Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

Six Month Progress Report :)

It’s been about six months since I pulled myself off of the couch and decided to get my shit together, so let’s have a little re-cap!

I decided to start running in October 2011 to finish my first 5k, and then I signed up for a 10 month series of races to keep myself motivated through the winter and spring.  The miles have been adding up ever since!  More on that stuff later, but first, here’s what’s been happening in the last month:

I use the website dailymile.com to track my workouts and to connect with people off of facebook who actually want to hear about the leg cramp I had at the top of the hill on mile 5. They have a lot of colorful graphs and charts that break down your training by week or month, and it was pretty cool to see the difference between where I was in February compared to March.  I run with my Android phone (that sounds so awesome!  Why isn’t it more awesome in real life?), and I switched from using Cardiotrainer to Runtastic as my GPS app sometime in the beginning of March.  I like Runtastic so far, but the website hasn’t been super helpful in showing me how to email or download my training graphs…so we’re going old school today folks.   I sure wish I could show you, but that Fred Pryor Excel class I took is not paying off.  I still can’t figure out how to import a graph.  Whatever.

Here is a lovely bit of information I was able to copy over from Daily mile, but keep in mind that this is a cumulative total starting from November 2011:

284.21 Total Miles

62.09 Total Time

16 Lbs Burned

82 Total Workouts

0.01 Around World

54.68 TVs Powered

14.96 Gas Saved

307.93 Donuts Burned

Did you notice number 3, there?  16 pounds burned?  Yeah, I’m not living in that reality.  Although it could have something to do with the fact that I’m hitting some Dove chocolates right now and I put away some potato chips while standing at the kitchen counter last night…

But this is the coolest thing I found on all my graphs and collected data:

In February I ran a total of 31 miles, with my longest run being 4.64 miles on 2/24.

In March I ran a total of 83 miles, with my longest run being 8.89 miles on 3/24!  Holy shit!

That’s a big deal to me.  I know that there are tons of people out there who can run faster and longer, who are leaner and more muscled, but I’m pretty happy to see that in one month I increased my total miles by 52 and I more than doubled my long run of the week!  Suck it, old non-believing, non-running self!

So looking at that 9 mile long run, here are the per mile stats.  I was really happy to see that even though we have some killer hills out here, I managed to keep my average pace under 12 minutes  (aside from my first warm-up mile)  and even got under the 11 min mark for a lot of those miles.  That’s big news, people!  I am generally slow, and on normal days I am lucky to keep my average pace somewhere around 12 min/mile.  So to see some 10:30’s in there, especially at mile 7, made me feel really proud of myself!  And also super proud of the person who invented gels.  Thanks, gel-inventor!  Taking your product at mile 5 made a big-ass difference in my run!

Distance Pace Speed Avg. Duration Elevation gain Elevation loss
1 mi 12:36 min/mi 4.76 mph 13:03 242 ft 177 ft
2 mi 11:46 min/mi 5.09 mph 24:35 137 ft 170 ft
3 mi 11:27 min/mi 5.23 mph 36:18 144 ft 108 ft
4 mi 12:36 min/mi 4.76 mph 48:54 141 ft 177 ft
5 mi 10:42 min/mi 5.61 mph 59:40 177 ft 223 ft
6 mi 11:14 min/mi 5.34 mph 1:10:34 180 ft 183 ft
7 mi 10:36 min/mi 5.65 mph 1:21:08 206 ft 183 ft
8 mi 11:10 min/mi 5.37 mph 1:32:56 150 ft 157 ft
8.82 mi 10:46 min/mi 5.57 mph 1:41:02 154 ft 150 ft

I remember last October, when I was signed up to run my very first race, a Twin Cities 5k.  I was super nervous – like no ability to sleep, worried about looking like a ding-dong in front of crowds of people nervous.  I finished the race, and I was exhausted.  I went home and crashed like I had just finished some serious GI Jane type shit, full on couch-nap style.

Shortly after that race, I remember seeing on facebook that my sister-in-law had just finished a 7 mile run.  I was totally amazed!  How do people do that? I wondered.  There was no way in hell I would ever be able to go that far and then actually have the energy to type about it.  I remember listing in my head all the reason that she could do it and I couldn’t:

              She’s smaller than me

             She has more time and no kids

and the biggest excuse of all…

             some people are just made to run and some are not.  I’m not.

It seemed like something that wouldn’t happen in years and years, and I would have to lose all my extra weight and become a vegan to do it.  Well, it turns out it took about 6 months, I haven’t nearly lost all my extra weight (still lugging around about 30 extra pounds), and the disappearing turkey lunch meat and cottage cheese speaks to my vegan status.  After all that self-doubt, it turns out that:

SOME SHIT JUST TAKES TIME

and:

I NEED TO GIVE MYSELF SOME SPACE, FOR F’S SAKE

Okay!  So we’ve figured out I had to learn to cut myself some slack and become the biggest supporter of my own things.  Check.

So let’s get to the “real” stuff, the physical changes. 🙂

Let me start by saying this:  I have a picture here from a year and a half ago in December.  I am at a cookie baking party.  That should tell you everything you need to know about where I was at during that December.

Hoo Boy. I just don't have the words.

Yikes.

This one is a little less…intense, but still, I’m all thighs and jowls.  This one is about a year later, and I’m a little smaller, but still.  Work to be done.

Aren’t kids taking pictures great?  The best part is that they are shorter than you, so every bit of chub you are trying to hide gets full viewing.

Okay, so at this point I think I comfortably in the 200’s.  Thank god I saw one of my cousins post on facebook that she was going to be signing up for a race series (more on that here) and I gave myself a serious intervention (Thanks, Diana!).

I’ve lost somewhere between 25-30 pounds, but I really try not to weight myself because it sends me on a mind trip that I just can’t deal with.  The real feel good stuff is that my clothes are loose, my fat clothes have been banished to Goodwill, and the “skinny” clothes I was saving in the closet have begun to show themselves in my wardrobe circulation.

Ooh!  Let’s do favorite body changes!

1.  The annoying back roll-thingy that was hanging above my waist is gone!  I can actually wear a tighter shirt without worrying about the activities of the fat behind me.  Good times.

2.  When I sit on a chair, my pelvic bones are making actual contact with a firm surface.  Like, hard chairs can be uncomfortable now.  Good and bad!

3.  I’ve stopped hating my thighs and booty so much.  They are still the biggest parts of me, but now I’m more concerned with the arms I need to tone up.  I look at my booty at Serena-In-Training.  Hey, it spells SIT!  I’m funny.

4.  I’m not super intense about people taking pictures of me anymore.  I actually had a hard time finding those two up there, I had deleted all horrible shots or stayed hidden behind the camera before now.

5.  General body image improvement!  I love that I’m getting strong legs, I love that I don’t feel so self-conscious anymore, I love that I can rely on my brain and body to let me get through 9 miles with only a little complaining.  Love it all!

Somehow I don’t really have any recent full body pictures of myself, I guess I need to work on that.  But these are the ones I have, and I’m not surprised to see that they are all from races or during a run :)…

Me at the Polar dash in January of 2012. My first 10k! Starting to get in better shape...

The Fast Before the Feast run on Thanksgiving this year with my boys. Getting less Jowly!

Me out on a run sometime in March 2012

The most recent pic, me having a celebratory beer after the March Get Lucky race

So, things are looking up.  I have my long run of the week tomorrow, and I’m going to try to get further into mile 9.  I’m not as worried about the half I have in June, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be okay for it!

I’m feeling good, and as long as I stay injury-free, I’m looking forward to all the things to come this summer!  More running, adding in some bike training for a Duathlon in August (run, bike, run) and then more running.  I’m pretty stoked about this six month check in, I hoping the next one will show even more progress!

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I’m not a Control Freak! Just call me a Preparation Enthusiast.

Okay, yes, I may be splitting hairs on that one.   But it is a significant shift in attitude, no?

After all, I’m pretty sure that exactly nobody wants to be thought of as a freak (especially a female controlling one).  On the other hand, enthusiasts sound great to hang out with!  Fun!  Energetic!  Yep, that’s me.   As long as you meet me at the time we agreed on in our emails and don’t show up with three additional people I didn’t know were coming.  I’m enthusiastic about sticking to my plans!  Yay!

I was thinking this morning about how I became this person who needs to be organized and ready for anything, who feels that a list and a stock of supplies can help any problem seem easier to get through.  And then I realized:  it was the mise en place.

I went through culinary school when I was in my twenties, and aside from teaching me that there is a proper way to cut an onion, make a clear stock, and whisk a smooth hollandaise, it taught me how to greatly decrease potential screw-ups by using Mise En Place.   

Mise en place (pronounced [miz on plas], literally “putting in place”) is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place”, as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare during his/her shift.[1]

  – The never ending source of knowledge: Wikipedia

I realize that I'm probably alone on this one, but this looks exciting to me. Ready for battle!

At first, I thought it was all just nit-picky fussbudget stuff, another  way for people to make things more complicated than they needed to be.  Just make your food!  Don’t get so wound up about it!  I thought.  And I did.  Then I worked my first night on the main line of a restaurant I was training in, and I found out what a cluster-you-know-what it is when you aren’t ready for the uphill climb ahead of you. When you have hungry customers waiting on you to push through the busy dinner hour and give them the food they ordered, they really don’t give a shit that you didn’t prep enough grated parmesan for the fifty extra people who weren’t expected to come in that night.   All the customers can see is that you are holding up their dinner; all you can see is that this stress and friction is happening because you ignored the power of the mise en place.  I learned that by making sure I was prepared for anything, it decreased my anxiety about the hard work ahead by preparing for all worst-case scenarios: what if I drop my knife on the dirty floor?  Have a back up knife nearby.  I only have a handful of thyme, what if I run out?  Prep what you have and then prep some parsley as a backup.  What if I don’t have enough time to take my break?  You won’t.  It’s going to be so busy you’re going to have sweat running into your eyes and you won’t remember the last time you sat down.  Have a huge bottle of water stashed nearby, and two towels – one for the food, one for your sweat.  Don’t mix up the two.

This kind of order makes me really happy 🙂 Disturbing? Maybe.

It was freeing, actually.  I had everything in front of me that I would possibly need for my upcoming battle, and all that was left was to use my own strength to push forward and get it done.  Nothing felt so good as to emerge from a tough night of working on the line, sweaty and tired, but satisfied that I had worked without any major screw-ups that could have been prevented by using the principles of mise en place.  It has seriously changed the way I prepare for and handle almost all the things in my life that have the potential for becoming stressful.   Camping, taking the kids to the zoo, multiple family holiday run-arounds, it all falls into the I better get my mise together category.

And now, of course, running has been pulled into the realm of things that preparation makes better!  For those short runs, 4 miles or less, I can usually keep the need to compulsively prepare in check.  My equipment needs are pretty minimal for those days  (water and music would be nice but not super necessary), so my OCD about having things ready and in place can be dialed back a bit.  On long run days or race days, however, don’t mess with my Mise.

I'm pretty sure this shirt was made for people like me.

My route needs to be mapped out the night before, with a mileage check done on a couple of different map sites.  I do a supply check and set everything out on the table so there are no early morning run-around-in-a-crazed-panic moments.  Hydration belt (find the water bottle!), gel, MP3 player (charged) and headphones, phone (charged), ID bracelet, running clothes, socks that I trust to keep me blister-free (and that match each other), hair binder, headband.  And that’s just the long run day list.  Race day prep adds so much more…

I know it sounds like I’m adding pressure to myself, that I’m making things more intense than they need to be on a day that’s already going to be kind of taxing.  But really, once everything is laid out, thought over, and prepared, I can go to bed and sleep well.  I know that in the morning, I am free to wake up and do what it is I really want to do – run.  I can rest easy in the knowledge that my prep will support me through the whole thing, and I can make it back home happy that I gave it my strongest effort.  My pace will reflect my actual work extended, not the slow-down that comes from the mistake of forgetting to bring enough water, or not having enough time in the morning to pick out the right clothes that I feel the best in, or misplacing the gels I thought I had in the pantry and going on without them.

For me, the mental work of running is totally equal to the physical work of running.  If I can bolster myself up by setting up my running mise en place, then I’m all over it.  It only takes a little doubt, or self-criticism, or jolt to my expectations to set my run off at an uneven place.  So I happily embrace my need to organize, and if it’s going to help me reach my goals in a happier state, then it’s always welcome on my runs.

5 Things Making my Training Easier Right Now

Let me start this by making two important points:

I am a newbie.  I’ve only been working on my running skills – make that skillz – for about 6 months, and I know that there are a dozen things I haven’t learned yet.  Maybe even 13.

I am serious about adding cool accessories to my hobbies.  I can’t always spend tons of dough, but I get a serious thrill over finding a great deal on something that I’ve researched and I know will add either fun or ease to my running.

Wait, there’s a third thing!

No add-on in the world beats the simple act of putting on a pair of shoes and taking the time to get out there.  And incidentally, no add-on is going to do a damn bit of good if it just sits by your shoes in the entryway while you watch American Idol.  Basically, the best thing to do is to get out there and move it!  But since shopping is fun too, and I like to share ideas of things that have worked for me, I thought this list might be handy.

That being said, there are some things that I’m really glad I bought and have done me some good as an outdoor runner:

1. Proper Shoes

For most of us, this is a no-brainer.  A couple of years ago, I had decided that I wanted to start walking for more than the two minutes it took me to get from my front door to my car.  I went to a Twin Cities running store, a pretty well-known one, and from the moment I walked in the door I knew things were going to be challenging.  It was a not-so-great vibe, you know?  A sort of Sigh, another pudgy woman who thinks she’s going to be a runner type vibe coming from the tall, zero body fat 20 year old working the counter.  Needless to say, this did not inspire tons of happiness in making a major purchase.  They were perplexed when my foot was too wide for one of the trendiest women’s shoe, so they fit me in a men’s Saucony shoe.  I found out later that this was not a great solution, and consequently I went through a crap-ton of shin and leg pain before I finally put those shoes aside and went out to get a proper pair.

My cousin is also a runner, and she recommended a running store near her.  After the first 5 minutes, I knew that this place was a better fit for me than the first, in more ways than one.  Shoe after shoe came out for me to try on and run in on the store treadmill (I found out that I have a neutral foot after the store clerk watched me run and looked at my old shoes) until one was found that we were both convinced would get me through the next few months of putting in 22+ miles a week.

I swear, the fact that it was bright pink had nothing to do with me buying it.

Seriously.

I’m not that girl who had to be adorned in pink dresses as a child and I spent a lot of time in my teens trying to blend.  But these shoes fit me so well!  I’m learning to embrace the whole Hey!  Here I am! thing they have going on.

The Karhu Flow Fulcrum Ride

They are the Karhu (try it, it’s fun to say!  Car-huuuuu!) Flow Fulcrum Ride in Russian Pink.  There is this great feel to it, the raised heel kind of leans you forward and the mesh upper makes it super cool and comfortable.  I had to go up a half size (like the shoes aren’t noticeable enough, I had to get them bigger??), but now the fit is perfect and my shoes are one less thing I have to worry about when I’m getting ready for my long run of the week.

Take the time to go to a Running Retailer, I swear to you it will be worth it.  Shoes are one of the few things that we have to spend money on, so just suck it up, save up, and do it.

2. Hydration Belt

Okay, I know that a lot of runner hate to carry extra things on them when they run.  One guy said to me “I only bring water if I’m running more than 12 miles.  Even then, sometimes I just have my friends meet me with water.”.  Well, that is fantastic that he has friends that are standing by, waiting to help him reach his running goals – and that he is apparently a camel with no need for water.  I need a drink break every once in a while.  I run when other people are working or asleep.  I carry my phone and I hate armbands.  I needed a hydration belt.

I only wear it for runs longer than 6 miles, and I bought one with only 1 water container.  I know that someday I will need to add another container or buy another belt, but there was a helluva sale at TJ Maxx and this is what came home with me. (By the way, in case you didn’t know this, TJ Maxx and Marshalls have some great deals on running gear!)

Based on what my friends had told me they liked and after looking at all the online reviews, I knew I wanted to get a Nathan belt.  Luckily, that was what I found!  Any yes, mine is purple.  Apparently I’m the girl who runs with rainbows.

Nathan Hydration Swift Belt

So far, I have really loved it.  It holds my phone and a gel or energy chews in the zipper pocket, and so far the 10 oz container has been enough for me.  The little tabs on the front have bib holders for race day, and I haven’t had any problems with it moving around or riding up when I run.  You get used to the extra motion by your booty after a few paces (I mean it’s not bouncing all over the place, but you can feel that it’s there), and having things with you that you need makes it all worth it.  Love it.

3. Keep-the-girls-in-line Sports Bra

One day I was running down the street and I kept noticing that when I ran by men, there was a lot more checking out going on than I was used to.  Hey!  I thought, I must really be getting in shape!  Yeah, it could have been that…or the fact that the girls were getting a little too rambunctious in a sports bra that wasn’t up to par.  That is when I figured out that you can’t just go into a store and buy whatever sports bra looks cute and is on sale.  I mean, you CAN, but then you get the creepy ogling of the men, and the stretching of the boobs, and all kinds of bad things that you don’t want.  You are going to need a high impact sports bra, don’t kid yourself.

This one is the best and most comfy one I’ve found (that isn’t ridiculously expensive):

Moving Comfort Fiona Sports Bra

It’s the Moving Comfort Fiona bra, and it rules the school.  It has adjustable straps, comes in more colors than just black or white, has a back closure (no more sweaty contortions to get it off after a run!) and holds the girls down without making a horrible uni-boob.  I got 2, and as I said with making a good shoe purchase, it’s just one less thing to worry about.

4. Energy gels and chews for when the miles are starting to suck

Actually, for the mile before the miles start to suck, as it takes about 12 minutes to feel better after you use one.  This section is still a work in progress for me, I’m trying out different flavors and types that I like.  Anyone have any recommendations?

I didn’t start using them until I was running more than 7 miles, and I know that lots of people don’t bother with them until they get past 10 miles.  For me, I felt like I was going to punk-out and collapse on the street after mile 6 one day, and it seemed like a good time to give them a try.  Maybe once I get more used to running longer distances, I won’t use them as soon.

Anyway, I’ve tried the Honey Stinger Energy Chews in Limeade and a couple of the Power Bar gels so far, and I have a stash of others that I’m going to try out in the next few weeks.  They both did what they were supposed to, and for a 7.5 miler and a 9 miler, I can say that my last mile was the fastest one after using either kind.  Bonus!  On the negative side, the Power Bar gels had a serious Holy crap, that is a weird taste! thing going on, but the aftertaste was a little more tolerable (I tried chocolate and berry.  Not at the same time :)).  I’ve heard of some people mixing the gels with water, perhaps that’s why the taste was so…intense.  The energy chews were way more pleasing to eat, but there was kind of a storage issue with using them – once the bag is opened you either need to down all 10 of them at once or have a place to carry them where things won’t get sticky.  I used the pocket of the belt and just kept reaching back for a couple here and there after mile 6.

5. ___________ or maybe ____________

Okay, I don’t really have a solid fifth thing.  It’s just that a list of five is so much more satisfying than a list of four, and there were a couple of things  I was debating over, but they weren’t so easy to define.  Would it help if I gave you some of the contenders?

Like music.  For me, I really rely on music when I need to go farther than 3 miles.  On Sunday mornings when the sun isn’t quite up, I get a kick out of running while listening to American Roots on our local station 89.3.  Kind of a rootsy/bluesy/Americana twang thing.  And I’m always tweaking the playlist on my MP3 player – I’ve discovered that music I normally would make fun of can make great running music!  Right now my favs are Katy Perry, Lady Sovereign, La Roux, the faster P!nk stuff, anything by Foo Fighters, Flo Rida, and this great Gigamesh song made about that guy who was blissing out over rainbows.  Have you heard it?  It’s amazing.  If you are ever in my town and you see a woman running in pink shoes with a shit-eating grin on her face, it’s me and this song is playing.

The other thing I was mulling over was safety items: an ID bracelet with your name and contact info, a phone (I actually have needed it a couple of times), and unless you run to the same spot and back each time, some sort of GPS unit.  These things are super important to me, but it’s not such a fun list item.  Maybe fun is relative…like is it fun to have great shoes but no way to get help when you screw up your ankle by looking up at birds and missing the big stupid hole?

I bought one of those Road ID bracelets the other day, and I know it makes my husband feel better – especially when I go out when it’s dark and when he knows that sometimes I run on the road.  I picked the slim version, and bought a few different colored bands so I wouldn’t get bored with the same old thing.  This is why I don’t get a tattoo.

I chose to put my name, a couple of contact phone numbers, my blood type, and an allergy I have.  There was this option where you could add an extra line and include an inspirational saying that motivated you, but all I could think of was the EMT who was going to be reading my bracelet as I lay all messed up and gory on the road, and thinking about the irony of me wearing an inspirational slogan like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “I am a survivor”.  Couldn’t do it.

So I hope this list helped you a little if you are looking for things to spend money on and were wondering what other people have been buying.  If not, then hopefully it was a tiny bit entertaining and made you smile a little.  If not, then I don’t know what else to tell you.  Maybe just go for a run?