Analyzing my Run: The 4-Miler

…or, How I Lost the Mental Bandwidth to Write This Post, and So Turned It Into a Post of Random Thoughts Instead

Right, so. I was planning to ramble on a bit about my 4-mile run that happened last Sunday, kind of like how I rambled for ages about my 3-mile run, but I didn’t really have a lot to say about it. I did 3:1 run-walk intervals:

4miler4milerpace…and felt like my head was going to explode from redness even though it was relatively cool (I realized, when I looked at my phone during during my cool-down walk, that the humidity was at 85% so that might explain it!). That’s really all I remember, so that’s all I’ll say about that. On to the randomness!

1. After my 4-miler, in a fit of nostalgia, I was reading part of an old favorite YA series by Louise Rennison (may she rest in peace). A passage from book 5, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel, spoke to me after my very red run I had just completed, and I thought it would be fun to share.

To set the scene: the main character (Georgia) is going for a run in an effort to impress her Italian crush, Masimo. She doesn’t usually run, and was planning to build up her fitness a bit before “casually” finding out where Masimo runs and “bumping into him” there, but things didn’t really go as planned:

Can heads explode? Because I think mine is going to.
There is some other fool out running. I can hear pounding along behind me but I haven’t got the strength to look round. When I get home I am going to get in the fridge I am so hot and red.
“Ciao, Georgia.”
Ohmygiddygodspajamas, Masimo!!!
Noooooooooooooooo.
He caught up with me and was running alongside me. I just kept running and turned and gave him what I hoped was an attractive smile. Attractive if you like a smiling tomato in a jogging outfit. He looked sooo cool, and not even sweating. Also he seemed to be able to breathe. And talk.
He said, “You know, I didn’t get your phone number. Would it be possible for you to me for to tell?”
I gave him another smile. It might be the last living thing I did. Then I saw the hill path and my brain was so starved of oxygen it had no control over any part of my body. My legs started stumbling down the hill path. They were just merrily careering down the path, carrying my head and body along with them.

I know that feeling well – my legs careering along carrying the rest of me with them! Plus the sensational redness and “tomato in a jogging outfit” situation. Oh yes.

2. I joined the Shammies for Tuesday night track again, and this time decided to try a gentle speed workout of my own, using my GRG intervals. Figuring that the 3:1s on Sunday were okay, I thought the prescribed 2:1s would be relatively easy. Nope! I rode the struggle bus pretty hard and couldn’t figure out why shorter intervals were so much harder. Then I realized it was 82* (~28* C) and sunny and humid, whereas Sunday had been upper 50s (~14* C) and cloudy. That’ll do it.

3. Wednesday was National/Global Running Day, and in celebration of the fact that I could actually take part this year, I joined Runners’ World’s World’s Biggest RUNch, for one sunny mile along the river:

IMG_6788The run started out feeling great! Knowing I was just doing a mile, I ran at a comfortable pace without trying to slow down to something more sustainable. For a while, it looked like I might get close to my fastest mile to date – 8:42… except there were streets to cross and tourists to dodge; my fastest mile was run on an empty track.

I started to flag a bit halfway through, and waited longer than I needed to at my final street crossing to have a nice break. I was excited to see what my pace looked like when I got back to my desk and synced Simon, but it turns out Simon had a bit of a problem with my extended wait at the crosswalk… though I had been standing still, he apparently thought I was flying at a 2:11 pace. Yeah… no. Nice try though, Simon.

2114. The last time I was at Target, I splurged on an on-sale espresso machine. There’s a cafe on campus that sells the BEST iced caramel lattes and I’m so addicted. However, they cost almost $5, and my bank account has been hurting a little thanks to my daily caffeine treat. So I figured I’d try making my own iced lattes at home.

A few internet recipes and some improvising of my own later, plus a fun new plastic cup to parade my beverage around in, and I’ve got myself a daily iced vanilla coconut latte. It’s nowhere near as delicious as the one from the campus cafe, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper! And it’s still got caffeine, so it works.

5. I have MAJOR book ADD right now. I am literally in the middle of 6 books right now, and I can’t seem to really get into any of them. I hate when this happens.

And it doesn’t help that, when Drew and I were killing time between dinner and my haircut appointment Wednesday night, we popped into one of my favorite bookstores and discovered their bargain section. We spent maybe 20 minutes in there, and I walked out with a pile of 5 books. I have a problem.

Yay Friday! Who’s racing this weekend? Any other fun plans afoot?

What are you reading right now? Do you ever get a touch of book ADD?

Tell me something random!

 

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Shamrocks on the Rocks 5K, 13 March 2016

What: 5K*

Where: Lunenburg, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Me and a bunch of Shammies

Time: 29:30*

*For those of you keeping score at home, this time should be a 5K PR for me… however, it turns out the race was only ~3.01 miles according to everyone’s Garmins, not 3.1… boo!!

I ran this race with Colin two years ago. We chose it for its swag and bling, and also because it takes place where Whalom Park – the now defunct amusement park of my childhood – was. Ahh nostalgia.

I had only just joined the Shammies at that point, and proudly rocked my shiny new run club singlet at the race, which felt fitting as it was the Shamrocks on the Rocks race. That idea stuck with me, and this year I shared the race app with my club in hopes that I could rally some interest. The name did drum up some intrigue, as well as the cheap registration fee ($15) and promise of swag and a fun road trip, and a decent crowd of Shamrocks descended on the small town of Lunenburg for a day of fun:

sotrMuch like two years ago, there was a small field of runners (just over 100), and there was a cold wind whipping off the lake. Unlike last time, however, it was a downright tropical 61*; 2014’s race fell in the middle of a polar vortex and it was in the 20s as well as windy. I much preferred the weather this time around! (Even if it did result in my getting sunburned…)

2014 (left) vs 2016

2014 (left) vs 2016

The “on the rocks” part of the race name comes from the sports bar located near the start/finish line – On the Rocks. Packet pickup and registration was held there, as well as the post-race party, and they provided ever-wonderful real bathrooms for us – awesome! We spent a good chunk of time before the race hanging out in the bar, mainly to get out of the wind, until it was time to warm up.

The race started at 1 (something I hate during the summer, but really love during the winter… slightly warmer!), and I tried to take a picture of the runners taking off from my spot near the back, but my phone decided it didn’t want to cooperate. So here’s one I found on facebook (my friend E and I are lurking behind the 3rd dude from the right in the tan shirt):

Photo by Michelle Haggstrom

Photo by Michelle Haggstrom

E and I had decided we’d run-walk the race together – me because I’m just starting my gait retraining stuff all over again, and she because she’s coming back from an injury. However, any time E and I have decided to walk something we always end up running it (case in point: Thanksgiving), so I don’t know why I went into the race expecting to run-walk. Of course we’d run it.

When I first signed up, before my dodgy knees started acting up again, my goal for the race was to beat my time from 2014 (33:08). That had been my second fastest 5K at the time, but as I was doing speedwork again and in the middle of a training program, I thought I’d be prime for a course PR, if not an overall PR. Going into the race – when I still thought I’d be run-walking it – my only goal was to have fun and not get hurt.

Me and the fabulous E, who kept me going the whole way! (Photo by Michelle Haggstrom)

Me and the fabulous E, who kept me going the whole way! (Photo by Michelle Haggstrom)

E and I started at a decent pace, probably faster than I would have chosen, but it felt alright so I kept it up. I didn’t look at Simon at all except for when he beeped the mile marks, because I didn’t want to tempt myself into pushing too hard. I know how competitive I can be with myself!

I was also trying to run the way Jen (Gait Retraining Guru) wants me to run, and how I had run twice during the week leading up to the race. I had managed two 1-mile treadmill runs just to test things out, and both had felt great. So I focused on driving my knees up (rather than flinging my shins forward using my toes, as is my style), and lifting my feet up behind me (rather than just pendulum-ing them around), taking shorter strides, and trying to lean forward a bit at the ankles. (I also tried proper breathing but that was a hot mess.)

My more proper running style made me travel a bit faster than usual – as I found during my last C25K experiment – and so all 3 miles clocked in under 10:00 (!). This only happened once before (well, officially… the Moby Dick PR race has unknown metrics), at the LA race I ran and PRd in back in January. At that race, I started out fast and got slower, having to walk for a bit. This time, however, I negative-split the race, didn’t have to walk once, and was even able to sprint to the finish! Boo yeah!

The sprint to the finish (photo by Jim Fay)

The sprint to the finish (photo by Jim Fay)

E totally carried me mentally through this race. She kept reminding me to breathe, talked me up the Hill of Terror (which I had to walk up in 2014), and kept the pace. When we were approaching the final 100m or so, she mentioned that we were about to break 30 minutes. Even though I had seen the speedy paces on Simon at the mile marks, I hadn’t dared to do the math.

I was so excited at the prospect of breaking 30 that I asked her if I could go for it, got her blessing, and took off at a full sprint. With the speedier Shammies cheering me on from the sidelines, I flew over the finish line at 29:30… and then was forced to come to a complete and immediate stop so that the volunteers could record my time (it wasn’t chip-timed). Ugh. It was all I could do to not keel over, especially because my ribs were angry; they had started feeling funny during the last mile or so, and the final sprint probably wasn’t the best idea in hindsight. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After staggering around to find water, having E keep me walking a bit so that I wouldn’t actually keel, and stretching (hey! I remembered!), we all crowded into On the Rocks for celebratory beers and the prizes. Every Shammie had run an awesome race, and most people thought they had placed in their age groups. The race was so small, though, that they only gave prizes to the top 3 male and female finishers – Shammies took 2nd place male and 1st place female! And despite lack of age group awards, we swept the raffle prizes, and the beer was cheap, so we were all winners!

Post-beer pizza party!

Post-beer pizza party!

Overall, I’m so pleased with how this race went. I am proud (and a little surprised) that I was able to run with more-or-less proper form for the whole distance, and super pumped that I managed a good time and didn’t have to walk once! I do have to admit, though, that I’m pretty bummed it wasn’t a full 5K… I really want to know if I would have finally broken 30! Regardless, it was a fun road trip with the Shammies, and everyone had a blast and is already talking about running it again next year. Maybe I’ll run it even faster in 2017!

(Want to know more about the race itself? Read my review at BibRave!)

Friday Five Link-Up

Happy Friday!! This week I’m joining the Friday Five Link-Up, sponsored by You Signed Me Up For WHAT?!, Mar on the Run, and Eat Pray Run, DC. (Hopefully they won’t mind this non-DC blog jumping on their bandwagon!)

DC_linkupThis week’s theme is “Five Things I Was Doing Ten Years Ago,” which – given my love for waxing nostalgic – appealed to me! Please excuse me now as I launch into a thoroughly non-running-related post about the good ol’ days…

So, let’s see… ten years ago was June 2005, the summer between my junior and senior years of undergrad. What was I doing?

1) I had just gotten back from a semester in England, and I was missing it terribly – the places, the experiences, and especially the people:

scio

My peeps

If you had told me before I left for England that I’d have culture shock upon returning to the States, I would have thought you were crazy… but the struggle was real. There’s a good chance I was one of those super annoying college kids who thought I was full of worldly wisdom after 4 months abroad, and who complained constantly about how the food/music/public transport/money/accent/culture/everything was sooo much better in England. So, it’s pretty safe to say that 10 years ago I was pining, likely in an insufferable manner. I apologize for that version of me!

2) I was blogging like crazy, as it was the best way to keep in touch with all the peeps from my study-abroad program. (My school didn’t have access to Facebook yet, which is weird to think about!)

A screenshot of what my blog looked like back then (courtesy of the Internet Archive!)

A screenshot of what my blog looked like back then, more or less (courtesy of the Internet Archive!)

Good ol’ xanga.

3) I was living in one of my college’s dorms for the summer, with my awesome roommate B:

table

I remember living off of cereal, stealing mattresses from vacant rooms down the hall so our friends could crash with us, and making trips to the beach to escape the cement-block sauna that was our room. B was my rock that summer, too, when my college boyfriend and I split. She put up with Emo Dana, and probably deserves a medal!

4) I was working full-time at a newspaper:

tuos

As soon as my feet hit US soil again, I was back to the UnOffice (pictured above), calling people for interviews, fact checking, copy editing, and also goofing off quite a bit. There were daily morning trips to Dunkin Donuts, coupled with nearly daily afternoon trips to the Coffee Break Cafe, so needless to say I was very caffeinated 10 years ago!

5) I was helping my friends move into a house, affectionately called the UFhOme:

ufhos

(“UFhOme” is a long story.) After helping paint and move furniture, I got to take advantage of having a friend-house less than a half-mile from my college campus, and so much of my senior year was spent hanging out there. Dance parties, movie nights, home-cooked meals.. it was awesome.

What were you up to 10 years ago?

Who else had a xanga??

30 by 30

Earlier this year I was reintroduced (via reading other people’s blogs) to the idea of the “30 by 30” list – 30 things someone wants to accomplish by the time he/she turns 30 years old. (I first heard of this sort of thing from Phoebe on Friends.) I thought it was a cool idea, but since I was 29 when I rediscovered it, it didn’t leave me a lot of time to think up 30 things and then try to do them all. (If I were independently wealthy and didn’t work full-time then maybe I would have attempted it!) Rather than set myself up for disappointment, I forgot about the idea.

Until I read Amy’s 30 by 30 post. As she put it so well,

It’s great to have goals, but for me this would be super stressful and a recipe for a giant let down on my birthday. Who wants to spend the day lamenting trips they didn’t take, concerts they missed, skills they never learned? Instead I decided to make a list of 30 things I DID do before 30…

I thought this was a brilliant idea! So I decided to shamelessly copy borrow Amy’s awesome idea and make my own 30-things-I-did-before-30 list… and I might have gone back to her list to get some inspiration for my own… hopefully she won’t mind 😉

And so, a few weeks late and in no particular order… before I turned 30, I:

1. Studied abroad

2. Fell in love and got married

<3

3. Bought a house

4. Completed undergrad and got a Master’s degree

5. Met the Archivist of the United States

6. Ran a half marathon

7. Learned to play – with varying degrees of success – piano, flute, trumpet, recorder, guitar, bass guitar, and tin whistle

8. Traveled to 8 countries outside the US (England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Canada, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and Aruba)

Me being unimpressed by this Christopher Columbus statue in Santo Domingo, DR

Not impressed by this Christopher Columbus statue in Santo Domingo, DR

9. Traveled to 23 US states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, California, and Washington) plus Washington, D.C.

10. Became an aunt (x2)

11. Studied (and fell asleep) in the Bodleian Library, Oxford

12. Went inside the non-public part of MIT’s Great Dome

13. Marched in a parade (color guard FTW)

14. Hiked to the Hollywood sign

Or, you know, hiked close(ish) to it

Or, you know, hiked close(ish) to it

15. Saw a Spurs match at White Hart Lane (and also saw a Halifax Town match at the Shay!)

16. Watched a Patriots game from the 50-yard line at Gillette, a handful of rows behind the visiting bench, and got pelted in the head by snowballs intended for the Jets players (fun times)

17. Attended baseball games at 6 ballparks (Fenway, Wrigley, Dodger Stadium, Coors Field, Shea Stadium, and the Sky Dome/Rogers Centre)

Shea, Sky Dome, and Fenway

Shea, Sky Dome, and Fenway

18. Explored an abandoned gold mine in Cripple Creek, Colorado

19. Got a tattoo (x5)

20. Scored my first-ever soccer goal at the tender age of 26 (I now have 4 career goals to my name… watch out, Messi!)

21. Went to Disneyland

Hangin' out in a (stationary) teacup

Hangin’ out in a (stationary) teacup

22. Saw Niagara Falls

23. Became a professional archivist

24. Was a bridesmaid (twice)

25. Climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and York Minster, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Cadillac Mountain (and rode to the top of the Space Needle)

26. Took part in a flash mob

Flash mob ghost dance party!

Flash mob ghost dance party! I’m the dark blue one directly under the big red sphere.

27. Witnessed the Red Sox win the World Series… three times! (Three times more than my die-hard grandma saw in her lifetime)

28. Been in a rock band (the same band twice, for a few hours each time)

29. Met and hung out with Welsh band The Automatic

Look at me being cool!

Look at me being cool! And look at my terrible MS Paint skillz!

30. Rode a train most of the way across the country (Massachusetts to Colorado)

——

So there you have it. I feel pretty satisfied by what I’ve accomplished in the last 30 years! 🙂

Do you have a 30 by 30 (or 40 by 40 / 50 by 50 / etc.) list?

Have you done any of the things on my list?

Flashback Friday: My “Moby Dick” of a PR

Disclaimer: This was supposed to be a “Throwback Thursday” post, but apparently that wasn’t meant to be. Flashback Friday to the rescue!

It’s crazy to think that a year (well, 3 days short of a year) has gone by since my infamous Plymouth Race… a race that frankly sucked, but that resulted in an outlier of a PR – roughly 3 minutes faster than my previous PR – one that I have been unable to get close to since. But, much like Ahab, I will keep trying until I succeed!

[Confession: It probably makes me a horrible former English major, but I have never read Moby Dick. I should remedy that someday.]

Before the Plymouth race (full recap here, for anyone interested), my PR was 33:44, and I had achieved that PR a mere 2 weeks before Plymouth. I remember being ridiculously excited to achieve my first sub-11:00 mile during the AFA Veterans Fun Run, and even more excited that each subsequent mile was faster – 10:49, 10:28, 10:10. Boo yeah! Colin and I were well chuffed.

This is technically a "before" picture from the AFA race, but we still look well chuffed, don't we?

This is technically a “before” picture from the AFA race, but we still look well chuffed, don’t we?

At that point in my running life, my 5K PRs were all relatively close together – no “major” leaps in pace: 35:08, 34:25, 33:44. The odd thing about them was that they almost all occurred in a row… 35:08 was at the Jerry Garcia River Run in late July, then I came within 7 seconds of matching that PR at the Canal Diggers Road Race, then PR’d with 34:25 at The Dam Race in October, and my next “real” race (not counting the virtual Halloween run I did) was the AFA run and 33:44 PR. Cool, right?

Cool, except that Colin and I got a bit cocky. We were basically PR machines at that point, and we may have let it go to our heads. The worst part about our cockiness is that we weren’t really training… we were just going out there and running races, with only one or two 2-ish-mile mid-week runs in between. So it all seemed so easy.

Then came Plymouth. It was frikkin’ cold that day – temperature in the teens (F) but with an ocean windchill that brought the feels-like temp down to single digits. And that ocean wind was strong. I broke out the big guns kit-wise: fleece-lined pants, knee-length wool socks, fleece-lined base-layer shirt, tech t-shirt, running jacket with the hood pulled up, gloves, and my swag from the race – a nice wicking hat. And I was still freezing.

Goofing off in an attempt to stay warm before the race started

Goofing off in an attempt to stay warm before the race started

Thankfully the restaurant at the start/finish line let everyone hang out inside where it was nice and toasty (and where there were real bathrooms!), but it felt like it took FOREVER for the race to start once we were lined up. Then our first mile was directly into that cold ocean wind. My face was completely numb, my fingers all turned white despite my gloves… it was good times.

When the starting gun went, Colin took off like a bat out of hell. I mean, straight-up sprinting and dodging around everyone, since we had started at the back. (I assumed it was because of the cold and he just wanted to run fast to warm up, but he recently said he thinks he started fast because of the sprints we did for warmups, which we usually don’t do.) I chased after him, desperately trying to keep up while simultaneously trying not running over anyone, and we made it about a mile before my body finally warmed up enough to realize what it was doing and started protesting. My chest tightened, I was fighting to catch my breath, I had horrible side stitches, and my right foot ached like crazy (I didn’t know it at the time, but my shoes had essentially given up the ghost). I was miserable, and was only able to run – much more slowly – little bits and pieces of the next 2 miles.

I remember walking at one point and feeling so disappointed that I couldn’t continue my PR streak because of all the walking I was doing. I didn’t have Simon at the time, and hadn’t brought my phone to use MapMyRun because it was far too cold for that nonsense, and Colin hadn’t brought a phone either for the same reason. So I had no idea how I was doing for time. But I felt wicked slow.

Imagine my surprise, then, as I rounded the last corner and saw 30:whatever on the finish line clock. Holy schnikes! That made me pick up the pace! I finished with an absurd 30:49, with an average pace (according to the race results) of 9:55. What fresh hell?! I had manged to keep the streak going, but had somehow PR’d way out of my league, if you will, and that 30:49 is still my seemingly unreachable Moby Dick of a PR. The closest I’ve gotten is 33:08, at the Shamrocks on the Rocks 5K back in March, and I only just registered my fastest mile on Simon as 9:50 during a recent speed workout. How did I average 9:55?!

(source)

(source)

That first mile must have been uber fast. Given how much I had to walk for the rest of the race, I’m extremely curious about how fast that mile was. Of course that had to be the one race neither Colin nor I were using a GPS tracker thingie! Colin and I did try to replicate the first-fast-mile tactic at our next race, but it didn’t go quite so well. For me, my dead shoes made my feet hurt SO bad that I practically limped the course, not to mention I got separated from Colin and our pacer, Shauna, after about 30 seconds because the course was so packed. I finished in 33:31. Colin managed a 31:something but felt dizzy during the run and nearly fainted at the finish line. Thankfully (for me, because I hate blazing out fast and then wanting to keel over!) we haven’t tried this tactic again… though I think Colin would nearly always be game to give it another go.

But the question remains: when will I catch my Moby Dick? Part of me really wants to go out guns blazing during a race to see what I can do, but most of me wants to a) enjoy the race, and b) not faint or puke or do anything else unseemly. I’m trying to stick with Steve’s speed workout tactic of getting used to running my average race pace and then slowly work at getting faster, but that “PR Machine” era has made *actually* working at getting faster more frustrating than it probably should be. One day I’ll get there. One day.

What do you prefer – going out fast and then possibly having to slow down, or starting slow and either trying to stay steady or negative split?

Do you have any “Moby Dick” PRs that haunt you?

Have you read Moby Dick? Is it worth reading?

Cross-Training… Sort Of

Cross-training. We hear all the time how important it is to help us become better runners. As Runner’s World explains, cross-training a) builds strength and flexibility in muscles we don’t use while running, b) prevents injury by correcting muscular imbalances, and c) prevents boredom and running burnout by introducing variety into our weekly workouts. Typically when cross-training is mentioned it implies activities like cycling, swimming, using an elliptical machine, and weight-training.

For me, my meager attempts at cross-training have included lots of walking and one or two attempts at weight-training with tiny little 2-lb. free weights. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to soccer, but my fear of getting injured coupled with my frustration at how my local rec league is run has kept me from signing up. I’ve offered my services as an emergency sub for Drew’s team, but have been secretly thankful that I haven’t been called upon at all.

Yesterday, with some prodding from my friend Julie, I decided to throw some variety into my weekly activities. I like to think of it as cross-training, but I’m not sure how many running experts would agree. I signed up for…

Kickball!

…kickball! (source)

I haven’t played kickball since the 5th grade, when my classmates and I had one continuous game going that picked up again every recess… kind of like The Sandlot but with a big rubber ball instead of bats and gloves. I loved it. We played a weird, twisted form of kickball in high school gym class – matball – but it just wasn’t the same. I’ve known the local rec league has offered kickball for years, but again, my being jaded with the league (the same league that I used to play soccer in) and the overly competitive players it tends to attract made me hesitate. Until now, apparently!

When I went to sign up I noticed that my league membership is due to lapse at the end of August. Having vowed not to renew again because of my unhappiness with the league, but bummed that I had only participated in one session (6v6 soccer) in the past year and so had not gotten my money’s worth of membership discounts, I decided to milk my last 4 days for all they were worth. In addition to signing up for kickball at a discount, I also bit the bullet and signed up for soccer again.

Wait... how do I play this again?

Wait… how do I play this again?

Drew and I have played in the 6v6 league twice, both times as indies, and both times really enjoyed it and met some great friends (Colin and Julie!). Signing up as indies, instead of joining as a pre-existing team, takes so much pressure off (no one expects indies teams to play well, so you can mess up and no one really cares too much), and I love that the 6v6 games have no goalies. For one, no one ever wants to play goalie so it adds a bit of drama each game deciding who has to play, and for another, it seriously increases my chances of scoring, which I don’t do very often.

Instead of goalies, 6v6 games have a blue box painted around the goal that no one can go in (you can faintly see the blue lines in this pic)

Instead of goalies, 6v6 games have a blue box painted around the goal that no one can go in (you can faintly see the blue lines in this pic… as well as me, guarding the only red player in the shot).

So, they might not be the most traditional methods of cross-training (though I have seen soccer mentioned as a great way to cross-train, and fabulous people like Brit and Piper make it work) but I am looking forward to breaking up the monotony of my weeks a little… no more run-rest day-should be doing core work but I’m sitting on the couch-run-rest, etc. for a while. Plus, I’ll be doing a lot of running on grass instead of asphalt, which will hopefully help my shins. I just hope I don’t get taken out by an overzealous tackle – I’d hate for my cross-training to result in an injury! Keep your fingers crossed for me…

What’s your favorite way to cross-train?

Have you ever played kickball? What about as an adult?

Throwback Thursday: Race Nerves

As my first 10K – my longest race to date – approaches (this Sunday!!!), I’d be lying if I said I weren’t getting nervous. It certainly doesn’t help that my splinty shins have been making training difficult; I like to think that if I had been sticking with my training schedule I’d only have slight butterflies right now. As it is, my palms are getting a bit sweaty every time I remember this race is this weekend.

I’ve even started having stress dreams about the race (thanks brain!). Last night I dreamed that Colin, who’s running the race with me, didn’t make it to the 10K on time because he was running another race elsewhere, so I had to run it alone. After handling the first quarter-mile or so without a problem, I found myself getting stopped by race officials after running down a steep hill, and corralled into a giant cluster with all the other runners and told that the rest of the race would consist of hill repeats.  As I groaned, I caught sight of Shammie Steve shaking his head disapprovingly that I was running at all after he told me to rest my shins.

Clearly, my subconscious is worried about a) getting left in the dust by Colin, who’s been running way more than I have lately, conquering 10-milers and everything; b) a challenging course and a distance I haven’t faced yet; and c) my stupid shins. All valid, I suppose. I’ve been trying to calm my nerves by thinking back to my very first race and trying to remember how I felt before running that 5K:

What, me worry?

What, me worry?

The problem is, I don’t remember feeling nervous before the Ras! Surely I must have been at least a little nervous… as I’ve said about a million times on this blog, I had never run more than 1 mile at a time before tackling my first 5K, and I managed to run the whole 3.1 miles without stopping. If I think really hard I can vaguely recall butterflies as I ate my pre-race pb&j bagel, and again as Drew dropped us off near the starting line, and again as we stood in our pace corral before the starting gun. But there were certainly no stress dreams days beforehand.

Why is my brain freaking out now? Is it because a 10K seems so much longer than a 5K? Is it because I only managed to hit 5 miles in training and not the 6+ I was hoping for? Is it because I haven’t run at all in the past week? Is it because I built up this race and put pressure on myself to run it strong?

Whatever the reason(s) I need to channel my calm(er) self from before the Ras. I didn’t really train for that first 5K; I had dropped out of Couch to 5K a few times and had run a bit in my 5K for Beginners class, but certainly nothing close to legit training. I thought of it as a fun experience with Colin and Gina, and I set the bar really low for myself (finish the race in an hour) so that I wouldn’t feel pressure. I didn’t race, I just ran, chatted with my friends, and soaked up the race atmosphere. I collected my medal and my post-race snacks and rode that runner’s high for the rest of the day.

Proudly rocking my race t-shirt after the Ras (with my proud Mum!)

Proudly rocking my race t-shirt after the Ras (with my proud Mum!)

This 10K on Sunday… it’s a new experience, a new distance, a new milestone. It’ll be the first time I ever hit 6 miles, and that will be pretty cool. I’ll get to check another state off my list, and explore a cool, historic town. I’ll get to run for a cause I support, in the memory of my cousin (who wouldn’t have cared one bit how many times I stopped to walk or how slow I ran). These are the things I need to keep telling myself. Once I run this 10K, all future 10Ks will seem easier because I’ll know I can do it, even if I have to crawl across the finish line on Sunday. And if my shins act up? I have a while before my next race so I can ice them and rest them and hopefully they’ll behave themselves.

^This paragraph will be my mantra now whenever the nerves pop back up! Hopefully it will work 🙂

How do you settle pre-race nerves?