Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekend Roundup: Slooowww 4 Miler and Lazy 8 Miler

We had a great time this weekend visiting some of my best girl friends up in NC. One was turning the big 3-0, and the other came down from Washington, DC to celebrate with us. It was the first time that all three of us had been together with our boyfriends in tow (both friends have relatively new boyfriends, and not everyone had met) and I think I enjoyed it more than anyone, because for once, my boyfriend of almost three years wasn't the only guy tagging along. :)

Saturday morning, my running buddy and I (the birthday girl) got up around 9 AM (a bit later than we had hoped...) to tread out on a quick run. I know I said I wanted to talk her into running 8, but neither of us could stand more than about 4 in our current conditions. We spent Friday night out at our old stomping ground, Chapel Hill, where we probably drank too much and ate too much late night veggie nachos at the institution that is Cosmic Cantina on the famed Franklin Street.

So we set out to do an out-and-back 5 and at about mile 2 I was checking the Garmin to say, "It's cool with me if we turn around now..." So that was the end of that, but at least we got a short run in during a busy weekend. (I won't mention how long it took us to run 4, we weren't in top form.) We then proceeded to make blueberry pancakes and bacon for everyone (and banana buckwheat pancakes and turkey bacon for us health nuts) which ended up leaving the house in a burnt-bacon smoky fog and us in a comatose state on the couch for the rest of the afternoon, which I cannot say I minded.

Our big night out was Saturday, which the birthday girl had us scheduled for an early dinner at a new Lebanese restauraunt in town, Sitti, and then a night out at the rooftop lounge of the new bar Solas in the Glenwood district of downtown Raleigh. We had a great time catching up and spending time with the friends who mean the most to us. It was good for me especially, because since moving to Charleston I miss having girls around who really know me inside and out.

Sunday morning we dragged ourselves out of bed (or off of our air mattresses in the living room floor that we were sharing with Birthday Girl's deaf white cat, Pharoah) and got ready to say our goodbyes. The DC folks were heading to the train station and we were looking forward to a greasy Sunday morning feast of Bojangle's before our almost five hour drive down south. Anyone who has ever tasted the greatness that is Bojangle's, knows that it is definitley the best hang over food imaginable, and we definitely feasted on it, and with great pleasure. It was for that reason (and possibly the Andnolini's we picked up when we rolled back into Chucktown...oops, blame that one on the bf) that I missed my weekend long run on Sunday (scheduled for 8 miles) and felt like such sluggish crap Monday morning.

So last night after work, although I was tired and cranky and came home to a severely dirty apartment, I persuaded myself to go out running, and I was hoping I could crank out an easy 8 miler so I wouldn't feel like I was already failing (a measly two weeks in) on my marathon training plan. I am one of those people who likes to do everything in order if I have a set plan, I don't like to switch things around, or miss a day here or there, because I feel like once I start to do that, everything else will just fall out of place (like they did last time I tried training for 26.2). I told myself that if I started out and I just felt off, that I would chop it to a 4.5 mile run, and run a bit more Tuesday night.

But it turns out that the 8 miles felt fine, and I finished in a relatively good time of 1:20:44, with my fastest mile being mile 8 which came in at a 9:44 pace. Not too bad for being a late in the day run after a weekend of gluttony and laziness. I think my only saving grace was that I drank almost a gallon of water yesterday. Woo hoo hydration!

Tonight's run is scheduled for 2 miles GP, 2 miles T, and 2 miles GP. I might either take tonight off to get some work done, or just go on a short 3 mile tempo run, depending on how much time I have. All in all, I feel like I am getting back into a good running rhythm, and I still feel like I have the motivation to get this done.

Yesterday my grandmother asked me, "Are you sure you want to do this?!" (in reference to said marathon) and I replied, "No! But I want to accomplish it." I hope I can prove myself right after a few more months of this...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday's Hill Workout: Ravenel Bridge

I am extremely excited that today is Friday, for two reasons:

1) I don't have to run today!
2) I'm heading up to NC for my friend's birthday this weekend, and only have to work a half day!

A quick update on last night's run, didn't have a full hour to commit even though I was scheduled to run an hour with 4 to 6 minutes of total uphill running time, so I cut short my bridge run by a measly .2 miles....yeah that really saved me some time, I know. But I figured since running the bridge gives me, oh, about 20-30 minutes of total uphill time, I was okay with cutting the time a bit short.

Made it over and back in 5.35 miles in 52:37, with average pace being 9:50, with 8:01 as my max pace. It took me a while to get started last night, running up the first hill was pretty slow going with the first mile coming in at 10:04, and decreasing from there with last mile coming in at 9:12. I also must not have been working that hard (as I noticed while I was casually "jogging" down the first time and thought, wow I'm really being lazy and slow right now...but of course I didn't pick up the pace too much :) I felt a lazy day was in order ) because my average heart rate was only 171.

For anyone who has never witnessed the magnificent beauty that is our Arthur Ravenel Bridge...

Although I was a bit unsure about moving down here, one thing I am completely certain of is that I am extremely lucky to be living in such a beautiful and scenic place. After all, I get to witness the above every evening driving home from work. :)

This weekend's running is scheduled for 4 miles Saturday and 8 Sunday, but since I will be away that might have to be tweaked a bit. The birthday girl and I will be running Saturday morning together (my original running buddy whom I miss living close to!), and I think she wants to do 5. If we have as much fun as I think we will Saturday night, I might not be running Sunday at all, so I'm going to try to convince her to do 8 that way I won't have missed my long run. :)

Happy Friday all!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here's to motivation

My running experience started way back when in high school cross country. At my school, it seemed like every body ran XC (or at least started out the season with the intention of doing so) and a few of my good girl friends ran as well, so I decided to join in.

I would say that my motivator was always to get in shape, because in high school, I wasn't exactly the fittest person. I was very involved in theater and chorus, and had never been the sports star. I tried soccer for a while, but our women's team was best in the county so that didn't last very long. I had done some track and field in middle school, and I still felt like there was an athlete inside of me (underneath a bit of fat, unfortunately) so I wanted to do something that would "force" me to get in shape.

My friend Jess and I embarked on the XC season our sophmore year with not very high hopes. We cheated on our "long" runs, stopped off at friends houses, and basically made a mockery of the sport as much as we could. When track workouts came up, we usually did a few of the workouts and then ducked behind the bleachers and headed home. We didn't do this because we were bad kids, we acted this way because we weren't in shape and instead of being embarrassed at being the worst on the team, we made jokes and laughed it off like it didn't mattter.

Needless to say, when our meets came up they were nothing but miserable, gut-aching, torture.

For some stupid reason one day, Jess and I decided to sign up for a Saturday out of town meet. Why would you do that if you hated it so much, do you ask? Good question, and I have no good answer. I guess we knew inside that we wanted to do better at the sport, so we signed up for something extra thinking it would motivate us to improve.

Morning came the day of the meet and we did everything we could to get out of going, (this in itself is a great story, maybe I will put that out here one day) but to make a long story short, we had to go.

So we get to school and load the bus that cold morning, and play "What's worse?" all the way there because we were THAT miserable.

When we get there, our coach is telling everybody their goal times. When he finally gets to me, he says, "Kristin, your goal is just to finish!" He laughs it off, and I do too not wanting to look hurt and embarrassed, and I end up posting my best meet time of the year that day.

That one sentence has stayed with me ever since that morning, and has probably been the main reason that I keep pushing myself to constantly improve. After I finish my marathon, I plan on calling him up and telling him the story, and letting him know how much of an inspiration and change to my life that one sentence has made.

So back to the here and now, last night was my first track workout of my marathon training plan, and I headed to the Mt. Pleasant track to run 3 miles and then 4x100s. I was originally going to run a quick 3 mile loop around Mt. P, but then decided since I didn't really know the area, just to suck it up and run laps.

I was immediately brought back to high school, when we would all gather on the track to do a sprint workout, and Jess and I would be sucking so bad that after a few sprints we ducked out (deathly afraid of our coach catching us and yelling at us in front of the team) and headed home, or to a friends house to do something "more fun." In reality we were just completely lazy.

But now, I actually have some confidence in myself and in my running ability, and when I arrived at the track to find a large group of runners waiting to start a practice, I wasn't nervous at all to be running amongst them.

I summised pretty quickly that this was a group of beginner runners training for the bridge run in April, with their "Get Over It!" t-shirts giving them away. Most of them seemed to be very new to running and were completely way too bundled up for an running workout.

As I went through my workout, slowly they trickled onto the track, some walking, some barely jogging. Some of them were my age, some were older, but they all had one thing in common--they wanted to be better.

Although I was quicker and more in shape than they were last night, I haven't always been that way. Running there with them last night I was thrown back to that time when all I wanted was to be in shape, to be able to run a 5k easily, to be better, and I know that's how they were probably feeling as well.

It has taken a few years, but running has completely changed my life. It has given me more confidence in myself, given me more energy, it has changed my body and my outlook on life.

In 4 months when I am running those last 6.2 miles after already running 20, and I just don't know where that extra push is going to come fron, I know I will be thinking about that cold morning back in high school when my coach thought I would never finish a 5k, and I know I will be able to push through.

Here's to motivation, here's to making it through, here's to running.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Footprints in the snow...or at least, tiny snowflakes on my nose...

Yesterday I made the comment that I really hoped it would snow here, as it was snowing literally everywhere else around Charleston, and all of my friends/family back in NC were getting a pretty good pounding of several inches.

I don't particularly love cold weather, but moving down here has made me miss cold winters with scarves and heavy coats and boots. So this past week has been pretty nice, to for once, be able to bundle up in the mornings and run outside with ear warmers and gloves.

I have always wanted to go for a run in a good snow, to feel the flakes falling on your face and to be so warm from the exercise that the cold outside seems to simply melt away...living in Charleston doesn't exactly allow me to fulfill that, but at least last night on my 6 miler I did get to run through a few flakes.

Did my first official run last night as part of my marathon training program, and for the first time in a month or so (since before the holidays and all that entailed) I felt as if I were truly a runner again. I love those runs, when you go out and you just run, without wanting to kill yourself, without thinking of all the ways you could shorten your loop, and without taking that oh-so-painful short walk break (I REALLY despise walk breaks, it makes me truly feel like a failure).

So my Tuesday evening routines are 2 miles at marathon goal pace, then 2 miles at tempo pace, and then 2 more miles at marathon goal pace. As I rounded out the final 2 miles, the snow began to fall delicately, the light from the streetlamps on the battery highlighted the flakes just so. The water in the Charleston Harbor was still and there were only a few brave souls out walking and enjoying the freak snow shower.

In a really stupid way it was kind of a magical run, and afterwards I just felt so energized and pleased with myself. I'm very glad to be back in the swing of it.

Tonight is a 3 mile run followed by 4x100's at the track. Shouldn't be too bad, but then again, I hate sprinting...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Charlie Post Classic and other local races

In doing some local running research, found the Charlie Post Classic 5k/15k run next Saturday, January 31st. I had heard about this race before, but for some reason had written it off...I think I thought it was like a 50 miler or something.

Anyways, so excited because A) I will be in town, B) 15k would be a perfect distance for me next week, and C) I might be able to convince my boyfriend to run the 5k!

Putting that one down on my calendar :)

Was planning on running a 1/2 Marathon on February 7th at Folly, the Save the Light Run, but unfortunately will be out of town on business until late that evening.

Also excited about the Bridge Run this year, which will be on April 4th. Hopefully I will have some friends come stay with us from NC for that weekend. Always a good time!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This weekend's "long run"

Well my long run today turned into a measly 6.8 mile loop around the peninsula. I thought I was taking a longer route, but it ended up not being as long as I thought. When I got back to my normal loop at East Bay, I looked down at my Garmin and it had only been about 3.5 miles....so much for trying to mix it up!

My usual long run is running from my apartment on Lockwood, down Calhoun and up East Bay, over the Ravenel and back. That's usually anywhere between 8-10 miles depending on if I go completely over the bridge.

Today's run wasn't even an easy 6.8, I was definitely struggling to keep going. Definitely have got to turn up the training this week since I won't be in town to do a long run this coming weekend.

Currently looking for a training program to follow for the marathon, have to get started on that ASAP.

Also looking for a good (yet inexpensive) gym in Charleston. My boyfriend and I live downtown, so we wanted one that was close enough to run to. Were considering Eco Fitness, but they're $40 a month....seems a bit steep to me since that doesn't even include classes. Need to go check out Bluefish Fitness, East Shore Athletic Club, and the YMCA. Any suggestions (if anyone is out there reading)?

Going to pick a marathon plan by tomorrow. Stay tuned! I'm also trying to figure out if I can import my Garmin data onto here somehow....

Friday, January 16, 2009

To pass or not to pass?

The one thing I have learned since I have started running regularly (roughly four years) is that the more you get into the sport, the more competitive you get. I don't know if everyone is like me, but when I'm out on a run and I see another runner, I feel the need to PASS.

(Or, in the very least if passing isn't an option (read: that runner is WAY faster than me) try to keep up with them. )

Now we all know the stipulations involving passing another runner.
1. It's completely acceptable as long as you don't do something rude like, look at them and smile that Grinch-like grin that says not-so-discreetly "You're really slow and you better move out of my way while you EAT MY DUST." (This happened to me once with a "friend" who can be credited as "My Running Nemesis" to this day and who definitely did NOT eat my dust that day. Serious pride injury.)
2. You make sure you don't come up so close behind them that you literally scare them off of their feet (this is acceptable if you're passing one of those annoying old ladies walking their lap dogs South of Broad yapping on their cell phones who won't ever move out of the way).
3. But the number one thing every runner has to consider before passing is, am I passing because I feel the need to show them I think I am faster, or do I actually NEED to pass them because I am faster?

Because friends, let me tell you, if your reasoning for passing another runner is the former, you could be in for a long sprint race after you do the deed.

A few nights ago I was running the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. The base is about half a mile from my work, and getting off around 5:30 I just change there and go for the about 5.5 mile run over and back to my car before heading home.

Right now I'm still trying to recover from the holidays and from starting a new job last week, so my running schedule is a bit - off. I'm not as in shape as I should be and running this ginormous hill is not as easy as it used to be. But I'm slated to run a marathon (my first!) on May 2nd so I'm trying to amp up my training to actually start my training, if that makes any sense.

Anyways I'm not the fastest right now.

Long story short, after I've already went all the way over, and am on my way back almost to the peak where I start to descend to the base, I see this girl in front of me. She's about my age, carrying a Gatorade or something, and by the way she's dressed it looks like shes more of a "recreational" runner (because clearly my running tights and fancy Nike pullover make me a pro). She's running a little bit slower than me and as I continue to climb I realize that I must pass.

So, I do.

Now, I'm not wearing my iPod so I can hear her running not too far behind me, so I start to pick it up. It's only downhill, right? That's easy, I can keep this up for a while. I only have about a mile left.

She obviously is very similar to me, and no matter how slowish she was running, she did NOT like to be passed. Because by the sound of her Gatorade flip flopping up and down she was sprinting to keep up and even possibly, pass me back.

Oh, the pass back. This has to be the most humiliating thing for a runner. It's basically just saying, oh yeah you THOUGHT you were faster than me, but guess what? YOU CAN"T KEEP UP THE PACE SO I'M FORCED TO TAKE BACK MY RIGHTFUL POSITION AHEAD OF YOU. Then you inevitably slink back in shame and hate that person until they've run so far ahead you can no longer see them. I usually hate myself almost as much at that point...

So in a desperate and glute-aching fog I did what I had to do to avoid the pass back. I sprinted. I sprinted all the way down that hill and I did all I could not to tumble over. I was basically grasping for air, hoping that my legs wouldn't give out beneath me, and more importantly, hoping that I wouldn't get completely embarrassed with a pass back.

After a few minutes I started to tune out everything else, and so by the time I came to and got to my car, the girl's Gatorade flopping sound was gone. HA! I had won!!

I never did turn around to actually confirm she was behind me, but I guess that's not what really matters (besides, we all know that turning around is a no no, that's like admitting that we're worried someone is about to pass us, and we're not worried, right?).

So to this girl, whoever you are, if you were really trying to pass me back, thanks for getting me sprinting that night. Because I have been sore for two whole days because of it.

On to the training!