Monday, September 26, 2011

Do MAPS come with this run??

Usually I am reasonably organized.  I hate being late for anything, and I seldom get lost.  But I have discovered in running events that, for some reason, my inner sense of where I'm at and where I need to go, occasionally shorts out.  Often there's someone to follow, but the problem with THAT is others have been known to follow ME, which is highly risky.

This was confirmed once again last Saturday in the Best Dam Run.  I mistook the finish line, placing it about 20 feet sooner than it was, and slackened my pace as I THOUGHT I had crossed it.  When you're trying to shave a few seconds off your time and have been sprinting the last couple of blocks, THAT is never a good thing to do.  Another runner mentioned that her GPS matched up perfectly with the mile markers.  ....... There were mile markers?  I never saw one.  I don't know what on earth I'm looking at, other than the ground in front of me ..... maybe that's my problem.  All I SEE is the ground, or the runner who just passed me, .... or the one I'M passing .... HA!  YES, it's happened a few times!  No lie!

On my first leg of the Hood to Coast this year, I dutifully followed what I THOUGHT were the instructions from a volunteer, whom I'm sure said, "Go straight till we tell you to turn!"  So go straight I did, which promptly sent me off course, adding an extra mile to the 6.38 I was supposed to run.  At the time it felt like something wasn't right because there was no indication of anyone or anything relay-ish ahead of me.  I looked back and saw other runners coming my way, so I figured I was okay.  Unfortunately for those other runners, they were foolishly following ME.  Hence we ALL added a mile to our leg.  If that wrong street hadn't eventually turned back towards the right street, we might be out there still.

Then there was the 10K last spring in Sherwood.  It was a 10K and 5K and we all started together with signs to direct us onto our different courses.  You can already guess what I did and as I crossed the finish line, I yelped, "Where do I go now??!"

"You're done!" chirped a cheerful official person.

"That wasn't a 10K!" ........ Oh C--P!  Somewhere around that point I realized what I had done and jumped back on the 5K course to run it again.  Fortunately a few of the 5K signs hadn't been removed and I found my way back to the finish line for a 2nd crossing.   Husband, who came late to snap pictures along the 10K route, wondered where the heck I was.  Why, out of a large group of runners, was I the ONLY one to mix up the routes??

Typically, my directional problem kicks in at finish lines.  Like the Dam run.  I've been known to run NEXT to finishes, rather than through them.  Or I stop short.  Or like at my marathon, I nearly missed the turn which would have sent me right past it.  Fortunately alert volunteers pointed and hollered, saving me from running off into oblivion.

So if you ever see me plodding down the road with a confused look on my face and a bib number pinned to my shirt, please point the way.  And try NOT to see the schlepping, frizzy hair, and over-sized shoes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New PR!

I'll just come right out and explain AGAIN that PR means Personal Record without shaming any of you for not knowing basic running lingo.  And yes, I have a NEW one!  

In my vast running history of just over three years, I have run eight 10Ks.   (10K = 6.2 miles ... again, no shaming; however, a BIG eye roll if you don't know what a 10K is by now!  ... get with it People!)  Plus I've done countless practice 10Ks with just me and my Garmin.  It has been my goal to break an hour, meaning to run it in less than that.  I got very close in the Newberg Camelia 10K last spring, with a few seconds over an hour.  Typically I hover around 62 to 63 minutes.  

Today I met my goal.  59 minutes and 18 seconds.  (It might have been a few seconds faster if I hadn't miss-placed the finish line thinking it was a street-width sooner than it actually was and had kept my pace up ..... one of those annoying regrets that might keep me awake tonight.)  Even MORE satisfying than THAT was my average pace --  9:33 minutes per mile.  For this grandmother of six, an average pace of 9:33 is dang good.  At least it is for me.  So indulge me in a little bragging please.  

If you are wondering which 10K I ran this morning, it was the Best Dam Run in Estacada, OR.   This run is definitely a keeper, partly because of its COOL name, and also because we were bused from City Hall, up to the starting line which was situated next to a gorgeous, scenic-in-typical-Oregon-fashion, river.  Did you notice I said UP?  Yes!  We then ran back DOWN to City Hall.  (When one is running, down is always a good direction for one to go.)  Added to the gorgeous scenery:  summery weather, that mostly-downhill run (there were a couple of uphills), some fun friends, ... and you have a winner of a morning.   Now, you may be thinking that my pace and time were due to the descent in elevation, but we need not go there.

Here's our merry group at the start.  We didn't bother herding the many other runners and walkers into the picture.  They would have crowded out the background anyway.

Favorite Daughter and I with our Happy-It's-Done grins.  She ALSO got a new killer PR!  (Less than 54 minutes.  She'll have to comment, because I can't remember her exact time.)

       T'was a good day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dedicated to my Big Bro

I've often said what got me started in running was my interest desperation to maintain my weight loss three years ago.  And that is mostly true.  But I had other sources of motivation and one came in the form of one of my siblings.

About six or seven months prior to my discovery of Weight Watchers, (or maybe it was longer ....) we went on a Caribbean cruise with a delightful group of friends and family, including my sister, brother, and their spouses.  As I've mentioned several times here, I was a confirmed walker who disdained running, and during this cruise I'd sometimes be on the upper deck, doing laps.  Once or twice I met my brother Larry up there while he ran.

Larry has been running for years.  He ran in the Hood to Coast several times long before it entered my world.  He has joined in various races and biking events through the years and would casually mention it now and then.  Since I hadn't yet started running and was painfully clueless, I never understood how completely AWESOME this was.  He has always been the model of discipline and moderation.  Some people would go all out and attempt marathons, Ironman events, or other examples of emotionally-driven craziness, often overdoing, then dropping off, stopping and starting, revving up and burning out, while Larry just continued on with his regular routine of healthy exercise and active lifestyle, year in and year out.  I can't begin to express how I have always admired all that he does.  And it goes without saying that ALL my siblings stand solidly on pedestals, IMO.

So back on that cruise ship, I ran a few laps with him.  I wasn't even wearing proper running shoes.  But it was fun and I remember being a little surprised at that.  Those few laps with my brother stuck in my head.  THAT seemingly little thing helped to fuel my interest enough to eventually start running.

Larry also, years prior, inspired my husband to start biking, which was life-changing.   See this post.

When I was about 20 lonely miles into my own emotionally-driven marathon last June, I thought about calling my brother, two states away, on my cell phone.   I wanted to hear him tell me that he was proud of me.  Second in value to my husband's opinion of me and what I was doing, my brother's opinion ranked very high.  I didn't make the call, partially because I probably would have started bawling at that point, but I knew he was proud of me and just knowing that was what I needed as I pushed through those last endless miles.

So my humble thanks goes to my big brother for his inspiration, example, support, and love.  I hope to always be worthy of ALL my terrific sibs, and to make them proud of me, as I am of each of them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

You know you're a runner if .....

.... this strikes you as totally normal.

Back to the basics

I'm not sure why, but it doesn't feel like I can run as well as I did a couple of years ago.  Back then I ran 13.1 miles (my own half marathon) with only one stop to visit a bathroom that a wise and helpful person placed in a park on my route.  No walking at all.  I can't do that today.  Is it that I'm just getting older, or something else?

As you know by my previous post, I walked regularly for many years with my friends.  When I started running, I wasn't willing to give up the walking so I tried to do both.  Many mornings I'd go out early and run 5 miles, then do our hour of walking.  I'd count each walking hour as one running mile and my quota was 24 running miles each week.   It was tough, but I kept it up for months.  When I got my bike, I realized I couldn't do all three so, after 20+ years, I abandoned my walking friends.   I put over 600 miles on my bike that year, which has slacked off since, even though I do still feel the awesomeness of that vehicle every time I climb on.  My quota settled at running 20 miles each week and it remained there for another year or so.   That amount of running adds up to over a 1000 miles each year.  THAT is an accomplishment of which I am proud.  It all went well until The Marathon took over.

Marathon training upset everything.  I adopted the philosophy of Jeff Galloway, published running and marathon trainer, with his walking breaks because that was the only way I could realistically see myself traveling 26.2 miles on foot.  I religiously followed his schedule which interestingly enough, had me running less than before, except on the weeks when a long run was mandated.  Galloway is very generous with his permission to stop and walk for a minute or two, whenever you feel like it.  So of course, I felt like it a LOT.  Plus he stressed the importance of frequent rest days for those of us who are not-young-anymore, and I was happy to oblige.

In an online running forum recently, I was indulging in some self-pity about my negative progress.  One person responded with the thought that I need to go back to what I was doing when I was stronger .......  Hmmm.  Okay.  Well.  That makes sense.

So now, three months post marathon, I've been weaning myself OFF those walking breaks.  It hasn't been easy.  Before Galloway, in my head, walking breaks were forbidden, cloaked with disdain and shame.  During Galloway, they were expected and encouraged.  After Galloway,  I'm pushing them back towards forbidden like a bad habit; but for the sake of reality, I try to keep them tucked somewhere between rare and occasionally.  And it needs to be said -- Galloway enabled me to finish that marathon.  For that, he deserves a lot of credit.

My weekly quota has been reset to running 20 miles (including hills and a weekly date at the local track doing intervals) plus my two weights classes.  Walking breaks still happen, but less frequently.  Rest days (AKA non-running days which can still find me at the weight room or on my bike) have been pushed back to two, maybe three, per week, depending on how many miles I can manage on the running days without collapsing.

With no marathon to stir up my life this year, it feels good to have a plan.  Back to the basics.   Maybe I'll get back to being able to run 13.1 miles non-stop, but since I would have to actually TRY it to find out, I may never know.  And that's okay ... for now.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bragging rights

It was about three years ago this month that I began running in earnest.  Having made a few disinterested attempts, including in my childhood, (I was primarily a tree-climber) it had, thus far, failed to impress.  I was a confirmed walker, which I think I originally inherited from my dad.  Along with hardcore walking friends Barb and Sue, we had it down.  
 I'm just now realizing how odd it is that I don't have a picture of us walking.  This shot was taken right after a bike ride.  Maybe that's because we walked for over 20 years together and took it entirely for granted.  Biking was rare, once with Barb actually, and apparently more deserving of the camera.  I also have a picture of us right after running a 10K (their first!), but to preserve the friendship, we'll leave it at this. 
Then, as described in this post, my life changed unexpectedly when I walked into my first Weight Watchers meeting, hoping to do what all those years of walking didn't.

The dominos began to fall and my weight loss motivated my first real attempts at running which led to a passion for the lifestyle and then to events that I never before saw myself joining.   Many thanks to good friends who helped me build a solid aerobic launching base. 

Three running years later and WELL into my grandmothering/menopausal years, I have accumulated this:
Who would have thought?   (Not ONE award for the walking.)

Note:  I have another 10K coming up in a couple of weeks, "The Best Dam Run", and I hear they're giving out medals!

Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz, MOVE OVER.