Glory Glory

Halle-freaking-lujah.

It was nice today. Nice for Iowa in March anyways. 50 degrees, the snow on the ground almost all melted off. It was just, simply, far too nice to stay inside.

So I called my buddy E., threw the kid in the stroller (stocking said stroller first with books and a snack) and set out for a walk. I know spring is coming because we left after 5:30pm but still had enough daylight to walk for 45 minutes.

It felt so good to get out there again.

I thought briefly about how long it had been since I’d been out for a walk or run outside and my Garmin told me the sad answer: November 17th.

Yikes.

Here’s the deal: I plan to live in Iowa for a good long while. I swore this year I’d stay active all winter and this was the winter to do it, mild for Iowa, and yet I became basically a hermit after the first snowfall. I did hit the gym a little bit but really, really, really I need to get over the whole sedentary winter thing.

But hopefully spring is here so I don’t have to get over it until next year.

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Updates

1. The kid is slowly on the mend. This stomach bug was a son of a bitch. We ended up taking him to the ER on Sunday because he was so lethargic and listless. They gave him some magic medicine and some fluids and it helped for a while. He threw up again this morning and his sharting his diapers but he is at least talking again and laughing at Bugs Bunny. This was officially a tough weekend.

2. The first day of work was today and it went well. I have a lot of names to learn and a lot of stuff to learn but I already have some ideas and I’m excited to learn. I wore gray pants, a black shirt and a purple cardigan and I felt cute enough, so not a bad first day.

3. I went to the gym after work and actually did a teeny tiny bit of running. It has been far far far too long but it felt good.

4. Mr. Monkey and I celebrated Valentine’s Day in our traditional manner: by doing absolutely nothing. I’m just not a getting flowers kind of gal (too expensive) and he doesn’t eat candy so we usually just tell each other we love each other, like every other Monday night, and that is it. I’m totally okay with this.

The next big fitness goal

I’ve decided that I’m going to run a half-marathon this spring. I figure if I can do 17 miles (as I did in the most painful race ever) I can for sure do 13.1.

I haven’t decided which half-marathon I’m going to do yet or which training plan I’m going to use. I need to A) get over this damn cough I have and B) start running again. I’m figuring I’ll use December to get going again and then start a training plan in January which if I did a 16 week plan would put me at doing a half-marathon in late April/early May, which should work weather wise.

I’m excited.

Equalizer Race Report Part 2

My plan for the race was pretty simple: I wanted to do at least 17 miles and I wanted to do a 2:1 walk to run ratio. I chose the 17 mile goal both because it was what the last place person got last year and I wanted to match or beat that (since I figured I’d be last this year. At least I could beat last years last) and because it seemed reasonable given my current level of fitness and training.

The race was on a loop that is just under 2 miles  so my plan was to think about the race in groups of three. I’d do two walking loops and one running loop three times. Each set of three had to be done in under two hours in order to get in 17 miles in the 6 hours I was signed up for. Totally doable, right?

Lap #1  Hey this isn’t so bad (32:04 total time, 16:38 min per mile pace)

I was literally in last place from the moment the race started. The gun went off and all the other runners started you know, actually running, but I set out on a brisk walk. Part of me was tempted to run so I’d look cooler and less like the total novice I was but I reminded myself that I had a plan and just kept walking. After about a mile or so of stiffness (I didn’t warm up before the race because I figured I’d have plenty of time to warm up during the race) I started feeling pretty good. The weather was cool but I was plenty warm in my capri pants, long sleeve t-shirt, vest and gloves.  My goal was to finish in as much under 40 minutes as I could so I felt quite on track to finish the first lap in just over 32 minutes.

Lap #2 The husband and kid arrive (31:30 total time, 16:35 pace)

Mr.Monkey and the kiddo arrived in time to join me on the second lap, which was really nice. We walked briskly, I made a quick bathroom stop, and I continued to be well under my 40 minute per lap goal. I would describe my mood as upbeat and positive. 17 miles seemed like nothing at this point. My legs felt good, I wasn’t breathing hard, everything seemed, well, easier than I expected.

Lap #3 And now we run (26:37 total time, 13:54 minutes per mile)

The third lap was the first planned running lap so I set off at a comfortable jog, Mr.Monkey pushing the jogging stroller along side. Other than some whining from the little monkey (who wanted very much to get out of the stroller and to run himself) this lap went smoothly. I could maintain conversation and I still felt great. I was starting to feel a little bit of a hot spot developing on the ball of my right foot but I figured that would go away when I walked the next lap.

Lap #4 Unrealistic thinking takes hold (32:30 total time 16:50 min per mile)

I took a quick bathroom break and got right back into lap #4, which was another walking lap. Despite the fact that the bottom of both of my feet were starting to feel a bit hot, I was feeling ridiculously positive about things. I was holding a steady pace, wasn’t feeling that tired and was starting to think that I’d be able to do way more than 17 miles. Maybe I could do 18 or even 20? I even thought, for one crazy second, “hmm, maybe I should have signed up for the 12 hour race”. I felt pretty confident that ultra racing was the ticket for me. Clearly I was much better at things requiring stamina than things requiring speed. Lap #4 was also notable because, prior to this race, I’d never done over 6 miles at one time before so I was entering uncharted territory in terms of mileage.

Lap #5 Moving right along (31:41 total time, 16:16 minutes per mile pace)

Lap #5 was my fastest walking leg, aided in part by the fact that I was walking with another racer, a woman named Angela who was signed up for the 24 hour race. Angela is an ultramarathon junkie, a woman who has done well over 100 of these types of races since 2004. Amazing.

Lap #6 Uh oh (29:30 total time, 15:21 min per mile)

If I had to pin point where things started getting rough, it would be lap #6. Lap #6 was the second scheduled run lap and I could tell as soon as I started running that I wasn’t moving as quickly as I did on the first run lap. My hips were starting to hurt and the burning feeling on the bottom of my feet was starting to get more and more insistent. At this point I hadn’t stopped for any rest breaks and was well ahead of my goal pace. After about 3/4th of the lap I started feeling a bit light headed so I slowed to a walk. At this point in the race I had eaten one package of sports beans and had finished a couple of bottles of water and sports drink. I needed fuel but it just doesn’t appeal to me during races. I’ve had this problem during the triathlons I’ve done as well. I need to make an eating schedule during these long races and force myself to take in more calories.

After I finished this lap I sat down for the first time. My friend E had arrived to do a couple of laps with me and I was thrilled to see her, although I was a little concerned that I was not going to be moving as fast as I had been. I rested for about 5 minutes and then got to my feet again and discovered how very quickly the stiffness can set it. Everything from the waist down seemed to hurt, my poor feet especially.

Lap #7 The slowdown begins (36:07 total time, 18:18 min per mile pace)

The only good things about lap #7 were the fact that E and Mr.Monkey and the kiddo were all with me. That and the fact that lap #7 was not lap #8 or #9. I was starting to get whiny on this lap and was starting to realize that my dreams of doing anything over 17 miles was not going to happen. My feet were burning and every step hurt. The kiddo was starting to whine a lit bit in the stroller again, which was totally understandable because this was his fourth or fifth lap and that is a lot of stroller time for a little person but it was starting to bug me. To be fair, a lot of things were starting to bug me.

Lap #8 Wherein I find myself on the ground (45:46 total time, 23:29 min per mile pace)

The support crew (E and my guys) and I started out on lap #8 and I was moving really, really, really slowly at this point. I started getting very worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish the 17 miles. It was kind of shocking how different things seemed at this point compared to just a couple of laps before. I still don’t think I went out too fast or anything on the first 5 or 6 laps. I think I just didn’t have enough training time on my feet and it was biting me in the ass. About half way through this lap I had to stop and lay on the grass beside the trail. Mr. Monkey tried to help me stretch my hips out, which felt okay, but I was kind of embarrassed to be on the ground in pain as the racers who were doing the 24 hour race were trotting on by asking if I was okay. I got back on to my feet and suffered through the rest of the lap.

After the lap I rested on the ground for about 15 minutes, hoping my feet would stop aching,  and then decided just to push through the last lap. I was under no illusions that I’d be able to do anything past lap #9.

Super flattering picture.

 

Lap #9 If I was a horse they’d have shot me (44:13 total time, 22:49 min per mile pace)

For reasons that are no longer clear to me I decided I wanted to do this lap on my own (E offered to do it with me). I put on my iPod and started my painful shuffle. I had over an hour to finish the lap, which I hoped would be enough time. I just so desperately wanted to be done. I had never hurt like this in a race before. I’ve struggled in races before and been tired but I hadn’t had such acute physical pain before. Every step hurt. There were times I felt like I was going to cry. I was tired, I hurt, I felt super emotional. Given how many encouraging comments I got from other runners during this lap I must have looked like the walking dead. At one point Mr. Monkey pulled up near the path in the car and all I wanted in the world was to get in the car and go home (Mr. Monkey says he wouldn’t have let me get in the car, which I believe. That loving supporting bastard).

I also cried with relief when I finally finished this lap. I still had about 25 minutes left on the race clock and the race director gave me the option of doing 1/4 miles laps but I flatly refused. There was no way I was walking anymore. I could barely handle thinking about how I still had to drive home.

The Aftermath

I didn’t stick around for the award ceremony. I was mentally and physically done. I managed to get to the car (after an assist from the kids of another racer who were nice enough to carry my stuff for me) and drove myself home. When I got home I cursed the fact that we live on the second and third floors of our duplex. I had to climb stairs. This seemed to be to be a grave injustice.

Once I managed to get up the stairs I collapsed on the couch. Mr.Monkey had to take my shoes off for me and quickly got me some pain meds and started a bath (he is a keeper). The rest of the day was a festival of pain. My knees hurt, my feet burned, it felt like I was being stabbed in the ass repeatedly. I was very, very whiny.

Sunday was better and today is better still, even though I have a nice blister on the ball of my right foot which is still not fun to walk on. I think I should be back to training by the end of the week.

A few coworkers have asked me if I would do it again and right now I’m not sure. Mr.Monkey had some race envy on Saturday and I think he’d like to do the 12 hour race next year so if he does that I for sure won’t run as I’ll want to be his support crew and I feel like there is no way we could take care of the kiddo if we both raced.

But some other year?

Maybe.

If my feet forgive me.

Total miles: 17.62

Equalizer Race Report Part 1

Okay, this report might get long because, let’s face it, this race was long so let me give you the two sentence synopsis right up front: when this race was good it was great. When it was bad it was horrible. I have never had the wheels come off the wagon so dramatically before and I have never, ever been so sore as I was when this race was over (including after I gave birth to an almost 9 pound baby).

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Pre-race

One of the things that attracted me to this race was the fact that it was held at one of my favorite places to run, a place that is less than two miles from my house. There are definitely some benefits to staying close to home to run, namely that I could sleep until 6:30am and still be plenty on time for the 8:00am start time.

I slept okay the night before and woke up before my alarm went off. In the quiet dark of the house I took a shower and puttered around for a bit getting out snacks and double checking that I had everything I needed. I could have slept later but, as all runners know, I really wanted to have a poop before I left. I usually get such a nervous stomach that there is no reason at all, like really really no reason to worry about the poop thing but I wasn’t feeling that nervous. I took my usual pre-race 1/2 dose of Immodium just to be on the safe side.

At about 7:00am I finally left and headed to the local bagel place to get a bagel sandwich (the very same sandwich I had the morning I got induced with the kiddo. I think this is my official “about to do something taxing” meal)(I should see if they’ll sponser my next race and/or child).

It was still darkish when I got to the park but the sun was beginning to rise. It was cool and crisp and kind of lovely.

 

 

 

 

I definitely had that new kid at school feel when I got there. I think I was one of the few first time runners and I was almost certainly the only person there who hadn’t finished at least a marathon before this race. It was pretty easy to tell who was in which race: the 24 hour racers had tents and coolers, the 12 hour racers had card tables of snacks and chairs and the 6 hour people had one or two bags and a chair or blankets on the ground. It was interesting to look at the wide array of food that people had with them. Everything from the typical Gu and Gatorade to Mountain Dew and candy galore.

 

I think there were about 35 racers all together and soon enough we were all gathered at the starting line, waiting to begin.

Anticipation

Two upcoming things that are occupying mental real estate today:

1. The race tomorrow. The SIX HOUR race tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it but also getting a little nervous. I’m 100% sure that I will come in last among the small group of people doing the six hour race (there are about 30 people signed up all together but most are doing the 24 hour race.  I think there are maybe ten doing the six hour version) and I’m okay with that. Tonight we go have a pre-race dinner with some of the other people signed up and I am very curious to meet/see them. I am also 100% sure I’ll be the biggest person in the race and I am trying to be okay with that and not to feel overly self-conscious of my utterly un-gazelle like self. Tune in on Monday for a full race report!

2. NaNoWriMo starts on Monday and that means that I’ve committed myself to writing 1,666 words per day every day in November. This blog does not count in those 1,666 words so I’ve got a lot of writing to do. I have a story idea brewing so I think starting NaNoWriMo will be easy but I expect I’ll have some difficulty just writing and not editing during the month. Mr. Monkey is also doing it so I’ll be curious to see how it goes for him as well. I hope he lets me read his stuff when he is done. I love his writing.

Muddy Monster Race Report

Race 3 of 12: DONE!

This was a good race, actually one of my favorites in several categories. And now, because I am trapped at home with a small child (daycare closed due to illness, not his) and because Sid the Science Kid only buys me 30 minutes of type type time, a race report in list format:

1. I stayed in a hotel the night before, which kind of felt like an indulgence but I was so glad I did because after the race I was able to go back to the hotel (yay for extended check-out!) and take a completely delicious shower. Delicious and necessary as I was both super sweaty and moderately muddy.

2. Speaking of mud, the course wasn’t really a “muddy monster” but there were some muddy spots and places with standing water thanks to the rain the night before. There was also patches of sand (my least favorite part), gravel and lots of grass. I feel like the cross-country style is easier on my knees and body but definitely not as fast as pavement.

3. Speaking of times, I finished in 43:08 which is about a minute and a half off my PR for 5K. I finished 25th out of 31 in the Athena category which is a result I’m fine with. I’m actually pleased with my time overall because I 100% know that I couldn’t have run any faster. I was DONE at the end of this race.

4. I actually probably owe AndreAnna the credit for being under 45 minutes. I know that I would have run the whole race if I had been running on my own but I don’t think I would have pushed as hard as I did. By the time we got to the last quarter mile everything in my body was screaming to stop but thankfully my desire to not look wimpy in front a friend was more powerful than my deep desire to stop running.

5. The swag bag was, in terms of useful stuff, probably the best one I’ve been given. There was chapstick, granola bars, hair elastics, hand sanitizer, froot roll-ups, Clif bars, detergent for washing workout clothes and a few other goodies. I love getting stuff I’ll actually use.

6. This race had three options for race shirts: no shirt (for $5 off entry fee), long sleeve cotton shirt or long sleeve tec shirt (for an extra $5). I opted out of the shirt so my entry fee was only $15. I have plenty of shirts so I like the opt out option and $15 for this race was totally worth it because…

7. They also had the best post race food spread I’ve seen yet. There were hot dogs, beer, soda, Gatorade, bagels, bananas, apples, cookies, candy (Hot Tamales!) and more. It was great. There was also a craft tent for kids, which I thought was a great idea.

8. This is the first 5K I’ve done with the Garmin on. I liked being able to see how far I had to go but I need to train myself not to look at it as I run up hills. That is just discouraging as all get out. I don’t like feeling like I’m running as hard as I can, that I can practically taste my spleen and to look down and see that I’m running a 15 minute mile pace at that moment.

9. One of the highlights of the race: AndreAnna and I picking out several targets and reeling those runners in slowly but surely. We past everyone that we set out to pass (the course was laid out in essentially a big loop so it was easy to spot potential targets in the distance). I had to remind myself not to be like “Ha! Caught you!” as we passed people because they obviously didn’t realize that we were hunters and they were prey.

10. I would 100% do this race again. It was a beautiful location, a challenging but not ridiculous course and all that good swag.

Racer monkey

I have two races coming up in the next two weeks (look at me being an overachiever this month. The 12 races in 12 months thing is going to happen this time. I can feel it) and I’m starting to feel a little nervous about them.

This weekend I am doing the Muddy Monster in Cedar Rapids. It is a cross-country style 5K, which should be fun. I haven’t actually done a not on pavement race before and I’m hoping that I’ll feel a little less sore after it than I usually do since I won’t be pounding so hard. I have fairly low expectations for this race. I’m confident that I can run the whole thing without stopping (always an effective race technique I suspect) but the weather people are predicting a 70% chance of rain so it could be slippery and cold out there. I will be running with someone who I suspect is faster than me so that should help my time but I’m still not expecting a PR. I’d like to be under 45 minutes though.

Next weekend I am doing the big race of the fall season: a 6 hour run called the Equalizer. The nice thing about this one is that it is in a park about 2 miles from my house so the pre-race stuff will be easy to deal with and it will be a snap for Mr.Monkey and the kiddo to come cheer for me. The hard thing about this one will be the fact that it is 6 freaking hours long. I did two hours on the course (which is basically just a two mile paved loop around a lake) last week and I think my race strategy is going to be walk 2 laps, run 1 lap and repeat and repeat and repeat as many times as I can. I listed my goal on the entry form as completing 17 miles, which is what the last place finisher last year  did but I’m not so secretly hoping that I can do at least 18 miles.

My November race will either be a Turkey Trot 5K in Kansas if we go there for Thanksgiving or a Master’s swim meet. I plan to swim a lot the week after the 6 hour race as I suspect I’ll be too sore for much running.

December will probably be a Jingle Jog 4 miler and January might have to be a non-race month because it is awfully hard to find races in January in Iowa.

Should be a fun fall! (And by fun I mean nerve-wracking and hard and exhilarating and sore making…fun!)

The Weekend

Oh, hello Friday! Please come here so I can kiss you right on the mouth.

It looks to be a beautiful fall weekend and I am looking forward (I guess?) to doing a long run/walk tomorrow and then watching tons of football on Saturday and Sunday. We’ll also be going back to here:

so the child can do more of this:

My darling husband has an appointment to get his eyes checked, which will probably lead to new glasses and my prediction is that he is going to want something that looks like this:

I may get fancy and do some baking, maybe something with pumpkin in it to celebrate the fall.

What are you doing this weekend?

Go. Run. Now.

 

 

 

 

I officially love the following things:

– trail running

– trail running in October

-trail running in October in Iowa

-trail running in October in Iowa around a lake

I did this run for the first time earlier this week and it was, hands down, the best run I’ve had in a long, long time. It was such a good run that earlier today while I was in the midst of dealing with a stressful situation I thought “At least I can go running later”.

Looking forward to a run is a big deal for me. I feel like I’ve turned a bit of a corner here and my attitude about exercise is in a very good place.

Now I just need to make this last all winter long.