Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mission Accomplished (phew!)

I did it! I ran my 10k run in fewer than 75 minutes! (I’ll pause for applause)

Celebratory glass of water in an appropriately-themed glass
Celebratory glass of water in an appropriately-themed glass

My total time for the 6.2 miles was 73 minutes. 73 sweaty, grueling minutes, but 73 minutes just the same. After a good night’s sleep, I awoke Saturday morning to beautiful sunny skies and temperatures already climbing into the 40’s. I made myself a light breakfast and after eating it and letting it settle (nothing ruins a run like having to poop in the middle of it), I donned my running gear and hit the road.

Everything was aligned for me to have a fantastic run; the weather was warm and clear, I’d gotten plenty of rest and had taken it easy at the gym the previous day, I had a good route planned out, and I’d swapped out my tired old running soundtrack for something fresh, but for whatever reason I wasn’t feeling it on Saturday and what could have been a pleasant jaunt in the Bavarian countryside ended up feeling an awful lot like work.

I intended to run the route that Don and I had gone 6 miles on a few weekends ago so that the biggest hill would come right at the beginning of my run (I once did part of this route in reverse and when I finally made it up the hill, I had to sit down because my lungs were threatening to mutiny) and it would be easy to add the extra .2 mile. All was well until about 3.5 miles into my run when my legs started to feel like cement and the sun, which had felt like a blessing at the start, began to feel like an adversary trying to slow my progress by melting me. In this situation, I think there is an easy solution for most people: stop and take off a layer! The solution wasn’t so simple for me, though. Yes, it would be easy to remove my fleece pullover and tie it around my waist for the rest of my run (which I eventually did), but because it is a pullover and because I had both my iPod and my heart rate monitor strapped on over it, I had to come to a complete stop for a minute or so to reconfigure everything. It’s not the stopping that is the problem- it’s the starting up again!

Celebratory mug of beer- consumed AFTER properly hydrating
Celebratory mug of beer- consumed AFTER properly hydrating

With my legs already feeling like cement, they strongly protested to being made to run again after given the blissful freedom of standing still, but they eventually resigned themselves to their fate. The second half of my run was slower than the first, and just when I thought the end was in sight and I only needed to run up a short side street to tack on the last .2 of my 6.2 miles, I hazarded a glance at my FitBit and realized that I actually still had .75 of my 6.2 miles to go. I had forgotten about a turn that Don and I had made that brought our run to an even 6 miles, and this left me with the crushing disappointment of thinking I was about to finish and realizing I still had almost a mile to go.

I’ll admit that it was possibly the slowest 3/4 of a mile that I have run in recent history, and I’ll admit that I was pretty angry with myself for forgetting that last crucial turn, but there was little I could do but keep on chugging along. Because of this error, I ended my run going uphill which added insult to injury but as luck would have it there was a park bench conveniently placed just beyond where my run officially ended. After confirming that my 6.2 miles were 100%-really-truly-all-kidding-aside FINISHED I collapsed onto the bench to celebrate (there were many celebrations: the bench celebration, the celebratory glass of water, the celebratory shower, and later the celebratory liter of beer followed by the celebratory Paul Simon & Sting concert- all of this for only 10k run alone. Can you imagine how I’d celebrate if I ran a marathon?).

It seems fitting that the concert Don had bought me tickets to for my birthday fell on the same day I crushed my running goal, and it was a really great way to celebrate. Now I’ve accomplished my goal and it is time to think of a new one. While I’m disappointed that I spent half of my run hating myself and thinking about how, if I really truly wanted to, I could go the rest of my life without running another step, there are a few things that I’m really glad about. The most obvious of these is that I’m glad I was able to actually run the 10k in under 75 minutes, but I’m also glad that I was more than 3 miles into my run before it really started to feel like work- that would not have been true a year ago. I’m glad that, despite having to wait at a few crosswalks and making a time-consuming wardrobe change mid-run, I was still able to make my time goal, and what I’m most glad about is that it is over!

Paul Simon & Sting: nothing says celebration quite like this!
Paul Simon & Sting: nothing says celebration quite like this!
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Tick-tock, tick-tock…

The countdown is on (it has been for a few days now)! This Saturday I will set out to run 10k (6.2 miles) in under 75 minutes. If you are a runner and you are reading this, it might sound like not a very long distance and not a very short amount of time to do it in, but I assure you, it is both of those things for me. Today will be the last training run (2 miles, Jack has agreed to accompany me, we’re hoping to do them in 20-25 minutes) before the BIG EVENT, and I must admit that even with all of the successes I’ve had in training (need I remind you that two Saturdays ago I ran 6 miles? On my own two feet? And I lived to tell the tale? Ahem, maybe you didn’t hear me, 6 MILES!!!!), I’m nervous about Saturday. I’ve learned more than I thought I would by training for my 10k run (a race only against my own limitations and time itself, not actual other people), and one of the most important things that I’ve learned is that- like everyone else – runners have good days and they have bad days. The good days happen when you’ve gone 3 miles without even realizing it, the bad days happen when you barely get out of sight of your house before you start looking to see how far you’ve gone and how far you have left to go. Lately I’ve been having more days verging on ‘bad’ than ‘good’. The main problem is that I start to think about all of the things that I have do do when I get back from my run- the chores, the errands, the replies to dear friends’ emails- and I lose sight of the importance of what I’m actually doing while I run (making myself have a longer lifespan and defying the laws of physics). What will be most important to me on Saturday will be to stay in the moment and focus on getting from mile 0 to mile 6.2 without worrying about what’s next. I’m arming myself with a fresh playlist and a good night’s sleep, and will report back on whether I’ve achieved my goal or fallen short.

In the meantime, my good friend Amy who lives in NOLA just yesterday recommended an easy at-home fitness program. Amy is a busy gal and was having a hard time finding a fitness regime that would fit into her jam-packed school/work life that also didn’t require her to have to pay for an expensive gym membership, and she credits this one at Jessica Smith TV as being the best. She likes that she can workout at home (just hit pause when it’s time to check on dinner in the oven!) and that Jessica gives modifications to make the exercises easier or more difficult depending on where you are in your fitness journey. You can buy DVD or digital downloads from the website, and Jessica also has a YouTube channel of free workouts (one I’ve posted below). Free is my favorite price (yours too? no way?!) and I took a look at some of what she has to offer and these videos look great. Thanks Amesface for cluing us in!

Variety is the Spice of Life

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My Granny once told me that variety is the spice of life, and, although at that point she was referring to my dating life, I think her advice applies to all aspects of life, especially fitness. Having some variety insures that things don’t get stale and we remain interested in fitness and it also means that we are more likely to work our entire bodies so that we have better overall fitness and achieve our goals faster. Good advice, Gran, thanks!

Lately, as you may have noticed, I’ve been doing an absurdly disgusting amount of running which means I’ve been a little lax in doing other forms of fitness. This is partly because I have other things to do during the day besides hang out at the gym, partly because I feel that if I’m torturing myself by running distances of greater than a mile at a frequency of more than twice a month I should get to have a little bit of a break from everything else, and partly because I’m worried about the risk of doing a serious leg session (squats, extensions, curls, raises, presses…) the day after or before a run day or on any day when my legs feel a little sore from running. When I’m running three days a week, it’s hard to find a day that doesn’t fall into any of those categories.

I’ve been trying to make sure I don’t let my upper body strength fall by the wayside in the midst of all this running and also to make sure I’m maintaining flexibility, which I know with every fiber of my being will help ward off running injuries and make me a better runner overall. In addition to the normal weightlifting, using a Neila Rey prescribed workout when I can’t make it to the gym, and keeping loose with Adriene’s yoga, I’ve also been mixing things up with a new circuit training/TABATA class at the gym. I was heartbroken when the spinning class I enjoyed so much got bumped to 7:00pm this winter and then was cancelled entirely, but this circuit training class makes up for it a little bit.

This class is a full body workout and usually consists of nine different stations that are done for three rounds of fifty seconds each (with a little rest in between each round NOT (as I had hoped on day one) between each station), and then a final speed round of thirty seconds for each station. The total time for the entire class (with breaks and instruction time) is slightly less than one hour, and I’m pretty tired and very sweaty when its over. These are the BEST workouts in the shortest amount of time and could easily be tailored to be done just about anywhere with no equipment other than your smokin’ hot body. I really love these classes and am grateful when my schedule allows me to attend one, and I highly recommend checking to see if your gym offers them. They are the ultimate quick and dirty- don’t let the 50 seconds for each station lure you into underestimating these workouts, you’ll work hard but you’ll also be finished with your exercise and resuming your regularly scheduled programming in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.

An update of this week’s running: We are two weeks away from my March 28th deadline! I managed to stay hydrated and feeling fine all week, and Don joined me for a long 6 miles yesterday morning. We had a pretty good pace (6 miles in 63 minutes), and I enjoyed having Don’s company but was kind of annoyed that he was always a little ahead of me and still seemed fresh at the end of the run when he had been out late with his friends the night before and was a little hungover, and I had gone to bed early and drank nothing but water and tea all week. Some guys have all the luck!

Public Service Announcement -or- Do as I Say, Not as I Did

Blogging Cat will take care of this, you go relax!
Blogging Cat will take care of this, you go relax!

I sat down to write this blog post yesterday, but I couldn’t muster the energy to remain seated upright in front of a computer, so I lay back down and watched movies instead. On Saturday, I took advantage of the sunshine and warm spring weather and ran my longest distance EVER- a little over 5.5 miles. Along the way I decided that there are too many hills where I live and that I really, truly despise running, but I did it and I’m fairly proud of it.

The run, however, was not the reason I was too tired and weak to do anything but lie prone on the couch yesterday; Saturday night was a regularly scheduled ladies’ night for me and my friends, and I made this cocktail to share with them. In between my 5.5 mile run and sharing the delicious sparkling grapefruit and gin cocktail with my friends (I can hardly type the word gin without feeling queasy), I forgot to hydrate. Sure I had a glass of water when I returned from my run, but that was it and it wasn’t enough.

Hello, beautiful!
Hello, beautiful!

After my run, I was so sweaty that I had little streaks of salt on my face and probably should have consumed a gallon of water, but I didn’t and I woke up yesterday morning feeling like death warmed over. I again would like to remind us all about the importance of hydration,and while I’d also like to warn you against trying the above mentioned cocktail, I really can’t because it is too delicious- just make sure you’re properly hydrated. Consider this a PSA from someone who  has learned her lesson the hard way.

Today’s plan is a slow 3 mile run with my buddy Jack, and I am currently drinking some refreshing water in preparation. I believe it was George Bush who said “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” (or maybe he never quite said it), and I’m definitely not going to get fooled twice in the hydration game. I spent most of yesterday guzzling water and herbal tea, and I’m not going to follow this run with gin (although I bet it would have worked for Betty Draper). I’m waiting for the temperature to warm up a bit, and then I’ll lace up my sneaks, snap a leash onto the hound, and off we’ll go. I’ve already filled my 48 oz Nalgene with water to take to work with me, and I’ve stashed a smaller water bottle next to the shower in order to minimize the risks of forgetting to hydrate again. I may be overdoing it, but I’d rather be over-prepared than feel like a half-dead desert creature.

Resting up for the run. Did I ever tell you my dog is solar powered?
Resting up for the run. Did I ever tell you my dog is solar powered?

Scared Straight

In college, I had an acquaintance who told me that when she was a teenager she started to get into a lot of trouble, and her parents (I think maybe in conjunction with the local police force- the details are foggy in my memory) hired someone to pick her up and pretend to arrest her in order to show her what life might be like if she didn’t change her behavior. Essentially, they wanted to “scare her straight.” I have just finished disc one (of three) of ‘Weight of the Nation,’ and this movie has had a similar effect on me; it almost elevates poor health as result of bad diet choices and lack of exercise to the anxiety-inducing level of terror that climate change causes me to feel. At this point in the film, I’d like to eat only lettuce for the rest of my life and pledge myself to working out for an hour before going to work, on my lunch break, and after work every day. On weekends I think I’ll just spend the entire day working out. I’m kidding, sort of.

I actually am not as terror-stricken as I would have been prior to starting this fitness journey, but seeing the rise of obesity rates detailed in cold, hard data really emphasizes how dangerous this problem has become. The body type that people considered heavy in the 1980s is much different than the one we consider heavy today; this point was illustrated for me about a year ago when Don and I were watching the movie ‘Stand by Me.’  In this movie, there is a boy whom the others tease for being fat, and to me he looked like an average boy. Our idea of what a healthy body type is has changed quite a bit. This problem is so dangerous not only because it is costly for our health care system to have to treat all of these completely preventable problems, but the personal toll it takes on us to watch our friends and loved ones, or even ourselves, succumb to these diseases, some of which, as you’ll learn if you watch ‘Weight of the Nation,’ did not exist thirty years ago.  After I watch the rest of the movie, I’ll give it a proper review along with ‘Forks Over Knives,’ ‘Hungry for Change,’ and ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.’

I started the weekend by checking-in with Kim about my progress toward my 10k in under 75 minutes goal. We (she) decided that I should set an actual calendar date deadline as opposed to my sort of vague “by the end of March” original deadline, so I chose March 28th as the day. Soooo….. I have four weeks to talk myself into running with enough of a sense of purpose to cram those 6.2 miles into the length of time it takes to watch a Disney movie. I feel good about this (at least that is what I keep telling myself).

Yesterday, I bailed on my running date with Kiki and opted to trudge out alone. We had had a late night out at a beer garden sampling bock bier- a delicious seasonal dark beer that has a high alcohol content and is the first sure sign of Spring in Bavaria- and had made plans to run whenever we both felt up to the task. When I awoke yesterday morning, it was immediately apparent that at no point was I going to feel up to the task. I was a little hungover which put me in a foul mood, and sometimes misery loves company, but not yesterday.

I ended up going 5 miles (5 endless, excruciating  miles) on a different part of my dog walking path in one hour exactly. It was hard work and it was decidedly not fun, but at the end I felt like I had redeemed myself for my excessive indulgences the night before and my foul mood had transformed into a cheerier one. What I’m learning about running is that the hardest part (after the pain in my legs from having to propel my body faster than it wants to be propelled, and after the feeling that my lungs are going to burst, and after the hammering of my heart that makes me wonder if it is going to explode in a Game of Thrones-ian firework of blood) is the mental aspect. Some days you go out for a quick jog and end up running 5 miles because everything felt so wonderful, and other days you set out for your long run, and when you feel certain your legs are going to give out from exertion, you look over your shoulder to realize you haven’t even made it out of the driveway yet. Its really a tough sport.

I’m going to keep on plugging away at my training plan and hopefully the good days will outnumber the not-so-good days. March 28th will be here faster than I want it to be!