parking lot was a fairly steep hill. I'd heard the course was hilly and that was no lie - there were hills throughout the course. But I approached it with a positive attitude, thinking about how good the hills are to make me a stronger runner. Around the 3 mile mark, we started getting a little rain, but it was just some random sprinkles that continued from time to time through the race. Felt pretty good.

At about 3.3 miles, we entered a subdivision. This was a loop through the sub, so we exited out the same street. As I was entering at mile 3.3, I saw the lead female runner at what turned out to be just past the 6 mile mark. So she was not quite twice as fast as I am, which strangely enough is comforting to me. Heh, I have low standards apparently.

Starting around 6.5 miles, we entered my favorite part of the course - about a mile and a half that was liberally sprinkled with downhill portions. Ahhh, so nice to be able to pick up speed without feeling like it's any extra effort. I loved it!

There were certain portions of the race where the roads were a potholed mess and seemed pretty hazardous. It was only for short stretches and represented a tiny part of the course, but I hope that's fixed up before next year because I could see some twisted ankles happening there.

In the last couple of miles (maybe more, can't remember) the 10 mile course joined up with the 5K and 10K courses so there were suddenly a lot more people around. The shorter races started later than the 10 mile. What I liked about meeting up with the other races is that I knew we were getting close to the end, and also if anyone passed me I just assumed they were doing a shorter race and thus were not beating me at the distance I was running. I love the mental games I play. :)

Around mile 9 I suddenly became very tired, but the end was near and I was getting excited to cross that finish line. With maybe .4 left to go, I saw David smiling at me so that gave me an extra kick. Then I headed down the path into the park where the finish was and saw David again (he had come down the stairs quickly) and got a high five and another big smile.

It seemed like we had to make almost a full loop around this park path which felt like forever because I just wanted to see that finish line! And finally there it was. Woo hoo! David had dashed across the park to see me at the finish, so he was there but I wasn't looking for him since I wasn't expecting it. Alas, I am too slow so they were out of medals by the time I finished, but I signed up on the list of people who didn't get a medal and will get it later.

Then we went off to the art show that was taking place nearby and I bought myself a pretty ring as a reward.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's good to have goals

As I mentioned recently, I have a goal of running 1,200 miles this year and I'm a bit behind. So I decided to set a June goal to run 120 miles. I realize for the elite types, that's more like a weekly goal. But for me that's a pretty big month.

I announced my goal in public on the fitness forum to which I belong, which gives me the guilt/shame factor if I fail. And I must say, posting that goal has certainly proven to be motivating to me. There are many days where I'd lazily skip a run if I didn't have that goal hanging over my head.

This morning, for instance, I woke up to the delightful sounds of a thunderstorm. But instead of going back to sleep, I headed to the basement to get on the treadmill. Unfortunately, I don't really care for my treadmill so I didn't put in quite as much mileage as I should have. So, when I arrived home from work this evening I headed out into the sun and heat to get in some more mileage. That wouldn't have happened if I didn't have a goal. Sure, they were junk miles, but I still had the same endorphin rush as I would have with a more productive run. And I will get to 120 this month, dang it!

Do you set fitness goals or do you just float along and see what happens?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cheesetown Challenge Photographs

Here are just a few pictures from Saturday's Cheesetown Challenge. First up, here I am at the start line thinking about how all these people are going to be passing me shortly.

All alone, about half a mile from the finish line. Sooooo lonely. :)

Almost done, not quite last. Woo hoo!

A giant mouse driving a car.
Because it's a cheese festival, duh! :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheesetown Challenge 5 Mile Race Report

Yesterday, David and I went to Pinconning, MI so I could run the 5 mile Cheesetown Challenge race. Pinconning is the cheese capital of Michigan, hence the name of the race.

We arrived a couple of hours before race time so I could get my packet and we could check out the Cheesetown Festival. The race packet included a sample of Pinconning cheese, which we promptly devoured. Then we went to a cheese store, bought some cheese and stashed it in the cooler we'd brought along for that very purpose. The race was at 6:30pm and it was flipping hot, sunny, and humid. Not great race conditions!

When it was almost race time, we went to the start line and I realized that this was a very small race. I also realized that everyone else looked pretty serious and more fit than I am. I looked at David and said "I think I'm going to be last." The race started and my premonition came true - everyone took off and I was lagging behind almost immediately. I tried to keep up, but there was no way. I'm slow and that wasn't going to change during the course of the race. So I settled down and decided to go at my own pace.

What I learned is that when you're in last place at a tiny race where the roads aren't closed, you may well have a police car trailing right behind you to make sure that no cars come run you over. I had no idea how pressure-filled it is to be in last place! :)

There were a couple of people not too far ahead of me who didn't know how to pace themselves, so they were taking frequent walk breaks. Every time I caught up to them, though, they'd start running again. I guess I was their inspiration. :)

I was debating just dropping out of the race because I hated having that police car right behind me. Then I considered running alongside the car so I could chat with the officer while I was racing. But then at the two mile mark, my minor miracle happened. The two people who were just ahead of me could no longer maintain their pace, so they fell behind me. Hooray, someone else could have the cops on their tail!

I kept plugging away, checking behind me occasionally to make sure nobody was gaining on me. There were occasional spectators along the course and they were unfailingly kind and encouraging to me, which was pretty funny. Hard to take it seriously when someone says "great job" when you know better. :) At every mile marker, there were volunteers calling out split times. I told the volunteer at mile 3 not to tell me, because I didn't want to know. (And I was wearing my Garmin, so I knew anyway.)

With about three quarters of a mile to go, I caught up to another runner. He asked me how I was doing and I said that I was still making forward progress, so I figured that was a good sign. I asked how he was and he said he was struggling. He started to get ahead of me a bit, then he said "oh no, cramps again" and started walking. I wished him well and kept on going. Felt bad, but also was pathetically happy to pass someone else.

As I approached the finish line, I could see David taking photos so I tried to pick up the pace and look like a real runner. I will post pictures once I get a chance to pull them off his camera.

I finished the race right around the time I thought I would. It's interesting that I would have felt great about my finish if there had been more people behind me, but the same time felt like failure when I was so close to the end. I need to get a little better at only feeling competitive with myself and not worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2010 Racing Madness

I set a goal for 2010 of running 1,200 miles (because that's what I did in 2009) and running six races of half marathon length or longer (again, that's what I did in 2009).

I'm currently a little behind the pace for the 1,200 mile goal, due to being exceptionally lazy in April and May, but I'm working on getting caught up. And I think I'm going to over-achieve on the six half marathons thing. As I mentioned in my last post, I've done four half marathons this year. And I have a bunch more races on the schedule.

6/19 Cheesetown Challenge 5 Mile
6/26 Solstice Run 10 Mile
7/31 The Legend 5 Mile
9/4 Labor Day 30K
10/3 Twin Cities Marathon
10/17 Freep Half Marathon
11/7 New York Marathon

Check out those last four - they're all half marathon or longer, so if I manage to complete these races then I'll surpass my goal by two races.

The Labor Day 30K is a race that made me cry last year, so I'm determined to kick its ass this time around. Must do more hill training! I'm hoping that my friend Megan is going to come run it with me.

The New York Marathon is going to be a crazy dream come true. My friends Wendy and Ken had an automatic in since they've participated in the lottery for the last three years without getting selected. So when Wendy suggested I throw my name into the lottery, I figured "what the heck" and did it.

I'll admit that I was sort of hoping I wouldn't get selected, because I wasn't sure if I wanted to train for a marathon this year. I am naturally lazy, after all! But indeed, I was chosen in the lottery and how could I turn down such a fabulous opportunity? Sure, the trip to New York will cost me approximately a million dollars, but what a wonderful experience it will be. And I'm excited to have a chance to run with Wendy and Ken again. Let's hope I can keep up this time!

The Twin Cities Marathon that's a mere five weeks before NYC? Yeah, not 100% sure about that one yet. I'm registered for the race (and good thing, because it's sold out now), but I don't know if I can handle two marathons that close together. Actually, I take that back. I CAN handle two marathons that close together, but I am fundamentally lazy. Which makes me realize that I have to do it. Laziness must not prevail!

The reason I was drawn to Twin Cities is because I have a friend who will be running it as her very first marathon and I'd love to be there to support her. I know how much it meant to me to have friends run my first marathon with me and I would love to give my friend similar support - even though I'm quite sure she'll beat me to the finish line. So hey, maybe she can hang out at the finish and give me support when I creak across the line. :) Do you hear me, Megan? I expect you to wait at the finish for me!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Brushing off the dust!

Poor little blog, abandoned for almost eight months. I may be ready to brush off the dust and cobwebs, and start posting again. Some day when I'm old, I may enjoy reading back on the days when I was able to run.

Though it might appear so from the lack of activity here, I didn't actually quit running after completing the marathon in October. In fact, I've run quite a few races since then:

10/24/09 - Headless Horseman 5K
10/31/09 - Fright Night 5K
12/12/09 - Run Like the Dickens 5K
2/7/10 - Surf City Half Marathon
4/10/10 - Martian Half Marathon
5/21/10 - Fargo 5K
5/22/10 - Fargo Half Marathon
5/29/10 - Bayshore Half Marathon
6/5/10 - Oak Apple 10K
6/12/10 - Flirt with Dirt 5K

No race reports to follow. I'm far too lazy to go back and try to remember what happened at all of those races. I can barely remember the details five minutes after the race is done. But I will say, the Fargo races are HIGHLY recommended - especially if you love a course that really is flat!

So, that's it for now, but I won't be a stranger to the blog anymore and I'll be back soon enough to post about exciting upcoming events!