Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week 3: 2 good runs, 1 downright weird run & 1 bonus

Run #7: Redemption 2 miles. I ran the same 2-mile route that gave me such a hard time last week. It's still not an easy route. There are some hills and very little shade. But it was so much easier after a good night's sleep and better hydration. Instead of my usual music, I listened to an audio book. It was an interesting change of pace, but difficult to stay focused. I guess I zone out more than I realized. This was one of the good runs.

Bonus Workout: I've been coming down with a cold, and didn't feel up to running 5 miles on Wednesday morning, but I did feel the need to do something active. So I loaded up my jogging stroller and my baby boy, & headed to my usual running path. We took a leisurely run/walk, about 2.5 miles. I hadn't planned on doing any running at all, but we bumped into my neighbor/running buddy as she was finishing a 5-mile run, and I got inspired by her post-run glow & had to try at least a couple bursts of running. Let me just say: HAT'S OFF to people who run with jogging strollers all the time. That's a really tough workout. My arms were sore the next day!

Run #8: Stop & "Go": This was the afore-mentioned "downright weird" run. On a positive note, I was thrilled to get a sensor holder in the mail for my Nike Plus, so I could start using my beloved Nike-Plus pedometer with my new non-Nike shoes. [Insert Nike-Plus plug here: ] I decided to calibrate the sensor to be sure I was getting an accurate reading, so I ran one mile using the mile markers on the running path as guideposts. That was part one of my 5-mile workout. I stopped, set my Ipod/Nike Plus for a 4 mile speed interval workout, and started up Part 2. It was super hot, so I ducked into a neighborhood, hoping for some shade. As I turned into the neighborhood, I realized that I really had to Go (not talking about running here). I couldn't believe my luck when I came around a corner and saw a brand new community pool with bathrooms. Of course, they were locked. On to Plan B: this neighborhood backed up to the woods where I go trail running. I paused my workout and gingerly stepped into the dusty, dirty woods in my beautiful shiny new shoes. At least I was able to find some relief there. However, restarting my speed workout after taking a jaunt through the woods was tough. I gave it a try, but about 3/4 of the way through, I stopped. Part 3 of the run: I ditched the speed intervals and just jogged easily for mile 5.
I've been dreading the whole bathroom while running issue, but haven't had to deal with it until this workout. This wasn't even a long run by any stretch of imagination. When I get up to 9-10 mile runs, bathroom stops may be par for the course. I hope the next time nature calls, I will be close to the beach access that has a public restroom. Probably need to plan routes that bring me by there mid-way.
This 3-part run probably took me well over an hour from start to finish, with all the starts and stops. Good thing I didn't have any morning appointments.

Run #9: All smiles. There was nothing particularly special about this 6-mile run. It was hot as usual, there were times I struggled, but overall it was enjoyable. Good tunes, easy pace, great scenery. I finished at a beach access, where I took off my shoes and hosed down my legs with cold water while admiring the still-beautiful Gulf of Mexico. The long runs are my favorite. When I got home, the house was so quiet! My daughter had spent the night with her Nana and great-aunts. My husband and son were still asleep. I took advantage of the opportunity to do a short workout video. Running has been great at slimming me down, but my jeans are getting a little too baggy in the rear. I dug out a great old VHS workout tape that uses ballet moves to really tone & lift the tush. It definitely worked some neglected muscles -- ouch!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Days 4, 5 & 6

Each run had its own set of challenges this week! Where to start...

Run #4: Respect the short distances

I remember the first time I ran 2 miles without walking. It was Week 5, Day 3 of the "Couch to 5K" training program & the first workout in the program that did not include any walking. I was so proud to tell my friends & family about it! I felt like a real runner.

Flash forward 4 or 5 months: My long runs are up to 6 or 7 miles, and my weekly short & easy run is 2 or sometimes 3 miles. I started looking at those 2 mile runs as child's play, preludes to my much more rewarding long runs. I stopped taking the short runs seriously & stopped preparing myself properly.

Case in point: On Tuesday I was scheduled to run 2 miles. On Monday night, I went out to dinner with friends and had a couple of Adult Beverages. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning (yes, 4:30), WENT TO MY OFFICE to make a project to send to my daughter's first day of Pre-K, and intended to go running before taking my daughter to school at 7:30 a.m. "It's just a 2-mile run, no big deal". But as I sat in my office, I wasn't sure if I felt up to running, not even 2 miles. Wine will do that.

I didn't make it out on the road until around 8:30, much later than I ever want to go running in this heat. But hey, "it was ONLY 2 miles". I can honestly say that was one of the most challenging runs I have had in a long time. I desperately wanted to stop and walk before I even got to the halfway point. Sweat pouring out of me, my body complaining from Monday night's festivities, the sun pounding down relentlessly.

Later I looked at my training schedule. For a 13.1 mile goal, there are a surprising number of 2-milers in my program. Next time, I will prepare for the two-mile run just as seriously as I would for a long run. And I will try to remember the pride I had the first time I tackled that distance. Two miles is still farther than I could run six months ago.

Run #5: Time Crunch

Thursday's run was 5 miles. I woke up at 4:45, leisurely had a bagel & coffee, and drove off to one of my favorite routes -- Grayton Beach to Seaside and back. This was a speed training run. I ran "fartleks" (what a funny word) which are little bursts of fast running with slower running in between. To keep it fun, I don't plan on a certain number of speed intervals, a certain pace or a certain distance. I'll just pick out landmarks as I go -- run hard to the next stop sign or intersection, then run slowly until I feel like running fast again. This really was a fun run. It was like being a kid and just going for broke.

This time my challenge was time. I knew that 5 miles would take me a little over 45 minutes. But I did not plan for the time it would take me to warm up before I ran or cool down afterward. I also didn't account for the driving time. So I got home at 6:50, a sweaty stinky mess. My daughter was still asleep and she had to be at pre-K at 7:30. Thankfully, she was a good sport when I woke her and hurried her through her morning routine while I took a world-record speed shower. We arrived at school at 7:29. She had eaten her breakfast in the car. My hair was soaking wet. Lesson learned: I need to get up & at 'em EVEN EARLIER on school days. This is going to be more challenging than I thought.

Run #6: Restoring Sanity

My daughter's old preschool has a monthly "Kids Night Out". Friday night I dropped both kids off for 3 whole hours of Me Time, which I chose to spend painting my new home office while blaring the Sirius Radio's Jam Band station. The effect on my pysche was actually pretty similar to running: the mindless repetition of painting while occasionally checking in to make sure I was staying "in the lines" gave my brain a nice break.

My sense of calm started to erode shortly after I arrived at the church to pick up the kids. Apparently, my 13-month-old son did not have much fun at Kids Night Out. He had screamed himself to sleep about a half hour before I got there. So, as a mother, I felt guilty that I was home mindlessly enjoying my painting while my son was having a screaming fit just 5 minutes away. Guilt magnified later in the evening when my daughter couldn't find me at an outdoor movie, and she enlisted an elderly lady and a security guard to help her find her lost mommy. I had been walking around the perimeter of the lawn, trying to keep an eye on where she was playing with an army of other children, find a sandwich, and quiet my crying baby. By the time they found me, they had bought her a glow-ring necklace and a snow-cone. Sigh. I guess I am out of the running for Mom of the Year.

I think the temporary reprieve of Kids Night Out made the evening's stress (and humiliation if we want to be quite honest) even more pronounced. I texted my husband at work: "I need a nice long run in the morning". Six miles never felt so good. Coming home to the usual morning chaos, I kind of wish I was still out there right now.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 3: The Road Less Traveled

I heart trail running. If I could, I would escape to the woods for every run. However, I need to prepare my joints for actual race conditions, and my half-marathon is going to be run on pavement. So my little trail outings are a special treat.
This morning, I hit the trail at 6:15. When I run in the woods, I don't focus on speed. I just enjoy the sights and smells of the pine trees, palmettos and tupelos. I watch the trail ahead for obstacles, usually tree roots or patches of soft sand. There's a little voice in the back of my head that is scared of running into snakes, but I think I get out there early enough that the snakes are still sleeping in their hidey-holes.
Five miles went by, and I wished I could just keep running. You know it's been a good trail run when your feet are this filthy.

Day 2: Hot & Hilly

Friday's run was just that. First, the hot: When I got in my car at 6:10 in the morning, it was already 83 degrees. I started running at 6:25 and by 7:00, I was drenched. Next, the hilly: Yes, there are hills in Florida! I had to run a strange circuitous route to get a good hill workout, but I found some big'uns.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 1: I Fought the Snooze Button, and the Snooze Button Won

My weekly training schedule roughly follows this format:

1. A short "easy" run on Monday or Tuesday
2. A medium-length run on Wednesday or Thursday where I try some hills or push my speed
3. A long run on Saturday or Sunday, in which I gradually increase my distance

I had planned on starting Monday, but after three days in a row at the beach, the snooze button easily won out at 5:30 on Monday morning. After attending a parade Monday night, the snooze button beat me again on Tuesday. So last night, I wore my running clothes to bed & left my shoes & socks sitting by the front door. I rolled out of bed around 5:30 and felt inspired. One small victory.

I was supposed to run 3 miles today, but I didn't plan out my route ahead of time and ended up running 4.4 miles. I knew I was going further than 3 miles, but after getting a late start this week, I suppose I was trying to compensate.

It was a good run: comfortable pace, not too hot out, and some lovely views of the beach and coastal dune lakes. Run #2 will be on Friday. If the snooze button doesn't stage a comeback.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


For the first 36-plus years of my life, I never really got into fitness. I always wished I had that drive, but there were SO many other things I'd rather be doing.... like getting a root canal. Sure, I'd love to be a size smaller, but not so much that I would be willing to spend a precious hour in the gym three times a week covered in sweat.

Then came 2009, which brought a beautiful baby boy & an unforeseen end to the job that I'd held for the previous 6 years. I wasn't in a position to relocate out of town for a new job and the local job market for real estate attorneys wasn't exactly thriving. So I opened my own law practice. I have learned that being self-employed is wonderfully flexible, but frighteningly unstable.

On New Years Eve, someone suggested that I enter a local 5K race. I would have a little more than two months to train and figured, why not? I NEEDED to accomplish something, anything, at that point. I downloaded the "Couch to 5K" training program, bought a new pair of Nikes, and got started. Then an amazing thing happened: I got hooked. I loved waking up on the mornings that I was scheduled to run. I spent countless hours on my "off days" planning the next run. I became a Running Junkie.

As a mother of two small children, I cherish running as my time to be alone, with nobody asking anything of me other than myself. As an attorney, I cherish running as my time to clear my head and stop stressing about my clients' well-being for a little while. The fact that I've dropped two sizes without changing my diet is an appreciated side effect.

After that first 5K on March 7, I immediately started planning for the next challenge. I ran a 10K on May 1 and I signed up to run the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on October 2. My official training for the half marathon starts on June 7. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!