For as long as I can remember, I told people "I can't run." But in March of 2009, I decided that this was no longer an option. From my first 5K to my second half marathon, I've endured my highest highs and lowest lows as an official Runner. This year I want to embrace running for something beyond times and distances.

Running is so much more than merely getting out there. I want to get out there and love it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Al's Run goal

Alright, so I really didn't want to set a goal time for my 8k race next weekend. Mostly because I didn't want to accidentally suck and disappoint myself. Originally I wanted to run it in under 50 minutes. At first that actually looked challenging because I was running my long distance routes averaging like 10:30 minute miles. But for some reason, recently I've just been blowin' it out the box. Last night I ran 6.6 miles averaging 9:04 min miles. That's unbelievable. That means that I could run Al's in 45 minutes. That's crazy talk. And with it being race day and all? With the adrenaline? We're talkin' like 44 minutes possibly. Like if I ran even 8:54 min miles? Done. And that blows my mind.

But like I said, am I setting myself up for disappointment if I really set that goal? The whole point of doing Al's Run was to DO it! To actually run an 8K which I never in a million years thought I could do. But what if I have a bad running day? What if it's unseasonably warm and sunny? What if I have a really bad side cramp and just absolutely have to slow down to regain my composure? It's hard dealing with the unknown. And speaking of the unknown, I've never even run this route before. What if that trips me up? Bah...this is just week-before-the-race jitters, that's all. I guess at the end of the day I'm going to hope for something like 47-48 minutes (9:30min mi avg), but push really really hard for under 45. I mean you need a lofty goal to get that extra push at the end of the race right??

In any case, I have like three runs left before the big day: a fartlek one tomorrow, 3-4 mile quick paced run over the weekend, and a light jog or two early next week as I don't want to do anything drastic before the race. I find that my body really gains ground when I have more than just a couple days between runs. For example, I had about four days in between last night's and Thursday's run and I could seriously feel a ton of progress, like my body is rewarding me for resting :)

One final note: God bless fall. The absolute, without a doubt, ultimate BEST WEATHER to run in. October in Wisconsin is a gift from above for runners :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

go go gadget legs?

Just wanted to post that I DID in fact run this morning. I went to bed a little on the late side, so that 6am alarm was a real dooze. When I headed out, my legs were a little rough, so I decided I'd just do like three miles instead of four, to give my legs a rest. I also decided to do a bit of a slower run. Well when push came to shove, while I didn't do my little "brain tricks," there were quite a few times when I decided to push harder. And hard it was! It's been so humid lately, so the run was pretty stifling. When I got home and tracked my route, it turns out I did ~3.75 miles at 8:54 min miles?!?!? How the heck was I going so fast?!?!'s times like these that I think this training is not only working, it's ACTUALLY working! What? Yep!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

another goal accomplished!

In my first running blog post, my "third goal" was to run with my step-dad. Now despite the fact that he's pushing 50 and regularly feels pain in places we didn't know existed, he still hauls ass!! A few weeks ago, he ran the Badgerland Striders Cudahy Classic 8K and placed second in his age division (M 40-49) with a time of 38:33 (7:43)...I think that's pretty freaking good!!

In any case, when I first started running, I figured it would be awhile before I'd run with him. Obviously he can slow it down for me, but I didn't want him practically tripping over his feet in an effort to slow down. Well with my own 8K race coming up, I figured it might be a good idea to try it. Perhaps David would speed me up a little. Meanwhile, he wanted to run the race himself, but to avoid injury, he needed someone a little slower to run with. It's a match made in heaven!

So Sunday afternoon, he met me at the apartment. This was my "long run" day and since I went 6.6 miles last week, I decided to up to to 7 miles. I know...7 miles running with a veteran?? Was I biting off more than I could chew?? Well I mapped out a 7 mile route, and we took off into the slightly mild temperatures, but HOT sun. Aaaaand how did it go??? Well basically it couldn't have gone any better!!! Right away I knew I was going faster than I typically do in the first couple miles. At first it made me nervous because of the length of the route...was I going to totally pass out like four miles in? Nope not at all! I just kept plugging away. I'll tell you that runs go SO MUCH FASTER when you're running WITH someone! Talk about a way to beat the long distance boredom! And it's not like we were talking or anything. We probably exchanged like three sentences total the whole way, not including "turn right here." But I guess maintaining your focus on the person next to you is enough distraction.

The two hotspots in the run were the two big hills I made sure to incorporate: one at mile 5 and one at mile 6.75 or so. So yeah, right at the end of course! I told David I needed to slow down to prepare for the first hill and that worked ok. And actually after the hill was over, I usually slow waaaaay down to recover, but because I was with David, I just pushed on. After the second hill, at the end of the route, I gave 'er hell, per usual, and sprinted the final 2 minutes (roughly four blocks or so). I think David was pretty surprised I had it in me!!

Ok enough of that...what about STATS?!? I love me some stats!! Well, when I recorded our time (1:07:10) into mapmyrun, turns out I did the 7.2 mile route averaging 9:18 min miles!!! That's WORLDS...WORLDS away from 10:10 min miles from last weekend's long run. So yeah, consider this girl very proud of herself!!! Meanwhile David ALSO said that this was one of his favorite runs! He said the pace was excellent and definitely a good way to avoid re-activating his injury. So basically, while he may not earn himself another awesome 8K time in the upcoming race, he'll be helping ME get a better time than I would by myself. Basically if I can run 7 miles at that pace, I can certainly do 5 miles at that pace!! Add in the energy and adrenaline of Race Day, and I could stand to get a really solid time! I'm so stoked now!!!

In other news, last night I did another "fartlek" type interval run. Only 2.2 miles again, but I did it in 18:28 instead of 20:00 like last week! That's a solid 8:30 min mile average!! I do believe that's my best time yet. Granted "only" for 2 miles, but still...I think all the varying in training is seriously helping me. I'm so glad I really buckled down in these past few weeks!

However, with that said, I noticed during my long run, and especially in my interval run yesterday, that my legs are feeling pretty rough. I could feel sharp pains in my right leg from my quad to my knee to my shin to my ankle to my big toe. It went away about 3 minutes in, but still, it's got me a little worried and I don't want to overdo it just two weeks before the 8K. So I'm going to see what happens on Thursday morning...whether I should do the 4 miler or not. On the one hand, more long distance will really prepare me for the 8K, but on the other hand, am I pushing it with these 6-7 mile runs? It's so hard to say.

OK END OF LONG ASS POST! I'm sure YOU could've run 7 miles in the time it took you to read this jeez!

Friday, September 18, 2009

this morning's run

So my 4ish mile runs have been landing on mornings (instead of after work) several times now and I always kind of dread them because I feel really sluggish and my time is always slower. Well I actually woke up like 5 minutes before my 6am alarm went off, so perhaps I was already psyching myself up for a better run.

I started trotting away and I immediately noticed two things: a. why aren't my legs working right and b. I dressed waaaaay too warm for what I thought to be a cold morning. But I didn't let these things get me down. I pulled up my pant legs and focused on trying to get my pace/footfalls right. I was totally clopping like a horse out there!

Sure enough, I started hitting my stride, but approaching the two mile mark I started getting tired per usual. But just yesterday I read someone's something-or-other on Facebook talking about Jillian from Biggest Loser and the concept of Mind over Matter. So I started telling myself: hey now, this is ALWAYS the part of the run that sucks...body will wake up in just a few minutes, so right now brain has to take over. And I went faster.

I started setting little goals for myself like "get to those trees way down there in 30 seconds." Now because I'm technically unsure of how far away the trees are, I have no idea whether 30 seconds would be a fast pace or not, BUT simply the act of "setting a goal" makes one run faster! So I kept doing this throughout my entire run...five minutes on this next leg, 30 seconds to the next block, get to Point B before time hits 40:00. It worked like a charm. Additionally, when I'd feel tired, I'd just tell my body to go harder, no ifs/ands/buts about it.

Nearing the end of my route, I was *hoping for something like 9:45 minute miles, MAAAYBE 9:30. What did I do? Not only did I run 4.78 miles (when I thought I'd barely get to the 4.2 mile mark), but I did it averaging 9:10 minute freaking miles!!!!! 9:10?!?!? What the?!?!

So there you have it! I think I seriously gained a TON setting the small goals (sort of like doing intervals/speed work, but *tricking your body into thinking they're just fun quick little games). Although I think my speedwork 2 mile runs are meshing really well with my hour+ runs as well.

Maybe it's all coming together? Maybe I just had a really good running day? Maybe I ate the perfect combo of food the night before (uhh pizza/wings/238021408234 tortilla chips???)...I don't know, but I like it. And it gives me fuel to keep getting better. I'll be prepared for the off days like any other runner has to be. But hopefully this physical AND mental training is really paying off!

OH!!! And I totally forgot to mention it Day Of, but my SIX MONTH RUNNING ANNIVERSARY was on Tuesday!!! Six months and look how far I've come...I mean WHY would I ever consider doing a half marathon?!?!? And here I actually am! Spooky!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Less than a month!!

I've got less than a month until my 8K race. In the last two weeks, I've adopted the following regiment:

Beginning week: 2-2.5 mile "intervals" in which I run three 45 second burst every five minutes. It's much more difficult than it seems! Undoubtedly because I'm not used to it. Despite the 20 minutes I'm running which is ridiculously short, this is the hardest run of my week.

Midweek: 4-4.5 miles. I try to pick this one up so I get at the 9:30 min mile range.

Weekend: Hour run. Last week I only did 52 minutes because it was so hot, and apparently I was running 9:30 min miles which doesn't seem right to me, but I guess math doesn't lie! Yesterday I ran from my house to my boyfriend's house, which is actually "only" 4.5 miles, so I had to tack on an extension which bumped it up to 6.6 miles!! I did it in 1:07 though which was actually incredibly disappointing. I seriously thought I was haulin' out there, especially because a large chunk of the run is a. downhill and b. in a slightly sketchy neighborhood so you HAVE to run a little quicker!! I don't know where I went wrong. But this actually gives me some fuel to repeat it this weekend and try to beat that time. Maybe Sunday night again, but perhaps NOT after dark?? I was honestly a bit frightened at certain points haha!

In any case, the main reason I was disappointed was because I am extremely determined to beat 50 minutes in that 8K. Obviously doing the 8K in the first place is a goal unto itself, but now that I know I can clearly run five miles plus, I want to get a good time. So since I'm starting a new running week, I just really have to step it up a notch and push even though it hurts. NPNG and all that fun stuff ;)

Anyway, I'm still loving to run!! My knees aren't loving anything right now, but they're just gonna have to deal with it.

PS I just realized that with my 6.6 miles I ran yesterday, I ran over 10K!!! So there's my next goal all set to go: 10K race! :)