Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unofficial Mile PR

I haven't recorded my mile time on many occasions.  The fastest had been 7 minutes 22 seconds...until tonight. I jogged over to the track after work and ran 1.03 miles at 7:11 pace! Yes!

Deep down, I really want to be able to run a 5k at this pace.  There is a lot of work to do before that can happen, but this is a start!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jingle Jog Surprise

 I love it when I go into a race mainly for the people I'll be running with or the charity it is for, expecting a completely mediocre performance, and then surprise myself with my time. Such was my experience at the 2nd Annual Matamoras Jingle Jog on Sunday.

I had made plans to run on Saturday with my running buddy, who has taken on a temporary job during the holidays and can't make any of our normal week-day morning runs. Another friend told me about this 5k jingle jog on Sunday, and I kept it in mind, but I knew that a 5k the day after a long run would not work out that well.

So my buddy, her sister, and I ran a hilly 6.5 miles on Saturday afternoon after I got out of work. We ran an average pace of 9:21 per mile and climbed over 500 ft (I love RunKeeper's stats!!).  I felt pretty dead on a lot of the hills, but by the end, after a downhill, it leveled off and I had a huge burst of energy and finished feeling strong and really good. In that moment, I thought "Sure, I could run a good 5k tomorrow. I'm in!" I borrowed red-and-white-striped knee socks from my buddy, and texted my other friend to commit to the race.

And then I stayed up until 1 am working on a final group project for grad school. And then I woke up at 6:15 am to get to the race over an hour away.

As my friend, his dad, and I registered and got ready for the race, I tried to calculate what kind of time I'd be able to run. It was a flat course, but I was seriously tired. My guess was about 26:30. That was my last 5k time, and even though I was physically tired today, I was also fitter than I had been before. I figured that if I was overestimating the strength of my legs, and they felt really dead, then I'd probably finish more around 27:00-27:30. One thing was sure, I was going to push as hard as I could and see what I was capable of.

I was dressed in my green sparkle skirt, the red-and-white knee-socks, and a santa hat. This was a fun race because so many other people dressed up as well - everything from full elf suits to a snowman, and lots of santa hats and red and green colors.

It was chilly, but not frigid, and I seemed to be dressed just right in knee-socks, capris, and a thin wool long-sleeve shirt. I warmed up a little and found that the socks wouldn't stay up when I ran, so I safety-pinned them to my capris. Someone joked that I should make sure they didn't pull the capris down, too!

We lined up for the race and wished each other good luck, and before we knew it, the race was started and I was fumbling with RunKeeper and to get my iPhone back into my ifitness belt. The iPhone 5 is just a little too long to slide into the pocket easily, and I don't have an arm-band for it yet, but I wanted it with me so I knew my pace at regular intervals. I don't run a a very consistent pace, and I hoped that knowing both my average and current pace would help me if I started to slow too much.

I got the phone into its pocket and followed the group ahead of me. The race was chip-timed, so I knew that I just had to run my own race. It didn't matter how far behind I was if they stepped over the start before I did. But there were an awful lot of people ahead of me....

Within the first quarter mile, I knew that I was going to have hat trouble. I had jammed the santa hat on over a red ear-band to keep it in place, but all I could hear was it rubbing with every step. I pulled it down tighter, but that only pulled the ear-band down, and I felt like the hat on top would fall off any minute. I don't think that I made it to a half mile before I took off the hat and held it. I felt like I had wasted time and energy fiddling with it, so I focused on running and maintaining the fastest doable pace.

At one point, a little boy sitting outside his house who was watching us called out "Is this some kind of show?" I shouted "It's the Jingle Jog!" in a much-too-cheery voice.

I sounded cheerier than I felt. I told myself that if I just kept up this pace, I'd be happy. But I couldn't. Every other time I got a RunKeeper update, it would show that I had slowed down, so I sped up a little until it reminded me that I was slowing down. Not by a lot, just enough to make the average creep up. I passed some people and was passed by others. In the last mile, someone who seemed like she could be in my age category passed me, and I didn't feel like I had it in me to fight for the spot. I let her go by and told myself that I'd keep her in sight and try and pass her in the end if I could. With a half mile to go, I started to get a little closer to her. At mile 2.9, I made a move and passed her. I could hear her right behind me, but at mile 3 we turned onto the straightaway to the finish, and I pushed hard. It was a deceptively long straightaway, and I tried to hold on to my pace as long as I could. I heard footsteps coming up behind me, and a long-legged girl came sprinting up to pass me. We still had a ways to go to the finish, but I surged forward and passed her. I didn't win that fight, though, as I just didn't have enough in me to keep up that speed. She pulled ahead, I dropped back, and I stepped over the finish a second after she did.

When I saw the clock, I was really surprised. I finished in 25 and a half minutes! My chip time was 25:31. I hadn't run that fast in over a year and a half! What a great feeling! I caught my breath, and 2 minutes later my friend's dad came down the straightaway. I cheered him on as he came through the finish. It was one of his faster times, and he was pleased with his performance, although he was annoyed that one of his rivals has apparently been training and improved his usual time by several minutes.

A minute after that, my friend came through. I cheered him on as he made a nice fast kick toward the finish.

After congratulations were exchanged, I cheered on many of the other runners who came through and congratulated the girl who had beaten me at the end. She was about 12 or 13,  and it was her first 5k. She was really sweet, and I she definitely has a good future in running ahead of her. When I found my friend and his dad again, I was shocked when he told me that he had checked the score sheet and that I was first in my age group. What?! I thought for sure that I would have had to have run sub 24 to place in this race. Not so! I was 1st out of 5 in my group. Awesome!

My friend was 2nd in his age group, so he got a medal, too. His dad was in for disappointment. His age group was the largest and most competitive group in the race. He still had a good time, though. He had run this race alone last year and felt a big difference in the fun factor to have other people there too.  

Hurray for the Jingle Jog! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sparkle extravaganza (I mean River Ramble) race recap

We sparkled and shimmered all along the river today in the River Ramble Fall Classic 10k, coming in 2nd out of three teams. We had a great time dressing up in our skirts and applying glitter gel to our faces and glitter spray to our hair. We definitely had the most character and personality on the course!
Team Blood, Sweat, and Sparkle

Two of my team members also set personal records in the 10k and won age category prizes!

Here is how the race went for me:

Even though we were running our own paces, we decided to line up together as a team near the front of the pack, since there were hundreds of runners and no chip timing. Starting in the front may or may not have been to my advantage. I can't tell if I burned myself out by going out too fast or if I would have set myself a slower pace if I hadn't had the momentum from everyone else.

In any case, when we started, we ran 0.2 miles through the parking lot to the hill that takes us out to the road. I kept a light but brisk pace through the parking lot and just tried to take it easy but keep the pace going up the hill. Then I tried to remind myself to use the slight decline to my advantage and let gravity do its thing.

I tried to keep at a steady, quick pace, and I got to the 1 mile mark at 8:08 minutes. I thought that I usually go out a little faster, but I knew that if I held that, I was still on pace for my goal time. I was feeling tired though, and the balls of my feet down to my toes were totally numb. It's hard to describe running without feeling your toes, and I can just say that it is very uncomfortable, especially when you know you're continually pounding on those spots. Around this time I also started getting the dreaded cramps, and I don't mean the lactic-acid kind.  Still, I kept on my pace, and it seemed like no time before we got to the 5k turnaround. Alas, what an easy race the 5k must have been! Even with my frozen toes, I think I could have turned out a time around 25:30 on that course.

But I was running the 10k, so I kept going straight beyond the turnaround, and it wasn't long before the hills started. These were not nearly as unforgiving as the hills that I usually run on, so I should have flown up them, but I did not perform as well as I expected I would. When I found myself plodding, I picked up my knees and lightened my step, but I was much more tired than I should have been. I continued to fade as I got closer to the turnaround point, and more and more people passed me. I can't say that's not disheartening, but I flashed my sparkle skirt (well, it did its own flashing) and kept going, trying to pass people on the downhills.

I played leap frog with a couple of people until they either drew ahead or fell behind, and I found myself in a no-man's land with no other runners around me for the last 2 or 2.5 miles. At this time, I tried to do the math to see if my top goal was anywhere near attainable and settled on trying to finish in under 55 minutes. My time at the turnaround was about a minute and a half slower than it should have been if I wanted to match my PR.

After passing the 5k turnaround, I tried to use the flats there to my advantage and speed up a little. I got excited when I could see the parking lot. There was one slight incline left, and I jogged up it, hoping that maybe I'd get a burst of speed and somehow be able to pass the guy up ahead of me. I dropped my hand-held bottle of Gatorade next to a road sign where I'd be able to pick it up later  and immediately felt lighter and freer. I crested the hill and started to coast down towards the parking lot. I heard someone coming up behind me, and that spurred me on just enough. I opened up my stride and made for the finish line.

The last stretch is deceivingly long. I was told to smile for cameras, so I held back a bit instead of going for the usual power sprint (and accompanying photos of flailing limbs and ridiculous grimaces). I heard someone say that my skirt was flying, and one of the race volunteers said that even though I was the last of my team to finish, I was still fast, and they were all waiting to cheer me on. And they were!
That skirt is flying!
I finished in 55:26, which is a little disappointing, considering I had been improving so much and know that I was capable of at least 53:52 on that course, but it's something to beat in the future. I have to remember that my first goal in this race was to have a great time running in our sparkly skirts. I wanted us to bring a lot of fun to this race and have a blast, and we did! We all left with such a great feeling and are already planning on continuing our weekly groups runs. There's even talk of signing up together for a half marathon in the spring! And I think that our enthusiasm extended out to a lot of other people today. One or two people actually thanked me for dressing up!

After cheering on many other 10k runners, we got some refreshments and stuck around for the awards ceremony, where two of our girls won 2nd and 3rd place in the 30-39 year age group! Way to go!!! What is even more impressive (and a little frustrating) is that the friend who placed 2nd was only a second or two behind 1st place in that age group. Believe me, when we do this next year, she's going for 1st!

After individual awards were given, every member of Team Blood Sweat and Sparkle was awarded a River Ramble mug for 2nd place in the team competition! Go team!!
Celebrating with 2nd-place mugs

This was a great race that was very well organized, even though it was in its first year. The weather was beautiful, and everyone I saw had a great time. The location was also awesome. After everyone else left, I took my unfinished breakfast (more on proper - and un-proper - nutrition in a later post?) down to the boat launch and sat down and finished it while looking across the river. It's a beautiful spot, which is why I'm getting married just a few miles downstream from there next September...! You can't beat the view of the river and mountains behind them.

Anyway, the course was great, everything ran smoothly, and I'm so glad that we were able to put such a quirky team together. It added an element to the race that I don't always see.

I am really looking forward to finishing up my grad school program and having more time to exercise again so I can work on improving my fitness and becoming a fast runner. Watch out, River Ramble - I'm coming back next year, just as sparkly, but faster than ever!

River Ramble 10k goals

Two months ago, the 10k distance was a little daunting. I hadn't been running for months, and I just didn't see myself completing the distance with anything but an agonizingly slow pace. But the River Ramble, which offers both a 5K and 10k distance, only permitted team competition for the 10k. And I wanted to form a team - a team comprised of people wearing sparkly running skirts. So I got my running buddy, her sister, and one other runner together to form Team Blood, Sweat, and Sparkle. We ordered skirts from Team Sparkle, which I had read about on the Chic Runner's blog and set out to train for a 10k.

Initially, my goal was to run faster than 9:30 per mile pace. We mapped out a training route that was hillier than the race course, and on the first time running it, I came in at 58:52. That was 9:28 pace! I revised my goal to be about 55 minutes. The next time I ran that route, I cam in at 57:41 -  9:16 per  mile! I was very excited about doing some long runs and a timed mile to work on both endurance and speed, but I got sick with a cold, and then a secondary infection, so I lost about 2 weeks of training. I got back out as soon as I could, and last Tuesday I ran the race route in an amazing (for me) 53:52. Then it was time to rest and wait until race day. My goals for the race were:

  • Have a great time running in our sparkly skirts! I wanted us to bring a lot of fun to this race and have a blast.
  • My top time goal (aka goal that might be in reach) was to finish in under 53 minutes. That would involve running about a minute faster than in my fastest training run (which I had put pretty much everything onto the table for). 
  • If that wasn't achievable, my next goal was to set a personal best. 
  • My next goal was to finish in under 55 minutes.
  • If I had a pretty stinky race, I hoped to still finish with a pace of under 9 minutes per mile.
So, there you have it!

My next post will be a race recap!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Out of the library and onto the road

Librarian on the Run is on her way to becoming Archivist on the Run. For the past year, I've been back in grad school studying Archival Studies with the hopes of being able to work in a library with a special collection. So I haven't had much time to blog. I initially began this blog in 2008 after I got my master's degree. It was the first time I wasn't in school, and I poured my mental and physical energies into running and writing about it. Now that I've been back in school, the blog has become an afterthought, but I have only 4 more weeks of class left!

In the mean time, I've been keeping up with my running. I had a cyst removed from my neck in July, which stopped all physical activity for that part of the summer, but once I recovered, I jumped into training for the Ride to Read fundraiser for the library. Once I finished that, I got right back into running. I don't think that cycling for the Ride improved my running per se, but it left me at a good fitness level, and my running training started off well. Three weeks after the Ride, I ran a hounds and harriers race with my fiancé's German shepherd, Anna. 
This was quite an experience! I hadn't practiced running with this leash with her enough, so we had a few kinks to work out at the beginning of the race, when she wanted to sniff every other dog there was - and there were 120 of them! The starting line felt like complete chaos, but everyone was actually very well-behaved. We got into a rhythm after the first mile, and it was quite nice. There were dog bowls at the water stops, and she forgot we were racing and wanted to drink from every single bowl. (After the third bowl, I nudged her to get back to running!) And we came over the finish line at 26:37.  Congrats to Anna on her first 5K!

After Hounds and Harriers, I set my sights on a new goal: The River Ramble Fall Classic 10K. It's organized by the local running store, and the 10K has a team competition. I had heard about Team Sparkle from other bloggers and thought that a sparkly 10K team would be a lot of fun, so I got together my running buddy, her sister, and another library runner to rock the River Ramble in sparkle skirts. We're Team "Blood, Sweat, and Sparkle." I can't wait! We're getting together today (after we all vote - Happy Election Day!) to run the race course so we know what to expect. In fact, I need to start getting ready so I'm not late meeting them... More to come about our awesome sparkle skirts and my goals for the 10k. 

Ride to Read success and recap

Despite my pre-ride jitters, the Ride to Read was a big success. I easily rode the 60 miles and was bursting with energy at the end. I raised over $2,500 for the new library building, and it was an event that brought together the other library branches. The full recap is on the Ride to Read blog here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ride to Read today - Ahhhh!!!!

Ok, so after 2 1/1 months of training, totaling 488 miles, I'm ready to tackle the 60-mile Ride to Read fundraiser I organized to raise money for the library. Or am I? I've ridden most of the course and covered more than the distance on training rides, and it's not even a race. Why am I nervous?! I shouldn't be. I'm trained and feel so much more fit than I have in a long time. I have tons of supporters, including my fiancé, who dislikes road riding but has been training and is riding today with me anyway. It's going to be a great day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sheathed in Lycra

As a runner, I always loved biking to cross-train. Now that I've embarked on the insanity that is the "Ride to Read" though, my running has taken a back-seat to biking. In the past three months, I've cycled 274 miles and run 24.

So obviously, I haven't been training for any fall races, including the half that I had been planning on.

But that's ok. I like getting involved in another sport. There's still a part of me that wants to hit the pavement running as soon as the Ride to Read is over, but in the past couple of weeks, I've increased the distance I can bike at one time by double. I keep going further and making more steps towards being ready for the 60-mile ride. I had started out on a mountain bike, and while I knew that it wasn't as efficient as it could be, I gave it my best and pushed myself to perform. This past week, a friend lent me her road bike to use for the ride, and I've been adjusting to it. Road bikes place more weight forward on your hands and wrists, and the handlebars are shaped differently, in addition to the obvious difference that the tires are about half the size of mountain bike tires. I'm practicing, though, and am planning on riding over 50 miles tomorrow. I'm at the point now where 20 miles is an easy after-work ride, so I'm not worried about it. In fact, I'm excited to keep making progress. After the Ride to Read, I am going to continue riding and work my way up to using clipless pedals. Of course, that will be as I get back into running.

On the running front, I'm going to do a hounds and harriers run with my fiancé's German Shepherd in October. Her name is Anna, and I can't wait to do some trail running with her. I went for a very short hike with her last week, and I ran a little bit on the trail and was immediately drawn to that old feeling of flying over rocks and roots, jumping over logs and nimbly fleeting over the ground. I can't wait to spend more time out on trails like that.

In the meantime, I'll keep pedaling!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

1 Librarian. 4 Libraries. 60 Miles.

1 Librarian. 4 Libraries. 60 Miles. That librarian is me, and I'll be cycling to each branch of my library to raise money for a new main building.

This is a fundraiser I've organized for work, where I am the staff member who works with the Friends of the Library (the fundraising group). We will be moving into a new main library building next spring, but there is a lot that needs to go into it - literally. Besides bookshelves and desks, a library needs comfortable chairs for curling up with a good book in, and study carrels for students, and fun furniture in the children's and teen areas. To purchase these things, we need to fundraise, and I knew that it would be up to me to organize something.

I thought about endurance events where I could run really far and have people sponsor me. I formulated a plan where I would travel to each branch of the library (it's a county system with 4 branches) and end at the new building. Due to the distance that would take (60 miles), I knew that I would have to bike it. And so the Ride to Read was born. It will be held on September 19th, and I'm hoping to raise $5,000 for it.

I have a blog dedicated specifically to the Ride to Read ( which records my training and has all of the sponsorship information.

I'm serious about training for this. I am motivated as I haven't been in ages. I am supplementing the riding with total-body circuit workouts courtesy of Jillian Michaels' Ripped in 30 DVD, which I hope will build and round out the foundational strength I need. It's a chance to get back to that fitness level where I could keep up with the fast runners at a 5K and feel strong, nimble, fast, and just good all around.

I took pictures and measurements of myself at the start of training, because there is pudge creeping up in my tummy, back, hips, and thighs. It's time to nip all of that in the bud, get healthy, get to know my bicycle better than I ever have before, and to raise money for my library.

I feel a little daunted by the distance. I've never ridden more than 25 miles. I'm not a "real" cyclist. I didn't even know the proper way to mount and dismount the bike until a few weeks ago. But I'm determined to do it and learn along the way. It will make me a better rider, runner, and a healthier person, and maybe it will inspire some other people along the way.

If you're interested in supporting my ride, please visit the Ride to Read blog, and feel free to share the link with others!

Thank you, and stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

O'burg race recap

I didn't have very grand plans or goals heading into this race. Three of my friends ran it with me, which was fun. I enjoy going to races because it's a way of sharing a love of running with like-minded people, but it's always better when you know someone.

I started out the day with a stop at a deli for something caffeinated. I had hardly slept the night before, so I knew that I'd be dead without a boost of some kind. I got to the race and registered with a lot of time to spare for a port-a-potty stop, a trip back to the car, and a warm-up. I met up with my friends around the starting line a couple of minutes before it started, and before we knew it, it was time for the race to begin.

My tactic was going to be to use gravity for speed for the first mile, hang on to that pace for the second mile, and push hard in the third mile, which has a hill. I felt very good after the first mile, and around that time I got a "good job" from a 9-year old girl I was running alongside. She was very peppy, even though she was pretty tired. She asked me when the water stop was going to be, and I told her that this was a fun race because you end on the baseball field. I was feeling good, so I wished her luck with her race and pulled ahead just before the first water stop. I was doing ok until the third mile. It was hot, and there was a hill. The energy ran out, and I slowed down a lot, until I felt that I was doing my "dead runner shuffle". I did summon up a bit of a kick at the end. There were a lot of people ahead of me who I wanted to pass, so I sprinted and made it past them, but not quite fast enough to get in under 27 minutes. My official time was 27:01.02. Here I was during the final sprint:

Holy thigh muscles! The race pictures alerted me to the necessity of working on my flailing arms and awful posture. I should be a lot more upright in full sprint, and my arms should be pinned to my sides and moving in an up and down motion instead of flapping. I went for a run this morning and noticed that I don't engage my core or back very much, so that's something to think about and work on during my runs.

Anyway, this wasn't my best race, by any means, but it wasn't horrible. I was only a couple of seconds slower than last year's time, so I shouldn't be too concerned, and just use it as motivation to train, because although I've been running, I haven't actually been training for a 5k. I congratulated the girl who I had talked to during the race, and she was so cute and happy, and gave me a high five. It was great!

My friends seemed to have similar race experiences, where it was still fulfilling, but not our best timed results. I know that I need to be more dedicated to training, and I just stumbled upon a picture on Facebook yesterday that might help that...

This is a picture of friends from middle/high school that was just taken this summer. We're all almost 30, and they look like they could be models! It sure is motivation to get in top shape. I also have a very specific fitness goal that I will be working toward that has nothing to do with body image, but rather a fundraising venture for work. I'll post about it next time, though, because speaking of work, if I don't take a shower right now and start getting ready, I'll be late!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Party in O'burg!

This Saturday, I'll be running the O'burg 5K with 3 friends. We're not running as a team or anything, but it will still be fun to be there with friends. I don't have any big goals for this race - just to run with a time comparable to past times.

Another race came up for the following week that I'd like to do: an alumni track meet at my high school. I'd love to revisit the 100 meter dash again, just to see how fast I could run it 10 years later. I am scheduled to work that day, though, and I don't know if I'll be able to take the day off or switch my schedule. If I can't, I may try a 5-mile trail run the night before. That will be tough because I haven't done any trail running, but maybe the hiking my fiancé and I have done will count as some sort of training.

For now, I'm going to rest up my legs. I've been getting out on my bike for some quick rides pretty often lately and even rode to the track for a practice sprint workout last week. It's been great for getting me used to the bike again. A big problem was a smooth front tire that I had gotten last year that made me slip and slide all over the place and made me feel very insecure. Now that I've gotten a new tire with more traction, I can loosen up the white-knuckled grip and feel more comfortable. I've also made a point to ride through and over spaces that I'm afraid of, like narrow gates or rocks and roots. After all of this riding and running, though, my legs need a little recovery time, especially if I want to feel fresh for Saturday.

So, stay tuned for a race report!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Practicing my bunny hop

About 8 years ago, I decided that I wanted to dust off my bicycle and start riding it regularly. A rail trail runs right through my town, which was the perfect spot to go for a spin, and it got to the point where I was riding 10 miles almost every day. On those rides, I'd ride either as fast as I could or I would slow down and practice some necessary skills. It sounds ridiculous, but I had to practice lifting each hand up from the handlebars, and that was tough. No riding with no handlebars for me! I eventually got to the point where I could lift my left hand up enough to wave or to give a stopping or turning hand signal. A few years later, I spent a lot of time trying to learn how to bunny hop over sticks and branches. I never could seem to get the hang of it, and that's how it's been with me and bike skills. 
Today I set aside some time to go for a ride alone and practiced being loose, lifting each hand up, and going through or around things that I was afraid of hitting. I feel like a little kid, but I need so much more experience to feel comfortable. As long as I keep this up, though, I'll start to make some progress and feel more confident. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coming up...

I'm marking my calendar for a 5K on June 16th. I ran this last summer with my friend (it was her first 5K!), and I'm excited about doing it again. There's a chance that some of my fiance's friends will be running it, too, which would make for quite a group.

It's just starting to get really hot and humid here in the northeast, so I have a little bit of time to acclimatize to the weather. I got out today for a brutal 6.5-miler with my running buddy and her sister, and they kicked my butt big time. I had just gone hiking yesterday (see below)

and sweated a couple pounds off and didn't quite replenish in time for the run today, so I started off dehydrated. I've never run a marathon, so I can't really say I know what hitting the wall is like, but I imagine that it's something like what I felt like today. It was in the 80s with high humidity and strong sun. I started off with my legs feeling leaden. I expected them to loosen up, but all they did was fatigue, and with every hill, my steps got smaller and smaller. I realized that I was just shuffling and took a couple of walk breaks, because I expected injuries from poor form to start cropping up. 

Anyway, I am not used to this weather. The 5k is in 2 1/2 weeks, so I'm going to use this time to try and get out for as many warm weather runs as I can. I also would love to hit the mountain or just some single track bike trails again. I love running in the woods, and the mountain running is an incredible workout, and single track running is both a workout and fun. 

Last year, when I ran my fastest 5k ever without doing any running to train for it, I realized how important cross-training is. I had done all of my exercise in the form of circuit workouts with a Wii program that featured upper body, lower body, and core exercises and cardio bursts. Those workouts did more for my running than running did, so I don't want to forget how important the total body training is for me. I also lost a lot of weight and felt better about myself than I ever had before (can I be a spokesperson for the product yet?), so I'm going to try and continue to incorporate those exercises into my routine. 

I'll be focusing a lot more on biking, too. I used to ride much more often than I do now, and I've lost a lot of my comfort on the bike. I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable enough to ride very technical trails, but I want to regain the confidence I had and build up some more so that I can go for some somewhat interesting rides with my fiancé. He owns a bicycle repair shop and is an avid cyclist, and I love being able to share outdoor experiences together. I love biking so much that I want to be able to share that with him - especially since it's such a big part of his life. 

I don't know when my neck surgery is going to be (still need to go for a second opinion), and that will influence my training, but one of my main goals for the summer is to train up for a fall half marathon. Get ready for Sunday, October 14th. The big part is that I'm going to try and run it with my running buddy and her sister, who are very speedy and want to finish in under 1:50. Is that possible for me???? I don't know, but I'm keeping it in mind. I'm going to train with them on most Tuesday mornings and gradually build up my speed and endurance over the summer. In August or September, I might even try running some Yasso 800s on the track or treadmill. 

So these are the major goals right now: 
  • 5K on June 16th with friends (adjust to heat and run a time comparable to my past results)
  • Get more fully fit by training upper and lower body, core, and cardio
  • Regain confidence on my mountain bike so I can actually develop some skills
  • Increase speed and endurance enough over 4 1/2 months to run a sub-2-hour half-marathon on October 14th. 
We'll see how it goes!

Ever on.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back...with the best news!

So I kind of fell off the face of the planet. But I want to come back. There are races I want to run this year, and blogging my adventures on the way there makes the training and the races that much more meaningful.

LOT has happened since I last posted. Mainly, I went to California for an amazing vacation that took me from the desert at Joshua Tree National Park to the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, up the coast through Big Sur all the way to San Francisco and the coastal redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument. Best of all, when we stopped off at the gorgeous McWay Falls in Big Sur, my boyfriend asked me the most important question of my life - if I'd marry him.  I said yes - actually, I said "Of course!" There was no question about it. 

The view of McWay Falls from the spot where I said yes!

So unbelievably happy just a couple of days later.

Since then, life has been incredibly hectic. I got in a car accident just two weeks after getting engaged, which broke my heart because I love my car and take such good care of it, and it got very smashed up by an off-duty cop who didn't feel the need to stop at a stop sign and look both ways before pulling out.  Then, a week after that, I found out that I have a large cyst in my throat that needs to be surgically removed. That was further complicated by post-graduate coursework and plans to move out.  

I made some time to run a couple of races, but I'm ready to get more serious about exercising consistently. My neck surgery will impact that a little, but until that time, I'm going to be prioritizing my health and training much more than I have. 

More on the races I plan to run in the next post.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Slow but good

It was a sunny day, and I was really itching to get out and exercise. I haven't biked in a while, so I was kind of hoping to roll the Trek out of the garage for the first time since November, but it was chilly (and my fingers hurt so much when they're too cold), so I decided to run instead. I headed out to the trail for a 4 miler.
I've lost a lot of fitness since the beginning of the winter, so I knew that I was going to be slow, and I was. I padded along and couldn't help but notice that, while it wasn't difficult, it also wasn't easy.
When I got home, I had that tired, slightly sore, I-just-worked-out feeling, and it was really good. It has been far too long since I've had that feeling, and I'm ready to get back into a routine so that in a little while, a 4 miler will be easy. I'm going to start running after work, cross-training with biking, hiking, and strength training, and (after a few weeks of consistent exercise) try some fartlek runs and track workouts to build speed.
I don't have a schedule for all of this, but I want to be able to keep up with my running buddy again, and 5k season will be upon us before you know it, so I have a lot of motivation. Let's see how it goes!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Well again!

Aside from some sneezing and occasional coughing, I'm finally over the virus that has been bothering me since then end of January. After some successful hiking this weekend, I felt that I was finally ready to run again, after 4 weeks off.
The weather has been great, so my plan was to bring my running gear to work and run around town before going home. At the last minute, though, my mom told me that she needed a ride home, so I ended up meeting her and going for a run at the walking path around the school sports fields next to her work while she walked. I took it very slowly and enjoyed the new scenery. The path is located on top of a hill with great views. It is also marked with maps showing the distances of various routes around the fields. If I haven't mentioned it before, I love maps, and these were done quite well.
Anyway, I ran about 2.5 miles at an easy pace and feel pretty good afterwards. It will be a little while before I can either see a significant increase in either speed or distance, but this is a good start!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Not feeling so hot

The weather's been unbelievably warm this winter, making for great running conditions, but I've come down with a virus that's had me under the weather for two and a half weeks and doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon.

My last run was 4 miles around town after work 2 weeks ago. It felt great to get out, but it made me feel so much worse afterwards. Since then I've gone for some low-intensity walks and hikes, and it looks like that's the most I'll be doing until I beat this thing.

Happy running to everyone else. Stay healthy!