Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Returning Warrior ..... And Michele!

On Saturday, Jay and I ran The Returning Warrior 10-Miler Race. After the Halloween 13K last weekend, we almost immediately decided to sign up for another race. I thought that I was ready to sign up for another race, but I was honestly not too excited about running 10 miles. Since the Buffalo Marathon, which was at the end of May, I have only run 8 miles a total of three times and I have only had a few 6 mile runs. I have been running a lot still, but I have not been doing a lot of distance running. I did not feel well-prepared for a distance race so I was not sure how well this race was going to go.

If you have followed my blog, then you know that I was having trouble bouncing back from the marathon. I did not write too much about why I was having so much trouble because I am not one to share too much of my personal life on my blog. This is a blog about my running adventures and not about my personal life. However, some health issues have been affecting my running and that is why it was so hard for me to really get back into running. As the new school year and cross country season began, the stomach issues progressively got worse and my body was telling me that it was time to cut back on the running. I chose to ignore what my body was telling me and continued running quite a bit. I got to the point where it just did not feel good to run and I knew that it was time to listen to my body.

Last week, I decided that it was time for my body to take a break from all of the running. I knew that it could not be a good thing to have your stomach hurt so much during a run and after a run all of the time. Since I had taken the entire week off from running, I was a little nervous about this race on Saturday. I decided that I was not going to set a goal for myself for this race because I am pretty sure that running too hard and too fast all of the time has contributed to the problem. I told Jay that I wanted to maintain a pace of around 10:00 min/mi and I was expecting to finish the race between 1:40 and 1:45. I knew that this race would be a lot easier on my body if I did not push it too hard.

Saturday was nice and cool and it certainly was a beautiful day for a race. There were about 350 runners in the race, but about half of the runners were in the 5 mile race and the other half of the runners were in the 10 mile race. I was majorly impressed with how well this entire race was organized. The course was very well marked and there were even clocks at most of the mile splits, which was nice to be able to track your progress. The race followed a 5 mile loop in Otsiningo Park so the 10 milers had to run 2 of the 5 mile loops. The other thing that I loved about this course was the fact that you ran back up some of the same paths that you ran down. It was awesome to be able to see the people running in front of you and behind you. I even got to see Jay and high five him a couple of times.

I decided to start the race in the back of the pack because I knew that I would be slower. When the race began, I turned on MapMyRun so that I could get voice feedback at every mile. I wanted to have the feedback so that I could be sure that I was running a pretty decent pace. As I ran the first couple of miles, I slowly began to pass people and that is my favorite thing about starting in the back of the pack. I did not even feel like I was running that fast, but I was maintaining a pace well below 10:00 min/mi. When we reached the 5 mile mark, the 5 milers crossed the finish and the 10 milers continued running. I hit the 5 mile mark at 47:46 and I could not believe that I was running so fast. I was not sure that I was going to be able to maintain that pace for another 5 miles, but I was feeling pretty good. I ended up finishing the race in 1:35:47 and was extremely happy with how well I did.

The Returning Warrior 10-Miler was the first race since the Buffalo Marathon that I did not feel awful during or after the race. I have run a couple of times since then and I finally feel pretty well again when I am running. I think that cutting back and taking a break from running was exactly what my body needed. I am going to run a little bit more conservatively for the next couple of months to give my body time to fully bounce back. I plan to have no running plan over the next couple of months. I might still do a race or two, but I am not going to do way too much running like I have been. I am finally feeling good again, but I am going to listen to my body from now on when it comes to running. It might take some time, but Michele the runner is making her comeback!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Tale of Jason & Michele: The Running Couple

About 5 months ago, Jason's sister Amy decided that she wanted to play matchmaker for her brother and I. I work with Amy and we quickly became friends last year when she began running. Amy and I would talk about running or she would ask for running tips. Amy and Jason both ran their first 5K at the Bridge Run this past spring so Amy knew that Jason and I both had running in common. I ran the half marathon at the Bridge Run again this spring and then I ran my first marathon just 3 weeks later. Jason and I first began talking the day after I ran the Buffalo Marathon.

When we began talking, I did not want Jason to think that I was some elite runner because I had just ran my first marathon. The truth is that I am quite the opposite of an elite runner. I have run several 5K's and 10K's, a few half marathons and even a full marathon. I am just your average runner who worked really hard and overcame a lot of running obstacles to train for and run a full marathon. I am no special runner and I will admit that I am not even that fast of a runner. I am just a regular runner who enjoys running and setting running goals to accomplish. I would definitely say that running the Buffalo Marathon might just be the biggest running goal that I'll ever accomplish and that is good enough for me.

If you followed my marathon training, then you would know that I had some major runner burnout after the Buffalo Marathon. I had no desire to run for quite awhile and half of the time going out and running did not even feel that great. I knew that all I needed was some time to bounce back from the marathon both physically and mentally. Since Jason and I began talking right after the marathon, I used my evenings after work to talk to Jason non-stop instead of going out running. We went on our first date about a week and a half after we first started talking and we really hit it off. Jason and I went on a few more dates and we have been happily dating ever since.

There are many things that I love about Jason and our relationship. One of the things that I love the most about our relationship is the fact that we grew to know each other so well through hiking and running. One of our very first dates was going hiking on the trails at the nature preserve at Binghamton University. Over the summer, hiking became our regular weekly or bi-weekly thing to do. We went to many different state parks around the area and we would spend 3 or 4 hours at a time hiking. We were able to spend time getting to know each other so well over these hikes. I loved that hiking gave us a break from the busy, technologically-dependent society that we live in. It was so nice to be able to spend an extended period time with each other instead of our cell phones. I loved just talking with Jason for hours and exploring the trails and waterfalls at these beautiful state parks.

I love the fact that Jason and I were able to spend the summer staying fit and active together. As the summer continued, I slowly got back into running and even started biking too. I was beginning to run pretty consistently again and at the same time Jason began to start running pretty consistently too. If you know Jason or I, you know that we are both competitive people and the competitive side came out of both of us in running this summer. If I went out for a 6 mile run one day, then Jason would go out for a 7 mile run that day or the next day. If Jason went out for an 8 mile run one day, then I would go out for a 9 mile run that day or the next day. We spent the entire summer always trying to outdo one another when it came to running, but it was definitely not a bad thing for either of us. Jason runs at a much quicker pace than I do so the competitiveness always came out in the distance of the run. If Jason and I had not been trying to keep up with one another in running all summer, then I think that neither of us would have done much running all summer.  By the end of the summer, Jason and I were both in the best shape that we had ever been in and we had running and hiking to thank for that.

Coaching cross country helped me stay in such great shape all fall and I continued to see improvements in my running pace. Since I had fallen in love with running again and was ready to start racing again, entering road races was a perfect fit for our relationship. Jason and I ran two 5K's together this fall and we both saw significant improvements in our running. So the tale of Jason and Michele leads me to our 3rd race that we ran together today. Jason and I debated between running a 5K or a 13K today. We considered running a 5K because both of us wanted to get another 5K PR. Two nights ago we ended up deciding that we would run the 13K because neither of us had ever run a 13K before. It was also a Halloween race so I knew that this could be a really fun and competitive race.

Last night, Jason and I talked about our running goals for today. We both always set goals for ourselves when we run a race and try to beat a certain time. I decided that my goal for this race would be to win the costume contest. I had never run a race in a costume before and thought that it would be a really fun thing to do. When I was in college, I was a Rubik's cube for Halloween one year and decided that this race would be the perfect race to wear it for. I told Jason that I planned on running this race instead of racing it. He told me that he was confused because I had just talked about wanting to race again in my last blog post. I have been running a lot lately, but I did not think that I was prepared enough to race a distance race. I had run a lot during cross country season, but I had focused more on speed than distance. I have not even run more than 6 miles at once since the summer so I knew that racing for 8.1 miles was a stupid idea.

I decided that I was still going to run this race as fast as I could, but I was not going to be upset if I did not break a certain time. I was still aiming for finishing in 1:20, but it was not going to be a big deal if I did not. Jason planned to race and wanted to finish in under an hour. The difference between running and racing for me is that racing is finishing under a certain time and running is just doing the best that you can during a race. When we arrived at the Halloween 13K today, I received a lot of compliments on my Rubik's cube costume. I had a few people tell me that they did not know how I was going to run in that costume and one guy said that he would not be surprised if I ditched the costume somewhere in the middle of the race. My goal was to keep the Rubik's cube on for the entire race, prove those people wrong and win the costume contest.

When the race began, I headed out at a pretty decent pace. I was well on my way to finishing under 1:20 and was hoping that I could keep a steady pace. However, running in a giant box is kind of difficult. I could not really move my arms too much during running and that definitely slowed me down during the race. However, I was determined to run the entire 8.1 miles with that Rubik's cube on. There were parts of the race that running in a Rubik's cube made a lot tougher. This was not the easiest race for me to run with that extra weight on and limited arm movement, but this was definitely one of the most fun races that I had ever run in. I got so many compliments and cheers from other runners and spectators throughout the entire race.

My giant Rubik's cube costume and I crossed the finish line in 1:23:13. I was a little disappointed that I did not break 1:20, but I reminded myself that I was not trying to break a certain time today. I also reminded myself that I had just run 8.1 miles wearing a giant box. When I crossed the finish line, there were a lot of people cheering for me and I knew that we had chosen the right race to run in. Jason ended up finishing the race in 58:13 and he was waiting for me at the finish line like he always does. I ended up winning the costume contest so I succeeded in my running goal for today. Jason ended up coming in 2nd place in his age group so we both went home with medals today. I love that running has become such an integral part of our relationship and Jason and I definitely plan to run more races together soon.