December 16, 2011

Thanks, running, for keeping me from doing something drastic

Man, the last few weeks have been aggressive. Well, mainly work is aggressive. But, I see the end, the beautiful end. I have two glorious weeks of vacation. I'm elated beyond elated. Seriously, without this break, I could have done something drastic. Like quit my job. With no backup plan. Uncool, Jina. Uncool.

This could be a bit dramatic ...
Amidst all the madness, I kept running (well, I skipped a few long runs, but always make it to my weekly speed workouts). And, I'm thankful I did. It's probably the only thing that kept me from doing something drastic earlier. Like quit my job.

This week's runs:
  • Tuesday: Oh, you pesky intervals. But, I don't hate you as much as I used to. With four intervals (4 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy), I pushed it pretty hard ... I think. I brought my Garmin, but somehow turned the GPS off. Smart. So, I don't have numbers for how I did. Just my feeling, and I feel like our group did well.
  • Thursday: Oh, you pesky tempo run. I think I now hate you more than intervals. I'm just not good at choosing my tempo pace. I feel like my running partner and I started off fast (maybe too fast), and slowed down toward the end. I say "I feel" because I forgot my Garmin. I didn't even have a backup watch. But, after estimating our distance and knowing we ran for 50 minutes, I don't think we did too shabby. Again, I say "I think" because I'm an idiot that forgot her Garmin.
My weekend running plans:
  • Saturday: Oh, you pesky progressive run. It's not the run that I have trouble with, it's the timing. My boyfriend works out of town during the week and comes home every weekend. Weekends are our time. Saturdays are for dog parks, shopping, Mexican food, walks, movies, whatever. Running usually doesn't fit in. But, I'm trying to make it a priority to do this run. I can do it Friday or Saturday. I just have to do a progressive 30-minute run. Surely, I can fit that.
  • Sunday: Oh, you pesky fun long run. This is early in the morning (7:30 a.m., ugh), but my boyfriend sleeps late so it isn't doesn't interfere with our time. And, I actually usually really enjoy this run. Scenic route along the water, early morning air and Derek Jeter's house (I'm still a little irritated I haven't seen him yet). This week, we're running 10 miles.

December 12, 2011

Oh, motivation. Where have you gone?

I've kind of lost some running motivation. I'm still doing my weekly runs (intervals and tempo), but have skipped out on long runs the past two Sundays. I'm not really sure why.

Work is a nightmare lately. That could be it. I ran one half marathon, and I know I can run another one. That could be it. This time of year brings lots of other things to do, and I put running at the bottom of the list. That could be it. But, I don't know if any one of those reasons really is it. I just don't know.

But, I'm working on getting my motivation back. It helped getting this in the mail today.

My new RoadID! Note: I just threw it on my shoe. I tend to act before reading instructions so it might not be on correctly. But, I will read the instructions eventually. I was just too excited tonight.
I won my rockin' RoadID from Happy Healthy Runner (thanks again)!

I'll be sporting this when I run from now on ... which is hopefully more often than it has been.

December 10, 2011


I like to win. But, I rarely win. And, it makes me mad.

But tonight an amazing thing happened: I won. Well, our team won. My softball team that has played together (in some fashion) since 2004 won first place. We are finally champions of our league.

I envisioned what it would be like to raise my finger in a No. 1 and have a big trophy. And, it's even better than imagined. Especially after never winning more than three games in previous seasons. We were the underdogs in every way, and we ended our season 9-1.

I don't see things getting any better, so I promptly retired.

December 6, 2011

Procrastinating pays off

Thanks to the lovely Rachael at Happy Healthy Runner, I'm the proud owner of a RoadID. I'm super pumped. So super pumped I ordered it as soon as I won the giveaway. This is something I knew I needed, but I procrastinated on ordering it (I'm a world-class procrastinator). In this case, procrastinating paid off (and times like this encourage me to continue being a supreme procrastinator).

I debated, but I ended up going with the shoe ID.

If you don't have one yet, I'd encourage everyone to get a RoadID. Hopefully, nothing bad happens while you're out running (or walking or biking or swimming), but if it does, people will know your name and who to call in an emergency situation. Important stuff.

I'm not one for inspirational quotes (because I feel like most are cheesy and totally unlike anything I would normally say). But, I ended up putting one on my RoadID: "Winning isn't everything. Wanting to is." Aside from some grammatical issues, this is me. I LOVE to win. I strive to win ... at everything (this includes family game nights, games of h-o-r-s-e with my brother that end up turning into games of h-o-r-s-e-s-r-u-n-n-i-n-g-i-n-t-h-e-f-i-e-l-d (I keep extending the game so I can try to win), bean bag toss (or cornhole as some people call it), tic-tac-toe, anything. I'm extremely competitive. Annoyingly so. I hate losing. Sometimes I throw temper tantrums when I lose. Not my best trait. But, having a desire to win is a fabulous trait, and this will help me remember to keep that.

Phinley's Holiday Run Phor Phun 10K and 5K, Clearwater, Fla. Dec. 3, 2011: race review

OK, I'll admit it. The reason I ran this race is because it had a finish on a baseball field. A baseball field where the Philadelphia Phillies play spring training and the Clearwater Threshers play Single A baseball. And, this girl loves baseball.

Phinley is the Threshers' mascot. A shark named Phinely. Get it?
I was a bit concerned because I saw three different start times for this race. After emailing the race organizers, I was assured the race time was 4:30 p.m. for the 5K (4:00 p.m. for the 10K). Then, they sent out a mass reassurance email about the start time. Other people must have been confused, too.

Since I knew right where I was headed (I hang out at this stadium a bunch during the spring and summer), my boyfriend and I arrived at the stadium about 4 p.m. Parking was super easy (ideal site for a race since there are many parking lots).

Threshers game with dad
Threshers game with friends
Threshers game with Chloe (bark in the park night)
We walked in the stadium and into a super-long check-in line. Soon, I heard the announcement that the start of the 10K was delayed, and the 5K would start about 20 minutes after the 10K. So, no need to worry about the long lines. And, not really a surprise.

After checking in, getting my number and chip, I still had plenty of time before the race. And, I could use an actual restroom (not the typical race porta-potty situation) since we were in a baseball stadium.

About 20 minutes after the 10K start, they asked all 5K participants to head outside the stadium. So, we all trudged outside to a sidewalk. They asked anyone who ran 7-minute miles (yeah, so not me) to move to the front. Soon after, there was a commotion and the race started. I actually think someone just said, "Go." Seriously.

Even though we had timing chips, we never ran over a mat, so I was kind of confused how they were keeping time or where the race technically started. I started my Garmin watch when I got to the "start line" (where those speedster 7-minute milers started).

The course wound behind the stadium on a trail and under an overpass and into a park. It was really pretty and hilly (for Florida). I was happy with how I handled the hills and with how this race started. I kept a pace under 11 minutes, which is good for me.

Almost the entire course wound through this park. There were two water stops, which I really didn't need, but it's nice that they were available.

At one point, a Frisbee almost hit some runners in front of me. Oops. Apparently, this trail went right through a disc golf course.

I kept up my under-11-minute-mile pace, and I felt really great throughout this race. I was getting anxious to really push myself the last mile. I knew I still had a lot of gas left in the tank, and I knew I could fly through it (I use "fly" rather loosely here).

Then, we made a turn off the trail and onto an uneven grass area behind the stadium. Uneven as in you had to be careful with each step or else you might topple over. For someone who sprained an ankle almost two years ago, and who still feels it, this made me extremely nervous. So, unfortunately, I had to slow down considerably instead of really making that push at that end.

After the uneven grassy area, we turned into the stadium for the lap around the warning track before third base finish line. I could finally pick up my pace, and I was really happy with my strong finish.
I'm in blue

Making the final push amidst all the Santas who yelled "Ho! Ho! Ho!" a good portion of the race
My Garmin time: 33:09, which is 1:23 faster than my fastest 5K time.

The third base finish line (apparently, I was so fast my boyfriend couldn't get a picture of me from the front ... this is obviously a joke)

After turning in my chip (I still didn't understand how it was a chip-timed event), we headed to the post-race party to grab post-race goodies.

Yes, a beer and a hot dog
I loved hanging out at the stadium after the race. Baseball stadiums are my happy place.

There were definitely some issues with this race: three different advertised start times, long check-in line, delayed start, odd start with no official start line and a rough course (uneven grass) with obstacles (Frisbees). That said, I'd do this race again in a heartbeat. This was a fun race for a baseball-loving girl (good thing since it's billed as a Run Phor Phun). I even got a really cool medal.

Remember how I said I was confused about the chip timing? Well, obviously, the race organizers were too. The results have me running a 58:35 10K. I'd love that, but I didn't do it.

December 2, 2011

This baseball-loving girl is in!

I'm a sucker for baseball and mascots and good deals, so I couldn't resist the $10 race with a finish across home plate and a high-five from a mascot this weekend. Oh, I also don't like getting up early, and this is on a Saturday evening. I'm pumped.

I originally signed up for the 10K, thinking it could suffice for my long run for the week. However, once I got my training schedule, I realized this would not. I'm supposed to run 9 miles. I thought we'd knock the mileage down a bit, but I'm OK with it (after the initial shock). I think I'll be better prepared for my next half marathon. So, I switched to the 5K, which will satisfy my 30-minute progressive run on the schedule, and then I'll run 9 miles on Sunday morning with the running group.

A few things concern me about this race, though:
  • I've seen three, yes three, different start times. The site lists 4 p.m. The commercial above, which I would think the race organizers would make or approve, says 5 p.m. And, radio stations are advertising a 6 p.m. start time. Eek!
  • The site listed on to "click for more information," doesn't exist. Eek!
Things like this drive me crazy. Oh, wait. I already arrived at crazy a long time ago. But, they irritate me. The act of proofreading is an important step, people! Consider it. Especially when you're planning an event and actually want people to show up when it starts (not two hours later). Maybe I should start bartering: proofreading for race entry.

November 30, 2011

Where have all the good boy bands gone?

Jina's back, alright! Sorry, that's my lame attempt to get a boy band song into my blog. I heart boy bands. *NSYNC is my ultimate favorite, but the Backstreet Boys will do in a pinch.

Ahem, so I am back to my running group. My week of rest was nice and needed, but it was nice and needed to be back with the group, too.

We had some new runners. One is my speed (poor girl), so that's nice (for me anyway). We ran a total of 45 minutes with four, 4-minute hard intervals followed by a 3-minute jog to recover. It was cool, pleasant and awesome. I love runs like this.

I had the dreaded race recap with my coach. We talked about my horribly slow time (my words, not his) for my first half marathon. As much as I try to not be disappointed, I kind of am. He wasn't. I still kind of am. He said to just go for my goal on the next race. Smart guy. Probably why he's the coach.

My last training session was really about just learning how to run. I mean, I couldn't even run more than 3 miles when I joined the group. This time, I know I can run. Now, I just need to become a better runner. So, that's what I'll do.

November 29, 2011

A week later, I ran

So, I didn't make it to my running group on Sunday morning. That unmotivated feeling I was having really didn't go away. But, I did run tonight (for the first time since my half marathon). In the craptastically hot gym. On a dreadtreadmill.

I just ran 3 easy miles, and it felt good – aside from the smothering heat and limited air circulation. The fan was working tonight, but it only hits at ankle level. This is better than nothing, and I can't say I mind having cool ankles, but I'd appreciate some air movement on the remaining 99% of my body.

To pass the time, I watched part of "Kourtney and Kim Take New York" (and some Monday Night Football) ... please tell me why I'm still watching the Kardashians? Oh, yeah. I got hooked when Kim was dating Reggie Bush. I watched each episode in hopes of catching a glimpse of gorgeous Reggie, and thankfully, I got those glimpses. But, he and Kim are broken up, and have been for years ... well, at least a year (this girl moves fast). I just never quit watching. But, I think you'll understand why I needed to watch it.


Now, I don't need to watch it. That Kris Humphries guy seems like a jerk, and a severe step down from Reggie. But, if that silly show is on, I'll watch it. It's not a must watch, but if it's on, I'll usually see what's up.

Tomorrow, I'm back to running outside with my group. And without the Kardashians.

November 26, 2011

Notice what isn't on the list?

With some days off from work, I had time to spend however I wanted (a nice change). So, I:
  • Did laundry
  • Took Chloe to the dog park
  • Cooked Thanksgiving dinner
  • Ate Thanksgiving dinner (and leftovers and more leftovers)
  • Watched football
  • Watched "Beverly Hills 90210" reruns
  • Got a massage
  • Played beach volleyball
  • Met friends for dinner
  • Caught up on "American Horror Story" episodes
  • Took my car in to check out that pesky "difficult to start" problem
  • Bought the Lucky magazine with Jessica Simpson on the cover
  • Read the Lucky magazine with Jessica Simpson on the cover cover-to-cover
  • Drank wine
  • Shopped (online only, thank you)
You may have noticed that running was not on my list. I have not ran since my half marathon on Sunday. I'm not really sure why. I've thought about it some. It just never happened. I'm going to try and change that tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. (although I must admit I'm not terribly motivated at this moment).

November 24, 2011

10 things I'm thankful for

1.  Family

2.  Friends
3.  Chloe

4.  Health
5.  Running
6.  Lip gloss

7.  Diet Dr. Pepper

8.  Sunglasses

9.  Wine
10.  Flip-flops

November 22, 2011

Women's Half Marathon, St. Petersburg, Florida, Nov. 20, 2011: race review (Part 2)

I woke up at 5 a.m. on race day. Normally, I hate waking up early. I wouldn't say it was my favorite thing this day either, but I was happier than most days.

First thing: toast an English muffin, spread with a little peanut butter and slice a half a banana on it. Second thing: eat this.

Due to the aforementioned car starting problem, as soon as I ate my runner's breakfast of champions, I headed out with my dog to see if my car would start (oh, and to let my dog go to the bathroom). The car started! My dog went to the bathroom! Hooray on both accounts!

Knowing my car would start made the morning a little more relaxed. Of course, I thought that even though it started that time, it may not start the next time. Sheesh! I always think of something to ruin my relaxedness.

After getting ready (handy that I set out the clothes the night before and packed everything I needed ... I should do this every day) and after Chloe wished me luck, I headed out the door.

I still left in enough time that, if necessary, I could call a taxi. I was a little nervous starting the car, but thankfully, it started without issue. Whew!

Since my running buddy, Caroline, lives close to the course, I parked at her house, and we walked to the start line (probably about a one-mile walk). We left her house at 6:30 a.m. for a 7:00 a.m. start time, and even with a stop at a porta-potty on the way in a park (not a race porta-potty, thankfully; this one smelled like cinnamon and had hand sanitizer) and a stop for a quick photo, we made it to our corral by 6:52 a.m.

This was just enough time. I didn't get nervous about not making it, but I also didn't have too much time to stand around and get nervous about the race. Although, one thing did trouble me: I started sweating on the walk there. Yes, a walk. Before sunrise. I was afraid bad things were to come.

I was extremely impressed with the organization of this race. About 7,000 runners fit easily into their corrals for an on-time start. Almost three minutes after the horn to start the race, Caroline and I crossed the start line to "Going the Distance" (I love some Cake. I'm glad the race organizers do, too.)

The first few miles were a breeze. The street was crowded, but it wasn't too difficult to pass someone if necessary. There was a ton of fan support at the start, so that helped pass the time, too.

Miles 4-5 got a little hot and boring. We ran through a neighborhood with little crowd support. But, we did hit our first water stop of the day, and we ran into the race photographers. I tried to keep my vow to myself: look happy in all of the photos. I started off on the right track.

Even though you can already see my shirt is soaked with sweat, I'm still happy (or pretending to be). Caroline is still really happy, too (I love this picture).

I don't really remember being that happy from this point in the race forward. Oh, wait. I was happy when I saw Caroline's husband and parents. That was fun. But, that was probably the last memorable happy time during this race. We kept trudging along until we took our first walk break (about the 6-mile mark). It was then we decided if we wanted to finish, we needed to walk some. It was freakin' HOT and HUMID, and it was barely 8 a.m. Oh, and it's November!

We kept going. Hit the next water stop hard. I took water (sometimes two or three) from each stop (The water stops were plentiful and well-stocked. I am extremely grateful that this was the case. Thank you, Women's Half Marathon organizers). I drank some and poured the remainder on my head.

I think miles 8-9 (I may be off on my miles because I was somewhat delirious from the heat)were the toughest of the course. It involved running The Pier. No trees. No shade. Out and back. Extremely hot. I almost had a meltdown when I realized we had to run around the stupid thing as opposed to turning around in front of it. This was really probably only an additional 0.1 mile, but this explains my level of hate of this portion of the race. We ended up walking a portion of this stupid pier, too. Maybe our longest walk break of the day. Stupid, stupid pier!

After the stupid, long, hot pier, we headed up to downtown St. Pete. At this time, we saw our coaches (both guys; they probably felt like pimps) and yelled at them, so that was a nice distraction. It was fun and all smiles until I realized they were finishing the race. Then, I got angry and bitter. I wanted to be them, but we still had 4 miles to go. Ugh!

The coaches saw this; we did not for another 4 miles
I knew that we were headed to Tropicana Field (home of the Tampa Bay Rays), but I didn't realize that we weren't taking a direct route there. So, when we had to turn to run around a lake in a park, I almost had another meltdown. I was also literally melting. I was hot. Really hot. As in, getting dizzy hot.

After more walking and more water, we dragged ourselves to Tropicana Field. I should have enjoyed this. I love baseball in a serious way. I love the Rays in a serious way. I should have been super-pumped that we got to run around the warning track of the stadium. I DID NOT CARE. I just wanted this race to end.

On the field at a much, much happier time
We walked some in Tropicana Field and some outside of it. Down to our last two miles, I thought I felt a surge of energy. I was wrong. Or it only lasted 0.5 mile. We walked some more and ran some more.

Thankfully, we ran into another coach at about the last mile of the race. She finished the race (in 1:44, no less), and then kept going out to find people in our group and run them almost to the finish line before she ran back for the next group. This was the sweetest thing ever and exactly what we needed. She had us running and running at a pretty good pace for the last mile. As she left us, she said the finish is just around the corner. She lied about that (or our ideas of "just around the corner" are different). But, we finished, and we finished strong!

My official time: 2:48:26 (Oh, my gosh. I am slow, but not that slow. Except on this day). I was really hoping for a  2:35 finish, and based on my training runs, I could do that (of course, our long runs were on 60-degree mornings with no humidity, and this was an 84-degree day with high humidity). I really think the heat and humidity were to blame. My body felt great. I was prepared. Nothing hurt. I just felt out of it. Dizzy. Nauseous.

After about the 6-mile mark of the race, I started feeling disappointed. I wanted to run the entire thing. I wanted to feel good throughout the race. And, things were falling apart fast. I had this feeling the entire race until the finish. Crossing the finish line strong really made these feelings go away (somewhat). I guess I'm still kind of disappointed, but hey, it was my first half marathon. It was unseasonably hot and humid. And, I finished. And got a cool medal. I now remember that this is part of the reason I signed up for this race.

It's so big and shiny! And, it has a detachable charm that you can add to a necklace or charm bracelet ... still haven't decided how I feel about that.
After getting our bling, we headed to the post-race refreshment area. First stop: ice bags. Oh, this felt glorious on my head and chest and neck! I finally could cool down.

After sitting on the asphalt (sitting on the hard ground never felt so good) applying the ice bags for awhile, we decided hit the snacks. I really wanted an orange. They didn't have oranges. But, they did have bananas, frozen strawberries, granola bars, pretzels and yogurt. I took some for later, but couldn't even think about eating anything at this point. All I wanted was liquid. So, I drank more water and more Gatorade along with more water and more Gatorade.

We finally found Caroline's parents and husband and got the cameras out!

Even though the race didn't go as I wanted it, there were a lot of great things about this race:
  • Extremely scenic, beautiful course. Sometimes I forget how beautiful it is since I live and run here all the time.
  • Well-organized race. Everything seemed to go the way a race should.
  • Well-manned and plentiful water and Gatorade stations. This was a lifesaver on this hot day. I really don't think I could have finished without the many, many water stops.
  • Great crowd support. It was pretty awesome hearing people you don't know yell your name.
  • The Bondi Band did the job! I love this thing! It stayed in place (no headband ever stays on my head), and it prevented sweat from going in my eyes. Amazing!
Really, the only negative things I can think of had nothing to do with the race itself:
  • HEAT AND HUMIDITY (Oh, did I mention this before?!?)
I'd definitely do this race again ... on a much cooler day. And, I'm looking forward to my next half marathon in February, when it better be cooler.

November 21, 2011

Women’s Half Marathon, St. Petersburg, Florida, Nov. 20, 2011: race review (Part 1)

Well, because I’m being extremely wordy, I decided to break this review in two. Part 1 chronicles the day before the race (race expo, preparation) and Part 2 will chronicle the actual race and aftermath.
I keep hearing that solid sleep two nights before a race is important. So, I took this to heart and slept a glorious 11 hours on Friday night. If there’s one thing I can do, it is sleep!
So, after getting my bearings, hydrating incessantly and watching a little “Beverly Hills 90210” (this show, the original version, still rocks), I decided to hit up the race expo.
I basically live in St. Petersburg (technically, I’m in Clearwater, but St. Pete is right across the street), so I knew where I was headed: the spiffy Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Visiting Major League Baseball teams stay at this hotel, so I’m familiar with it due to my stalking autograph-seeking.

After picking up my race bib (very cool that they were personalized) and goodie bag, I followed signs to the T-shirt pickup area and expo.

Not only is it cute, it contained lip gloss and Chomps (two of my favorite things)
Cute shirt, but as with most running shirts, it is too short (on me)
I’ve never been to a race expo, but I thought this one rocked! I loved being able to see all of the cool running gear I’ve seen online or in magazines in person. I had my second stint as a cover model (as an intern, I rocked the cover of Produce Merchandising magazine) and got to pose for Running Women’s Magazine (I keep waiting patiently for this photo to be posted. I am still waiting. Still somewhat patiently. When they do post them, and if mine is not too hideous, I will post it here).

My supermodel days: the cover shot for Produce Merchandising magazine
For a nasty, sweaty girl like me, the Bondi Band booth was a welcome sight. I’ve wanted to try them to help with my sweat-dripping-into-my-eyes problem. So, I grabbed one (in purple, of course). When I say grabbed, I mean I picked it out and paid for it (not that I grabbed it and ran).
Save me from my sweatiness, oh Bondi Band
After the expo, I headed to Target (while hydrating incessantly) to grab toothpaste. Toothpaste is one of those things that I always stockpile. I usually have two to three tubes in reserve. Somehow, Saturday morning, I couldn’t find any. I finally found a dollop in a travel tube that I eeked out. After grabbing toothpaste and many other items (darn you, Target), I headed out.

Next stop: Olive Garden to pick up my pre-race meal. Problem: my car died pulling out of the Target parking spot. PANIC! I tried for what seemed like hours (realistically it was probably 5 minutes) to get my car started. All the while, my main concern: How am I going to get to the race tomorrow (behind this concern: How do I get home? Who do I call? Where am I going to have my car towed? How much is this going to cost?)?!? Finally, the car started. Whew!
I pulled into a to-go parking spot at Olive Garden and left my car running. With the keys in it and the windows down. I was unconcerned for two reasons: (1). My car is crappy and (2). The Olive Garden door holder opener and the 532 people waiting for a table were witnesses to anyone wanting to steal my piece of crap car (sorry, car, I love you, but you’ve seen better days).
I made it home, pondered options for how to make it to the race if my car wouldn’t start (finally decided on a taxi there and a ride home with a friend that was coming to the race), ate my dinner, laid out my race outfit, filled my water bottle, packed my Chomps, charged my Garmin and called it a night. I made it to bed by about 10:30 p.m. for a 5 a.m. wake-up call. Not bad.
I had a dream that I ran a fabulous race, got my medal and adoration from my many fans (like I said, this was a dream). I was a little irritated when I woke up that I had to run another half marathon. 

November 18, 2011

Day 44 (Nov. 17)

Sadly, this is my last training group run for the Women's Half Marathon.

The run: an easy 3 miles. It finally cooled down some, so this run was pleasant. Not sticky, sweaty, nasty like Tuesday's run. It gave me hope for race day (Sunday), but I think (when I write "think," I really mean I know because I've been obsessively checking the forecast for the past week) the temperature and humidity are supposed to creep back up by then. Boo!

Aside from almost getting hit by a car, this was a fairly uneventful run. When I write "almost," I really mean almost. As in, if we didn't jump into the grass and wave our arms to stop the car we would have been smushed. Uncool right before the race. Well, uncool anytime actually.

So, that's it. The end after almost 4 months of training.

I'm sad. I love this group and our trainers. But, I'm also extremely happy with my accomplishments. When I started I hadn't run any farther than a 5K. On Sunday, I'll be running 13.1 miles!

November 17, 2011

I'm in charge, nerves

With four days until my first half marathon, I’m extremely nervous (and occasionally excited). My current stomach knotters:
  • The weather: it’s hot and humid. I don’t run well when it’s hot or humid. Excellent.
  • An illness: I’m afraid I’ll get sick before the race. Every sniffle, every cough, every ache or pain is cause for concern. Am I getting sick? I CAN’T get sick.
  • Tripping: as in, tripping and falling or tripping and spraining an ankle, knee, leg, something. I'm clumsy. This is entirely possible.
Looking at these concerns, I'm realizing the ridiculousness of them. I can't control any of them. So, I'm going to focus instead on things I can control.
  • Hydration: Our coach told us about the importance of hydrating two to three days in advance of the race. I can do this. I like water. I drink a lot of it anyway. Easy enough.
  • Diet: I've read many, many articles (and listened to my coach talk) about race day (and night before) nutrition. Basically, eat things you're used to eating. Don't try anything new. Carbohydrates are an ideal form of energy. Same thing for the morning of the race. I can do this. I'm in charge of what goes in my stomach.
  • Sleep: That's it. Sleep. Get good rest the night before, but more importantly, two nights before the race. I rock at sleeping! I need to sleep well Friday night? No problem! I'm always exhausted from the work week, and I have no problem whatsoever getting in some serious sleeping hours.
I am in control of this race. I trained. I know I can do this. I will hydrate, eat smart and sleep well. Bring it!

November 15, 2011

Day 43 (Nov. 15)

It's taper time!

So, tonight instead of our usual pesky intervals, we just ran 3 miles. An easy 3 miles. And, I'm OK with that because it was stinking hot. And humid. I sweat. A lot. Boo!

If it could cool down or at least be less humid for the race, that would be awesome!

So, this taper thing isn't too bad. I didn't kill myself with intervals. I had an easy, enjoyable run. I got home from my training group early. Then, I relaxed with Chloe. You know, I didn't want to put any undue stress on my legs. And, she's the perfect taper week companion (well, she's pretty darn perfect any week).

November 14, 2011

Day 42 (Nov. 14)

Since I spent this past weekend in Kansas, I didn't do my long run on Sunday with the training group. Instead, I spent time with my family and recovered from tailgating and a four-OT Kansas State football game (yes, FOUR). K-State won, but man. My nerves were shot.

Woo-hoo! Victory after four OTs!

Losers! I'd post a picture of the winning team, but I sat by the visiting team's ramp.

My sweet purple shoes that I am certain contributed to a Wildcat victory.
So, after recovering from the madness, I decided to run tonight with my best running buddy, Caroline. Since I hated my 11-mile run, my main goal tonight for our 6-7-mile run (we did 6.5 miles) was to enjoy it. I was hoping it would go well since it is the last long (taper) run before the race. And, it did! I wouldn't say it was the best run ever, but it definitely wasn't the worst either. I mostly enjoyed it, and I felt good throughout.

The only real issue was my breathing. Not an I'm-exerting-myself-too-much-and-I-can't-breathe feeling, but more of a the-air-is-thick-or-the-neck-of-my-shirt-is-choking-me feeling. It was really humid, so that probably played into it. Also, it was low tide, and the smelliness of the bay could have played into it, too. I've got some leftover allergy issues from Kansas, so that may have been an issue as well. But, my fear is: it's nerves. Yeah, I know I said I was ready to rock this half marathon, and I am, but I've started panicking. Among my many, many fears:
  • What if I can't breathe during the race?
  • What if I sprain my ankle, leg, knee, toe, some other body part I'm not thinking of?
  • What if I get sick before the race?
  • What if it's too hot (I'm obsessively checking the forecast, and it looks kind of warm)?
  • What if I'm not hydrated?
  • What if I'm not fueled properly?
  • What if I completely bomb the race after almost four months of training? (This is my biggest fear.)
So, now I'm freaking out as opposed to being excited. I'm so happy I joined my training group because I'd be nowhere near prepared if it wasn't for the group and my coaches, but ... it adds another level of pressure. I feel like people expect a lot out of me. "This girl's been training for months. She better not suck." Ack! I'm nervous. And worried. And anxious.

November 10, 2011

Day 41 (Nov. 10)

On the training plan for today: 5K time trial. Being a super-slow runner, I wasn't terribly excited about this. But, since I'm in Kansas visiting family, friends and a Kansas State football game, I could run it on my own and suffer any humiliation internally and non-publicly.

My dad took me to a trail that I tried out the last time I was here and found to be fairly non-hilly for a Kansas trail. Yeah, everyone seems to think Kansas is flat. They are wrong.

My dad decided to ride his bike from the 1970s with me as I ran. He let me get a head start, and I started off fast (for me). Things were quiet and cool, and I felt really good (I think my mega stretching after the painful Tuesday run did wonders). After awhile, I heard a rattling behind me that I knew had to be my dad's rickety 1970s bike. It was kind of nice having him behind me – not because of the noise, but because it was a push to keep going.

I turned around when my Garmin got to 1.5 miles. I got to a good turnaround point, and I figured I'd make up the extra 0.1 mile at the other end of the trail. I was still surprised at my speed (I just feel silly using this word), but I kept it up because I felt pretty good.

I never really mention my time (because its ridiculously slow), but I'm really happy about this. My 5K time trial result: 32:04. This beats my most recent best 5K time by almost 2:30! I realize an average 10:20 pace is not really something to brag about, but it's a huge improvement for me. And for this extremely slow girl, it's actually pretty fast.

Oh, and I found out why my dad's bike was so noisy: he couldn't get the kickstand to stay up, so he rode 3.1 miles with his kickstand dragging the ground.

Day 40 (Nov. 8)

Man, I was still sore from that pesky 11-mile run on Sunday. The thought of doing a 55-minute run with six, 4-minute hard intervals just about put me over the edge.

So, when our coach told us to ignore our training plans, I was pumped. When he said to run for 55 minutes with no intervals, I was super-psyched. It was when I started running that I became unhappy. Every stride hurt. My back was tight. My calves were tight. The entire run. They never loosened up. This run was not fun in almost every way.

I ran the stupid 55 minutes. I did not like any of the 55 minutes. But, at least we didn't have to run intervals. I think I would have flat-out refused. Not just ran slow or walked. As in, sit down on the road and not move.

This is a simulation, but I envision it looking exactly like this.

See the disgruntled look? The I'm-over-it look? The sitting on the road and refusing move? I think I captured it perfectly.

P.S. Caroline: these shirts are reflective!

November 7, 2011

Day 39 (Nov. 6)

I hated almost everything about this 11-mile run, including:
  • I ran almost the entire 11 miles by myself. My coach ran with me for about one mile at the beginning, and then I was on my own for the entire time until the last ½ mile when my assistant coach ran to the finish with me.
  • My lower back hurt. Bad. I haven’t really run into much pain throughout this training, so I guess it all hit on this run. Gee, thanks.
  • It was a mental battle from start to finish. I just wanted to give up. I had to talk myself out of quitting almost the entire 11 miles.
  • I did not see Derek Jeter! Come on, dude. Why couldn’t you step out of your house and wave or just drive by?
Showing your face could have saved my run.
As much as I hated it, I guess there were some good things:
  • I ran the entire way. I stopped a few times to stretch (to try and help my pesky stiff back) and to get water, but no walking. I was worried even stopping to do those things would ruin my rhythm (not that I really had any). But, I was able to stop, stretch or get water, and keep going.
  • I ran faster than I expected for running by myself. I kept the same pace as I did running 10 miles and what I *hope* to run during the race.
  • I felt great toward the end. My back loosened up, the end was in sight, and I felt stronger those last two miles than I did the previous 9 miles.
  • My last mile was my fastest mile!
So, this was it: the last long run before the race. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself knowing that. I wanted it to be the best ever. And, it wasn’t. But, I did it. I ran 11 miles, and I despised almost every second of it.

November 5, 2011

Day 38 (Nov. 3)

After last week's terrible-awful-horrible-dreadful-hated tempo run, I was a little nervous about this week.

We did a repeat of last week (10-minute warm up, 30-minute temp run and 15-minute cool down), so I felt like it was a chance to redeem myself ... then I realized I forgot my Garmin watch, so I figured things wouldn't go that well. But, I judged pace by others around me and my running buddy. I felt we were going at a pretty good pace for me (this is still slow to everyone else). About halfway through our run, our coach ran with us. He told us our pace, and I was shocked. He ran with us the rest of the way and kept us at this pace for the tempo run and slowed us down for our cool down. 

I think forgetting my Garmin was the best thing that could have happened. It was nice to not be addicted to my watch for the night. As much as I love it, sometimes I think I rely on it too much, obsess over it and even limit myself because of it. I worry about going too fast (hahaha! I'm so slow this is a ridiculous statement.), so I stick to a comfortable pace based on my Garmin. Just going by feel was a great break and a good reality check. I can go faster than I have been; I don't have to stick to my safe times. Maybe this turtle will eventually be a bunny.

A happy turtle after a faster than normal tempo run