Monday, November 30, 2009

Walk of Shame??

Saturday morning, at about 5:45 am, I set out for a 9 mile run.  It was the coldest morning of the season, but for some reason that just invigorates me more.  It definitely keeps me moving!  I had decided the night before to run a different route.  I had done this route with my sister during a few of our long runs this summer, but I'd never run it alone (well, I always have my trusty dingo-dog with me).  I tend to run along fairly busy streets, just to keep the other dog-walkers out of our way.  Of course, at 6:00am with temperatures in the 20's, I didn't have to worry about that.  The route was pretty well lit with overhead street lights and the coldness and quiteness gave me a sense of peace.  I was really enjoying my run.  Until I noticed a man walking out of a neighborhood, screaming into his cell phone.  I had my iPod playing and I could still hear him over the music.  He was across the street (a 4-lane road) from me.  I quickly looked him over....fairly young, jeans, plaid button-down shirt, blonde hair.  No coat, no gloves, no hat.  Defnitely not prepared for a stroll in the cold.  The dingo barely gave him a second glance, which is unusual for him.  Usually he's Cap-i-tain Cautious, barking at anything that moves.  So I kept running, faster and faster.  Splits for the 2 miles that I was on that road were under 9 minute miles.  I was scared.  I immediately think the worst in scenarios like this.  Rapist or serial killer usually top my list.  I never turned around to see where the guy went or if he was even following me.  I didn't want to know.  I just wanted to keep running until I felt more secure (a lighted shopping center, gas station, etc).  Unfortunately this stretch of road was 1) the darkest part of my whole route and 2) home to a large, vacant, factory/plant.  I prayed the entire time for God to keep me safe.  I rejoiced when cars would drive by.  I was just hoping there was a guardian angel in one of those cars, who would keep this guy from hurting me.  My mind was racing in the quiet darkness.   I began thinking about what I would do if a car (now or sometime else) drove by and tried to abduct me.  What would I do?  I don't carry anything valuable on me when running (besides my iPod and watch).  I'd have nothing to "barter" with, you know.  It was a pretty sobering thought.  I'd essentially be defenseless.  So back to the present situation and I realized I should probably change my intended route.  I was suppose to do a couple mile lap repeats around a city park/lake.  Parts of the lake path are not well-lit and border upon the aforementioned vacant factory.  I didn't think that sounded too safe, so I started to consider an alternate route.  Upon turning into the park, I come across another man (dressed more appropriately for the weather in a hooded sweatshirt, but still odd to see walking at 6:30 in the pitch black morning).  I was afraid I was over-reacting to the first guy, but after seeing the second creepy guy, I knew I had to change my route.  I sped up faster and faster and went on my way.  About 7:00am the sun started peeking out and I immediately felt safer.  My mind was still buzzing about the preceding events, until I found a scenario that I could accept.  My conclusion....the first guy had probably just snuck out of some chick's house after a one-night stand.  The good old Walk of Shame.  That's got to be it, right?!  I can't really accept what could have happened or any other scenario for that matter.  It would keep me from running, indefinitely! 

So in light of Saturday's events, I've decided to take a couple of safety measures.  1) I'll always leave my route up on the computer (oddly enough, I had done that on Saturday) for hubby.  2)  I need to find a way to take my cell phone with matter what.  Guess I'll be wearing my SPI belt all the time.  3)  I need to get some pepper spray to carry.  Now that I'll be wearing my SPI belt, I'll have a place to put it.  I've made excuses for way too long about safety precautions.  Saturday's adventure was a wake up call....even if it was just some poor guy's Walk of Shame.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day PR!

No, I'm not talking about the amount of food/calories I ate yesterday (although I'm afraid that would be pretty impressive too), but rather the 5 mile Turkey Trot I ran.  The Turkey Trot makes it officially one year, since I started running.  It's crazy to think about all that I've accomplished in one year.  I have so much to be thankful for this year, and my running/health is a major one!  What made yesterday's race even better, was getting to run it with my hubby (well, for the most part).
Our day started at 6:15am.  Race time was at 8:00am.  7,000 people had signed up to run the race, so I knew parking and logistics could be problematic.  It seems like race day is always "hurry up and wait"!  Yesterday was no different.  It was fairly chilly (around 38 degrees), which made the waiting part that much worse.  We found our place in line, right in front of the sub 50 minute pace sign.  Slowly but surely time ticked away until it was "go" time.  The first mile was heavily congested.  It eventually thinned out a tiny bit but then became clustered again around 2 - 2.5 miles.  Turn arounds are the worst!  I lost hubby at this point, which was expected (and okayed this time!).  There was a local police SWAT team running (carrying a flag and singing their little chants) and whenever I'd slow my pace ever so slightly, they would swarm me.  After a mile or so of this, I decided enough was enough!  I broke free from the pack and found my own groove....far, far away from the SWAT team.  I had hoped to break 50 minutes.  Everytime I looked down at my watch, I was on pace to do this.  The last 1.5 mile was tough.  At the 4 mile mark, I wanted to stop and walk.  I hurt and was no longer having fun!  I told myself "only 10 more minutes".  I can do anything for 10 minutes, right?!  With the finish line in site (the absolute WORST part of any race for me - except the marathon) I kept pushing.  I crossed the line at 47:11 (9:27 pace).  I thought I was gonna puke...low blood sugar and a hard effort had gotten the best of me!  Luckily, it passed quickly and I went on to get my chip cut off my shoe and wait for my hubby.  The food/water area was so crazy, we didn't even attempt to get anyting and just headed home.  I know 9:27 isn't a fast pace, but this represents over a 4 minute PR from last year's race.  Hubby finished in around 51 minutes (longest run prior to the race was 3.1 miles...about a month ago).  We're both really happy with our times and even happier that we got out and exercised on an otherwise glutenous day!  I hope this can continue to be a Thanksgiving Day tradition for many more years to come!

As a completely selfish aside....I generally feel pretty crummy about how "slow" I am.  Turns out I beat all the people I knew who were running (this may or may not include people new to running, ha, ha)!  Well, except for my speedy sister who apparently turned in 7:00 minute miles!  I feel honored that she slowed down for me the past year!!  ;-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What motivates you?

A few weeks ago I posted about all the negative thoughts that were running through my mind that day.  We've all had runs like that.  Today as I was running, I was thinking about all the things that keep me going.  I've been struggling to get out of bed in the mornings, which is completely silly because I always feel 100 times better after I've gotten up and exercised.  Although I was logging way more miles during the marathon training, I was only exercising 4 (sometimes 5 ) days a week.  Getting up at the crack of dawn 6 days a week is dragging me down!  I need some without further ado....this is what keeps me moving during those cold, dark, morning runs.

1.  If I just keep running, I'll stay warmer
2.  Seeing other runners/walkers (although today it was in the mid-40's and every dog walker was out....I kinda wish they'd just stay at home.  Don't they know I run with a crazy dingo who really doesn't like other dogs??)
3.  I have to be home by X:XX am in order for hubby to get to work on time!
4.  Seeing people smoking in their cars at stop lights (random)
5.  Passing people at the bus stops
6.  A good song (currently it's Beyonce's Single Ladies)
7.  Running a new route
8.  Having a race on the schedule (I'm doing the Thanksgiving day 5 miler and just registered for the Arthritis Foundation 5K in December)
9. Thinking about what I'm going to have for breakfast (lame, I know)
10.  The sooner I get home, the sooner I can snuggle in bed with my kiddos

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Warm the Fall???

This week was pretty non-descript in my running life.  I've told myself I need to do at least 15-20 miles  a week to maintain my fitness, until the next training cycle comes around.  Now whether or not there's any validity to that, I don't know....but the numbers work for me.  I've been playing around with the HRM and found that 88 bpm probably really is an accurate HR for my "easy" pace.  The past two Thursdays I've tried to pick up the pace (remember I'm a snail....).  Here are this Thursday's stats:

Mile 1: 9:51/152
Mile 2:  9:20/168
Mile 3:  9:33/161
Mile4:  9:20/155
Mile 5:  9:55/164 (gradual uphill)

Compared to my "easy" pace (this week's long-ish run) on a hilly route:
Mile 1:  9:56/150
Mile 2:  10:32/136
Mile 3:  10:32/116
Mile 4:  10:27/77
Mile 5:  10:33/84
Mile 6:  10:55/90
Mile 7:  11:12/74 (didn't stop my watch at the traffic light)
Mile 8:  10:05/69

I still have some doubts as to the precision of my stats, but it's close enough.  I'd also still like to find some research/training information based on HR guidelines.  It's still on my "to do" list. 

We've been having some funky weather for November in Ohio.  I watched the news before falling asleep on Friday night and it said it was going to be 44 degrees in the morning.  So I get up, put on my capris and a heavier short-sleeved tech tee, go outside and FREEZE.  Back upstairs I go to find something else to wear.  I finally decided on a lighter-weight long sleeved tech tee and the capris.  Back outside I go and as I'm heading down the street, I realize I can see my breath and my fingers are quite cold.  Oops....but I was already committed to this run and I wasn't turning back!  The first runner I pass is in complete winter gear from head to toe.  I immediately feel like an idiot.  I'm just sure I'll be the laughing-stalk of the running community as I try to pull my long sleeves over my fingers to keep warm.  Well, next thing I know, I'm huffing and puffing it up a big hill and I don't feel cold at all anymore.  In fact, after about 4 miles, I feel a WARM BREEZE.  I thought for sure I must be hypoxic or something....I mean just 40-ish minutes ago I could see my breath and now I'm being washed over in a warm breeze?  It was quite bizarre but it was at that point that I just allowed myself to relax and enjoy this fall run.  The dingo had a couple of issues (including a poo bag explosion) but all in all, it was a great Saturday morning run.

Things were also pretty non-descript in my Mommy life, too this week!  We muddled through a week of daycare and alternative care for Ms. Caroline (the daycare essentially kicked her out).  I got my H1N1 shot at the hospital and then drug the kids out to the county health department expo to get their shots.  At previous expos, people had been waiting 2-4 hours in line.  I didn't know what to expect, so I packed the diaper bag with the portable DVD player/movies, books, cars, ponies, and of course snacks.  I hauled the kids in the wagon as they finished up their lunch.  About 20 minutes into the line, Braden decides he needs to go to the potty.  Umm....what?  No way.  I had a change of clothes in the car and if he peed his pants, well then he peed his pants.  I wasn't about to give up my spot in line!  Looking back, I should have just gotten out of line and let him go.  We were out of there in just over an hour.  They both cried  horribly sad cries when they got their shots, but otherwise it was pretty smooth sailing.  Braden even kept his pants dry!  Hooray!  Caroline made herself comfy in the wagon most of the time, while reading "Go Dog Go".  I didn't even need half the stuff I'd brought to entertain them.  I feel better knowing that they are now at least partially protected from the flu.  I tend to be quite the germ-a-phobe, but I also can't stand staying in the house all winter.  Hopefully this will help!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Excuses and Race Day Photos

Today's run was about 8 miles too long.  My head and heart weren't in it....and I thought of a million excuses to turn around and go home.  Among those excuses these were my favorite:

1.  The wind - I started out doing about 3 miles directly into the wind.  I felt like I was moving in slow motion.  Was it even windy today?  I don't know....but it sure felt like it!

2.  The 4:00am wake up call - Thanks to a 4 year old who had a "bad dream" and was found to be feverish.

3.  Returning neuroma pain - No advil and no stops/walk breaks will always bring this pain back.

4.  Post-Marathon fatigue - So this is what that feels like.  Yes, this was a bit of a stretch.

5.  Friday's 30 Day Shred workout....Yes I'm a wimp.  Although my legs were fine, I could feel my shoulders/back tightening up the further I ran.

6.  Maybe I'm coming down with something (see #2).  Is it H1N1's turn at our house?

7.  Too hot - Once I turned away from the wind,  I found I was too hot and thirsty.   

8.  Knee pain??? What's this all about?  It's been bothering me since my first post-marathon run. Icing it made me it feel like I was 80 years old (well, I can imagine).  Great...

Despite the internal struggle in my head....I ended up doing 8.3 miles and felt like I had done about 18.  Ugh...  Thank goodness for a rest day tomorrow!

Something else I've been wondering about....if you buy the official "race day photos", what do you do with them?  There's a couple good shots of me and my sister on the marathon course, but I can't figure out what I'd do with them.  I don't have an office at home and I share my office at work with at least 1-3 other people.  Although my family is very proud of me, I don't think they want to see my face in the dining room, family room or kitchen.  As stated earlier this week....I don't particularly care for myself in photos (especially spandex shorts with an ugly belt up to my boobs)...I wouldn't want to wake up or go to bed looking at a photo of myself!  Perhaps they should just go in a scrap book.  Guess I need to get to work on that!  I haven't printed out photos in 2 years.  That's a whole other issue!  In any case, here's a few of the pics the photographers on the course took.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tools of the Trade

After letting it sit idly for 2 months, I finally got out the heart rate monitor that goes with my Garmin fitness watch.  I couldn't bear to put another thing on me, in the midst of horrible heat and humidity so I never used it.  Well, now that I'm back to cross-training regularly, I thought it would be a good idea to track my heart rate to make sure I'm working in my "target" zone.  I haven't taken physiology in oh.... 10 or 11 years and since I don't work in the cardiac field I'm a bit rusty on what this means.  After some quick internet research, I came to find that for a female, 31 year old, my target heart rate should be anywhere from 108 - 170.  Apparently there's a wide discrepancy on this subject, so if anyone has a more accurate formula for determining your THR, I'd love to see it!  So with this new knowledge, I strapped on the HR monitor for this morning's 5.5 mile run.  I didn't look at my watch once, because I wanted this to be a true baseline.  The result....I averaged 88 beats per minute with a MAX of 158 bpm.  Did I mention that I did my "hilly" route??  So my first thoughts are either that the HRM must be as "accurate" as my Garmin foot pod (the day of the marathon, it said I ran 27.97 miles) or I'm running at a seriously comfortable pace.  I certainly feel like I'm working hard when I'm running.  I'm out of breath when I stop running.  I'm sweating.  Apparently these aren't good indicators!!  Wouldn't you want the bulk of your run to at least be within the minimum of your target range, for optimal calorie/fat burning?  These are the things I will now search out.  Maybe instead of focusing on mileage, I'll focus on heart rate training.  I need to drop about 10 pounds and this may be a better way to do it?

Another interesting tool that I got a chance to use is indirect calorimetry.  Essentially by  measuring the amount of oxygen the body consumes, it calculates the number of calories you burn in a day at rest (called your resting energy expenditure or REE).  Well, since I did this at the end of the day, after activity, food and caffeine, my results would be more of a Total Energy Expenditure. With that said, my results showed that I expend 1915 calories a day.  In order to lose weight, I'd need to cut down to 1415 calories daily, to lose 1 pound a week.  Not too shabby, especially if I include my exercise in there.  I found a really interesting website that helps you calculate your needs to maintain your weight or lose weight and will even come up with meal plans for you!  Hey....that's MY job!  In any case, since the majority of people don't have access to a dietitian, here's the site: .  Pretty interesting (for a dietitian at least). 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Back to the daily grind...

Last week I was clearly trying to fool myself into thinking that running and cross-training 6 days a week was just as good as training for a marathon.  While I'm not really ready to comitt to another training cycle, it would be nice to have something, anything on the horizon.  Well okay, we are signed up to do the 5 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  Woohoo!  But after watching the NYC marathon coverage (and secretly stalking a doctor I work with on the marathon course online) I couldn't help but think of what's to come for me.  Last Friday I hatched a plan to start applying for the NYC marathon.  I figure if nothing else....I can put it on my race calendar for 2013~ LOL!  More immediate will likely be a half (or 2....) in the spring and potentially Chicago next Fall.  I've always loved Chicago, thanks to a few trips to visit my sister there while she was in PT school at Northwestern.  It wouldn't be a horrible drive and after reading a few Chicago marathon 2009 recaps....sounds like a stellar race!  And so begins my search for the proper training plan.  I will never be competitive, but I'd like to push myself a bit.  I find it completely amazing that I finished a marathon after only 62 training runs and 440 miles (granted I had enough time to "stop and have a BBQ" but that's neither here nor there, now is it?!).  I have some time to do my research and ultimately it will be what's most convenient for me and my family life!

So speaking of my wonderful sister suprised me with this long-admired tee shirt from Run Happy Tees!!  Well, the one I have is blue and short-sleeved, but you get the point!  If I liked myself in pictures, I might take a pic for you!  I have searched and searched for this shirt, ever since I saw it at the Pig expo last May!  Leave it to my thoughtful sister to find it for me!  One more thing to cross off my "Wish List"!

Other than that, life goes on.  My parents are in Italy as I type.... My sweet Caroline cried for about 6 hours today at daycare.  So sad...  Trick or Treat was fun on Saturday night!  The kids had a blast and best of all, I hid their candy Sunday morning and they haven't asked for it since.  Out of sight, out of mind!  Playdate tomorrow and election day!  There's a lot of really important issues on the I can't forget to VOTE!!