Thursday, May 29, 2014

Running While Female

You're probably heard or read the news - another tragic mass killing occurred last week.  Among the discussion of gun violence has been an underlying conversation about fear, and the fact that "all women" fear that they'll be physically assaulted.  (#yesallwomen)

It got me to thinking about the precautions women can - and should - take while running.  There are, of course, precautions that men should take, too, but let's face it.  The brutal truth is that women are more susceptible to violent attack, and we need to take steps in order to protect ourselves as much as we can.

Let's start with general safety:

  • Carry ID - a driver's license fits easily in the pocket of most running shorts, or you can purchase a Road ID like the one I have (love!).  They're inexpensive, easy to wear, and come in plenty of colors if you feel the need to match. 
  • Run Against the Flow of Traffic - even if you're running on the sidewalk, it's a good idea to be able to see the cars coming towards you.  You never know if someone is texting while driving, or driving drunk.  It's your life, don't take for granted the idiot in the speeding metal box sees you. 
  • Wear Reflective Gear - this one's pretty simple.  If they can see you, it's less likely they'll hit you.  Wear bright colors and items with reflective strips.  
  • Don't Run with Music - With the advent of the itsy bitsy teensy weensy music players, more and more runners are running with music.  If you're one of those runners, make sure you can CLEARLY hear sounds over your music.  The goal is to avoid accidents, not cause them.  Be aware. 

There are other "rules" that women should follow, in addition to the  basics.  

  • Tell Someone - Let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back.  
  • Alter Your Route - Don't run the same route every day.  If there is some sicko out there watching you, you don't want him to know which bush to hide behind at 3:12 on a Tuesday. 
  • Get A Running Buddy - If you can, run with a friend.  
  • Trust Your Instincts - If you're paying attention, more than likely your "gut" will tell you who or what to stay away from.  If something feels sketchy, run in a different direction.  Slow to a walk.  Speed up.  Trust your instincts.
  • Carry Mace - Consider something like this if you run at night or in remote areas. 
  • Learn Self Defense - Knowing how to fight off an attacker could save your life.  But even if you have never taken a self defense class, there are things you can do to help yourself.  Yell, kick, bite, do anything you can not to be taken anywhere.  Scream as loudly as you can.  

Running, for many of us, is an outlet for our stress.  I didn't write this post intending to add more stress, just as a reminder to be aware.  Be safe.  Be well.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

I'm Not Dead, I'm Just Boring

Ugh. Are you supposed to apologize to your blogging audience if you don't post anything for awhile?  Or is that just hubris, to assume that anyone even noticed your absence?  I guess it hasn't been that long, just a few days, but I feel like it's  been a year because I have been seriously slacking on the running front.  Granted, Saturday I spent nearly the whole day in bed with a stomach bug, and yesterday we did a mini road trip with the kids, but still.  I have missed valuable running time. 

Hubby is home today so I may be able to sneak out for a run later.  We'll see.  

In the meantime, just wanted to say that I'm still alive, still boring, and still promising to do better.  

And as for this "holiday" today........ 

Peace and love to everyone. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

End Of An Era

Well, this is it.  My daughter's last day of preschool is tomorrow.  I won't lie, I'm heartbroken.  Completely shattered.

Since September, I've had every Tuesday and Thursday to myself.  I could run.  I could nap.  I could watch bad t.v.  I could eat nachos with no one judging me.   And now that's all over.  *sniffle*

Of course, I'm also sad because my daughter's growing up and blah blah blah.  But, really, I'm going to really miss having free time.  Damn kids.

Truth is, after this week, I'm going to have to seriously revamp how I schedule my training runs.  And considering that Endless Summer is a mere 9 1/2 weeks away (*insert hysterical crying here*), I can't really afford to be lazy.   I am envisioning a lot of early morning runs, and runs at night when the kids have gone to bed.  Which means I'm also envisioning a coffee i.v. because I do not handle lack of sleep well.  Mama needs her rest!

My daughter being finished with preschool also signifies something else.  It's the end of my time as a stay-at-home mom.  The job hunt starts soon, as I'd like to be employed once the school year starts.

Jeez, typing that hurt.  What a lie.  I would NOT like to be employed once the school year starts.  I have grudgingly agreed to attempt to be employed once the school year starts.  My husband has been the sole breadwinner for the past 7 years, and it's time I start pulling my weight.  *sigh*

Lots of changes coming up.  It really is the end of an era.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Not Meant To Be

Although I may have recaptured my "mojo" on Thursday, Mother Nature and my respiratory system had other plans for me.  Thursday night was sleepless, Friday was uncomfortable, and thus, Saturday's Half Marathon never was.  Well, it was.  I just wasn't there for it!

I never used to have allergy issues.  In fact, when my daughter's allergy testing started, I adamantly insisted that no one in the family had any issues at all.  Turns out, I may not have had allergies in the past, but I certainly have them now - and they've been kicking my butt all over town for the past 2.5 years.   Unfortunately, it's taken me awhile to really realize that's what's going on.   I usually think of allergies as runny nose, itchy eyes, not chest issues and coughing.  It wasn't until dealing with all of my daughter's breathing issues lately that I realized that it could all be connected.

In case you're wondering, this is all a long-winded way of saying that I have issues (you knew that, right? har har) that are not under control, and they flared up on Friday so I decided that I would not be running the St. Michael's Half Marathon after all.

Part of me is completely bummed, and another part of me is quite relieved.  It is what it is.  It's done.  Nothing to do but to move forward.

I got some extra sleep this weekend (thank you, awesome family!), and I'm feeling better.  I'm going to get an appointment with my daughter's allergist sometime soon to get things figured out, and hopefully this won't be an issue again.

Tuesday, training gets back on track.  Only 10 weeks until Endless Summer.   God help me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Return Of The Running Mojo

My week has not gone according to plan.  Not according to my running plan, anyway.  Too much "life stuff" in the way, so even though it's Thursday, when I laced up my Brooks this morning, it was for the first time since Sunday.

I knew I wanted today's run to be short, so I told myself just run to the pool and back, no big.  (Our community pool is about a mile from my front door.)  I started out, and was thinking about my upcoming half, how I'd decided to think of it as a supported training run rather than a "race" (thanks, Susan), and how it was nice to not have any real "pressure" (though it's all been internal pressure anyway).   I was just kind of bopping along, and I realized that I was actually feeling....  ok.  Mentally, there was no "this sucks" like there has been in most of my runs lately.  Physically, except for a mildly annoying hot spot on my right foot (it comes and goes), nothing hurt or was sore or felt out of whack.  I was just kind of smoothly going along.

So.   Weird.

Best run I've had in ages.  Sure, it was only 2 miles, but I will take it!  AND! I figured out what I'm going to wear for my non-race on Saturday.  Exciting, no?  Well, ok, no.  But still.  At least I won't be scrambling around at 4 in the morning trying to figure out what to wear while trying not to wake up my husband and/or dog.    It's a victory.

Now I just have to get through the rest of the week and not oversleep when my alarm goes off on Saturday, and I'll  be good to go.  Just a 13.1 supported training run with a few hundred of my closest friends.  Ok, they're strangers.  But they're all silly enough to get up at o'dark 30 and pin on a racing bib, so they're ok in my book.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Not To Train Your Dragon

Half Marathon #3 is coming up this weekend, and I just realized how truly unprepared I really am. I mean, I knew I was under-prepared, but I just looked at all my running for the past couple of months, and oh, man, is it dismal.

So, I present to you a list of things not to do if you are training for a half marathon.  I call it "Di's Idiocy, part 600."

Step 1:  Sign up for a Half Marathon
Step 2: Run sporadically, maybe 2 or 3 times a week, something like that.
Step 3: Don't do any cross training or strength training.  Except maybe a half-assed attempt at walking lunges that hurt your knee.
Step 4: Gain some weight.
Step 5: Periodically forget you signed up for the race. (You say denial, I say early onset dementia.  Agree to disagree)
Step 6: Do one 10 mile run - but make it a long time before the race, say...... six weeks.
Step 7: Do no other runs longer than, oh, maybe 6 miles.
Step 8: Develop shin pain.
Step 9: Stretch maybe, if you think of it, for a few seconds, sometimes.
Step 10: Wonder, not for the first time, WTF is wrong with you.

Easy peasy, right?

Yeah, pretty much! 

In all honesty, I'm not too worried about this race.  I mean, if nothing else, I will have a new personal worst Half Marathon time.  I'm sure my ego will survive.  Probably.  And I'll have a shiny new medal to put with my other shiny medals.  Of which I do not have nearly enough.  They should give out medals for other stuff.

For example:

  • Getting up at 3 a.m. to deal with a half-awake 5 year old who doesn't know why she's screaming. 
  • Answering "Why?" for the 3,745th time.  
  • Being able to locate every single item that any child has ever said they've looked "EVERYWHERE" for. 
  • Cleaning up various bodily fluid (that isn't yours). 
  • Being able to unclog an overflowing toilet in under 60 seconds. 
  • Knowing all the words to every Disney and/or Pixar movie soundtrack.  
  • Not throwing up on your kid when your kid throws up on you. 

I'd have so many frickin' medals.  It would be awesome.  But, no, motherhood is supposed to have its own intrinsic value.  Whatever. I want my bling, darn it.

This post took an odd turn, didn't it?  Hmm.

Anyway.  Train better than I do for races.  Don't be a dummy.  Peace out.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chain Gang

Being fairly new to the whole blogging world, I'm always looking for ways to expand my readership (not that I don't love you guys).  The other day, one of my fellow Sweat Pink Ambassadors asked if anyone wanted to be involved in the whole Liebster Award thing that's going on right now.   Have you heard of this?

I'm up for anything, so I said "Oooh, me, me! Pick me!"   So Jennifer (The Runner's Feet) did - me and 9 others.   After reading her post about the "award," I realized that it's essentially a chain letter.  You "tag" 10 bloggers, then they tag 10 bloggers, then they tag 10 bloggers.... etc, etc, etc.  Sure, it may be a way to meet new bloggers, but it's not exactly my cup of tea.  

So I will not be answering the questions Jennifer gave me (sorry, hon!), nor will I be asking questions of others.  But in the spirit of the award (why is this thing an "award," exactly?), I do suggest that you go check out Jennifer's blog (she seems like a nice enough girl).   

Also, just a friendly reminder that when you read someone's blog, if you've got some extra time, check out any blogs that they have on their sidebars.  Chances are, if a blogger you like likes something, you'll like it, too! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Am What I Am

I'm feeling a bit like Popeye today.  Minus the muscles, pipe, and spinach.  So, really more like Olive Oyl. Except with a gut.  And slightly smaller feet.

Apparently I am really bad with analogies today.  Goodness.  Moving on.......

I had a craptacular run today.  It wasn't even a run, really.  It was mostly a walk.  Partly a shuffle.  Occasionally, I think I actually did something that could qualify as running.  In the hour that I was out at the park, walking and shuffling and running, I was doing a lot of thinking.

Most of the thinking went like this: "I SUCK at this! I've been doing this for over two years now, you'd think I'd be better at it by now.  I mean, really.  Oh, crap, here comes a runner.  Should I speed up, or would that be totally obvious? She's not looking at me anyway, and oh - she passed me already. Right. Because she's running.   What am I doing? How long have I been out here?  God, only 40 minutes?  No way am I making it to two hours today.  As soon as I get to the car, I'm done.  I'm not doing another loop.  I can do a two hour run on Saturday.  Or Sunday.  Sunday is Mother's Day.  I get the day "off."  So I can go for a two hour run and not feel guilty, right?  Or I could just sleep in.  Sleep is good.  Holy hell, where is the damn car???"

When I got home from the park, I made myself a huge salad and sat on the couch, eating and feeling sorry for myself.  Then an old friend called and while we were chatting, I started to feel better, until she mentioned these "crazy people" that were doing run/walk intervals during the half marathon she just did.  I spoke up, trying to explain that it's actually a valid way to race, and that I've done it.... but my heart just wasn't in it.  I was feeling so crappy that I couldn't even defend myself, so I just shut up.

Last fall, I ran 12 miles with only one (60 second) walk break.  Lately, I can hardly run 1 mile without walking.  I've finished two half marathons, two 10 mile races, a bunch of 5Ks.  I've run over 900 miles since I started running, and yet today I'm sitting here feeling  like a fraud for calling myself  a runner.

Why?  Because I walk sometimes.

Then I got to thinking.  Jeff Galloway has a bajillion followers (give or take a few gajillion).  That means that there are plenty of people out there running races using run/walk intervals.  Fast people, slow people, old people, young people.

There are also people who run Ultras - people who can run 50Ks, 50 Milers, 100 milers.... and they walk during them, sometimes.  When the terrain is rough, or when they just need to give their minds and bodies a break.  Could anyone dare say those badasses are not runners because sometimes they walk?

So what's my problem, exactly?

I guess I'm just having a bad day.  I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll wake up and feel differently about things, because I certainly don't enjoy feeling this way.  Maybe I'd feel better if there was another term I could call myself instead of a runner.  Maybe ...  endurance athlete?  Idiot ? Either of those could probably apply.  

Either way, as Popeye says, I am what I am and that's all that I am....   Whatever that may be. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Oh, Right, I Ran A Race

I keep starting and deleting this post.  As excited as I was about my kids' race, I was less than thrilled about my race, and now that it's behind me I kind of just want to move on.

Other than crippling shin pain and some adorable karaoke singers, there was nothing remarkable about this race.  But. I did promise a report, and really, what else are you doing right now?  You have five minutes to spare, right?  Right.  So, here we go....

After my kids finished their race and we hugged and high-fived and found a donut for my daughter, I said my goodbyes and headed to line up for the 5K.  This 5K was billed as being for runners and walkers, so when I lined up in the back of the pack, I assumed I'd be with all the slower runners and the handful of walkers.

Ever heard that saying about assuming?  Yup.  I'm an ass.

"Ready! Set! Go!"  . . . and we're off.  Down the school drive, turn left, turn right, and we're running down the only real hill in the neighborhood.  (Thank you to the race directors who realized that going DOWN this hill was preferable to running UP it)  While I'm running at what seems like a relatively fast pace (but can't be, after all, I'm with all the back of the packers, right?), I'm hearing this guy giving non-stop instruction to his young son.

How to hold his head, how to place his feet, how to run tangents, how to breathe.  It was rather excruciating for me to listen to, I can't imagine how it was for his son.  After a few minutes, I realized my shins were hurting.  Why are my shins hurting?  *glance at my watch*  Ooooh...  10:xx pace.  THAT's why my shins are hurting.  That's my "I feel great!" 5K PR pace. I was supposed to be running this thing at 12:xx.   Back of the pack pace, people.  What the heck?

So I slowed down considerably, but still hit the 1st mile  marker at 11:3x.   Whoopsie.  The rest of the race was a fairly agonizing run/walk, with my shins hating me, me wishing I was not in my own neighborhood having a rather crappy race, all the while smiling and waving to neighbors that were sitting outside of their house cheering us on.

I knew going into this race that it would not be anywhere CLOSE to a PR, but I was kind of hoping that I could at least run it feeling ok.  It wasn't to be.  Fortunately, even going slowly, 5Ks are super short and over fairly quickly.   As I neared about the 2.5 mile mark, I came upon a pair of girls with a karaoke machine, with the soundtrack from Frozen blaring.

I love Frozen.  (Yes, I'm 35 and I like kids' movies.  I'm ok with that.)  Hearing the music (I swear to you, I'm going senile, because even though it was YESTERDAY, I cannot remember what song was playing), I started to feel better about the day - though my shins still really freaking hurt.  Plus, the girls were really cute (though the one holding the microphone wasn't singing at all, just kind of staring off into space).

Rounded yet another corner, walked some more, then started running when I hit the school again and headed towards the finish line.

Anyone else turn magenta when they run?
Since I wasn't really paying attention to my pace after my disastrous first mile, I was surprised to see 37:xx on the clock as I finished.  My PR time is 35-something, so considering the huge amount of walking I'd done, I was expecting to be a lot slower.

Results haven't been posted yet (and I probably won't bother to search for them anyway), but my Garmin said 3.08 in 37:36.  12:13/mile.   Not my worst, not my best - I'm just happy my shins stopped hurting after awhile.

The funniest thing about this whole day was that my husband and I were walking around looking at all the booths that were set up at the school and we passed a sign that had my name on it.  Turns out I'd won a raffle that I didn't know about.  5 names of volunteers were randomly drawn and I was one of the winners.   So for my 4 minutes of service, I got a $15 restaurant gift card!

All in all it was a fun day for the community and my kids had a great time, but it was certainly not a real "race" day for me.  Even if my shins hadn't acted up, I'm not sure I would have put my all into this race.  My heart was certainly not in it.

On to the next.   St. Michael's half marathon in 2 weeks.  Hoping my shins cooperate for that one!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

They're My Kids And I'll Brag If I Want To

Oh. My. Goodness.  I never realized before that there are so many fast kids in my neighborhood.  Holy moly.  I also never realized that some kids, like some adults, will push themselves so hard that they'll actually puke at the finish line.  But let's skip over that part of the day....

This morning, my family and I headed to the local elementary school for their annual 5K and 1 mile run.  I was signed up for the 5K, my kids were signed up for the 1 mile, and my husband had the task of photographing the day.  The weather was gorgeous and everyone was excited.

20 minutes before the race, ready and rarin' to go! 

A few minutes before the 1 mile race was set to start, I said good-bye and good luck and headed to my volunteer spot in the woods.  I heard the "Ready, set, GO!" and peered through the trees to see the kids coming down the road.  They took the turn into the woods and I started clapping and cheering and "Stay on the path, please!"  Then I saw my munchkins and gave high fives and hugs and they were off again.  About  minute a later the bike volunteer rode by and said "That's it, thanks!" and I got to take my flag and head back to the finish line.  Shortest volunteer stint EVER! 

I found my husband and we watched as the kids came in.  First finisher crossed the line in 6:32.  Darn impressive for an elementary school kid!  (No racers over 5th grade allowed in the 1 mile run) Then more kids came in, and we kept cheering....  As the clock ticked forward, I started to worry a little.  I knew my kids would be on the slower side, since they've never run before, but since most of the course was through a wooded area with lots of ups and downs, I began to wonder if  maybe my daughter would fall.  I don't know why I wasn't worried about my son, maybe because he's older an has longer legs? I don't know.  Anyway, I started to wonder what if.... So I walked a bit down the road to see if I could spot them coming out of the woods.  When I saw them I ran back to my husband and told him to get the camera ready.  

When they came towards the finish line, I started cheering like an idiot a happy mom.  My son got a little ahead of his sister and turned around and went back for her, encouraging her, and they both sped up.  (I swear to you, my heart will break into a million pieces the day that they are no longer best friends.) 

Nearing the finish line! 

They ended up finishing the race in 14:09, together, happy as can be.  So proud of themselves and of each other.  I have a feeling this race will be a family tradition for years to come! 

Next post, I'll tell you about the 5K.  Spoiler alert - there was karaoke involved. 

Have you ever watched a Kids Fun Run?  If you haven't, you should! =) 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Baby Steps

When I started running, I was half thrilled, half terrified to find out that the elementary school in our new neighborhood puts on a 5K and 1 mile kids fun run every year. Last year, when someone asked if I was going to run, I was able to casually say, "Nah, I've got a half marathon that day."

Somehow, running my very first half marathon was actually less daunting than  the idea of running a 5K in my own backyard. 

I was not relishing the idea of being sweaty faced and sloppy in front of all the moms at my son's new school. Where I got the idea that any of them would even notice me, I don't know.  Insecurities plague me, though, and I decided that I needed to be in "better" shape to run this particular 5K.

Fast forward a year and not only am I not in better shape than I was last year, I'm actually heavier and more OUT of shape than I have been in awhile.  And, oh, look, it's the weekend of the Tech Trot and I haven't been running much this week because I strained a calf muscle last week following my new handy dandy "run an ultra" training plan that I pulled out of my ass.

So here I am feeling sorry for myself and not wanting to run this race and blah blah blah.  Then, after picking my son up from school yesterday afternoon, we head to packet pickup and I realized that for the first time ever, I'm not just picking up my bib.  I'm picking up bibs for my son and daughter, as well. The 1 mile fun run held just before the 5K will be their very first race.

Not quite the baby bibs I'm used to! 

Suddenly, I'm not even thinking about me.  It's all about the kids.  My daughter, who is not yet in elementary school, is excited to be doing something with the bigger kids.  My son, who is in first grade, is excited that he'll get a "No Homework" pass for completing the race.  Walking home, they started to "practice" their running.   My daughter announced that her brother was going to win the race this weekend.  (Never has she ever made that proclamation about me, btw)  Excitement was definitely in the air.

Will my two  "babies" end up with a love of running?  Will they continue to race?  Time will tell.  Either way, I'm excited to share something that I love with them, and I am looking forward to seeing their smiling faces cross the finish line!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Do You Sweat Pink?

One thing I love about being a runner is the sense of community that I've felt since day one.  It seems like every day, I'm meeting new people and learning new things about running, fitness, and life in general.

Today, my "new thing" was becoming a Sweat Pink Ambassador for Fit Approach.  What's Fit Approach, you ask? It's a community of women (and sometimes men!) who are working together to build a healthier world.  A group of fitness bloggers dedicated to making a change - and if we happen to look fabulous while doing so, well, so be it.  

Here's the Sweat Pink mission:

We believe that kicking ass is best done in pretty shoes. We’ve learned that real women sweat, and sweat hard. We know that assertiveness, strength, and ambition are the ultimate feminine qualities. We concede that sometimes it takes hours to get ready, but we’re also no strangers to just rolling out of bed and going. We’re convinced that we run faster in pink shoelaces. We believe in pushing ourselves, and we believe in giving ourselves a break, too. We’re all about the rush of endorphins and the thrill of the challenge. We’re all for looking great and feeling even better. We’re committed to finding our best fit, and making it stick.
We sweat pink.

And now, yours truly sweats pink, too.   But don't worry - I won't get any on you.  ;-)