Monthly Archives: September 2015

Overkill

Two weeks ago, I overdid it.

In addition to the usual Tuesday and Thursday night runs with the group, Don and I signed up to do another fun 5k on Friday night. This 5k took place at sunset on the flight line at the nearby Marine Corps base and was fun and picturesque, but was a silly idea to do in light of the fact that we had a 12 mile run to accomplish two days later.

Post 5k Selfie. Thanks to Andrew and Alice for the hat!
Post 5k Selfie. Thanks to Andrew and Alice for the hat!

My 12 mile run was terrible. I was hot and tired from the beginning, and my frequent walk breaks did little to revive me. I finished the run but was discouraged by how weak and tired I felt especially since I felt so strong running 10 miles the week before, and I think overloading my running schedule was to blame.

My weak and tired trend continued into last week’s Tuesday and Thursday runs, but luckily  I felt better during yesterday’s 8.25 mile run. When I’m feeling tired, the mental part of running comes more into play and I guess having a few bad days on my way to the marathon will help toughen my mind for what’s to come.

Yesterday we had a breezy, soggy run with a few rain showers and plenty of puddles, but the absence of the sun made our 8ish miles almost enjoyable. I’m trying to keep an open mind about what is to come this week; we have 14 miles ahead of us on Sunday and it feels like an almost impossible goal, but I know that if I psych myself out about the distance I will only make it that much harder to do. One of the things that keeps me going (in addition to the knowledge that each step brings me closer to my couch) when I’d much rather not is that fact that I’m not suffering alone!

My soggy posse.
My soggy posse.
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Getting better all the time… or at least not getting any worse.

We ran 10 miles on Sunday.

We were blessed with an overcast day, a strong breeze (that was at our backs on the way home, mega bonus!), and only the briefest of rain showers around mile three that I found quite refreshing since it didn’t soak me any more than my own sweat would have anyway.

Our fledgling group of six met around 6:30 and hit the road immediately so that Don could make it home in time to watch his beloved Chargers and the rest of us could carry on with whatever Sunday plans we had made (mostly napping). My plan of a slow and steady run was a good one, and by the time I reached the 5 mile turnaround point, I was still feeling pretty fresh. Thanks to the cooler weather and my slow pace, I actually only felt fatigued during the last half mile- part of which was uphill- which was impressive.

We're smiling because it's over!
We’re smiling because it’s over!

We don’t get to rest on our laurels for very long; this weekend we have a 12.5 mile run looming over us, and I’m feeling the same excited dread for this upcoming run as I felt for the 10 miler. My plan will be the same; slow and steady so that I can finish without crawling  on hands and knees the last mile, and I hope Mother Nature blesses us with a nice breeze and maybe some overcast or partly cloudy skies. I was disappointed to learn that our route is in nearby Kaneohe because Kaneohe is very hilly, but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles (did somebody say cookie???).

The bright side is that I have been feeling stronger lately. On Tuesday night, we did a five mile “tempo run” which means we ran a little bit over a mile at a normal pace to warm-up, then ran about 2.5 miles at a speed that was faster than our normal comfortable speed and raised our heart rates, and then about a mile of jogging to cool down. I didn’t have my trusty heart rate monitor with me, so I’m not sure how above normal my pace was, but I know that when I started to speed up, I didn’t think I would be able to maintain that pace for the entire 2.5 miles, but I did! Training is paying off; I’m able to pick up the pace when needed (for short spurts) and the hills are starting to feel less like a suicide attempt and more like an uncomfortable experience that I hope is over quickly- like a visit to the dentist.

Tonight, Mike has promised us another hill workout, and I can tell from the distance outlined on the route map (very short), that the hill must be pretty steep. Perhaps I’ll channel some of Mindy Kaling’s motivational thoughts to get me through tonight’s hill run and Sunday’s 12.5 miles.

Say it aint’ so! Ten miles is a long way to go!

Tomorrow Don and I will embark on our first 10 mile run.

I am both terrified and excited about the prospect of our first double-digit distance. It seems like such an important benchmark in running, and, while I know it will be hot and tiring and hard, I think I can do it. Had I considered the prospect even two months ago, I think I would have felt otherwise. Joining the running group has not only given me more insight into training, but it also provides me with a support system for when I feel like I couldn’t possibly take another step even if there was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting sitting juuuust out of reach.

So much of running, for me, is mental, and if I can talk myself out of taking too many walking breaks or ducking out early into the sanctuary of my air-conditioned car, I can claim victory. Seeing the other runners in our group struggling (or not struggling) with these same things puts my fatigue into perspective and makes it easier for me to talk myself out of quitting. The people who I draw the most inspiration from are Terry, a man who just celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday (yup, 70, as in seven decades of life!), and the handful of “real” runners who make running look like a breeze but offer the same complaints- being tired and out of breath at the end of a run, dreading the big hill in the middle of the run, and really looking forward to seeing Cheryl’s car along the way- as I do.*

Terry is living proof that a life of physical activity keeps you young and healthy (I would have guessed he was in his early 60s), and those “real” runners remind me that even when you train hard and are super fit, running still kinda sucks. While this may not seem all that inspirational, it puts into perspective that the burning in my legs and lungs and the sweat blinding my eyes are simply a part of running and I can either let them deter me from accomplishing a goal I have set or I can power through and make it to the end.

The old saying misery loves company has never been more true than when applied to a running group. The camaraderie that develops between people who are sharing the same pain on the way to a common goal is essential to our success as a group and individually. Some of our stronger runners, including our fearless leaders Mike and Kelly, will be absent from our 10 miler this weekend because they are competing at the Hana Relay on Maui (a 52 mile relay race- yikes! I’d join if a team could have 52 runners, but, sadly, a team is only allowed 6). At first, I was worried this would mean that it would just be Don and I doing our 10 miles together- which would really mean that it would be the two of us for about a mile, and then I wouldn’t see him again until I made it back to the car- but the rest of us have banded together to make sure we don’t have to go it alone.

My plan for tomorrow is slow and steady (when isn’t this my plan? It has been my life mantra since I first formed a coherent thought!). With all of the training we have done, my pace has been picking up a bit, but with the help of my heart rate monitor, I’m going to find a pace that seems maintainable (driving my car with the AC on full blast seems the most maintainable, but I think my teammates would frown upon that… unless I offered them a ride), and not worry about time. Don is hoping to finish in time to catch the Chargers game, so I’ll do what I can, but he could always pick me up after the game since it might take me that long to run ten miles!

Our long run last Sunday was about 7 miles (although there were discrepancies between the various gps and pedometer devices some of us use, so it was somewhere in between 6 and 7 miles and since I like to err on the side of giving myself more credit than I deserve, I’m calling it 7). We ran a loop that gave us beautiful views of Kaneohe Bay and the mountains surrounding it and then out to He’eia Pier for some more beautiful views of mountains and water. I need to find a way to bring my phone with me on runs so that I can capture some of the spectacular scenery that makes them extra worthwhile. Mike seems to be especially adept at finding scenic routes for our long runs, and this, many of us have agreed, allows us a little distraction from the heat and fatigue we feel along the way.

Sunday’s run was not my best. Don and I had some friends from Germany visiting, so, instead of eating a balanced dinner, drinking extra water and having an early bedtime, we ate guacamole by the fistful, washed it down with some beers, and stayed out later than we intended to on Saturday night. I knew that I would not be at the top of my game, but the important thing is that I still completed my run. It was definitely a “mind over matter” situation with the hardest part being when we ran past our cars on the way out to the pier- There they sat! Little metal boxes promising climate control and an escape from our suffering!- but the extra work required to make it to the end made victory that much sweeter.

Wish me luck on tomorrow’s 10 miler! I’m certainly going to need it!

*Cheryl is Terry’s wife, and she parks somewhere along the route of our longer runs and lugs around a cooler filled with ice-cold water and Gatorade. I’ve never seen a more beautiful site than the open hatch of Cheryl’s trunk, and Cheryl, arm extended, offering a cold jewel-in-beverage-form to us tired runners from her treasure chest.

Gotta get the Gear!

It seems that every sport has its own requisite list of essential gear items, and coming from the horse world -where not only is the gear usually expensive, but there is SO much of it!- running appears to require very little. The list of things you actually need is short- shoes and clothes to cover your body (which, as a functioning member of society, you likely own anyway). There are a handful of other items that can help make your runs more enjoyable and more successful, and, since I am all for success and enjoyment, I plan on utilizing them.

A couple of weeks ago, I gave you a virtual tour of my water bottle belt, and I hope you all went out and got one so that you can experience the joy of having a drink of water with you wherever and whenever you might need it. Hydration is my number one concern when running and my number two concern is not getting hit by a car. Wearing bright colors is a good first step, but when running at dawn or dusk we might need something more.

Since summer is, supposedly, over and the nights are darkening more quickly, visibility is becoming a concern on our evening weekday runs. Don and I have reflective belts that we can wear, but I find them a little distracting because they shift quite a bit when I move. A less-bulky option is a blinking light that can clip on to your shirt, hat, or shorts. I have this one from Nathan:

IMG_4166

It is very lightweight and after I clip it onto the strap of my tank top, I forget it is even there. Don wears his clipped to the back of his waistband, and it is so bright that even though his shirt falls over it and obscures the light, you can still see it blinking from a long way off. Since rainstorms in Hawaii can sometimes arrive without warning, the fact that this little guy is water resistant is a bonus. It also comes in assorted colors if orange isn’t your style.

This is only one option for visibility; I’ve seen people in our group using the LightSpur or Knuckle Lights too. Anything that will allow you to be seen by cars and doesn’t distract you from running well will work, but it is important to be seen. As the days grow darker and our runs longer, I will probably invest in some other light sources. I like that the LightSpur allows cars to see you from behind, but worry that my feet are too close to the ground to catch the attention of every driver, and I like that the Knuckle Lights have the dual purpose of getting me noticed and also lighting my path, but worry that I will find them cumbersome to carry, but they might be less cumbersome than wearing a headlamp. I’ll have to experiment! Below is a short video exhibiting the intense brightness of the Strobe Light. Feel free to have a spontaneous dance party.

 

I Think I Can, I Think I Can….

Whew! Sunday’s 8.5 mile run was brutal. The appropriate adjectives to describe the heat and humidity we have been experiencing here do not exist. ‘Tropical’ sounds too fun and vacation-y, ‘hot’ is an understatement, as is ‘sticky,’ and ‘muggy’ sounds too cute- like something you might name your pet pot-bellied pig. At 6:00 am on Sunday, temperatures were already creeping into the 80’s and the cooling trade winds were nowhere to be found, so when our group gathered at 6:45, nobody was feeling all that enthusiastic.

Our Sunday morning run times are a bit of a double-edged sword; the later the time, the better you feel about it when you set your alarm on Saturday night but the worse you feel about it as you struggle to get your sweaty body into a sports bra on Sunday morning. Luckily, we gathered at the Kalapawai Cafe and were promised snacks (free snacks!) at the end of our run, so we had some good old fashioned incentive to motivate us.

Unless this is the first blog post you are reading, I probably don’t need to tell you that 8.5 miles is the farthest I have run. If this is, in fact, your first post, then welcome and 8.5 miles is the longest I have ever run. We started out as an unmotivated cluster of 15 or so crazy people runners, and we remained a cluster longer than normal. Usually by our first turn, the faster people have broken off to blaze the trail for us slowpokes, but I think the heat, the length of our run, and the daunting hill we were approaching encouraged everyone to take it easy. Don was the first to steam ahead and by the time I started to ascend the hill, he was out of sight.

The first 5 miles felt pretty good. Yes, I was panting and so shiny with sweat it looked like I had just stepped out of a spray tan booth, but I was keeping up a good, steady pace and hadn’t stopped for any walk breaks. My energy started to wane as we began mile 6, and I had to remind myself to maintain proper form. When I tire, my instinct is to shuffle my feet and slouch my upper body causing me to look more at the ground directly in front of my feet and less at where I am going- not ideal for running on roadways shared with cars. During one of our weeknight workouts, Mike demonstrated proper running form and introduced us to some drills to help us work on ours; remembering what good form felt like and trying to emulate that feeling helped get me through the last 3 miles of our run.

I’d like to say that I ran the entire 8.5 miles, but in the middle of the home stretch, I briefly slowed to a walk and happily guzzled tepid water from my water bottle belt. I am disappointed that I took a walking break, but I felt much better about it when Don admitted he walked the last quarter mile or so. I am pleased that I felt strong for the majority of my run, especially after the hill which is steep enough that when I’m driving and see other people running up it, my heart breaks a little for them. Now that I have experienced running it for myself, I think I’ll pull over and offer them a ride.

I’d like to leave you with a video Mike shared with us this week. Not only is it a good kick in the pants for those of us who can get a little lazy in our workouts (ugh, guilty as charged), but it is also an interesting example of the phenomenal things the human body can accomplish. Enjoy!