Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whoever Smelt It...

Thanks for the watch input, I did end up returning the Polar and going with the Garmin Forerunner 205. Something about the GPS sold me - that and the amazing reviews. It looks quite bulky, especially on my dainty female wrist (okay, dainty I am not), but I'll give it a shot.

I went to the gym this a.m. since it was 18 frosty degrees outside in Longmont, CO and I wasn't in the mood to layer up. I ran the hill course for 6.1 miles. What do you think about when you run? I usually think about things I need to do both in the short term (buy milk, call my nephew on his birthday) and in the long term (give back to society, qualify for Boston, get the grout cleaned in the mud room). Usually around 45 minutes into any run, my stomach starts cramping a bit. Usually it's just gas and causes no issue, except odor. Today when I was on the treadmill I was struck by the fact that my music was playing so loud on my iPod I didn't even know if I was farting silently or out loud. Typically on a run on the backroads of Boulder County this wouldn't matter, but today I had people on both sides of me and I just wondered what they heard (and smelled). Mabye nothing, or maybe a lot. Admit it, your mind wanders to crazy things like this when you run, doesn't it?

This would be me if I were a swimmer

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Input Needed!

As I wrote about a week ago, I invested in the Polar RS200sd running watch. Now I have been stricken with buyer's remorse. I am wondering if I should have gone with a Garmin, for the GPS feature. I really want your input - both from GPS watch owners and those who have a foot pod or some other means of measuring speed, distance, etc.

I am finding the foot pod kind of cumbersome and the watch does not seem easy to use (although that's probably me just being gadget-ignorant). I like the idea of the GPS being easier (maybe more accurate?) as well as recording your routes, etc. I am looking at the Garmin Forerunner 205, which I am aware is like wearing a laptop on your wrist, but it is what I can afford, plus it has the options I want. I know, I know, I said a few weeks back I didn't want the Garmin because it was too bulky. That was because I thought I might actually wear this watch as a regular watch and not just for running. I have given up hope of doing that, so don't mind if it's a big ass watch after all.

Please give me some advice!! I am so inexperienced with these things and really could use guidance from those of you who know and who have been wearing a certain type of watch for awhile.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is It Spring Yet?

Today is my 42nd birthday. Do you make resolutions on your birthday or on New Year's or not ever? I laid in bed this morning feeling slightly hungover making a resolution that I shouldn't drink so much. Famous last words.

My back is feeling better after an intense deep tissue massage on Thursday. This woman is amazing. She showed me on one of those detailed body pictures where my trouble was (sacral iliac, blah, blah). Then she had me lay face down, put my legs in frog position (this probably looked very attractive from above), and kneaded my glutes and hams to death. It was a good hurt. I was glad she couldn't see the faces I was make into the hole thing on the end of the table. Voila! 24 hours later I felt great.

Now that I'm no longer training with Team in Training and don't have a coach organizing my runs, I am trying to be my own coach and to organize my own runs. My former team mate, Erin, is on board. We've been meeting for longer runs on Saturdays. She'll join me to run the grueling Horsetooth Half in April.

So...time to get back to running so I don't have to envy the girl on the treadmill. We awoke to snow, freezing temps and icy roads on Saturday a.m. It was 15 degrees when I planted water and lemon lime Cliff blocks at our half way point. We decided to run part of the Boulder Backroads Marathon Course - dirt roads winding through farms right along the foothills. We just went out and back five miles for a total of ten miles (in case you can't do the math). I woremy Polar watch for the first time. I am thoroughly overwhelmed by all of the buttons and options. It'll take some getting used to. Our time was not fast (1:32), but we did negative splits. The first five were 9.7 minute miles. In the way back we were doing more like 8.7 minute miles.

Today I'm glad that my 42 year old body can still run ten miles. That my 42 year old body can hopefully run a tough half marathon in April. That my 42 year old body will run another marathon this fall. That my 42 year old body can (maybe, just maybe) qualify for Boston.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chick on the Treadmill

It shouldn't be that hard, but it is. I hate not being able to run the way I want to. This week I have nagging lower back pain. While running initially seems to stretch things out, the pain gets worse a few hours after running. My body tells me, "lay off the running." And I should. High impact stuff won't help the inflammation in my lower back.

Problem is, I don't want to. My gut says, "listen to your body" but my head says, "screw it and do it."

So today I begrudgingly go to the gym to ride the stationary bike. I would rather be out on my road bike, but I am not supposed to lean over. At least on the stationary, I can sit upright. I used to love cycling, did it all the time. It's not that I don't enjoy it, it's just that I now have the running bug and that is what I primarily do and where my goals lie.

As I was pedalling away, getting mundane updates in Better Homes and Gardens about how to arrange my bookshelves so they will look balanced, I am enviously watching some girl get on the treadmill in front of me. I wonder if she will run or walk. Probably walk because it looks like she is wearing yoga pants, and who runs in those? She sets her speed to 6.5 mph, so she is running. I wonder how long she will run, how far she will run, if she will get tired, what she is listening to on her iPod. Granted I was bored on the bike, this attention to detail about someone I don't even know is excessive. I think I was jealous that she was running and I was not. I wanted to have that after-running feeling like you really did something. That sensation of dripping sweat, heart rate racing, legs burning. I get this from running.

The point is: what do you do when injury keeps you from running? What works to keep you sane? Does not being able to run set you back? I'd love to know.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Had To Do It

I admit it. I'm joining the ranks of those who run with big fancy watches. I'm not trying to look cool or to be anal. I just genuinely want to know how far I've gone in how much time. The truth is, if I don't have one of these watches and I'm not sure of how far I've gone, I'll go home and drive the route to figure it out. What I waste in gas and my time (which is very expensive, by the way since I'm a part-time social worker) in a year probably would pay for the watch. I was just introduced to the map my run website, which is incredibly cool. You can map your runs and it tells you how long the runs are, elevation, etc. You can also look at suggested runs in your area and how long they are. The truth is, with this website I probably don't need the big honking watch, but I WANT it.

I had my heart set on the new Garmin. Until I tried it on. That thing is bulky and stiff and looked ridiculous on my wrist. The appeal of it was the built in GPS (or UPS as Erin would say, it's the new brown edition). I then looked at the Polars and fell in love with the Polar RS200sd. It has a pod you put on your shoe and it measures speed, distance, heart rate and a bazillion other things that I am not intelligent enough to figure out. Sam asked if it told the time. Hah! I forgot to look, but I'm guessing it does. In the running store this watch was $220, but I found it on eBay (a "buy it now") for $189, no tax and free shipping. It's my birthday gift to myself, from myself, Ken, the kids and mom/dad.

Can't wait to get even more anal about my runs. Just kidding. The last thing I want to do is to become so focused on the details of my runs that I forget to look around and take in the scenery or to feel my body and the sensation of running. One of the reasons I so prefer running outside to the dreaded treadmill is the scenery, the sounds, the smells (lots of cow manure), the wind in my face and the sun. This for me is the true appeal of running - what happens to me when I am on the open road or trail and when I feel a one-ness with it all.

But I still want my watch.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Keep On Keeping On

The view outside my window today
There is nothing like waking up to this!

I got really inspired today reading a friend's post ( "Macker," as we call him, described his journey to qualify for Boston. As with most running stories, it becomes less about the running and more about the personal quest - the emotional, mental and spiritual components that factor into meeting a goal that you once thought impossible.

Reading Macker's story reminded me of something important. When we have goals and know other people who have reached the goals that we have, sometimes we tend to oversimplify. We see people where we want to be and think that it must have been easy for them, and that it is not so easy for us. I knew my friend Macker qualified for and ran Boston and that he was faster than you average runner. I always assumed he came out of the womb that way, born to run. I differentiated myself from people like Macker, thinking that running is not natural for me, I am not gifted as a runner, I have to WORK hard for my results. But when I read Macker's post, I realized that he worked very hard for his results and the victories did not always come easy. He tweaked his running style along the way, he ran several marathons before qualifying, that he went through times in his life where he did not run as much.

The lesson is that few people achieve big goals effortlessly. Some people have natural talents that others do not, but most people have to work hard for what they have. Most people have "failed" several times or have been rejected several times before reaching their goal. Intellectually, we all know this, but sometimes we talk ourselves out of it, deciding that it is just us who has hardships. No, it is ALL of us, everyday.

This isn't just about running. That married couple who looks so happy on the surface? They have probably worked hard to maintain that happiness and may have even gone through a time that threatened their marriage. Who knows, what you see may not actually be the truth of what is going on. That person who is in your dream job? They likely had to put in many hours paying their dues, suffering through bosses they didn't like, and working long hours.

Most things worth having and accomplishing do not come easy. That is what makes the victory so amazing. For me, that's the high of running a marathon. Something in the human spirit sings when you go further than you thought was possible.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Interview Time

I get to participate in the interview game that runtofinish left on my comment page. If you want to play too the rules are at the end.

1. What is the best race you have ever run and why?
Haven't run many races. My favorite would have to be my latest and greatest: Rock n Roll Marathon in Phoenix. Nothing like running your first marathon.

2. If you could live anywhere on Earth, where and why? Probably back to Greece. Love the culture, the people, the beaches and the weather. Plus - first marathon ever!

3. What is the best thing about being a runner?
Love feeling my body being strong and being in touch with it. Love the meditative quality of running. Love pushing myself further than I thought I could ever go.

4. What do you wish you had time to do?
I am already doing it. I tend to find the time for the things and people I love if they are enough of a priority.

5. If you had the funds to throw a big bash for cause, what cause and what celebs would be involved?
A cause that would benefit children in some way. Probably girls in Africa would want to go to school but don't have the money. I would invite Kelly Ripa, Coach Taylor (from Friday Night Lights), Will Smith, Oprah, Gayle, Bono, John Travolta just to name a few.

To play along:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. ( I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Living a Good Life

Part of the Horsetooth Half Marathon Course

Tonight I was reading one of my most favorite running blogs: Kristen Armstrong's Online Journal. She talked about reading the eulogy of a friend's father in law. The gist of it was that you:

'"have to have someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to."

I have never heard this basic premise expressed so simply and beautifully. I believe these three things are the key to the good life.

Thinking back, when I have had low points, it is usually because one of three is missing.

I think the marathon I ran stretched me and called me higher. I think that's why it was such a high for me and continues to be. I say to myself, "I did that." And I am proud.

Now I need that next something to do. It will (hopefully) be the Horsetooth Half Marathon in April. I have heard this is a ridiculously challenging course. I figured it would be good hill work. The course starts off with "Monster Mountain" - a 6.4% grade hill followed by a 9.5% grade hill. I don't really know what that means, but I know it's not something most people would look at and think: I can't wait to run that. April is one of the snowiest months in CO, so that could be kind of iffy. Here's the course profile - it's itty bitty but it gives you an idea...

This should be substantial prep for my next full marathon sometime in the fall. The race also ends at the New Belgium Brewery, which can never be a bad thing.

What's your something next?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It Gets Messy Sometimes

Am I the only one who has unexpected issues while running? Do you know what I'm referring to? Not to be graphic, but my G.I. tract sometimes goes ape shit when I run. Well, not like I'm shitting like an ape, but you know what I mean. I can be perfectly fine, head out for a run and start having issues.

Take today for example. It's 65 degrees in Longmont, so I headed to Boulder to do the Eagle Loop. Half way into my second loop and miles from the car, I start having issues. I don't know how much detail you want, but suffice it to say that an unexpected start to something womanly plus an episode of something made funny in the movie "Along Came Polly" hit all at once. (Okay, if you haven't seen the movie, you still must know what a shart is, if you don't, look it up).

I am sure this can't be just happening to me.

It's so random, too. I ran an entire marathon without so much as a fart and then I go on this benign seven miler today and I'm a mess.

Don't get me wrong - it was still a great run. How could it be bad being in the bright sunlight, looking at the Rockies and running amongst the cows and horses?

Like I've said in a previous post: I'm always glad I did the run when it's over. Even if I needed to be hosed off.

If you're comfortable, share with me if this happens to you, what you do about it, how you prevent it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shut Up So I Can Talk About Myself

Went to the Boulder Running Co last night for new shoes. The people who work there are all distance runners and supposedly know something about giving you the right fit. I have been running in New Balance, but had some arch trouble, so was looking to switch up my shoe.

I ended up with Asics Gel Kayano 15. Similar technically to my NBs.

Today I'm not writing so much about my new shoes, but about those annoying people who always are ready for a story about themselves and a way to dominate the conversation. They ask you one question about yourself, not because they really want to know about you, but because once you give your quick answer, it is their permission to then go off in a million different directions about themselves.

My sales guy last night was just like this. He could not shut up about his PRs, how many times he had run Boston, how he felt about Garmins (you should only run for time! don't get caught up in how far you're running), how he felt about the heel vs. the mid foot strike, how many marathons he has run and which one I should run next. And it went on and on. By the time Erika and I left the running store we felt beat up. Plus I had been holding in some gas for an hour while he ranted on and had to immediately release it in the car (much to Erika's dismay).

I love running and I generally love runners. But I love those humble runners who aren't all about one-upping. Those who love the sport and how it makes them feel, but don't have to tell the world at every opportunity how fast or far they have run that week. I'll end with this quote:

"It is always the secure who are humble" ~Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Just F'n Do It!

I admit it. I don't always want to run. It's not like every time I think about going for a run I am orgasmic. Especially if it's cold, gray, rainy, or windy or if I am tired, hungover, lazy or just plain unmotivated. I will say however:

I have never finished a run and wished I hadn't done it. I have never finished a run and felt worse than when I started (with the exception of the occasional stomach upset aka diarrhea and such, but you know what I mean).

The trick is to "just do it." (I just made up that slogan, I think it could be really big some day). The trick is to not think about it too much or you'll talk yourself out of it. Just go, dammit

Take today for example. The cards were stacked against me taking a run. The dog woke me up too early on a Sunday with a shrill bark. There were issues with the kids. I was slightly (only slightly) hungover. I tried to make reservations for an upcoming family trip and the computer went wacko and I charged $4,100 mistakenly. That put me in a foul, foul mood. I knew running might take me out of it, but I was struggling with that motivation factor.

Finally, I decided to go to the gym and run on the treadmill. We do have a treadmill in our house, but I wanted to get out of the house for a change of scenery (hoping it would be a change of mood). I got dressed, grabbed my iPod and headed find out that you can't get into the gym on Sundays without an access card. WTF? Guess this is something you have to have on off hours and Sundays. I'm not so savvy. So I stood outside pulling the locked door so it made a lot of noise hoping someone would let me in. Nope. No good soul took mercy. So I put my head down and got back in my car, defeated.

I came home. The Superbowl was just starting. Hubby was grabbing his first beer. There was every reason to stay inside the warmth. I grabbed my Runner's World hoping to get inspired. Got a bit inspired and decided to head out. Changed into tights, grabbed the iPod for the second time. Headed out. Got into my groove, my pace. The sun was setting over the Rockies, the lake was gorgeous and literally 200 geese flew overhead honking their way, in formation, going north. I was glad I was out there. I felt better. And when my quick five miler was done, I had that feeling of "I'm glad I did that."

So when the odds are stacked against you and you're feeling too unmotivated to get out there - JUST GET OUT THERE. Don't give it too much thought. Just do it.