Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Yesterday, the (major US auto) company I've been working for had a company picnic for everyone at headquarters. They enforced attendance by closing the cafeterias. My schedule has been totally off for the past few weeks, so I haven't had time to grocery shop lately. Or, at least, I haven't had time to go to the grocery store that carries the deli meat I like. So I haven't been packing my lunch lately. And I forgot about the picnic, otherwise I would have made more of an effort. Anyway, they had typical picnic food: hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, chips, and Good Humor wagons full of novelties. You know how you aren't supposed to shop hungry? It applies to going to company picnics, too, because I lost all sense when I got to the front of the line. I wanted a veggie burger. They had none ready and there were a lot of people waiting. So what did I do? I got a burger *and* a hot dog, and chips, and then capped it off with a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich! Freaking Good Humor wagon... grumble grumble.
When I got to my desk I dutifully entered my lunch into my nutrition tracker. My first instinct was to declare the day a wash, skip entering the items and resolve to do better. But I decided to take my lumps and enter the meal. Get this- lunch came to 1400 calories! Pardon me, I think I just fainted. I quickly determined what I could have for dinner (an egg and a side salad) and entered my pre-workout snack of a Kashi granola bar and then figured out what I needed to do at the gym after work to make up the discrepancy.
I started my workout with 15 minutes on the elliptical, then started working in strength training with 10 minutes on the elliptical. Any time my energy started flagging, I thought about my lunch and that renewed my resolve. It kept me fast, too. So after working out for an hour and a half, I was feeling pretty kick-butt, like the bad foods were some kind of super-villain and I was fighting them to protect my weight-loss. KAPOW, hamburger! SMACK, ice cream cookie sandwich! Get outta here, hot dog and never show your face on the streets of Jentropolis again!
And thinking about that this morning made the Shonen Knife song, "Buttercup (I'm a Super Girl)" pop into my head. It's on a Powerpuff Girls CD called "Heroes and Villains" and basically sounds like the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." The lyrics seem particularly appropriate for me today.
You know I'm a super girl
Yes I'm a punky girl
I never say die
No one can stop me
Flying into high speed
having the courage
Getting over crises
I rescue the people
There's a reason Buttercup was always my favorite Powerpuff Girl. If I can hang onto my Buttercup attitude today (without the accidental ingredient, Chemical X ) I will be all over my run tonight!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Many thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on yesterday's blog post. You guys really make me feel like I accomplished something, even if it wasn't what I set out to do. And do I know how to make lemonade out of lemons, or what?
One of the things I noticed after the run is that, while my pace was all over the place because I had to stop to ask for directions so often, the parts when I was running were generally faster than usual. Actually, my walking stride was a bit faster than usual, too. I checked out my graphs on the Nike Running site and I usually run at about a 10-12 minute pace. On Saturday, it was more like 9-11. I know many runners have written about race day adrenaline and how it often makes you run faster and stronger, but I wasn't prepared for the difference to be a full minute.
I found the running pace I was able to maintain so inspiring that I started to play with speed for the first time on last night's run. I didn't do a lot, because honestly, I'm not unhappy with my pace and I'm more interested in building endurance. But I was curious. I knew I couldn't maintain a faster pace for very long yet, so I decided on half a lap to start and I would just run fast. Not lightning fast, but as fast as I could comfortably run. I did it twice, once toward the end of my run and then for the last 30 seconds of my run. (For some stupid reason, I have the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" starting at 29:15 on my running track!) I felt fast on the first try, but I felt like I was really pushing on the last one. Looking at the graph, the first try at speed was barely faster than my usual pace. The second burst was faster than usual, but about equal to what I was doing on Saturday. Hmmm.
So what does all that mean? Well, I think I'm going to continue to play with speed sometimes, but I think I would be better served working to increase my running intervals on weekdays and my mileage on weekends. I would rather know that I can finish and finish strong and just accept the race day adrenaline as a nice little bonus.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Or, "Running My First 5K 'Backwards'"
I don't know if I mentioned that the 5K I ran on Saturday was not only my first 5K, it was the inaugural year for that particular 5K. Let's just say there are some details they need to iron out before next year! There were evidently some big issues with the course markings, but I would have to say the biggest problem I ran into was self-inflicted. My niece and I somehow managed to miss the start of the 5K. We got there almost two hours prior to the race, got our timing chips, and walked around a bit. Then stretched. Then, as 1 mile runners and first finishers of the 10k came in, we stood by the finish line and cheered them on. The finish line for all races was about 100 yards from the start and that's where we were standing 10 minutes before the 5K started. Not only did we not see 181 people lining up for the 5K start, we evidently missed a starter pistol. Heard it for the start of the 10K, missed it for the 5K. The first indication we had that we had missed the start was when the guy organizing it said, "The first finishers for the 5K should be arriving any minute, make sure you cheer them in!" Wait... WHAT?!
So, my niece and I asked him if it had already started. Yep, at 9:00 AM, 15 minutes earlier. Can we still run it? Yes, do you know the course? No! Well, we'll just look for signs, ask directions and wing it. So we took off. The first time we took a wrong turn, we asked a police officer directing traffic which way we were supposed to go. He had no idea. We ended up running down a hill toward the finish line. Oops! Back up the hill we go! At the top of the hill, another police officer and a volunteer couldn't tell us which way to get to that first turn. "Should we just skip it, try to get a refund and register for another 5K in the future?" I asked my niece. She said "Whatever you want to do." Typical 13 year old response. I had turned on my Nike+ at the start of the race, so I decided we'd try to follow the course as best we could and use the Nike+ to figure out our distance. If nothing else, we'd have a good run and a lesson learned.
About that time, we passed a woman who gave us a quizzical look. We explained what had happened and she suggested we run the course "backward" because we'd be able to see the path the other runners were taking in the opposite direction. It was such a good idea and kind of a relief when she told us that other people had also gotten lost. We got some funny looks from the other runners, because we were running in the exact opposite direction they were. But telling people "You're running in the right direction. We started late and are running backward!" made it kind of a light-hearted thing. My niece was particularly amused. At one point, we found some course marking arrows, so we started going in the right direction. That was probably a good idea for not getting lost, but a bad idea for giving us the correct distance. At that point, we asked a volunteer what mile or km he was at. He didn't know because they told him where to be at the last minute, but he thought he was a little over halfway through the course. The Nike+ said we were at 2.76K, so that seemed about right and we followed the course from that point.
My plans for sticking to my 2:1 intervals became a shambles during the race, by the way, because I loaded my running interval track onto my old iPod shuffle and gave it to my niece, but we started them 15 seconds apart in all the missed-start hubbub. Plus, we had to keep stopping to ask directions. Our pace was all over the place! Toward the end of the run, we passed a woman who was alternating walking with running and obviously struggling. I wanted so badly to declare the race a wash and stay with her to the finish line, but I didn't want to hold my niece back, so we left her behind. I feel bad, because I think we ended up with all the cheerleaders at the finish line.
When we approached the hill we'd run down the first time we got turned around, I realized that we were going to be significantly short of 5K. I was incredibly disappointed because after all the weirdness of our run, it wouldn't even be 5K. In my mind, I have not run a 5K race. I've been in a race. I've run over 5K. I have not run a 5K race. I told my niece that unlike everyone else in the race, we ran up and down the final hill and that should count for something, but I didn't and don't believe it's good enough. As we ran down the hill, I heard the guy with the megaphone say something like "(My Name), please check in." It turns out, he was telling the crowd that me and my niece had missed the start, began 15 minutes after everyone else, and ran anyway, so please cheer us on! After entering the park, I told my niece that I wanted to take a short walk break to get my wind back so I could finish running.
And then our cheerleader appeared. This man I had never seen before, obviously an experienced runner, told us we were doing great, poured a little cold water on our backs and informed me he was going to run the last of the race with us. I tried to get him to run fast with my niece, but he said she needed him less. We then encouraged her to run as fast as she could to the finish line. This is my amazing niece, literally flying through the finish. (My stride doesn't allow me to get airborne like that!)
I was tired, but I wanted to finish strong, so I put every bit of energy into my final few hundred meters. My Nike+ says my pace at that point was 8:18 min/mile. My sister's partner didn't realize I was passing her, so my finish line picture is, appropriately enough, from the back.
I got distracted by talking to my family, grabbing water and turning in my chip, so I didn't warm down properly. And looking back, I'm kind of appalled at my lack of etiquette in standing around in the finish line area. Sure there were only two people behind us, but that's just Not Done. But this is how I felt when I got there.
Anyway, our cheerleader informed my niece that he's a cross-country coach and he believes she's got a great stride and should join the cross-country team at her school this year. He also told me he thinks I'm selling myself short and that I'm capable of greater distances than I've done. He really wants me to run the Bobby Crim race up in Flint this coming weekend. I'm thinking about the 8K because I'm scheduled to run 4.5 miles this weekend and there's not much difference between 4.5 miles and 4.9whatever miles. However, I could really use a weekend without substantial plans and think I'd rather have a free 4.5 mile run than a $27 5 mile run this weekend! My next scheduled shorter run is the weekend of Sept. 11, and lo and behold, there's a 5K run/walk for cancer at a hospital about 10 miles from my house. It's the fourth year that one's been run, so they should have all the kinks ironed out. I'll be calling that one my "first and a half" 5K race.
Friday, August 20, 2010
I'm pretty excited about this weekend. When I read Jeff Galloway's "Half Marathon: You Can Do It" and found the beginner half marathon training program, I was amazed at how perfectly it fit into the time running up to Disney's Princess Half Marathon. A key example? The weekend "long run" for week eight is a 5K event. It just so happened that I was kicking around the idea of signing up for the "Run for the Hills" 5K in Farmington Hills, MI and it lined up with week 8 exactly. So tomorrow morning, I am running in my first 5K. For moral support, company, and because I had planned a pre-back to school "girls' night in," I am dragging along my 13 year old niece. We went on a run at the beginning of the month, so I know she's good company on a long run. Afterward, we will eat pizza with the other racers, then go home and watch movies and play games on the Wii. I'm also plotting a reasonably healthy dinner to make up for the pizza... brunch? What else would you call pizza at 10:00 AM?
I was unable to run on Wednesday (stupid, sexy Dream Cruise traffic), so I had to fit it in after golf last night. Yesterday, I learned that KARVY09 had ordered her Bondi Bands the day after I did and got hers in the mail that day. So, between the golf course and the fitness center track, I made a quick stop at my mail box- conveniently located halfway between both locations- and checked. Not only did I get my new Bondi Bands, I also got my reservation confirmation letters for my Disney Trip! It was a very good mail day.
I was a little self-conscious about wearing the Bondi Band I selected to run at the gym. Sometimes, I still feel like a running fraud. I think it's because I'm not built like a runner, I run slow, and I take one minute walk breaks for every two minutes of running. My new band says "SLOW... it's the new fast." Would people read it and roll their eyes? Or judge me for my walk breaks? "Screw it, " I thought. "It's truth in advertising. I AM slow. I DO take walk breaks. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it gets me to the same finish line as the faster runners." (Not coincidentally, one of my other new Bondi Bands is a cute cartoon turtle with the message "Wanna race?" I am definitely the tortoise in that fable!)
I was concerned about how I'd feel running after golfing for 2.5 hours. Sometimes, I get tired out and sore from golf and I didn't want it to jeopardize my run. I guess I didn't need to worry, because my run was great. I equaled my fastest pace so far (12.45 min. mi.) and felt good and strong the whole time. My Bondi Band did an excellent job containing my hair and keeping sweat off my face. It was so nice to run without having to wipe my face on my shirt. I only had to wipe a little sweat out of my eyebrows (I know- weird, right?) and even then, it was only once. As for my fears about what people might think, I did get a comment from a couple of ladies walking around the track. I had passed them several times over the half hour, and one of my last walk breaks happened just as I was passing them. They immediately started asking me questions. The first was: "Are you a racer?" Me: "Not yet, but I will be. I'm running a 5K this weekend and a half marathon in the spring to celebrate my 40th birthday." They were both very impressed and excited for me. They also asked me about my knees because I wear neoprene supports on both when I run. Rather than tell them that every crunch and creak tells me that I'm surgery-bound in the future but I'm not seeing an orthopedic surgeon because I'm afraid he'll tell me not to run, I just said, "Well, before I took up running, I was a skier for 36 years." One of the ladies instantly recognized that I am "full of all kinds of arthritis." Yup. Full of insanity, too. Hence the running.
But it's a good kind of crazy.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Yesterday evening, I finally got around to my weekly long run. I'm not sure why I kept putting it off. I was tired, sure. But that's no reason. Anyway, I started my run around 7:30 in the evening. It was starting to get cooler and was about 82 degrees when I started. That's actually the upper limit of what I will tolerate for an outdoor run. It was overcast and kind of misty, but not outright rainy.
As is my preference, I ran around the park a couple of miles from my house. I like that there's no motor traffic to deal with and the paths are fairly flat and made of asphalt. The heat started to get to me and I never really felt settled into my run. My feet were tired, my knees hurt and I was so sweaty. But I kept going. After the first mile, I felt sure that I'd have to quit halfway through. Or at least quit running outside and have to flee to the indoor track for the remainder. But I kept going. At mile three I started to get eaten up by bugs. Mosquitos and biting flies think I'm their own personal candy. I got a fly bite on my shoulder and my elbow and one right at my hairline. I'm also pretty sure I got another one on my face somewhere because the left side of my face is so puffy I can see my own eyelids. I kept going. I kept going until I got to 4 miles, which just seems monumental to me.
I think I'm going to have to start getting more consistent about when I run. I like running outside, but the evenings aren't working for me. Between the bugs and the humidity, I barely made it through my run. How come I was able to wake up at 5:00 AM to run in Chicago, but not at home? I think I should try a little harder at that. I've never been a morning person, but I think it's worth the effort.
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