Thursday, April 16, 2009
I can't believe I haven't blogged since last November. What a slacker I am! It's only been a couple weeks though since I've been able to get back on SP since moving and being without internet for what feels like forever.
I'm almost all moved into my new house. There are a few boxes in the basement that have yet to be unpacked, but all the important stuff is put away. The first month was really rough, living in a hotel and trying to get used to it here. Things did get better once we moved into our house, but I can't say it's been terrific. I've been in a huge funk lately and it will probably take a long time for this to feel like home. The town is up in the mountains and is small and isolated. We have to drive over two hours to stock up on groceries and other necessities. There is a grocery store here, but the prices are ridiculous and the selection is extremely limited. Being a vegetarian has made it challenging since a lot of the food I'm used to eating isn't available. I've leaned my lesson though and last time we went to the city I stocked up huge on veggie products.
It's only about 85% horrible here though. I've been including fitness classes in my routine which I haven't done in probably 8 years. I've been going to step class and kick boxing every week and I'm loving it. I've also learnt that Aquafit does not consist of elderly ladies in swim caps dancing around. It's actually hard work and a nice change of pace. I'm still running, trying to find a couple races to do this year. I'm so used to being able to drive 30 minutes to a race and now it's probably going to involve a plane ride. A huge bummer, but I guess I'll just have to really make the races I end up doing count. I've been kind of lost with running goals since I don't have any definite races in mind, but I'm hoping to do at least one half this summer and a fall marathon.
Now the challenge part.....I've committed to doing a triathlon in June with a couple of the wives from DH's work and I'm so nervous/excited. I've got the biking and running thing down no problem, but the swimming, not so much. Up until a month ago the only swimming I'd down in the past 10 years consisted of wearing a bikini and usually just lying on the beach. The first night I attempted to do laps I was surprised that the life guards didn't try to rescue me because I'm sure I looked like I was drowning. After four laps my heart rate was out of control and I was gasping for breathe. It's so funny how fitness abilities in one sport do not translate to other sports. After that horrible attempt I considered not doing the triathlon at all, but talked myself out of quitting. What fun would life be if we only ever did things we were good at? Okay, it might still be fun, but definitely not as satisfying. There was once a time when running left me feeling the same as swimming and I'm so glad I persevered and didn't give up. I've been swimming twice a week trying to improve my skills, but I really think that lessons are in order.My self assigned homework is to look into that. I would definitely feel a whole lot less nervous about the triathlon if I could improve my swimming skills.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This week I unintentionally fell in love with running all over again and let me tell you it feels great! After the marathon I was left wondering, what's next? I didn't really get the post marathon blues that others talk about. I was all too happy to take a break from the long runs, shed the few pounds I'd gained during training (my ticker now up to date), get back to my weights, cross train and just run for fun. Still, I was kind of lost when it came to setting a new goal. It felt nice just to be running however many miles I pleased without a set plan, but without a purpose, running was losing some of its shine for me.
There have been many times where I have wished that I could erase all my running history and go back to the beginning. I know that sounds kind of weird, but sometimes I wish I could experience the newness of running again, you know, that excitement you feel, that sense of accomplishment when you're able to run that first mile and then two and then three. It's kind of like when you've been married for awhile and your single friends talk about first dates, or when your girlfriend is over and her bf calls her like five times while you're watching "Lost" because their relationship is all giggly and new. Okay, forget the last example, that's just annoying! It's not that you don't love what you already have, but occasionally you miss that feeling of newness. It's like that with running. I'm proud of all that I have accomplished and I still love it, but it's hard to get that same excitement about running anymore. Sure, training for and running races is exciting, but usually only at the beginning when you set the goal and then at the end when you run the race. All the miles in between tend to be quite uneventful and dare I say a tad boring at times. Sometimes, just a means to an end.
So, winter has officially arrived and everywhere I look there is snow. In years past this would be when I move my running inside to the treadmill and spend the next five months staring at the wall while I run, listening to the same songs over and over. Boring! Also, not particularly fun if you're training for an event and have to do your long runs on there. My treadmill record stands at 14 miles and I honestly hope I never beat it.
This week I was going a little stir crazy and felt the need to get outside. I decided that maybe I should try a run and see how bad it really was. DD was being particularly difficult and I thought some fresh air would do us both some good. I don't really have the proper attire for winter running, but I made do with what I had and suited up. You may see me on a worst dressed list in the near future, but at least I was warm. It was snowing pretty heavily, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. I bundled DD up, put her the jogging stroller and off I went. The first half mile was pretty chilly and I could barely see through all the snow which had now turned into a small snow storm, but I kept on trucking. After the first mile I had warmed up and was surprised to find that I felt great. I felt better than great. It felt so empowering to be out there in a snow storm, pushing a jogging stroller. I ran 3 of my slowest miles ever, but I didn't even care and I was so proud of myself was getting out there. I'm officially in love!
I was super excited to go running outside again today. My MIL took DD for the day so I was stroller free this afternoon. I stopped by the mall today and picked up a hat, a neck warmer thingie and some tights for a base layer since the temperature has dropped drastically in the past couple of days. Today it was -12, but it felt like -19 with the wind chill. Brrrrrr! When I stepped outside, dressed and ready for my run I started to think that perhaps I was crazy, but once I got going it wasn't so bad. My pace is considerably slower because of the snow and I had to blaze my own trail today on the old rail trail since the snowmobiles haven't packed it down yet. Slow or not, those 5 miles today felt the best! Winter running is my new challenge. Over the next several months I will be faced with even colder temperatures, snow storms, ice and deep snow and I can't wait to conquer it all. The excitement has returned. Everything is new again because I get to experience a world of firsts. My first time pushing a jogging stroller in the snow, my first 5 miles in the snow and this weekend will be my first race in the snow. I was so excited that last night I decided to enter a 10 mile race on Sunday. Kind of impulsive, but totally doable and I can't wait!
Have a great weekend everyone!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Where to even begin? I guess at the beginning. Yesterday was the big day when I ran my first marathon, the Niagara Falls International Marathon. I got up at 6:00 having had only about 5 hours of nervous on and off sleep. I got dressed and set out in the dark to walk the 1.5 miles to the shuttle bus. I grabbed a muffin at Tim Hortons because there was no time to wait for the toasted bagel I'd been hoping for and then I ran the rest of the way to the bus. I got on with 2 minutes to spare!
The bus ride takes about 45 minute bus ride to the start line. The race started in Buffalo so we had to stop at the border and a border guard came on the bus and checked everyone's id. Once we were cleared it was off to the start line, which was at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The gallery was open for runners to hang out inside and keep warm which was nice since it was pretty chilly out. It was about an hour and a half wait which I thought would be torturous, but it wasn't that bad. It gave me lots of time to wait in the line up for the port a potty Everyone was so friendly and I met a lot of different people. It seemed like 4:15 was a popular finishing goal since most of the people I talked to were aiming for that too.
I was looking around for the 4:15 pace bunny, but there was none. There was only a 3:20 and a 4:00 bunny. I briefly considered sticking with the 4:00 group, but the wind was crazy and I didn't want to go out too fast. There were two men who I was talking with at the start line and they had the same goal time as me and I decided I would try and run near them.
It only took me about a minute to cross the start line once the gun went off. I held back and ran at a comfortable pace since I knew I had to save my energy. The first four miles were through Buffalo and I felt good, but as we approached the Peace Bridge to run into Canada the wind was in full force. It was brutal on the bridge, at times it actually felt like I might be blown right off the bridge and I lost my hat twice. Once we were into Ontario we were running directly into the wind. The wind was absolutely crazy and there were actual wind warnings in the Niagara Falls area. I felt like I was running sideways a lot of the time. Finally at around mile 8 the course turned and the wind was behind us. That felt amazing and I picked up my pace a bit.
Things were going well and I was on pace for a 4:10 finishing time. Around mile 10 I knew I'd have to stop at a port a potty. I drank a lot before the race, which I don't normally do for this very reason. I've never stopped at a port a potty before. It was something I've always dreaded. I kept waiting to stop because I kept hoping I would get lucky and there wouldn't be a line up at the next mile, but I couldn't wait any longer and stopped at mile 13. This stop cost me about 4 minutes, but what's 4 minutes compared to peeing your pants...nothing.
The course changed direction again around mile 14 and we were back running into the wind, which was now worse. The sky was getting dark and I was sure it was going to rain since there was a 90% chance, but it never did. Hooray for small miracles! I was slowing down, but still keeping a pretty good pace, running 9:37 minute miles. Still on target to finish under 4:15.
Around mile 16 I started walking through every water station. I needed it mentally and physically. Plus it's much easier to drink your water when it's not sloshing all over the place. More of it actually gets in your mouth this way. I ran by the two men I had been trying to use as my unknowing pacers. They had stopped off to the side and were stretching. I had lost sight of them around mile 4 so it was nice to see them again.
By mile 18 everything hurt. My back was having spasms, my legs were so sore and it felt like my toes were going to fall off. I just wanted to get to mile 20 so bad because then it would be less than an hour until the finish line.
At mile 21 the two men had caught back up to me and ran by. One asked how I was doing and I told him I thought I might be dying. He seemed totally emphatic and said he knew what I was talking about. It was strange to know that I was experiencing a lot of the same emotions and thoughts as complete strangers.
At mile 22 it hurt to walk just as much as it hurt to run. I contemplated jumping in the river and swimming to the finish line since I knew I'd get there faster thanks to the current and the Falls. I decided against it and kept on running. My pace had slowed considerably over the last few miles and I was now running around a 10:30 mile. My dreams of a 4:15 finish are dashed, but I don't even really care. At this point I just want to finish.
Somewhere around mile 23 I realize that I'd better take my race bib off my t-shirt and put it on the outside of my jacket so that I'll be able to get the picture of me crossing the finish line. I had put the bib on my t-shirt thinking I would send my jacket back on the baggage check bus, but it was too cold so I kept it on for the entire race. I attempt to make the switch while running, but this isn't a good idea since I now have open safety pins in my mouth. I stop and walk long enough to get my bib on.
At mile 24 there is just over 2 miles left and we're finally back in the city where there are people cheering and I can see the Fallsview Casino where the finish line is off in the distance. I know from running the half marathon last year that the end is near.
I run through the mile 25 water station and pick up the pace. I'm in incredible pain, but the faster I go, the faster this is all over with. The last 800 feet I go as fast as I can. I remember last year at the half giving it my all and sprinting to the finish, but I have nothing left at this point. I feel like I'm going fast but I'm sure I'm not. The announcer pronounces my name right for once, but I laugh at how he pronounces where I'm from, but I don't care, it's so good to be across that finish line. I did it! I conquered the 26.2 mile monster!! My finishing time was 4:28:22. Not what I was going for, but not horrible.
There were so many different emotions afterwards. I was proud that I'd finished, disappointed with my finishing time, sad that there was no one there to celebrate with me and very annoyed that I had a 1.5 mile walk back to my car. Ouch! If you had asked me yesterday if I would ever run another marathon I would have given you a very definite "NO WAY!!!" I was in an incredible amount of pain. I was exhausted and could barely walk. Today I feel a lot differently. I'm still very sore and it still hurts to walk, but I'm already thinking about the next marathon I would like to run and how I can improve on my time. I know I can do better and I will!
Thanks to everyone who left supportive comments and encouraging words! I really could not have done this without you. So many people on here have inspired me. My Spark friends are a constant source of motivation to me and if it wasn't for this site I don't think the idea of running a marathon would ever have occurred to me. Lastly, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read this. I tried to keep it short, but it's hard to condense such a monumental experience into 1,500 words. Thanks for letting me share!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
In less than 11 hours I will be running my first marathon! It's all very surreal and I'm no where near as nervous as I thought I would be. I'm trying to get myself to go to sleep, but I'm not really tired even though I know tomorrow will be an early day. I am annoyed that even though the race doesn't start until 10 I have to get up early to catch a shuttle bus to the start line in Buffalo. Depending on what bus I get on I could have to wait at the start for up to 2 hours!! I am seriously contemplating bringing a book with me because if I stand around that long thinking about nothing but the race I'll be a huge bundle of nerves. The anticipation will probably kill me!
I am trying to keep my expectations low in order to avoid disappointment. The weather is not cooperating at all and it is supposed to rain all day tomorrow with strong winds. It is inevitable that I will be soaking wet while running, which I can deal with, but the wind is another story. The course runs along the Niagara River and wind coming off the water is always worse.
I ordered a couple different pace bands from www.pacetat.com What a neat idea! They're temporary tattoos. No more printing out pace bands and trying to fashion bracelets out of them. I was originally going to go with a 4:00 goal time, but I'm leaning more toward 4:15 now. Really though for my first marathon finishing upright and smiling should be the main focus. This will be an accomplishment no matter what, even if it takes me 6 hours to complete. I really hope that no matter what my time that I am proud. Sometimes I hate how hard I am on myself.
As excited as I am, I am also very sad. It has been great to read so many marathon race reports on here over the past month, but I am always jealous when I read about their family and friends cheering them on. I will be doing this solo tomorrow. There will be no one meeting me along the course to offer support and no one waiting at the finish line. My parents wished me good luck today when I left, but I don't think they get how big and important this is to me. They were concerned about whether or not I'd be able to drive 3 hours home after the race, but that was the extent of any race dialogue. I really wanted DH to be here, but he is thousands of miles away. I was really bummed last night when he didn't mention anything about the race when we were talking on the phone, but he called before I left today to wish me luck and tell me he'd be thinking of me. That cheered me up a lot. Maybe I can pretend he is waiting at the finish line like last year when I ran the half. Above all I am just going to have to rely on myself throughout the run, after all I am doing this for me. Time to end the pity party and call it a night. I really have to force myself to go to sleep. My alarm will be going off in six hours and I know I will be one sleepy girl!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I spent most of my teenage years in therapy and I bet my parents could have saved a lot of money if they'd just sent me running instead. There's nothing like a long run to clear your thoughts and spend some quality time with yourself. I am one hurting unit right now though! Today was my long run and I ran the farthest I've run yet, 18 miles! I've been doing my long runs on Tuesdays, but the weather wasn't cooperating yesterday so I had to put it off until today. My MIL takes my daughter once a week now which is such a help. It's so nice to get some time to myself and get stuff done. With DH gone it's been tough being the only parent. It's great to channel all my frustrations into running. I always feel so much better afterwards and the end result is so much prettier than the alternative, which is me sitting on the couch stuffing my face with crackers.
It's not all rosy though. Each week is an internal battle. I psych myself up the night before my run and get all excited to run really far the next day. Then the morning comes and I think how nice it would be to use that time just to read a book or go shopping. Then I put my running clothes on and I have to go. I have never once put on my running clothes and not gone. It would be like the act of getting dressed was a huge waste of time if I didn't go and then I would just feel super guilty. Whatever works! It's like there is a little devil on my shoulder and he says things like "Why don't you just quit? No one will care." Maybe no one else will care, but I will. There is something in me that feels like I need to do this. I'm not sure why, but I want to prove to myself that I can conquer those 26.2 miles. So today like most days, I silenced the devil on my shoulder and headed down the road. I live out in the country now where I grew up so gone are the days of pavement and sidewalks. It's pure gravel roads and trails. I run down the old rail road tracks. The actual tracks were ripped out years ago so it's just a gravel trail that goes for miles and miles. The scenery is gorgeous and I run by creeks, rivers, and through a huge valley. If I wasn't already carrying five million things on me and loaded up like a pack horse I'd bring my camera and take pictures. The terrain is sometimes rough to run on, but it's nice not to have to worry about cars and just get lost in my thoughts. Today the only sign of life I encountered on my route were two deer, a doe and her fawn. They were running down the tracks toward me and I stopped running and stood really still and they got probably 15 feet away from me before the mother noticed me. She started stomping her hooves at me and snorting, I guess to try and get me to move. Finally she decided I was scary and turned and ran away with her baby following her. Pretty cool!
Overall it was a great run. Even though I've had my Garmin for over six months now I only figured out last week that I could have it keep track of pace for each mile. All I need is something else to analyze :) It's kind of neat being able to look at the data. The last 3 miles were rough and I seriously wanted to call a cab. If I'd had a cell phone with me I just might have :) Okay maybe not. I'm too stubborn to quit like that. I did have to keep repeating to myself over and over "Only 3 more miles. Only 3 more miles" and then "Only 2 more miles. Only 2 more miles". You get the point! My newest and favourite mantra that I've been using is "If Katie Holmes can do this so can you!" Nothing against her, but when I am conjuring up images of runners she is not someone who comes to mind. I read somewhere that she had never really ran before and only trained for 2 months for the NYC marathon. I'm feeling more confident and at this point I know I can finish the race. I just hope that this last month of training enables me to finish upright and smiling. Right now I'm exhausted, my hips flexors are aching, my legs are stiff and my back is killing me where my water bottle kept hitting me as I ran, but I couldn't be happier right and that's all that counts in my books!
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