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Starting over with running

It’s hard for me to believe that there would ever come a point in time that I would not only be a runner, but be a runner so much that I actually got tired of it. Wow! It’s amazing how much your life can change when you change your priorities.

But that time has come for me again. I say again because this isn’t the first time I took a break from running. In 2009, I actually walked the Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon and you know what? That’s hard too! It was an entirely different experience and I’m so glad I did it.

This time, it was more or less, I just haven’t felt like running lately. Back in June, we hit the 90 degree mark and have had too many super hot and humid days to even think about running outside (for me). The treadmill was not calling my name either. So I decided, so what? I will take a break. Do some other workouts I enjoy, no big deal.

I noticed that I didn’t really miss running. I also didn’t miss the major appetite it gave me that sometimes caused me to eat too much. I didn’t miss the achy hips or tiredness I sometimes get.  I especially did not miss getting up early on Saturday mornings for races (hehe).

In July, we closed on our new home and started going through the seemingly never-ending process of packing, painting, moving, unpacking and so on. No time for running really and it was still too hot!

I really gave myself over to walking, yoga and some weight training. I even signed up for MyFitnessPal to make sure I’m still getting essential nutrients and to support some friends. And I have been feeling great! I don’t use a scale anymore but judging by my clothes, I’m a bit lighter. My moods are better and I have more energy to do things around the house and keep up with other responsibilities without being exhausted in the process.

Now, maybe running is not entirely to blame for this. I think I just needed a rest. Needed to slow things down a bit and get some perspective.

It’s been a couple of months now, the weather is cooling off and things are getting settled in my life again. I have decided I am ready to ease back into running. But nothing too crazy. I haven’t signed up for any races and while I do have hopes of someday  running a marathon (such as my dream of doing the 2012 NYC Marathon with my good friend Mari), I’m not in a big hurry.

I actually have dreams of standing on the side lines for someone else soon! Anybody need a cheerleader? Or maybe I will volunteer to work at a race.

For now, I have decided to start from scratch, the way I originally “taught” myself how to run. With intervals!

Twice this week, and hopefully one more time before it’s over, I have “walk-jogged” 2.35 miles. I decided to start with running 1 minute for every 4 that I walk. I have really enjoyed it and it has been great to “feel out” running again. Next week, I will move up to 3 walking, 2 jogging and so on but again, I’m in no hurry to do too much. I just want to enjoy this :)

Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon #4

It is so hard to believe that as of this past Saturday, I have completed the Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon four times!!!

Medal

Each one has been a unique experience and every year following 2008, I have just a tiny bit of regret that I did not train the way I’m “supposed to” for this race. In 2008, I had only been running a few months when I decided to train for the mini. I was so dedicated! I followed the program religiously and ran the entire thing without stopping and had a great finishing time. While I’m very proud of this accomplishment, I have found it hard to go back to that mentality since or even set a time goal near the one I had in 2008.

Why?

Because training for and completing that race burned me out, physically and mentally. I never wanted to run again. And when I did, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I can’t pinpoint one thing in particular that made it seem that way but I took me well over a year to love running again (I walked the mini in 2009). Ever since then I have had a more laid back approach to half marathon “training.” I want to have fun, not get sick or injured and not feel the pressure to keep beating myself. So I basically just run 2-3 times a week, usually around 3-5 miles and then I try to do a long run here and there.

The Triple Crown of Running really does help prepare you for the mini too. But this year, I missed the Papa John’s 10 miler and never ran more than 8.5 miles from January on. Oops. But, even as Saturday grew closer, I never dreaded signing up for the race again. When I went to get my packet on Thursday afternoon, it felt real and I remembered why I found running and races so exciting to begin with. There is nothing quite like crossing that finish line. Especially when just 4.25 short years ago, I was a very unhappy, unhealthy 216 lb version of myself. It’s easy to forget those days sometimes.

When Saturday morning came, I had every reason to think this race was not going to go well. My stomach was not cooperating (runners know what I mean), I was running late due to traffic (we’ve had flooding so some routes to downtown that we’d usually take were closed off), and I was not able to meet up with any of my friends who were doing the race too. But, thanks to this new laid back approach I didn’t worry and I lined up for the race with confidence and no expectations whatsoever. As for the friends thing, that was okay because I trained for my first mini alone and ran that entire race by  myself. So it was not new territory for me. I like to switch it up, even if sometimes it’s not intentional ;-)

I wasn’t far back from the front so almost as soon as I lined up it was time to cross the starting line.

Crowd

I had in my mind that I would at least run the first 3 miles and stop at every other water stop. When I reached mile 4, I stopped to use the port-a-potty, which took at least 5 minutes off of my time but it was well worth it. It was starting to get warmer outside so I took my long sleeved shirt off and tied it around my waist. I got a drink of water and then started running again. I was able to run the first 7 miles with no walking breaks, impressive for not much training! I felt my strongest from miles 5-7, like I was floating on air.

During miles 8-11, I walked for 30 seconds to a minute whenever I felt my running pace slowing significantly. You know like when you are jogging so slow that people walking are passing you? Then we would pass a cheering crowd and I would suddenly have the energy to start running again. It was getting even warmer outside, so I switched from every other water stop to all of them.

When it got down to the last two miles, my legs were not happy with me. They ached, burned and I wanted to stop.  So I walked for about half a mile, I’m guessing (I didn’t wear a watch). Then eventually, I was able to alternate walking and running again, even running a good chunk of mile 13, which was great because I ended up seeing my mom on the sidelines and got to run over and high five her! Thanks Mom :)

Not long after that, I walked again, because I knew that the finish of this race was elusive. When you come around that last turn you think “Yes! I am almost there!” but I have learned in years past that if you start sprinting too soon, you won’t make it. So I waited until the finish line was in clear view, then I picked it up a little and then started running my fastest to the finish line, passing a lot of people in the process. I didn’t hurt anymore, I felt strong and of course teared up as I came across that finish line for the 4th time, thinking of the “old” me and how far I had come in this journey called life.

Official time: 2:54:38

This is my third fastest half marathon time but my second best for this particular race (I ran the Louisville Half Marathon back in October). While I ran my first mini in 2:12:08, I decided not to look at this race as 42 minutes slower but rather this time is a major improvement on the last two years (3:07 in 2010 and 3:30 in 2009). Negativity is never the way to go!

Now for some highlights of this year’s race:

  • Seeing a couple walking a beagle down 3rd street which made me think of my Suzie :)
  • The “Duh! Winning!” sign on 4th street
  • The crowds cheering everywhere, thank God for you people. I want to be on the “other side” one of these days to cheer someone on!
  • High-fiving Mom at mile 13, the same place she and my dad were for my first mini in 2008 (nostalgic)
  • I chose to have iTunes “randomly” fill my iPod and it picked some great upbeat songs, I think it knows me
  • Even though I’m not a fan of horse-racing, this was the first year the horses were actually exercising around the track when we went through Churchill Downs. What beautiful creatures they are :)

I’m sure there are more and if I remember anything else, I will add it to the list!

I’m happy to say that thanks to a hot shower, Advil and proper refueling, I am not very sore from this race. A little achy in the quads but that’s it. I also iced my knees, shins, ankles and feet but accidentally forgot that other important part of my leg. Oops!

So what’s next?

I’m not sure. Part of me wants to give “real” training another shot and either try to PR the half marathon or perhaps complete my first full marathon! Part of me wants to just stick to shorter races like 5 and 10k’s and work on speed. And finally, part of me wants to take some time off, re-evaluate my goals and be a spectator for awhile.

But I’m not ready to make that decision yet. So in the meantime, I will just run when I feel like it and not worry about what the future may or may not hold for me. We’ll just have to wait and see! It’s never really what you expect or plan for, right? ;-)

Gearing up for racing season

Hi friends! Holy heck, where has the time gone?

I still have a few race recaps to share with you that I participated in this past Fall and Winter, but a more pressing topic is that Spring racing season has arrived! This Saturday, I will be running in my 4th consecutive Anthem 5k, which holds a very special place in my heart…it was my first race ever.

I had just starting running in September of 2007 and built myself up to 30 minutes, then gradually started working on distance. In early March of 2008, I crossed my very first finish line as a runner. It was probably one of the proudest moments of my life, the first of many. It helped me fall in love with racing.

But this year, I feel like a seasoned veteran and there is a good feeling that comes with that too. I am not anxious or worried about anything. I’m ready for any weather, any crowd (heard there are over 9,000 registered so far!), I already know where the bathrooms are, etc. Now I am just ready to go have fun running 3.1 miles.

The Anthem 5k is also exciting because it kicks off the Louisville Triple Crown of Running, which is three races: the 5k, the 10k and the 10-miler. This will also be my 4th consecutive 10-miler, but only my third 10k, as I missed that race last year when I was out of town.

All of these races lead up to the big one, which for me this year is once again the Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon. Someday I hope to do a full marathon but not quite yet ;-)

What are your racing plans for the Spring? Please share!

2010: A year of running

Happy 2011 everyone!

I still have a lot to catch you all up on but for now, I thought I would reflect back on the past year, most of which I have spent running! There was a time when I thought I would never run regularly again, let alone in long distance races but I have proven myself wrong again. Oh, how I love to do that!

I did a lot of other fitness-related things in 2010 but it was definitely the year of running for me. As a matter of fact, in 2010, I ran…

  • Nine 5k races!
  • One 10k race
  • One 10-miler
  • Two half marathons
  • My first 15k race
  • A nighttime 3 mile race
  • A 5-miler through Iroquois Park

There is nothing better to keep you motivated than to register for races. I tend to want to quit over the summer when it gets too hot and during the winter when temperatures fall below freezing and you have to wear 4 layers of clothing to stay warm. But having the races (and a great training partner) kept me going all year long!

There were times that I got discouraged and doubted myself. The mileage intimidated me as did my past finishing times. But after the 15k in September and especially the half marathon in October, I realized that I really can do whatever I set my mind to. I don’t have to be the fastest, I don’t have to beat my PR every time I go out there. I just need to have fun and enjoy the fact that I CAN RUN. And I can do so without soreness or injury. I am very blessed.

I am also happy to say that I have not slowed down at all. In fact, I started of the first day of 2011 with a 10 mile race! There are many more coming up this Spring, including the Triple Crown of Running and the Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon that I have to look forward to. I do hope to beat my 5k PR sometime in 2011 but no pressure! And maybe, just maybe, I will go for a full marathon in the Fall. We shall see!

What fitness goals did you accomplish in 2010? What do you hope to do in 2011?

Louisville Half Marathon 2010

I can’t believe it has taken me over a month to write this recap. The Louisville Half Marathon took place on Sunday, October 17th, 2010. Farrah (my running partner) and I originally signed up to run this half marathon earlier this year. We had a plan. We were going to train all summer and be ready for this race, no problem.

Problem!

Running over the summer was very challenging for us this year. As much as I prefer warm weather to cold, when it comes to running I am really sensitive to the heat. We spent many, many days at 90+ temperatures and for me that is just not conducive to running well. Farrah injured her foot over the summer as well. So we spent most of our time together walking or weight lifting.

When September came around, it cooled off slightly and I was able to at least get in a few runs here and there, including a 15k that I “winged” at the last minute (don’t try that at home). That gave me the confidence that I needed to continue on. But then, weather fluctuations kept happening, life got in the way, etc. When October 1st rolled around, we knew we needed to get down to business.

So we started a new running plan that has us running 5 days a week at various distances (mostly between 2-5 miles, with a longer run on weekends) and we decided that unless we are sick or injured, there are NO EXCUSES. If we want to become better runners and finish long races with smiles, we need to get serious. So we did. However, the Louisville Half Marathon fell on October 17th, a mere two weeks into our new program.

Could we do it? We didn’t know. Were we going to try? Heck yes!

The morning of the race we were both feeling good but not sure where the day would take us. I made enough songs on my playlist to cover 3 hours, which is about how long I figured it would take me. The first year we ran I finished in 2:12 and the year we walked was 3:30, so I figured somewhere in the middle was safe.

After the first mile, I lost Farrah as she took off into the crowd (this is not uncommon and doesn’t bother me in the slightest–she’s taller and more experienced, thus naturally faster). I decided I was going to run the first few miles and see how I felt. The first three came and went really fast, so I decided to shoot for 5. Then 6. When I got to the halfway point I walked for a minute, then kept going. One guy I passed said “You’re looking good, don’t give up.” :)

I kept waiting for the turn around point, which I knew would come at mile 8. When it did, I switched into walk/run mode because I knew that was the only way I was going to go the distance. I can’t remember the exact ratio but I would run for a while, walk for a little bit, then pick it back up. I did not wear a watch during this race, which at first was an accident but then it ended up being a blessing. I did not obsess about time and I just went with the flow, enjoying the view along the way.

The course was mostly flat, with a few inclines near the river and then close to the turn around. Running along the Ohio River was really peaceful. It went by so fast and I’ve never been able to say that about a half marathon before! When I came near the finish line, I saw Farrah, who ran the last 0.1 with me and my jaw dropped when I saw the clock.

I finished this race, a race I hadn’t really trained for, in 2 hours, 30 minutes and 58 seconds!!!

I was beyond happy and proud of myself. I was hoping to finish under 3 hours. I exceeded my own expectations in a way that I didn’t know I could. To say this race boosted my confidence in running would be an understatement. I must have thanked God a million times that day, for giving me the abilities that I have and the strength to use them.

The most amazing thing was that I wasn’t that tired. I went home, showered, ate, and went about my normal routine. I woke up the next day expecting to be super sore…nope. Farrah wasn’t either. We both felt like we hadn’t even run a race the day before. We must be doing something right!

Since then I have run one other race, which I will write about later. But in the month of October, I ran 78 miles and November has been going really well too. To follow my daily runs and thoughts, you can follow me over at the Daily Mile. That tool has been really useful for me and I don’t feel like I have to write a blog post about every. single. run. So I hope you’ll check that out!

Thank you for the support! I plan to get back to blogging regularly, both here and at See Sarah Eat very soon :)

See Sarah Run

Hello friends!

Sorry there hasn’t been a post here in a couple of weeks. I promise I have some really good things in the works and plan on posting something food-related this week!

But in the mean time, I thought I’d let you in on some news, just incase you don’t follow my other blog, River City Fitness.

I AM RUNNING (regularly) AGAIN! :)

After being on-again, off-again with running so much over the past two years (ever since I finished my first half marathon in April 2008), I finally feel like I’m back in the proper shape and frame of mind to be a consistent runner again. This summer, I really got into walking again and enjoyed that immensely. I also did Body Pump pretty regularly. Farrah and I also ran a few short races just to say motivated.

But as the summer drew to a close (even though the weather hadn’t yet) I was ready to move on to a new goal. I needed a new challenge. I was encouraged by the 15k that I ran most of when I didn’t think I had it in me.

Farrah, my friend and trainer/training partner, put together a running schedule that will take us from October 2010 through April 2011 (when all the big races happen around here). It was a little slow going at first, but now that I don’t worry about speed or beating any old PR’s (yet), I am really enjoying running again. I don’t beat myself up if I have to switch a day, or shave a mile off one day and add it to another.

I am making this work for ME.

In the month of October, I ran 78 miles! Just a few months ago, I never would’ve thought this was possible. Especially not when you consider 13.1 of those miles was the Louisville Half Marathon which we ran just two weeks into our training (recap coming soon).

We had signed up for this race months ago and didn’t expect it would go as well as it did. I finished in 2:30 and wasn’t even sore! I dare say it was…easy.

So, what’s different now? Why is running coming so easily (again) to me now than it has the past two years?

  • I don’t worry about time. In fact, during races, I don’t even wear a watch.
  • I embrace the beauty that is walking breaks. It actually helps my endurance and makes me run faster.
  • I realize what a mental game it is. Sometimes your mind is your worst enemy. I talk to myself more during runs now (and I pray)!
  • Like I mentioned in my 15k recap, I have no agenda. I just want to run, and often, because it makes me feel good. Races are just a good way to have fun and get some new scenery ;-)
  • I’m not trying to get better, I’m good enough already.

I have read so many blog posts and articles lately about people who run even though they hate it. I guess they want the challenge or to lose weight or something. But I’m here to tell you, if I hated running, there is NO WAY that I would do it. I think that is just counter-productive. Why do something you hate?

Not every run is great, that is for sure, but overall I love to run and I love the way that running makes me feel — good. That is why I do it.

I also would not run regularly if my body was not in agreement. I have been very blessed to have never been injured as a runner and for the past month, the only time I have felt really sore was after a strength training session! If your body is trying to tell you something, listen to it. Don’t force yourself to run if it hurts.

Now I am looking forward to keeping up with running during the colder months (if they ever get here) and then venturing into some races next Spring. I haven’t yet decided if I will do the Kentucky Derby Festival mini or full marathon just yet. But a marathon is becoming more of a possibility these days. So we’ll see.

If you want to run or used to run and are struggling to get back into it, here is my advice:

Sometimes you just have to take a step back, wait and be patient (it could be a long time too). Don’t expect to be the same runner you were two years ago. Don’t expect every run to be great. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else or even to yourself in the past. Stay positive. Just embrace the fact that you CAN run (when you can) and enjoy it. :)

You can follow my journey over at River City Fitness and keep up with my runs over at Daily Mile if you are so inclined. Thanks for the support!

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