Monday, October 17, 2011
Eighteen months ago I would have never imagined writing a half marathon recap blog – now I’m writing my third in 6 months’ time. Yep, me, Britt who couldn’t pass the one mile run on middle school fitness test and couldn’t run between two lamp posts five years ago (maybe even 3 years ago if I thought hard enough of an example in which I tried).
I signed up for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon only about 3 weeks ago. When I finished my second in mid-Sept, I figured I had a good amount of time to recover from that one and train for this one. I also saw the elevation map (started at about 1300ft and went down to 780 or something) plus it was a rails-to-trails course so I thought “softer ground”. Well, good intentions were blown away with yucky weather on the weekend I was supposed to do my long run in between the races. Also, I slacked on a few of my training runs throughout the week. Still, having run 13 miles a few weeks before, I wasn’t extremely concerned. Leading up to the race I kept thinking “I can always walk”.
I could tell I was so much more laid back about this than other races. Heck at about 8:30 the night before I said to Bonnie – we haven’t even printed out directions yet. (She had, of course, since she’s more of a planner than I am.) I went to bed not 100% sure what I was even going to wear. Other races I have the outfits laid out nicely. I woke up to 48 degrees with a real feel of about 32. Hmm, how does one dress for that? I opted for a short sleeved shirt with the arm sleeves, a long sleeved shirt over top and then long pants. We get to the course for packet pick-up and it’s as windy as can be. I began doubting my clothes choice thinking I should have worn a jacket. We had to park one place (and get our packets) and they bused us to the start. Luckily, there, they had a well-organized bag drop off to put my sweatshirt in and a heated building to wait in for the start. We ran into (like we do in even the busiest of races) Lynn (LYNNANN43) and her son, Kevin, in the building. We got to chat while waiting for the start.
The bus driver said there were 850 registrants, so it was small for a half marathon. Unfortunately, it felt like thousands when it’s a big group start and no start map (what kind of half only has a clock time?). We’re off and headed to the trail. I decided going in that my goal was to finish, I didn’t even really have that little voice in the back of my head saying “PR”. I wanted to try and enjoy myself. The first mile had a guy yelling out times – he said 10 something. A little fast for us but it was only the first mile. By mile two the wind calmed down and I warmed up, pulling off my sleeves. I kept both shirts on and was a good temperature the rest of the race.
The trail wasn’t as smooth as the ones I’m used to but it was nicer than asphalt. It was beautiful to run with the orange, red and yellow leaved trees. We were cruising along and I was feeling pretty good. Bonnie wears a Garmin so I’d check every once in a while that we were pacing OK (at one point I made her slow down.) After doing some research after my last half, I realized that I have IT band issues, which makes the outside of my knee hurt. I was so laid back about it all, I stopped 3-4 times to stretch my leg to try and prevent it from hurting. I think the stretching helped in that my legs were a lot better than last two (still hurt a little but not excruciating like last time.) At mile 10 the time reader said 1:53. Doing some quick math I realized that we were on pace to get under 2:30. Well, I think I wish I hadn’t heard him because instead of pushing for a PR, I decided that I could walk more than I probably should have. This race my breathing felt heavy, like I couldn’t get enough air. The problem with starting to walk all of sudden was that starting up the running again really is an effort. I was having trouble finding a slower pace that wasn’t a walk – I know it’s mental but I couldn’t figure it out. I wasn’t that worried (although Bonnie wouldn't run without me, so I felt a little bad about walking so much).
JOPAPGH warned us about an incline at the end. Well, I know inclines and that was HILLS! We left the trail at the end and went up one ramp to the street’s incline that led to a bridge. That sure was walked! We ran most of the last mile into the town of Freeport. Happy to see the end, we finished strong and got in under 2:33 (11:35pace). I’ll take that since our last race was 2:32. Looking at the Garmin we were at under an 11min/mile at mile 5 and about 11:18 at 10 miles. So, it was those last three miles that really slowed down our time. I guess that’s where the lack of training comes in – again, I’m happy I finished and had a decent time for me. I have plenty of time to get under a 2:30!
It was a weird race in that it was smaller and on a trail – it almost didn’t feel like a race since we were slower and not part of a pack. Almost felt like a regular long run (since we do a lot of long runs on trails) which is good in there was little pressure and probably a little bad in there was little pressure. The worst part of the race – no medals at the end. I need to provide that feedback. I think the entrance fee was only $40 – I’d rather pay $50 and get some bling … but that’s just me!
On my iPod play list is Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. I think it’s a great self-affirming song in many ways but when I hear it when running I remind myself that I’m was born this way – I’m a runner. I may not be a fast runner and that’s OK, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” This half marathon kind of reminds me of the song lyrics. While there is excitement in getting PRs and I don’t find anything wrong with wanting to keep reaching higher, some times taking a few steps back and being happy with who I am and how I ran the race is enough because as Gaga says “I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.”
Thanks to all my Spark Friends who have helped me along in this journey. Your encouragement at 1 mile, 3 miles, 6 miles, 8.1 miles and 13.1miles has been unwavering. If you ever doubt you can do something remember me (and many other Sparkers) who was that middle school kid who got a stitch in her side in a 100 yard dash who now proudly has a 13.1 magnet on the back of her car. If I can do something that I set my mind to, so can you!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
After our May half marathon, Bonnie and I thought we should do somewhere for another one in the fall. Looking at schedules and costs, Erie's Half Marathon on Presque Isle seemed like a good choice.
We went up late Saturday morning and went right to pick up our packets. I've never really been to Erie (maybe twice in college to visit a friend) so it was nice to see such a pretty place like Presque Isle. Packet pick-up was quick and easy and they had three vendors (I think the local running stores) with small tents. Funny how we bought more at those three tents than we did at the huge Pittsburgh expo in May. Found long running pants for 50% off. Then some capris that were a decent price. They were so comfy that we went back and got a second pair. Best purchase of the day, though, arm sleeves/wamers! Plain black but only $10! Came in handy the next morning when it was 50 degrees and windy!.
The half marathon started at 7:30 but they wanted cars in the lots by 6am...that's a long time to wait but being the rule followers that we are, we got there about 5:55. It was nice that Erie is so small, we got up around 5 and were there by 5:55. As we sat in the car eating our bagels with peanut butter cars are still pulling in at 6:30! Must be hard for the race organizers trying to set up the course!
The race was about the size I expected - I think the half marathon (runners) was about 800 people, then there were full and walking half participants. So it was a nice size but not totally overwhelming. The course was around Presque Isle which is a peninsula into Lake Erie. So the scenery was pretty with a lot of trees and water! We had gone on a boat tour after packet pick-up and the guide said there was over 700 species of plants/vegetation on PI, so you can imagine it's lushness. It may be worth going back up in a couple of weeks to see the fall colors.
The course was relatively flat which was nice. I was feeling really, really good for the first 8-9 miles thinking it was going really well. It was nice that they had water/Gatorade stations at every mile, so I started looking forward to those thinking "another one down". Somewhere around mile 10 or 11 my legs really started to hurt. I wish I knew why since they don't feel that way on long runs. Granted, I was going a bit faster than long runs but not that much faster. It could be a surface issue, remembering an article Coach Nancy posted a few weeks ago. It was mostly asphalt with some concrete (I think that's what Bonnie said) and my long runs are generally on crushed limestone trails. Shorter runs are on the sidewalks, so is that cement? Anyway, I tried moving off the road into the grass for a little bit but then was afraid of the uneveness of the grass. Once my legs started bothering me my mental "toughness" started to fade. I doubted I was going to finish and again was getting bummed that I wasn't going to hit my 2:30 goal. One thing, I can say though is I didn't walk. Well, I walked a few steps thinking I was just going to walk and then said no, just run slowly. So I did. My last three miles were at about an 12 minute mile so I guess it could have been a lot worse. I finished strong and I am happy about that. Time was 2:32 and an 11:36 min/mile pace.
Crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and then the real pain in my thighs! Gosh, I don't remember them feeling that way before. Stretching, walking, sitting, nothing really seemed to help. They were passing out chocolate milk amongst other goodies and that may have helped somewhat. We didn't stay at the after party too much because I was getting cold (and the one thing they didn't have was the foil blankets!). So we walked back to the car trying to get the pain to subside a little bit.
So number two in the books which I am proud of. It was an improved time but my mind is downplaying that a little because the courses were totally different since Pittsburgh's had a bunch of hills (although with hills come downhills which can help pick up time). I basically ran for 13.1 miles which is a first. I'm learning that if I stick with it, I can do it. I just need to work on my mental game a little.
We're comtemplating another one on October 15th. 11 miles or so is on crushed limestone so maybe that would be good for my legs. Although, it's a lot of downhill. Oh decisions, decisions. Maybe I have to go in thinking any time is a good time since I'd be doing 2 so close together (for me, anyway).
This weekend is Pittsburgh's The Great Race - we're doing the 5K. We got a 5K PR two weekends ago but I do think we're going to push too hard this weekend and just enjoy the race. Our legs will probably thank us :)
Friday, August 05, 2011
I stepped on the scale this morning to see 159.2. I think this means I officially ended a 5-6 month plateau. In February, I had to buy a new scale which showed me about 5 pounds more than the older one. I didn’t like it but it was what it was. Since then I have fluctuated between 161 and 164. That’s a long time to see the same 3 pounds up and down. Two weeks ago I was at 160.4 and then this morning’s results…the plateau has ended. In this time, I lost a half inch to a full inch in the major places – nothing really to write home about.
About two weeks ago it hit me that I should buy myself a reward when I break the plateau. I have showed myself that I can maintain! How exciting is that?!?! I’ve been on this journey for a long time with fast weight loss at first and then very slow weight loss after. That’s the way my body has decided to work. I am thankful for it, really. Along the way I have learned to make healthier choices that can be sustained over time. Along the way I have learned that weight loss is just a great bonus to healthy living. Along the way I learned that if I stick with it, good things can happen. If I lost all my weight within a few months’ time, I wouldn’t have been able to learn those things – I would have probably regained the weight.
I didn’t miss a day of Spark in that time – my log-in streak of 422 days will continue. While I didn’t track my food every single day – I did have more healthy days than not. I drank a lot of water. In February, I started a “no candy from the boss’ candy bowl” streak that is still going strong. I ran a half marathon during that time and am training for my second. I have a couple pairs of size 8s in my closet. I ate more, food; I ate less food – trying different things. I stayed involved in the Spark community. While this is a small list of very positive things I did, the thing I’m most proud of is that I kept going forward. I trusted that if I kept looking at where I wanted to go, I will get there eventually.
I still have about 20 or so pounds to lose and it could take another year to get there but since I’m not really going anywhere, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.
Now I just need to figure out what kind of reward to get for myself for finishing this plateau!
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
I saw Serene_Me's blog about "Why I Run" and thought it was a great idea. Since hers, I see there have been a few more - I guess it's a good bandwagon to jump onto!
My dad started running when I was about 8 and continued for another 30 years or so. I remember he going on runs every morning - rain, snow, heat, whatever - I don't think he knew what a rest days were. He'd come back all sweaty but always in a good mood. We slept in the race shirts he acquired over the years. He is/was such a geek (I say that lovingly) if he drove past a runner he'd give him/her a thumbs up. As a middle schooler, I'd look the other way in total embarrassment. Now I understand it. ( He walks daily now - he has some leg issues and walking is easier on them.)
Mostly because of my dad, I thought many times through the years that it would be cool to say "I'm a runner" - not that I did anything about it. Of course, I didn't want to get as gross and sweaty as my dad - to me, it would mean I was out of shape (although, I knew my dad was in shape). I was stuck in the fear of not being able to do it. Little did I know - almost all of us can do it - if we want to and we try.
When I started Spark, I knew I needed to start exercising. I'd get on the treadmill and read a book while I was walking. I decided one day to run a little - went for about 30 seconds. Emailed a good friend of mine who is an avid runner and asked her if the pain goes away. She assured me that it does just work through it. She was right.
For a good while, I wasn't sure I even liked running. I'd try to run a couple miles, walk some. Finally, I made a goal - 5 miles by my 40th birthday. I found a plan, trained and accomplished my goal - I was hooked.
I run because it has taught me to let go of fear
I run because there may be pain - but it goes away. A metaphor for life
I run because it reminds me that I can do anything that I put my mind to.
I run because it is slowly teaching me competing against others if useless - it is best to compete against myself
I run because I enjoy a plan and a goal.
I run because running clothes come in fun colors!
I run becuase going a new distance (even if it's a half mile) is a new accomplishment.
I run because it adds an extra bounce to my step during the day.
I run because many races are for charity - so I'm giving back while getting exercise
I run because it gives me emotional strength, a sense of confidence
I run becuase it's "me" time
I run because it require more heart and mind than special talents.
I run because my lungs and legs feel good
I run becuase it's setting a good example for my nieces and nephews
I run because it's great to have status updates of "I ran 7 miles today" - some days, it's still unbelievable that I do that.
I run because I feel a sense of community with millions of other runners - ones that I could give a thumbs up to while driving by (not that I would)
I run because I love saying .... I'm a runner!
Happy National Running Day
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