Friday, June 27, 2014

My blog-iversary!

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my foray into blogging!  Last summer I made a conscious effort to blog daily.  I knew it wouldn't last once school started, of course, but I did enjoy the daily writing.  I do love to write, and blogging is a great outlet for me. 

This summer, I've turned that energy into finding new ways to improve my running.  I do a lot of reading and researching.  I'm cross-training much more.  I've been working on fine-tuning my training program for my upcoming marathon.  And, of course, I have been trying to keep up with my hoodlums children.  Naps are mostly a thing of the past for the twins, so it's go-go-go from 7 AM till almost 9 PM every day.  We have been having fun at the pool and the parks around our city.  Otherwise, though, it's been a low-key summer.  We do have a week-long vacation up to a cottage on Lake Erie planned for the third week of July.  The kids are super-excited, and I am stoked to hopefully get some open-water swimming done, as coincidentally the trip is the week before my triathlon relay!

A brief update on my training... things are going swimmingly well ;)  Yes, that was an intended pun.  I've been swimming twice a week since the start of the month, and I really can feel that it's making me stronger, both in my arms (hi, triceps!) and in terms of cardiovascular fitness.  There is another former collegiate swimmer in the class, and we've had a great time motivating and pushing each other.  I know that I do need to get to Alum Creek soon so that I can get some open-water swimming in before my race, but for now the pool has served its purpose well.  It has actually worked out perfectly, as I run 5 miles at 5 AM on Tuesdays with a group (anywhere from 2-6 of us meet up at the community center), and then I go right inside for my swim class at 6 AM.  I usually just swim on Thursdays, but I ran and swam yesterday as well.  These little "bricks", as triathletes call them, have been really good for my confidence as a possible triathlete someday.  Now if I only had a bike...

 Very blurry selfie of one of our biggest 5@5 groups... up front are Tamara, 
Erin, me and Steph. In the back are Jon and Kimmie.

In other news pertaining to cross-training, I joined DK Fitness this month.  They have an awesome summer deal right now.  My running friend Erin introduced me to DK, as she's a spinning instructor there.  I've been to a few Body Pump classes now, as well as one of her spinning classes.  I loved it all, and I wish I could go more frequently!  Once a week is about all I can manage with kids, swimming and running, though.  I've been to a couple of the Sunday morning core fitness classes offered at Fleet Feet as well, and these are also lots of fun (mostly because my marathon pal Steph is there, and she keeps me laughing the entire time). I plan on keeping up with both of these at least through the end of August, and then when school starts I'll have to be a bit more choosy due to lack of time.

My running has been pretty amazing lately.  I have been able to incorporate some faster running with some easier running, and for the past 7 weeks has been with one or more friends.  That's what I call awesome training!  I seriously love my running friends so much.  I finally got to run with Jen's super-speedy friend Andrea, and we had a great fast 10 miles together.  I'm excited to start to run more often with her as my marathon training begins.  I ran 5 miles yesterday with Tamara K. and was shocked to average sub-8:00/mile!  My final mile was actually almost a sub-7:00/mile, which just amazes me (even though it was mostly downhill LOL). I'm really pleased with how my speed has improved over the past year, and especially since my marathon.  It's giving me great confidence for my upcoming 5K, which is just one week away!  I did the same race last year, the Westerville Rotary 5K, and was super happy with the race and how I did at it. A PR by close to 3 minutes!

Last year's post-race selfie :)

I am so ready to smash my current PR there!  I have some lofty goals, but as usual I will go ahead and set my A, B and C goals.  

Goal C (the one I really should be able to easily make, based on my training): A PR time. My PR is 24:21 from my last 5K, which was almost a year ago.  I have no doubt I can accomplish this.  It's an average pace of 7:51, and my average pace yesterday on our training run was 7:52.  But a PR is a PR, so I'm always good with that.

Goal B (the one I know is a bit of a reach, but not too much): Anything in the 23-minute range.  That is a huge range, of course, from a 7:24 to a 7:43 per mile.  Again, I do feel like this is in my reach, based on my training runs.  In fact... my final 5K of yesterday's run was a 23:16.  Granted, it was downhill/flat for all but the first half-mile of that stretch, but still...

Okay and the big one... Goal A (the one that I know is a stretch but I really do feel I can do): A sub-23.  Based on (again) yesterday's run, this is totally do-able.  I just need to convince myself of that mentally!  I need to go out hard and strong, and not plan on huge negative splits like I do when I run distance races.  Fortunately, I won't be alone.  My three wonderful marathon friends, Elisa, Stephanie and Carolyn, will all be there--it will a reunion of awesomeness!  Their 5K's are all in the sub-23 range, so hopefully I can ride their coat-tails in for a super-fast race. 

Look for a race recap, and then it will be on to marathon training!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy "Runiversary" to me!

2 years.  24 months.  730 days.  17,520 hours.  That’s how long it has been since I first laced up a pair of (then extremely cheap, off-the-Kohl’s rack) running shoes and headed out for a run.   Yes, my friends, tomorrow, June 15, 2014, is my “runiversary”—the anniversary of my first-ever run.   Obviously I ran prior to that day, but never with a true goal in mind.  I ran because my gym teacher said we had to.  I ran because my swim coach told us to.  But running for the sake of running?  I never had a desire to do so, until just over two years ago.  It was June 13, 2012.  I put it out there on Facebook… I was tired of being in the worst shape of my life.  Tired of the extra 8 pounds from my pregnancy with the twins that I hadn’t been able to lose (which, I’m very happy to say, have disappeared along with several more due to an intense winter of marathon training!).  I was tired of being… tired.  I knew what I needed, and that was something to get me moving, both literally and figuratively.  Swimming was where my heart lay; it was such a big part of my life for so long... but I just wasn’t sure how I’d fit in workouts, plus gyms with pools aren’t cheap.  I had heard of the Couch-to-5K (C25K) program from a few people on Facebook, and thought that running might be something that I could do. 

Two days later, on June 15, 2012, I completed C25K Week 1, Day 1, which was a ”brisk five-minute warm-up walk, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.”  I felt pretty darn awesome after that first run, especially in those off-the-rack pink Asics from Kohl’s!  Oh, to know what I know about running shoes ;)

My first major setback as a runner occurred just five weeks after beginning C25K.  My ankle started to hurt during Week 4, Day 3.  I ran through it for Week 5, Day 1, but took a few days off after that.  I attempted Week 5, Day 2, but had to almost crawl home in pain.  I had my first visit to MaxSports a few days later, and the subsequent bone scan showed a stress fracture to my lower left fibula, right at my ankle.  I was so disheartened, but in retrospect, I believe that injury only made me want to run even more.  It’s like when something is taken away from you, then you truly realize how much you wanted/needed it!   

Or 8 weeks!
I spent a long 8 weeks swimming and using the exercise bike at the gym, which were the only two forms of exercise approved of by my doctor.  I also had to spend 4 weeks in a special air cast.  Finally, in September 2012 I was cleared to begin the C25K program again.  I chose to start from Week 1, Day 1, as I still felt like a very new runner and wasn’t sure if I was ready to start up with Week 5, Day 3 (which is a 20 minute run with no walk breaks!).  That was on September 9, 2012, and I honestly haven’t looked back since.  My first 5K was on November 18, 2012—the Hot Chocolate 5K in Columbus, Ohio.  I went out fast and died, but had a blast!  I still wasn’t yet sure that running was my thing, though.  I kept at it, and joined a gym with a treadmill so that I could run through the winter.  My runs slowly increased in distance, and I decided that I was ready to go to the next level and train for a half-marathon.  My first half was on May 4, 2013, and all together in the past two years, I’ve ran in three 5K’s, one 4-miler, one quarter-marathon (6.55 miles), four half-marathons (13.1 miles), one 15-mile race, and one full marathon (26.2 miles).  A total of 11 races in two years.  This is a low number when compared to many of my friends, as I am not a huge fan of racing.  In fact, in the past 10 months, I’ve only raced 5 times.  I’m such a competitive person, but racing brings me back to swimming competitively, and I start to feel a ton of pressure.  I love running so very much, and much prefer a nice long training run with friends to racing any day!

It’s kind of ironic that on my runiversary I will not be running.  Yes, tomorrow is actually a rest day for me.  I’ve learned so much over the past two years, and one of the biggest things is that I need to honor each rest day.  My body, at almost 36 years young, protests if I run too frequently.  I stick to 4 runs per week, although I’ve now figured out that I can successfully add in a couple of days of cross-training without too much of a struggle.  I had a "double" today (8 mile run followed by an hour of Body Pump), and after a hard track workout yesterday morning, I know that I need to take a day off tomorrow.  I do wish I could run tomorrow, however.  Most of my runs (about 90-95% of them now) are happily done with my new runner mama friends, but if I were going to run tomorrow, I would choose to do a nice easy few miles by myself.  Just to remind myself of why I started running.  For me. 

(although I do love PRs!)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A summer of goals

Can you feel my elation as I type these words?  Probably not, but trust me, it's there.  I am so very, very happy excited overjoyed that I am done teaching for a couple of months!  It's been a doozy of a year, with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, as well as the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System.  But I made it, and I'm just on cloud nine now that I have no lesson plans to write, no papers to grade, no TBT (teacher-based team) meeting agendas to complete!

Adding to my wonderful bubbly happiness is the fact that I finally can put running before my job.  I worked very hard over the winter and spring to train for and compete in races, but I could never fully focus on running because the cloud of work was always there.  Don't get me wrong, I love to teach... but I love running more, and with summer vacation, I have the perfect opportunity to really grow as a runner.

So, onto the goals!  That's the title of this post, after all...

These goals all excite me a ton!

1. Increase my strength.  I will accomplish this by actually doing strength and core training on a regular basis.  Today I joined DK Fitness, a new local studio that offers Body Pump, Spinning, and a couple other awesome classes.  I went to a trial Body Pump class yesterday and really enjoyed it!  It is quite humbling, doing something that you've never done before with people who are skilled at it.  I'm sore as all get out tonight, so I know for sure I need it.  I also tried out a core class at our local running store, and I'll be going as often as I can to that as well (it's a drop-in weekly class for only $5).  I went to a group session with my MRTT mamas at Orange Theory, a new circuit training facility in town, and I really liked it as well.  However, it's quite a bit more expensive than the other two, so I'm going to pass on it for now.  I think between DK and the core class, I've got it covered.

2. Regain my swimming finesse.  I mentioned previously that I'm taking a swimming class this summer in preparation for a triathlon relay which I'm doing at the end of July with my runner mama pal Jen and her triathlete extraordinaire hubby Curt.  I was able to get back into the water on my own several times in May, and was pleasantly surprised how easy swimming was!  I think the cardiovascular strength that I gained from marathon training really translated well to swimming.  This past week was the first week of the class. It's a bit basic, but I love having someone telling me what to do, and there's another former collegiate swimmer in the class who I enjoy chatting with between sets.  I am going to need to get in some open-water training in the next several weeks as well, of course, since the race itself is in the lake.

This is what scares me the most about the triathlon... no lane lines!

3. Increase my flexibility.   It's been pointed out to me by a few well-meaning runner pals that my flexibility, to put it bluntly, sucks.   I've always had issues with being flexible.  Remember the Presidential Physical Fitness Test we all had to do in middle school gym class?  I was ultra-competitive even back then (imagine that LOL), and I just had to earn that patch all three years. 

The year 1 patch... I think I still have all three somewhere...
Well, I blew through the mile run, the pull-ups, the shuttle run, and the sit-ups in September every year.   My downfall: the dreaded "sit-and-reach," a measure of flexibility.  I had to work all year to get a passing number, and it was never easy for me.  Anyway, I totally get that I am not flexible now.  Runners aren't known for their flexibility anyway.  I've worked out a pre-run and post-run stretching routine, and I plan on adhering to it, as well as nightly stretching.

4. PR in the 5K.  I will be racing in the Westerville Rotary 5K on July 4th again this year.  Last year, I ran this race in a 25:21, which was almost 3 minutes faster than my first-ever 5K from 7 months prior.  A few weeks later, I set a new PR with a 24:21.  I'm only planning on this one 5K this summer, mostly due to the fact that I am not a fan of 5K's... they hurt so much!  It's funny how racing 3.1 miles is more painful than a 15 mile training run.  Also, I am saving my racing fees for bigger and better races.  I will discuss my 5K goal in another blog entry closer to the race, but suffice to say I am planning on blowing that 24:21 out of the water :)

5. Have fun running!   This is such an easy goal, but I wanted to throw it in there.  I have enjoyed running so very much this past month since my marathon.  In addition to getting in a few runs with my favorite partner Jen, I've been able to meet up with several new mamas from my MRTT group, and it's been super fun!  I haven't had to run alone in almost 5 weeks, which has been amazing.  I am such a social runner... my most favorite thing about running is catching up with my friends (or meeting new ones!).  Many of my runs have been done with Erin, who is like my running twin in so many ways (PRs, comfortable pace, body type/build, etc.).  We even have the same blood type LOL! Erin's also the one who's got me keen on strength training (she's an instructor at DK Fitness) and stretching, so I'm learning a ton from her.  I'm excited to start training with her for the Columbus Marathon, which will be her first full! 

Erin and I after one of our many sunrise runs (she loves the early runs too!).

There they are, my goals... putting them out there for the world to see.  Bring it on, summer!  I've got this!