Appreciating all the miles

It is easy to get wrapped up in the “how far and how fast” conversation and mentality. (Anecdotally, I find this mentality mostly in non-runners.) I have a hard time not feeling competitive when these are the first questions out of someones mouth when talking running… either that or feeling apologetic – apologizing for my pace, or distance, or just generally feeling less-than.

I try to combat this by reminding myself how far I’ve come and that I’ve achieved so much in my first year of running. Not just races, and PRs, and improving distance and pace, but more importantly I’ve found something that fills me with joy and peace. I’ve found something that is good for my whole self and health and I’ve put taking care of myself as a priority. And, I’ve done all that while achieving other big milestones. I want to tell people about how running has changed me. And I do want to talk about my pace and distance achievements, but I in the context of the ups and downs that come along with the training process rather than as an endpoint.


Back in the saddle

It feels so good to say I think I’m ready to start back up with running regularly. As hard as it is, I have to remain patient with my ankle and acknowledge I am not at the top of my game. I need to ease slowly back into a regular schedule and take it one short run at a time.

Yesterday was my first non-race run since April 8th when twisted my ankle. I started on week 6 day 1 of Couch to 5k and did some intervals. I got in about 3.5 miles total. It was slow and it felt so good. I also got to try out my new running shorts from REI.

REI Women’s Fleet Knee Shorts

I snagged these at the REI members sale in May and I really like them.  They are high enough in the waist and long enough in the leg.  I prefer pretty high waisted running bottoms and these aren’t all the way up to my natural waist, but they are close and have a draw string to prevent slip downs.  I got a big butt and can’t stand feeling like my booty is hanging out or needing to hike up my running pants/shorts the whole time I run.  These are nice and slimming and have a great reflective stripe on each thigh.

I’ve got some serious work to do in preparation for the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon in September but I am feeling ready for the challenge and look forward to lacing up more frequently over the next several months.

As a total aside.  I want a dog. Bad.


Sunny Weekend

While we get a fair amount of sun (more than our rainy reputation might lead to you believe) it isn’t always accompanied by such lovely temperatures. Starting mid last week we’ve seen 60s and 70s and it is just delightful. It cools down quite a bit in the evenings so Saturday morning was just about perfect for running the Haggen to Haggen 5k.

As a member of the Greater Bellingham Running Club we are asked to volunteer at least once per year to help out at a race so Mr., MT, and I all went early and helped register runners and walkers before the race began.  I won’t gripe about the insanity that was registration except to say there were record numbers of day-of registrants making it quite hectic. Eventually we ditched the registration tables and headed to the very crowded start line.

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Fun runs like this are a mixed bag for me.  While I really appreciate not being the very last person to finish as tends to be the case with more “serious” races (or at least races with small registration which usually attract speedy runners), the crowds are not particularly enjoyable for me.  I get passed pretty consistently for the first mile, and then I usually end up navigating lots of strollers the rest of the race. (This may not be a popular opinion, but I don’t like strollers in races. Period. Perhaps another post on this in the future). I am not big on crowds and find it difficult to get in my zone before the run and by the time I get in it, the race is over!

All that being said, I ran this race on my still bum ankle which I’ve been resting for two weeks by sticking to walking and aqua jogging in the 13 days prior to the race. Even with the rest, I’ve seen and felt very little improvement in tenderness and swelling which has been increasingly frustrating. So imagine my surprise when I ran a PR in this race (37:56total/12:14 pace) I think this is only 30 seconds faster than my previous best, but I certainly wasn’t at my prime for this race so this is encouraging that once the ankle is back at 100% I’ll be able to start working again on my race pace.

I chalk the PR up to two things: 1) 2/3 of the race was a shallow down hill which made it easier to maintain a quicker pace and 2) Mr. jogged with me rather than at his own pace.  It was really helpful to have someone running with me as it meant I only walked when I really needed to for my ankle.  We didn’t talk much but just having him next to me made the race enjoyable and I felt pretty good the whole race.

The rest of the weekend was gorgeous and still is today.  I am very very happy about it. Oh, and I cut my hair. Chin length really brings out my curls. Hooray for not having to blow dry my hair all summer! Also, check our my awesome new sweatyband (thanks MT) which will certainly come in handy now that I can’t make a ponytail.
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Savory Sunday & Swim

While weekday lunch time aqua jogs are a bit hurried, a Sunday afternoon trip to the pool with MT allowed for a very thorough workout and some serious hot tub action which my body appreciated.  I’ve recommitted to rehabbing my ankle. My next race is in two weeks (I swear I signed up for all these races before hurting myself!) so I’ve got a nice little chunk of time to rest and take care. 

I was starving when I got home from the pool workout, but managed to get my lawn mowed and a hedge trimmed before I started dinner.  I realized I only had one chicken breast (time to run to Costco) but managed to stretch one breast into a meal for two by adding red pepper, onion, and mushrooms to a saute.  A little cumin and chili powder, salsa and sour cream sides, and Mr. and I had ourselves some delicious chicken fajitas! 

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In an attempt to use what’s in the fridge, I pulled out a bag of brussel sprouts that badly needed to be used and steamed them up as a side.  Maybe not the most conventional side for the main dish, but whatevs.  If you don’t already know, you’ll quickly find out I eat brussel spouts with anything and all the time.  

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What food do you like/love that many people dislike? I won’t yuk your yum, I promise! 

 


Feeling the pain

 

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I got to wear my wonderful Whidbey Half shirt at a race this weekend.  Not gonna lie: I felt pretty cool.

I ran the Fun with the Fuzz 5k  which is a fundraiser for the Behind the Badge Foundation which supports families of fallen and injured officers in Washington State.  It was a large group of racers which made the first mile a tough one for me as I got swept up in a pace that was a bit much.  I know I’m not alone when I say I often start a race too fast; the excitement, the anxiety, the being passed by runner after runner… it all adds up to just running too fast.  It also meant I burned out quickly.

Add on to that the fact that I’m working with a sub-par ankle and that it was only 6 days since running my first half marathon and that equals a little bit of pain.  Soreness to be more accurate.  My ankle, although on the mend, was none too pleased and some muscles that were sore after the 13.1 flared up again.  Nothing too drastic and nothing a nice pool workout on Sunday couldn’t fix.

Not my best time ever in the race, but not my worst.  I’m happy I was able to run and happy to support such a wonderful cause.  My running buddy (MT from now on) and my husband (Mr. from now on) were at the finish line to greet me which was very fun.  They both ran the race as well!

 

 


Special Kind of Hunger

What is it about the pool that makes one ferociously hungry after getting out?! I’m going to have to remember this for the upcoming weeks as I’ve added lunch time aqua jogging with my favorite running buddy to my regimen. Must bring a bigger lunch on Thursdays to satiate this special kind of hunger.

Aqua jogging is a wonderful way to rehab my ankle while still getting in some great cardio and working out muscles that are less used in dry land running. I’m hopping it will add some variety to my half marathon training and be a peek at getting ready for a triathalong (my 2014 goal). Also, there is a hot tub which I can visit after “running” which, in and of itself, makes the whole thing worth it!

Swimming like a runner

I am very excited about this new addition to my workouts not only because it will be good for me physically, but I think it will do me lots of good mentally as well.  To intentionally take a break from the desk and get some exercise is crucial to my sanity.  I have a weekly walk with a colleague/friend on Wednesdays and that is always so delightful. Plus, although my best running buddy and I get coffee together each morning, it isn’t nearly enough time to really get in a good chat.

I might need some sweet goggles like that pug is wearing.


13.1 Done and Done

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Last Tuesday I was nursing a swollen, bruised, sprained ankle and fretting that I might have to put the kibosh on my plans to complete a half marathon that was just 5 days away.  Today I am still nursing my ankle but I’ve proudly added sore quads and a pinky toe blister to my ailments thanks to successfully completing my first (yes, saying “first” implies there will be others!) half marathon.

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This is me nervously waiting to start the race.  I signed up to “walk” the half marathon feeling like that was somehow less stressful and less of a gigantic commitment. When I registered I figured I’d do a run/walk combo but was hoping to run ~8 miles and walk ~5.  After I twisted my ankle I expected that if I was even able to join the race, my run/walk ration would be the reverse: ~5 run/~8 walk. But either way, I was just very happy my ankle progressed enough through the week that I was even able to entertain competing

As I stood gently bouncing and waiting for the start of the race while chatting with my running buddy (and biggest cheerleader), the rain started.  A drizzle at first, but over the next two hours, it just dumped and dumped. Aside from wiping the rain from my watch to check my pace, and squeezing the brim of my hat so the water stopped dripping like a waterfall in front of my eyes, I seem to remember only occasionally noticing the wetness. I ran totally zoned-in (not zoned out). I ended up running 8-9 miles of the race and walking the rest which was exactly what I’d hoped for!

I hit no walls (pretty sure this was due to the high adrenaline).  I experienced only one tiny bout of feeling tired (damn you gigantic hill between mile 9.5 and mile 11). I did not get any cramps, or strains, or pulls. I only gagged for a minute at mile marker 5 as I choked down a blackberry flavored goo. And as I came down the beautiful hill at mile 12, I saw my dear sister and mom jumping up and down and cheering me on; it gave me a light-as-air feeling and made the last mile just… cake (or is it icing?).

ImageMy first race medal is gorgeous.  I feel, for the first time with zero hesitancy, that I am a runner. My sense of impostership, which has been waning over the last few months, went out the window as I crossed that finish line. It is with this newly cemeted identity that my heart is especially heavy after the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday. The day before I felt so wrapped in camaraderie and love and passion and guts and I today I am hanging on to that feeling as tight as I can. I feel so lucky to have a home in the running community and I send my love to all others who are feeling the pain of this tragedy.