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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? 😉

First time for everything

Last Saturday was the Papa John’s 10-miler!

I was really looking forward to this race, even after a disappointing finish in the Rodes City Run 10k two weeks prior. And I knew this race would help me get ready for the mini-Marathon a month later.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a recap for you. For the first time in my entire running career (nearly 4 years!) I had to miss a race due to illness. 😦

I started feeling bad late Wednesday night. I had chills, felt feverish and my throat was really sore. I thought I was just getting a cold and that running with the sniffles would be no big deal. I also thought that since it was Wednesday, I had plenty of time to drink some tea, take some vitamins and “get over it.”

Thursday came, I got worse. I felt so bad Friday that I didn’t go to work. I debated all day and night about whether or not to run the next day but Friday night, as I laid on the couch feeling like death, I finally texted my friend Farrah and told her “I can’t make it.” It was hard for me to do that but I knew it was the best thing for me. The thought of running 10 miles in the cold, not being able to breath and not having much energy sounded like torture to me.

Luckily, my friend Chloe was able to run in my steed and she kicked butt! 🙂

I was really bummed Friday night but by Saturday afternoon, I was happy with my decision. Sometimes you just have to know when to say no. Sunday I felt my absolute worst and finally on Monday I went to the doctor — sinus infection! I ended up taking a complete week off from running and other exercise.

Now that I am feeling better, I am really excited about the Derby Festival mini-Marathon on April 30th. I’m glad I have 29 more days to get ready!

Guest post: Pitfall of comparison

I am out of town for the next few days so I have asked a few of my favorite bloggers to fill in for me while I’m away. Kim was the first local blogger I ever met and her friendship has been such a blessing. I hope you will enjoy her post! Please also check out her food blog 🙂

Greeting River City Fitness readers! 

I’m so glad you read Sarah’s blog and are encouraged by her healthy lifestyle.  I definitely am.  She has been a great source of encouragement to me while living here in the “River City”!

Since I started running in January 2009, I have noticed my feelings of competition and comparison have gotten stronger.  Sometimes, this is a great thing; other times, it can be very damaging.

Let me give you some timeline:

  • 10th grade: a 19 minute mile – I didn’t run at all
  • Jan 2009: 43 minute 5k pace 
  • March 2009 – my first 5k: 39.41 (I wanted it to be under 40)
  • November 2009: 35.49 (5k PR)
  • March 6, 2010: 36.03 (my last 5k with little training due to weather)

I was very, very happy with this time until I thought: Kim, you should have pushed yourself or you should have trained harder

While hanging out with a friend who also ran the same 5k last weekend, I asked her what her time was.  She said “Oh, it was very slow – a 29 minute.”  Ha – slow?  What was she thinking? 

Then I saw on Facebook this morning that a dude I know posted a 34 minute 5k.  How can these people who weigh more than me run faster than me?  I was shocked this morning – and then that makes me just want to get out and run.

But, if we only run because we want to be better than someone else, faster than someone else, skinnier than someone else – we are not running for the right reasons.

Here are some reasons you should run:

  • For your health
  • For your sanity
  • For your skin (Vitamin D, outside exposure)
  • For your skinny jeans

I love that last one.  In the past year + of running, my jeans size has gone from a 10 to a 6, my weight has dropped almost 25 lbs, and my cholesterol numbers were all better today than they were last year at this time. 

How do you beat your mind at the comparison game?  Set your own goals based on your abilities.  Don’t say, “Next 5k I want to beat so-and-so’s time.”  Say instead, “I want to run it without stopping” or “I want to beat my own time.”

That is my goal.  I am running a half marathon in June and I want to beat my first half’s time of 3:00:07.  That is my only goal. 

If you are going to compare – compare only with yourself.  Better yet, don’t compare at all.  Just get out there and run – for the health of it!  (That’s a slight change of a Louisville saying)

What are some good, healthy fitness goals you are setting for yourself?

Feeling like me again

I am so glad I took yesterday off from running, but I still got in a great workout. I feel like I’m finally breaking free of that all-or-nothing mentality I picked up from somewhere.

It used to be that I would always find a way to workout, even if it wasn’t what I had wanted to do that day. I feel like I am finally getting back to that point!

But today I did run, because my legs were rested and I wanted to, and it felt GREAT! 🙂

Distance: 3.36 miles

Time: 35:00

Pace: 10:25/mile

This was another treadmill run. I have just lost my patience with the cold weather and snow/ice. Hopefully, Spring is almost here because I would much rather be outside.

This time last year, I was struggling to run  after a hiatus over the Fall and early Winter months. But I changed my attitude and vowed to just run because I love to run and stop competing with myself and beating myself up for not keeping up with my training.

I took a real lesson from that today. Yesterday I was freaking out that the mini-marathon is in two months. I haven’t done a long run in several weeks because Saturday seems to be the snow’s favorite day to dump on us. In fact, I haven’t ran more than 5 miles since I can’t even remember when.

But…I didn’t stop running after the races I did last Spring. I achieved a personal record in a 5K in May. I ran through the Summer, Fall, Winter until now and that has paid off tremendously. I can easily run 4-5 miles right now, a little slower on the treadmill but at a pretty decent pace (under 10:00/mile) outside. I’m doing way better than I was this time last year!

I am going to run this mini-marathon, perhaps not as well as I did in 2008 (but surely faster than 2009 when I walked it), but that doesn’t matter.

I’m just going to do it!

For more running stories, visit my Races page.

Pushing the limit

Yesterday, I ran 4 miles on the treadmill.

I was “scheduled” for 5, but when I was closing in on 4, I figured I’d better quit while I was ahead. My knees were starting to hurt and I was feeling fatigued. A sure sign that I need to start refueling during longer runs, perhaps around mile 3?

I also felt like my “limit” on the treadmill was pushed a bit. I like to reserve it for short and speedy runs but today it was just too cold and I was in no mood to dodge snow and ice on the street and sidewalks. So getting to 4 was actually a big accomplishment, in my mind.

I took a short walking break in the middle to drink some water and catch my breath, so this pace is a bit slower than usual. But it was still a good run and I was proud afterwards!

Distance: 4 miles

Time: 45:11

Pace: 11:18/mile

My iPod was not working, so I had a lot of time to think during this run. Actually, that is what I prefer to do most of the time but the treadmill sometimes calls for distractions 😉

On this run, I got to thinking about the word training.

After some runs, I’m discouraged when my pace is slower than normal or when I can’t meet a distance I had set out to do. But isn’t that the point of training?

I can’t be at my best right now. I’m working towards it. It takes time, practice, patience. That is what training is all about! I’ll get there, it just won’t happen overnight. I have to keep at it.

So, I’m hopeful that even though the past few weeks have been challenging with the snow/ice and other conditions that have kept me from running as much as I would like, I can still train from here on out and do the best that I can considering the circumstances.

Not just 2 miles

On Friday, it rained all day long!

But, since the treadmill and I are slowly becoming friends again, I did a nice two mile workout on her at the gym after work 🙂

Distance: 2 miles

Time: 20:49

Pace: 10:25/mile

I was really excited to complete this two mile run and I think it was the first time in a long time that I haven’t thought of it as “just 2 miles” which I get in the habit of doing too often. Being able to run 2 miles comfortably is a huge deal and I’m thankful that I can!

It was a little bit slower than my last two mile treadmill run, but I am getting more comfortable with it and I have certainly been able to stay in the 10 minute range on most of my runs, which is a little goal of mine throughout this training process.

It ended up snowing here on Friday night and into Saturday, so I haven’t ran since then, but today I am going for a nice long run after work. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

How is your training going?

Back in training mode

Woo hoo, I am back!

 

We had a great 3 mile easy run today, which took place mostly on sidewalk but also on some residual snow. But it didn’t slow us down too much 😉

I was a little bummed at the end of last week when I had to adjust my training program so it was good to at least get one day under my belt.

Farrah said we paced around a 10:30/mile so we were a little slower than normal but it was fine considering the circumstances.

I wore the new technical fabric shirt I received last week with a vest, some running pants, gloves and ear warmers. I was totally comfortable, neither warm nor cold…perfect!

I’m glad I decided against an additional shirt, it would’ve been too much.

Inspiration

I have been feeling really inspired today which also helped me on my run today. But two bloggers in particular stood out to me today.

Tina is starting a 5 month program to get into tip top shape before her 30th birthday!

Kim blogs her meal plans for the week, which I think I need to start doing not just to stay on track but to make sure I’m staying within my grocery budget.

YOU GO GIRLS!

Hallelujah

Finally, a decent forecast!

Now all the snow can melt and I can get back to my Mini Marathon Training Program!

Yes, it’s still only 30 and it might snow tonight but I don’t care. It’s a vast improvement from the past few days. The last time I actually ran was on Friday (treadmill), so I am anxious to get out there. I’ll be all layered up and ready to go in an hour or so 🙂

Thanks to a lab I did for one of my classes this semester, I have come to realize that weather can sometimes be a barrier for me, meaning that it can get in the way of me and my intended exercise. It’s pretty much my only barrier, but it’s still there.

While I feel that I have now overcome exercising in cold temperatures, dangerous snow really put a damper on my workout efforts this weekend. Since I don’t have a treadmill at home, on the weekends I am at the mercy of Mother Nature as far as running goes. I feel like I did not do anything all weekend!

Hopefully, we won’t get any more snow storms like this one, but if we do, I need to be prepared with a back up plan. This may mean not running on some Saturdays but at least I will have an activity to keep me occupied.

Speaking of Saturdays…this coming Saturday, I am running a 5K! I almost forgot!!

Sing it with me: “We’re having a heat wave….” ha ha ha.

What are your barriers to exercise? Weather, time, people, energy…?

Snow day = Rest day?

Obviously the snow today put a wrench in my workout plans for today.

I was planning on running 3 miles either outside or on the treadmill, but since the snow took outside away (I refuse to fall and injure myself) and work closed early (taking the gym away) what was I to do?

Well, I did walk the dog in the snow, which is always a challenge.

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But more or less, today is now a rest day. I was planning on having one tomorrow but I will just trade it out for today.

This would be one of those times I mentioned where “life gets in the way” ha ha.

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However, I just read a tweet from Angela about the Whittle My Middle 2 challenge. So in that spirit, I’m going to do some abs before winding down for the night!

How do you handle having to change your workout plans?

Holy crap, this was my 7th post today. Ooh, 7 on the 7th. That’s lucky right? Either way, I feel all caught up now 😉