Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Safety First, People

My BRF (best running friend) and I normally meet in the early morning during the week, well before the sun, single people, and groggy teenagers are even thinking about getting up!

It's quiet and cold, but it's the best time to run.  Except for one serious problem - commuters!  Let me be more specific - commuters who obviously haven't had their coffee and aren't really driving with any clear awareness. 

I've come close to getting hit by a car more times than I care to count.  And it's getting worse...  Now, I have a headlamp and my BRF has a blinking vest (yes, I said blinking) BUT that doesn't help when a driver is making a right turn at a RED light, and is only looking to the left for oncoming cars.  Look to the right too, people!

I'm going to admit to this, however; before I became a runner, I only looked left.  I rolled up to the end of the street on a red light (rather than stopping behind the crosswalk) and I didn't give a second thought to pedestrians, runners, or cyclists.  Oh, how times have changed.  Now, I'm acutely aware.

So, two weeks ago, my husband decided to go for a run with me (truth be told, we had a fight and he was trying to get back on my good side - he knows the way to my heart, that's for sure).  So, off we go with a babysitter at the house and the sun setting around 5:30pm.  My normal running apparel is mostly black.  I can't explain it - that's just how it happens....  And Mike had a flashlight so I opted for no headlamp.

Off we go on a short 4 mile run, down and back on the main street in our town.  Trotting along and chatting, I remembered how much I love to run with my husband.  It was a blast!  That is until we were heading back and my FAVORITE right turn on RED incident became a little too close for comfort...  Yep, old "need to get home" guy almost took out my knee caps as he rolled forward.  Not sure who was scared worse him, me or my husband.

Good news - I lived to write about it (and it only cut into my running time about 30 seconds).

Bad news - Mike said he wasn't sure he wanted me running anymore (yea, like he could stop me).

Moral of the story - don't trust the people around you (cars or runners).  Be aware and be careful!  But still get up and go!  (like anyone could stop you!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

What Moves You

What moves you?  What motivates you?  What gets you out the door when there a million reasons not to go?  Dinner to make, dishes to load, kids to care for, your favorite show, oh-so-tired after work, no clean clothes, can't find your shoes, maybe you'll go tomorrow, and on and on it can go...

And how do you feel on those days when those millions of reasons win out?  If you're anything like me, you don't stop thinking about it after you've decided to not go.  You continue to think about it all night long and the feeling of regret that I didn't get out when I could eats at me until the next time I DO get out the door.

I've opted for early morning runs because it eliminates a lot of the above.  I have less excuses - there are no expected phone calls, or meetings, or emails to return so the work worries are eliminated.  Most of the time, the girls are sleeping when I leave or just starting to wake up (and yes, sometimes I hear them as I'm closing the door behind me....hehehe, sorry babe, I think as I close the door and head out).

But there are also times when I just don't want to get up.  And on those days, I try to squeeze a run in elsewhere in my schedule.  Sometimes it works - sometimes it doesn't.  The hardest part for me is letting a missed run go without beating myself up over it.  It's ok to miss a workout.  It's ok to take a day off.  In fact, it's encouraged and yet even when it's a planned rest day, I feel lazy for not doing something.

The sane person in me knows that balance is the key - the crazy, psycho runner in me thinks more miles, more miles, more miles like a creepy echo in a horror movie.  Balance normally wins out.  But not because the sane person wins out, but because I have mommy obligations that stall the crazy, psycho runner from taking over (completely).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Miles to go....

Have you ever had a struggle?  I mean a real struggle where nothing seems to be working.  You try and try and try and yet nothing changes BUT you (being stubborn and unwilling to relent) just don't give up.

I hope you have.  Because what you find when you go through something like that is, eventually, your struggle will end and you will feel invincible for having seen it through.

Mine has been battling my weight after my last pregnancy.  I gave give you all the excuses I've allowed myself - my mom died while I was pregnant, I had three babies in three years, I'm tired, I'm not getting enough sleep, I need food to keep my training up, blah, blah, blah....

The truth is that I'm in control and while I was doing everything I thought I could, the naked truth was I wasn't successful.  My running was sluggish and my weight wouldn't budge.  So, I did the one thing I HATE to do.  I asked for help.  And I got it.  And now, in 5 weeks, I'm down 13 pounds and I'm wondering why it took me so long to realize I just needed some guidance.

My running is easier (and faster) and I feel great.  Not tired, not sluggish...  I feel great!  (wait, did I already say that?  ehhh, it's worth repeating).

And I relate it, as is my habit, to my training.  I see the hills during a long run and I think I'm going to beat this.  I see the miles on my training plan and I know I can run it.  It's going to hurt and I may even cramp up and cry (as I did on Sunday at mile 13 of 14) but I'm going to get it done.

And damn, I feel great!  That 26.2 miles I plan to tackle in January isn't seeming so daunting these days.  It's seeming attainable and just like one more struggle I need to get through to feel stronger and more like me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No Regrets

7 miles on Sunday, 6 miles on Monday, 6 miles on Tuesday...  And I get a day off tomorrow....  Maybe the hubby will let me sleep in. :P

A lot of my friends ask me where I get the energy.  It's funny to me because I don't just have the energy to run; running gives me the energy to do everything else.  So, I get up before the sun as many days a week as my body will allow and I hit the streets..  I have a great running buddy, and sometimes one or two other runners join us.

We cover a lot of ground, literally and figuratively, and I've shared more of myself with her than I have with anyone else.  A running buddy is a lot like your significant other...  They are there when you need them, and you're there when they need you.  Sometimes, you have to compromise and sometimes you do not like them (like yesterday when Courtney had to get home so we had to run that last hill - it SUCKED).  But that's what you do for your running partner.  And she's done the same for me (like 4 weeks after she had her last child and she agreed to run 10 miles with me because that's what I needed)..  OK, yes.  We are a little extreme, but you get the point.

This morning, Courtney invited another running buddy along.  It was nice.  We all have little ones and plenty to talk about.  And it's funny - not a lot of topics are off limits at 6 in the morning when it's pitch black and your running with headlamps and dodging oncoming traffic (hate when there aren't any sidewalks).  And I didn't want to be the one that held us up, so I ran faster than I usually do.  From that run, I learned something that I already knew....  so I guess you could say, I was reminded of it.  Sometimes, you can do more than even you think you can.

So, here's my challenge to you.  If you aren't running yet and you want to be, find a buddy.  Maybe it's someone who has started running or maybe it's someone, like you, who hasn't started yet but wants to.  Lace 'em up and go for a run.  You can start slow, you can run/walk, but get out there.  You'll never regret it.  Trust me.  This morning, all I wanted to do was to go back to sleep - the kids were up and down all night and I was exhausted.  I dragged my butt to Courtney's because I didn't want to let her down, NOT because I wanted to.  And you know what?  When we were done, I felt great.  You'll NEVER regret going - you'll always regret NOT going.

And if you're a more seasoned runner, I have a challenge for you too.  Find a buddy you haven't run with in a while or someone you've been avoiding running with because you think you're slower.  They will challenge you and you may need to ask them to slow down, BUT your running will improve and you'll be amazed at what you can do.

Who's up for the challenge?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Your Cape is Showing...

What a run?!  What a weekend!  What an experience!  I will forever remember my very first half marathon...  I've already told you all about the heat, the meaning of the run, and how I powered through it.  It will always be my first and nothing will ever replace those emotions or memories.

But this run was amazing!  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were there to see me through some of the most exciting experiences I've had as a runner.  I met my running mom idols, Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, who wrote "Run Like a Mother" and "Train Like a Mother", which I now own with autographs!

Sarah Bowen Shea, Me, and Dimity McDowell at the Zooma Expo in Cape Cod, MA
I felt like a little kid meeting their favorite movie stars!  I know that sounds silly, but these women have really had such a wonderful influence on me as a runner and mother.  I feel like we've run together, celebrated together, and cried together.  Even though it was a paperback book that accompanied me, I identify with these women as if we are old friends.  And they embraced me as if we were the best of friends.  They gave me high-fives when I told them about my run and they greeted me on the race course every time I saw them.  It.  Was.  Awesome.

The Zooma Cape Cod Half Marathon course was a beast!  As we waited at the starting line, we all fidgeted in place to stay warm before the start of the race.  Someone commented on my outfit (all hot pink, thank you very much!) - the exact words were, "no one's going to be able to miss you!"  And then we had a short conversation about pre-running coffee and the inevitable bathroom stop after.  Turns out ZoomaRunner1 got up at 4am just to get that coffee in before the run.  Not me!  I like my sleep and I don't dare drink coffee before any run, so I get up as late as is feasible to get to where I need to be on time.  My alarm went off at 5:30 that morning and that was ONLY because my SIL and MIL wanted to get there early :)  Otherwise, I would have been up at 6:30 to be at the race at 7am...  Yep, that's how I roll.

The race started exactly on time and we were off.  Perfect weather, lots of cheering, and enthusiastic runners all around got me off to a great start.  I had a very specific goal in mind.  I wanted to come in sub-2:20.  At Mile 3, my left calf cramped up to the point where I had to walk (very slowly), stretch, and then walk some more.  I was so angry - I had trained like a demon and this shouldn't be happening.  But it was.  And then the cramp eased out and I hit the pavement again.   I checked my pace and I had lost about 5 minutes, but it was too early for me to get discouraged.  I had a goal. 

The description of the course said, 'rolling hills,' but as ZoomaRunner2 and I discussed around mile 9, there were no rolls.  It was all hills!  We had a good laugh about that, passed another runner, and jogged together in silence for a minute.  It was tough and there were times where I felt spent.  But my usual 8 mile wall didn't show up until mile 10! :)  I pushed through those hills and I kept my eyes on my watch as the minutes ticked away.  I saw my goal slipping through my fingers, but I've learned some things about running.  One of the most important things I've learned is to be flexible.  Running is a sport and conditions can be unpredictable.  So, I reset (internally) and pushed on.  I may not have met my initial goal, but I still kicked ass!!!!  And I finished with a time of 2 hrs 25 mins 59 secs.

And that's a new PR!  By 11 mins!!!!  I could NOT be happier.

My sister-in-law, Jamie, and I at Race Start
I spent the rest of the weekend sightseeing with my MIL and SIL (and yes, walking, and walking, and walking) and had the greatest girls' weekend ever.  I can't wait to do it again.  Maybe I won't be the only one running next time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who has time for that?

I had a completely different post in mind for today, but my plans (as so often happens) have changed.  I woke up yesterday morning with what I'm hoping is going to be a short-lived cold. 

I can't imagine I'm the only mom who thinks that they just don't have time to be sick.  I have a full time job, a husband, and three kids.  As if this weren't enough, this week is even more important!  For the last three months, I have been planning and training for a race this Saturday morning. 

So, my stubborn nature is going into overdrive.  I stayed home yesterday and today, and I'm working from home loaded down with vitamins, nyquil, chicken soup, hot tea, and lots of naps.  

Luckily, I'm starting to feel better and I'm confident that this little blip won't get in the way of me PR'ing (achieving a personal best race time) this weekend.  This is my third half marathon and the one I'm most excited about.

My first half marathon was in June 2010 with Team in Training (the ZOOMA Half Marathon) and it was full of doubt and stress and uncertainty.  Team in training helped, but nothing can prepare you for that first long distance event.  It was almost 90 degrees by the time the race gun went off at 7:30 am in Annapolis, MD.  As seasoned racers collapsed from the heat at different points on the course, I kept on my feet and moving forward.  I must have been gray at some points as people from TNT kept asking if I was ok.  No, I was not ok.  The first 8 miles were ok, but after that I started to crash.  Between my 'monthly friend' and the heat, I was limited to a fast walk with some short jogs mixed in.  Running was not even an option.  I would feel the heat wash over me whenever I tried.  So, I chugged along as best I could.  And when I saw my mother-in-law, husband, and two girls (Callie hadn't joined us yet :)) waiting for me at the finish line, I dug deep and found enough reserve to jog across the finish line. 

Taryn and Karen (MIL) at Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon
I learned a lot about myself that day.  I knew I was determined, but I didn't know how strong I was.  It took all my mental strength to finish that race.  Afterwards, I spent 30 minutes with the EMT techs, who gave me fluids and told me that they'd never seen so many people need support at a race.  From that discussion, I learned NOT to ever do a long distance run in the summer again.  I learned that chafing is no joke - and I wasn't entirely sure that I ever wanted to do a long distance run again.  That was a short-lived uncertainty.  Of course, I was going to do another run!  And another!  And another!

I found books on better training methods and fueling techniques.  And those are the things I did differently for my next event, which was significantly later.  I got pregnant with Callie and then had a newborn to care for.  It was almost two years, when I found the next race to tackle.  The Charlotte MotorSpeedway Half Marathon in March 2012!

So about 6 months ago, I was ready for my second race.  This was going to be different, though.  Mike was going to run with me :)  And every mile was going to be marked by a NASCAR stock car (motivation for Mike).  Training every Saturday was so much fun!  Mike and I would plug in our separate IPODs and take off.  It was awesome.  The entire experience was something I'll never forget.  Mike and I ran side-by-side for 13.1 miles - there were points where I wanted to hurt his 6'3" self as he appeared not to suffer at all.  Especially, when my 'monthly friend' decided to visit again!  Grrrrr....  I hit that same wall at mile 8, but I was able to power through that one with a run/walk attack, rather than walking the last 5 as I did in my first event.  And I did beat my original time by almost 30 mins!  Pretty awesome :)  But I'm hungry for more.

Thus, I've turned half marathon #3 into a girls' weekend with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  We're going to have a blast and no cold is going to stop that!  And bet on me beating my last time too!!!!  Stay tuned.....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sneaking out...

When I had two children, it was easier to make time to get out and run.  Work wasn't as demanding and I was able to find the time after work or on the weekends...  And when I really needed to get a run in and I had to, I would load the girls into the double jogger and we'd all head out.  Those were MUCH slower runs, but runs nonetheless. 

After my third, Callie, was born, it seemed to become more difficult to get out and not feel guilty about it.  I got a promotion at work, which meant more time in the office and working at night after everyone was in bed.  And it meant that once I got home, I needed to spend that time with the kids so that none of us felt cheated.  The result?  Running became a chore, and fitting a run in became more stressful than anything else.  And that was the opposite of what running was meant to be for me...  So after a lot of struggling and talking with Mike about the right game plan, it came down to what I swore in my twenties I would NEVER do.

I decided to get up at 5 AM to get my running in.  At first, it was a struggle.  That is just early!  But I found that waking up before everyone else allowed me to do what I wanted to without any guilt at all.  It's one of the best changes I've made.  I set my clothes out the night before and when I get up, I drag my tired self downstairs.  It takes me all of 10 minuntes to get out the door and it's just like when you're a teenager and you don't want your parents to hear you.  You tiptoe around, close doors as quietly as you can, tiptoe back and forth because you forgot your water bottle, then your visor, and finally the earbuds for your IPOD.  And then you finally step out (closing that front door ever-so-quietly) and there's fresh, quiet air waiting for you.  

Knowing that everyone is sleeping allows me to focus on me and me, alone.  It's probably the only time all week that I can do that.  I'm a mother at home and at work.  I'm always thinking about my babies, my husband, or my team.  Something I do is always about making things better for someone else.  But these hours before all of that begins is all about me...

Sometimes, I run with my best running buddy.  Sometimes, she sleeps in (she's got a newborn on her hands).  When it's just me, I either blast my IPOD or I just go without and let my mind coast.  It all depends on my mood. 

I will say this, though.  In this regard, running is just like sex to me.  No matter how much I don't want to do it at first, once I get going I'm into it.  And afterwards, I never think, "Damn, I wish I hadn't done that."  I'm always glad I did... ;-)