Friday, May 29, 2009

The Path Runs Through It

Peanut and I found the best local place to take the BOB. It's a rails to trails project just a few short miles from my mom's house out in the sub-country. That means the path is smooth and it's pretty much flat flat flat! Perfect pushing the BOB!

The first day we hit it up was lovely. We rolled along through the tree-lined path. And about a mile in I saw it. It was a sign informing us we entered the township, the township where my dad chose to die. Now I know that sounds morbid and initially I had that gulp this sucks kind of feeling, but it didn't last long. I noticed the sunshine and the lush green of the leaves surrounding us and I felt like we had company along our way. It was a warm and happy feeling, like a blanket over the sad. When I run on that path it's like running into the mush of my feelings about my dad. I pass by that sign and into myself. How will I talk about this with peanut? Why here? What am I missing? Look how far I've come. How much farther do I have to go?

***

And it's funny I should mention that path. Through a convoluted story of finding a babysitter to get in my long run last weekend I ended up meeting E at the path on Saturday afternoon. I didn't think anything of meeting at 12:30 on an 80+ degree very sunny and humid day to run 13 miles on a not too shaded yet path. That was dumb. By 5 miles I started to feel what kind of felt like hunger. By 6 miles I felt shaky. By 7 I needed a break. By 8 I had chills. By 9 I thought I might vomit or worse. By 10 I was worried I needed to be carried back. By 11 I made E finish without me. I stood there all alone under the intense midday sun watching the figure of E shrink as she ran her low-8's back to our starting point. As I scanned my brain trying to make sense out of what was happening to my body and as I was tempted to beat myself up for being a wuss, I felt that blanket over me and I made it back just fine. I was a little shaken up, but confident it was just a case of dehydration and heat stress on my hard-training and breast-feeding body. Oh, and thrilled to see E driving back to the parking lot carrying a cold 32 oz Gatorade! What a good friend!!!

***

And it's funny I should mention that run. It capped off my best 7 days of training in a long long time. On Sunday I ran 18 with the 10k race. On Tuesday I did 5 tempo miles on a very hilly course. On Thursday I did 10 including a great track workout (5 x 1000 in 3:56, 3:59, 3:56, 3:54, 3:54 + 4 x 200 all in 39). I ran 69 miles in that 7 day stretch! After my disastrous long run I bagged the easy 8 I had planned and took the day off. On Monday I was worried I would still feel bad, but I actually felt fine and enjoyed a comfortable hilly 9 on the trails. Tuesday I did my final track workout before my half this Sunday. I ran 10 miles including 2 at tempo (6:41 and 6:40) and then did 6 x 400 (90, 89, 90, 91, 89, 88). And from there it's all downhill to the starting line! I am really excited about the half. It's a culmination of 24 weeks of running post-peanut. I am really open-minded about time goals. I just want to get back out there and race. It should be fun!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Get It Done

On the evening of my mopey Monday birthday, mrp and I had an interesting discussion. We were talking about my last race and he told me he had no doubt I could have run much better. He asked me what kind of warm up I did. I told him about 2.5 miles with 3 200ish meter strides.

"Hmmm," he said. "I don't think 3 strides was enough." "How fast did you run them?" he asked.

I admitted I didn't push them very fast. I ran them along a city block where the Kenyans were also warming up and I kind of felt like a tool so I just sort of picked up the pace for a length of the block and jogged back 3 times.

"Ok. And how did you feel during the second mile?"

He is on to something, I thought. "My second mile sucked. I ran a 6:40 split and my legs were heavy," I responded.

"You needed to warm your legs up to race temperature. It's especially important for short races and when the weather is cold. Every time I ever did a crappy warm up my second mile sucked and I had problems with lactic building up throughout the race. Your lack of proper warm-up is why your second mile was so slow and why your legs felt heavy," he explained.

"Well, what should I have done?"

"What's worked for me is to do 2 miles slow and then do a mile of ladders building to race pace. I always notice that in a good warm up my legs feel awful. I think it's because my body is trying to shift into race gear. You want that to happen in the warm up. It's critical to warm up those legs and get them into that lower powerful gear especially for short fast races. I think there's your 40 seconds right there."

Ok. Wow, I thought. "So if I just warm up better, then I'll run closer to my potential?"

He thought about it. "Actually, I think more than anything what holds you back is that you don't have a champion's mentality. When someone passes you, you just roll over and take it. You spend all this time blogging about running and obsessing about it, but when it comes time to race your running and thinking so much."

"So I think to much? Is that it?"

"Well, yeah. The really good runners I know just have this attitude of Get It Done. When they have a hard workout they aren't thinking about how the workout will make them feel they just get out there and Get It Done. You aren't a Get It Done kind of person. You're not that way with work, with household chores, and definitely not with running. To you, it's about feeling good, not Get It Done."

I thought about it for a minute. I flashed to my blog. I flashed to all those times I obsessed about a workout before the workout. I flashed to those last few meter races with other runners that I just gave up on because I had a time that made me happy. "You're so right," I said.

And then I wondered if I could ever learn to be a Get It Done kind of person.

***

Yesterday, was a beautiful warm and sunny May day. I took peanut over to the in-laws. They watched him while I set out on the rolling country roads for a tempo workout. My half marathon is in a week and a half. It has a hilly 5 mile section smack in the middle of it. Yesterday was a perfect opportunity to run 5 hilly miles on dog-tired legs. I did a 2 mile warm-up and then ran 2 miles at tempo effort on the very hilly course: 7:09, 7:04. Not bad. I jogged for 90 seconds and then started the next set of 2 miles. I was flying over those hills this time. My first mile was 6:46 and I finished up a huge hill and then second mile was the hardest mile of the whole workout. The hills by the end were real meanies. I rolled in with a 6:52. I thought that maybe 4 was good enough for today. I was super happy with how I ran considering my legs were already heavy when I started the workout. I was also worried about ruining my good workout with another mile. What if I was way slow now? Why not go out while the getting's good? But then it came to me. Get It Done.

So I jogged for 90 seconds and hit the course for one more mile. I was really flying. I'd come over a small uphill and see a bigger one up ahead. Doubts would knock on the door and I swept them out with a Get It Done. My leg were heavy. The hills were relentless, but I came through with a 6:43 fifth mile.

***

I woke up this morning to dishes that have been piling up for a few days now. Something was stinky in there. Even before peanut went down for his first nap, the dishwasher is loaded and the stink is gone.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How to Get Rid of an Uninvited Guest

* Today is my birthday, but I don't feel much like a birthday girl. I actually cried this morning over nothing. Well, actually I think I am feeling the loss of my job, the financial security that came with it and also a bit of the personal sense of security that comes from the status quo. I am in uncharted territory and I am scared.

On top of that I am at home now and if you know me, you know I am no domestic goddess. Domesticity is a challenge for me. I don't like cleaning and organizing, but that really isn't what upsets me. What upsets me is that I feel like I'm not good at it. Since I've been home I feel like I've failed every day to organize the house, keep things clean, take some pressure off of mrp. I feel like Sisyphus, but instead of pushing the stone up the hill I'm picking up endless crap around the house and not only that but I hate doing it and I suck at it. At least for Sisyphus he might have had an inkling of personal satisfaction from pushing that stone up the mountain!

And to make matters worse, I am worried about losing the one constant thing that is just mine that provides me personal satisfaction among many other things--running. Mrp is getting irritated with babysitting and missing out on things he needs to do or would rather do so I can run. He is now the sole breadwinner with all the burdens, both psychological and actual, that come with it. I fully appreciate that. He is also trying to lay the foundations of our farm business and I appreciate that too. And then from his perspective here I am waiting at the threshold of an improperly cleaned house (holding a very contented baby, in my defense!) itching to get out the door all by myself for a glorious run when he gets home. No how are yous. How was your day? Dinner is on the table. No, it's "hey do you mind watching him for an hour so I can go run?"

And from my perspective it's quite different. It's I've been cooped up giving of myself so completely all day I need some alone time to rest and recharge my mommy/wifey batteries. I need to de-stress and reacquaint myself with myself. I need that one constant thread of myself to hold on to during this time of change. I need to make myself stronger both mentally and physically for me, for mrp and for peanut. I have lost a lot. I don't want to lose running too! It's my hobby, my guilty pleasure, the one perk I want with this job. That's it. I want this one thing for myself, guilt-free. I don't want it at the expense of peanut or my marriage or anything like that of course. If something comes up and I have to miss a run or five, whatever. But I remember my life before running and I am much much much happier and a much better me with it.

Yeah yeah yeah. I am whining. I fully believe and espouse the notion that happiness is made. But, sometimes unhappiness sneakily seeps in through the cracks and suddenly stands there as an uninvited guest. So, I am identifying how the unhappiness snuck up on me and I'm working to shoo him out and seal up the cracks to make it harder to sneak in here next time.

Ahhh. The coffee has kicked in. Peanut is down for his first nap. I have released these feelings and I do feel much better and ready to go make myself a happy birthday girl. Now I just need to forget how old I am!

*A photo from the 10-miler I ran last month.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In the Money but Still Feeling Out of Shape

What a day. 18 miles later and I am pooped! My poor tired body is not used to that much running, with much of it hard. I ran a 10k this morning. Not my best and I am a little disappointed with myself for not pushing harder especially at the end. I ran a 40:4x. The last .25 was up hill and I just shuffled along when I should have pushed harder. I felt pretty log-legged. Maybe it was the mileage creeping up on me. Maybe it was a bad day for me. Maybe I'm just not in as good shape as I think I am. Eh. Who knows. The good news is that I was the third Ohioan so I think I won $200! My first time EVER in the money! Of course that's just plain old luck that the usual ringers didn't show. But, who cares? I'll take it! I think my splits were 20:10 and 20:30 or something close to that. This spring's races are just a baseline from which to build my marathon training, so even 40:40 is my best 10k right now I better just shut up and be happy with it. Right?

In other news the beautiful Joe Positive rolled into town for the marathon. It was a pleasure to meet her and show her the local Starbucks. If times were different and my boob wasn't connected to a baby with a 7:00 bed time I would have loved to share a or several adult beverages with her. But, I'll have to settle for chatting at the expo and giving her a hug before the start. After my race I ran from the midpoint out to around mile 11.5 where I saw her. I turned back and ran with her for about 2 miles. It was super fun and she was chatting and very relaxed. On my way home I stopped off around mile 22 and picked her up again for about a mile and she seemed just as good as last time, only breathing a little harder and not talking so much. What was up with that, Joe? I kid! No one has any business talking at mile 22 of a marathon! The fact that she did at all shows how great she did!

I also ran with my buddy GP for a couple of miles around the half. I could tell she was very nervous about her first attempt at racing a marathon. I tried to keep her spirits up and hope for her 3:45 alive, but when I waited for her at mile 22 I waited and waited and waited and waited and saw her just as I told my other buddy E (who ran a 1:27 half just as I predicted to take second place in the half!) that I had to get home to peanut. She still ran about a 30 minute pr and she sure looked like she was having a lot more fun, so good for her! Yeah GP. Next time she's qualifying for Boston!

But back to my own running, I am feeling a little angsty. Maybe the right word is impatient. I feel so close to pr shape. I am hungry to get out there and log some fast races, but it's just not quite there. I am down below pre-pregnancy weight, but I'm still 3 lbs up from my low racing weight so maybe that's part of it. Maybe the 60 miles per week I'm up to is weighing my legs down before it improves my racing? I don't know. I suppose this is what was nice about having a coach--the objective feedback to make sense of all of this stuff. Maybe you, my dear readers, have some insight? What's reasonable to expect? Are pr's on my near horizon? Is it just a matter of consistency and patience?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sleeping and Eating

Yesterday was peanut's big day: sleep training began. Again, the goal for naps is to sleep in the crib--no more swing. The first nap went so well. Just a couple of whimpers and he was out. I think he saw me reading the Ferber book and cut to the chase! Unfortunately, that nap only lasted 45 minutes. He started rubbing his eyes about an hour and a half later. I fed him and then took him upstairs. I laid him down and immediately he began to wail. I gave him his little itty bitty blanky to eat and left with my running watch on my wrist.

After 3 minutes I went in and stroked him, gave him a kiss and told him he was doing great. Then I went down to the basement to change the kitty litter to take my mind off it for 5 minutes. I went back upstairs, but it seemed to make it worse this time. As soon as he heard me he raised the volume a few levels. I did the same thing I did the time before and made myself bolt. I called mrp and let him hear the wails over the phone. But the funniest thing happened. Just when I thought he was going to wail for an entire half hour with no nap to show for it, it all of a sudden became quiet. I was still crying on the phone with mrp, but peanut was asleep! It took 13 minutes, but we did it! For night time we are taking a different approach. We feel it is a huge leap from sleeping the night with me to sleeping all alone in his crib in his room. So, we look at it like we need to give him the tools to make that transition. The first tool is self-soothing. So, to that end we are using the Ferber method to teach him to fall asleep and stay asleep the beginning part of the night before I go to bed. So gone are the days of me rocking and nursing him to sleep for an hour or more. Instead when he's no longer eating I take him in and put him down and now it's up to him to do the rest. After he's mastered this skill then we will extend his night-time sleeping in the bassinet an hour at a time until he's going the whole night alone. Then after that we'll make the big transition to his room. It sounds good in theory. Hopefully it workouts out!

Last night he went right to sleep the first time I put him down. However, he woke up about 45 minutes later. I went in and picked him up and fed him and when he was no longer actually eating I took him back into the room and laid him in the bassinet. Oh boy. It took 22 minutes but he did go to sleep! It sucked, but with mrp there with me we got through it. He woke up again 45 minutes later and I did the same thing, only this time he was out after just 4 minutes! For his first nap today he was out before I even had to visit him once. He kind of whined/cried for about 2 minutes and then was out like a light. Hopefully he'll sleep more than 45 minutes at a time today!

Yesterday, I was so preoccupied with his sleep training that I forgot to adequately eat. So when my awesome aunts came over to babysit while I hit the track for my workout I had only had 2 granola bars and some coffee. It was 2:30! Surprisingly I was fine for the warm-up and my first three 1000 meter intervals. However, by the fourth I felt heavy and light headed and by the fifth I was totally shaky and felt like poop. Surprisingly I was only slow by 1 second, but it always feels really crappy to end slower than I started. Last week I went 4:02, 4:02, 4:02, 4:00, 3:58 for this workout and yesterday I went 3:58, 4:00, 4:00, 4:02, 4:03. Oh well. I am glad I rolled with it and got it done and didn't beat myself up about it. The cool down was rather unpleasant. The all uphill 2.5 miles was pretty torturous on my glycogen deprived legs. I made it, though. Phew!

So, the rest of the week is easy runs before Sunday's 10k! I really like the 10k distance. We'll see if I say the same thing on Monday. Also on tap, is a meet-up with Joe Positive!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

To 2-Toofed Perfection!

Who would have thought that I'd have less time to blog once I quit my job? Actually, much of that has to do with the fact that our house is a disaster and long overdue for organization, so I am catching up on months of that. Once that's done I should have more time to do fun stuff like blog. I hope, anyway!

In other news, I broke down and checked out the Ferber book from the library. Since I went back to work peanut's sleep habits have really degraded. He fights naps. Much of the time this almost 20 pounder is strapped into his swing (the safety limit is 22 lbs I think). He looks ridiculous! He also is still fighting going down at night and although it's improved a bit since I've been home he wakes up several times before I'm ready to go to bed. Plus, mrp and I agree it's time to get our bed back to ourselves.  Next week I have to go to Columbus all day for a class, so the day after that commences sleep training. For this round our goals are to get naps exclusively in the crib and to get peanut to sleep in his co-sleeper bassinet instead of our bed.  I'll give him one month in the co-sleeper and then we'll work on sleeping for the night in his own room. So, there will be two rounds of sleep training. It's going to be a huge (and ear-piercing) pain in the neck, but if it works it will be so well worth it. I've alway said peanut is really perfect, but for his sleeping. So if we fix that he'll be 2-toofed perfection in a diaper! 

Running, unlike sleeping, is going great. I am on track for my first 60 mile week in a loooooong time. I do not have a race this week so I went to the track on Tuesday and did a tempo run last night.  Mrp took the day off on Tuesday to work at home so I took off early. I went to a local park and ran a new (to me, anyway) trail from the park to the track. It was glorious! It was a bit of a long warm-up and cool-down (an almost completely uphill cool-down, no less), but it was so nice on the legs compared to the roads and nice on the mind compared to easy miles on the track. The workout itself went great too. I did 5 x 1000 with 200m recoveries at 10k effort: 4:02, 4:02, 4:02, 4:00, 3:58 and then 6 x 100 strides for a total of 10 miles. 

Last night I went to my usual park after mrp came home from work. I charged up the garmin before I left. Of course, once I parked and tried to turn the thing on it wouldn't power up. UGH. And of course I didn't bring my regular watch. I sat there for a minute and considered going home and jumping on the treadmill, but that didn't sound like fun at all.  I also considered just running and not worrying about the exact miles or time. But, because I am still getting reacquainted with my fitness I feel like I need the feedback more than usual right now. So, I thought about it for a minute and then decided I was not above running with my cell phone. I know. What a huge dork! Whatever. It got the job done! So, I ran 2.5 miles on the bridle path and then hit the measured bike path for 4 miles. I have been running my tempos this spring with an open mind--kind of start running hardish and see what happens. The result of this tactic has consistently been a steady progression in pace and it feels good so I'm happy with it. Last night the splits were: 7:05, 6:58, 6:49, 6:34.  I ran all four miles with my cell phone open so I could use the stopwatch feature on it. Seriously, I need help! Afterwards, I trotted along the 2.5 miles back to my car for a total of 9 miles. 

Now since peanut is down for his nap (in the swing--*sigh*) and about to wake up any minute, I need to get ready for our run. Today's run is an easy 6 miles with the BOB. Should be fun!    


Saturday, May 02, 2009

19:22 Out of the Blue

I ran a 19:22 5k this morning and won a race! Where the heck did that come from? That's my second fastest 5k time ever (not counting the first 5k of my 10k pr when I went out like an idiot) and I felt so good the whole time. I probably should have pushed harder but I was so happy to be running so effortlessly under 20:00 I was too content to rock the boat! As usual, just as I was bemoaning the state of my fitness things are looking up. 

Edited (5/4/09) The official results are up and they say 19:23.9.  At the awards ceremony they said I ran a 19:35 and my friend CV ran a 19:47.  It totally annoyed me that they were so far off--hey, we busted our butts for those extra 10+ seconds!  My watch said 19:21. Our friend BH talked to the officials and apparently the person responsible for timing was off for everyone. The official said that I should be 19:22 and CV 19:36, that was better! It wasn't chip timed, so the final times are based on one person's eye balls. I don't mind having a 19:23 (not sure what happened to the 19:22), but the .9 seriously irks me.  The timer certainly wasn't accurate to the 10th of a second.  It reminds me of that stupid .9 cents in gas prices. So, anyway I guess officially I ran a 19:23 (.9!) out of the blue.