Sunday, August 22, 2010

My 5-Mile Rollercoaster Run

No. I did not run through a theme park or do a bunch of hill work. The ups and downs I experienced on this morning's run were purely emotional. I don't know what the heck happened - but I was such a girl.

I woke up this morning knowing that the training plan called for a 5 mile run. I just didn't want to get out of bed. I laid there making deals with myself for a few extra minutes of sleep. But I really wanted to get this done early before it got too hot and humid. Plus waiting for this evening seemed like too much of a gamble with all of the other responsibilities I have to take care of today.

I begrudgingly got out of bed and into my running clothes. I drove to the trail I checked out yesterday. I really like the solitude of running there.

Things started out well enough. The weather was a gorgeous 68 degrees and the sun was out. I doused myself with some sweat resistant bug repellent to ward off the little blood-sucking pests. I did some intervals of running and walking for the first mile and warmed up at a 15:00/mile pace which was just fine with me.

But it seemed more and more difficult to get my stinkin' legs to move. They were like big ol' lead bricks. My running became less and my walking became more. I just couldn't get moving.

Two ladies came up behind me. I heard the perfect cadence of their feet hitting the gravel before I saw them. They probably had 2% body fat between the both of them and were clearly out for their long run of the week. They were super nice, even removing their headphones to say, "Good Morning" and wish me well. Then they flashed me a smile and an encouraging head-nod and disappeared into the distance.

What did I do?

I got all irritated at how badly I wanted to move faster and how my lousy lead legs were not allowing it. I started getting all teary-eyed and was ready to just turn around and spend the rest of the day throwing myself a little pity party.

I kept moving. But mile 2 pretty much sucked for me. I didn't run even once.

Now the good thing about a straight trail like this, is that once I log half the miles of the day there is no other way to get back to my car other than finishing the entire distance. If I were in my neighborhood I would surely have taken a shortcut home at some point. So I told myself I just had to make it to 2.5 miles and then the rest would work itself out.

It took everything in me not to turn around early. Gary the Garmin got stuck on 2.46 miles for what seemed like ten minutes and I was not at all happy with him. But eventually he allowed me to turn around and I was just thankful to be walking in the right direction. I took a look at my pace and it was pretty pathetic. I started thinking of how I have to run this 10k in three weeks and how in 41 days I have to run a half marathon. It was all a little overwhelming and I got all weepy again. This was just seeming like a bad idea.

But I had no other option than to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I wasn't moving fast - but I was moving. I spent much of mile 3 giving myself a pep talk. Here I was out here on a Sunday morning moving my body for 5 miles. Sure I wasn't setting any sort of record this morning and I could barely qualify it as a "run", but I wasn't in bed or in front of the TV. Shouldn't that count for something?

I didn't see anyone else on the trail the whole time I was out there. And the peacefulness of it all was a drastic contrast compared to how the previous week had played out. It had been a tough week with lots of challenges. Perhaps getting out here this morning was just the release I needed.

I thought of this crazy goal I set months ago. Then I got angry at myself for slacking on the training. This would be so much easier right now if I had just worked out more back in June! Images of me crossing the finish line at the Wine and Dine and giving my friend Deb a big, sweaty hug when it was over caused another round of tears. It just seems so far away and so out of reach right now.

I kept walking and trying to get to a more positive place. It must've worked because I felt my legs become a little stronger. I started running again. It seemed easier now. At one point the trail goes under a highway overpass. I thought of the people in their cars rushing off to work or family obligations with paper bags of Egg McMuffins on their passenger seats. And here I was underneath them in this whole other world uber aware of the present moment, my feelings, my goals, my demons. I suddenly felt grateful for the experience instead of irritated with it.

The last mile flew by. I actually ran more of it than I walked and was able to salvage my overall pace a bit. I noticed a sports bottle left by the edge of the trail. I knew it was from the women I had seen earlier. They were still out there running and smiling and probably hadn't stopped to walk even once. By the time they get back to their sports bottle they would be celebarting a great run and would be as happy to see that sports bottle as I was gonna be when I saw my car. I smiled for them instead of crying this time.

Now its done and I'm happy I finished the 5 miles. It was a really bad run, but everyone tells me you will have bad runs from time to time. So I'm thankful this one is over with and I can move onto having a good run next time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Gary the Garmin and I went for our first trail run this morning.

The trail head to a great biking/running trail is near my home. I've never logged any miles on the trail because I couldn't map it out with my car. Well, now that I have good ol' Gary with me, I decided to check it out.

The trail is part of the "Rails to Trails" project that the DNR began in the 1990's to convert unused railroad tracks into public trails. Of course, back in the '90s I was in college and couldn't have cared less about such things. But now that I'm a runner wannabe I think its absolutely brilliant!

The trail is flat and straight and all sorts of peaceful. I loved not having to deal with cars, or dogs, or lawn sprinklers. It was just myself, the peaceful Wisconsin countryside, and a few random cyclists and runners. At one point there was a corn field to my left and a dairy farm to my right. Seriously. Just classic Wisconsin. I half expected there to be a water station with a keg of beer up ahead.

I had planned on four miles this morning, but fell a little short and only managed 3.5 miles. The only drawback of the trail was that the mosquitoes were getting to me and I had forgotten my bug spray. So I turned around a wee bit early.

I found myself running more this time around. The remoteness of the trail made me much less self-conscious. I didn't much care what the birds thought of my huffing and puffing. And I'm pretty sure the squirrels weren't judging the extra jiggle going on. I mean, my sports bra did a nice job of keeping the girls in place....but I'm thinking I need a butt-bra of some sort. 'Cause even when I stop running things are still a little shifty back there. So I appreciated not having to worry about passing a neighbor's house while in full-on jiggle mode.

The only other people I ran into were: a guy straight out of Runner's World magazine sporting a fuel belt and not much else, an elderly couple riding bikes, another runner dude who seemed much less serious than Mr. Runner's World, a woman runner with enough perfume on to choke out the mosquitoes, and two super cute cyclists who were doing their best to add to the beauty of the Wisconsin countryside.

The trail is almost 12 miles long and I suppose one day I should be able to make it from one trail head to the other. But that still seems a little crazy to me.

Unless......maybe there was some sort of prize at the end like a super cute cyclist convention and a keg of beer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My New Running Buddy

Normally I do all my runs solo. I really don't have friends nearby who are runner wannabes like myself. I don't even listen to an ipod when I run. I just like taking the time to unplug and clear my head while I take in all the sights and sounds around me.

Which was all fine and good in the beginning. But after I ran my first 5K I realized that I really need to push myself harder. I also wanted to keep better track of my distance and pace.

That's when I decided to bring Gary into the picture.

Gary is my new Garmin Forerunner 305. He is just the coolest running buddy EVER!

I have a few different routes plotted out near my home, depending on how far I want to run/walk that day. Today I decided to take Gary on my normal 3 mile route. Well, it turns out it was more like 3.5 miles! That probably means my 4 mile route is close to 5.

Anyway, there is a wealth of information in this beauty. I plug in a few vital statistics and, in return, it tells me how many calories I've burned, uses GPS to tell me how much ground I've covered, and tracks my heart rate.

Even cooler is the software it comes with. I was easily able to download this evening's walkish run - okay, wasn't really a run at all. It was more the pace of a Saturday Night Live Travolta strut. But I haven't been for a run in almost two weeks and I just needed to get back in the swing of things. Plus I was distracted by all the blinking lights. Anyway, I was able to download all sorts of cools stats. I can tell you exactly what my heart rate was at mile 2.3 and how high the elevation was at that point. Isn't that cool? Plus it shows me a pretty little map of the route I just took. My inner geek was all sorts of impressed.

The only thing I didn't like about it is the uncomfortable rubber strap it comes with. But I found a Velcro strap they make for it and I promptly ordered it. There is still plenty my new little toy does - but that will require reading the manual - and I'm not sure when I'll get to that. I have a feeling that I'll be figuring out all the features for months to come though.

Also, you might notice the slick little box over on the right-hand side that tracks my mileage. I'll be keeping a running tab of how many miles I cover starting from today. I hope it will keep me on track with the training. I have some ground to make up!

But it should be a lot more fun now that Gary's with me!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Next Run

I'm freaking out a little bit about how this half marathon I've signed up for is sneaking up on me. In a mere 46 days I will be standing at the starting line and wondering what the heck I was thinking and how the heck I'm gonna huff and puff my way through 13.1 miles.

I don't feel nearly as confident as I did when this race was five months away. Five months ago I was like, "Bring it on!"......"13.1 miles? Pfft! I laugh at 13.1 miles."

Funny how time (and reality) change things.

The thought had occurred to me to just abandon this little blog and disappear quietly.

But instead I decided to ramp up the training and sign up for a 10k run in September. I picked Chicago's Lung Run on September 11th. It looks like a fun course along the lake shore. And I'm hoping the 8am start on a September morning right by the lake will be cooler than the crazy stupid heat we've got going on now.

And if the 10k kills me I don't have to run the half marathon, right?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Party Slip-Ups

What a week! I have spent 4 out of the last 7 days in party mode.

I started out the weekend very much looking forward to a little trip to Madison to hang out with some friends - many I hadn't seen in a whole year and some folks I would meet for the first time. Friday afternoon I drove the hour to Mad Town with the best of intentions. I packed myself some healthy food, checked out the hotel's exercise room online, and even brought my hand weights with me.

Friday was a crazy hectic day and by the time I got to the hotel I was ready to turn my mind into relaxation mode. Many of my friends were already at the hotel and promptly helped me get my mountain of luggage to the room and set out Round 1 of the food. I stuck close to the fruit, but allowed myself a cotton-tini.....(okay.....two of them). And, yes, they are just as naughty as they sound. A big, billowy cloud of pink cotton candy melted by a mixture of vodka, XR Fusion, and cranberry juice in a martini glass. It may not have been "just what the doctor ordered", but I sure wanted one....(okay....two)!

But this was really my only slip-up for Friday. I had still managed to get in 4 miles that morning and resisted the fast food drive thru and mini brownies like a champ.

This. Sadly, is where any hint of willpower eluded me.

Saturday started out with a bagel and cream cheese from the free breakfast downstairs. More importantly, it started out without a visit to the exercise room. I carried on throughout the day with reckless abandon eating a little of this and a little of that. I must say, I had a great time. I felt like a felon in Las Vegas though.

I find that when I'm disciplined in one aspect of my life, that discipline transfers to other parts of my life too. When I exercise, I eat right, I spend less, and I'm more productive with my time. Unfortunately, this also works in reverse. So when I'm lazy about exercising or eating junk, I also tend to spend more money and just become, overall, more indulgent. Thank God there wasn't a casino with a blackjack table around!

When I got home Sunday night I had great memories of my weekend, but also felt like I needed to spend a few hours in a time-out chair for my reckless behavior. Perhaps that time would've been better spent on a run? Hmm....I should've re-thought that punishment.

So that brings me to Monday. Which seems like a good enough day of the week to start fresh.

You would think.

Except I was busy planning for my son's birthday which was on Tuesday. This meant more food, more cake, a house to clean, and luggage to unpack. I told myself there was no time for exercising, but really I just didn't make the time. And then I threw all caution to the wind and decided to eat party food for yet another day this week.

Physically, I feel pretty yucky. Which actually reinforces that I want to stay right smack-dab in the middle of this healthy lifestyle I've embraced. I feel so much better about myself and I have so much more energy when I fuel myself properly.

You all have seen me through a few of these "epic fails" as my gamer son would call them. But to not acknowledge them would be hypocritical. I used to feel so bad when I would cheat on a diet or something like that. And usually it would end with me declaring failure and reverting back to old habits. But now I know it is not how hard you fall off the wagon, but how quickly you climb back on.

So I will remember all the great memories made this week and not how bad I feel now. I will also take comfort in the fact that I'm still on track - I just took a little detour.