Wednesday, June 05, 2013
So, I ran Decker's Creek Half Marathon this past Saturday. I feel I need to build up to my feelings on this race.
First off, the amount of training I'd done prior, especially in relationship to the amount of training I did before Boston Trail or the Pittsburgh Half was absolutely abysmal. Seriously. I was running 3-5 miles at tops 3-4 days a week. I was lazy. I just didn't have my mojo. I was coasting after the Pittsburgh Half - which was what my goal was. I had no idea what I intended to do after it except for run a full marathon six months later.
So, in short, I fell off the wagon. I especially fell off in terms of my own personal motivation level. "Where there is no vision, the people parish." Well, that's true about running motivation. If you don't know what you're working for (at least in my case) it's verrrry hard to keep yourself pumped to work as hard as you should.
Alright, now that you have context...
The trip started at an extremely early 5AM. The night before I wound up needing to bring home work, so after two hours of plugging away for teh-man it was time to gather up my gear. Let me tell you, I hadn't touched any of my gear since the Pittsburgh Half. Not my SpiBelt, not my iPod, nada. I was running around my house gathering things for all of an hour. It was bad. So, I got to bed around midnight.
Up and at 'em at 4:15 and I'm trying to pull the last few odds and ends. By the time I left the house I had everything (thank goodness); but, I had already started the day on a frazzled note. The best thing that happened was that I got to carpool with a friend of mine from the running club who listens to positive, low-key music. It was the best thing ever. The banana-chocolate Odwalla smoothie we tried was not the best thing ever, unfortunately.
We make it to where we're going for about 6:30. After checking in, getting out goodie bags and posing for a group shot with the rest of the club that was there it was time to get bused to the starting line. I'm telling you, it was the longest bus-ride ever and made me wonder if I had signed up for a marathon instead of a half. Still, we get there and it's just about go-time.
Fortunately, I didn't hang around at the portapotties, I just went right up to the start line. It was a good choice because there was some confusion with people getting stuck back with the line there and not getting up to the starting mats. I got all the pre-race nerves out with a deep breath and I was off. I felt pretty good. Around mile 3 I stopped to stretch. However, long before that I came to a rather uncomfortable realization: My GPS watch was about .3 of a mile off. What a pain.
Let me tell you something - I'm not usually a fan of trail races because you're totally alone with your thoughts. Well, if you're someone who tends to be between pace groups like me you are anyway. That means you spend a lot of time communing with nature. Oh, look, trees! Oh, look, isn't the creek beautiful! Oh, doesn't my iPod just know the perfect song to play to compliment my surroundings? It can be quite a head game for me. I feed off of other people's energy when I run so to do it alone is really difficult.
Around mile 4 the attack of the horseflies started. My gosh! There were buzzing my head! They were landing in my ears! It was terrible! I really must have entertained the people behind me because there was more than one occaission where I was flailing like a crazy person.
So, I'm plugging along, in good spirits. I have to say I felt good. I was good to my body - stopping every couple miles to stretch out the hips and listening to what it was telling me. I also tried to be good to the runners around me. I wanted to be positive. So, I tried not to complain about the heat or the bugs or the inconsistent water stations while we were out there. I really wanted to focus on the beautiful trail and how good it was going to feel to finish the race.
The race, by the way, was mostly downhill. It would have been a GREAT opportunity the PR if not for the heat, I'm sure. And it was hot.
Around mile 10-11 I came upon one of my fellow SCRRC runners who was struggling. I felt terrible! I mean, we've all been there. We've all fallen apart during a race. Sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's mental, sometimes it's both. It's so hard to do do those runs all alone - and I couldn't just leave her there. So, I hung back with her. I kept moving as best I could at her pace. I tried to distract her with ridiculous commentary on music and Doctor Who. I just knew that if the situation were reversed I would want someone with me.
Around mile 12 we were intercepted. One of the club members came down just to cheer. Seriously. driving an hour and a half for a race to just go cheer at it. He came running out to get us. He came with smiles and good energy. It was awesome. It was then I had to leave my friend. I knew he'd come back for her once he got me in. So, for that last mile I tried to push hard. I honestly started worrying about puking. It was so hot and it was terrible. Still, I looked at my watch and all I could think was "PR." I wanted that Personal Record. I had three minutes to finish my last of the race.
Around the last bend were the SCRRC'ers. They were cheering and so full of energy! I couldn't run as hard as I would like, in fact I was on E when I got to them; but, I certainly needed that push to finish as strong as I could.
When I got under the clock it said something like 3:18.
I wanted to cry.
I finished; but, I didn't understand - how could it be 3:18??
I turned off my watch without looking at it and concentrated on being there to cheer on the rest of the runners as they finished. I wanted to give some of the spirit back that I'd been so lucky to share.
As it turns out, everyone had a pretty rough race. Around mile 9/10 was when the sun really started to beat down for most people. It was also where most of the trees went away on the course and where crushed limestone turned into cement. Lots of people had their wheels fall off there. It also seemed like nobody did quite as well as they had planned to - which made me feel a little better. I was glad to know that I wasn't the only one who struggled on what was supposed to be an easy course. Man, I can imagine that it would have been a nice, simple run had the temperature stayed around 70; but, by the end of the race I'm sure it was closer to 80-something. Also, the sunburn on my back speaks volumes.
So, I get home and I check my watch time. 2:52:21. One second longer than Pittsburgh. Just one. And I know I started my watch before I hit the start mat and after; so, I'm trusting my watch over what that clock said. (Which, for the curious, my 'official' time for this race was 2:59:47)
I'm so happy with that result. So very, very happy.
I went on Monday and got my muscles beaten by my massage therapist and I'm glad to say I can walk normally again. I even went for a 18 mile bike ride yesterday. I am also down to 185.6 which is my pre-Memorial-Day-Fiasco weight. Everything feels like it's coming together.
So, the plan for tonight is a rest! I had the half on Saturday, and a long bike ride on Tuesday. I have another long ride planned for Thursday. I have my first Mud Run on Saturday. It's a 5K; but, I'm sure the obstacles will be one hell of a challenge for me. They have an eight food climbing wall. I won't even climb on top of chairs. I plan on giving in to peer pressure and doing it. Recap to follow.
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
I woke up in a foul mood this morning.
So foul, in fact, that I ignored my alarm telling me it was time to get up and pack my bag up and get on my bike. Instead, I stayed in bed.
Then, when finally got my butt in gear I come to my car and find that I evidently left the lights on all night. Hello, Dead Car Battery.
An hour later I'm biking in to work and I'm cursing my quads. Hello, 13.1 miles talking back.
Then I get to my desk and I find that I forgot my cell phone in my car. Welcome back to 1995.
So, if anyone knows of a way for me to do over the last few hours of stupidity and laziness, I'd appreciate it.
Today is, however, going to get better. I'm going to take this as an opportunity to run back across the bridge to get my phone. Then I'll be doing Inanity over lunch when I get back. I'm definitely excited to get my sweat on. Turning it into a new routine. Lunches with ShaunT.
After work I have a 12 mile bike ride and then home for the evening.
So, I haven't updated my tracker; but, I'll at least put it in writing here. I went from 183 to 187 over Memorial Day. Well, as of this morning I'm back down to 186 and falling. I'm hopeful with my renewed dedication to fitness minutes and tracking this number just keeps on falling all the way to DragonCon!
I hope you guys have a bunch of things to see the highs in and a bunch of lows to turn into opportunities
Monday, June 03, 2013
I have to admit, I was at my most successful when I was blogging the most often. I don't know if that is a bi-product of being on Spark to track my food more or what; but, I can promise you that it is my goal to get back on the daily blogging wagon, even if it is just a paragraph or two.
So, I'm five days in and my tracking has been honest and it's been consistent. I'm not going to lie - it came as a shock to see that I was actually eating closer to 1800-1900 calories a day (I add 200 to whatever I track as my 'fudge factor.') No wonder the scale wasn't moving! So, tracking and running the reports have been huge for me. They're definitely coming back to being among my most necessary things.
This past Saturday was the Decker's Creek Half Marathon. It was a great trip. Most of my friends had mediocre races at best; but, I think that had to do less with their level of training and more with the misery that was the course. First, it was hot as hades. At least it felt that way. Second, there were horse flies. Everywhere. Third, the locations of the water stations were inconsistent. Fourth, my Garmin was off by .3 of a mile.. It made my splits and my own timing of my run feel inconsistent.
However, there were lots of great things!
There were great friends who hung around for high-fives at the finish! There was a great mid-run photo (see my main page)! There was great views and money going to a great cause! It also gave me an awesome t-shirt!
So, it wasn't all doom and gloom. According to the timing of the race it took me 2:59; however, I'm skeptical and I think they fubar'd it. I started my Garmin before I hit the mat and afrer I hit the finish.. and it said 2:52:21 - One second longer than my Pittsburgh Time. I'm going with my Garmin on this one, because I don't see how I could magically lose seven minutes on a watch that doesn't stop. Ever. (... unless it's battery dies...)
So, here's to consistency. Here's to finding the good in the not-so-good!
I'll blog something more coherent tomorrow, I promise!
Keep on sparking on!
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Well, guys, I've had a very deeply philosophical past few days.
I have my first Half Marathon since Pittsburgh this Saturday and I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what that means. Mostly, though, I'm dwelling on what I hope to accomplish with this race and what my goals are for this particular outing.
Confession time: I have totally slacked since the Pittsburgh Half. I go to bed on Friday nights thinking I'll get up and go for the SCRRC runs.. and then I sleep in. I guess I haven't -completely- slacked, since thanks to a friend from the club I've managed to get into the habit of an early pre-work few miles. I've also been biking to work 2-3 days a week with the aim of getting in between 10-15 miles after. And the hiking..
Well, all of that activity, while awesome, isn't the same as putting in miles on pavement. My last couple of runs I've been completely wrapped up in my own head. It's been baaaad.
And now is where I reel myself in a little. I think about, what do I want to do this weekend?
I want to finish.
I want to show that Pittsburgh wasn't a one-time thing.
I want to remind myself how absolutely amazing it feels to cross a finish line and to accomplish that goal.
I need to be reminded that right now I'm half way to my goal of a full marathon coming up in October.
On the same token, well, I have to admit I want to run faster than Pittsburgh. I averaged about a 13 minute pace when you just look at mileage (it was probably lower on most miles given the walk I took up the Birmingham Bridge...) I was looking at what my Garmin captured from the Boston Trail Half (which, as you recall, it died before I finished.) Between miles 1 and seven I was averaging 12 minutes. Hell, on mile 6 I was all the way down to 11:30! Holy Negative Split, Batman! (For non-runners, a negative split is when you run your following mile faster than the previous one. It's hard to do sometimes! -coughcough-always-coughcough-)
I'm just hoping all the cross training (swimming, biking, hiking) has helped build up my stabilizing muscles and that the hip-knee pain I had in the past stays a distant memory.
Still, you're probably wondering about the title of my blog.
I do, like so many other people, want to be one of the Cheetahs. The Fastholes. The people who run naturally quickly and at a pace that has them doing a full marathon in the time it takes me to do a half. The amazing runners. Now, I know no amount of training will ever get me there. It's not in my genes. What I do want, though, is to get closer to an 11 minute mile than a 12. I got a lot of advice in a post I made on the club's forum; but, these are people who found results that took off 20-30 seconds. They're already fast. I feel like most of them don't know what it's like to be slow!
I've just got to work harder. That's the crux of it.
And be a turtle painted with cheetah spots. After all, they run their races and I run mine. I don't need to be faster than everyone else, my age group, or my gender. I just need to be the fastest version of me.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I really do hate the lack of self control I have when it comes to sweet things. I mean, I look at it and it's -there- and I can't not eat it.
This, friends, is why I can't bring Skinny Cow products, more than one cup if ice cream, candy, or 'treats' of any kind into my home in any quantity beyond one.
We talked at the group meeting this week about hunger vs. cravings and I'm still thinking about it. About not eating just because I look at the clock and it's 'time.' Or, how about not taking a piece of candy from the damned jar just because I walked past it? Ugh. Frustrating. I just need to think of a better question than 'are you hungry?' because clearly that question isn't enough to keep me from eating.
I just need to focus. I need to plan like I used to.
Alright, I'm done whining.
It's been just about two weeks since the Half and I haven't run at all. I want to be sure my hips and knee are back in order. After my hips felt sore just during a walk yesterday I'm willing to wait. So, I made BFFs with my foam roller and urged them to settle down.
Plan for today is a nice walk over lunch. I already had breakfast, three mini tootsie rolls, and I'm thinking about the can of soup I packed. I'm just going to try and refocus on the beautiful weather and the nice long walk I'm going to take.
It's alllll about the focus, people!
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