My Super Sweet 13(.1)

A 1st Half Marathon

39th Annual KY Derby miniMarathon… Completed!

I did it! I did it! I ran my first half marathon!

Okay, I did that five days ago, but I just now have time to write about it. My excitement and sense of accomplishment are still present and accounted for, and I’ve barely run a mile since (I told myself I’d take a week off to heal before running again, and I also got a massage on Tuesday and got well acquainted with my new foam roller over the weekend; I needed rest). But everything went great and I had a really good time. I think I’d like to keep running. I think I’d like to train for a full marathon (one more mini first – 13.1 miles will take a lot out of you). I think I’ll stick with this running thing, and I’m very proud of myself, in moments, when I realize that I saw a goal like this, made a commitment to it, and did what I set out to do. That’s pretty cool.

The Recap

The packet pick-up

Going to pick up packets was a bit of a clusterfuck. Louisville around Derby time is   pretty crazy anyway, and the packet pick up was off of Fourth Street. There were people  everywhere and you couldn’t leave the bib and packet pick-up area without having to go  through the running expo folks. I am not sure that I want to sign up for the “Run a  Marathon in 50 States!” club while nervous about the mini, and I don’t like slogging  through crowds of people. Also, I don’t want to buy new gear the day before the race. I

The Blue Mile tent at the Expo

haven’t practiced in it – thanks, but no thanks. I did see the Blue Mile tent, but was so ready to get of there (plus my car was kinda illegally parked) that I just zoomed through. The new shirt design was pretty cool to see, and I like the olive green color – all I wanted was “not white and preferably not Kentucky Wildcat blue” because (a) white can be see-through and (b) I pay tuition to UofL, thus I am a Cards fan, thankyouverymuch. Seeing all the folks there for pick up made me realize how big this event is, and I sort of felt glad to be participating in a Derby Festival event. Last year I only checked out the hot air balloons:)

The Race

6:15 AM: I am awake and eating breakfast. I’d gone to a kirtan chanting session at the yoga studio the night before, eaten a good meal, and was relatively calm. I’m also really quiet in the morning to begin with, but I wasn’t as nervous as I was before the 10 miler. I’m in my outfit, I’d packed a little bag with my sweatshirt, water bottle, a banana, an energy bar, chap-stick, and… I think that’s it – the night before. I’d charged my iPod. Good to go.

7:05 AM: My boyfriend dropped me off near the finish line and I made my way through the hordes. I found a “10:52” mile pace setter and decided that she’d do. Music was playing and runners were stretching and talking, many wearing matching outfits or themed outfits – I ran a good ways of the race behind three women with Derby-related fascinators on their heads. It took me at least 10 minutes to go over the starting line after the gun went off.

Miles 1 – 5: After the first water stop (really early on) I find an man – probably mid-60s – with a good shuffle and keep pace with him for the first 5 miles of the race. He’s going slow, but I can still see the pace-setter and I’m trying really hard not to run hard because I’m trying really hard not to do math in my head regarding how many miles I have to go. It’s better not to think about it. I enjoyed taking in the city, and the weather was in mid-50s, sunny, breezy, and perfect for a long run. I enjoyed myself, as well as the folks cheering us on from the sidelines. I really liked the school bands who drummed us through the course. I stopped and walked through every water station, as I was feeling salt on my skin early in (I’d been glugging water all week, but can easily dehydrate). Everything was going well, and I was pleased.

Miles 6 -8: We hit mile 8 and go into Churchill Downs, and I’m feeling good but my body is starting to protest. Running through the tunnel was exciting, but my hips were not excited for me. Neither was my right calf. I stop, stretch, use the bathroom, and stroll through the Downs, marvelling at the horses out exercising. I am morally against animal sports – dog racing, horse racing, bull fighting – but you can’t deny how beautiful these horses are; I watched one running, and I could tell (four years of lessons, woo!) that the horse wanted to go faster (they are competitive animals, horses – believe me) and his trainer was holding him back. I suddenly felt lucky to be doing what I was doing, running this half-mini-marathon (what does it mean if you call it one thing or another?) and was really glad to know that at least half of the race was complete.

Miles 9 – 11: Walk. Run. Walk. Run. Trot trot. Stretch. Run run run run run trot. I am having to keep intervals until I find a good place on 3rd street to stop and give my hips a good stretch. I resent having to stop and do this, but my knees are starting to whine and I know if I can loosen my hips things will go better. I run for a while with a group of guys dressed as warriors – complete with Spartan helmets, capes, shields, and swords, and their good vibes boost my morale into the final stretch. Overall, the course is flat as a pancake, so I never had any hill issues, which was also a morale booster:)

Miles 12 – 13.1: As we ran under the Expo Center tunnel. I was running hard and really trying to pull it all out for the last mile, but I got over-excited and light-headed as we came out of the tunnel. I had to just go through at a slower pace, and my ego was upset but I didn’t want to faint and get the dreaded DNF. The final stretch was a blur of people, many with their hands stretched out to high-five you on your way in. It was a blur of noise and excitement, and I turned my iPod off as I ran the last 1/4 mile, realizing I’d almost completed what I’d set out to do last December. My goal was about to be met. My training was about to come to its head. I ran across the finish line feeling amazing. When the nice lady put the medal around my neck, I was barely paying attention. I knew my time would be different (I go by chip, not race clock) than it was as I crossed; my time for my first miniMarathon was 2:29:52. I’m actually kind of proud of that time. That means I ran most of the race, albeit slowly:)

I did it! I completed a half marathon! I ran 13.1 miles! I feel awesome!

So I’m going to keep running, I’ve got my eye on some races, and I’m very proud of myself. If I can do it, anyone can do it, so please – if you’re considering this challenge, I throw the gauntlet down for you. You can do it!

Thanks for keeping up with this blog; I promise I’ll write one if/when I start training for a 26.2. Until then, happy running everyone, and kudos to your own running successes and thank you for your support! Happy trails!

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4 Days Until… (OMG. 4 Days!)

You got this! Ignore the nagging doubts and go for it!

I can hear Vincent Price’s laugh in my head as I read the title of this post – only FOUR more days until the Kentucky Derby MiniMarathon! Only four more days until all my training comes to a head, until I run my first half marathon, until I run 13.1 miles for the first time ever, like in my life, and only four more days until I can go back to a life of leisurely swims and yoga classes…

Well, not really. As I look at Nurse on the Run’s blog, See Glen Run’s blog, and Sugar and Scrubs’s blog, I see a lot of contemplation, reflection, and dedication to running. I think everyone who trains for a mini or half marathon will continue running a little; because you have done something before, I believe it makes us more confident to continue pushing ourselves further, in any pocket of our lives that we see some space for expansion. And some nerves are popping up on others’ blogs and in my own head; that’s to be expected. I’m doing better nerve-wise than I was for the 10-miler. I missed a total of three runs during this whole training process – one for my trip to Utah for work, and the other two were this past week, where a very oddly-behaving knee (and this is the “good” knee”) and a nasty big-toe blood blister kept me on the couch with an ice pack. I ran 35 minutes yesterday and it went pretty well; I am happy to say I run up the hills on Cherokee Park’s scenic loop now with an ease I never could have imagined!

A quick note on the blood blister, for those of you who might be reading this and want to know how I “fixed” it: I wrapped it in moleskin for two runs, but could feel it throb every time my left foot pushed off the pavement. I got some ampoules (I knew these things were the bomb after the Inca Trail) but the first run with an ampoule felt the same as the moleskin, so… I popped it (with a flame-steralized safety-pin – hurrah for bathroom surgery). It was gross. But then I applied antibiotic treatment to the raw skin and wrapped up my big toe in an ampoule designed for finger and toe blisters. I had to drain it a couple more times, but I could run on it with the pressure of the blister relieved. All of this was less painful than dealing with an ingrown toenail, if you’re trying to get a pain-read on this. Anyway, still wearing ampoule, running fine. The ice/knee advice came from my doctor; the back of my right knee was having some sharp pains when I wasn’t running so I decided rest was best. I’m so glad this issue came up in the “taper” period of training – you run less! how weird! – before the mini.

So as we near the goal – the prize, the finish line, the big triumph, the secret success, the personal best – what does it really mean to have run a half marathon? I mean, if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, but the kindly farmhouse people (it’s always a farm) say “the nearest gas station is 13 miles (or 20 kilometers, for That German Runner) from here” you now have an estimate of how long it would take you to run to town. So what else does it mean? Running a half-marathon means that you have the strength and stamina to run a certain distance, sure, but for many – myself included – it means that you had a goal and you had the will power and stamina to stick to the rough bits – the training – to get to that goal. You already “did it”; if I counted up the amount of miles I’ve run since January, when the official training program began… let’s see: using a rough estimate, and knowing I have run 15-20 miles a week for the past three months – that’s over 200 miles at least!

But I don’t really care how far I’ve gone; what I care about is that I stuck to it. I slogged through. I wore tights and mittens and a hat and ran in below freezing temperatures, something I never would have thought I’d do. I can run 5k no problem, yet back in my middle school and high school days I wouldn’t even run a mile in P.E. I ran before to get weight off when I was finishing my B.A., then again during my M.A., but now, during my Ph.D. work (I like the parallels – I got better as my career grew), I really made it into a practice, like yoga – something that you must do, something that you promise yourself to do, for you, and for all the benefits that it gives you. To stick to it, I started, last year, running races. Ah, much harder than jogging on the treadmill! So I got outside and hit the pavement. By committing to training for any race, you commit to doing something that was not expected of you. You commit to doing something that makes you feel good, thus in turn allowing you to spread the good vibes to those you care about and those around you. Yoga, I truly believe, does retains that benefit, but I think running does it too; you can become very proud of yourself when you run – the small victories equal the big ones – and that confidence is a good thing. So congratulations to my fellow runners on successfully training for the milestones they’ve set for themselves – BRAVA!!! You did it:)


13 Days Until… (The Last Long Run)

Just keep running. You'll get there... wherever your "there" might be, you'll get to it:)

Two weeks from today, I will be lining up to compete in the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon! All the training – since December! – is now coming to an end. We did our last long run today (it rained at the end – I missed the Blue Mile Group Run by about a minute because I got up too late, but I ran anyway – solo runs are still my favorite thing); from here to the mini will be tapered runs. I enjoy the long runs more that I ever thought I would – you get to mile 2 and you find a stride, and by mile 5 you’re groovin’, then, for me, the 7th mile is when I finally let my inner thoroughbred out of the gate (hey, it’s the Derby miniMarathon – I can throw in horse metaphors:)). I’m looking forward to the end of training, if only for the reason that I’d like to do things other than run for exercise. I still do yoga, and I hit the gym once a week to cross-train and do my weight training, but I do miss more flexibility in my routine. But man, running has become quite addictive. I definitely don’t want to stop after this miniMarathon – I would like to do a full marathon (I have a dream) at some point, and I would love to run some races in other cities; the Cooper River Run in Charleston, as well as the Reedy River 10k in Greenville, and a Tough Mudder or similar would be nice to do. So would the half marathon part of Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Event. Oh, ach du liber – I resolve to keep running.

Today’s long run was pretty good, though I’m plenty sore from it – I did about 9 miles, meaning my longest run actually came in the form of the Papa John’s 10 Miler. I noticed today that I’d gotten faster – it used to take me about 55 minutes to get from the Blue Mile Highlands store through Cherokee Park to the edge of Seneca Park, but today it didn’t even take 45 minutes. While running along this morning, I thought today about stuff I’ve learned while training for this half that I think is worth sharing. Other than food that I find conducive to good health and good runs, here are the top five things I’ve learned while training:

1. Listen while you train. Then stretch.
Is your right knee acting up? Are your hips really tight at the end of a run? Are you stopping to stretch your left calf, which has gotten too tight to keep going? Are you getting an ache in your lower back? Listening to your body while you run really helps you know what to stretch (you should aim for the whole body, but doing “square pose” is likely a must, as well as anything that loosens up your hamstrings) when you’re done with your run. You can do yoga, you can do other regular P.E. stretches, you can get a foam roller, grab a sports massage – but make sure you are noticing what is aching and tight and address it and be gentle with yourself. A friend of mine ignored a bad knee and had to drop out of a race he’d been training for because the knee just gave out in mile one. Don’t hurt yourself. Stretch.

2. Cut to your core.
Your running posture, stride, and whole body will thank you for doing core work. Any type will do, vary it up – I do hula-hooping, I work on an exercise ball, I do Pilates, etc. – but take really good care of your core. Keeping yourself upright will help your with your breathing, and keeping your stomach tucked in while you run will also help your lower back. Running does work your whole body, but I’ve found that doing extra core work makes my run much stronger.

3. Steady as she goes.
If you’ve been running for a while, you probably know this one, but as a beginner writing for beginners, I can’t stress enough how important it is to find what I call “gorilla pace”; it’s a sort of lumbering jog, with loose arms and light feet, that makes me feel like I’m barely running, but keeping that pace through about 1/2 of a long race ensures that I can speed up and go hard the other half. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by racing off at your fastest pace from the starting line – take it easy and let your mind and body adjust to running, especially at races.

4. Get some gear.
I don’t mean the latest app for running or a GPS watch or any of that. What I’m talking about is shoes. And then grab some good stuff for different weather conditions; running leggings make an hour run in 18 degree (F; -7 C) a lot easier, and a moisture-wicking tank with movement panels makes a long warm run hella more comfotrable. But shoes are the most important thing. Invest. Ask questions. Run a little in them. They don’t have to be the coolest looking shoes, they need to be the best shoes for you. You might still get a blister or two (I have a hellish blood blister right now, and I got my shoes in February) because you are running and on your feet all the time. So take care of your machine and outfit yourself – the machine – properly.

5. Play!
Do interval training (or fartleks as the running magazines say – a Swedish word for intervals) and go up hills. Go on a long flat run and run a shorter, hillier one later. Walk a little. Sprint. Do side-winder steps up a hill when no one is looking (or when they’re looking, who cares?). Do a football crawl (bend knees 90 degrees, put chest to thighs and step feet together-feet-apart, keeping low) for five minutes, then break into a jog. Run on trails. Make sure you turn in different directions if you have to go on the same loop – sometimes turn left when you start, sometimes turn right. By keeping your run fun, you keep enjoying running, I think. Also, don’t forget to cross-train. It really helps your body get used to the training you’re doing on the road. I never ran on the treadmill while training, and I don’t recommend it unless you must; running on the road works your legs far better for longer courses, and you need to get used to the elements – sun, bugs in the mouth, rain, etc.

These past couple of weeks (I skipped a week, sorry!) were good. I didn’t run on Wednesday because I was really tired (pollen? end-of-semester chaos? who knows…) but I did all my other runs and added five minutes to each of them, except the 45 minutes after the 10 miler – I did 35 and called it a day ’cause I was still sore – and I’ve been yogaing and gymming. I’m feelin’ strong and excited for the miniMarathon – it’s almost here!

Happy Running!


25 Days Until… (10 Miles and Confidence x10)

Holy doughnuts, Batman! I ran 10 miles!

Well, I did it! I ran twice last week, hit up a yoga class, popped by the gym, worked my core, and turned 31. And then, on Saturday, the 31st day of March, my first full day of being 31 years old… I ran the Papa John’s 10 Miler!

I was really nervous about the race – I’d never run more than 8 miles – but once we got started, I began to enjoy myself; if you’re lacing up your running shoes every Saturday since January, then part of it is habit. But the rest? Fun! The crowd of cheering people were great (though they disperse a bit once you get into Iroquois Park, which, by the way, was a less-strenous jaunt through the park than the IHR Thanksgiving Run was) and the weather was fantastic. I walked through all but one of the water stops, and I paced myself down until mile 6, which is when I really started to kick out the jams, so to speak. When we got to mile 9, I pretended I had two more miles to go, and once we got to the final lap – through Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, very cool – I ran as hard as I could. My bib time (I didn’t get through the start until 8+ minutes after the official start) was 1:52:14, which I think is respectable enough; again, never done this before, and an 11:20 mile isn’t too shabby for a newbie runner at such a distance, I think. Of course, the winner of the race ran 4:20 miles, but hey, he’s a professional runner – it was cool to see and cheer for the winners around mile 3, which is when they were passing us pokey folks:)

I’m not sure I’m going to run today; I think I might hit up yoga instead. After the 10 miler, I took a nap and was stiff and sore. I stretched, then went out with friends and watched the Cards lose to the Cats in the Final Four (myeh, but if Kansas wins my bracket’s still intact) and then got home only to be invited up for cocktails (and belly laughs) at my neighbor’s. The next day, thus, I was really really bad off. Don’t do what I did, which was over-do it partying after slamming my body through a race. I’m still sore in spots and my wonderful boyfriend, who cheered me on, also gave me a good back rub and worked my left thigh a bit, as my IT band and hamstrings were so stiff that I couldn’t get to sleep for my post-race nap. Mad props to boyfriend:) Also, mad props to Mom and Dad, who gave me some massage gift certificates this year. I might use one this week, I feel so creaky.

The best thing about this race is that it showed me a few things. It showed me that training and practice really do pay off (thanks Blue Mile!) – holding myself back and going what I call “gorilla pace” (I have a loose arm, swingy, short-step 11:00/mile steady pace – anything faster and I have to stop and walk about 3 miles in) helped me run nearly the whole race (again, I stopped for water and walked about 2:00 in Iroquois at one point). I was impressed that my body could do this, and I my confidence for the half marathon improved. I’ve got some tough weeks of training to complete until the Derby Festival miniMarathon, but I now know I can handle it. I’ve also discovered, in light of this 15k (+), that I enjoy running longer distances. 5ks are fun, but I’m finding I don’t really get a groove on until about mile 4. This bodes well for my marathon dreams. I’m proud of myself and looking forward to getting my body recovered this week for more runs. I know I don’t run fast, but I’m only racing myself; finishing was my goal this year. Maybe next year it’ll be shortening the time? No matter what, though, it’s important to shout out a hurrah for progress, challenges, and goals achieved! Now, only 25 days until the Derby Festival miniMarathon… I think I got this:)

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31 Days Until… (Eek! Only a Month!)

Homer looks like I feel - but the trick is to keep at it... right? Slow and steady, progress is being made...

Oh my, only a month until the 2012 Kentucky Derby miniMarathon. This week I turn another year older – 31; that’s 13 backwards! Lucky symbolism or cute coincidence? – and will ring in my first day as a 31-year-old by running the Papa John’s 10 miler this Saturday. I’m not sure if that’s a masochistic or celebratory way to start out my 31st year. I’m favoring the latter for now.

I’ve been diligent and smart with my training; I did 45 minutes of intervals yesterday instead of the prescribed “30 minutes easy run” pace, if only because I was too tired to motivate myself to run for 30 minutes without stopping. I know I can, and have done so frequently, but I was just tired. Our Blue Mile group run this past Saturday went well – I stuck with the group, and I ran three times last week as well as took a couple yoga classes and I hit the weights and core pretty hard, as per last week’s “resolution.” I’m glad I stuck with my plans and am pleased with where I’m at, training-wise. We did get a gust of hot, 80+ degrees (F, 26 degrees Celsius for all those metric-lovers out there) which made running a little harder (hot! breathe!) but a lot more fun (hot!). I compared notes with my German pal who has also recently (like within the last year) taken up running, and we’re around the same level of time/distance. I have to admit though – the warm weather and the email inviting me to sign up for this summer’s Open Water Swim has made me crave the pool more than the pavement this week. Luckily, we’ve dropped into spring-ier temperatures, so I’m not wishing I was at the pool as much, but I think I’ll always prefer swimming to running.

So I’ve got a month of hard work ahead of me – 31 days – until I run 13 miles. I’m getting excited but I’m also nervous. I find it much easier to run distances in races because of all the people around me doing the same thing, but the 10 miler covers part of the mini course, meaning the dreaded (though I’ve done it before!) Iroquois Park hill. I think part of the fear comes from being tired – the semester is winding down, which means the classes I teach are in full throttle, and I’ve got a couple of chapters to knock out before Derby, which is when Louisville officially shuts down for a week and parties like it’s 1999, thus also when professors on committees become a bit scarce. Then there are the multiple weddings to plan for/buy for/travel to, and I have a job interview this week. I think it’s amazing how much we juggle daily, and add running to it? I’m proud of myself for my will power and perseverance this week – I’ve tackled the hills in Cherokee Park, sure, but the real accomplishment was getting off the couch. Thinking about my lofty, honeymoon-phase talk about training for a couple of marathons (Chicago’s or NYC’s, as well as the Marathon to Athens, Greece, marathon were on my mind…) I chuckle now. I just want to get this half marathon complete so I can go back to being lazy – I hope this fog lifts a little. Part of the issue is the chronic tight hips, sore hamstrings, etc. that come along with running, and while I thank myself on my runs, doing core work isn’t that fun. But it’s worth it; I am very excited to be diggiing my heels in and committing to these goals – it’s pretty empowering.

Hope the rest of you out there in the runner blogosphere are thanking yourselves for your own small victories. I hope I do well on the 10 Miler, but I also hope I have fun doing it. I’m going to work on a page with some yummy and healthy runner’s snacks (’cause you get hungry running all the time), but until then – Happy trails!

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41 Days Until… (plus a 10k and jitters)

The Rodes City Run 10k is complete! My first 10k!

Oh goodness. I haven’t been here in a week! I meant to post every week, but I didn’t this past week because I was out of town for work and my traveling and conferencing companion was quite into the event – normally I wander off a bit every day (thus time to while away online, though I didn’t bring my computer anyway), but not this time. It was a great time, and I got in a short little shuffle around Salt Lake City’s downtown (I poorly packed and was underdressed) and I truly only missed one day of running regarding the past three weeks of my training schedule. As I said in my last post, I got a PR on the Reedy River Run 5k, which made me proud yet still somewhat skeptical of the tomorrow’s (aaah!) Rodes City Run 10k. I’ve gotten my packet as of now; just writing about it makes me nervous. But I’m pre-writing my jitters and will fill you in tomorrow regarding the results of my first 10k. I’ve run 5 miles in a race and 7 in my longest run. And I’m sure I can finish this race. I’m just nervous that I won’t finish… well. My past two runs have been okay, but I was definitely tired and I forgot how thirsty I get when running in the warmer weather; I just didn’t feel in top form.

Part of the problem was a back-slide on a my long journey to stop smoking. Nerves regarding my work coupled with a travel partner who smokes made it easier to push my resolve to quit aside this past week (“only a few – what harm can it do?”); the biggest problem is the result – heaving up the hill in our recent beautiful (mid-70s!) weather showed me how much I did to my lungs in one week of travel and one – one – pack of cigarettes. But I know it’s bad and I have to keep learning (psycho) and re-learning that you can’t smoke and run. Done. It’s hard but I have to stick to it. I’ve been doing core work the past few days every time I want a cigarette. After 500 ball reps, you think twice about that urge.

I’ve also been really tired due to the time change, and two recent trips disrupting my eating/exercise schedule hasn’t helped. I’m quite a creature of habit, but now my habits – eating for fuel, eating good foods, not smoking, diligent exercises – such as core work and three-times weekly yoga classes – have become necessity for my training. And not smoking. While there’s an argument to be made for a happy medium, the Kentucky Derby MiniMarathon is only 41 days away. That’s a little over a month. I need to cross-train more (thank goodness I pushed back my dissertation to December – I now I have time to do these things) and I got a new swimsuit so I can go back to my big love – lap swimming – since the weather is warming up. I’m positive, but I’m hesitant. My trainer at Blue Mile ended his email to me with “be confident in where you are” and I think that’s an important tip – we worry even though we’re doing our very best to prepare.

Oh, I do I hope I’m doing my best to prepare. I’ll update this with my 10 experience and post tomorrow. Perhaps I will be exhausted yet excited. I shall not get a DNF, and I will finish strong. Slow and steady, slow and steady… Oh boy…

UPDATE, 3/17/12: I finished the Rodes City Run 10k in 1:04:28! (Hence the photo for this post) I wanted to get in in an hour, but I walked at each water stop and took a little 30 second breather after mile three (sun in face. hot.). I am proud of myself, and it was so cool to begin St. Patrick’s Day with a sea of people running in green. Someone had a sign on the sidelines that said “Run hard now! Beer later!” and I must admit it motivated me:) I love the cheering squads on the side-lines, and I’m looking forward to (in a semi-masochistic way) the Papa John’s 10 Miler in the next couple of weeks! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone, and hope you’ve had a good week of running!


53 Days Until… (Get into the Groove)

Sprinting toward the finish line in the Reedy River 5k - I am in front of the stroller, not in it:)

Back in Louisville and feeling a little south-sick (Louisville – and Kentucky in general – does not fit my definition of south for several reasons). I had a great time in South Carolina at my friend’s wedding, saw my sister, saw lots of wonderful friends, and I ran the Reedy River Run 5k! I had a great time running it… and I got a PR! I did it in around 30:06 minutes; that’s near a 10 minute mile! So close! It was nice to have a 5k available when I couldn’t do the Anthem 5k here in Louisville. And I would like to personally thank Cherokee Park‘s scenic loop for having two (either way you go, there’s always two) monster hills. Those hills have prepped me for running far more than I would have originally thought. I powered up the slopes on the Reedy River Run with no trouble, and I didn’t pause to walk once. It was a great Saturday, all in all.

My left hip is still giving me trouble. The ache is pretty obnoxious, and spending 16 hours in a car this weekend probably didn’t help it. I’ve been stretching and stretching (pigeon and square poses, for you yogis out there, seem to get to the spot) and I noticed that my left side, in general, is tighter than my right. Hmm. I shall consult with my yoga teacher tomorrow regarding how I can help myself with this. I might even go to yoga instead of running tonight; it snowed here early this morning and I’m not too keen on running on ice in the park. I’m wondering if Blue Mile will do their group fun run tonight if the roads are iffy? Might call them later.

I’m very excited about the Rhodes City Run 10k on St. Patrick’s Day; my Reedy River t-shirt is green, and I have a pair of green shorts, so if the weather’s right I’ll be in full leprechaun attire. Aside from fashionable running musings, I’m just getting very excited about running my first 10k. I think it’ll be fine – the farthest I’ve run is 7 miles so far, and I did okay. Getting ready to go to Salt Lake City this weekend for a conference – my running coach/trainer/mentor at Blue Mile said that the running in higher altitude would raise my red blood cells in a good way (I, who have been so effected by altitude before, should’ve known this) but I have to get the paper finished for the conference before I start thinking about running there… On that note, I’d better get moving on my long to-do list; hope everyone out there in blogging & running land enjoys a great week! I can’t believe there’s only 9 weeks to go until the miniMarathon, but I’m glad that I’m getting into a running groove:)

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60 Days Until… (Run Rabbit Run)

Run Rabbit Run! (art by Peter Gander)

This will be quick; I’m pressed for time this month in a major way (the big dissertation is being overhauled all month long) but I did want to give a quick update. Still training dilligently with Blue Mile, eating okay (there are some gaps in my nutrition that I should fill, but granola and vanilla yogurt has become a new favorite snack), and I ran about the same distance that I did last week: 1 hour Monday, 50 minutes Wednesday, and 50 minutes with the Blue Mile group on Saturday. I also “discovered” (that word is so over and mis-used, but, like I said, I’m in a hurry) the joy of foam rollers this Saturday, and my Achille’s tendon, IT band, hamstrings, and lower back are begging me to buy a foam roller for home use. I’m considering it, but money’s tight at the moment – I’ve got a wedding this coming weekend and a trip to Salt Lake City for a conference the next. A $20 foam roller (they’re likely cheaper online or at Target) is not in the cards, but you’d better believe that I’ll be investing soon. They really help. I’m also looking into compression socks/sleeves for my calves, which sometimes feel like rocks. I’m constantly stretching my hips, which ache if I sit on the couch for more than an hour at a time (not very conducive to watching the Oscars while grading papers).

I’ve met a long-distance runner at the yoga studio I go to, and he and I were disucssing the importance (and I spoke with the Blue Mile folks about it as well) of the steady base-pace. I hate feeling like I’m holding back, but it’s really important for endurance and I found that out the hard way on my Monday run this week. The best approach I’ve found is “yogic” running, where I breathe like I would in yoga while running. This has worked in the past for swimming – you eventually go into this cardio-trance where you’re just slicing through the water – so I hope it’ll continue to work for my running. This week promises to be a great one in terms of runs – I’m going to run a couple of miles tonight before tonight’s fun run, Wednesday’s going to be a fantastically warm 70 degrees, so I’ll be out and about that afternoon, and then this coming Saturday, since I have to be in Greenville, SC for a wedding that night, I’m running the Reedy River Run 5k on Saturday morning! My Blue Mile trainer said it would be a good thing to do, though I originally was going foe the 10k (he said I’m overdoing it by aiming for the 10k – so while the rest of the Louisville Metro Area is participating in the first Triple Crown Race – the Anthem 5k – I’ll be racing too, just at a different course in a different state:) I’m excited for this weekend, and keeping positive as to all the work I have to do; kirtan chanting at my yoga spot has helped, and I’ve started to “chant” while running. Not sure if naming Sitta and Krishna will help me run better or faster, but it makes the miles go by a little quicker and makes me smile inside:)

I’ve got sooooo many blogs to read and post comments on; bear with me, I’ve not forgotten my fellow runners-bloggers!

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69 Days Until… (The Run Gets Fun)

True That.

Oof. I ran 7 miles today (okay, 6.50 and I interval’d the final half mile) and I was running on empty. All week long I have “Sat. 7 AM” on my phone, reminding me of my run. Today I slept up until 10 to 8; no breakfast, no stretch, just an “Aiee!” and a leap out of bed. I am proud that I’m always get my stuff for early morning runs together the night before, so I grabbed and sprinted out. We (we being the Highlands Blue Mile Training Group) were to run 75 minutes today, and I dutifully set my timer for 37 minutes and 50 seconds (half out, half back) for the first leg. It was a beautiful morning, and there are TONS of groups out training for the Kentucky Derby miniMarathon right now – by the way, can big groups yield to cars and other runners or just get in a single-file line, please, on the roadways? Let’s share the road, how ’bout? – and I was bopping along at a nice pace. I kept passing marker signs and seeing fellow group members, but I figured they’d just started sooner and thus were turning around sooner. I finally made it to a stop sign and checked my timer. I hadn’t hit start. D’oh!

This morning’s run taught me a lesson though, one which the folks at Blue Mile have mentioned in recent training emails – if you don’t fuel up, you’re going to burn out. The last leg of the run was pitifully slow, and I finally broke down and did intervals so I could get some rest. I could smell food at the restaurants near the store and was almost running because I wanted to get to some food quicker! A sample of my inner monologue: *breathe* Left foot, right foot *breathe* grilled cheese sandwhich *breathe* left foot, right foot granola and yogurt *breathe*. But I ran the longest I ever have today. Gold star!

Overall, this was a great training week. I did the group run with some Blue Mile folks on Monday, and not only were we rewarded with a glass of wine at Cumberland Brews, but I got to meet and talk with some new cool folks. and I had another conversation with a nice lady I’d spoken to at a previous Monday fun run. I kept pace with a seasoned runner who I’ll call H., and we ran up both the hills on the scenic loop, which is always a treat but is also now mandatory for me. We did about 3.3 miles on Monday and I did another 4 miles, solo with some new tunes, on Wednesday. So I almost made it to 15 miles this week. I stuck to the goals of my last post, and even managed to fit a gym visit (elliptical and core work, yay!) and yoga class into the schedule, which is becoming more hectic as I’m mid-semester, which means my work and my students’ work is coming at me hard at the same time. I also went to a guided meditation class – yoga nidra – which helped my work week (when am I not working, really, though?) end on a zen note. I’m proud of my running and training progress so far, and I actually look forward to running, something that never happened, no matter how positively I approached it, with the StairMaster.

The week after next begets a wedding, which means I won’t have the Blue Mile group to push me through, and the weekend after that I’ll be at a conference in Utah, so, again, I’ll have to make up for the length on my own. But at least the Rhodes City Run 10k is now a great deal less daunting – if I can run 7 miles on an empty stomach “accidentally” then I’m feeling pretty good:)

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75 Days Until… (New Shoes, New Attitude?)

Shoe Guru: "You really got the maximum mileage out of these" (right - Old Shoes, left - New Shoes)

Oh my, only 12 weeks until the Kentucky Derby miniMarathon. This week would have been a poor indicator of my motivation to run the half, and I’ve had to do some re-focusing on exactly why I am doing this. I was feeling poorly (thanks, Super Bowl party, but congrats to Eli and the Giants for the win!) on Monday and work ran late, so I walked about 2.5 miles Monday night, and I was angry at myself for missing the Blue Mile Monday group run, because I have begun to enjoy the social aspect of it. Being around “like minds” (other folks dedicated to running some new distance) can be very helpful in motivating you to be more disciplined and dedicated to your training, at least in my first experience at training for a race with group. Also, the weather was bad this week, but Tuesday was beautiful, so I went on an hour/5 mile run with great gusto… and paid for it until Friday. I walked every day and did a took a good vinyasa yoga class on Thursday, but I didn’t run again until Saturday’s group run, which was another hour/5 miler. I’m resting today (only a walk) because I’m aiming for three hour-long runs (15 miles) this week, a little ahead of my training schedule (I’m loosely following it) but a good goal to aim for – maybe I’ll split it up to four runs? It’s time to step up the training.

Being that I am a creature of habit to a degree higher than many other people I’ve met (I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch since I could chew, for one example…), I know that once I stick to a plan I will follow it. Once you get used to exercising – at or over 70% in terms of bodily effort – every day, you just have to do it. Once I get used to running three (and eventually four) times a week, you just have to do it. I’m already used to exercise all the time, but getting my muscles used to the longer runs has proven a challenge. I hated that it took me so long to recover from my Tuesday run, but I’ve discovered that I need to keep going slow and steady on these longer runs, which required my muscles to perform in a new way. Furthermore, my shoes needed replacing in the worst way, and I couldn’t afford to until March, so my lovely supportive significant other, seeing an opportunity to hit the gift-giving ball out of the park, got me a brand new pair for Valentine’s Day:) We went to Swags Sports East (sorry Blue Mile! But it’s where he buys his, and beggars can’t be choosers – don’t worry, I’ve got my eye on some goods at your store!), where the Shoe Guru (I didn’t ask his name) watched me walk around, showed me how my old shoes’ wear pointed toward my inward pronation and high arches (the arches I knew about) and I got a nice pair of Brooks, which I’ll be trying out tomorrow on the group run. Shoe Guru ran for UofL‘s track team and did some competitive running after graduation, worked for Adidas in marketing and product production, and has a firm distaste of Runner’s World magazine and not unlacing shoes before taking them off, and I think he really fitted me into a good pair of shoes that will help be run better – my boyfriend and several of his running friends swear by this guy, so it seems like a safe bet.

Getting new gear is a big motivator for me, and everyone knows that, if you’re running a lot, shoes are important. My soles were actually coming apart from my shoes; I can’t remember when I bought them. I hope the new shoes get a good work-in this week, and I look forward to stepping up my training, if for no other reason than I can see improvement – I ran three miles without stopping to walk on Saturday’s run. Small steps make for big journeys.

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