(Cross-posted at the group NOLA 2010 training blog. At the end of each training week, I’m gathering the ongoing entries I publish over there and including them in one post here.)
Nov 2: On being selfish, but not feeling sorry about it
After Saturday’s long run, I did a short and easy bike ride on Sunday and today was my cross-training day at the gym. Tomorrow I need to get back out and do 3 miles, and this sounds totally unlike me, but I’m actually . . . kind of looking forward to it.
I was thinking of trying out a running group that’s meeting at 6:30 PM tomorrow, but after scoping their route I see this particular run is a loop that goes along some very busy streets. Doesn’t sound pleasant, especially during a high-traffic time of day. I’m signed up with a Meetup.com group, so I get emails all the time about upcoming runs—next time one sounds reasonable, I am going to nut up and give it a try.
This weekend my husband’s parents were visiting and we asked about them watching the boys so both of us could go to NOLA in February. First they said they probably couldn’t because that is the time of year they take a vacation, then they said they would babysit if we took the boys down to them. Problem is, they live in southern Oregon, a good 8 hour drive from Seattle. They suggested flying in and out of Eugene, but tickets cost about $200 more and involve 2 stops per flight instead of 1.
My husband thinks I should suck it up since it’s the only way he can come, but I just don’t WANT to have such a long, stressful drive bracketing what is supposed to be such a big event for me. I don’t WANT my air travel to take over ten damn hours of flying and involve changing planes twice. I just want to focus the race, and be as calm as possible.
When we were talking about this yesterday JB started to say he didn’t want me to keep him from experiencing his first trip to New Orleans, and I had to stop from snapping that it wasn’t ABOUT him. I mean, I’m really excited to see the city too, but this is about running a goddamn half marathon. This is about me and four months of training leading up to a huge personal accomplishment.
I want him to be there, but I don’t want the travel to be a giant burden. I don’t want to worry about getting my kids 400 miles down the road for the convenience of their grandparents.
So I guess I’m coming alone. I’m disappointed it’s not going to work out the way I had simply assumed it would—with his parents staying at our house—but this is a big deal for me, and I want to do it on my terms.
Nov 3 : A one-way run
I was talking with our massage therapist at work yesterday (we get full-body one hour massages at work, and while I’ve always loved this benefit lately I am practically TEARY-EYED WITH GRATITUDE for it) and learned she’s a hardcore runner — she’s done several marathons and an Olympic triathlon. She shared some interesting tips for me, like how to do an ice soak without plunging into a freezing bath (you run a tepid bath, put ice bags in, and soak until you can’t take it any more; this sounds horrible but I’ve read time and time again that ice baths really help with recovery).
She also mentioned doing runs by having her boyfriend drop her off several miles from home, and I was like HOLD UP. What a fantastic idea! You totally take all the motivation struggle out of the equation that way, because no matter what, you’ve got to get home, right?
This morning I decided to give it a try, and rode with my husband as he drove to drop off the kids at their school. The whole way there I kept thinking that it seemed crazy, like I was REALLY far from home, but right at the three mile point I got out and started back towards home.
And . . . it was great. Really, really great. I wore my iPod for the first time in a long time and that made a big difference (shout out to the JVC “marshmallow” earbuds, by the way, for being comfy and not falling out of my damn ears all the time), plus I had my silly Nike running tights on and I felt sort of badass. A pear-shaped badass, but whatever.
I LOVED starting somewhere other than my own front door. The route went gently downhill for quite a while, then there was an unpleasant climb at the end, and while I guess would prefer that hill to be at the *beginning*, it was a good route—right on a main street so I felt very safe, but still winding past a blueberry farm and some wetland areas.
The only downside was crossing a couple busy streets and having to wait for the light, but I suppose the upside is I got to stop and breathe a few times. (I can’t do that jog-in-place thing at lights, I feel like too much of a douche.)
Overall I felt awesome, except maybe at the end of that hill. Like, 95% better than last week. Can my endurance really have improved in such a short amount of time? Or am I just getting used to the way running feels?
Stats (these aren’t 100% accurate because I forgot to stop/start the watch at a couple intersections, but close enough):
Nov 5: Schedules, speed work, strength
Earlier this week I received an email from the Meetup.com running group I belong to (which I have yet to actually run with) letting me know about an ongoing Wednesday night track workout. They provided a link to this week’s workout, and after doing a lot of fretting and hemming and hawing I decided I’d show up and give it a try. Even though it was . . . speed work. (Dun dun DUNNNNN.)
Unfortunately, once I had mustered the will to commit to showing up, my husband reminded me that he has a scheduled workout for every Wednesday night, oh and by the way he now has a workout on Tuesday and Thursday mornings too, which led me into a pathetic death spiral of BUT WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO RUNNNN WAHHHHH.
Fitness has become a big part of his life lately, and I am really happy for him. There was a time when I was the only one working out and I can tell how much better he feels these days now that he’s kicking ass all week long at his boxing gym. But there’s no denying that it’s hard managing two separate workout schedules when we’re both working and raising kids. Compromise is the name of the game.
Once I stopped wallowing in self pity, I made plans to try the posted running group workout on my own on Wednesday morning, and that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I ran half a mile to a nearby sports field, set my watch to meters, and gave the interval stuff a shot.
The track workout was as follows:
4 Sets of 200-200-400
Recovery = jog 200 after each 200; jog 400 after each 400
It included the caveat that less experienced runners should run 2 or 3 sets instead of 4, but I figured, how hard could that really be? 200 meters, come on! That’s not so bad! I’ll definitely be doing all 4 sets!
Ha. Ha ha ha. HA HA HA HA HAAAA.
Oh god, it was so hard. I finished the first set and felt like I was going to DIE. I *barely* made it through the second set, and had to walk between each sprint. And after a while, my “speed” pace was not exactly all that speedy. I got a side cramp, some muscle on the inside of my right thigh voiced a very loud complaint, and I was breathing so hard I was sucking leaves off nearby trees.
Jesus eff. Those of you saying how you love interval work, ARE YOU INSANE? In the MEMBRANE? Because huuuuuurrrrrrgh. The only nice part was trotting back home, because it felt so good to be at a normal pace again.
Naturally, I plan to try it again next week. Because that’s what this is all about, right? Pushing, pushing, pushing. Running right past our limits and getting better all the time.
(I might bring a barf bag next time, though. JUST IN CASE.)
That was yesterday morning, and in the evening I did a 75-minute kickboxing class where we did lots and LOTS of resistance work. With every squat, every lunge, every core-destroying pushup, I tried to think of my muscles getting stronger and carrying me through these runs. It helped. You know, a little.
Today, thank god, is a rest day.
Nov 7: Second long run: wet, chilly, and awesome
I was really dreading my 4 mile run this morning because the weather has been complete crap lately—stormy with the sort of out-of-control drilling rain that wakes you up at 1 AM freaking out that the roof is going to somehow cave in. Today wasn’t quite that bad, but it was definitely wet and windy outside and I dithered around peering out windows and wondering if I should just wait until tomorrow.
Then I checked Twitter and a woman I follow had posted about finishing a half marathon this morning and I thought, okay, self, time to nut up and shut up. If someone somewhere can run 13 miles after breakfast, you can get out and do your four. I’ve managed to avoid the rain so far, but hello, I live in Seattle. There are PLENTY more days like this in store for me during this training phase.
A nd after all the fretting and feet-dragging, you know what? It was the best run I’ve ever had. I felt strong the entire time, never once getting too winded (a personal first!). My ankles ached a bit towards the end and I started to get a blister (probably because my feet got wet), but overall nothing hurt, nothing distracted me, and instead of finishing with the sensation that I’d used up every last reserve of energy, I felt like I could have kept going.
It was amazing. I cannot believe how much I’ve improved—not speedwise, mind you, but endurance-wise—in just a couple weeks. I’m sure 99% of it is mental, but whatever works, right? If you’d told me a month ago that today I’d be able to run almost a full hour and feel fine about it, I would have laughed and told you to SMOKE ANOTHER.
This is one of the most awesome things I’ve ever done for myself. I’m so glad for the opportunity, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Quick gear recommendation for chilly temperatures and rain: I wore this Louis Garneau Ear Cover under a baseball cap and the combination was outstanding. My ears were perfectly protected without my head feeling too hot (bonus: it holds earbuds in place quite nicely), the cap kept the rain off my face.
I also wore two long-sleeved layers of Under Armour shirts instead of a waterproof shell and that was fine. I had to peel one off about halfway through and tie it around my waist, which I kind of hate, but I’m not sure there’s much you can do to avoid that when your run starts out cold.
Mileage: 4.91 (I only planned to do 4, but the lake I was circling had flooded the trail so I had to double back)
Question for those in the know: I inevitably go up and down some hills so my pace tends to vary quite a bit during a longer run. Sometimes I’m chugging along at 8:30, sometimes it’s over 13. Is that okay, or is it best to try and keep as consistent a pace as possible?