Today was a great day to run a half-marathon! We awoke to cool breezes that promised to keep the air temperature down, and, although we were promised VOG and high humidity, by the time our group finished running the race, the weather was still holding out.
While I did not achieve my goal of running the race in less than 2 hours, I did take a few minutes off last year’s time and ran it in 2:02:31. I am happy with how I ran the race; for the first half, each time I looked at my watch, I was running faster than a 9:00 mile, which for a slow-poke like me, is quite fast. I’m not sure I’ve ever kept a pace like that up for such a long distance, and I ran my fastest 10k in 57:55; remember two years ago when I worked so hard to run a 10k in 75 minutes? Yeah, I sure do, and it felt really good to know that I could easily accomplish 6.2 miles in less than an hour today.
I would never have dreamed, that just two years later, I would be running distances far beyond 6.2 miles and doing an adequately mediocre job of it! It might seem to you that I’m selling myself short, but I’m not, and nor am I disappointed to have attained the status of being an adequately mediocre runner. I have no delusions of grandeur; I’m not going to be selected for any sort of competitive running event (hello Olympic pasta-eating team!) and I’m never going to be the winner of a race (unless I design another race of one, but then I’m both first and last place, and what is the point of that?), but to have gone from somebody who would rather lie down on a treadmill and get belt-burn on her chin than run one goddamn step to someone who signs up to run (when not being chased by a predator) kinda far for fun is pretty remarkable.
In thinking back over my race, I am happy with my pace, and I think the only way I could have saved a little time (aside from running faster, obviously) would have been to skip some of the water stations. Because I carry my water with me (on my back, like a two-legged camel), I usually don’t stop at every aid station, but, because we were warned about high-humidity and VOG, I was worried about dehydrating and stopped, briefly, at each station. I don’t know if it would have saved me three minutes to skip an aid station or two, and I’m not all that concerned about it. I’m happy with my results and now have something to work on for next year- getting faster!
We have a brief break from serious training until August when marathon season begins again. In the meantime, I’m going focus on getting stronger and faster, and, in general, fitter. I’m hoping to jump in on some longer training runs with friends who are going to run a 100 mile run around (literally, around) the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m DEFINITELY not running 100 miles… not today, not tomorrow, not ever… but I am hoping to go beyond the 26.2 mile marathon distance. We’ll see what kind of stuff I’m made of!
Yesterday my six week CrossFit challenge came to a close. It was a bittersweet day because, although we were happy to have made it all the way through the course, we were sad about our weekly meetings coming to an end. Much as I suspected, I am not the only one who enjoyed working with the same group of ladies each time I went to class.
The six weeks went by quickly and, as I looked around the gym while we were doing our last WOD (Workout of the Day) together, I was surprised and impressed by how far we had all come in such a short amount of time. Everybody looked stronger, we knew the names of the movements we were supposed to be doing (a big improvement for sure; at many times during the six weeks I felt sorry for our instructors- it must have felt like herding cats trying to get us all going the right direction!), and, most impressive of all, nobody was complaining. Having a group of women, who two months ago would not have described themselves as particularly fit or at all CrossFit savvy, working together on a hot, Hawaiian Saturday afternoon and not hearing any complaints about the aches, pains, and sweat is a big accomplishment!
Our final workout was a team workout, so, while we didn’t do all of the movements on our own, we did all do the 2 burpees every minute on the minute, and that counts for something, right? As a team, we managed to get through almost three rounds (we had just goblet squats and burpees left to power through, c’est la vie) and, I’m ashamed to admit, that when I first looked at the whiteboard and saw the 20 minute cap, I was concerned we wouldn’t make it through one entire round. Essentially what I am trying to tell you is that this group of ladies and I are a bunch of badass mofos and, when there are tacos at stake, we don’t play around.
Our final WOD was followed by a Taco Tuesday (on Saturday) themed fiesta, and it was well-deserved. No matter where we started from, we all worked hard to make ourselves just a little bit better each time we stepped into the gym. Using the guidance provided through the daily emails, we each tried to find a way to eat more healthfully, and, even from day to day, I could see physical improvement in all of us. There were ladies who couldn’t run the entire 400 m warm-up run on day one, and, by the time we were up to running a mile, Coach Gil said it was the first time he had ever had all participants in the New You group finish in under thirteen minutes. Progress! The first time I tried to do an overhead squat holding just the light PVC practice bar, my shoulders and hips were so stiff I almost fell over, and now I can do them, tentatively, with 25 lbs of total weight. Tentative progress, but progress all the same!
I’m excited to see how CrossFit will influence my running (yeah, I signed up to continue. That’s how it is with me, I guess; I sign up for things like this thinking it will be a fun, one-off experiment and I’ll have a funny story to tell about that time I trained for a marathon or that time I did several weeks of CrossFit, but then I really enjoy what I’m doing and see changes in myself that I really like and I’m hooked.) In the short-term, the workouts have made me very tired, but I think that is to be expected as my body adjusts to being challenged in a new way (challenged, tortured, po-tay-to, po-tah-to). I think CrossFit will be good at countering the stiffness that running, just by the nature of the fact that your body is always moving the same way, inherently creates. This must be why so many runners I know also like to compete in triathlons because the swimming and the biking force you to do something a little different, but I’m afraid of sharks and I don’t like to put my face in public pools because they are gross, so triathlons seem to be out for me. Also I think that people would laugh at my cruiser if I tried to ride it in a race. So, CrossFit it is, for now.
I think, in the long run, it will help my running. With a stronger core and more balanced strength, I predict that my endurance will increase and I will maybe even become a little faster. Time will tell. I don’t know if I will see these kinds of results in the upcoming Hapalua half-marathon (ummmm…..it’s next Sunday! One week!) because I am so flippin’ tired, but, I am going to take it a bit easier this week to allow my muscles some rest. Of course, it’s also time to start eating some extra carbohydrates- music to my ears; bring on the pasta! Last year I ran this race in about 2:05, and this year I hope to run it in under 2:00. After my fantastic marathon, I thought that this was a pretty achievable goal, but I’m starting to have doubts. I will be happy to knock any time off of last year’s race, and ultimately hope that I don’t add time, but if I’ve learned anything from having trained for two marathons and, now, three half-marathons, it’s that every day is different, and you’ve got to run the best you can in the moment. Here’s hoping my newly-found CrossFit muscles feel revived and ready to help power me on after a week of rest!
The 2016 Honolulu Marathon has come and gone, and, for our running group, it was a great success! Mother Nature, once again, blessed us with a mostly overcast, cool day and, best of all NO RAIN! Thank you, Mother Nature.
As the fireworks sounded the beginning of the race and we shuffled toward the starting line alongside 30,000 other runners, Don and I each had specific goals in mind for our race. After running last year’s marathon in a respectable 5:02:51, I hoped to run this year’s in less than 5 hours. I had in mind a goal of 4:45, but didn’t expect to knock the more than 15 minutes off of my time to make that goal; it was more of a guideline to help me stay under 5 hours.
Starting the race in the dark of early morning is kind of exciting, and the couple of hours before the sun is fully up feel kind of like a head start. I got a little caught up in the spirit of the moment and kept finding myself going above my pace for the first several miles and needing to slow myself down (at one point my watch said I was running a pace of 8:45, who was I kidding?). We wound our way around Waikiki and past the Honolulu City Lights; it was fun to see them lit up for Christmas without crowds of people milling around them, but my favorite part of the whole course was the first trip up Diamondhead. The race crew there was a group of enthusiastic high school kids cheering and high-fiveing every runner who passed by. Their enthusiasm was contagious and lifted the spirits of us runners as we trudged up the hill in the dark. It’s one thing to be up that early on a cold Sunday morning because you’re stupid ambitious enough to want to run a marathon, but it’s another to be up early on a cold Sunday morning just to support people who are crazy enough to run that far. It was great to see their smiling faces and their cheers made it easier to charge up the hill.
I had hoped to be up the hill near Diamondhead by the time the sun was up, and I managed to do it. I felt pretty good, buoyed by the many miles logged in training and the enthusiasm of the onlookers, until about mile 15 when I started to fade. Last year I didn’t eat enough during the race, and it caught up to me by mile 18 where I began to do a lot of
walking. I didn’t want to do that again this year, so I made the plan to start eating gels earlier and to eat more of them. It’s hard to know exactly what does the trick nutrition-wise (it’s so much easier to know what doesn’t do the trick), but I think having some extra nutrition along the way helped keep the fade from becoming a full-fledged walking spree. I still swear by the lemonade flavored Huma energy gels; they have the least booger-like consistency and the best flavor of any gels I have tried thus far. A friend who is a veteran marathon runner recommended something called Li Hing Mui, which is dried plum with lots of salt, for cramping. I don’t usually get muscle cramps while running (knock on wood), but I do sometimes feel like I need more salt, so I took a couple Li Hing Mui from him the night before the race. They taste really good, kind of sweet, sour, salty and earthy all at once, and at about mile 18, where I really began to flag last year, I had a couple of nibbles to perk myself up.
It wasn’t until mile 23 that I had to start talking myself out of walking for the rest of the race- five miles farther along than last year! Small victories!- and, as usual, when I started to think about walking, I also started to remind myself that, after this race was over, I NEVER HAVE TO RUN ANOTHER STEP FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Unless, of course, if I want to. People often tell me that they could never run a marathon, that they could never run even 3 miles, and they’re probably right. The hard thing to master about running isn’t the actual putting one foot in front of the other part, it’s the mental part. The talking yourself into doing something that’s hard for increasingly longer distances and amounts of time. The ability to identify a desire to stop versus a need to stop- I wanted to walk at mile 23, I wanted it more than anything on Sunday, but did I need to? Nope. When I finally made it in sight of the finish line, I had to dig down deep to find the power for a strong finish, but I managed to find it partly because I just wanted to cross that goddamn finish line and be DONE with this already and partly because I refused to look as fatigued as I felt.
It was a long, tough race, but it was also a fun race. I worked harder this year than I did last year when my only goal was to survive. It is amazing how much I have learned about running and about myself in the past year; one of the most important things I have learned how to do is to pace myself so that I don’t go out so strong that I can’t finish my planned route. For this marathon, I had hoped to shave a few minutes off of my time and finish under the 5 hour mark. Despite the fact that I ran the first 10k faster than I’d planned, I still managed to conserve enough energy to finish with a time of….. wait for it….. 4:39:48!
I really can’t believe that I managed to shave almost 23 minutes off my time, but it made me so grateful that I didn’t walk the last three miles. I think there were a lot of factors that went into making this year’s race more successful than last year’s. The weather was extremely helpful, so were my shoes. As much as I love the lightweight Topos, they just weren’t enough shoe for such a long distance and the Newtons proved to be more cushiony without being too much shoe. I think having had the experience before was also helpful; it’s a lot easier to build on a foundation than it is to start from ground zero, and it’s easier to talk yourself into pushing through the fatigue when you’ve been there before. As always, the running group was instrumental in getting me both to the starting line and the finish line. Misery loves company (which I think should be our group motto since the slogan is already “we run for the hill of it”), and it was great to run into group members out on the course and be reminded that we were all suffering and we were in it together.
While I am glad that the race is behind me, I am sad that the group is on hold for the next couple of months. We’ll start training again in February for the Hapalua half, but it was strange to not get an email with this week’s running workouts on Sunday night, and I felt a bit lonely as I laced up my sneakers (now dry but still smelly) for a short recovery run this afternoon. I’m going to take this break to focus again on making my core and legs a little stronger (read: more ab and leg days at the gym, insert eye-rolling emoji here), do more yoga to increase my flexibility (going for more ballet-dancer and less Tin Man), and sleep in past o’dark thirty on a Sunday morning.
We are just one week away from the big day; by this time Sunday, the marathon will be a fond (hopefully) memory. Yesterday, Don and I walked to the local running store to stock up on last minute supplies and now our kitchen counter looks like a repository for space food.
The group had its final long run on Sunday morning, and we got lucky with the weather. We had a beautiful 10 mile jaunt over hill and dale under cloudy but dry skies with temps only in the low 70s. Hopefully Mother Nature was giving us a sneak peak of what is to come next Sunday (pretty please?).
I was texting with a friend after our run and she asked what it was I loved about running, and I had a hard time coming up with an answer. There are the obvious benefits- better health, better sleep, better looking physique- but, as you well know, I’m not sure I would call my relationship to running one that embodies love.
It’s much easier to identify the things I HATE about running: I hate the sweat, I hate the sore muscles, I hate the chafing, I hate the burning sensation in my lungs as I start up yet another hill, and I hate the sweat (which I know I mentioned once before, but I really don’t like it, so I think it is worth mentioning again).
The things I love about running are harder to pin down because they are more mental. I love that running is something I can do anywhere at any time as long as I have a pair of sneakers, I love the last quarter mile of every run when my destination is in sight and I know that soon I can STOP, I love getting to explore the less traveled roads, and I love that twinge of pride I feel when someone looks at me in disbelief when I tell them that I have run a marathon and am planning to run another one- I look less like someone who runs and more like someone who loafs; like I’m better acquainted with the ins and outs of the La-Z-Boy than I am with every back road on the Windward side of Oahu.
I guess I like pretty much everything about running… except maybe for the actual running part! This weekend it will all come down to trusting in my training and finding the resolve to talk myself into pushing a little bit harder for just a little longer. Until then, I will enjoy having the license to eat every carb in sight (a license that expires on Monday) and enjoy the fact that, regardless of how Sunday goes, I am once again the fittest I’ve ever been.
For Thanksgiving, this year, I opted for a non-traditional dessert. Since it was just going to be the two of us, I tried a recipe I had found online for Chocolate Stout Pumpkin Brownies, and I’m not going to bother to link to the recipe because it was a total bust.
I guess, judging from the title of the recipe I should have known it was going to be a bust- I mean, there is a lot going on there: chocolate, stout, and pumpkin? Kinda wild- but I had high hopes for this dessert. Even though they are relatively simple to make, I hardly ever make brownies from scratch because 1. I need a pan of brownies on the kitchen counter calling to me every time I walk past like I need a hole in the head, and, 2. I hate chopping chocolate; it is unsatisfying and makes a big mess.
I have a trusty brownie recipe that I’ve made in the past when an occasion called for not-from-the-box brownies and it’s this one from SmittenKitchen (or it might be this one, but either way you can’t go wrong. Or better yet make BOTH and have a taste-off), but I stumbled across this other recipe when I was looking, a couple of weeks ago, for recipes that called for beer (it’s a long story… actually it’s not: we are part of a home brewing club and for a recent pot-luck meeting it was decided that we all would try to make food that featured beer as an ingredient). I saved this recipe that called for a cup of stout beer as the liquid and featured a festive cream cheese/pumpkin swirl because I thought it sounded like the perfect finale to our small Thanksgiving feast. It was not.
The texture of the brownies is good- cakey and crumbly without being greasy- and they smell delicious, but they taste like a square of baking chocolate. Bitter and bland. It’s been a huge bummer in our house; never has an 8×8 pan of brownies lasted for so long. I knew they were as bad as I’d imagined when I returned from work yesterday to find that my husband, who had the day off, had not yet helped himself to another brownie. Normally he would have helped himself to half of the pan- especially since he cleaned the house while I was at work and deserved a reward.
We bought a tub of frosting to see if we could salvage them, but I find that now I’m just eating spoonfuls of frosting instead of the brownies, and I need to be eating spoonfuls of frosting like I need a hole in the head! I’ve thrown in the towel, but Don has vowed to give the brownies just one more chance with the frosting, and then it looks like they are headed for the trash bin. I hate wasting things like this- the ingredients and the time it took to make the damn things- but it also seems just as silly to waste calories eating something that should taste yummy but does not. Life is too short to eat a bad brownie, am I right?
Luckily we are still in the midst of marathon training to offset some of those lost calories. Last Sunday we had our longest training run, the 20 miler affectionately known as the Motherf&@#er, and I felt pretty good at the end of it (that’s a lie, I felt terrible at the end of it, but I felt pretty good after a shower and some stretching. The stretching is key).
I ran it in about 3.5 hours which, while not fast for our group of over-achievers, is pretty incredible for me. I think that I could run the remaining 6.2 miles in about an hour (plus a few minutes), so it seems like I’m in good shape for my goal of running the marathon in less than 5 hours. I’m aiming for 4:45, but I would be satisfied with any time of 4:59 or less.
At this point, it is really mind over matter and all depends on whether I can talk myself into pushing just a little harder for just a little longer and ignoring the fact that my legs hurt and my armpits are raw. We’re fit and we’ve trained as much as our bodies will allow, so now it comes down to grit. For now, I’m enjoying our taper time and looking forward to the fact that tomorrow’s long run is only 7 miles through the picturesque (and hilly) Ho’omaluhia gardens. These few weeks of rest and food will hopefully help give us time to restore for the big day. One thing not on my pre-race fuel menu? Chocolate Stout Pumpkin Brownies.
In this case, I guess its more like “you get what you give, and you don’t get upset.”
Today’s run was a very picturesque and very slow 14ish miles along the Kaiwi coastline. I’d been having a great season of training until the last week or so when things started to come apart at the seams for me. My trouble started with a Thursday night hill workout that began with a steep uphill climb and never really seemed to end. Normally I enjoy the challenge of a hill workout and can chip away at them by simply being determined, but that night I couldn’t really get into it and I had a lackluster run.
My streak continued when I managed my time poorly while on vacation in Maui last weekend and only ended up putting in 6.5 slow, sweaty miles in the middle of the day instead of the 8 I had intended to run during the cool, morning hours. While in Maui, I managed to catch a cold which not only took me out of commission for this week’s training runs, but had the added insult of nobody feeling sorry for a person who catches a cold on beautiful Maui!
My expectations were low for today’s run, and, until I reached the mile 7 turnaround point, I wasn’t sure if I was going to actually run the entire distance. I went out with the plan to take it easy and take it slowly, and that is exactly what I did. I grew tired earlier than normal and didn’t have any gas left in the tank at the end of the run, but the run was pleasant with beautiful ocean views and a nice breeze most of the way, and, after a week and a half of putting in barely mediocre training runs, being slow and tired was to be expected. I’m glad I was able to complete the run and hope that it is the reset I need to kick things back into gear because the marathon is now only about a month and a half away!
Two weeks ago, I ran my longest distance since the marathon, 15 miles, and had a great run. This was one in a series of marathon prep races I signed up for, and I was happy with the pace I was able to maintain for most of the 15 miles. At the end of the race, I was disappointed in my time, but, I realize that, if I was happy with my pace and not happy with my time, I must have made an arithmetic error somewhere (not surprising really, I’ve never been great with numbers), so i’ve decided to just be happy with my pace and forget about the time for now. There’s time for math later.
Running is a funny sport. A really good run can come out of nowhere- and that is probably the foundation of many superstitions “let’s see, I had my fastest time at this distance that time I ate three and a half pieces of pizza and slept in unicorn pajamas the night before, so I guess pizza and pajamas it is for life!”- but most bad runs can be linked to a lack of preparation. You really do get out of running what you put into it; it’s something to keep in mind when I’m feeling a little frustrated with myself for being slow after a week of resting on my laurels.
Our running group just wrapped up week 4 of marathon training and, if I do say so myself, we are looking pretty good.
It feels great to be reunited with this bunch of like-minded freakazoids who’s idea of a relaxing Sunday morning is lacing up their sneakers for miles of sweating. I really missed the camaraderie of the group over the summer; it is a lot harder to push yourself to go a little farther and a little faster when there isn’t any one else holding you accountable, and it’s also a lot less fun.
Last weekend I skipped the group run for the second of the BioAstin Marathon Readiness Series races. This was a 20k (or 12.4ish mile) race that consisted of three laps of a 4+ mile loop. It was hot and a little boring, and overall I felt tired and was disappointed with my time of 2:02. I had hoped to run it in less than two hours, but I guess I should have run a little faster. I’m still working on moderating my pace early in the run so that I can finish strong instead of dwindling to a sluggish stagger at the end. Today, I suffered a similar fate.
We gathered this morning at the Kualoa Beach park for a 10 mile out and back along the coast. This is a run I have done a few times before and, while it is a lovely run with ocean views, it can be quite hot as there is little shade. Today we got lucky and there were some tradewinds blowing, but it was still warm. Although I enjoy this run because it is quite scenic, I kind of always sputter out at the end; there is something about an out and back or a repeated loop that psychs me out.
I think the spontaneity of an unfamiliar route helps keep me engaged when I run; I can’t fall into the trap of remembering that I was going a little faster when I passed that stump the first time, or, I wasn’t quite so hot and sweaty when I saw that dead bird before. I get mentally bogged down by having “been there and done that” already, and it is a habit I need to break. Today, I ran a little above my pace on the way out, and, as I left the safe harbor of the aid station at the turn around point, I felt my legs protest when I began to run.
My gut instinct, when my legs feel rubbery and I’m hot, tired and can’t breathe, is to get discouraged. It is easy to look at the backs of the faster runners receding into the distance and think ” you guys have it made,” but, honestly, running sucks for everyone. This is important to remember. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow. If you’re running 10 miles or 5; running sucks (although, yes, it’s safe to say that there is twice as much suck if you are running 10 miles compared to 5). Running sucks, and it isn’t easy.
I reminded myself of this as I started on the second half of our run. My legs felt heavy and rubbery, my lungs had collapsed, and I was leaving a trail of sweat droplets in my wake. I saw the pair of ladies who had left the aid station after me pass me and then surge off over the horizon, and, just as I started to think “it’s easier for them,” I caught myself and instead thought “you go girls.”
As soon as I let go of that discouraging thought, I felt better. So what if it was hot out and I was running at a 12 minute pace, at least I was running. And so what if those ladies, who I am normally ahead of, were having a great day and I couldn’t keep up; good for them. They were just as hot as I was, they were breathing the same humid air, and they were working at least as hard as the rest of us. Kudos to them.
I allowed myself the luxury of plodding along for a couple of miles and then felt rested enough to try for a strong finish for the last three. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was running along the sparkling ocean; another great day to be alive. Next time, I will remember to slow down at the beginning of the run and not try to keep up with those who are feeling fresh and fast if I’m not also feeling it. You’ve got to run on the legs you have and not the ones you wish you had, and some days are better than others.
A couple of weekends ago, I ran a surprise 15k race. It shouldn’t have been a surprise race since I signed myself up to run it, however after I signed up, I promptly forgot to put it on my calendar. I knew it was coming up sometime “soon,” but I thought it was at the end of August and not the beginning. Whoops!
I discovered my error on the Tuesday prior to the race when my cousin and I were discussing our running goals, and I reminded myself to confirm which weekend the race was taking place. I was horrified when I realized that, instead of two weeks to train, I had just 5 days. Upon making this discovery, I had two thoughts: one being that I didn’t have to do the race if I didn’t want to, the other was that of course I was going to do the race because I signed up to do it and I paid good money! The one thing I had working for me was that I had continued to run a few times a week throughout the summer, and the one thing I had working against me was that the longest distance I had run since May was 5 miles. The 15k was 9.3 miles. Uh-oh…
As you can see, the math really didn’t add up, and I was a little anxious about the prospect of doubling my distance in the span of a week. I did seriously consider, all paid entrance fees aside, not running, but I reminded myself of the four magic words that are a comfort to all runners in times of distress- “I can always walk.”
I hadn’t signed up for the race with the intention of winning; it was simply the first in a series of marathon readiness training races, and, since I wasn’t born with that weird genetic mutation that makes me naturally graceful and quick on my feet, I never expect to be the first one to the finish, so, I can always walk.
I continued to tell myself that I could walk if I needed to right up until I crossed the finish line. I told myself that I could walk as I ate my banana in the dark hours of early morning. I reminded myself that walking was an option as I stood in line for one last restroom visit before the race, and, as I sat on the curb near the start line and contemplated NOT running the race and instead just cheering the other runners along as the made their way to the finish- my thought being that Don would never know if I had actually run the race since medals were not awarded and if I stood out in the sun for the appropriate amount of time I’d likely be as sweaty as if I’d actually run- I convinced myself to run by again repeating my mantra of “I can always walk.”
And, you know, I really didn’t need to. When I realized that I had doomed myself to tackle an obstacle I wasn’t prepared for, I made a plan that I hoped would get me to the other side without too much pain, and it worked! One of the benefits of the FitBit Surge watch that Don gave me this Spring is that it can show you your pace as your run, so the plan I made was to stay between a 9:30 or 10:00 minute mile pace until mile 7. The trap I sometimes fall into during a race is that I get caught up in the excitement of the event and I run a little above my pace for the first several miles which just makes me tired at the end. Usually I have done enough training that my fitness levels can get me through the fatigue, but I was worried that I hadn’t done enough over the summer to compensate for over-doing it at the beginning of the race, so by keeping an eye on my pace I managed to make sure I had enough left in my gas tank to finish strong.
The other thing that I think was crucial in helping me finish this race feeling pretty good was that, although I hadn’t run farther than 5 miles since May, the 5 miles that I ran most weekends were through the hilly Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens. Those hills can make or break you and I’ll have to remember to thank them the next time I’m struggling to make my way to the top, because they made me strong enough to get through miles 6 through 9.3.
My”surprise” race went pretty well; I didn’t need to walk other than when I stopped at the aid stations to grab a drink, and I finished in about 1:30 feeling pretty good. I don’t know that I’ve ever run with a concrete plan like this before. I often check my pace, but it’s more out of curiosity and to see if my endurance has improved than anything else. I think, as I run more of these races leading up to “the BIG ONE” in December (there are 4 or 5 races in this Marathon readiness series), I might play with the concept of having a specific goal of what pace I want to achieve. Who knows, maybe it will help make me a little bit faster?
Nothing says summer in Hawaii like a pile of sweaty laundry. Our tropical air has turned hot and heavy, and it, once again, feels as if I need gills to breathe. I’m feeling extra loagie today because the air conditioner at work is broken, and I sweated through eight hours of computer work huddled in front of a tiny desk-fan that I scurried out to buy this morning.
I feel like broken AC in Hawaii should be cause for closing the office and sending everyone home- not that I have AC at home, but at least I wouldn’t be wearing khakis and an oxford shirt- but that was not the case, sadly. It’s really too bad, I could have used a beach day! I’ve had a lot going on lately; I was working overtime for a while which made it hard to fit in exercise at the end of the day, and over the weekend I received a threatening email.
The email was reminding me that only three weeks remain before the start of the Marathon Training Clinic that successfully got me to the start and finish lines of last year’s Honolulu Marathon. I thought by now I’d be recovered, both mentally and physically, from last year’s effort and feel ready to take on the challenge once again, but I’m kind of dreading it.
I think I’m physically recovered; I’ve been trying to stay running fit by logging at least 9 miles a week (which, as you well know, is nothing compared to training for the big race), and I’ve been making it a point to keep up with the stretches that helped ease the knee pain that accompanied those many miles last Fall. The stretches, I realize, are immensely helpful because, while I was working overtime, I lost the hour or so of TV time that I usually have after dinner which is when I do the helpful stretches, and my IT band started to feel tight and sore again. I’ve been trying not to let that happen again, so I’m focusing my non-running workouts on strengthening the rest of my body and I’ve also been trying (as always) to increase my flexibility.
I’m definitely not mentally recovered from the marathon. It’s just such a long, goddamned way to run, you know? And it’s going to be hot, and I’m going to get sweaty, and my legs will be sore, and I’m going to be hungry every waking moment of every single day. It’s all just a little too much! Last week, I had to give myself a pep talk just to finish a two-mile run, so how the eff am I supposed to run 26.2 miles?
Right now, as I sit on the couch, sticky and head-achy from a day of suffering in the heat (did I mention our office doesn’t really have any windows, so not only was there no AC, but there was also no fresh air), I feel like I could go the rest of my life without running another step. But, then I remember how much fun I have when I’m schlepping along with similar-paced friends, and I think of all the nice views I got to see that I never otherwise would have seen, and the good feeling of being finished with a run (come on- the BEST feeling) comes to mind, and, also, I do wonder if I will be able to shave seconds off my marathon time. I guess I’m not throwing in the towel yet (although I do still have three weeks to decide- I kid!).
In the three weeks remaining before marathon season gets going, I’m going to really push myself to focus on my flexibility. No more skipping the post-run stretching, and hopefully I’ll be able to incorporate a little more yoga into my fitness regime. I’ll admit that I was partly inspired by the good advice I’ve received over the years from medical and fitness professionals, butI was also inspired by Betsey Johnson. Yeah, fashion design icon Betsey Johnson. I was watching the Food Network show ‘Worst Cooks in America,’ and Betsey Johnson mad a guest appearance, did a cartwheel followed by a split, and then confessed that she is 71 years old. Yikes; I’ve gotta step up my flexibility game. There is no reason that, if a 71 year old lady can still cartwheel and do splits, that I can’t touch my toes. I’m not aiming for cartwheels and splits, my goal is simply a little less Humpty Dumpty, who was so stiff and brittle he fell to pieces, and a little more Gumby. Any tips fellow non-fitness freaks?
I’ve been so absorbed with work lately that the Hibiscus Half Marathon, my last big race (so far) before I attempt the marathon again in December, really snuck up on me.
You guys, it’s this Sunday.
I think I’m ready, but I don’t think my performance will be as spectacular as during the Hapalua. I’ve been training pretty well on my own (I even went on two, solo, ten mile runs and wasn’t bored out of my mind- shout out to Don for meeting me with Gatorade at mile 5; that’s true love!), and my pace has been pretty steady, but, honestly, I am le tired.
Leading up to the Hapalua, I felt strong, I felt fast, I felt powerful and full of life. I felt like Mercury with his winged feet! I’m not sure if it’s just that I miss having the camaraderie and inspiration of running in a group; training on your own is quite different and I think the friendly competition of seeing others improve their speed and stamina is a great motivator. The weather has also suddenly become summer, and where once we had temperate, breezy days, we are now experiencing hot, hot sun, and that, I think, is slowing me down too.
Instead of fleet Mercury, these days I’m feeling more like the ole’ bay mare who ain’t what she used to be; a little creaky, a little slow, filled more with complaints and excuses than with vim and vigor. I need a little break. Lately I’ve been looking forward more to my workouts at the gym than to my zen running time, and normally it’s the reverse. I guess I’ve reached the point in my relationship with running where, much like when I’ve found a new favorite food, I’m suddenly able to see beyond the “new” thing and remember that there are other things I enjoy.
I’m going to give the Hibiscus my very best effort, and if I’m a little (or a lot) slower than I was at the Hapalua, I’m going to try not to beat myself up about it. I don’t want these races to become too much pressure; they are supposed to be fun, low stress, and count as a big achievement if I simply make it across the finish line standing upright and before the course is disassembled. So, if I don’t beat my bad-ass time of 2:05, I’m going to try to remember that the only thing it means is that I was slower than I was on April 10th; it doesn’t mean that I suck and should work harder- I’ve been working pretty hard. What is it that they say? It’s not the destination, its the journey? Yeah, that sounds right.