Posts Tagged ‘marathons’

Sometimes you’ve got to pay someone…

The knots surrounding my shoulder blades have been getting big enough now for me to think about giving them names, and so I decided it was probably time to cash in a Groupon I’ve been hanging on to forever and get them taken care of.  Or rather, taken out.   Pulp Fiction-style, thumb and forefinger in the gun position, taken out.

Take them out?

 

No. Take them out.

It’s always a crap shoot using one of those Groupons, I tend to feel like I’m making a deal that will end in something horrible happening.  Like, why is the massage parlour willing to sell them for so cheap?  Are they that terrible?  Have they driven away so many customers that now they’re shilling on Groupon?  Or are they just opening and filled with newly licensed therapists who haven’t quite gotten their shit together yet?

I’m not really in a position to be a super-discerning massage recipient (young children will do that to your income), so I usually end up taking the bait.  My husband, for being a sturdy guy, somehow manages to lose strength in his hands after two minutes of shoulder rubbing, and the massage that started nicely enough turns into a strange mashing of fist shapes into my spine with noises coming from him that tell me he’s giving it all he’s got.  So yes, I will buy that Groupon for a massage at a place I’ve never heard of or been to for $25!

After months of increasing my distance and pace during my runs, having my two boys use me as their wrestling partner, and all the other things going on that make up a woman’s life, I was ready for this.  It was like I was going on my first date in ten years – legs were shaved (even the backs!), toenails were painted, everything put in its place or taken out of its place, depending on what it was.  And then when using google to figure out how to get to my randomly picked massage, I read a couple of reviews that past customers had left.  And it was a major buzzkill.  Some of the complaints included unprofessional employees, a not-so-soothing environment, and iffy usage of the massage time (starting late and ending early).  But at least now I was prepared for the sub-par massage that was to come!  By god, I was going to ignore everything this place was going to throw at me and get my kinks worked out if it killed me.

Well, the reviews were pretty accurate.  My masseur, although she was semi-friendly, chewed gum for most of the massage, and the fan in the corner was making a noise that sounded like a death rattle, and I could hear people in the next room when they peed and then flushed.

So it was not so much this:

This place looks nice. I wish I could have gone there, too.

And more of this:

Okay, so it wasn't this painful. But it was this ugly.

But I still think it was worth it.

I know that she loosened my incredibly tight calf muscles and we discovered that when she pushed on a certain point in my upper back, my bones crackled like someone was crushing styrofoam (perhaps a trip to the chiropractor is next?).  Somehow I managed to have knots and extreme tightness on the top of my forearms – how the hell does that happen?  I left feeling – if not relaxed or rejuvenated – worked on.  And sometimes when that’s all you can get, you take it and are happy you had it.

I don’t know if what they say about lactic acid release after a massage is true, but I do know that I was so exhausted after my working-over that I went to bed at 9:30 and slept hard until 7.  This morning I woke up and was convinced that I had been  involved in some sort of sleepwalking street fight during the wee hours.  A fight that I had obviously lost.   But despite  sounding like I’m complaining about the experience, I’m actually really glad for it all.  Maybe it means I worked some of the toxins out of my muscles that have been gathering for six months.  Maybe my discomfort today is because I don’t get massages often enough, which means I need to schedule them on a monthly basis (at a less spirit dampening establishment).  Maybe having whats-her-name find my back clickies will lead me to hire a chiropractor, who will align me properly and I won’t suffer from shooting lower back pain anymore.  Maybe it was all pre-destined to be a sub-par experience!

Now I need to see if I can find a chiropractor on Groupon.

The Get Lucky 7k Race Results

Okay, the Get Lucky has come and gone, and now I’m moving my sights on to the next goal: finishing a half marathon in an upright position.

But first – a Get Lucky 7k recap!

I have a picture of me with a green beer, and by god, I’m going to use it.  I even managed to change out of my less-than-clean running shirt and into this clean one in the bar bathroom.  See?  Always thinking ahead.  Clean dry shirts are amazing after a sweaty run, in case you were wondering.

Really, the whole point of this 7k was to make it to the bar and get in line for my beer. Package delivered.

Do you know what my group and I found out?  When you offer free beer to 8700 people after a warm morning run, chances are you are in for a long-ass wait at the bar.  So we ditched the free coupon and went to the closest non-lined bar.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still ridiculously packed with smelly people in the same green race tee, but at least we could stand in a smooshed group with beers (as opposed to those standing in a smooshed group without beers.  Suckers.)

A lot of racers found this little bar to enjoy a green beer. It was smelly but triumphant.

Anyway, we had our beer and made the trek back to the van.  Remember the stuff I said about the wonderment of a  useful van?  It lived up to it’s full potential that morning, let me tell you!   After that, brunch was had by all, and I enjoyed the hell out of some fish tacos and coffee.  Good times.  While we were eating, Team Ortho sent out emails to everyone letting them know their race results.  Now, I have accepted that I have to get over the dream I have where I show up to race day and somehow break every record, surpass all expectations, and end up amazing myself with a running speed I didn’t know I was capable of.  It’s not going to happen.  But I have to say that I felt really fast when I was running!  I felt good and thought I was putting out some serious effort!  So I’m going to admit it, part of me thought that a little of that dream was going to happen.  Just a small part of it, not the record-setting thing.  Well, surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen.  Not only did that not happen, it  turns out that this particular race was one of my slower pace times.

Here’s what they sent me:
back arrow 2012 Team Ortho Get Lucky – 7K
Hope        Age: 36

Time

fivefourcolonzeroeight
Average Pace 12:27 per mile (view kilometer pace)
Age Graded Percentage 39 percent (view time)
Overall Place 7224 out of 8786
Sex Place 5031 out of 6352 Females
Division Place 1122 out of 1372 Females in the F3539 Age Group
(See complete F3539 results)

detailed results

Location Race Time Time of Day Overall Place Division Place Sex Place
Time 54:08 10:17:45 7224/8786 1122/1372 5031/6352
GunStart 00:00 9:00:08
ChipStart 23:30 9:23:37 8529/8786 1330/1372 6150/6352

graphic results

You placed 7224 out of 8786 runners overall
runner image
graphic results background
You passed 649 runners in the overall category
You were passed by 108 runners in the overall category

I have some things to say about this.

First, could the blue image girl look any more chubby and slow there at the back of the pack?  I mean, I get it, I’m not a 8 minute miler, okay?  The graphic was sort of an overstatement, Team Ortho. 🙂  I wonder, if I get faster and my blue lady gets closer to the front, does she get skinnier?

Second,  I really enjoyed reading that last part about how many people I passed – and that the number of people who passed me was a hell of a lot smaller.  In reality I know that I was chillin’ at the back of the pack, and a good number of those people were probably walkers, but for now let’s just put a little pin in that part and focus on the fact that I passed 649 people.

Third, it was a fantastically gorgeous day and I had a great time running.  So what if I was a little slower than I wanted?  Would going 10:00 min a mile have changed how fun it was to see the Irish dancers or hear the bagpipes?  Nope.  I may have been able to push myself really hard to get to a faster time, but I’m pretty sure I would have been a cranky mess by the time I wound up at the finish line.  Since running isn’t paying any of my bills, I think I deserve the right to give myself a pat on the back for just showing up, running, and having a nice memory of the day.  And a really cool green finisher’s medal!

Note to self: wearing a hat makes it hard to take a decent picture.

So now I’m focusing on adding more miles to my weekly long run, I’m trying to get to 12 miles two weeks before the half marathon so I can taper off and let my body get ready for the big event.
Tomorrow is my long run day, I’m going to try to get in 8 miles here in the ‘burbs.  Planning out a 8 mile running path that doesn’t have ridiculous hills or non-existant sidewalks is no small achievement!  I think I figured out a decent plan, and tomorrow at the crack of dawn I’m going to roll out of bed, strap on my hydration belt, and get going.

Get Lucky!

Or as I like to call it:  finish a race without having to use the port-a-potty.

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, and here in the Twin Cities there is no shortage of places to go that manage to incorporate beer into whatever activity is happening.  And race day is no different!  Saturday at 9am, I will be lining up at 2nd St and Portland Ave in Minneapolis to start the 7k Get Lucky race, my second one in the Monster Series I signed up for with Team Ortho.   As I am still working on increasing my mileage for the half in June, I thought it would be a better choice to run the manageable 7k as opposed to the Triple 7, and the course should be pretty great tomorrow: the temp is supposed to be 62 degrees at 9am!  It’s going to be kind of amazing to run in a t-shirt and capris as opposed to the base layer, cotton layer, and fleece I was wearing for the polar Dash.  I may even celebrate by wearing a festive silly hat, but we’ll see about that one 🙂

You can't go wrong with a course that includes not one, but TWO stations for Irish dancers.

Remember my excitement over the medals?  Well, tomorrow around 9:50 a cute little shamrock number will be coming home with me – my son will be so happy, it’s been driving him nuts that there is only one in the case and it’s all lopsided and sitting funny because it doesn’t have anything to lean on.  Lopsided no longer!

A non-lopsided view of them all together. The Polar Dash one I have will be happy to have a friend to lean on!

A non-lopsided view of them all together. The Polar Dash one I have will be happy to have a friend to lean on!

Along with my new green accessory, I will get the real prize of the day: a free beer pass at Kieran’s Irish Pub.  Yes, it will be 10 am.  Yes, I will be sweaty and in need of a shower.  But there will be beer, by god, there will be beer!

Race day is always kind of wonky for me (I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, but since I don’t have a symbiotic brain meld with any other runners, my race day is all I know about).  My husband works nights, which leaves me a little puzzle to figure out each time a race morning comes around: what am I supposed to do with these kids?  My kids, I mean, not the kids of the world (although that is a good question, too.  Maybe a bit too much to be solved today, but I’ll let you know what I come up with).  Luckily, my parents have been really helpful the last few races by letting the boys stay over the night before to avoid an ungodly early morning race day free-for-all.  As they are 7 and 4, they are vastly more interested in watching an episode of Spongebob than standing in a crowd of people waiting for their mom to come panting down the road towards the finish line.  I have a feeling that when they first heard that they would get to see me cross a finish line, there were certain expectations of what that would mean formed in their imaginations.  Probably confetti, a close race where I magically finish #1 – possibly ending in a very large trophy coming home with us, and, most of all, an actual finish line that someone would break through.  Okay, I may be projecting my own dreams of race day onto them a little bit.  But I can tell you that the reality of race day for a kid is not nearly as fun as it sounds, and for that reason they are happy to know that this time they get to have an easy, late breakfast with grandma and grandpa and they aren’t required to make an appearance.

All of this is to say I will be kid-free for the Get Lucky, and this ensures that I will be enjoying my complimentary beer.  At 10 am.

Juggling momhood and running can be a bit tricky, but it has paid off in one unexpected way: my minivan is hella helpful when 7 people need to be hauled to a race with limited parking options.  This may be the only time since my uneasy purchase of the van – my self-image took a bit of a beating that day – that I’ve been proud to offer it up.  Hey!  We can all meet and ride together!  I have a VAN.  Tomorrow the van will be parked across the street from the pub, waiting to take us all home after the race has been run, the medals have been received, and the beer has been drunk.

It may kill sex appeal, but by god, it carries a lot of people.

I may do everyone a favor and bring a change of clothes for the post-race (got to love those bag check areas!).  Tonight I will be home alone with my pre-race thoughts, no kids, no husband.  I may go out for a couple mile walk just to escape the thought-swirl. 

Do I have my bib?  Should I wear my hydration belt? No, not for 4.5 miles.  But it has bib hooks!  And a place for my phone!  Maybe I could somehow take off the water canister so I don’t look like an over-prepared nutjob and then I could still use the belt.  I can’t forget to bring my ID or there will be no free beer for me.  I’m going to need that pocket for my ID!  I should probably shave my legs tonight.  Do I have my bib?…

Yeah, I think a walk would be a good plan.  Tomorrow I’ll just get up at the crack of dawn, have a little brekkie, and deal with any nitpicky stuff that pops up.  My plan for the race is to enjoy the weather, enjoy the people, and not let the pace of others freak me out.  If I finish under my normal pace, that’s great, and if I don’t…well, I get the beer either way.  My pace at my very first 5k was 13:30 a mile.  My average now is around 10:50 a mile.  So it really doesn’t matter what tomorrow brings, pace-wise.  I know that I’m improving, so I’m ready for a fun day tomorrow in beautiful Minneapolis!

 

 

The Half Marathon cometh

So it’s been quite a while since I made a post here.  After I ran my first 10k on January 1st (Polar Dash medal and fleece jacket acquired!) there was a sort of…fall-apart moment.  It wasn’t a full-on episode complete with hate spiral stemming from week-long binges on junk food, it was more of a “don’t mind me, I’m just going to quietly play video games in this comfy chair for an undetermined period of time” type of deal.

My post 10k pic. I look happy to be done, don't I?

I guess after I had trained enough to know I could finish 6 miles, the 10k date was reached, the race had been endured, and the freezing of my ass had been complete, I felt a little aimless.  And I was sick of being outside in the Minnesota winter, alternating between sweating and freezing and unable to get warm hours after my runs were over.  definitely sick of that.  So, I gave up – for just a little while.  My husband had recently gotten Skyrim as a Christmas present (if you haven’t heard of this, let me sum it up by giving you these three keywords:  Playstation.  Dragons.  Life-avoidance.) and I spent more hours than I’m willing to admit to building up my smithing skills and stealing soul gems from the local shopkeepers.  Not my most graceful hours, I’ll admit.  But sometimes grown people just need to spend some quality time killing mythical creatures to forget that bills are due and workouts are being missed on a regular basis.

After I had spent about a month convincing myself that I was “letting my muscles rest”, there came a day (let’s say February 21st just to give things a starting point) when I realized I was going to be standing at the starting line of a half marathon in just over 90 days.  And it froze me in my sweatpants.  I’m going to be running 13.1 miles in June?  I haven’t run a single mile in weeks.  I’m dead.

And of course, when things get hairy, I head right for the internet.  Luckily for me, there are about a kajillion websites with 13 week training plans for running a half.  Exactly a kajillion.  They all seemed to have a similar pattern, and based on those I made my own plan that would get me to the goal of running at least 12 miles at a time before the big day.  I started out on the plan the next day, knowing that the sooner I started the less painful the June deadline would be.  Essentially my plan boiled down to running 4 times per week, between 3 and 5 miles per run for all but the last long run of the week.  The first long run was last Saturday, picking up where the 10k left off at 6 miles.  Mapquest pulled a quick one on me, and my planned route of 6 miles turned out to be 6.5 actual miles, but hey, that’s okay!  So this Saturday I am scheduled to go 7 to 7.5 miles for my long run, which with the shorter runs I did earlier in the week will bring my total somewhere around 16 miles.  The running schedule was also paired with a weight lifting/yoga supplement, adding one or the other on the days when I was scheduled to do a 2 or 3 miler, or on an off day.  Here is my schedule from last week:

  • Monday – 3.5 miles
  • Tuesday – 2 miles
  • Wednesday – 3 miles
  • Thursday – Weight training (including bench press, push ups, sit ups, squats with weights, lunges, chest flys, and whatever else I could throw at myself)
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Long run, 6.5 miles
  • Sunday – Weight training

If I follow this plan, shorter runs followed up with an ever-increasing longer run, I should make it to race day without  destroying my mind and/or body, ending up at the finish line in some sort of quivering death march.

There were two solid problems standing before me:

1. In order to have a chance in hell at completing the race without totally humiliating myself I was going to have to Follow.The.Plan.  Without “letting my muscles rest” for a week at a time.

2.  Although I could finish a 5k and a 10k, I was still unable to run for more than 2 miles without slowing down for a walk break.  I was okay with this setback (sort of) until I read something written by a running coach:

You’re ready to run a half-marathon once you are capable of running 11 miles without stopping and you are consistently running at least 3 days a week.
Jill Andre Parker, from the book Run Like a Mother

Okay, Jill, you just sent me on a self-doubt trip there.  Was I kidding myself in thinking I could do this?  Just because I was raised thinking I could do anything, it was possible that there were limits to what I could actually do.  But why would all these 13 week beginner level training plans exist if not for people like me, who may have overshot the goal a bit?  Perhaps Jill was really talking about people who cared about “racing” a race as opposed to “finishing” a race.  I am definitely in the please-let-me-finish-this-sucker category.  Finishing 13.1 miles standing upright and holding a stained glass medal was really all that I wanted.  If there was no timing chip and all the clocks in the world stopped working at once, it really wouldn’t matter that much to me.

Actually, that’s not true; I want to know the time of my first half so that I can have a base to improve myself from.

In the long run, worrying about what Jill or the sabotaging voice in my head think really doesn’t matter.  The race has been paid for, and June 3rd is going to come whether I’m ready or not.  So the best thing I can do is get as ready as I can, buy a hydration belt and stock up on gels.

I’m going to be better about updating my progress on this journey, at the very least it will give me a reason to back away from the Playstation and practice not slouching in front of the computer.

I know what I’ll be doing for the next 10 months…

I had a realization of magnitude today at approximately 4:30 am.  In the dark early morning quiet of my bedroom, the cat sleeping by my head and the humidifier gently whirring, my eyes were thrown open and I was seized with a combination of panic and fear that only comes from reality slapping you directly across the face. 

I’m going to be running a 10k race in four weeks.

This morning was the morning that I lay in bed and made the connection that the race I had signed up for was no longer a floaty non-specific goal. Oh, it’s called a Polar Dash…isn’t that charming?  What a great thing to do sometime this winter!  It will get me some nice fresh air when I get bored of being inside, I had thought. 

But now the 10k was very present, very holy-shit-this-just-got-real.   I have four weeks to get it together for the race.  In January.  In Minnesota.  How had this all happened?  What was I thinking?  Had someone slipped me a drug at the exact moment that I was wandering around Facebook and saw my cousin’s announcement of  “Just signed up for the Monster Dash Series for 2012!”  and though Yeah!  That’s it!   Her posting had intrigued me, and I did some more digging on the  Team Ortho Monster Series website. I was blown away by the idea of signing up for a series of races that would take me through almost an entire year of goals to reach and training to keep me occupied.  I thought Whoa, what is this? A race series?  With tons of swag?  And medals

As a person who's never gotten any kind of sporting medals, these are my catnip.

I’m all over this, this is my wintertime thing.  Sign me up. 

And they did.  Or rather, I did, right after I gave them my credit card number. 

Now, before this whole thing starts to spiral out of control into a regret tailspin, let me just say:  I would have wanted to run in these races anyway when they came up on the calendar.  I would have seen the announcements in my email, and gone and registered for them at $35-$40 a pop like everyone else.  So it really didn’t cost me any more to sign up for all of them at once (and let’s not forget there are medals!  The lucite case only comes with the race series!  And the gear!  Don’t forget the gear!), it was just kind of a serious hit up front.

I’m not really sure what possessed me to do it.  It could be that it  happened right around Black Friday and I was itching to spend.  It could be because I had finished my second 5k with a slight improvement in time and I was feeling kind of like Yeah, things are just getting better and better…I should just keep giving myself big goals to reach, because obviously I can do anything I set my mind to.  Which, in theory, seems like a healthy thing to tell yourself – until you realize that your goals are fast approaching, the pay-up or shut-up phase has arrived, and you had better get your ass in gear. 

I mean, look at the swag they’re giving out!  Can you blame me?

So What do you Get? Well besides the bragging rights of finishing a fantastic race, Team Ortho Foundation prides itself on having great gear that we give to our participants. Some items you will receive early, but most you will get at the specific event (see Series SWAG Schedule below).2012 Event Gear for all race participants:
Polar Dash – polar fleece (unisex), medal, chip-timed for 10K and Half Marathon
Get Lucky — full zip hoodie (men’s & women’s sizing), medal, chip-timed
Minneapolis Marathon—performance shirt (men’s and women’s cut)
Minneapolis Duathlon — Bike Jersey
Monster Dash— Unisex Monster Dash shirt for 5K & medal ; Male/Female-cut 1/2 zip jacket for the Half Marathon and 10 MIle, plus a finisher’s medal.Plus Exclusive Series SWAG! People who sign up for the series get an added bonus:  the choice of a race series jacket or a Lucite display for your your 2012 medals.

I ended up signing up the next 10 months of my fitness life to:

10k Polar Dash, Jan 1st

7k Get Lucky!, March 17th

Minneapolis Half Marathon (Yep.  13.1 miles.), June 3rd

Minneapolis Duathlon, August 26th (run 5k, bike 18 miles, run 5k.  I’m looking for relay team members for this one…I haven’t quite reached this level of self-delusion yet)

10 mile Twin Cities Monster Dash, October 29th (The promo trailer for this one is pretty cool, it may have been one of those things that directed my mouse to the Register Here tab)

Alright, so I spent a little time in denial earlier today.  But now I’ve flown through the other phases and gotten right to Acceptance!  I have four weeks to get myself in decent condition to run 6.2 miles without hurting or embarrassing myself.  It’s not completely far-fetched, I have done a couple 5k’s, and I have done a handful of five mile runs around the neighborhood.  But I’ve been pretty negligent on the cross-training front, and the losing-weight-eating-healthy front. 

So. 

It’s time to get serious now.  No more Yep, I’m totally going to eat all that pizza on my plate, I’m running, it’s fine! 

No more  Hey. I’m running.  I don’t want to wear myself out by weight lifting, too!  And adding yoga?  What am I, a machine?

I spent money on this race series, more than I really should have (right before Christmas), and it would be a disgusting waste to half-ass my way through all of them just because it’s easier to sit, and eat, and let myself be happy with only achieving as much as I’ve already done.   I’m pretty sure I can do more, I can be stronger, I can run with fewer walk-breaks, I can finish these races in a way that I know I’ve done the best I can do at this point in my fitness life.

I think I might need to make a training calendar.