Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Goodbye Fair-Weather Runners

The fair-weather runners have apparently gone into hibernation for the winter already. I really enjoy when the fair-weather runners go into hibernation for the late fall, entire winter and early spring. Nobody enjoys when your dog does his business right in the middle of the trail. Nobody enjoys when you see a long lost friend and take up the entire pavement holding a conversation. Nobody enjoys when you try to pass someone and they speed up until you fall back behind them. Nobody enjoys when little children or inexperienced cyclists practically run you over with their bikes. Nobody enjoys when you get chased by a loose dog, even if it does give you a nice speed workout. Nobody enjoys when you get nasty looks, no response or yelled at for saying hello to other runners or walkers. These annoyances do not just apply to the rail trail, but they also apply to the roadway as well. If you are a true runner, then you probably get annoyed with most of these things too. I could really go on with the list forever, but I will instead commend the all-weather runners for making the winter running months so much more bearable. It takes a lot of motivation to run in the rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind and subzero temperatures. I know that this is dedication because I run outside for as much of the winter as I can. I do give in to the treadmill occasionally, but I would much rather fall on the pavement than a moving treadmill. So thank you all-weather runners for reminding me that I am not the only crazy winter runner and for always being so friendly on that lonely winter pavement.

Today's 40 degree temperature did not stop Sandy and I from hitting up the rail trail after work. After running in negative temperatures last winter, today's weather was nothing to us. Sandy and I have been running buddies for almost two years now. We often hit up the rail trail after work or meet up on Sunday mornings for an easy long run and breakfast. Having someone else to run with really makes a huge difference and helps to pass the time so much more quickly. We have run several races together and even trained for a half marathon together with some of our coworkers in the spring. Sandy and I both have those 13.1 stickers on the back of our cars, but mine looks better because I did not slice mine when I was trying to open the package. When we arrived at the rail trail today, I happened to notice that my 13.1 sticker was sliced now too. I made a comment to Sandy and she starts laughing hysterically because apparently she switched our stickers about 3 weeks ago. Since Sandy is really into practical jokes and it took me so long to notice, I do have to applaud her for doing something that she knew would really bug me when I saw it. We swapped back our stickers and Sandy probably patted herself on the back at this point. Once the sticker ordeal was over, I noticed that the parking lot was practically empty. The only other people that we saw out on the trail while we were running were either all-weather walkers or bikers. After yesterday's fantastic run, I decided that today should be an easy day. Sandy and I did a modified version of a tempo run where we alternated between an easy run and a fast run every 1/4 mile. The only goal that we had was to complete a 3 mile tempo so we did not really care how fast or slow we were. We ran 3 miles in 30:09, which is the fastest that the two of us have ever ran together. I would say that a 3 mile tempo run followed by a 1 mile walk was a pretty good workout for today.

12 miles complete in 1:35:59 and only 206 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Tale of the Treadmill

I fell in love with running on the treadmill my freshman year of college. We would always see a lot of snow in the winter and that was my least favorite kind of weather to run in. I often opted for the treadmill during the winter for several reasons. No one really knew how fast or slow I was running on the treadmill so I did not have to be embarrassed about being a slow runner. If I could not get my workout in until late in the evening, I did not need to worry about running in the dark. I could easily spend an hour running on the treadmill. I would watch a favorite television show, read a book for class or study for an upcoming test. By my sophomore year of college, I would lose track of time on the treadmill and found myself running for almost 2 hours sometimes. The best part of the treadmill was that I could quit running whenever I wanted to. I did not need to worry about being 2 miles away from my dorm and either having to walk or run back. I would run on the treadmill whenever it was late, cold or wet outside. I was spending more time running on the treadmill than I would out on the roads.

I quickly fell out of love with the treadmill during the spring of my sophomore year. It was a late weekday evening and I had not gotten my workout in for the day yet. Since it was already dark and cold outside, I opted for a run on the treadmill with one of my favorite television shows on in front of me. I was 1/2 mile into my run when my shoelace came untied. If you know me well, you know that I trip over my own feet very easily, especially when I am running. This was the day that I learned why people attach that little clip from the treadmill to their shirts when they run. Once my shoelace came untied, I tripped and fell down on the treadmill. Due to my lack of common sense, I chose to try to crawl back up the treadmill. I should have just let myself fall off the treadmill, but of course I did not. I frantically tried to crawl back up the treadmill and hoped that I would be able to push the stop button. Once I realized that I was never going to be able to hit the stop button, I just let myself fall off of the treadmill.

There were only a few people in the gym when this happened, but I was still majorly embarrassed. So I tied my shoe very tightly and got back on the treadmill to continue my run. By the time that I had run 1 mile, I began to feel something wet dripping down my leg. Of course I was bleeding because that is what happens when you try to crawl back up a moving treadmill. The bleeding quickly ended my workout so I went back to my dorm room to cleanup the gash on my leg. Just when I thought that the story could not get any more embarrassing, one of my future roommates told me that she had a hilarious gym story to tell me. Her friend had been at the gym and had seen some girl fall off of the treadmill and try to crawl back up it. It only took her one look at my leg to realize that the girl her friend had been talking about was actually me. News sure travels fast when you go to a small college. I was so embarrassed from the treadmill incident that it took me several weeks before I would get back on one again. Thanks to the tale of the treadmill I became an all-weather runner. I began running in snow, sleet, rain, extremely cold temperatures and even hot sunny days. I was not going to get back on a treadmill unless I was absolutely desperate. It took me about two years to be able to run on a treadmill without holding on for the entire run. Needless to say, running on a treadmill is not something that you will find me doing very often.

With all of the rain and wind from Hurricane Sandy yesterday and today, I was tempted to go for a run on the treadmill today. We all know that I do not enjoy the treadmill, but I really do not like running in the pouring rain either. I would rather run in subzero temperatures, which I have before, or snow than be running in pouring rain. When there was a lull in the rain, I went out for a quick 3 mile run. I do not mind running in a light rain because it is actually pretty refreshing and gets you to run a little more quickly. The thought of a nice warm shower or being in your nice warm bed also motivates you to run a little faster. I use the MapMyRun app on my phone to track each of my runs. I usually keep the voice feedback on for every mile, but decided to switch it to 1/2 mile today since I am focused on my speed. When the voice feedback told me that I had completed 1/2 mile in 3:57, I knew that I was going to be in big trouble if I did not slow down. I really wanted to push myself today and see how far I could go so I made sure that each mile split would be around 8:30. This pace was actually not too difficult to maintain thanks to all of the speed workouts that I did with my cross country team this fall. I found myself at the park across the street from my apartment complex at mile 2.5 and I knew that it was time to give it all I had. I kept checking my phone to see if I was done yet and even found myself yell out loud at 2.9 miles that I would be done running in 1 minute. I ran through the parking lot as fast as I could until I reached 3 miles. When I finished running and had a chance to catch my breath, I could not believe that I just ran 3 miles in 25:50 when I checked my phone. I have never been able to run 1 mile in 8:37, let alone 3 miles at that pace! I think that a fantastic run like that calls for a nice big bowl of ice cream after dinner tonight!

9 miles complete in 1:05:50 and only 207 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Marathon Training Begins

Today marks the beginning of my 30 week marathon training program. If someone had told me 6 years ago that I would be training for a marathon, I never would have believed them. I was not a runner back then and I really despised running. When I was in high school, I used to walk most of the mile when we had to run it in P.E. class. I never understood the draw towards running until I became a runner myself. I blame my college roommate for turning me into a runner, but I do not consider blame to be a bad thing in this case. I slowly began getting into running during my first two years of college. There were many days that I would rather just lay in my bed than drag myself out for a run. I was a very slow runner and would often finish a run several minutes after my college roommate did. I did not care if I was fast or slow because there was nothing that could make you feel as good as you did after a run. There were plenty of days when my body was physically spent after a run, but the runner's high often masked any pain that I might have felt that day.

I quickly discovered that there were so many benefits to running. To this day, running is still the best stress reliever that I have. No matter what is going on in my life, I cannot help but feel happy or good about myself after I finish a run. If you are a runner, then you will understand just how good you feel after you run. You can easily get endorphins from any other form of physical activity, but there is just something about running that sets it apart from any other sport. The camaraderie between runners is a bond that most athletes in other sports do not share. Whether you are out for a run in your neighborhood or running in an actual race, runners are the friendliest people that you will meet. People always smile, wave or say hello when you are out running. And just when you think that your body cannot run anymore, there is always someone there encouraging you to keep going. I think that runners are so kind to one another and really push each other because they understand just how grueling running can get. Running is really an individual sport and sometimes you need someone other than yourself to motivate you.

I ran my first 5K 4 years ago and I never thought that I would really run much more than 3.1 miles. In the past 4 years I have run in 33 races and put in countless miles of running on my own each year. I have run in 1 XC race, 18 5K races, two 4 miles races, 5 8K races, 3 10K races and 4 half marathon races. I never thought that I would be able to complete a half marathon and I ran my first one 3 1/2 years ago. During this past spring, I ran in 3 different half marathons. Being able to finish a half marathon is such an incredible feeling and I felt so proud of myself for such a huge accomplishment. I proudly display that 13.1 mile sticker on the back of my car to remind myself of just how far I have come as a runner. After this past spring, I was in the best shape that I have ever been in throughout my entire life. I knew that it was time for me to try to conquer something bigger and better. I spent the summer letting my body recover from all of the half marathons and continued to run casually. When school began this school year, I found myself coaching cross country and really pushing my body as a runner whenever I would push my athletes. I am now as ready as I am ever going to be to conquer 26.2 miles.

It has been on my bucket list for 2 years now to be able to run a marathon. I know that this is not going to be an easy task to accomplish. I know that there will be a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way. I don't know if my body will actually be able to run 26.2 miles when race day comes, but I won't know if I never try. My only goal for this marathon is to actually be able to finish it. I won't be upset with myself if I have to stop to walk during any point of the race. My only goal is to be able to run across that finish line and have that 26.2 medal put around my neck. I can see myself crossing the finish line now and I know that this is something that I am ready for. Today was the first day of my 30 week marathon training schedule. The first few weeks of my training are pretty low mileage so I am going to focus on my speed until New Year's. From January to May, I am only focusing on my endurance. I know that I am a slow runner, but I do not care how long it takes me to cross that finish line. I kicked off the morning with a 2 mile speed run and completed it in just 17 minutes. That might sound slow to some of you, but I do not think that I have ever run that fast in my entire life. After my 2 miler, I met one of my coworkers for an easy 4 mile run in the rain, which we completed in 42 minutes. The rest of the week will consist short runs and I plan to really focus on improving my speed this week.

6 miles complete in 42:00 and only 209 days until conquering 26.2 miles!