Monday, November 22, 2010

Trail Fail!

I had a doctor appointment today (for a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad ringing in my ears) so I couldn't make the run with Daisy and our third (I have to think of a name for her).  I had decided before the appointment to take my clothes with me and go for a solo trail run in order to start preparing for my next BIG race.....drum roll please.....

"Extremely Difficult"
This year the McKay Hollow Madness Trail Run is going to be a 25K (increased a bit from years past).  There's a McKay Hollow trail, and this race includes that section, among many others, so I decided I would explore it a bit.  I had planned to go out two miles and then come back.

I knew it wasn't going to be the nice, mostly flat, plateau loops I've been used to, but I was woefully unprepared for what I found.  It's not a running's barely a hiking trail!!  The pictures won't do justice to what I saw in the .12 miles I ventured out on my own before deciding I needed a hand to hold in order to check it out further!!

Have I lost my mind?  Am I really going to do this race??  What on Earth am I thinking?

Well...maybe I have lost my mind.  I am really going to do this race.  And...I'm not really sure, except that it's "only" 15.5 miles....just 2.4 miles further than I've already gone.  I love the trails.  There's a 5 hour cut off, but that seems very doable, especially since there are several runnable portions (according to the detailed coarse description).  I think I can do it....just not today!

After my trail fail, I ran a couple of miles on the cushy plateau.  I'm not sure how exactly I'll train for the race since I know Daisy and our third will NEVER go out there with me (and I can't say that I blame them at all!).  I'm going to have to drag my husband out there on a hike so I can get a better look at the course.  (No, we won't go all 15 miles of it, but if I can at least see parts of it I'll be "happy".)

It's worse than it looks.
....BTW, this isn't my next race, I have four before then:  The Turkey Trot (hopefully) on Thanksgiving (in Blufton, SC), the Rudolf Run (5K) on December 18th, the Rock 'n Roll Mardi Gras Half on February 13th (NEW ORLEANS HERE I COME!!) and the Rocket Run 10 miler on March 19th.  McKay Hollow is March 26th.  Yes, in case you missed it...I'm NOT running Rocket City on December 11th.  I don't think I actually ever posted it here, but I decided some time ago that it was too lofty a goal and I let go of it.  I don't know if that will be my first marathon or not.  Ask me after March 26th!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Jingle All the Way

I have been one of the coaches for a training group that has been working toward a stronger, faster 5K called NOBO2.  The goal race for the program, Jingle Bell Run, was held yesterday.

Let me just say this...I was a coach, but my group really kicked my fanny!  I think I was pushed harder by coaching them than I would have been had I been a program participant. 

Some of the people in my group had other races planned for their goal and some were injured.  There were only a couple (from my group) who raced yesterday.  Turtle (who was in my group) had gotten so fast I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pace her (she ran a sub-30 training run last week and was going for a faster time yesterday).  So, I decided to pace two women who were going for 32 minutes (or so)--a 10:30 pace.  We were joined by MV8r (who wrote the training program for Fleet Feet).

The weather was unseasonably warm yesterday.  The high was something like 70!  Strange to have a Christmas type race wearing a sleeveless top!  It was a very festive race!  They included jingle bells in the race packet to wear on your shoes!  How cool is that?  There were even several people dressed up in Christmas type outfits.

The training group met a little early to warm up.  We ran a little bit and then did our usual warm up calisthenics (joint warm ups, high knees, butt kickers, high skips, striders...).  Those things wear me out!  But, I believe in the idea of warming up really good before a run/race, and the super fast coach who lead us in these drills every week kept saying to trust him.  Funny...a member of the Fleet Feet racing team came by and said, "you guys are going to be worn out before the race even starts!" 

As usual, I was very nervous.  I just wasn't sure I could keep up a 10:30 pace for the full 3.1 miles.  Not only was I panting from the warm ups, I didn't do so well in the last race (Running of the Bulls) at holding my pace.  We've done a couple of tempo runs with a pace between 10:30 and 10:15, but they were only for 20 minutes with a 5 minute walk break followed by a second 20 minute run. 

I kept hearing Daisy in my head telling me how sure she is that I am fully capable of running a sub-30 5K.  Unfortunately I also kept hearing my own voice telling her I really don't believe I can.  But, there weren't any slower runners for me to pace this 10:30 it would have to be-like it or not.

Before I knew it the gun was fired and we were off.

My Garmin has been acting up lately, not giving an accurate pace, so I called it a liar when I saw 9:34.  I was sure that was wrong,  because it felt like I was running at about 10:45 or so.  But when MV8r and the two gals we were running with started telling me we were going too fast, I suddenly appreciated the warm up drills for all their worth!!  I slowed down.  I kept waiting for my body to begin the revolt, but when we made it to mile one at 10:17 and I felt completely (COMPLETELY) fine, I knew it was going to be alright.

I was holding the pace between 10-10:30 when, some where between mile one and two, we passed by a guy I recognized from NOBO who had stopped running.  Knowing the girls were in good hands with MV8r, I stopped to see what was going on with him.  He was having an issue with his knee that I quickly realized I couldn't help with.  I had to make a decision...either leave him behind and try to catch back up to my girls, or use him as an excuse to slow down.

I bid him adieu and set out to make up some ground.  I passed by several people I knew, the whole time thinking they would be passing me soon when I couldn't breathe and was forced to walk, but I decided I had to try, knowing there was less than a mile and a half to go to the finish.  I knew from my experience at the Huntsville Half that I could make a fairly aggressive sprint mid-run without it costing too much ((no you didn't miss the recap, I haven't written one)).  I picked up the pace (according to my Garmin I was running between 7:30-9 for about a half mile!!).  Before I knew it I had caught up with the girls!! 

After going that fast (and feeling incredibly good despite some almost incoherent grumblings from my legs and ankles) I was just a little reluctant to slow back down, but I had to pace someone.  (I had my race fee paid in exchange for being a pacer for someone in the group.)  About that time I saw a girl up ahead from our group who didn't have a pacer with her.  She was wearing the long sleeve training group shirt and was DIEING from the heat.  She told me her goal was anything under 34.  Looking at the time and where we were I told her she was going to have to pick up her pace just a little, but I KNEW she could (and WOULD) do it.

I reminded her to think about her form, and told her we were about to come to a slight down hill section (hoping to keep her mind off the slight up hill we were on).  (I knew I was doing good when I could talk without gasping for air!**)

**Make no mistake, I'm NOT bragging here....I'm actually just extremely shocked that I was doing as well as I was.  I mean it was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn't dead.  I honestly think having someone to pour myself into helping, helped me not think about myself and gave me purpose and a reason to push harder.

As we got closer to the finish I told her she was going to have to speed up just a little more.   She told me she might throw up (my thoughts exactly at that point)...I told her that was fine, she could do that, but she was GOING to make her goal one way or another!!  She had been carrying a water bottle which I knew could be hard to sprint with so I took it from her.  I told her as we neared the finish line that she needed to kick it up into high gear and RUN for all she had.  I told her I was her person to beat and I took off.  I have no idea who all I passed at the end but the last 25 or so feet I forgot about everything else and just let myself fly, in time to turn around and see the girl I was pacing fly over the mat in 33:16!!

I have to say, that was my best race yet.  I felt exceptional the whole time.  I don't know for sure if I could have actually cut 3:16 off the total time...but given the fact I stopped for what felt like a while to help the hurt guy, and the fact that I held myself back quite a bit almost the whole time, I honestly think I could have done it.  Daisy has told me several times she has no doubt I can do it, but I know she's not in my body, and I do have doubts enough for the both of us!!

Turtle had a disappointing day, finishing in about 31.  (Remember, last week she ran the same course in under 30.)  The girls MV8r was pacing had a slower run this week compared with last week as well.

There was some discussion regarding why they all seemed to have slower times.  The group's decision was that the warm up drills took something out of them...but I'm going to have to go with the heat instead, because I think the warm ups helped me get that first nasty mile out of the way.  Now, for someone who is only used to running 3-3.5, maybe the warm ups did hinder rather than help, but I know I'll do them from now on before a (shorter-distance) race.

December 18th.  Rudolf Run.  I'm going to continue to train hard so I can have that sub-30 5K.  (But my real goal is to beat Daisy in the race!!!....I can't say I believe that's even possible, but I'm going to hold on to hope anyway!)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Running for Donuts??

Notice the reflective details; I guess they work!
I ran an interesting race yesterday...called the Krispy Kreme Challenge. In order to "complete" the challenge you must run two miles, eat a DOZEN donuts, then run two miles back, in under an hour.

Yes, I said eat a DOZEN donuts!

No, I did not complete the challenge. Honestly, if I weren't allergic to several things in donuts (including the 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat), I might actually try to do it. Hey, what can I say-it's a "challenge" that sounds doable. But, allergies have saved me from myself this time!

So, you might be asking why on Earth I would enter this race if I knew on the front end I wouldn't be a "completer". My neighbor wanted to register her kids, but she was going to be out of town. So I said I would run with them. Other than the fact we walked pretty much all of the two miles to the finish, it was a pretty good little race. (Turns out running on a stomach containing ONE donut, carrying a box of 11 uneaten ones, is hard for a 10 year old! (Yes, if you don't eat them, you can carry the box back with you...but you don't get a finisher's medal.)

There were a few guys (like two or three) who had combined this race with another one called the Dizzy Fifties. They went out and ran about 6 miles on the trails, then drove over to the KK Challenge, COMPLETED IT, then drove back over to the trails to finish the first race. Their main rule-you have to, uh... keep the donuts in your stomach the whole time! I think they call it the "Dizzy Donut".

Yeah...I WOULD do it, but see, I have allergies. So, even if--no, WHEN....even WHEN I get to the point in my training where I can run 50 miles, I won't be able to complete the Dizzy Donut.

Ah, shucks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This morning I was getting caught up on some blogs and came across this post from a local runner See Jane Run.  It's almost exactly what's been weighing heavy on my mind lately!  Not the path she took with it (the FaceBook friends path), but the whole idea of race cutoff times being extended so as to include more people.

I spend a good 15 minutes writing a comment and realized it was so long I needed to just cut and paste the monologue into my own post here....and then promptly lost what I had written!!!!

Darn it.

I'm going to take that to mean I might need to take some more time to consider what I have to say on the topic before spouting off my gut reactions to it.

Jane, thanks for making me think...for challenging me...for ENCOURAGING me today.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon.  (Maybe I'll have shaped my thoughts into a post by the time you come back!!)


Monday, November 15, 2010

Fear of ....Success??

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  - Marianne Williamson
I had this quote on my refrigerator for YEARS when my kids were younger.  I'm sure they probably never even really read it.  I'm not sure why (or even when) I took it down.  But, I do know I've never fully embraced the whole idea of being afraid I am "powerful beyond measure".  I think I would say I'm more afraid of failing miserably.

However, like so many other things in life, I'm finding out the counter-intuitive statement is usually the right one.  The last shall be first and the first shall be last.  Whosoever wishes to gain his life must lose it.  Lift your knees a bit and drive your elbows back a little to help you run stronger--even when you are feeling so tired you want to shuffle your feet.  Run faster if you are hurting.  So, maybe, just maybe, the idea of being afraid of being fast is what keeps me "slow"...or at least keeps me from giving it my all and therefore realizing my "full" potential.

No...I'm not going to be the overall winner in any races.  But, could I be faster than what I've been telling myself I am??  YES.  I'm continually shocked at my Garmin data.  I am increasingly amazed when my pace is right around the 10:15-10:20 mark and I'm talking.  Or, when I start a run thinking I won't be able to finish and I not only complete it, I feel GREAT the whole time.

Two very dear friends challenged me today to embrace the racer that lives inside of me!  One of them lovingly pretty much called me out for sandbagging.  No, she didn't use that word, but that's what I heard (albeit lovingly said).  And...I think she's right.  I think back to all the times I've said the same thing to other people...and I can see myself doing all the same things I saw them doing (talking the whole time saying a run was SO HARD, saying they weren't going to be able to go a certain pace, only to do it "easily"....and, my personal favorite, going slower in races than in training runs).

It's not success I'm afraid of (I don't think)'s of trying as hard as I can and failing miserably.  But, the truth is as long as I'm not trying my hardest, I'm failing before I even start.  I'm obviously NOT very afraid of failing since I run into it with arms wide open as if to embrace a long lost love.  Failure is my trusted companion, my comfort zone.  Success on the other hand feels as foreign as I imagine it would feel to walk on stilts or ride a unicycle.  (I did have a taste of success at the Xterra 5K I ran recently where I WON MY AGE DIVISION!!  I quickly spit it out like hot pizza, not even allowing the taste to register on my buds.....but my tongue is still burned just a tiny little bit!!)

The gauntlet has been thrown down by my running buds...and I've taken it up!  Rudolf Run.  December 18th.  8:00 a.m..  The race is on.  I will be RACING (not pacing) that day.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Better Biking

After a FANTASTIC (almost) four mile run with Daisy this morning, I went out and biked TEN miles!!  It was the best biking yet! 

The biggest reason it was so good?  Gearing!  Yes, learning how to properly use the gears of the bike significantly improved my time on the bike.   I think it's like anything else, learning the proper way to do things increases our enjoyment of the activity.  (At least for me it does.)

I don't think anyone here really cares about gear ratios or WHY bike gears are set up the way they are...but maybe you'll like knowing the "proper" way to arrange your chain?  If not, it won't hurt my feelings if you stop reading!

Basically, in a nutshell, if you want POWER and speed, like on a straight-away or going down a hill, you'll want to have the chain on the largest sprocket thingy (yes, there's a name for it, but I don't know what that is and I'm too lazy to look it up) in the front, and the smallest in the back.  If you are going up a hill, you'll move the chain to a smaller sprocket thingy in the front and bigger in the back.'s the thing, going up a hill you'll be spinning like crazy and won't be going far for your rotations, but it will be incredibly easy to peddle!  However, when you're on the flat path, you'll be getting major bang for your buck because with every rotation of your feet, the wheels will be turning quite a bit.  (Does that make sense?) was a  super fantastic ride.  I wish I lived somewhere that was more biker friendly because I would really like to feel safer riding on the road.  There are people who do it, but I'm not one of them yet.  I'll stick to the greenways and mostly untraveled back roads for a while (at least until it drives me crazy!).

After I get the next two big races out of the way (Huntsville Half on Saturday, and then the NEW ORLEANS ROCK AND ROLL HALF (!!!!!!) on February 13th) I'm going to find a "heel and crank" to sign up for.  I'll have to work on not drowning some more before I sign up for the sprint tri.  I've already pretty much decided to sign up for the group that trains for that event (Tri 101)....but, like I said, I really have to work on my swimming.  I guess it's really a matter of learning how to do it better, right?

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Monday, November 8, 2010

What Racing Does for--TO--Me...

I really do love racing. I don't know why, it's not like I will ever WIN (other than possibly my age group--like I DID at the Exterra 5K!!!) But, even though I love them...knowing I have a race coming up does something to me...well...some things (plural).

First of all...I check the weather incessantly. I know you know what I mean (if you've ever raced before). I check the average temperatures when I sign up, I check 10 days out, I check daily up until the day before, then I check about every hour until the race starts. It's just non-stop worry about everything weather related. Will it rain? Will it be windy? Will the sun be out? What will the relative humidity be? (And, I don't even know what that means!) With the temps getting cooler I find myself obsessing over what to wear, even on a normal day, but it's even worse for a feels like there's so much at stake. (As if I had money on the line!)

Also, I pay VERY close attention to my body. At every little twinge, ache, and (say-it-isn't-so) PAIN, I stop and think about what I've done, what I need to do, and how this could effect my performance in the race. For instance, I have a niggling little ache-lette in my ankle and in my upper calf right now that I'm babying as if I had a stress fracture. I didn't go run trails with Daisy this morning because I thought I might need to west my wittle weggy. I also try to make sure I get enough sleep...AND I watch everything I eat-making sure I eat enough, but not too much...nothing that I'm not supposed to have...good quality foods with a healthy mix of carbs, fats and proteins....and certainly enough water.

Also, I try to make sure I don't do anything that could make me sick. I wash my hands ALL THE TIME. I am careful of what I touch-like the baskets at the store that are surely covered in germs that will prevent me from a great race. I stay away from coughers and sneezers-even if the offender is a dear friend who would have really liked a soy latte from Starbucks today since she was stuck at home sick and with sick young-uns. Hey, come on....I can't risk catching whatever they might have. And, if I get a sniffle I start pouring in the vitamin C...if it's worse I rush over to the drugstore to search the aisles for a magic pill that will cure what I think ails me.

I agonize over the fact that I have NOT prepared as I "should have". I haven't logged nearly enough miles. I haven't trained nearly like I should. I haven't pushed through in training--how will I ever expect to do it in a race.

And....hopefully I am learning something new each time that will help me do better then next time. I think it takes me a while to learn some lessons...I have to experiences the consequences of my behavior (namely, lack of training) over and over before it will finally sink in.

And....that's okay. I'm loving the journey. I'm loving learning the lesson that it's not about the end result as much as it's about the process of getting there. That has been a theme of my life that I've been trying to get a handle on for a long time...and one that may take me a few (or a LOT) more races before I can say "I get it". One thing writing this post has brought to my attention is how I should be doing all these things (watching the weather to know how to dress for runs, trying to stay germ-free, taking care of my body in the best way) all the time. I shouldn't wait until the week of the race to pay attention. Now, I shouldn't be a freak about it, but maybe I could even out just a little bit?

Well...sorry for the ramble....but thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I don't even know what week I'm on in P90X anymore...I'm not keeping good records and I'm also not doing it every single day.  I know, I know...I'm supposed to be "writing it down" and I'm aware I won't get all I can out of it if I'm not doing it every day.  But, here's the thing.  This is more than just a 90-day thing for me.  I'm going to be doing some kind of work outs "forever".  (If you've seen the Sandlot, you'll get this YouTube clip...if you haven't, just skip it because it won't make sense...but I can't EVER say the word "forever" without hearing this in my head....)

So, the fact is...not doing the scheduled work out every single day isn't that big of a deal to me, especially when I'm also running and biking.  I typically don't "skip" more than one day, and I haven't skipped any workouts....except one of the DVD's that I'm borrowing from my friend is too badly scratched up to use, so I have to substitute a different DVD for that one....which is why I purchased my own set today!  Once I get my own workout log book I'll start "writing it down" and keeping track of my reps and my weight (that I'm lifting, not on the scale-I do that already).

Yesterday's torture workout was Kenpo X.  That's one of those DVDs that seem like it would be "easy" to me.  It's punching and kicking.  But, let me tell forearms feel as though I've really been in a street fight.  Not that I've ever been in a street fight...but it seriously feels as though I've been blocking myself from being beaten with a baseball bat.  I don't understand it, but I think that means I'm doing it right!

Today's workout was Stretch X.  I didn't realize stretching could feel like a real work out.  I mean I found out a while back that Yoga (which I always thought was just stretching and breathing) really "Ain't for Sissies" but...stretching?  Really??  Who knew??  Not that it was anything CLOSE to the workout yoga is, but it was certainly not easy and certainly NOT fun by any stretch of the imagination!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!