Wednesday, March 24, 2010

St. Patty’s Day Dash

Well, it has been over a week since I ran it, but let’s just call it reflection time. But this blog is more about reflection on my journey rather than a real time newscast, right?

It was a beautiful day in sunny, edge-of-spring Seattle. No rain, clear and bright, but mighty chilly. Michelle and Ellen and I met our new running buddy, Daria, down at the site and prepared during our wait with a few yoga poses. You could call them sun salutations but I always forget, do you swing your arms in or swing out as you come up, so my hesitation makes them less . . .fluid. Note to self - practice those.

So, did anyone mention that the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day was also daylight savings? Our leg of the race started at 8:50 but we wanted to be there at 8:30. We also thought it would be more efficient (and green) to take the bus. Let’s catch the 7:45 at the park and ride. Pick up Ellen at 7:00 to allow plenty of time for traffic, that means get up at 6:00 to get ready. Oh, remember it was daylight savings time? That was really 5:00 am! Now, I have been up that early for Black Friday shopping but never to run. It felt good though.

Ellen had us all dressed up in green tutu’s and Michelle had bought us green gear for our heads and shamrock garter belts. I wore mine as an arm band. There were so many great costumes and show of green spirit. My favorites were the three guys who were wearing nothing but green undies and running shoes!

How about the running? I am not going to lie, it was tough. I was right to be concerned about running on concrete. My shins were feeling it right away. But it was a pretty cool feeling to be running on highway 99. The sea of people was amazing! I had no idea this was such an event! So, I had some difficulty keeping my stamina with having to maneuver through so many people. Plus the first half of it was uphill. Ellen and Daria pushed Michelle and I to keep going. We would each shout out landmarks to either start or stop running, like “bus stop” or “trash can” or “no parking” and we just got to know what we meant. We all stuck together!

When we got to the turnaround point, we stopped for a stretch. We were on the south side of the Aurora Bridge. Never have I seen the world from this perspective. I wish I could have stayed to savor the view of Lake Union from so high up. But my coaches kept us moving.

Downhill was better but towards the end my shins were pretty sore. A funny thing that I noticed though was that longer strides hurt less. I don’t know why that is but towards the end, I was able to run a couple of stretches by utilizing this new knowledge. But finally, I had to let the other girls run on ahead of me. I just couldn’t push myself to run those last few feet. They went on ahead and I took a little time but I got there. They were waiting for me at the end and cheering and encouraging me to sprint to the finish line and I did it! 3.8 miles, which isn’t much more than what we run each weekend but it is more and I feel like I did better. And I felt good that I did it, even if I knew I was going to pay for it with sore legs for a few days.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's happening . . .

Running around Greenlake is so great. Michelle, Ellen and I have been running on Saturdays for the past few weeks. Well, we run a good portion of the time. I am still working on my distance and I still have shin splint concerns. However, running on the gravel and using the ice after is really doing the trick.

So anyway, Greenlake. We were running last weekend. Ellen is great to run with because she gives us achievable goals – run to that tree . . . we are going to start again at that trashcan . . . stuff like that. It is very helpful to have her pushing us and having her there makes me push myself too. Usually we stick together, Ellen tells a story because Michelle and I can’t talk while we run yet. But last Saturday, Greenlake was very crowded and we had to weave around people as we ran. As I ran this particular small stretch, almost alone since Michelle and Ellen were behind me a bit, I told myself I would run to “that tree.” Well, I got to that tree and I realized that I could keep going. Not only could I keep going, but it didn’t suck. I don’t know how far I could have gone (probably not too far but who knows). I noticed that Michelle stopped and Ellen was a ways back with her puppy so I stopped too. I won’t say that running is a piece of cake now but I do feel good that I feel like it is clicking for me. 13.1 miles doesn’t seem quite as impossible anymore!

Michelle and Ellen and I are running in the St. Patrick’s Day Dash on Sunday. It should be fun, there will be green costumes for the run and a beer garden at the finish line. It’s not much longer than the route around Greenlake but my big concern – Concrete! The whole route will be on hard surface. I’m going to give it my best shot. Wish me luck, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shin Splints

I had really cut back on running a couple of weeks ago because I was having tremendous pain in my shins. So happens, I had an unrelated visit to my doctor and brought this up as a side note. She says I am developing shin splints. That sounds bad. It also feels bad. Her words made me feel like marathon running might not be my thing.

But, maybe all is not lost. What can I do to overcome this? My doctor suggested that I cross train - a little running, a little biking, a little swimming. This starkly contrasts what my book says to do (remember, I am consulting Marathon Running for Dummies). It says if you want to be a runner, then you have to run. But I think I agree with my doctor. I have not been a regular exerciser. To start out, I might be better off trying to get used to just exercising rather than being so concerned about my marathon progress.

So I need to focus on solutions. The shins feel much better when I stretch really good after the run, or whatever exercise I do. I also noticed that I seem to have more pain when I run on cement so I have been running on gravel. Last Saturday, I ran around Greenlake in the gravel areas only and my shins didn’t hurt at all. This concerns me a bit though, I imagine the whole half marathon is on concrete. At some point I am going to have to get used to running on a hard surface. I am hoping that this condition is just a manifestation of my poor fitness to date and as my fitness improves, shin splints will be less of an issue. Then I should be able to run on the concrete with the greatest of ease . . .

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ran today. Felt good. Pity party over.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Happened?

I haven’t updated my blog for a couple weeks because there hasn’t been anything noteworthy to write about. Mostly, because I haven’t been running and I am feeling shame about it. It started out because I was busy one night after work that I had planned on going to the gym. Then I started feeling a little run-down. So, I allowed myself to skip out again. I didn’t say anything to anyone, hoping that no one would notice, or start asking me how the running was going. I had very good intentions of picking it back up that weekend but, well . . . I don’t think I have to say.

Now this week I have been very sick, which is my best excuse yet for not running. Although I heard somewhere that you should run (or exercise) when you are sick and that will help you get it out of your system faster. I just can’t muster the energy for that. I’m feeling weak and unmotivated. I spent all weekend in bed reading Sookie Stackhouse books and watching stuff on Netflix. While that was much needed (since I decided I couldn’t use any of my sick time while I was really sick during the week since I had so many pressing things to do at the office), I just wanted my life to be back to normal. Kind of like one of the many fictional lives that I’ve peered into this weekend. It would be great if I could cheerfully go to work, do my job, come home and cook a great dinner in a clean kitchen (without yelling at my child), have time to work out, have a social life and always have something cute to wear in my closet. Is that too much to ask?

Can I make myself go running tomorrow, and then make myself go running the day after that and will I feel like that will make a difference? Because that is the real issue – I need to feel like I am getting somewhere. I am lacking motivation and direction. I need to get back into it and stop being so defeatist about my lapse. Oh, what a whiner. I always get a pretty dismal view of life when I am sick. Hope next week is better!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Week 1 - shoes can change your life

It’s been one week and the running is getting better. A big part of the reason for that is I got fitted for running shoes. What a difference! Amy and I begrudgingly went to Road Runner Sports on Saturday to spend a lot of money on something we would have never spent money on. We would have rather gone to the Dansko store if we had that kind of budget for shoes.

We walked in like sheep into a wolves den. When we were asked if we needed help, we immediately surrendered and confessed that we had no business being in there. We aren’t runners and we have no idea what we are doing. Please help! Our friendly salesman, Daniel (we remember this because that is our brother’s name), had us step barefoot (thank God I’d had a pedicure) on this electronic pad that measured how our feet struck the ground. Then he instructed us to get on a treadmill (what!) where he would videotape how our feet and ankles looked when we were jogging. It sounded embarrassing but I’m pretty sure they don’t keep those around for later viewing. And it was enlightening. Apparently, my arch likes to collapse and it looks like my whole foot/ankle/leg falls inward each time I step down. I thought this was strange because I am a pro at rolling my ankle to the outside just on a walk to get coffee. You know what I’m talking about.

So, based on this information that Daniel gathered from making us feel vulnerable, he decided what type of shoe would be best for each of our feet. I need a stability shoe, where Amy needs stability with motion control. He went back and brought out several options for us to try so we spent the next half hour or so in a sea of boxes and paper and mismatched shoes, trying to find the perfect pair. And it worked. I am now the proud owner of a really cute and comfortable (and expensive) pair of Nike’s. Thank you, Daniel.

But we weren’t done. I had read that socks are also very important for runners. Road Runner has a line of cushioned socks that claim to be the world’s best socks and so far they are right. Get this – these socks have arch support! It’s weird but very comfortable. My feet feel like they are wrapped in cotton balls.

Now I am “geared up” and running with my new miracle shoes. Remember how I was saying that my shins hurt really bad? Now, not so much. I won’t say it is 100% comfortable because I am still, after all, just starting out and out of shape. But now when I feel like I need to stop running, it isn’t because of pain; it is my heart rate or my breathing or, probably some mental fear of succeeding that I need to overcome. Whatever it is, the shins are good.

When I started at the beginning of the week, I was only able to run for 1-2 minutes at a time. Now I am able to run for about 3 minutes at a time. I’m still only going for 30 minutes a day but this means that instead of running for 7 minutes total, I am up to 12-15 total. That’s almost half! For now, I like this pace. I still have so much time until the big day that I am not worried about success or failure yet. So for this week, I will work on maintaining my current level and running for longer stretches of time. Maybe 4 minutes?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 1 (Yes, it Really Happened)

I surprised myself, and probably anyone else who knows me, and I actually attempted running today. As I was getting dressed for this adventure, I looked out the window and saw that the roof across the way was frosty. I went anyway. As soon as I took off though, I wished I would have thought to bring a tissue. So the whole way all I could really think about was I wish I could blow my nose. The book I have been consulting (Marathon Running for Dummies) says that you should either plan to use your sleeve to wipe your nose or practice the "open air" nose blow. Neither option seemed acceptable to me at this point. Perhaps I will change my mind later on.

So the run. My plan was to walk out my front door, keep walking for 2 minutes to get warmed up, then run as much as I could for 15 minutes and turn around for home. Out of a 30 minute exercise, I ran for a total of about 7 minutes. I am out of shape. My shins were hurting so bad! The book says I'm not supposed to stretch before I run but I really think that would have helped. I had to stop for a minute to flex my feet to try to get the pain to stop, and then I walked for several minutes.

The other obstacle - it was freakin' cold! It must have been about 35 degrees this morning as I was out there. The air was stinging my cheeks and my throat, and it was making my nose runny (I already covered that part). I think I need to wear gloves and probably long pants. Yes, I was wearing yoga pants since that is the only kind of exercise pants I own. Perhaps I should sport the short pant with knee high argyles tomorrow?

In all, I think I made it between 1.5 and 2 miles. And it wasn't all bad. I have driven that road a thousand times but I have never really seen it. Turns out it is a nice road. Can't wait to really see what is further down.

While I was feeling intense doubt that I will be ready for 13.1 miles in 9 months, I know that today was just my starting point. The place from where I measure my progress. And maybe I won't be ready to run in this marathon. Or perhaps I will have to run/walk it. It doesn't really matter, I'm still going to try.