Wednesday, September 3, 2014

the pressure is off

Summer is over.

I find myself happy about this every year.

Our family does much better with routine (though routine doesn't mean organization or that things run smoothly). The open-ness of our summer schedule makes me feel even lazier than usual and seems to point out how poor and cheap financially responsible we are.

This is EXACTLY how I felt

Vacation was not possible for us this year, but that didn't make summer a total wash.

We did some things.

Like finally actually going to the beach across the street and in the water (after 8 years of living here),  hiking to a waterfall, celebrating two birthdays, trying all of the new Lay's chip flavors (my vote is for wasabi ginger, with bacon mac and cheese a close second).

We also ran. The kids did track camp, and the oldest joined the middle school cross country team in August. My husband and I ran, but not together (he's too fast.) It was extra hot and extra dry this summer - so not my favorite for running (50s and drizzle, ahhh).

Finding nuun at Costco was a huge deal for us.

We love the stuff and drink it year round, but went through all of my (super cheap, lucky find) stash before Memorial Day. (I am one of those annoying comparison shoppers who always looks at per unit price. The Costco box at roughly 30 cents per tablet is a huge difference from tubes at around 50 cents per tablet). I love finding a deal (and then telling everyone about it).

As of today, all three have returned to school. Two in middle school this year - with friends and classmates who have lots of access to social media. I am posting less about them online to keep them from any more embarrassment (middle school is awkward enough.) I'm also kind of over a lot of the social media stuff I used to do (quitting daily mile has been great, facebook is next - slowly weaning off of it.)

All in all, it was a fine summer. But I am looking forward to some rain, cooler running weather, sweaters and boots, less pressure to do yard work (ick), and the same-old, same-old boring routine of our daily life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

100 miles for 5P-

My dear, dear friend's husband (who is kind of a local celebrity in the Pittsburgh food scene) is celebrating his 40th birthday by running the Pine Creek Challenge 100 mile on September 6th.

Derek has been running ultramarathons for three years, but is running this race to raise money and awareness for the 5P-(five p minus) Society.  The 5P- Society is "the parent support group for families having a child with 5p- Syndrome, also known as Cat Cry Syndrome or Cri du Chat Syndrome."

This rare condition (only 50 to 60 children in the US are born with Cri du Chat each year) is characterized at birth by a high pitched cry, low birth weight, poor muscle tone, microcephaly, and potential medical complications. “5p-“ is a term used by geneticists to describe a portion of chromosome number five that is missing.

Their daughter, Helena (cutie with the sign in the picture above), was diagnosed with CDC five years ago. At that time, they didn't know if she would ever be able to walk or talk.

Today she does both (plus a whole lot more), and a few days before the race, she will be starting kindergarten.

Learn more about the story here

If you would like to donate, here is a direct link: Helena's Hundo.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

so not a real blogger

Yeah, I have kind of let this thing go.

I can't (or don't) post every day (or every month, for that matter).

I did just post (almost) 8 months ago

I don't like to take selfies.

I am not much of a photographer and only have so much to work with. My office bathroom makes a lovely backdrop.

Speaking of photos... I also don't like to post pictures of my food.  I just like to eat it

My Primanti's sandwich in 2012. I waited 11 years to have one, and wasn't sure when my next would be.  My horrible photography skills made something so delicious look really gross.

Speaking of food... I hardly ever go out for frozen yogurt (and when I do, I never call it froyo).

It's not that I don't like it, of course. I just lack self control with the toppings, so a trip is pricey for me.

I don't run a lot of races.

I love them, really, but am still pretty much poor and cheap.

My running paces are in the 10+ min/mi range (or even 11+ min/mi. 9s for tempo only, and I haven't seen 8s in FOREVER).

This is what my watch read at the end of the marathon in December. Lies! Don't trust the GPS, people.

Other reasons I am not a real blogger:

  • I don't have much to brag about (see above).
  • I just can't kiss up to bloggers or brands on social media.
  • Most days, I really don't feel #blessed and am definitely not #inspiring.

So I am so not a blogger.

More like an old(ish) sometimes-runner who likes to vent and overshare (once in awhile. when I feel like it).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seattle Marathon recap

On December 1, I ran the Seattle Marathon. Spoiler alert: I really liked it. 

Before the race
I was, of course, a bit anxious. My training had been much stronger (running six days a week, higher mileage weeks) than any other training I've done. But, I cut almost all of the longer tempos and speedwork short.

I trained with paces for a 4:15 finish, but never, ever thought I would finish in 4:15. That's just pretty much what the charts in the Hansons book told me to do, so I went with it.

My husband and I stayed in a hotel a few blocks from the start to avoid a 4am wake up for the 5:20 ferry. Such a great decision.

We left our hotel around 7:45, walked the two blocks to the bag check (very well organized), jumped in the (short) line for the potties, then headed to the start. We just stopped where the crowd got thicker, which was a ways behind the 4:40 pacer.  There wasn't a 4:30 pacer, that made me kind of disappointed. I knew my Garmin would be off (it has been in every race I run in a city), and thought if I got a sub 4:30, I'd be really, really happy.

Within five minutes, we were off.

The race
The first 2 miles of the race run down 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle. There were a lot of spectators cheering, and it was a lot of fun.  I really wanted to run this first mile much slower than the rest - like an 11 minute mile. I stayed well behind the 4:40 pacer and would slow myself down when my watch had me going  a bit too fast.

I checked last year's results and saw that a lot of mid pack runners positive split the course. The major hills come at the end, so I wanted to make sure I didn't use all my energy too early and completely bonk once I got there.

At mile 2, we rounded a bend to head on to the 1-90 express ramp. The race volunteer shouted "hold on to your hats". After a few yards, I realized she wasn't kidding.  The weather forecast had heavy rain and wind. Fortunately the rain held off, but we did get the wind. Running up the on-ramp hill against the wind was a bit of a challenge, but it made it more funny than frustrating.

Running across the I-90 bridge was fun. The views of the water and Bellevue were nice, and the lead runners were heading back towards us. I ran in the middle of the bridge to lessen the effect of the wind, and to see my husband coming back. He trained for a 3:45, and when I saw him a few minutes behind the pacer looking good, I shouted out to him and waved. Since the race was not too huge, he actually heard me and waved back with a smile.

Around mile 6, a bit before the turn around, I saw the 4:25 pace group heading past. I took a gel at the stop, turned around, and decided that I would gradually catch up with the 4:25.

It didn't take too long to reach them. The pace seemed a bit too easy at the time, but I decided that sticking with them for a few miles would be a good idea to conserve some energy.  This part of the course is flat and makes a loop through Seward Park. It was really pretty - the lake, the trees (the usual northwest fall-ness.) I remember feeling like a weird excitement around mile 10 or 11.  The scenery, the way the pace felt so easy, the crowds. Three days before, I ran a Turkey Trot with my girls and my 10 year old kept shouting "this is awesome" at random. I laughed because I felt myself thinking the same thing here (but figured the pace group didn't want to hear me shout it.)

from the Seattle Marathon facebook page.  Leaves. Water. Pretty

I decided to leave the 4:25 group after the half point. I was feeling great and  ready to kick it up a little bit. The hills start around mile 20, but I knew if I wanted to try to bank any time, I should do it during this stretch.  My "strategy" was to change it a bit here - keep it comfortably hard, not the "extra" comfortable I was keeping in the first half, walk through every water station, eat a gel or shot blok every 2-4 miles, drink Gatorade at the stops where I didn't eat.

Miles 14-18 went by fast. The scenery was awesome. The crowd was awesome. The wind picked up at times. My hair kept getting blown out of the bun that I adjusted so many times.  I finally decided to  give it up and run the rest of the way with a big, messy, ponytail beating me up.

proof  - that I kept messing with my hair

At 18 I turned on my music. We came in to the fancy-fancy area (after miles of just regular fancy.)  Past Daniel's Broiler, Seattle Tennis Club, and two teenagers walking with tennis rackets who looked like they were out of some pretentious Ralph Lauren ad. It made me laugh out loud. I was still having fun.

The clock at the 20 mile timing mat read 3:18:something and I was excited! (and mistakenly thought I could totally do the last 6.2 in under an hour, oh well)

The first hill was steep, but short. I kept going, shortened my stride, changed my breathing from a 3:2 to a 2:1, and it was done. Not bad. The long hill on Madison was harder. It wasn't steep, but seemed to go on forever. A lot of people were walking. I was just about ready to do the same when I saw the water station ahead. After that we headed down a bit, and in to the arboretum. My hips started to get a bit tight a few miles back, so I stopped a bit before an up hill to stretch them out.

The arboretum is the tough part if the course. I studied the elevation map and read plenty of race reviews that gave me an idea of what to expect.  I told myself that it was supposed to be hard and to let it hurt. Seriously out of character for me. I kept repeating to myself, let it hurt, let it hurt. When I was running through it, it really didn't seem that bad and went pretty quickly  (I didn't think this section slowed me down while running, but looking at my results it actually did quite a bit.)

still with a stupid smile

Once we were through the arboretum a bit before mile 24, I grabbed some pretzels at the aid station and loosened my shoe a bit. The top of my right foot near the ankle took a beating during the rolling hills.

We crossed over the freeway and headed down the ramp back in to town. A huge gust of wind hit me at this point, pushing me up the ramp. I laughed about it with the Marathon Maniac guy next to me. Then we went down a steep hill (that really hurt), and were getting so close. I skipped the last aid station and kept going, as fast as I thought I could. What I didn't realize earlier was that the course included the hill that is right before the Rock 'n' Roll finish. I hate that hill. I got up without walking (though walking might have been faster) and kept going to past where Rock 'n' Roll finishes, made the turn to head in to the stadium and the finish line.

As I approached, I saw that the race clock read 4:24:something.  Since my previous marathon time was a 4:54, I kicked up my pace even more to get a 30 minute PR (but wasn't thinking that I started a couple minutes after the gun went off.)

Hello, mid-pack. My favorite thing about this graphic is the lower right hand corner - over the final 6 miles I passed 222 runners and 1 (guy) passed me. That shows how tough the end was.

I crossed, smiling, happy, and looking quite haggard (evidence so rudely captured in my race photos.)

My hips hurt, the top of my foot hurt, but I didn't care.

After a few texts and calls, I found my husband who finished in 3:48! Just 3 minutes off of his goal time for his first marathon?! Awesome. It was also awesome that he grabbed me a chocolate milk and banana because the after race area is a mess of runners and families, and we heard the food runs out pretty quickly.

After the race
My hips were super sore and stiff for a day or two. I went to work on Monday, which was pretty much the last day that stairs and those first few steps after getting up were crazy hard.

Though I didn't follow the Hansons plan exactly, I would definitely say that (mostly) six days a week running made a huge difference in my race. I didn't feel overly fatigued at anytime, and recovery was surprisingly easy.  Does that mean that I didn't push enough or 'leave it all on the course'?  Probably, yes. That is something that I've been working on, and I can see some progress there. After this, I think a 4:15 is totally doable.

Thoughts on the event itself
I loved this race. Big enough to have a lot of energy, but not too big that you are stuck weaving in and out of people.  There were plenty of aid stations, and the volunteers and spectators were great. So many reviews that I read before the race said that there wasn't much of a crowd at this race, and the later sections felt 'lonely'. I didn't find that true at all. Maybe because is was like 50 degrees and dry?

The course itself was was more scenic than Rock 'n' Roll (though I've only run that half, maybe the full is better?) Some people complain about the 1-90 bridge, but I liked it. Miles 8-23 are seriously beautiful. I may have to make this an annual thing.

Monday, December 2, 2013

my 2nd marathon

I actually did go through with it yesterday.

The weather forecasts of heavy rain were wrong. We ended up with (almost) my favorite running conditions (I prefer my winds a bit less than 25 mph, but really, I was so lucky and am not complaining.)

Since it was not sweltering, red-flag heat, and since I ran a lot more in training, I was able to knock 30+ minutes off of my first marathon time.

proof it really did happen, though it kind of feels like a dream now

My husband ran it too (his first, at age 44) and finished in 3:48.  So proud of him - not just his time, but that he actually followed a training plan, fueled and hydrated during the race, and that he didn't push too hard (like he can) and have an asthma attack or something.

I just loved the race and the course so much that I might actually write a recap post tomorrow (2 posts in a week?!)

Well, maybe in a few days. Right now I am focusing on walking up and down stairs, re-hydrating (woke up feeling a bit hung over-ish), and finally decorating the Christmas tree that we cut down on Friday and is just standing naked in our living room. 

P.S. The marathon is my favorite. I wonder how many more my old, weak body can handle?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I ran a marathon last weekend

kind of (but not really)

I have been training for the Seattle Marathon for the past 15 weeks.  Initially, following the Hanson's plan exactly.  Things got a bit tricky when the mid-week tempo runs jumped to 8 miles (10 total with warm up and cool down.)  

Even at a tempo pace - that is like 2 hours of running for a slowpoke me on a weekday.  Our family's current work/life lack of balance situation doesn't permit that. So I had to modify the schedule a bit.

I  still ran a lot more than I ever have, but kind of hate that I did not follow the plan as written. My changes meant shortened tempos, and reducing the number of strength intervals (like speedwork, again sometimes 2 hours worth). I kept all the weekend runs, and most weekday runs.

Since I was not running all of the miles that the plan called for, I worried that topping out my long runs at 16 was a recipe for a major marathon bonk disaster.

So I decided to add 4 miles to my long run last weekend. What's 4 miles, right? (but there is so much out there that talks about how BAD 20 mile runs can be on a person, particularly a slower runner like me. As much as I wanted to do 20, I was also afraid that it could do more harm than good and I'd end up injured. Again. I obsessed over this all weekend, then decided to just shut up and not take it, or myself, so seriously.)

The schedule called for 6 miles on Saturday and 16 miles on Sunday.

I did 6 on Saturday, then 20 on Sunday - (almost) a marathon in a weekend (but not really)

The 20 was at my 'long run' pace, per the Hanson's plan.

Actually a little faster (kept it a bit slower for the first 10, picked it up a little miles 11-19, then did a slower mile 20)
I know Garmin shots are worthy of an eye-roll, so go ahead. I totally get it.

And it felt great - way better, and 14 minutes faster than the two 20 milers I did a year and a half ago while training for Pittsburgh (I was able to find that out by looking at my old Garmin shots.)

I love long, slow running. There is such a stigma attached to being a slow runner in a marathon.  I do take the race seriously (though I think the whole 'respect the distance' thing sounds a cheesy as 'beast mode'.)

This didn't bother me because, marketing.
I want to improve my time, but I really enjoy longer runs at a mosey pace where I can still smile and maybe sing out a bit of a song on my playlist (Not the whole song - I know that is not working hard enough, and no one wants to hear that much of my singing)

To practice the whole eat/drink during the race thing, I took short walk breaks every 2ish miles to take a drink from my water bottle and have a gel or a Shot Blok (like almost a whole pack), but I didn't stop my watch.  I always walk through water stations at races, so I thought this would give me an idea of how much time I might lose - turns out none, really

So now - it is time to taper.

Since I didn't peak in the 50+ mile per week range, I'll need to modify (ugh) some more to get the miles down for the next couple of weeks.  I'm not really sure how I'll do it. Cutting an easy run would seem like a simple way to do that, but I really enjoy running six days a week now (rest days make me feel anxious, and make me feel like I forget how to run when I start up again.)

Ever done a self-designed taper? How did you decrease your mileage? By a certain percent or number?

Friday, November 1, 2013

I am a liar (and a jerk)


I didn't run that half marathon. That same half marathon I didn't run last year, but swore I would this year.

It was last weekend, and by the looks of things was a great time.

I am not injured (unlike last year). The truth is, it was just inconvenient.

Getting there and back (early morning, ferry boats), working it around my husband's marathon training and a birthday party my daughter was invited to attend.

So I made the decision to sit it out (again).  Not very "real" runner of me.

I did actually run 16 miles that day, but it wasn't as pretty (or flat) as the course, there were no people offering me water every few miles, and I didn't get a medal or hot soup when I finished.

I am jerk for passing up the opportunity to run an awesome race - and an even more awesome free entry offer the race director so generously extended this lame back-of-the-pack runner.

Congrats to those who ran (and I hope a few saved some $ by using the discount code).

Next up is that marathon in a month. Let's hope I can't find any excuses follow through.

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