Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm back!

I started a new job this week, so I've been trying to deal with a significantly longer commute than I'm used to while also easing back into running. While the sun is out longer in the summer, this won't matter much (except for all the gnats and mosquitos!). Once the daylight fades it'll be a different story. Potential strategies include finding a park near my new job, getting a gym membership, or switching exercises this winter. The latter is the least acceptable as I plan on running the half marathon again next March. I may have to suck it up and buy a gym membership =/

My new goal is to try and run more and walk less. How much? I dunno. But I'd like to see if I can run a few miles before taking a walk break, and that means more training. I hope to run a half marathon this October, and that means I have a couple months to train outside of the training specific to the October race. Rex is working on training too, only on a smaller scale. Once he gets some decent mileage under his belt we can start working on speed work like he wants.

What else is in store for me? I want to use the boxing equipment more. My arms are due for a workout!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Post-race updates

Well, I did better time-wise than I thought! Officially my time for the race ended up being 3:04:06. It's a little slower than I had trained for, but I also didn't train with so many hills either. Ideally I admit I would have liked to have had a 2:45 time, but I met my ultimate goal: finish and still be counted among the living. Since I accomplished both criteria and had a blast doing so, I can't really complain.

Speaking of slow, the results also include an age grade. What is an age grade? Short answer is it figures out how you rank among those of similar age. I can compare myself to others and see how I stand. I found my result to be quite funny: 35.8%. That's not even on the scale! HAHA! Oh well. Just as I was telling Rex tonight over dinner: I'm not someone who can count running as one of my strengths or natural abilities, but I enjoy it and I'm glad it's so popular because many who are like me keep me company. I ran with a huge crowd of people during the race, so I know I wasn't alone in my time. I even passed people! Woooo!

Once I have some pictures I'll post them. Right now with nearly 11,000 finishers just for the half-marathon (the marathon I believe has around 2,000), the photographers have a lot to sort through and catalog. Red took a picture of me in my shiny blanket post-race too with my medal. I hope they look okay. I wasn't that concerned about appearance when I was running.

Here's the list of lessons I learned from all this hoopla:
  • Training for a long race like this takes a lot of time. That being said, I think I will never train for a full marathon. While I enjoyed my training for the most part, I can't fathom giving up so much time. Maybe I'll change my mind in the future. Five years ago you would never have pegged me as a runner.
  • 13.1 miles is the perfect long distance race. Just enough to pose a major challenge for someone like me, while not so all-consuming that Rex thinks he's lost his wife to some crazy people.
  • I am so doing the Georgia Half-Marathon again. So much fun!
  • Having the 13.1 sticker on my car is insanely gratifying. The accomplishment alone is addictive. I can see why people run so many races of significant distance.
  • The compression sleeves are a life saver. Oddly enough my hips have been tight and sore, while the rest of me is fine.
  • I know I talked a big game about cross training, but I did none. Next time I will incorporate some into my training plan. I promise!
I'll figure out some new goals for myself, but for now I'm enjoying my rest. I can honestly say I've earned it.

Here's a huge shout out to Red and Atalanta for meeting me after the race. It meant so much to me to know I had people waiting for me in the family reunion area. Rex deserves a huge prize for putting up with all my training. He's doing the Couch to 5k training plan, and he's really liking it.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon 2011

It's over!!! I'm relieved that the training I went through for the last 12 weeks was worth the effort, and I'm definitely proud of myself for completing the race. Here's a recap of how my day went:

Let me first state that it's so hard for me not to forget something when I leave the house. When I go on vacation or head out to work, it's very common for me to forget an item of some kind. This morning it was my Accellerade. Luckily I was close enough to the house that I could turn around and fetch it, however it did make me a little later than I wanted to be.

Parking for a race this large can be hectic. I ended up parking several blocks away from the starting line, which meant a little more walking than I had really wanted to do before the race, but it was fine. Walking through downtown Atlanta before dawn meant seeing a lot of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. Not to get distracted by social commentary, but I felt bad for these folks.

Once I got to Centennial Olympic Park, I needed to use the port-a-potties. Unfortunately I think half of the race participants needed to do the same. Luckily the mass of people there meant that many of us would be starting the race a little past the 7am start time. I ended up beginning my run at about 7:12am.

All along the race there were tons of volunteers who worked hydration stations, directed us when the course made turns, and generally cheered us on. Lots of other volunteers from charities also manned hydration stations. There was a spectator who held a sign that said "Charlie Sheen says you're #winning!!" She also said that we had tiger blood LOL!! The spectators in general were that positive and encouraging. In fact, there were more spectators than I had anticipated, particularly at the finish line. It all makes a difference when you're feeling like the hills are defeating you.

I also got to see a very cool view of Atlanta. I've lived in the area for nearly 20 years now, but it's so different when you're driving around vs running. I had forgotten how beautiful the Inman Park area was. Georgia State University and Georgia Tech have also grown tremendously and built a lot of cool stuff around the city. I had never been to the 4th Ward, so that was cool to see. In fact, they had the best cheering section in my opinion.

Overall it was a well run race. Publix did an excellent job of sponsoring it. I got a cool medal, the shiny blanket after the race, and a very nice race t-shirt. The expo was awesome. I bought a t-shirt that says "If it weren't for people like me, you'd have nobody to pass" on the front and "If you can read this, then I'm not last" on the back. Perfect for the slow pokes like me!

Btw, the compression sleeves were great. I wore them during the race, and everything else hurts except my calves. They're worth every penny!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The race is almost here!!

I have my final run tomorrow before the race, and I have to admit a good part of me is thankful the race is around the corner so I can take a real break. See, you're supposed to take some time after a big distance like half marathon or full marathon and just let your body re-cooperate. I'm excited I've made it this far, looking forward to accomplishing my goals, and I know the race atmosphere will be fun and thrilling. I also look forward to resting the rest of the day on Sunday and all day Monday.

As far as the leg sleeves go, I have decided to wear them. My legs are at that point where they could use a little extra help, and if I can reduce the amount of pain and discomfort I experience then awesome.

On a really positive note, all this training has helped me lose quite a bit of weight. I'm not sure how much I lost because I haven't been weighing myself, but I'm wearing clothes I couldn't wear last Spring because I gained too much weight the prior Winter. Talk about an awesome side effect from all this training!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Running with leg sleeves

I've been trying to decide if I should run the race with leg sleeves or not. I didn't train in my long runs with them on, so I don't know how they'd feel after more than two miles. Tonight's run was two miles, so I figured I would try them. If they're really bad I give them up for the race. They actually felt good while I was running, but they made my legs warm. Since I perform better in cooler weather, warming up my legs seems counter-productive. Ultimately I think it will depend on how cool the race morning is. It doesn't look like that day will be cool, so I'll probably leave them off and use them post-race.

I decided to try and run faster today since it was just two miles. Yeah, I totally got way too excited in the first mile and wasted my energy. The second mile was okay, but my left calf was mad at me. It was just a harsh reminder that pacing is still important, even at the shorter distances.

Friday, March 11, 2011

If you run to lose weight, check out this month's Runner's World!

I often say my goal with running isn't to lose weight, but it's certainly a welcome side effect! I take this approach because if I focus too much on the scale I get discouraged really easily and don't enjoy running. Instead I focus on meeting goals I set for myself based on my current fitness level. For example: next week's half marathon. Wow - it's next week! (Small moment of panic)

Anyhoo, just because I don't focus on the scale doesn't mean others follow my philosophy. For those of you who are in this for weight loss (and let me say, good for you!!), I highly suggest this month's Runner's World (April 2011). It details 8 golden rules of weight loss while running. I won't go into too much detail, but I found them to be sane, realistic, and absolutely doable. I also found I had incorporated many of these rules in my own life already because when you run significant distances suddenly fueling your body is a top priority. Rex can tell you all about the low blood sugar issues I've dealt with. Not pretty...Just for this and the fact that he's never once complained about my time-consuming long runs (and has been nothing but encouraging), he's the best husband ever! He'll read this and say "duh"!

Btw, bananas make the best pre-run fuel and mid-day snack! At least they do for me. I'm trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my diet and bananas are an easy way to do that.

On a quick training note, I had to run in my neighborhood last night and I remembered why I quit doing that. The hills are just too much. My ankle did something funny and cracked painfully about a third of a mile in, so I cut it short to just 1.66 miles. It's better now, so I'm not sure what it was but the wind was brutal too. That served as a reminder that even with a "bad" run, at least I got out and tried! Don't beat yourself up over less than perfect runs. Even the pros don't have awesome runs every time they hit the pavement - that's why it's called training :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Umm taper doesn't feel all that great

Because I think I'm too used to being active LOL! My legs are stiff and sore, which makes no sense because I didn't do anything! I would be running tonight but it's raining. Actually, it's stopped but the trails are completely flooded. For some reason my legs are really mad at me. Oh well. Tomorrow: three miles. Saturday: five miles. It feels like such chump change!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Let the taper begin!

Since the weather was terrible yesterday, I had to postpone my final super long run until today. It pushes my recovery run out for a Monday, which is typically a rest day, but since my next run isn't scheduled until Wednesday it's all cool. The cooler weather we experienced today is awesome for my runs. I just wished I had paid more attention to the weather report because I could have used some gloves. My hands were freezing!

On another positive note, I am wearing the compression leg sleeves post-run and wow do they make a difference. I'm thinking I should have splurged for the sleeves with footies, since I can tell my feet are also tired and sore now that my legs are feeling significantly better. It's all good though. I can tell that my legs are going to be well rested for the race with the taper and the sleeves.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy early birthday to me!

So Rex was super awesome and took me to the running store tonight. What cool new item did I get? Compression leg sleeves!! They're supposed to speed up recovery time for your calves, and since I've been having tight calves lately they seemed like the logical choice. Plus they will probably alleviate a lot of the waddling I do on Saturdays after the long run. I wore them after my run tonight, which was only three miles, but they immediately made me feel a lot better. I'm excited to use them Saturday. It's supposed to rain this weekend, so we'll see if I have to push the long run to Sunday. After this weekend it'll be taper time!