Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why try a tri?

I have switched gears (literally and figuratively). No more unilateral focus on running.  It is triathlon season, hooray!

My first triathlon was just last year, but it was love at first swim, bike, run.  I was hooked.  Even a flat tire and my total lack of aquatic ability couldn't ruin the experience for me.  There was something so fun and so thrilling about this crazy three in one race.  If you are even slightly thinking about trying a race or even slightly thinking about trying to get more physically fit, might I suggest trying a triathlon.  Here is my attempt to dispel some fears/excuses and encourage you to go for it!
  • Don't be afraid, it is not as hard as you think!  I know when I heard the word "triathlon" I immediately associated it with an Ironman.  When one third of a race is a marathon, well that's just intimidating.  But not all triathlons have such extreme distances.  A sprint tri usually has a 500-750 meter swim (some open water and some in a pool), a 10-15 mile bike ride, and a 5K (3.1 miles).  There are even mini sprint triathlons with mini distances.
Tri for the Cure 2010
  • You don't have to be elite to compete.  Sure, there are some super elite athletes in every triathlon.  They have sponsors, $10,000 bikes, 2% body fat.  They are going to kick your butt!  But who cares?  There are also going to be people who won't finish, that will barely finish, that will struggle with every leg of the race.  You will see such a wide range of sizes and athletic abilities and I think it is awesome!  I never race to win, which is fortunate because I will never win.  I race because it gets me off the couch, it's fun, it's a way to have an activity away from my mom responsibilities.  You don't have to qualify for most triathlons, you just have to go out and give it your all (whatever your all might be!). 
  • You can't swim.  Guess what, I couldn't swim until a month before my first triathlon (open water triathlon!). I could doggy paddle and float, but swim 1/2 a mile?!  Forget about it!  I took swimming lessons at my local rec center, practiced everyday, read books, looked up videos online, and completed (without drowning) an open water swim in a triathlon.  Was I fast?  No!  Ladies two heats behind me passed me.  Did I care?  No!  I did it and that is what mattered.  I did the breast stroke and didn't even put my head in the water.  I saw ladies backstroke, side stroke, use swim buddies.  Nobody pointed and laughed at me, they encouraged me and told me I could finish! 
  • You don't have a road bike.  I didn't either for my first triathlon.  I would say a large percentage of people didn't have road bikes.  The girl parked next to me had that crazy bike (pictured below).  Now, people in Colorado can be super snobby about bicycles.  It is equivalent to how people in Malibu are about shoes and handbags.  Instead of asking "who are you wearing," people here ask "who are you riding?"  Ok. maybe they don't but it wouldn't surprise me.  Despite Colorado's bike snobbery, nobody was kicked out (or looked down upon) for riding a mountain bike from Walmart.  Does the type of bike really make that much of a difference?  Ummmm, well I am going to be honest and say yes.  Yes, you will be a hundred times faster on a road bike.  If you are at all concerned about time, then a road bike is the only way to go.  If you don't care about time, then it really doesn't matter what type of bike you ride.  And, you can always rent a road bike for the actual race if you want.
    The bike parked next to me.
  • You can't run.  I'm going to let you in on a secret.  You don't actually have to run.  When I did Tri for the Cure a lot of the women were not running the 5K.  They walked it.  They still finished and they still got a medal.  You don't get a DQ for walking.  You can run, run/walk, or walk.  If running is too hard on your joints, then take up speed walking and do that.  Don't let your inability to run keep you from this great sport!
So no more excuses!!!  Here are a few more things I love about triathlons:
  •  Cross training isn't just encouraged, it's necessary. Our bodies are amazing machines.  They adapt so quickly to the physical demands we place on them.  While this is awesome, it also stinks when you are trying to get in shape or lose weight.  We plateau if we aren't constantly changing our routines.  Tri training is great because you are doing just that!
  • Switching it up saves your joints and your mind.  Always running, or swimming, or cycling can get old.  It can also cause a lot of wear and tear on your body.  Tri training helps to banish boredom and over-training.  
  • Just when you are sick of one thing you get to switch to another thing.  I liked doing a half marathon, but after about 6 miles I was kinda bored.  I love triathlons because right when you feel like, "Ok, I am done with this whole swimming thing," you get to move on to cycling, and then running.  It is perfect for the ADD athlete (like me!). 
  The Tri for the Cure is a great first triathlon.  It is all women, well organized, supportive, and for a great cause.  If you are in the Denver area I highly recommend it!  But no matter your location there are sure to be plenty of races to sign up for.  Get out of your comfort zone, take on a new challenge, and start calling yourself a triathlete!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Back in the (bike) saddle again

It might be a bit strange, but in the last two years I have developed a love of exercise.  Yes, I do think a big part of my exercise motivation in the beginning was to lose baby weight (and take a much need break from the babies that helped me put on that weight).  But now it is something that I just enjoy doing.  If I didn't lose another pound (which is seeming to be a possibility) I would still exercise.  It makes me feel good, gives me energy, and clears my head.  I love running and (I can't believe I am saying this) like swimming, but cycling is my favorite.

Although I love cycling I haven't actually done it in a really long time.  It has been almost six months since I put on my oh so attractive bike shorts (really?clothing that increases the size of your butt) and went for a ride.

Pulling the kids last year when they both weighed less!
There have been a combination of things keeping me from riding lately.  First and foremost, when I go for a bike ride I have to make sure there is someone at home to watch the kids.  I've pulled them in a bike trailer before and I guess I could technically still do this.  But their combined weight is over 60 pounds.  Pulling them is hard, especially up the hills that are around my house.  It really just sucks all the fun out of a bike ride.

My half marathon training also got in the way of riding my bike.  You can certainly make riding a bike part of cross training when getting ready for a running event.  In fact, I think cycling in combination with running is great for your knees.  The conflict came about because every time there was nice weather and my husband was home I had to use that time to fit in a long run.  And for some crazy reason I didn't really feel like going on a bike ride after running 10 miles (I don't see an Iron Man in my future).

Nice weather was the other factor.  I have already established that I don't run in the heat.  Well, I also will not cycle when it is cold.  I see the die hards out there riding in the rain and even snow. Riding when it 20 degrees.  But I am a wuss.  As a whole, I like cycling more than running, but I will choose a treadmill (or a cold run) over a freezing ride every time.  We just haven't had a super warm spring and it has been very wet.  Great for the lawn but bad for bike rides.

So I have let my bike sit and collect dust for months on end.  The poor neglected thing.  But the other day I finally was able to take it for its first outing of 2011.

I had forgotten how much I truly love to ride.  After getting over the initial worry that I would crack a rib falling because of my clip ins, I raced out of our neighborhood and hit the bike trail that runs along C470.  Riding my bike is a wonderful, freeing feeling.  I'm a kid again just enjoying a nice afternoon.  The idea that I am starting to train for a triathlon, that I am exercising does not even cross my mind.  I stand up when going up the hills and I think I might even say "wheeeee" as I fly down them.  This is the best exercise for me because it is just fun!  I know when I have a free moment away from any responsibility that I will choose (if the weather is nice) a bike ride every time.

I am so looking forward to this summer and the many rides that I will get to go on.  Yes, it will be exercising, and it will be training, but it will also be a blast!!
My future Triathletes!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Photo Analysis

Like most races, the Colfax Marathon had photographers all over the course.  Since I went to the race by myself I didn't have a picture of me crossing the finish line.  So I was really excited to get the email with my official race photos.  I could not wait to see the pride and victory on my face as I triumphantly strode over the blue time chip readers.  I thought that these would be photos I would treasure for a lifetime. . .that is until I opened the email.  Ugh!!  Is that what I look like when I run????
Ok, here is one picture but only 
because it is small!

I hate that I went to this place.  I should just be proud and happy about what I accomplished, but all I can think is "whoa, look at those saddlebags!"  Yeesh!  Running really emphasized them.  It doesn't help that the outfit I picked to wear was completely unflattering.  I have to say that my main concern was warmth that day so I went with the running tights.  Um, does anyone look good in those?  I know now, without a doubt, that I do not.  So will I still wear them?  Yeah, they were expensive and it isn't like I am out there trying to pick up guys (you know because of the whole husband thing).  I will however rethink wearing them if a photographer is present.

The other thing I noticed from my "glamor shots" was my running form.  I think that every runner should have pictures (in flattering pants) taken of themselves because you can actually learn a lot about how you are running.  I noticed 3 big mistakes right away:
  1. I was pretty sure I wasn't heel striking anymore, but there it was.  Whoops!  Why do I care if I heel strike?  Well, mostly because it slows you down and causes joint pain and damage.  I can tell a huge difference (mostly in my knees) when I am heel striking and when I am landing on my mid or forefoot.  So I have been more conscience of where and how my foot is landing.  It was a really good reminder to do this.
  2. I need to keep my head up!  I was looking down in a lot of those pictures.  I think the real problem here is that I am a colossal klutz.  I have some pretty legendary falls.  Down stairs, inside, outside.  I have fallen in several states and multiple countries.  If you can walk there I have tripped there.  So I have a habit of looking where I am going.  And I really don't want to fall, but again it comes down to good running form.  When my head is in the right place it is just easier to run.  So why is my head always down?!  I really need to work on that!
  3. My arms are not relaxed.  Besides looking totally goofy, it is (again) not good running form.  I actually didn't know I had this problem until I went to the Newton Running Clinic.  I was told to relax my arms and for the life of me I just can't do it.  Maybe I'm just uptight??  I tried desperately on the treadmill this morning to relax them, but couldn't.  I guess it will be a work in progress.
So some good lessons from some awful pictures.  No heel striking, keep my head up, relax my arms, and for the love of God do something about those saddlebags (or wear pants that hide them!).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

GoodOnYa Winner!

The winner of the GoodOnYa bars giveaway (picked by Random.org) is Lori VanCleave!  May these fuel your 5K training (and Zumba) my friend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

If you want to run faster, start running faster!

I am going to start this off by saying that I don't think there is a thing wrong with running "slow."  This idea that you have to be "fast" in order to run keeps a lot of people from trying to run or continuing with it.  You can be all gung ho and then read a blog or running article that will make you feel bad about your pace.  Elitism is everywhere in the running community and it is easy to get down on yourself and your accomplishments.  I say embrace your pace and never feel bad even when a double jogger, a pregnant women, or a 90 year old dude pass you (all have happened to me).

However, if you do want to put a little more pep in your step that is fine too!  In fact, I think it is kinda natural to want to step up your game once you have been at it for awhile.  We see these speed demons on the treadmills or the trails and think, "Hey, I wanna go that fast!"

I had that thought last year when I  meet a girl at the gym.  I would see her frequently on the treadmill and I had a case of mph envy.  At the time I was running 11 minute miles and she was running 10 minute miles.  If only I could get that fast I would think.  I talked with her the other day and she was complaining about wanting to run faster.  We started up our treadmills and there she sat at the same pace she was a year ago.  And you know what, that would be fine if that is where she wanted to stay.  But it wasn't, she wanted to be faster.  She was doing the same thing yet expecting a different result. 

So if you want to get faster, how do you get there?  Can a tortoise become a hare?

Just because you are dedicated and run all the time does not necessarily mean you will  increase your speed.  If you consistently run at the same pace, you will consistently stay there.  To run faster you having to start running faster, even if it is for a shorter amount of time.

Add sprint intervals to your running workouts at least once a week.  Run as fast as you can for a minute, recover for a minute, and repeat.  20 minutes is all you need.  Then the next time you are doing your normal routine try upping the mph by .1 or .2.  Maybe you won't be able to run as far as you normally do, but that is OK if you are working on speed.  Run at this new pace until you can complete your normal miles at that speed.  Once you can, it is time to up it again.  Keep at it for a few months and you will be amazed at how much time you can shave off your runs.  

So am I fast now?  I don't think I'm a hare, but I am faster.  If I stay a tortoise, eh who cares?  He is the one that won the race after all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

They had me at Peanut Butter- The GoodOnYa Review and Giveaway.

I was a biology major in college and then taught science, so I have read many Albert Einstein quotes.  One of my favorites (and it is hard to choose because he said a lot of things that were, well, genius) is: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."  I think the same can be said for taste and nutrition.  Nutrition without taste is lame, taste without nutrition is blind.  A food can be super nutritious, but if it taste like feet it isn't going to nourish anyone.  You'd never find Homer over there saying, "Mmm. . .wheat grass."  Food that tastes wonderful but is void of nutrients is even worse.  Sure the donuts are great but the spare tire isn't.  I have found that in order to successfully become healthier (and/or lose weight) you need to replace great tasting unhealthy food with healthy food that (and this is important!) tastes great.  If you don't enjoy what you eat (and I think that we humans are suppose to enjoy what we eat) then you always go back to great tasting unhealthy options.  So the challenge is to find a food that truly tastes good but is also good for you.

I recently was able to taste an organic nutrition energy bar called GoodOnYa.  There was no doubt that these things were nutritious.  You didn't need a science degree to understand the ingredient list and they were full of fiber, protein, and healthy fat.  I also liked that I would be able to use them as breakfast on the go.  The fact that each bar contained a good amount of fiber and protein appealed to me because as studies have shown, a breakfast high in both will help keep you satisfied (and out of the goldfishies).  All great things, but like I said before, nutritious food is only as good as it tastes.

Soooo, how did they taste??  The Peanut Butter Chocolate was really good.  Can you go wrong with that combo??  Sesame seeds are one of my favorite things and I really liked the addition flavor that they brought to the bar.  There is a lot of texture going on and it is rather dense because they don't fluff it up with puffed rice like some other bars.  My favorite was the Peanut Butter Honey.  Great peanut taste and just the right amount of sweet.  The kids liked the Peanut Butter Honey as well.  The Breakfast Bar, I have to admit, was not my favorite.  I am a raisin hater though, so take that into account.   

Another important question we have to ask of our food is-what's the lasting power of what I am eating?  It might be low calories/low fat, but if we are digging through the diaper bag for snacks an hour later it isn't going to do us much good, right?  So, I tested out the Peanut Butter Honey this morning to see how this little bar would sustain me.  With almost 300 calories, it needs to be a meal bar and not a snack bar for me.  I had some coffee (of course!) and the GoodOnYa bar before doing my two endurance activities of morning: getting the kids dressed/out the door, and swimming.

It had staying power my friends!  After thousands of laps (Ok it was just half an hour, but I suck at swimming so it felt like thousands) I was still going strong and was even able to endure my son's OT appointment without dipping into the kids' stash.  I will call this the little bar that could!

Overall, I am impressed with not only the bar but the whole company.  They are passionate about public health and nutrition and it is refreshing to see a company that cares about people.

So, if you have become intrigued by GoodOnYa you are in luck.  GoodOnYa will send one lucky person all three of their bars to try.  All you have to do is fill out the form below and click submit.  You can always get extra entries for "liking" GoodOnYa on Facebook or following them on Twitter.  Just check the boxes and extra entries will be submitted.  I will take entries until Saturday at midnight and then announce the winner Sunday, May 22nd.

Good luck and happy, healthy, tasty eating to all!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Those aren't tears, my eyes are just sweating.

Ok, ok, I'll admit it, I cried after I crossed the finish line.  The feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed me and I got a bit weepy.  Gag, right?  It wasn't just about the race, or the 12 weeks getting ready for this.  It was about the two years I have been struggling to lose the baby weight.  It was realizing I didn't give up when I so easily could have.  The thought of losing 80 pounds is overwhelming, but I didn't give up.  I could have thrown in the towel and said, "oh well I guess I'm overweight again."  But I didn't.

When I was tired, I went to the gym.  When I wasn't feeling like it, I went to the gym.  When I wanted to go shopping, I went to the gym.  I made up my mind that there would be no excuses.  I wanted to see my kids grow up, I wanted to see my future grandkids grow up, I didn't want to live a life plagued by the complications of being overweight.  It took me longer than I wanted it to but I got there. . .and I won't go back.

Ok, enough of the emotional crap.  The race was great!  This is what the forecast looked like last night when I checked it.  Snow?  Seriously?  For those of you not living in the Rocky Mountain State, snow in mid May is not actually unusual.  The words outdoor event and Colorado should strike fear in your heart because you just don't know what you are going to get here.  Scorching heat, rain, snow, blizzards, tornadoes, locust.  I mean, you can just get it all.  So I set out new stuff, brought layers, then packed some more layers, and obsessively checked weather.com until it was time to go to bed.

I woke up at 3:30 because I was way paranoid about finding parking (and I am glad I got there early).  I made my breakfast and coffee, grabbed my stuff, and made the trek out to City Park.  At this point it was still raining but it had slowed to a steady drizzle.  It still enough to drench you if you were out in it for long.  By some miracle the drizzle stopped about 15 minutes before race time and didn't start again until I was back in the car.  It made the run nice and cool and actually very pleasant.

Here are some of my thoughts from the race:
  • Having a race on East Colfax is kinda odd.  Um, it is a little bit sketchy.  Instead of the "the best urban tour" I think they might want to try these tag lines:  "Running East Colfax; it's better than "walking" East Colfax."  "The Colfax Marathon: Where you get cheered on and high fived by Firemen and a homeless guy (seriously)."  "The Colfax Marathon-where you need to pack Gatorade, energy gels, and heat."  Coming back on 17th Ave. was actually really nice and overall it was a good race.  But East Colfax isn't a pretty place to run.
  • 'Tis better to be cold at the beginning of the race than overheat during it.  I mentioned the layers and had most of them on.  But I befriend a lady (Heidi from TX) parked next to me and she told me to ditch them.  I am very glad I did because I really would have gotten too hot.
  • You never know who you might see.  There were over 7000 runners and I just so happened to end up right next to someone I taught with.  It was great to chat before the race and keep my mind off my nerves.
  • I run with a hydration belt and debated using it or not.  After all, there are water stations.  I decided that I really like to be in control of when I drank, what I drank, and how I drank it.  I hate stopping when I run, so standing in line and trying to drink out of a paper cup doesn't suit me.  Plus, I didn't have to waste cups or litter!  I would definitely run with it again.
  • Whatever time you think you are going to run, subtract some off of it when you fill out your estimated finish time.  You will probably get faster when training and then you will be stuck in a wave that is running slower than you.  This happened to me and the first mile was really slow and frustrating because I was trying to pass a lot of people.  I would bet it was my slowest mile.
  • If you stick to your training plan, you will be prepared and able to finish.  I am so glad I didn't wing it.  I so easily could have over or under trained.  
Indy wearing my medal (Mason put it on her)
 My overall experience was fabulous!  I ran it in 2:06:16.  It took me longer than I wanted it to but I got there. . .and I will go back.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

¡Falta algo! Something's missing!

I think every little boy goes through a Thomas the Tank Engine phase and every little girl goes through a Dora the Explorer phase. While Mason outgrew Thomas some time ago, Emerson is still a big fan of Dora, Boots, and the whole gang.  She owns one particular DVD where they try to help El Encantador (the Wizard, for those of you not currently learning Spanish from Nickelodeon) get his wand back.  He keeps saying (in a voice that sounds a lot like Ricardo Montalban),  "¡Falta algo! Something's missing!" 

Well, I have some falta algo going on this week for sure!  The "magic wand" I am missing is running.  The past 12 weeks I have run and run and run trying to get ready for this Sunday's race.  I have even occasionally complained about how much running I've had to do.  I have given my poor neglected bicycle longing looks and, when my running shoes weren't looking, I promised it I would return soon.  So, it has caught me off guard how much I am missing my runs.  I thought I would relish the break but really I just want to lace up.  I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder.

The antsy side of me wants to sneak in one more run before tomorrow, but I am heeding the advice of those more wise and experienced.  I am resting my legs so I can hopefully have a successful, fast (for me), and fun(?) first ever half marathon.  And as much as I am missing running right now I know by mile 10 I will be sick of it again!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tales from the Stay (anywhere but) Home Mom

When people ask me what I "do," I answer that I am a stay at home mom.  While I am in the line of full time mom-ery, I really don't fit the term "stay at home mom"  Mostly it doesn't fit me because we are rarely staying at home.  I will find any excuse to not actually stay at home with the kids and I have three reasons behind this.  1) I am not a homebody.  I like to get out, do things, explore, and experience.   2) My children are not homebodies either.  Is it nature or nurture?  Who knows, but the little darlings drive me up a wall if we are stuck inside all day.  Not good in a place known for blizzards!  3) If I stay at home then I might have to do something domestic (gasp!) like laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning! Oh the horror!  Let's just say I'm no Suzie Homemaker!

What I lack in domestic prowess I make up for in yearly passes.  We have passes to everything.  So, today we took advantage of our membership to the Museum of Nature and Science.  Here is the amazing view of downtown from the observation window.  See why I like getting out?  (Sidenote:  This is where my race will start and end from on Sunday).

What a truly great day with the kiddos.  It was one of those magic days that I love my job and working for my two pint sized employers.  Not everyday is this good.  There are days when tantrums rule, juice is spilled, toys are fought over, and naps are missed.  So when one of these magic days come along I just need to sit back and thank God and my husband that I am able to "stay at home." 

5 ways to a 5K

fitness appsA couple of my MOPS friends asked for tips on running a 5K.  Since MOPS ended on Thursday for the year (boo!) and I didn't get a chance to talk to them, I thought I would write this post.  Sarah, Joslyn, and Lori this is for you (and anyone else thinking about taking the plunge)!  
    1. Find a race and sign up for it!  If you pay your money and let everyone know you are doing it, you will be more likely to stick to your training.  Don't wait until you are ready to sign up, sign up and then get ready.  Find a race that is a 6-12 weeks out.  Luckily in Colorado (especially in the summer) there are always things going on.  Check out active.com or google 5K's.  
    2.  Get a training plan in place and then STICK TO IT!  Yes, we are moms and stuff comes up that will throw us off track.  But make this a priority (which is hard to do when you are a busy mom).  I don't think it is selfish to improve your health and accomplish goals.  When your kids are grown they will be so grateful that you made your health a priority.  Also, I am a better mom and wife when I get in my workouts (there is a lot less Dragon Lady going on)!  I post my training plan on the fridge and fill it out everyday.  Having a plan is is like having a map- it will lead you where you want to go.
      • Most training plans are pretty much the same.  This one at coolrunning.com is a good start.  You only have to run three days a week and you start off slow.  It also combines walking and running which is a great way to start building mileage. 
    3. If you have a significant other you need to discuss this commitment, especially if you have little ones.  You need to have a plan for what to do with the kids when you go out to do your runs.  Will you use a gym with a daycare?  Will you get a babysitter?  Will the husband watch the kids?  Will you use a jogging stroller (Blah!  I just flat out refuse!!)  Make sure you have the support of your mate to help you stick to your training.   
    4. I suggest working on accomplishing the distance before you try to improve your speed.  First you make sure you can run 3 miles straight through, then you work on improving your time.  If you are using a treadmill you just look at the screen to find out how far you've run.  If you are running outside go to a track or map your route on mapmyrun.com.  I would not worry too much about being "fast" if it is your first race.   Fast is a relative term anyway!
    5. You don't need a lot of gear. . .but some of it makes running better.  
      • Although it may not be classified as "gear," ChiRunning is a great book that explains a more natural way to run.  It made me a faster and more pain free runner.  Highly recommend!!!  You can even check out a copy of it at the library (that is what I did!).
        • Good shoes!  I love Newtons myself, but pick a shoe that works for you and the style of running you do.
          • Fast music.  A good beat can always get you through a tough run.
            • If you start running longer distances or you just like to have water near by I would suggest a hydration system like an amphipod.  They have handhelds and belts.  I think a handheld is great for this distance.  Lots of people say you don't need water for short runs, but I still like to have it!   
          Those would be my top five tips for beginning a 5K training program!  Don't forget to also get support, motivation, and inspiration from experienced runners along the way.  I love to read other runner's blogs.  They inspire me and keep me going!  And of course I am going to recommend my blog about my training!  =)  Remember I am here for you every step of the way and I am more than happy to go for runs together!  Happy running my friends and I hope you find as much enjoyment in it as I have!!

            Monday, May 9, 2011

            I spy the finish line


             So I got my do over and today was my last long run!  It was 9.3 miles, with hills, and I averaged 9 minute miles (well 9:02 minutes miles if we are going to get persnickety).  It was a lot shorter than I wanted to run but I am figuring the hills made up for the lack of miles, right?  Well, maybe not but I had time constraints because, you know, the husband had to get to work and Mason had to get to preschool!  Ah, the life of a running mom!

            I am so close to the end I can taste it!  Since I started my "official" training on Feb. 21st I have run 198 miles.  I've had good runs, bad run, and emergency stops.  I braved rain, snow, wind, heat, treadmills, sick kids, sick me, exhaustion, and exhilaration!  It has been a long journey and I can say without a doubt that I am a better runner for it.  I have gotten so much out of it that I almost don't need to show up for the race. . .almost.  I want that finisher medal!!

            So was today a better run than yesterday?  All I can say is- what a difference 30 degrees makes!  I headed out at 6:40am and it was an awesome 60 degrees.  Perfect running weather!

            The first loop felt great and effortless.  The hills on the second loop were a little tougher (and slower) but still good.  During the final lap around the neighborhood I was beginning to feel a little fatigued but I felt like I could still go if I needed to.  I would feel better about Sunday if I had done 12 miles, but I didn't, so it will just have to do.

            The tapering begins now and this weeks workouts will be light and include a lot of swimming.  Time to build up those glycogen stores and make sure I have fresh legs for race day.  Now the most important question. . .is it too early to start carb loading??  =)

            Sunday, May 8, 2011

            Can I get a do over??

            I will admit it.  I am a weather weenie.  But in my defense, it isn't really my fault.  I am going to blame my parents for this one.  They raised me in a town that has been reported to have the second most moderate climate in the world.  If you move from Camarillo you better be moving to that place that has the most moderate climate in the world. 

            Growing up, 60 was cold and 80 was hot.  It was a wonderful way to live, no I didn't miss the change in seasons, and no I never missed snow.  I could see it on the mountains (if the smog wasn't bad that day).  People in Colorado seem to think I have lived some deprived life because I had awesome weather all the time.  So as great as it was, it did make me a bit of a temperature snob.  My body just can't deal with cold. . .or hot.  Which brings me to today's run.

            Today was suppose to be my last long run before the half marathon next Sunday.  I was hoping to do 12 miles, and if I did 12 I would feel good about next weekend.  The forecast was an 80+ degree day so the smart thing would be an early morning run.  I am a morning person (yes one of those) so a morning run suits me just fine.  I did not do a morning run.  Instead I went for a run during the hottest part of the day so the family could go to church.  But that is the thing about running and training.  Yes, it is important but somethings are just more important.

            When I pulled up to the greenway it was 89 degrees (thankfully Colorado doesn't actually have any humidity, like any).  All I could think was, "I am going to puke if I run."  No puke, but just a terrible run.  At Hudson Gardens (3.5 miles) I stopped running and conceited defeat.  When you start fantasizing about jumping in the Platte River and swimming back to the car, you know you are done.  There was no way this wimp was going to make it.  I ran/ walked the rest of the way and the only reason I ran more was so I could get back to the car faster!  Disappointed?  Yes.  Glad I stopped running?  Yes, because there was a good chance I was gonna pass out.  If you are thinking I am a total wuss, you are right!  Hey, I'll admit it.

            So tomorrow morning is do over day.  I am going to give it a go again. . .just in the cool morning hours this time.

            Friday, May 6, 2011

            Uphill both ways

            I am hobbling this morning.  Really, honestly hobbling.  I need a walker and some Bengay!

            Yesterday's run kicked my boo-tay!  It wasn't the miles that killed me it was the change in elevation.  Massive hills!  I haven't run hills in awhile so it felt like I was sprinting up 14ers.  In actuality it was just a hilly run that I slowly ran (I think I might have even been wogging up the hills).

            The route was from my front door to Walmart, quickly popping in for a flash drive, and then back to my front door.  Just shy of 9 miles so a pretty decent distance, but not the furthest I have ever run.  The difference was the hills.  My other long runs have been on nice flat dirt paths (two things that are good for the ol' knees).  I love flat, I enjoy flat, and flat loves me!  I just don't enjoy running hills because as hard as the uphills are on me, I think the downhills are even worse!  Oh my knees, my poor rattled knees!

            So if I hate hills, why do them??  Well, yesterday I had two reasons.  The first was just logistical.  I was trying to fit two things into my busy schedule.  I needed to go to Walmart and I needed to run.  So why not combine the two?  The other reason?  Hills are great for improving your running.  If you want to improve in time or distance there are three great things to do.  Run consistently, run intervals, and run hills.  I have been pretty good on the first two and super lazy with the hills.  Why?  They are just not fun for me.  Seeing my time improve is fun though and yesterday was a good reminder to me that I need to include hill work into my training routine.

            Sunday is my last long run (12 miles) before race day, but I think I will pick a route that is flat both ways instead of uphill both ways!  I'll do my hills. . .just on shorter runs.

            Tuesday, May 3, 2011

            Fast Five

            Movie Review??  Please, I have two little kids!  I don't get to go to the movies!  The Fast Five I'm talking about was my morning run at the gym.  Although I didn't break any box office records, I did break my 5 mile record (do PRs on treadmills count??).  5 miles in 43 minutes and 10 seconds (8:37 miles).  I am practically a cheetah.  =) I know this is not incredibly fast for "real runners" but for this slow poke it is lightening speed.  And the only person I ever race against is myself (my odds of winning are much better that way!).

            What do I have to thank for this increase in speed?  My half marathon training!  I know lately I have been complaining about it.  Statements like, "why am I doing this" "I wanna die" "I hate running now" "I can't wait for triathlon training to start" "wah wah wah" have been know to slip out of my mouth.  I'll be the first to admit that I have been a bit of a Negative Nelly.  I really wanted to love this but I am not sure that I do.  But I will tell you what I do love.  I love that this training has improved my running by leaps and bounds.  Before I started half marathon training I was running 10 minute miles (if I was lucky) and feeling pretty good about it.  I don't know if it was the dreaded sprint intervals ( see my former post on Sprint Intervals), the long runs, the hill work, or the fact that I am just constantly running, but I have shaved 7 minutes off my five mile runs!

            I know that in the grand scheme of life running faster is not that important.  But I am a stay at home mom and having these goals and challenging myself helps me keep my sanity, and keeping my sanity is important in the grand scheme of things.  So is improving my overall health and finally (almost) losing the 80 pounds I packed on during my pregnancies.

            I might not have enjoyed all the hard work but I do enjoy the results.  Watch out 8 minute miles. . .I'm coming for you!

            Sunday, May 1, 2011

            What a difference a day (off) makes

            My last post was about my horrible run on Friday.  I was not too incredibly bummed out about it.  I needed a day off and a bad run was the evidence of that.  But even though I was ok with it, I was thinking about it.  Was I wearing down?  Would I actually be able to run 13.1 straight miles? What if May 15th was one of those bad run days?  Ugh!!  So I didn't run on Saturday, I just swam (which is like a day off because I am so horrible at swimming it is barely a workout).

            My legs were feeling fresh this morning but I really wasn't planning on a long run since my last long run was Wednesday.  I thought I could do it one afternoon this week.  But when we got home from church Kev said, "Hey why don't you go run.  It isn't snowing."  Well OK then!  Don't put off tomorrow what you can get done today, right??  Did I feel like running 10+ miles?  Nope, nope I did not!  But with two little kids and a finicky weather report you just go do it when you can and not when you feel like it.

            So off I went (this time with my ipod) to the Mary Carter Greenway.  I'm sure some people would get bored running the same path all the time but I am a creature of habit so I like trudging along the route I know.  The run was uneventful and went a lot faster than on Wednesday (hmm I think the ipod had something to do with that!).  I was surprised to look down at my watch at the 10 mile mark and realize that I was averaging around 9 minute miles!  That is fast for me.  It was at this point I thought, "Hmm I wonder if I could do a whole marathon?"  Oh but that last mile was half run/ half hobble, which made me realize a marathon was not in the immediate future (or ever!).

            Second to last long run was crossed off the list.  One more long run and then 13.1 on May 15th!  I am saying that my goal is to finish.  I will be happy if I do it in under 2:10 and thrilled if I somehow manage to get in under 2:00.  Not elite by any stretch of the imagination and I want to emphasize that!  If you are thinking about a race, any race, just do it!  You don't have to be fast, you just have to be willing to give it a go!!