Lesson 3: Compromise

Hello there, reader! You’ve stumbled on the third installment of what has turned from two rambling, somewhat related posts into some semblance of a series. As I make my slow return to the world of running after having a baby, I’m learning (sometimes the hard way) tips that are making this return easier, bit by bit. So far, I’ve learned:

  1. …that I need to lower my expectations
  2. …that it’s helpful to be prepared

My lesson for this week is: be willing to compromise!

If you’ve visited this blog before, there’s a good chance you’ve read about Tuesday night track workouts with my run club. A Tuesday night speedwork session was my first Shammies experience 3 1/2 years ago, and I’ve loved (and hated) them ever since. Drew knows that I’ve been itching to return, and so for weeks months now, he’s been offering to take over the Bairn’s bedtime so I can get back out there. And yet, each week my excuses pour out: it’s too hot, it’s too humid, I’m too tired, the Bairn is melting down and I feel guilty running away, it’s raining, I’m out of shape and track sessions attract all the fast people, etc.

Last Tuesday, I decided I was going to bite the bullet and go to track. Even if I didn’t do the workout, I could still run-walk around Lane 6 and see my run club peeps. I told Drew I was going for it, he expressed his full support, and I spent the day mentally preparing for Shammie time.

[Note: Here is where I ask for your understanding, dear reader. When I was thinking about this post a few days ago, my point was clear. Now that I’m actually writing, my still-rampant pregnancy brain (apparently it’s here for a while – boo!) has struck and I can’t remember a pretty important detail. Please bear with me as I carry on regardless…]

As track time approached, something [see note above] happened. I can’t remember what now. Either Drew came home from work and had had a bad day, or the Bairn was melting down, or… yeah, it’s gone from my brain. In any case, something occurred that would have made my going to track difficult, for me but mostly for Drew.

Thankfully, this lesson wasn’t learned the hard way. Perhaps because of many of those excuses I listed before (it was hot, track is full of fast people and I’m slow and out of shape and self-conscious, etc.), I wasn’t upset at giving up my Shammie time to help deal with the Bairn.

And, once he was cozy in his crib, I threw on my kit and set out for a run around the neighborhood. It was cooler by this point, I didn’t have to feel self-conscious in front of all the Shammies who regularly place at races, and I knew I wasn’t leaving Drew in the lurch. I set myself some modest goals – run to X then walk to Y, three times with different Xs and Ys – and managed to meet them (huzzah!). Post-run analyzing of my run even showed that my average running pace was 11:- and change, which is an improvement from the 12:-s I’d been running, so that was encouraging too.

I guess this lesson is pretty connected to lowering my expectations… had I been dead set on running a speed workout, I would have been disappointed to miss out. But, honestly, I don’t have many expectations when it comes to running these days, so just getting to run around the block for 20 minutes was pretty exciting. Plus I got to reward myself with freeze pops, a cold can of cider, and an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Thumbs-up all around!

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What lesson will I learn next? Will there be more, or will my posts devolve once again into even less structured rambling? Stay tuned!

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The Art of Being Prepared

Wow, was my last post really a month and a half ago?! I swear I just wrote it. But then again, I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s August already. What the heck.

Anyway.

Hi! Me again, here to blab at you about life and attempted fitness post-Bairn. I’m still working on keeping my expectations low (and doing a decent job, I think!), and my lesson for myself this week is to try to be a little better prepared. For what, you may ask? Running specifically, since this is my running blog and all, but really, for lots of things.

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Let’s travel back a few Sundays, to when I was determined (albeit with lowered expectations) to meet up with the Sunday Morning Shammies for some kind of run. They go out around 7, so I set an emergency alarm for 6 (ha!! As if the Bairn would let me sleep that long), planned out my morning so I could get out the door at 6:45, and crossed my fingers.

Sunday morning came, and though I made a solid effort, my morning fell apart. Drew overslept, and it turns out 45 minutes isn’t enough time for me to change and feed the Bairn, and then change and feed myself before heading out the door. At least not when I’m half asleep. So I skipped the run. (Could I have gone out on my own? Sure. But I was all upset and stubborn… these post-baby hormones sure do stick around longer than I expected).

How could I have made that morning smoother for myself? By being prepared! Have my running kit out and easily accessible, so I wouldn’t have to risk waking my exhausted husband while stumbling around in our dark room. Have an easy-to-grab pre-run bite to eat ready to be grabbed. And so on.

Well, I tried to learn from my failure the following week. I had my kit ready to go. I had something to eat. I had that laughable emergency alarm set. And somehow, even with Drew up this time to help me, it was still a rush to get to the door in time, let alone out of it. I was on the verge of missing the Shammies – and thus my motivation – and when I went to put on my shoes, the laces ended up being very stubbornly double-knotted. I couldn’t undo them while in a rush. So I threw on an older pair of shoes that I’ve been mainly using for walking:


Turns out these shoes are pretty dead. They feel fine for walking, but after running a bit in them: ouch. My back hurt for a week… though to be fair my back is in rough shape anyway from hefting the Bairn around.

BUT. I made it out there! I saw my Shammies, got the social motivation I needed, and let them set off on their 7-mile run. I walked to the pond, figuring I’d do a lap and walk back to HQ, but after a turn through the lagoon, it was so lovely I decided to do it again.

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View of the pond from the lagoon

The lagoon has a lovely dirt trail, lots of shade, and had far fewer people than the paved, route around the pond. So I walked the causeway back to the start of the lagoon and ran a second loop. Well, run-walked, but still. It wasn’t my prettiest run, but it was a run nonetheless!

So, a little preparation and I managed to fit a run in. Had I thought ahead even more, I would have untied those silly shoes, but, well, hindsight is 20-20. And now I know my Adidas sneakers are toast.

For those keeping score at home, the post-baby fitness lessons I’ve learned so far are:

  1. Lower my expectations
  2. A little preparation goes a long way

What lesson will I learn next time? Stay tuned!

Beach to Beacon 10K, 6 August 2016

What: 10K

Where: Cape Elizabeth, Maine (course map)

Who: Me and a bunch of Shammies, with moral support from Drew

Time: 1:22:40

Splits: (according to Simon)
-Mile 1: 11:13
-Mile 2: 15:49*
-Mile 3: 15:24*
-Mile 4: 12:06
-Mile 5: 11:36
-Mile 6: 13:13
-Mile 6.2: 3:22

*These two mile splits include porta-potty stops:

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Two giant canyons in the first half represent long, long porta-potty stops. The other dips are walks up hills.

Check out my race review on BibRave!

Running in the footsteps of giants:

Two quick points about this race, to set the stage:

  1. It’s Joan Benoit Samuelson‘s race, and the course apparently follows her training route. That’s pretty stinkin’ cool.
  2. History was made this year, as native Mainer Ben True became the first American to win the race in its 19-year history. (Note: his winning time, 28:17, is faster than my best 5K time. Mind = blown.)

The background:

Beach to Beacon has been on my radar ever since I joined the Shammies. A contingent of the club heads north every year to run, and I’ve heard so many stories about what a great race it is, how fun it is, how you get to run with elites and sometimes even see Joanie, etc.

The more I heard, the more I wanted to run. The only problem is that it’s a notorious race in terms of getting in; this year, general registration sold out in less than 4 minutes! Most Shammies end up getting in by entering the team lottery, but it’s not always a given that they’ll get to run.

Well, luckily for me, general registration opens at 7am, exactly when I’m usually standing at my bus stop killing time on my phone. On that fateful day in March, I was stood on the sidewalk with my phone poised, and I somehow squeaked in within that 3:43 window. It was the second time the magical race gods were smiling upon me, and I was pretty smiley myself!

The expo:

Drew and I left work early on Friday to attempt to beat weekend traffic, but still wound up sitting on the highway for 4+ hours (it usually takes about 2). We still managed to arrive in Cape Elizabeth in time to hit the expo, which I was pumped about. With the exception of the Boston Marathon expo I sneaked into during a volunteer stint, I’d never experienced a race expo before.

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Inside the expo at Cape Elizabeth High School

Granted, it wasn’t very big, but I was still nerdily excited to be at my first expo! Bib pickup was well organized and quick (other Shammies said it took forever earlier in the day), and my bib came with a nice Nike Dri-Fit t-shirt and a car magnet. More goodies came in the expo, too: gift cards to LL Bean, Olympia Sports, and Dunkin Donuts, as well as free reusable grocery bags and snacks provided by Clif Bar and a local pasta place. Not too shabby! There were vendors and run clubs there too, but by that point Drew and I were hungry and wanted to eat an actual meal.

After a tasty, tasty dish of homemade gnocchi at Enio’s (go there if you’re ever in South Portland!), we returned to our Airbnb and settled in for an early night’s sleep.

Pre-race:

We were up with the sun, literally, on race morning:

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Sunrise over SoPo

I’ve never run a race big enough to need shuttle buses and such, so I’m not used to crazy-early wake-ups. 5:20 felt way too early! I stumbled around, donned my kit, shoved some mini stroopwafel (thank you, Kennebunk Service Plaza for surprising me with those treats!) and water down my throat, and then Drew was driving me to a shuttle point.

Another first for me – a point-to-point course. I’ve always run loops or out-and-backs, or point-to-points where the start and finish are so close that they’re not even considered point-to-points. So this made logistics interesting in terms of getting to the start, finding Drew at the finish, and the like.

Anyway, I squeezed onto the 6:20 shuttle (a good, old-fashioned yellow school bus) and we trundled down lovely wooded back roads for 5-10 minutes before arriving at the start area. And what a start area it was! I’ve never seen so many porta-potties – with every 4 alternating which way they were facing so all the lines weren’t on one side – plus there were so many volunteers! Some were staffing water and snack tables, which also had Gatorade and coffee, and some were loading up gear bag buses. I felt like I was in the big-time!

I was supposed to meet up with the rest of the Shammies at 6:45, so I had some time to kill. I ate the Clif Bar I’d gotten at the expo, wandered back to the tables to get some Gatorade, and pretty much just people-watched until I saw a bunch of green singlets coming my way.

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I love these ladies!

I also shoved a Honey Stinger waffle in my face (which is why I look so goofy in the above photo – I was chewing), not because I wanted to eat it, but because I didn’t want to carry it and no one else seemed to want it. Oh well, one can never have too many pre-race waffles… right?

We chatted and killed time until we heard the national anthem, then we walked over to take our various places at the starting line. Shammies E and K hung out with me near the back of the pack; it was going to be a hot day (“sneaky heat,” as one article called it later, due to high humidity and dew point) and we wanted to enjoy the day and each other’s company without needing a trip to the medical tent.

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View from the back(ish) of the pack… you can just make out the balloon arch where the starting line was

The race:

The wheelchair athletes had started around 7:30 (I think), and the elite women took off at 8 on the dot. Elite men and the rest of us (who were a respectable distance behind the elite corral) got our start at 8:12. It took us about 8 minutes to cross the start from when the race actually started.

The first mile was nice and chill. E, K, and I were going fast enough that my conversation was broken up with lots of breathing pauses, but not so fast that it was uncomfortable. All of a sudden, we saw balloons up ahead signalling the first mile – huh? E and I were both having some race nerves and decided to pull over at the porta-potty, and K ran off with a fellow runner who she had started chatting with about his t-shirt. We stood in line for about 5 minutes, realized we didn’t really have to go after all, and carried on.

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Looking relatively fresh and happy when the first photographer appeared

Mile 2 flew by as quickly as the first and, again, I made the decision to pull over at the aid stop’s porta-potty. E was being a trooper and running my race with me, so she grabbed us some waters and waited. It was another long wait, and my nerves were still playing tricks on me, so we set off once again.

Honestly, the rest of the race is a blur. Thanks to those epic porta-potty stops, I ran my personal worst time-wise… though it’s heartening to know that if I shaved those ~10 minutes off, I would have ran about my usual time in spite of the heat. So that’s cool! But despite the slow time, it was seriously the fastest race ever. The mile markers were flying at us, and E and I kept saying how quickly the race was going. It must have been the great company! We chatted up a storm the entire way.

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There were at least 4 photographers at Mile 5, where there’s a gorgeous ocean view behind the runners, but unfortunately we’re in focus, not the view!

The awesome crowds and scenery helped, too! I’ve never run a race with so many spectators, and they went all out to cheer for us. Though my name has been on bibs before, this was the first race where people actually cheered for me by name (such a cool feeling!), and people were ringing cowbells, holding witty signs, blasting motivational music (I remember E and I singing along to the Rolling Stones as we crested a hill), and even passing out bacon (Beach to Bacon, get it?). I truly felt like a rock star… a very red, tired one with a sheen of sweat, but a rock star nonetheless.

The course ends with a few steep hills, one of which is in Fort Williams Park. That part of the race was a little disheartening… you run into the park and up the “final hill,” and I sort of expected the race to end there. But no. We wound through a section of the park, curve after curve, with the end nowhere in sight. It was such a relief to finally see the balloon arch in the distance, and I zeroed in on it. Little did I know Drew was practically right next to me, shouting my name! E spotted him and posed for a silly picture as I stared off at the finish:

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At last we victoriously crossed the finish line. The Shammies had warned me that it would be a while before I could get my hands on some water (seriously, one of my biggest race pet peeves), so as soon as I crossed the line I had my eyes peeled for the far-off land of water tables. I was so focused that I jumped a little when E said “Thanks, Joanie!” and when I looked in front of me, there she was! Less than an arm’s length away – Joan Benoit Samuelson! I managed to say “Thanks, Joanie!” and she looked at me and smiled as I lurched past, wondering if it would be improper to take a picture with her. (I decided not to, even though I kind of regret it now!)

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Here we come -the finish at last!

Post-race:

E and I kept walking down the finishing chute, up a steep grassy knoll, and at last reached the far-off water tables. Drew found us, and together we all walked through the park to find the chocolate milk – our designated Shammies meeting point. We found the chocolate milk stand (unlimited free, ice cold, local chocolate milk!) and the rest of the Shammies, and I collapsed into a heap on the grass. There was a massive food tent with crackers, cheese, yogurt, blueberries, granola bars, trail mix, etc. etc. etc. as well as vendor tables, but I was so tired I couldn’t bring myself to traipse around anymore. And anyway, Drew was carrying a paper sack full of goodies from Scratch bakery, so we tucked into a raspberry coffeecake.

Despite my lethargy, Fort Williams Park was a really cool place to end a race, with a huge expanse of grass to splay out on, bits of old forts to climb on, a little beach with some Atlantic Ocean to cool off in, and Portland Head Light, the beacon we ran to:

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Photo credit: Drew

We sat around, chatting and eating snacks and comparing our race experiences (which ranged from our fastest getting 7th in his age group – in a race with 6,600 runners – to E and I hitting personal worsts) for just under and hour, and then set off for some much-needed showers. The Shammies did what Shammies do and hit downtown Portland for some well earned beers, while I attacked one of Scratch’s famous Super Duper Cinnamon Rolls:

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Freshly showered with a cinnamon bun the size of my head

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Now that’s what I call recovery!

Overall thoughts:

I absolutely adored this race. Despite my personal worst, despite my pet peeve water situation, despite lack of bling, this is a race I want to run every year for the foreseeable future! The course, the scenery, the crowds, Joanie!, and all the little details made it a fantastic race to run. It’s clear that it was a race created by a runner, and it’s also run by the same race director who runs the Boston Marathon. These people know what they’re doing, and know how to put on a good race! The registration fee is a little steep at $50, but for what you get, I think it’s worth it. I mean, the gift cards from the expo make up half that cost, plus there are plenty of 5Ks around Boston that cost $35-$40 and all you get is a pint glass. B2B is the race for me!

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My dodgy gait and I love this race!

One final thought:

Drew and I opted to walk the 2 miles back to our Airbnb from the finish line, since traffic was ridonk. However, after all my failed pit stops during the race – and no thanks at all to the most disgusting porta-potties I’ve ever seen after the race – it was an uncomfortable walk back, to say the least. Enter The Cookie Jar, a lovely little bakery on our route. They let me use their gloriously clean real bathroom, and we returned the next morning for breakfast as a thank you. People rave about Holy Donut in Portland, but seriously – if you’re ever in South Portland and like donuts, you must stop at Cookie Jar! Maple glazed donut + Maine blueberry coffee = excellent way to cap off an excellent race weekend.

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad…

…and there you have the facts of (running) life. Am I right?

I know I owe a race recap from the Worcester Firefighters 6k (spoiler alert: I PRd by 5:30!!), but this post has been bouncing around my brain since last night’s suboptimal track workout, so it gets to go first.

  
Right. Track workouts. Speedwork. It’s terrible and it’s awesome and and I hate it and I love it all at the same time. Coach Steve is great at putting together tough workouts and people always give him a joking hard time because everyone hates them, but they’re also so good. Even before I was working on changing my gait, the speed workouts I was doing with the Shammies were definitely making me a little faster. 

Anyway. Last week’s workout was one of the “you take the good” kind. It was 12x 200s with 200 recoveries between, and I killed it. It was hot and humid but I was ready and hydrated and I killed those 200s (for me, at least!)! I felt awesome during (I’m running fast! I’m running pain-free! This is awesome!!) and I felt awesome and accomplished after. I couldn’t wait to do it again the following week. 

And then last night’s workout happened. It was rough. It started with a 10-minute tempo run at 10k pace, then went to ladders on the track at mile pace – 3x 200, 2x 300, 1x 400, 2x 300, 3x 200. 

I attempted the tempo and made it barely 5 minutes in before I got all kinds of side-stitches. Since I had already warmed up, I cut the tempo short and took a water break while I waited for everyone else to finish. 

Then the 200s. I was so excited for these, after nailing them last week. But, silly me, I wasn’t only doing 200s this time around, so I should have paced myself, right? Heh.

I took off on the 200s (mile pace? pshh) and, once again, killed them. Then I ran the first 300 and promptly died (metaphorically, of course). Seriously though, why do 300s feel so much longer than 200s??

I had a crazy cramp in my side and an attack of shin splints, which I haven’t had in almost 2 years. What the heck? I was miserable and barely made the last 100m. I limped off to my bottle of Nuun and sat out the next 300, then promptly realized there was no way I could do a 400 without something going wrong. 

Maybe I was just being paranoid, but I am so scared of injuring myself now before my horrifying half marathon on Sunday, and so I used that as an excuse and I stopped the workout. I stretched and sipped my Nuun while I watched everyone else zip around the track. And I felt anything but accomplished on my way home, a much different scenario than the previous week when I was practically throwing myself a mental victory parade. 

But that happens, right? How many bad runs have I had over the past few years that I’ve bounced back from? Quite a few. But even knowing that, I really let last night’s run get to me. I felt like a facsimile of a sham of a runner and that was a bit of a bummer. I’ve never had to quit a speed workout that fast before, and I’m still bummed out about it today. 

But, trying to think on the bright side, what better time to learn from a crappy run than now? What went wrong that made the run so crappy? Let’s see…

  1. I probably wasn’t hydrated enough (anyone surprised?). That could explain the side stitches. 
  2. I wore different shoes than I’ve been wearing for track. Maybe this is why my shins freaked out?
  3. I completely ignored any kind of pacing, let alone my goal pace. Steve has a chat that lists goal paces for each distance based on your most recent 5k result. My 200s were way faster than my goal pace, which is probably why I crapped out so quickly. 

So, yeah. I wrote this rambly post mostly to hammer into my brain what can happen when I don’t do anything I’m supposed to do, like drinking water and following Steve’s instructions, and, you know, using proper footwear. You think I’d know these things by now, but… alas. 

I’d say I’m hoping for a better workout next week, but that will be 2 days post-half so I probably won’t be doing any speedwork yet! But hopefully the week after or so will be better. 

When do you stick a fork in a workout that’s not going so well? 

How do you move on after a run or a workout totally bums you out?

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!

 

A Week of Little Victories

Sometimes when your running has been suboptimal – like when you’re trying really hard to run with proper form but are finding you can’t fun as far as you used to without taking lots of walk breaks – looking for the little victories makes it all feel a bit better. Like Fallon says, look for the shiny!

Well, I managed some shinies last week, which I’ve been trying to focus on instead of the things that make me feel frustrated (like the aforementioned lack of fitness):

1: Completed a set of GRG intervals!

The first time I tried Day 1 of these intervals (10x 1 minute running, 1 minute walking) I could only manage 5 of the 10 sets. On Tuesday, I churned out all 10 and felt pretty chuffed with myself!

I went down to the track to join the Shammies at their weekly speed workout, but knowing that I’d be doing my own thing in Lane 6 instead of going along with their intense, 5ish miles of speedy hell. I managed 5 sets before wanting to quit (including Set #4 which was ridiculously speedy and I’m not sure why), but I didn’t want to let myself quit. I wanted to finish all 10! So I took a water break and got back out there:

*The paces are nice, round numbers because they’re not based on exact-exact science. I basically hovered my cursor over the running bits and tried to figure out as close to an average pace as I could. I should have set Simon to record laps so I could have measured that way but, to be honest, I didn’t know how at the time. So this will have to do!

2: Attended my first run club track workout in what felt like forever AND beat my Blerch!

(See Shiny #1.) I really didn’t want to go out and run when I got home from work on Tuesday (cue the Blerch beckoning to me from the couch with a can of cider), but let Drew be the voice of reason; he kept saying “It’ll be good to see everyone, just go and you’ll feel so much better.” And he was right! I missed my peeps, and running alongside them is a great motivator. Take that, Blerch!

3: Ran 2 complete miles using proper form!

Remember the suboptimal thing I mentioned in the first paragraph? So, while my “proper form” running does make me go faster than my old, flingy-shins way of running, I don’t have the fitness level yet to keep that momentum going for long. Previous running style let me go 6+ miles without needing a walk break (if I went slow enough, that is), so the fact that I could just barely make a mile without needing a break was getting me down a bit.

On Thursday I set out for an easy 2-mile jaunt, without really any goals in mind – I just wanted to run. As usual, I started out a bit too quickly and was trying to slow myself down while holding the proper form. At maybe 4/10 of a mile in, I realized that I was running nicely, but holding an incredibly comfortable pace. I wondered if I could hold that pace for the full 2 miles and – not counting stopping at crosswalks and such – I could!

thurs2miler

Look at that (mostly) steady pace line! That run gave me such a mental boost… finally I found that I can run properly without having to speed away like a bat out of hell. That speediness would be nice to maintain to be sure, but it’s something that will come with time and training. AND, my slow-and-steady(ish) pace with the new form is more than a minute faster than my shin-flingy form, so that’s definitely a shiny!

(Not so shiny? My knees felt a bit dodgy after the run. I stretched when I got home, then popped some ice packs on just in case… while I chowed down on my PB + banana sandwich:)

(Shiny footnote: the knees seem to be behaving themselves now… fingers crossed it stays that way!)

4: Did a core/arms workout!

I’m terrible at cross-training consistently, so anytime I manage a non-running workout I’m pretty pleased. Drew and I were going to go to the gym on Friday after work, but forgot that they were closing early for the long weekend. Instead, I busted out some push-ups, planks, a quick bit of weight-lifting, and even some of the exercises GRG had given me re: my breathing and lazy glutes. (My glutes were a bit angry with me later in the day, but they got over it.)

5: Completed a long run!

I’ll do another silly “analyzing my run” post about this, but I banged out 4 miles on Sunday, bringing my weekly mileage up to a dizzying 8. After all my 10%-rule talk in my last post, apparently that is now out the window, as I jumped from 5 to 8 weekly miles in one go. C’est la vie d’une coureuse, oui?

What’s been shiny for you recently?

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!)