Sunday, January 01, 2012
It's hard to believe 2011 is over already and we're ready to turn the calendar to 2012. I'm not a big fan of resolutions; most New Year's resolutions have been broken by Valentine's Day, if not before, and there is nothing magical about starting a new year, new month, new week, or even a new day. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you have to start right now, where you are, to make good choices and changes in your life; there's no reason to wait for a new ____ (year, month, week, day) to start. Still, it's a good time to take stock of the year that's ending and look ahead to the future.
Obviously, running has been a big part of my life in 2011, bigger than I ever expected it to be. I started the year with a little idea: do one race a month. I was thinking we'd do mostly 5Ks, but I had my sights set on doing one half marathon in July and came up with a conservative training plan that allowed for doing a shorter race each month. Then I heard about the Seattle Rock'n'Roll in June, so we added that to the schedule with a little fear and trepidation--could we do two half marathons just three weeks apart? Ah, why not give it a shot! The one-race-a-month idea somehow snowballed into much, much more before the year was over.
I started the year at 186.2 pounds, happily and firmly established in the under-200 club for the first time in many years. The first race of the year was the Nookachamps 5K Winter Run; I was shocked and thrilled to place third in my age group. I celebrated my 56th birthday and my unofficial Sparkversary in January, and I logged about 50 miles running that month.
Starting weight: 183.6--down 2.6 pounds. The race we found this month was the You Knock My Socks Off 4-Miler, which turned out to have a couple of steep hills but was fun to do. Just over 52 miles were run that month.
My starting weight in March was 179.2, down 4.4 pounds and out of the 180s, a major milestone; that meant I had lost over 70 pounds. We had to do a little hunting to find a reasonably close race in March, but we found the Spring Forward 5K in hilly Tacoma. My mileage for the month increased to 64 miles; we were starting to run longer distances on the weekends in preparation for our first half marathon. My husband and I also celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in March.
My starting weight was 175, down 4.2 pounds. April brought our longest race to that point, the Seahawks 12K; that's where I first encountered calf cramps during a race, not fun! I discovered the importance of adequate hydration and sufficient potassium; we added coconut water to our pre-run routine after this race, and that seemed to do the trick for avoiding cramps. This was another 60+ miles logged month.
May started with me reaching the 80 pounds lost mark at 172.4 pounds, down 2.6 pounds. It was also the first month I did more than one race. First, we did the Inspiring Hope 10K, our "anniversary" race since our first race was the 5K version of this one the year before. Then my daughter wanted to do a race with me, so she and I did the UW Bothell 5K as well. As a result, this was my highest mileage month, with 78 miles logged.
In June, my start weight was 168.6, down 3.8 pounds. This was a big month for my husband and me: our first half marathon, the Seattle Rock'n'Roll, and the first time we got a chance to meet some other Sparkers, which was a real joy. The goal for this first half marathon was simply to finish in an upright position, and that we did. It was a blast to experience a huge race like that, and we're already registered to do it again in 2012. My total miles for June was 75, just slightly less than May.
My weight had dipped to 165 by the start of July, down another 3.6 pounds. We did two races in July, first the Kent Cornucopia Days 5K, which is becoming an annual tradition, and then our second half marathon in July, See Jane Run, just three weeks after the Seattle Rock'n'Roll, and discovered just how much we liked doing half marathons--this one was a little faster, and our recovery was quicker as well. This was the first half we did with our friend Shannon, too. Miles for July dropped a bit to 67 miles logged.
August started with me reaching 162, down 3 more pounds and hitting the 90 pounds lost mark. After doing our first couple of half marathons successfully and enjoying the experience, we realized that by doing another half in August, we would qualify to join the Half Fanatics, something I'd never dreamed we'd be able to do. It just so happened that the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon was in August, which sounded very cool (running over the Tacoma Narrows bridge), so my husband and I did that and became Half Fanatics #1280 and #1279 respectively afterward. Our friend, Shannon, had so much fun with us in July that she joined us on this race as well. Total miles in August were 58.
I started the month at 161.4 lbs., down a whopping 0.6 pounds from the previous month. I didn't exactly plan on it, but in September I did not one, not two, but THREE races, including two half marathons on successive weekends. First off was the Over the Narrows 10 Mile race; we had done the 2-mile version of the race the previous year and thought it would be fun to do the longer one this year. Then Shannon and I did the You Go Girl! Half Marathon, a race primarily for women. By this time my husband had the idea he wanted to do a half marathon a month until the end of the year, so we found the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon for him to do the week after You Go Girl. When I saw the medal for that race and the course, though, I just couldn't resist signing up for it as well, figuring I could always walk it if needed. I'm glad I did; it was a beautiful course, and the medal was worth it! Miles for the month totaled 62.
I started October at 158, down 3.4 pounds from the month before. We did only one race this month, the Race For A Soldier Half Marathon. Shannon again joined my husband and me on this race, and this was my fastest half marathon of the year. My records for running show that I only did 38 miles the whole month, but I was having a lot of problems with my Nike+ not recording properly, so I'm pretty sure I did more than that.
My weight crept down another 1.6 pounds, so I began the month at 156.4 pounds. This was another one-race month, the Seattle Half Marathon. It was one of the harder races, more because of the weather than anything else; we were completely drenched by the end of the race and had to run up the last hill with a headwind. We may or may not do it again; once again, it was the three of us doing it together. This time we met up with a Spark Friend, PAG2809, at the expo, and then met RISENPHOENIX at the start line. Miles for the month: 49.
The last month of the year started with my lowest weight in many, many years, 154.8; that's 1.6 pounds down from the previous month. It was a busy, busy month, with my son-in-law's birthday, family coming in from California to celebrate Christmas, and oh yes, three races. We did the Kent Christmas Rush 10K Fun Run the first weekend. Then we weren't initially planning on it, but at the last moment we joined Shannon and her family (husband and two children) in doing the Santa Runs Tacoma 5K the next weekend. We took Christmas weekend off from running, then finished off the year with today's Yukon Do It Half Marathon. Running for the month ended at 62 miles.
So the stats for the year are: 32 pounds lost; 18 total official races--5 5Ks, 1 4-mile race, 2 10Ks, 1 12K, 1 10-mile race, and 8 half marathons; 722.17 miles logged. Weight loss took a back burner to running longer distances this year, but I still was able to lose fairly steadily, and I'm thankful for that. I'm close to my goal weight now (somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds more to go, I'm guessing), so I suspect that weight loss will be pretty slow from here on out. We did just a tad more racing than we planned on doing in 2011, but I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything--we really did become Half Fanatics and found that we love the distance, even if we are incredibly s-l-o-w runners.
I was going to make this both a look back at 2011 and a look ahead at 2012, but I'm going to save the latter for another blog since this one is so long already . . . thanks for looking back with me and for all the support and encouragement throughout the year. Happy New Year, Spark Friends; I hope you can look back with a sense of thankfulness and ahead with hope and expectation. Let's make the most of life in 2012!
Sunday, January 01, 2012
What a way to finish off 2011--with one last half marathon! This was the second year for this race; my understanding is last year it started out to be a kind of loose group run, but so many people signed up that they realized they'd better get permits from the city and so on. This year was a little more organized, but it was still a loose, casual kind of race.
The race was in Port Orchard, mostly along the water. It's not really that far from home, but my husband and I thought it would be fun to spend the night over on the peninsula. Initially we thought we might be able to get together with my good SparkFriend 1BEARWIFE, but unfortunately that didn't work out (we WILL get together soon, though!). We found an inexpensive hotel a couple of blocks from the start line and had a lovely evening in the area, starting with a carb-loading dinner at Olive Garden and then shopping to use a gift card I got for Christmas. I scored big time there. I found a long down coat on sale for 60% off, and my gift card covered most of that, then got a couple of pairs of size 6(!) dress slacks that round out my wardrobe nicely for $15 a pair.
After a very restful night's sleep, we got up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the hotel (blueberry waffles, scrambled eggs and sausage, yum!), then got our gear together, checked out, and headed to where the organizers had recommended everyone park, right near the finish line. The start was about three blocks away, up a rather steep hill, so we were very glad to be hiking up the hill BEFORE the half and not AFTER it. That gave us a little preview of what the start would be like, coming down that hill before hitting the relatively flat portion of the race.
The race started at the local high school, so we had real bathrooms to use (hurray!) and a track to warm up on. As I mentioned, this was a somewhat casual race, no timing chips and thus no real marker for where the race started. We saw where everyone was gathering and made our way to the back of the pack; the organizers made a few announcements from the back of a truck, then the truck took off and the race began.
Did I mention it was COLD and FROSTY to start? When we went to put things in the car before the race, I found a layer of ice on all the windows; I doubt if the temperature was up to 32 by the time the race started. That meant going down that steep hill, we had to be careful to watch out for ice; there were lots of slippery sections during the first half of the race before things warmed up more.
Much of the course ran along the water (the Sinclair Inlet), so the views were spectacular. The race was advertised as "mostly flat," which was true while we were along the water. When we moved inland a bit, though, there were a number of short, steep hills--not so flat.
My husband and I have not been running outside or running as far the last few weeks, and that was definitely apparent as the race continued. It would have been nice to finish the year with a new PR for a half, but we slowed down a lot on the hills and never quite were able to get our speed back up after that. My hip bothered me a little due to the camber (angle) of the road, and my husband developed some hot spots on his feet--not conducive to a fast pace for either of us. This ended up being our slowest half of the year instead of the fastest: 3:28:09 according to my Garmin. Of course, my Garmin also showed that we went 13.3 miles, not 13.1, almost an extra quarter mile. And then there was the stop to take pictures of something you don't usually see on a run: a couple of camels grazing in a field. Mostly, though, our lack of getting in long outdoor runs slowed us down.
No matter; this was a fun way to finish out the year, and it's a race I'd consider doing again. It's definitely one of the prettiest courses we've run so far; the one minor disappointment was they did not have medals for the half marathoners, only for the marathoners. Not a big deal, but it would have been nice to have to remember our final race of the year by. Now it's off to work on a review of 2011 and plans for 2012!
Monday, December 19, 2011
I have been really, really bad about updating my WMS pictures, but I finally took time and did new pictures last night. Here we go--from the start and the (few) updates that I posted before through yesterday, first from the front:
And then from the side:
I was pleasantly surprised at the difference I can see from the last pictures (October, oops!) to yesterday. Even though the scale hasn't moved a lot, there is a difference, and even more from the start (September) to now.
If you are not taking pictures regularly, you need to; it helps when you can see the changes taking place even if the scale is uncooperative. Take measurements, too; at the beginning of the year I started taking measurements on the first of the month and writing them in a little notebook. When I start thinking I haven't done much this year, I've gone back to that and can see yes, I have made progress, even if it has been much slower than last year.
I hope you are taking some time out during this busy time of year to enjoy the season (and I don't mean just the food!). It's easy to get so caught up in frenetic activity that we forget to stop, breathe, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays. Go for a walk in the cold air; look at the Christmas lights; listen to the carols being sung and played everywhere; watch a Christmas movie with the people you love. That's the stuff that memories are made from, more than anything else. I had a chance yesterday to bake cookies with my daughter while my husband, son-in-law, and grandson watched Veggie Tales' "Little Drummer Boy" together; that is worth more to me than any gift under the tree or all the cookies(!) we baked.
If I don't get a chance to stop by your page and leave a note or goodie before Christmas, thank you for your encouragement and support this year. It has made a difference in my life, and I hope I have been able to give back at least a little to you. Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas, from our house to yours!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I broke the cardinal rule of races today: I tried something NEW for race day--I wore a knit cap and reindeer antlers!
Today was my 17th race of the year, the Santa Runs Tacoma 5K. Our friend, Shannon, ran it as well, only this time her whole family was involved; the three of us running has apparently given her husband the running bug as well, so the two of them with their two children, Kayleigh and Brogan, did the 5K together.
This was a very family friendly event, with a costume contest beforehand and instead of shirts, they gave out knit hats and gloves--very appropriate for this time of year. Shannon, Pat, and their kids wore costumes (Mrs. Claus for the gals and elves for the guys); they were so cute! They didn't win, but they surely got some votes and were asked to pose for pictures. Here's the six of us together:
And here is one of my husband and me:
My husband and I had somewhere to go after the race, so we stayed all together until the start, then the two of us took off to run at our pace, knowing the kids would slow Shannon and Pat quite a bit. This race runs on part of the same course as the You Go Girl! half marathon Shannon and I did in September, so I knew what we were in for, just a couple of hills, nothing too bad. I couldn't help thinking how different it was doing a 5K this year as compared to last year. Last year about this time was when we ran the entire way of a 5K for the first time; it seemed so hard to keep going for three whole miles then! Now three miles seems like such a short distance.
It was fun to just run and not worry too much about time. We just ran at a pace that seemed comfortable, between 11 and 12 minutes per mile. Not long after the turnaround, we saw our friends making their way there and waved madly; they saw and waved back. By then my head was hot from the knit cap I was wearing, so that came off and the reindeer antlers went back on without it. Unfortunately because we were heading into a little bit of wind, the antlers wouldn't stay on, so I had to carry them until we got close to the end. I wanted to have them on for the photos I knew would come at the finish, though, so back on they went in time for those.
I looked up at the clock as we finished and was pleased to see the time, because it was a new PR for both of us: official chip time for me was 36:43, for an average pace of 11:51. That's two full minutes faster than my last 5K, WOO HOO!
So that's the last 5K for the year for us, but not the last race. We are planning to do one more race, the Yukon Do It! Half Marathon on December 31st; what better way to finish the year than with one last half marathon, right?
I'm still working on plans for 2012 races as well as other goals, and I need to post new Watch Me Shrink pictures, I'm way overdue for that. Those will have to wait for a couple of future blogs; now it's time to get ready to go to yet another Christmas potluck along with a square dance!
Monday, December 12, 2011
Saturday was indeed my 16th race of the year (18th if you count the two unofficial ones we did, but who's counting, right?). This was the second year we did the local Christmas run in Kent. Last year we did the 5K, and it was the first time my husband and I ran an entire 5K race--hard to believe that was just a year ago!
We decided this year that we would do the 10K race; 5K doesn't seem quite long enough any more. I remember last year's race quite well; it was cold and damp, although the rain did not set in fully until the race was done. This year, I think it was even colder, but no rain was in the forecast until later in the day. There were a couple of things that made this race really nice for us. First, it's very close to home, only about 15-20 minutes away; no long drives or need to stay overnight somewhere. Second, it starts relatively late--9:50 a.m. for the 10K, 10 a.m. for the 5K. That means no 4 a.m. alarm, WOO HOO!
The temperature at start time was right around freezing, so we bundled up and tried to find the right balance of clothing to stay warm enough before starting but not too warm after we got going. That's something I still have trouble doing; it was COLD waiting around to start, though not miserable, and then I got too warm halfway through. Someday maybe I'll get it right!
We got a bit of a late start (9:55 instead of 9:50), and it was a little confusing since the 10K runners started first and 5K runners/walkers followed. I saw some people with bibs indicating they were doing the 5K take off with the 10K runners, and as usual it was congested at the beginning. Fortunately since we were doing the 10K, there were far fewer people with strollers and walking in the group, so it wasn't as much of an obstacle course as it sometimes at these fun runs.
I didn't really have a goal for this race other than to get out and have fun during it. I'd thought about aiming to run the entire 10K, but I decided that I'd rather just see how I felt. The first mile flew by, and before we knew it we were passing the turnaround point for the 5K; did we really get there already? Last year it felt like f-o-r-e-v-e-r before we had gone halfway! I decided that I wanted to at least run the first half without taking any walk breaks, and that was easy enough to do. As we approached the turnaround for the 10K, I saw they had one water stop just past that on the way back--filling cups with bottled water. I was thirsty since we opted to not carry water for such a 'short' run, so I walked through the water stop and enjoyed a cup of water. I have yet to master the art of continuing to run while drinking from a cup, one of the reasons I love my hydration pack--easy to use walking OR running!
I picked up the pace again and ran awhile more before deciding that my light jacket was just too hot; that required a walk break while I tried to take the sleeves off (they unzip, but not as easily as I'd prefer), then tied it around my waist. That didn't last long as the sleeves DO come unzipped when the jacket is tied on, so another walk break and put the jacket back on. I ran most of the rest of the way with one or two more short walk breaks to cool off a little.
We were far from the fastest but also far from the last ones to finish with a time of 1 hour, 20 minutes and a few odd seconds, average pace of 12:50. My only complaint about the race was the few vendors who were there were packing up when we got done, and the only thing left for finishers was water--the snacks and goodie bags were all gone. It was not a big deal, but it was a little annoying; if you're offering a 10K, make sure you have enough of everything to go around until the last people come in. I felt bad for the people who were last coming in; there couldn't have been much of anything left for them.
Overall, it was a fun race; it's one we will likely do every year, even if they don't have much to offer the late finishers. We have two more races we're planning on doing before the end of the year. Next Saturday we're doing a 5K (Santa Runs Tacoma), then on New Year's Eve we hope to do the Yukon Do It Half Marathon. Yes, one more half marathon to finish out 2011; I don't know yet how many we'll do next year, but the idea of 12 HMs in 2012 has been rolling around in the back of my mind a little . . . though there is one full marathon on the schedule already. We'll see!
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