Monday, April 30, 2012

Random thoughts on a "long" run

Scary self-portrait before run - when hope
still sprang eternal.  Like the running medals?
Yeah, they're not mine.  lol
So, my half marathon is in six days, and my last "long run" was done yesterday.  I can't say too much good about it, except that I got it done.  It was only 7.2 miles long, and my pace wasn't too bad overall - generally around 9:45 per mile.  (One longer walk break in the middle to suck down a GU pushed it to 9:52).  Generally speaking, I am supposed to be keeping my long runs to between 10 and 10:30 pace, but I cannot seem to do that.  The result?  I think I am training at what will end up being my race pace.  A real bummer, considering I want to go faster than that by a good 45 seconds per mile.

So, because I am tired and my brain is not firing on all cylinders this morning .... here is a simple list of random thoughts I had from yesterday's run:
  1. I am not trained well enough to get that sub-2:00 PR that I have dreamed about.  Oh sure, I have had a lot of runs - even up to a 10K - with a sub-9:00 pace, but I don't believe that is enough to carry me to a 9:00 pace for 13.1 miles.
  2. I hope the excitement of race day negates what I wrote in #1, but I am not counting on it.
  3. Although I feel I have trained smartly this time around, there is still serious room for improvement.
  4. As soon as I am able after this run, I am going to re-visit the whole speed work thing.  I think it's the key to my improvement and I should not be afraid.
  5. I really regret letting my strength training slide the past couple of months.  I am starting to notice old aches and pains creeping in.  They generally subside with strength training, but come back when I neglect it. I KNOW this, but still find it hard to get into a routine with it all.  (It's hard enough to find time to do the cardio!)
  6. I really need to work on eating more healthfully again.  Veggie burgers and sweet potato fries - while healthier versions of not-so-good food - are still not so good for you, especially the night before a run.
  7. I really need to concentrate on getting good sleep this week - and not burning the candle at both ends, as I seem to be doing a lot lately
  8. I really prefer Clif Blocks to GUs, but GUs are so much more convenient to suck down on the run. I wonder if it would be too gross to just load my running skirt's pockets with Clif Blocks sans bag or packaging - to make for quicker access.  Even putting the Blocks in little baggies still calls for a good deal of fumbling to open the baggies.  Would that get sticky after a while?  Or be too gross to contemplate eating?
  9. Why is it that with the temp at 50 degrees, I still get hot?  Ugh.  
  10. I need a massage.  My muscles are so tight right now that I feel I am walking around like a body builder on steroids (and not because of huge muscles getting in the way - more just from being stiff).
  11. I wonder if I could run in my running skirt commando.... Are they made for that?
  12. I hope the Kalamazoo Marathon knows what it is doing with GU Brew.
Regarding that last one, on yesterday's run I decided to try GU Brew, the beverage they will be serving on the Kalamazoo course, and I have to say that I am a little concerned.  The taste was okay, and I suppose it did what it is supposed to do.  However, mixing it was a PITA.  I admit I did not follow the instructions to a T.  They said to pour the powder into a half filled water bottle and shake.  I poured the mix in first, added the water, and shook...

...And watched as the mix sat on the bottom like sludge...  

...Even after several minutes of working the sludge with a fork to break it up, I was still left with a little chunk that I ended up throwing away, because I was afraid it would clog my water bottle.  Anyway, the stuff just didn't dissolve easily.  I have visions of no electrolyte replacement beverage on the course, because it is sitting like taffy on the bottom of the dispenser buckets.  Oh well.... I am sure I just did it wrong.

So, that's it.   Any thoughts on the above? Please share!

Happy Running!

Picture of the day:
It's kind of nice having E.
be the only girl on her flag
football league.  She's easy
to spot in all her pink.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Parenting my way to better running

A funny thing happened to me while out for a run yesterday - I found myself working for it.

Now, you might be saying, Duh, of course you were.  Running isn't easy.  Everyone knows that.  And, you would be right.  But, you can be lazy at it, and that is what I have been.

Of late, I have written a lot about how I have gotten moderately faster in recent months.  I wasn't really sure why, but yesterday I think I got a glimpse into at least part of the answer.  During my typical Wednesday morning group run, I was running with a friend who clearly was enjoying pushing me beyond my comfort zone.  I wasn't feeling it - my legs were tired and I hadn't prepared properly for the run - but I tried to keep up anyway.  Then it occurred to me - I was working for it.  

For some, this may be a "duh" moment, but for me it was an "aha" moment.  You see, I have always been a lazy runner, and in fact a lazy person.  I have always gravitated towards things that were easy for me.  If I didn't have a natural talent for something, I didn't do it.  Running is really the ONLY activity in my life that I have continued to do even after realizing I wasn't initially good at it (well, besides parenting, and with that I don't have much of a choice).  But even then, I haven't worked at it.  In fact, I had all but given up on it.  I had come to the conclusion a while back that I was not fast and would never be fast and that there was no need to ever really try to improve from there.  

Yesterday, however, while struggling to keep up, I had a flash to the fact that I am always telling my children that if they want to get good at something, then they need to practice, practice, practice.  That very few of us are born with an innate natural talent that we just excel at without putting a lot of effort into it.  But this was really a case of "do as I say not as I do," because my kids don't really see me struggling with anything - really working toward something.  Running should be the "shining" example of my work ethic for my kids (it's my one main hobby).  But, in fact, I had settled, become complacent with it.  

But then I started thinking, Really? Is THAT the lesson I want to teach my children?

And the short answer is NO.  I don't want to be that example.  

I guess this has all been on my mind lately because E. started flag football recently - yes, my daughter.  Football.  She is the only girl on the team.  (Heck, there aren't even that many in the whole league.)  And she is LOVING it - not the fact that she is the only girl (I don't even think she's noticed, really), but the football.  What kind of parent would I be if I told her that she didn't have much of a future in it?  If I taught her to be complacent? A terrible one, that's what.  Instead, I want to tell her to LOVE it!  Embrace it.  Learn as much as she can from it.  Work HARD at it, and the rewards will come.  However, I can't just TELL her this.  I know this now.  I need to SHOW her.

I want to show both of my kids that things aren't always easy, but if you keep at it, you can get better.  Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I would rather be that person - and that example - rather than the complacent, deal-with-the-hand-you-are-dealt example.  It's easy to be complacent; it's much harder to move yourself to find new challenges to conquer.

If E. is going to play football in a mostly all-boys, coed league, then I want her to be the best player she can be.  And, if I am going to run, I want to be the best runner I can be.  

For myself, I have made up my mind to find new challenges, set new goals, work hard, and see where it all leads.  I want to be an example of how hard work pays off.  

And, if need be, I will be that example of how if you fail, you pick yourself up again and start over.  After all, I have little people watching my every move.  

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world.  There is no doubt in my mind about that.  Trying to raise caring, loving, respectful, thoughtful, thinking human beings is a tall order - especially when sometimes I just want to scream in frustration at their antics and tell them to figure it all out on their own, mama is mentally checking out and will be back soon. But with parenting, as with anything you want to be good at, you can't just mentally check out.  You have to keep plugging away.

Happy Running!

More Run Away to the Bay Pictures...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another race, another taper, another two weeks of my life where I go slightly crazy

Here we go again.... Taper.  Why is it that tapering for a race seems like such a big deal?  Is it because it means the race is imminent?  The thing you have been focusing on for so long is now right around the corner and in a way the excitement becomes untenable?  Or, is it because it's an excuse - after a lot of hard work - to finally slack off completely relax a little bit?

Like most people (at least from what I have heard from friends and read from other bloggers), I go a little crazy during taper time.  I get a bit superstitious and I have this whole list of do's and don'ts that I follow for the duration.  So what's going on?  Am I giddy with excitement that the big day is almost here?  Or just happy to soon have this all done?

I don't know if there is a blanket reason for the taper madness, but I know for this particular race I am excited.  For the first time ever, I think I have actually trained well for a race.  I truly feel I have done all I could do to prepare, and I have no regrets about should've, would've, could've.  I have hit all my key training runs: done the long runs, done hill work, and even thrown in speed work.  I have cross-trained for general strength, done yoga for flexibility, and even done the elliptical once a week to keep things loose after the long runs.

The only thing I haven't done....wait, no, don't say it..... IS....stop - no regrets, remember?....strength training.  Ugh.  Okay, I said it.  I did fall off on my strength training a bit, ... a lot, ... pretty much altogether the past couple of months.

So, I guess I do have one regret.  But, honestly, despite that, I feel pretty good.  I still feel this is the strongest (ha! that's funny given the lack of strength training!), that I have ever been.  My runs have felt good!  No niggling pains, no feelings of having to work around something, even the shin has behaved.  (Knocking on wood.)  I am STRONG!

Really, I am excited to see what race day will bring.  I am open to all possibilities.  I will go into it knowing that I am ready, and accept that anything that happens from here on out is most likely beyond my control.  Will I get sick or catch a cold before the race like I did last year?  Not going to worry about it - beyond my control.  Will I pull a muscle getting out of bed in the morning, as has been known to happen once or twice before?  Not going to worry about it, beyond my control.  Will I trip on a trail as happens before almost every race?  NO!  I will not be running trails or cracked sidewalks or streets littered with debris.  (Some things I can control.)

So, what are my goals for this race?  I have been thinking a lot about that.  Originally, I had signed up to run the full marathon, but when my shin sidelined me for so long, I downgraded to the Half.  As things started perking up, however, I started thinking about how I could possibly run this hard.  So, my goals are as follows:
  1. Ultimate, pie-in-the-sky goal - Sub-2:00
  2. Realistic goal - PR in any which way (so, Sub-2:06:55)
  3. If-all-else-fails goal - As always, just to finish, not get injured, and have a good time
I have found out that the Kalamazoo races have pace groups for the Half, so I think I might try to hang with the 2:00 pace group and just see what happens.  I have never officially run with a pace group before, so this would be a new experience.  So, if nothing else, it might offer fodder for another Tale to tell.

In the meantime, I am working on visualizing the race in a positive light - happy thoughts, happy feet.  Or, something like that.  And, I am working on tapering well, i.e., not doing anything stupid.  I am kind of flying by the seat of my pants on the whole taper thing, since I really haven't researched it and am still a bit unclear on the concept.  So, this week, I am doing 70 percent of my latest, greatest effort, which is what I would do every three weeks anyway.  Next week, I will cut back to 60 or 50 percent of last best effort.  I am not sure which yet.  In any case - yeah!  The big race is almost here!
Happy Running!

Do you have any tapering advice for me?  What has worked for you in the past?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Mystery Run

I had a great last long run this past weekend in preparation for the Kalamazoo Half Marathon I am running in two weeks.  This was one of the few times I have attempted a long run past the typical beginner-program recommendations - you know, capping at 20 miles for a marathon or 10 miles for a half marathon.  Since I am no longer super intimidated by the half marathon distance, I thought I would just try to get in as many miles as I could before the race.  What worked out was a build-up to 12 miles, and that is what I did.

Well, actually, I did a little more.  Heading out the door Sunday morning, I soon realized I had failed to recharge my watch.  So, as soon as I turned it on, the ominous message of "low battery" popped up.  After a moment of OH-MY-GOD,-WHAT-WILL-I-DO hair pulling and gnashing of teeth, I just pulled myself together and decided to let happen what would happen.  (Secretly, I was hoping that if I didn't push any buttons it would suck it up and last for two hours.)  Yeah. That didn't happen. In fact, the battery died in about the first mile.

This presented two problems, of course.  One was not knowing exactly how far I was going, since I only had the vaguest idea of a route sketched out in my head.  (Ergo: Mystery Run) Thank goodness, I had even bothered to go online the night before to look at routes.  

The second was not knowing my pace.  Now, this was a problem because I really wanted to keep things slow.  After three weeks in a row of running long runs faster than I "should" be going - according to the McMillan calculator - I really wanted to make an effort to slow down this past week.  The positive side to not knowing pace, though, is that it really freed my mind from worry.  All that obsessive watch glancing that I usually indulge in was out.  After reflexively looking at a blank screen a couple of times, I gave that up.  And, to be honest, I sure didn't miss THAT.  Actually, the run was all in all pretty relaxed.

The only really downside to the run was that I was sore - really sore - from two days earlier in the week of running hills and one jaunt up an observation tower the day before at our local state park.  I don't know why I did that, but the kids begged, so I went.  (Score 3 for observation towers, zero for me.)  I don't know what it is about going up and down observation towers, but they always seem to be the proverbial last straw for me, as I always seem to go up them after a very busy week, exercise-wise.  And, it's starting to piss me off.  (Pardon my English.)  In fact, it makes me want to end any run I do at the park with a nice walk up the observation tower and down - until I can do so without reaction.  This summer, I promise you, tower, we'll go head to head.

So, yesterday's run: no watch, sore legs to start, and only the vaguest idea of where to go.  I LOVED it!  It didn't hurt that it was a beautiful day for running with temps in the low 50s and sunny skies.  I did a loop from the church where I started out (the kids were in an Easter program) back home.  When I got back home, after peeling myself from the floor where I had attempted to stretch, I got on the computer and tried to map out where I had run.  It turns out I did 12.27 miles.  That is good, because I had it in my head that I had either nailed the 12 miles or done a nine-mile route.  If I had done nine, I would have declared it a good run.  Since it was actually 12, I think it was fantastic.

The route yesterday was good for another reason besides distance.  This was a HILLY route.  I purposely tried to throw in as many hills as I could find in our relatively flat enclave.  Why do that?  Well, because I have it in my head that Kalamazoo will be hilly.  I spent a lot of time in Kalamazoo as a kid and I ran with the Kalamazoo Area Runners last year once when I was visiting.  I remember HILLS.  And, seeing as our neck of the woods is basically flat, I don't normally see a lot of hills unless I go looking for them.  

Like here.  I could run up and down this
about 100 times, but that would get
Anyway, I don't know if this race will be hilly now or not. The marathon supposedly has some hills, but from what I have read on their website the Half is "largely fast and flat [including] a few rolling hills along the way."  The elevation chart for the marathon shows this:

I dunno.  Does that look hilly?  Of course, the Half could be on a completely different scale, and that is fine by me.  In any case, mentally I am ready for hills.  I don't think too much could surprise me in that regard anymore, and that was what I was going for yesterday.  If there are no hills, I will be pleasantly surprised.  What I do know is that I am now officially in taper mode, and I feel pretty good.  I am still sore, but I am assuming that will go away.  Mostly, I am just excited to take part in this race, see how I do, and then move on to marathon training.  Happy Running!

Picture of the day:  Play equipment at
a local park.  We have no idea what it is
actually intended for, so the kids think
(like most things) it is for climbing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Redefining Normal

Well, here I sit.  It's kind of late, and there is nothing on TV - well, the six channels we have.  I have nothing to do but contemplate life, and I am loving it.  I wasn't going to write anything today, but since it's just me in a quiet, sleepy house, what the heck.

So, what am I thinking about tonight?  Well, mainly how normal keeps redefining itself. About how things that I once must have thought were odd suddenly seem like they belong.

One of the biggest examples of redefining normal, of course, is having kids.  Anyone who has seen the Johnson & Johnson commercials of old knows that having kids changes everything.  Whether those changes are good or bad, I will not argue here.  What is true, though, is that once one goes through that "change," that redefinition of life as we know it becomes the norm.  Was there a time when I could actually use the bathroom without intrusion and angry shouts of "he said, she did?"  I dunno, I don't remember.  See?  It now actually seems normal to have to referee fights from a shower.  Who knew?  

Now, this redefinition of normal is creeping over into my running life - once again.  Did the idea of running 20 miles for no real good reason - other than to say I could - seem "odd" once?  Yes, of course.  But with two marathons under my belt (and 20 of Hubby's), I adapted and now that seems normal.

Somehow, though, Hubby, a.k.a. Distance Dude, has brought a redefinition of normal into our space yet again.  He is gearing up to go on a 35-mile training run tomorrow.  Thirty-five miles,... that's 3-5, people.  It still boggles my mind.  I mean, that is nine miles longer than my longest GOAL distance to date - and it is a training run.  The strangest thing about it to me is that he thinks this is completely normal and makes sense.  Even stranger than that, though, is that I think it is normal, too.  We should probably both have our heads examined.

On a personal scale (which is much smaller than Hubby's), my running life seems to be redefining itself, too.  Prior to a few months ago, running a 5K or 10K race somewhere between a 9- and 10-minute-per-mile pace was amazing to me.  Running a group run longer than four miles and being able to hang with the group the whole time was cause for wild celebration.  Suddenly, though, with the turn of one 5-mile race - where I managed to maintain an 8:41 pace for the whole race, normal was redefined.  I thought it was a fluke, but the past month and a half have shown me it is not.  I am now regularly racing in that range.  Group runs are not as much of a struggle as they once were either.

Normal is being redefined.

Today I had the best impromptu group run ever, I think.  I wasn't even planning on running with a group, but the opportunity presented itself and I grabbed it.  I ended up doing 6.4 miles - of hills, no less - in 1:03.  That works out to an average pace of 9:49 - with my LAST MILE being the fastest at 8:59.  And, there was a lot of walking in there, so I know the running wasn't slow.  In fact, as long as I was moving forward, I kept the watch going.

So, there is a new normal in town; a plateau has been busted.  I don't know that I can really explain why this is happening now, of all times, after having been running for eleven years regularly and when I am coming off of an injury that has really confounded me.

But I'll take it.  I'll enjoy it.  I'll revel in it.  Until a new normal - faster or slower, longer or shorter - is defined.

Happy Running!

Have you had a new normal defined for you lately?  Please share!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Run Away to the Bay Race Report

Ok, it's taken me a while to put this baby together, but here it is.  Sorry if it seems a bit rambling, and sorry for the lack of pictures.  Heading out of the house, my camera was the one thing I forgot to take along.
A Relay?

First of all, why do a relay?  Well, that's a good question.  I think long distance relays are kind of becoming the thing to do in the running world - at least around here.  In Wisconsin alone, you have access to a couple of big events: the Fall 50 Relay in Door County and the Ragnar Relay series (Madison to Chicago, Winona to Minneapolis), just to name a few.  If there is nothing appealing to you about riding in a car for eight to 24 hours with a bunch of stinky, sweaty, tired runners, then consider this: how often are you a part of a TEAM?

I think, bottom line, that is what is appealing about doing a relay - at least for me.  Running is such a solo sport. You might belong to a club or train with a group.  But when it comes right down to it, running is about my time, my pace, my splits, my race.  Runners don't often get that feeling of camaraderie that comes with being a part of a team.  Relays are the one place (or race) where you can do that.

In any case, that is why I like doing them.  I like working together as a team towards one goal - to finish an event.  I like everything from choosing a team name and dressing up (if that's how you roll), to packing for the event and decorating the car.  I like riding around together and spending the day talking.  I LOVE stopping and cheering on my teammates, and - of course - I love the running.

So, last year when I heard that there was a new relay coming to town - Run Away to the Bay (put on by Run Away Shoes) - I knew I had to do it.  Unfortunately for me, my mysterious shin injury got in the way.  I never signed up a team; I turned down offers to join other teams.  I thought I was out of luck. Then, as luck would have it, though, at the very last minute, a friend of mine needed someone to fill in for a runner who was unable to make it.  By then, my leg was feeling pretty good, and I was able to say yes.  And, I am glad I did.

The Recap

The bottom line on Run Away to the Bay is that it is a race put on by runners for runners.  What does that mean?  It means, anything that would normally irritate you in a race isn't there, because a runner set it up.  This was a well thought out event.  It's still in its infancy, if you will, so there is room for tweaking.  But, the basic structure is in place and this will go from a fun first-time event to a FUN GREAT race in the future.

So, where does it go?  Adapted from their website:
The relay begins in Menomonee Park in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, winds its way through the towns of Neenah and Menasha, utilizing portions of the Fox Cities Marathon course, before merging with Midway Rd/Schmidt Rd and heading towards Kaukauna. It then traces a part of the rural countryside of Calumet County before entering the Fox River Trail just north of Forest Junction. The course follows the trail for close to fifteen miles before popping out at the DePere Boat Landing on the Fox River.  Runners then cross the river and join up with a portion of the Green Bay Marathon course. The finish line and post-race party are at The Bar on Holmgren Way, only a short drive from the fabled Lambeau Field.
There are ten legs in the relay, with the shortest one being three miles and the longest at close to eight.  As with all relays, you are expected to have one runner run a leg, while the rest of your team piles into a car and drives to the next exchange point.  Teams could consist of two to six runners, and you could mix up the legs any way you wanted.  At the exchange point, runners are swapped out and the day goes on.  Gatorade, water and restrooms were provided at each exchange point.  At Exchange #5, at the halfway point, there was chicken noodle soup, broth, and bagels for refreshment. Volunteers at all the exchanges and along the course were friendly and helpful.

There were some scenic routes along Lake Winnebago's shore and along the Fox River Trail, and into parks and through nice neighborhoods.  There were also some not-so-scenic ones on bigger roads and through more industrial areas.  Regardless of where you were running, though, the course was well marked, and signage was everywhere.  

Instead of passing a baton or slapping on a snap bracelet, Run Away to the Bay provided Nathan safety vests to wear.  Teams were expected to pin their race number to the vest and then just pass the vest back and forth. Although I realize these were provided for safety reasons, the vests were a little hard to pass between runners.  Some teams were a little more on the ball than we were, though, as we saw teams who had TWO vests, so they could prep runner #2 before runner #1 got to the exchange.  When runner #1 arrived, they basically just had to congratulate the one, wish luck to the other, and they were on their way.  Next year, if the vests are used again, this would be my strategy as well.  

Coming in as a last-minute replacement for my team, I would have been happy running the three- and four-mile legs originally assigned to me.  As it was, however, soon after coming on board, I was asked if I could swap legs with another team member who had broken a toe a couple of weeks earlier.  (She was still running, just not as long.)  I said sure, and that is how I ended up with legs 1 and 10 (eleven miles) for the race.  That's not unprecedented for me.  I once ran legs 1 and 9 of the Fall 50.  However, I found it amusing - as the outsider coming into this team - that I somehow got what I consider the honor legs - starting things off and finishing them up.  

So, to race day....

The day of the race dawned cool and clear.  I drove over to my friend's house, where we all piled into her minivan to make the 20 or so minute ride down to the start.  Once there, it was fun to run into other friends and chat with everyone as we got ready.  The start was pretty low-key with coffee brewing and music playing.  One of the runners in our leg did a great job singing the national anthem before it was time to don the vest and toe the start line.  

There were four waves for the relay event, starting at 7 am, 8 am, 9 am, and 10 am, respectively.  This is so teams with different paces can all participate and hopefully finish up around the same time.  Because our team started at 8 am, I had it somehow in my mind that everyone would be running around a 9-minute mile.  Yeah, not so much.  When the horn sounded, the crowd took off, and I felt like I was left in the dust.  Looking at my watch, I could see I was running 7:30, which - as anyone who knows me knows - I cannot maintain for any length of time.  Soon, the bulk of the pack started pulling away.  Too bad, too, because as it turns out, I did a very decent (for me) 8:15 for the first mile, and I ended up averaging 8:46 for the 5 miles.  

While the day had started out cool, the air felt humid and I found it hard to breathe for much of that first leg.  By the time I came into the exchange point, the sun was starting to peek out and the promise that the weather forecasters had made of 75-degree weather was about to be fulfilled.  After making the exchange with our second runner, we all hopped in the car and drove to the next exchange, which was located at a local watering hole.  There I made use of the restroom to completely change out of my sweaty running clothes into drier versions of same.  If I am going to have to sit out eight legs, I am not going to do it sitting in my own sweat.  The second exchange offered beer tastings of Miller64, one of the sponsors of the race. I am not a huge fan and it was a little early for me, but a lot of folks were bellying up to the table for that one.

Various tastings were a nice touch at the Run Away to the Bay.  Aside from the beer tasting, there was also a chocolate tasting provided by Wilmars Chocolates in Appleton and wine tasting at the Ledgestone Winery (one of the exchange points on the Fox River Trail).  Now, those I was happy to partake in - and they were both delicious in their own right.  Raffles were there to be entered as well.... My favorite was the win a free bar of customized chocolate once a month for a year!  Of course, the free month of yoga or the gift card to a local running store would have been great, too.

Taking part in a relay that lasts over eight hours long, you would think it would be a long, perhaps even boring day, but it isn't.  I am always surprised at how fast the day goes by.  Dropping runners off, picking them up, cheering your team on, cheering other teams on, talking with folks along the way: that all goes a long way towards keeping me entertained, and really the day becomes a blur.

By the time I got to my last leg at Leg 10, I was kind of ready to be sedentary.  It's hard to get all pumped up when you have: 
  1. Already run five miles earlier in the day
  2. Been driving all day
  3. Been cheering people on all day
  4. Not eaten very well
  5. Had two samples of wine not an hour before, and 
  6. Are sweating it out in 75-degree weather
That all being said, though, that is what makes a relay FUN and CHALLENGING.

So, with the day drawing to a close and the promise of the finish line ahead, I accepted the sweaty, much worn yellow vest from my friend and trotted off towards the bridge that would take me over the Fox River and towards The Bar.  Green Day pounding in my ears, fresh Gatorade in my handheld, I felt pretty good.  For about a mile.  Then I crash landed on the Planet REALITY.  

It was H O T.  

I mean, we've had a warm winter, but nothing can prepare you for that first day of really hot weather.  Granted, looking back we all keep telling ourselves that at least it wasn't Boston hot.  But, seriously, at the time, you couldn't convince me of that.  The last leg could not boast a lot of shade, and pretty soon I had drained my Gatorade.  It wasn't too long until I took my first walk break.  Then I took another.  And another.  Each time I did, I watched my average pace drop 10 seconds.  Ah well.  Not much you could do but put the head down and get through it.  A huge contrast to leg 1, but what are you going to do?  That's the joy of the relay, whose motto should really be Suck it Up, Buttercup; It's Time to Take One for the Team.  Well, a slow one.  Cause it wasn't going fast.  At least not for me at that point.  I apologize to all the cars and teams that drove by and cheerfully cheered me on.  I didn't mean to just half-heartedly wave and grunt at you.  Next time, I promise I will do better.  In the meantime, to the finish....

Yay!  Finish Line.  Done.  Get my medal.  Dump water on head.  Enjoy a quick beer.  Take a photo.  Get in line for post-race massage.  Grab some food.  Grab some water.  Already feeling better.  The post-race party didn't last long for my team.  We were all whipped.  However, it looked like a fun party.  The DJ was a riot.  The music was grooving.  The beer was flowing.  And, everyone was in a great mood.  It's fun to celebrate a team accomplishment with other teams.  

So, to wrap it up, our team finished in 8:26:08 - not a bad endeavor.  And, more importantly, it was a fun day. Run Away to the Bay was a good event.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  Would I recommend it to other people?  Sure.  Will it ever be as popular as some of the other relays?  Only time will tell, but with some tweaks here and there, then yeah - I think it could be.  

Happy Running!

Hill Revenge

So, I got in a nice little 5-mile run today on a fairly hilly route with the running group.  Since we decided to do a little field trip from our normal coffee shop meeting place (to check out another cafe about a mile away), the question of routes came up.  However, P.D., one of the members of the group, kept saying he had a route planned out for us.  Don't worry, he had it covered.  Well, within the first half mile or so of the run, he had us heading down a long flight of stairs into this park, only to run up a nice, steep hill.  Before long, it became apparent that that was not going to be the only hill of the day.  In fact, you could say that hills became sort of the theme.  Hmmm, I can't help but wonder if the hills weren't for my benefit.  (Yes, in my mind, it IS all about me.)

You see, I happen to be in charge of our club's April fun run, "The Beer Run," and last year - to help set it apart from the other beer runs popping up - I asked P.D., also our club's maps guru, to map out a nice, challenging, hilly route for the 10K.  He did, and ever since I have felt the heat of that decision.  Mostly, it's tongue in cheek ... I think.  You see, I get teased a bit, because I don't actually RUN this fun run.  Some may feel that ordering up hills and then not running them is something akin to ordering up a round of Jaegermeister shots for everyone and then not partaking yourself (not that I've ever done that).  However, I am in charge of "hosting," and I take that responsibility seriously.  I feel it is important for someone to stay behind at the bar while everyone runs.  After all, someone needs to test the beer watch the sign in sheets, keep the bartender company, make sure the sign doesn't fall down, and direct any stragglers.  So, to some it may look like I am just sitting around, doing nothing but sipping beer, but really there is a lot of work involved.  After all, someone has to have a smile on their face when everyone gets done with the run.

And, anyway, for the most part, the folks who participate in the fun run like the challenge of the few hills (...eight...) that we have.  The ones who don't like the hills probably don't come.  (Maybe that is why our numbers went down from last year to this year?  Food for thought, I guess.)

In any case,  I can't help but wonder if P.D. didn't think this was a fun opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth was.... i.e., run some hills, since every spring I keep proclaiming how great they are.

So, it was a tough run.  Aside from the hills, I was way overdressed.  Leaving the house, it was 40 degrees and rainy.  Arriving for the run, the sun peeked out and it got warmer.  Suddenly, the thermal shirt, jacket, and insulated tights I had chosen seemed like a really poor choice.  Ah well.  I survived, had my coffee, and all was good.

In fact, generally, I thought the run went really well.  That said, though, I am happy that this week is the last big push week until taper.  I am ready to slack off rest a bit before my half marathon in May.  With any luck, taper will go well, and I will head into this race feeling better than I have in a long time.  I think the potential is there.  So fingers crossed; thinking cap on, so I don't do anything stupid in the next three weeks; and happy thoughts.

Happy Running!

By the way, a race report for the relay is still coming.  A relay is such a long event that for me (who writes too much anyway) to write something concise is proving to be a challenge.  It's coming, though!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catching up on my sanity...Be back soon

So, you may not realize it, but I owe you a race report.  I had a GREAT time running the inaugural Run Away to the Bay, a 55-mile relay, on Saturday, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to sit down to the computer and share the experience yet.  It's been a crazy busy week, and I think I am still catching up on my sleep, work, chores, family time, sanity....  You know, the usual stuff that you let slide when things get hectic.  I'll get to it soon, though.

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite pictures (well, after I cropped off my gut hanging out) from the event - me with Aaron Rodgers.  Nice of him to show up and report for volunteer duty, wasn't it?  Hee-hee!

I'll post more soon!

Happy Running!

Also, don't forget, I have a fun giveaway coming up soon, courtesy of Peak Performance Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine.  Stayed tuned!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Remembering Boston

The Boston Marathon is this weekend, and I want to wish all of my friends running it well.  Good luck and have fun!

Last year at this time, my Hubby and I were in Boston so that he could run his first Boston Marathon.  My role during the trip was that of chief cheerleader and run supporter.

After the expo.  Even I came away loaded
down with stuff, including new shoes!
The Boston Marathon expo rocks, by the way.
At the finish before the big day.
Mile 22 - the only spot I saw Hubby on the course.  He's there somewhere.  Trust me. 
With his medal.  Finished!
With all the focus on the marathon, that is not to say I didn't get a chance to do some running as well.  I had a couple of my favorite running experiences to date while in Boston.  First, on Saturday of marathon weekend, we did a five-mile jaunt with Christopher McDougall (of Born to Run fame) and ultra runner Scott Jurek, as well as some other notables.  The CEO of Vibram was there and Michael Sandler of, to name a few.  No doubt there were others.  The run was to promote barefoot and minimal running, and there were a lot of folks in Vibrams or even sans shoes.  Hubby and I had dabbled a bit with minimal running, but at that point didn't trust ourselves to go unshod, so we wore our shoes.  However, we were welcome, too, and it ended up being a great run along the river and a good time.

Hubby and I with Christopher McDougall
Hubby with Scott Jurek
Monday, while Hubby got on the bus to Hopkinton, I laced up my shoes yet again and took off on a five mile run or so following the Freedom Trail, which takes you past Boston Common, Paul Revere's house all the way to Bunker Hill and back.  I took some pictures along the way and really enjoyed my time as a running tourist.

The Freedom Trail
USS Constitution
Bunker Hill Memorial
The obligatory self-portrait
Someday I may make it to Boston as a marathon participant, or I may not.  I know that for now I am nowhere near the qualifying times for the run, and it's hard to say that I will ever improve enough to go.  My friend Ann ran the race in 2010, and yesterday as we were running she mentioned maybe wanting to get back when she turned 50.  That's only eight years away - for both of us.  So, I jokingly (seriously) said that if she took me under her wing now and trained me up, I would go too.  She jokingly (seriously) said sure.  So, I am now officially on the 8-Year Plan to Boston.  Ha-ha!  I don't know if I can make it, but I have eight years to shape up and try.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hello, Mocha, I've missed you

I had the most amazingly hard run today, but it was wonderful.  For some reason Monday after my speed workout - six miles with three measly 2-minute intervals at 8:00 pace thrown in the middle - and my crunches and push ups, I stood up to a sharp sciatic pain in the butt.

I was not pleased.

This pain persisted through Monday and into Tuesday.  Hot yoga Tuesday morning seemed to alleviate the sharper pain, but I was left with a dull pain in the rear.  Why this happened?  Who knows.  *Yawn*  I am starting to get bored by tired of my daily aches and pains.  This one comes at a bad time because of the relay I am running this weekend, but what are you going to do?  I'll just take things one day at a time.

In any case, I went into today's group run feeling a little dubious about being able to hang with anyone.  I wanted to avoid hills, speed, and trails.  What I got were 1) hills, 2) speed, and 3) trails.  Am I that much of a sheep that I follow a group when they are doing things I said I would avoid?  No, of course not.  But the fact is that I wanted to run with the group, and I am stubborn enough to stick out the route even if it isn't what I would have chosen for myself this day.  Also, I forgot my watch, so if I wanted an accurate read of my efforts, I needed to hang with someone who had one.  lol

Anyway, sticking it out gave me a far better reward than if I had just dropped off and done my own thing.  I was reminded once again, that while I am not the strongest runner out there, I am STRONGER than I thought.  And, I'll take that.  When feeling down about feeling less than stellar, a strong run is just the push I need to tip me over into happy land again.

So, 4.5 miles done.  It was a mix of road and trails, and when we took our first pause, I found out we were going 8:15 pace.  Say what?!?  Needless to say, I tried to slow down a bit after that.  When one of my friends had to take a phone call regarding a race she is directing this weekend, I was happy for the extended walk break.  All in all, it was a great run.  I discovered a plethora of hidden trails that I hadn't even known existed, and I had fun talking with my friends.

Sweaty post-run self-portrait!
So, run aside, why was this particular Wednesday so special?  Well, the chocolate challenge in done, so I got to order one of my beloved mochas again!  Hurray!  Woohoo!  Yippee-skippy!  I was happy.

Happy running!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Running Towards a Happy Birthday

The birthday run is a new concept for me.  I mean, I have read Dean Karnazes' book - heard his story about how he started running again by running 30 miles on his 30th birthday, and I admit to being in complete awe of that decision.  I think to myself, how cool would that be?  In real life, however, I had never really thought normal people do such things.  I was wrong.  As it turns out, a lot of people do these things, and yesterday I got to take part in one.

Yesterday, my friend Ann turned 42.  I don't think she'd mind me revealing that since to celebrate she invited anyone who wanted to come along to join her on all or part of a 42K (26.2 mile) birthday run.  Since I needed to get ten miles in this weekend on Sunday anyway and I was able to coax the GPs (grandparents) into letting the kids spend the night, I said I would join her.

My plan was to be there at the start of the run at 7 a.m.  Unfortunately, I timed the 45-minute drive a little too closely, and this didn't allow for any errors.  So, when I had to turn back to get my Garmin only a few blocks from my house, I already knew I was in trouble.  Getting to the University of Wisconsin Green Bay (UWGB) campus, which I had never visited, only sealed the deal.  I hadn't asked enough questions on where exactly I was going; had understood this parking lot, not that one.  So, I ended up circling around for quite a bit looking for cars with running stickers on them before finally deciding to park at a little cut-out right next to the trail.

I felt a little funny starting on my own, but I could clearly see the trail from my car.  And, since I had made the drive, I was determined I would do the run with or without others.  Besides, I figured I had simply parked in the wrong spot and knew there was a good chance I would a) either run into my friend on the trail or b) come across her car somewhere.

Obviously I didn't feel so funny at the start that
I couldn't take a self-portrait.
The deep, dark woods.
So, I locked things up, grabbed my Gatorade and Garmin and headed out.  Right away the trail dipped a bit into the woods, going under the road I had just driven and then disappeared into the trees on the far side.  It ran right alongside the Bay of Green Bay for a bit, and while it was beautiful, I couldn't shake the creep factor of being alone on a trail I didn't know.  (I had no idea where it was taking me!)  As it turned out, it took me to Ann's car.  Before I had even run a mile, I popped out into a parking area right next to the water and something called Lambeau Cabin (so, that is what Ann meant by Curly's Cottage; I had wondered.)  

Now, having found Ann's car, I decided to trot back the way I had come to move my car.  That way, at least they would know I was there.  In doing so, I ran right into Ann and another friend of hers only a hundred yards or so down the trail.  They kept me company on the run to my car, before running back to where they had parked.  I drove my car to the new parking area and met them there.  After regaling them with my morning's misadventures so far, we took off.

Bay of Green Bay
 The trail itself was great!  It consists of a 4.5-mile loop that circles the UWGB campus.  Some of it is paved, but most of it is actually crushed gravel or wood chips.  There are surprisingly quite a few ups and downs as the trail goes past a golf course and campus buildings before wending its way through the woods.  There are bridges, road crossings, hills, and even a tiny little stream crossing (you can step over it).  We even saw white-tail deer on the trail.  The Green Bay Running Club hosts a 6 and 8 hour ultra on the trail in June, and I can see why they like it.  It is challenging, and yet with the woods and soft trails, a person could reasonably expect to be shaded for part of it, and it would be easier on the legs.  Looping around every four or so miles is a plus, too.  There is no need to carry a lot with you.

As for my run, it was fantastic.  It was tougher for me from a pace standpoint.  I really had wanted to go between 10 and 10:30 pace, but with the others, it ended up averaging out to 9:55.  The others in the group consisted more of hardcore marathoners and ultra runners, so for them this was nothing more than a FUN long run.  They didn't care about pace at all and were happy to keep me company as I tried to push myself to keep going.  Trust me, I wanted to take a lot more walk breaks than we did, but I tried to challenge myself.  I am sure I slowed them down a lot, and despite telling them to go on - leave me behind, I was secretly grateful when they didn't.  The conversation was great, and before I knew it ten miles was DONE.  I have to say, I have never experienced ten miles go by so quickly before.  

So, I am sold on the idea of the birthday run!  During our run, two other friends of Ann's joined in and ran a portion of the trail with us.  After I left, I heard later that a handful of other folks showed up as well.  What a great way to celebrate a birthday - running and with friends.  Hmm, I keep thinking to myself now, I turn 42 this year.  Theoretically, I will have trained for and completed a marathon in September.  Is it so odd to think that a couple of months later I could celebrate my own birthday with a similar endeavor?  Something to keep in mind.

Peeps for the Peeps.
Scary picture of me mid-run with the birthday girl.
Stretching afterward.  Thank goodness for
the picnic blanket in the back of the car.
I needed to stretch before hopping in the car
for the drive back.
Have you ever celebrated anything with a run?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Motivation, where did you go?

I woke up this morning with a feeling that nothing productive was going to get done today.  I don't know what that is about. So far this week, I have been rocking my schedule - taking things on, checking off items on my to-do list left and right.  But this morning I feel that energy vibe starting to peter out.  I don't know.  Maybe it has something to do with several nights in a row of six hours of sleep.  Some people can live on that.  I cannot.  And, frankly, I should know that by now.  So, I will muddle through this day as best I can and hope I get my mojo back.

This has been a good week fitness-wise.  After PRing at the 10K on Sunday, I have followed that up with an increased effort week all around.  After several weeks of either maintaining current effort or taking my rest week (at 70 percent of normal effort), I have turned up the volume on all my workouts.  So, my week has thus far looked like this:

Monday:  Slow Flow Yoga and 35-minutes elliptical (up from 30 min,)
Tuesday: Power Vinyasa Yoga and 6,000 meters rowing on the ERG (up from 5,500 meters)
Wednesday: 60-minute run (up from 55 minutes)

Yesterday's run was particularly rewarding because I went into it feeling sort of sluggish - possibly from lack of good sleep.  In fact, I was wondering if my less-than-enthusiastic anticipation of the run would lead to a bad run.  (You know, negative self-talk and all that.)  I told myself on the drive over to the coffee shop to shape up and just let things happen the way they were meant to.  And, it went great!

I ran with the group for the first five miles, and I had a great time talking to a friend of mine along the way.  It was a slightly hilly route, and I was glad to have someone to push me along.  (I think I would have taken a lot more walk breaks otherwise.)  After circling back to the coffee shop, I added another twelve minutes to finish up the hour I had hoped to run.  I ended up doing 6.3 miles in about 61 minutes.  Average pace of 9:39.  Not bad.  I felt happy going in to coffee and didn't feel the least bit guilty about ordering my Vanilla Caramel Latte.  (It was delicious, by the way.)

Today on tap I have a 6,000 meter row and then tomorrow I am heading up to Green Bay to join a friend for part of her birthday run.  I am really looking forward to this run.  I am curious about the trail we are going to run on and it just sounds like a fantabulous way to celebrate a birthday.  My plan is to do ten miles tomorrow and make this my long run for the week.  I realize that - given my track record (ha! a pun!) - moving my long run from Sunday to Friday is a possible invitation for disaster; my body doesn't seem to like surprises like this.  However, I am hopeful that if I take it slow and listen to my body, I will be fine.  Fingers crossed.

Day 37 of the No-Chocolate Challenge:

So, as a final thought, I was thinking this morning how happy I am that the no-chocolate challenge is almost done.  What have I learned from this?  Well, certainly that I haven't lost my taste for chocolate - I can't wait to eat some on Sunday.  In fact, I have missed it so much that I probably won't ever give up chocolate again.  So, not very deep, huh?  No great insights into what I am made of, no deeper understanding of who I am and what makes me tick - just a deep-seated assurance that I will never give up chocolate again.  Sad, but in a happy way.

Lindt, we will meet again soon...

What do you do when motivation lacks?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Writer's Block and Door County Fall 50 Relay - Can't Wait!

I realized this morning I hadn't posted anything in a couple of days and thought I should rectify that before things get hectic again.

It's been crazy busy this week - in a fun stressful way - with running-related activities.  In my real life I write articles for two different running club newsletters, send out e-mails for our running club, and edit a paper version of the newsletter as well.  This week it seems like all of that has come due at once.  So, instead of blog writing, I am article writing.  Normally, I really enjoy the whole writing experience, but this week I have suffered something akin to writer's block.  So far, I have managed to squeeze out one of my articles, but it was a stretch and I wasn't too happy with the end result.  As one friend told me on Facebook, however, having one article being sub-par will make all my other articles look like "fabulous dipped in awesome!"  Doesn't she have a way with words?  I loved this line!

Anyway, fabulous dipped in awesome notwithstanding, I find that if I am supposed to be sitting down to write an article - or do any other work for that matter  - then I have to sit down and do it, not putz around on the computer.  So, that is what I have been trying to do this week so far - with mixed results as you can see, because really I should be working on something else right now!

So, aside from the articles and editing and e-mailing, I am also in charge of soliciting charities to help work at our club's training runs and updating our running club's brochure.  I really do enjoy working on all these projects (so don't think I am complaining, because I am not), it's just been hard to work them all into a schedule already busy with non-running related activities.

2012 Door County Fall 50

One thing that I am excited about  - that I did manage to accomplish - is I registered a team for this year's  Door County Fall 50 relay race.  I have done this event for four years now, and it's really a lot of fun.  After not even being sure I would do a team this year, I am now fully committed to Mama Bird and the Peepettes - an all-girls team made up mainly of my Wednesday morning running group's girl power contingent.  So far we are a four-person team with the possibility of a fifth.  Either way, it will be a ton of fun, and I foresee a lot of laughs that weekend.

The Door County Fall 50 is a fabulous race!  It starts out at the tip of the Door County peninsula and then wends its way 50 miles through scenic towns and backroads to the finish at Sturgeon Bay.  It really showcases the natural beauty of Northeast Wisconsin.  There are ten legs, so everybody usually takes on two, with the first half being fairly hilly and the second half more flat. There is awesome support along the course, a great halfway buffet, and a rockin' after party at the park at the finish with free pizza and beer and dancing and music.  It's really a great time.  

For those crazier than me (at least at this point), there is a solo category as well.  Hubby, a.k.a. Distance Dude, ran the Fall 50 solo two years ago.  It was his first ultra, and apparently it hooked him on the distance since he's now a committed (or should be) ultra fan.  Apparently, it's a pretty fast course as far as ultras go.  Last year's winner Zach Bitter won the solo division in 5:26:52, smashing course records, and - I believe - running the fastest 50-miler of the year. 

Hubby at the start of his solo adventure two years ago.
This year, Hubby will be running with a friend in the Pairs category.  Their plan is to bike their non-running legs, so that should be a fun twist for the guy who is always looking for new challenges.  

This race gets more and more popular every year.  So far this year, three days post registration opening,  the teams division is 61 percent filled and the solo category is 20 percent filled.  A great event!

Here are a few more pix from over the years:

Start line
Exchange point along the water
Approaching the finish
Finish line beer tent
Great shirt and bling medal for all participants
So, that's all for today.  Stay tuned for another great giveaway coming up courtesy of the good folks of Peak Performance Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine!  I am very excited about this one.  Details to follow.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Scheels Run for Home Race Report - 10K PR!

To truly write an unbiased race report for the Scheels Run for Home would be hard for me.  It is a race that our running club puts on every year and one I have been involved with in some capacity or other for a number of years, so, of course, I think it's GREAT!  So, more than just a generic report, I'll give my personal account of the event.

When last I left you, it was the day before the Run for Home, and having signed up for the 10K, I was trying to decide how to run it: easy peasy long run pace or as fast as my legs could carry me.  Well, as life would have it, the kids were spending Saturday night at the grandparents, so that Hubby and I could enjoy a rare date night.  For us this weekend, that simply meant dinner out and a DVD back at home.  Hubby was in a celebratory mood, as he had spent his day in the Milwaukee area running the Trailbreaker Marathon - once called one of the top 25 toughest marathons in the U.S. by Marathon & Beyond.  I don't call Hubby Distance Dude for nothing, and he proved once again why I like that moniker for him.  He placed sixth overall in the marathon, finishing first in his age group.  Crazy.

Over a dinner of avocado egg rolls and Mediterranean-style pizza and while sipping a cosmopolitan, we had a great evening talking about everything.  Back at the ranch, I had another two beers while we watched a DVD - uninterrupted and with the sound at a reasonable level, so as we could actually hear it.  For a few minutes, I thought we'd actually be able to watch the movie without subtitles for once, until the dog decided to play with her obnoxious squeaky hedgehog toy.  Oh well.  Subtitles, after all.  All this to say that any plans I had had to run the 10K hard went right out of my head.

The next morning, Hubby had to be at the Run for Home early to volunteer.  I woke up and got myself ready at a leisurely pace.  Having downgraded this event to a simple training run in my mind, I felt pretty relaxed about the whole thing.  In fact, I was so relaxed that I almost arrived too late for the start, pulling into the parking lot with just fifteen minutes to spare.  The race takes place at the baseball stadium for our minor league baseball team - a farm team for the Brewers.  Since I was so late, I needed to park across the parking lot from the stadium.  This wasn't a big deal.  I just used the parking lot for my warm-up jog.  (You know how unscientific I am about these, since I only started doing them at the Point Bock Run in March.)  I jogged from my car towards the stadium, jogged back to my car when I realized I had forgotten something, ran back toward the stadium to the registration area, ran back to the entrance of the stadium towards chip timing....You get the picture.  Along the way, I ran into a lot of familiar faces and friends, which made it more fun.

Being in charge of sending emails out for our running club, I had been watching the weather forecast all week and advertising that race day would be partly cloudy with a high of 70 degrees.  Well, that didn't pan out.  The day of the event dawned fully cloudy and a chilly 39 degrees or so at the start with a projected high of only in the low 60s.  I had chosen to wear my running skirt and my long-sleeved Lakefront Marathon technical shirt, along with my Hubby's compression calf sleeves.  For the race itself, that didn't turn out too badly, although it was chilly standing at the starting line.

As you can imagine, I didn't have a lot of time to wait around, seeing as I was so late.  However, I must have looked very approachable yesterday morning, because in that brief time I was chatted up by two different ladies: one asking about the compression gear, the other about Lakefront Marathon.

I had forgotten my music, so I was really just looking to take it easy during the 10K.  Honestly, I was.  As I got started, however, something clicked over in my brain and I felt myself doing a little more than my easy peasy long run pace.  I can't even explain what happened.  It wasn't like some killer instinct turned over inside of me.  I didn't even consciously make the decision to RACE.  I just slowly found myself picking up the pace until by the time I was a mile into the event, I felt like I was fairly committed to just running by feel and giving it my best shot.

The result?  A 10K PR! As far as I can tell anyway.

I haven't run a lot of 10Ks; I really have never liked them.  They're too short to lollygag but too long to not think about pace.  A lot of 10Ks I have run were before I ever kept track of such things as results.  However, a search last night for information leads me to believe that this is over a four minute PR on my best 10K race time to date.  Previously - in 2006 - I ran a 10K at 59:07.  This race, I finished in 54:57, for an 8:51 average pace.  The kicker is that in looking at the day's 5K results, I realized that if I had run the same pace for the 5K event, I would have gotten second in my age group.  (Hey, it's all about who shows up that day, isn't it?)  As it was, I was 12th in my age group and finished right smack in the middle of the field.  Hmm, ergo "average" runner, I guess.

I don't know what has gotten into me lately, or what has changed.  These past few months, I have definitely gotten faster.  I can't explain it, but I'll take it.  I still feel like someone should pinch me so I can wake up.  On average, I am running a lot faster than I ever have before.  I keep expecting someone to show up and say, sorry, we had the clocks wrong.  Either that, or I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.  With Point Bock, I was convinced that my PR at that 5-Miler was a fluke.  But, now I am wondering.

In any case, the Run for Home is a good event if you are in the area - and I am not just saying that because our club puts it on!  The course wends its way through the local technical college's campus into area neighborhoods before turning around and coming back.  There is a slight hill going both ways, as you have to go over a bridge, but it's not that daunting.  Mostly, the course is flat.  It's fun to start and finish at the baseball stadium.  The last two-tenths of a mile are around the baseball field's warning track, and you finish up right near first base.  There is a ton of food afterwards, and the kids' races are a lot of fun.

In fact, that was my next stop, as my volunteering position had me working the finish line of the kids' quarter-mile, half-mile, and mile fun runs.  That was a blast! I loved watching all the kids' excitement as they started out, and it was fun to encourage them to keep going if their race had them doing more than one lap around the field.  E. did great running on her own for the half mile.  She always makes me smile, because - like me - she has a tendency to take walk breaks, but when she runs, she is FAST - passing everyone she can reach.  If she ever decides that running is what she wants to do, the other kids will have to watch out.  LG did awesome, too, in the quarter-mile event running with Hubby.  He makes me smile in his own way, because as small as he is, he is stubborn and doesn't give up.  Both kids have been doing this event since they could walk, so it is nice to see the tradition continue.

I'll post some pictures from the race later, but for now - that's my race report!

Happy Running!  (Or, in my case today, Happy Yoga and Elliptical!)