Google+ Followers

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's the Most Wonderfullll Time Of the Year

No, not Christmas time, although that really is the most wonderful time of the year in my book. It's coming, soon enough folks. The *other* most wonderful time of the year, at least for parents. Back to school. After weeks of "I'm bored." "What are we going to do today?" "She hit me." and the screaming and fighting and poking and looking at each other cross eyed, respite. I am extra excited this year, because my middle child started pre-k, which means she joins her big brother at the elementary school, for nearly a full day of school, 5 days a week. Last year she only went to preschool, 3 days a week, for 3 hours each day. It cost a pretty penny each month and gave me just enough time 3 days a week to begin to enjoy a bit of peace before going to pick her up. My youngest child is still at home, but she is a completely different child when her sister is not around. She's calm, she's focused, she's sweet and she's quiet on her own. Put her with her sister and she goes from zero to banshee in 2.7 seconds. Finally, a break. Monday was the first day of school for my oldest, but the real trouble maker my middle daughter didn't start until today, as they stagger the young kids in, a few each day. I was quite excited after drop-off this morning.
Yes, I was that mom, jumping for joy in the parking lot. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, more than life itself, they are my entire world. But we all need a break. Time to grocery shop, and actually be able to buy what is on the list, instead of getting halfway through and giving up because the kids just aren't cooperating. Yes, I've chosen to do without milk for a day or so, because my only other option was taking all 3 kids to the store and well, moo juice just isn't worth that. Time to go to the bathroom without someone jiggling the handle, and heaven forbid I forget to lock the door. Time to fold laundry without wondering who is into what, time to shower AND shave, and most importantly, time to work. I am not a stay at home mom, I'm a work from home mom. Luckily my job offers the flexibility to work whenever I want. During the summer, with all of the kids at home, I had to work at night, staying up until 2 am to get things done. Now having to get up at 7 am to get the day started and kids ready for school, I can't stay up that late. With 2 of the 3 kids at school, I can get things done during the day now. But the school year starting isn't all roses. With the start of the school year also comes the start of fall sports. So not only am I juggling teacher meetings and homework, but also soccer practice and gymnastics. 3 out of 5 weeknights are spent on the field or in the gym with the kids. Since I am up earlier, I'm tired earlier. I am normally a night time runner, and during the summer it's much easier for me to run at night. I am not as busy and have more energy to run in the evenings after the kids go to bed, plus I am not up as early as I am during the school year. Now, getting up at 7 am, getting kids ready and off to school, spending the day working and playing with the youngest, getting the older kids from school at separate times, afternoon snacks, homework, laundry, dishes, dinner, gymnastics or soccer practice, well come bed time I really don't feel like going for a run. I will if I have to but it's not high on my list. I also have the option of running during the day with the baby in the stroller but pushing the nearly 30 pound toddler in the 20 pound stroller, regardless of how well it glides, is also not high on my list. But there are no excuses when it comes to getting my running and training in, and it has to be done. So I've improvised a bit. Typically my weekday runs are on Tuesday and Thursday, the days my oldest has soccer practice from 6:30-7:45. Last week during practice I sat with the other moms and stared at my smartphone. Last week I also only managed to run one weeknight. So this week I changed up my plan a bit. Instead of sitting, I decided to run. The soccer complex is huge and has great running trails, so after dropping my son off on his field, I laced up my running shoes, slapped my phone in my armband and did my miles.
I have to say, it made me feel dedicated. It was hot. Ugly hot and humid, but I did it and will do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

MRTT Running Mad 10k

I kind of hit the jackpot with my local Moms Run This Town group. Our chapter puts on some awesome events. A few times a year, the national group holds a virtual event. Most people sign up through them, they do their miles on their own time, get their medal in the mail. But my local chapter makes it a big deal. We set a time and place, and we all do it together. There is a well mapped course, great moral support, lots of local moms and swag. We did the Winter Runnerland in January, and our group got together this past Saturday to do the Running Mad 5k/10k. I went into this race hopeful. The previous week I had killed my 6 mile run. I knew I was looking at a PR for this 10k. Now to be fair, the last official 10k time I had is from last October, and I was still rather fresh from the running mother's womb. I've run that distance here and there, but not for several months and I had not beat the time of 1:09:54 that I had last year. I was so close last week during my weekend long run, but the end of my route stopped me 1/10 of a mile short, so I refused to count it. One thing was different from last Sunday though. It. Was. Nasty. Outside.
100% humidity without it actually raining. A few of the girls needed extra miles that day so they met for 5 miles before the race. When they came back, they were just soaked. I didn't think it felt that hot out there, but I was very glad that I decided to bring my water belt with me. I had hydrated well the day before, close to a gallon of water just to be on the safe side. Before the run I downed my Gu and my Energy Bits(Breakfast of Champions, yo) and some Powerade(which I normally try to stay away from). We set off and I could already tell I was coming out of the gate too fast. I looked at my Garmin and saw I was running at under a 9 minute mile, which is way fast for me on a cool day. I slowed down a bit. On a side note, I'm really pleased with the fact that I've learned to control my pace. It wasn't long before I was soaked in sweat. But I still felt ok. I managed right at 10 minute miles for the first 5k. The 2nd 5k brought hills. As my BRF Patty says, hills are our own personal Wil Wheaton. Hills are my arch nemesis.
For over a half of a mile, a slow and steady up hill. I was already hot and this long uphill climb was not my friend. But I kept climbing. Sure, I climbed slower than I had been going, but I kept going. This 5k was an out and back loop so it meant on the way back, I would be able to make up the slow ascent with a rapid descent. This gave me a bit of comfort. I made my way through the final 5k and even in the heat, I knew I was still looking at a PR, the only question was how much time would I shave off? That same hill coming back down, with the combo of the gummies I'd eaten and one of my favorite songs popping up on my IPhone, and I was feeling good. I made my way back to the finish, and I hit it, my PR. Here I am, checking my Garmin, and smiling in sweaty pleasure.
There it is, 1:05:26, exactly 4 minutes and 28 seconds better than my previous PR. I was hot, I was salty, I was literally dripping with liquid awesome. I have been advised by a fellow running club member that it is not sweat, it is liquid awesome. But either way, I was dripping, I don't think I have ever been so sweaty, er awesome, before. But I was happy.
Happy, yes, but satisfied? No, not completely. I know I can do better, given better conditions. So I have decided to sign up for another 10k at the end of September, the weekend before the Lungstrong 15k. While I will have to face climbing up Captain Johnson(this is foreshadowing people, you will have to wait until that race report to be formally introduced to the Captain), I still think I can make good time in this race. Until then, I'll stay awesome with this race.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Can't Nobody Hold Me Down

Oh-oh, I've got to keep on movin'. Admit it, you just sang that to yourself. Well, I did at least. Rock N Roll St. Louis Half and Disney's Wine and Dine Half training is in full swing(the two races are 13 days apart). My mileage is climbing, and so far, so GREAT! After being a bit too under trained for PHM, I've been more of a stickler about sticking to my training plan this time around. It's definitely paying off. My pace is improving, big time. Now I am a keeper of records. I keep all of my run info, not just to add up all of the miles I've covered, but so I can look back and see how far(figuratively) I have come. I started running last summer. It was hot and I was slow. I looked back at the first time I did more than 5 miles.
I remember that evening, feeling so proud of myself for going so far. I walked a good chunk of that. It was hot and I'd just gotten my first water belt. I kept going and completed my first 10k at the end of October.
The Nike+ app was off with the distance on that one(which is why I ended up buying a Garmin watch, couldn't go training to certain distances and risk not actually reaching that distance). It was actually just over 6.2 miles in 1:09, so about 11:15 a mile. Again, thrilled with my accomplishment. I was coming off a several weeks long bout with bronchitis. I wanted a decent time to submit to Disney for good corral placement, but was hoping just to finish in under 1:20. That was my first real race. I was so cute, I had my compression socks on and my water belt. Not one other person running that race was as prepared as I was. Bless my heart, I've learned I don't need all that for 6 miles. I kept going and I didn't see much improvement in terms of my pace. I never really pushed myself either. I remember a few times, trying to go on groups runs with my local Moms Run This Town group, and getting left in their dust. It was discouraging. I resigned myself to not being as fast as they were, and I was ok with that. My miles were my miles and as long as I did them, that's what mattered. Even in the dead of winter, when the cold weather should give me better times, I was still slowly chugging along.
But I was doing it. My miles were climbing, and I was able to complete the Princess Half. I wasn't going to be one of the speedy girls but I was meeting my goals. Then this funny thing happened. I realized with all of this running that I kept myself comfortable, at least as comfortable as one could be running for 6, 7, 8, 9 or more miles. Once I got used to running 5 or more miles, I stayed used to it. I could carry on a convo. Aside from an injury I was never sore. Just a nice "easy" run. A few weeks after PHM I had an 8k race. I was still injured, but had seen a doctor and gotten a cortisone shot to the knee so I was feeling a bit better. For once, I actually pushed myself, broke past the comfortable part, to the huffing and puffing and working it and turning bright red part. I saw improvement.
That's when I decided not just to float through training, not just finishing the miles, but actually working on making myself better. I had to take a lot of time off between that race and the month of May to deal with my injuries, but after I was ready to come back, I started setting more than just mileage goals. It was just "Do 30 minutes on the treadmill regardless of how many miles that it." or "Do 3 miles regardless of how much time it takes." Sure, those goals helped keep me running, but I started paying more attention to pushing myself and lowering my pace. I'd set a goal of two miles on the treadmill, easy peasy, but I was going to do it with the speed turned up to a 6. I started using the virtual pace setter on my Garmin when running outdoors. First it was 3 miles at 10:45 or less, and then that time got smaller, 10:30, 10:15, 10:00, and under 10 minutes a mile. Now that I'm climbing in miles again and working on my pace, I have started seeking out running partners to help the miles go by. Remember those fast girls I couldn't keep up with for more than a quarter of a mile last winter? The ones I'd decided I'd never be running with, and that that was ok? Well I decided to run with them. This past Sunday, I needed to do 6 miles, a lot of these girls are training for a marathon this fall and were running Sunday morning, so I decided to take the leap. First, I'm not a morning runner. Ever. I'm not a morning anything. I'm a "Keep talking to a minimum until my Energy Bits have kicked in and I've had a cup of coffee." kind of morning person. My husband is home on the weekends so I sleep in. Some moms say sleeping in these days is sleeping until 9 am. No, it's not. I take sleeping in very seriously and if given the chance, I will still gladly roll out of bed at noon. But I've committed to getting these runs in, so there I was, at 7 am, meeting up with a group of girls I said I'd never be able to keep up with. Off we went. The first 3 miles passed, and I was doing under 10 minutes a mile for each one. Score. I was still with the group. Double score. I started to slow a bit and lag behind, but after over 6 miles, they only finished 30-60 seconds ahead of me. We grabbed coffee after and chatted. There I was, running with the in crowd. I'd short changed myself for months saying I'd never be as fast as them and resigning myself to that fact. I could do it and I did do it. Seriously, this happened.
I'm amazed. I wish I could go back in time and tell the girl that was happy running "her miles" that I could do more. I also want to go back and tell her that she shouldn't be ashamed of her pace, or that she shouldn't give in thinking she will never get faster. This year, registration has opened and filled for Princess 1/2 2014. I see the girls I was last year. The ones starting out, thinking they might not get through this. The ones going slowly, or walking, discouraged because things are slow going. I'd love to reach out to them all and say "Look! You will be ok! We've all started somewhere, just look at how far I've come!" in an effort to ease their fears of this new task.