Possessed. By a SPEED demon.

Whoever has taken over control of my legs… please keep up the good work!

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the training has gone coming off the Nearly Runless Summer of 2011.  I’ve really just been working on building back up a decent base to this point, but I’m now just getting started on the actual training plan leading into my March half-marathon(s?).  I put together my own plan (with a little help from Hal Higdon and Greg McMillan), and I think I’ve come up with one that will be quite challenging, but totally doable.  I can only hope it all goes as smoothly as the first two weeks have gone.  They have definitely been a huge confidence booster.

Thursday I had a five-mile tempo run scheduled.  I was running after work, so it was dark.  I could only occasionally see my pace when I would run under a street lamp, so for the most part I was just trying to run at a comfortably uncomfortable pace.  Until Thursday night, the fastest five miles I had ever run was at a 9:44 pace at a five-mile race last January.  So I was SHOCKED when I finished the run and looked at my Garmin to see a 9:29 overall pace on Thursday.  SHOCKED, I tell you.

And then Saturday… aaaaaahhhh…. I’m still soaking in Saturday just a little bit.  My long run was a repeat of last week.  Eight miles.  Just last weekend I ran a small local 8-mile race and set a PR at a 10:12 pace.  Which, to be honest, I was tickled to death with.  I tried to be a good girl and run Saturday’s eight at a pace closer to what all the smart people say a long run should be run at, but it just wasn’t happening.  When I tried to do the suggested “long slow distance” pace it just felt plain ol’ AWKWARD, so I decided to ignore my Garmin, pay attention to my breathing, and run at a pace that I felt like I could run for a long time.  And that’s what I did.  I didn’t pay any more attention to my pace until I got near the end and saw an average pace of just slightly over 10.  So at that point I did kick it in just a little bit.  I ran just fast enough that last quarter mile or so to end up with this:

A sub-10 on a long run???  Who ARE you???  I don’t know you anymore.

Sometimes I love running.

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Amazing Run, Hot Wings, Cold Beer, and a Bad Movie

Those 10 words sum up my Saturday perfectly.

It was an absolutely stunning day yesterday.  When I left the house at 10 am for my 11-mile run it was a gorgeous, sunny 53 degrees.  I knew I wanted to make a big loop around town, and I knew it would warm up some, so it was time to break out the ol’ “fanny pack”!  (IT’S A FUEL BELT, MICHELE!  FUEL.  BELT.)  There’s nothing really to say about the run other than it was what every long run should be.  My legs, lungs, and heart all cooperated to make it a very enjoyable 1:57:59 (I’ll save you from doing the math:  That’s a 10:44 pace.)  I just started running and ran until I was done.  I didn’t walk one step of that 11 miles and even ran fairly even splits.  This run did make one thing quite clear though:  SPRING IS IN THE AIR!  Along with the pollen and the smell of freshly cut onions.  It was a very snotty run.  I had some very decorative streaks on my black shorts by the end of it.

Afterwards I met my sister (who is still truckin’ right along on her C25K program!  Two weeks done!) for a girl’s day out.  Neither of us had any money to blow, so we window shopped for a while, decided we were both starving, and went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.  Seriously, what better way to refuel than hot wings and cold beer????? 

The bar is right across the parking lot from the theater, so we walked across the lot (and a big shout out of THANKS to the waitress that chased me down to give me back my debit card I left on the table!) to watch a movie:  Red Riding Hood.

OH.  MY.  WORD.

Let’s just say if I had known what I was getting myself into, there would have been a lot more beer beforehand.  It was horrible!  It was one of those movies that sucks so bad that it makes it almost funny.  The cheese factor was off the friggin’ charts.  (Yes, they actually used the line, “Grandma, what big eyes you have.”)  If you haven’t seen it yet, DON’T!  Wait till it comes out at Redbox.  And only get it then if you have a promo code for a free movie.  And NOTHING better to do.

When a bad movie is the worst part of your day, you know it’s been a pretty darn good day.

A Little Bit of Both

I ran 10 miles today.  I hated it.  Then I loved it.

Let me ‘splain…

I hated it because:

  • It was cold.  (But in all fairness I would have hated it if it was hot, too.)
  • It was windy.  And not just a little bit windy.  And I swear to God, it didn’t matter if I was running north, south, east, or west, I was running INTO the wind.  How the hell does that work?
  • My out-and-back was uphill both ways.  Again with the defying physics!
  • I was hungry.  I got up and ate a Clif bar for breakfast at 7:00 with all intentions of heading right out to run.  Well, I loafed around and didn’t start until 10:00.  I should have eaten a little something else before I left, but I didn’t, and my stomach was growling by mile 2.
  • The GU I ate, took, sucked down (I never know what verb to use with GU-related activities!) at mile 5 gave me a hellacious stomach cramp.  It lasted forever and forced me to walk 0.2 of a mile at mile 7.  It finally went away.

I loved it because:

  • It burned off the fistfuls of Reese’s Pieces I ate at the movies last night.  (We saw The Adjustment Bureau–great movie!)
  • Even though I was for the most part ignoring my Garmin, despite the wind, and even including that short walk break, I finished with a pace faster than expected:  10:38 (stop laughing), a 10-mile training personal best.
  • It showed me that if I get lucky and the stars align and I have good running conditions at my half next month, I just might really be able to pull off the time goal that I’ve had floating around in my head.

New Territory

Here I am, folks. Right smack in the middle of marathon training. This means I’m now moving into new territory. Until last Saturday, the longest I had run was 13.1. Twice. Then last Saturday called for a long run of 15. I’ll be completely honest with you. That number intimidated the living crap out of me. Perhaps that mental psyche-out had something to do with the COMPLETE AND TOTAL SUCKFEST that took place Saturday morning. It was a horribly pathetic excuse for a run. The first ten were OKAY, but at 11.5, my legs said to me, “Okay, that’s it, we’re done.” I had to do a run-one-minute-walk-one-minute thing just to get home. I ended up at 14 miles and won’t even embarass myself by telling my overall pace. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty and there were tears. Oh, yes, there were tears.

But after the initial emotion and disappointment passed, I felt better. I knew that I had just come off of an awesome long run the weekend before. Obviously I didn’t forget how to run over the course of a week. It was just a bad run. It seems I’m getting into quite the pattern! For the life of me, I cannot have two good long runs in a row. I’ve been in this every-other-week pattern for quite a while now. That just means I’m due for a good 16-miler this weekend!

I was also told by my awesome friend, running mentor, and Vegas running partner that it’s time to up the daily calorie intake, so I’ve been working on that this week.

And what a difference three days and a few extra calories can make! After taking off Sunday and Monday, I put up a solid eight miles tonight at a 10:34 pace (which is really good for me), and it felt spectacular. I can’t say that I was looking forward to going out for eight miles after working all day, but once I got out there and got going I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And THAT’S the way it SHOULD be!

Highs and Lows

High – Going to FL.
Low – Getting a phone call from mother-in-law the Thursday we were in FL with some very shocking news.
High – Long run in FL of 11 miles at 11:05 pace.
Low – Chafing between my ass cheeks during that run.
Low – Coming home.
High – Seeing my critters.
Low – Finding out more details on the shocking news that my MIL called about.
High – Memorial Day with the family.
Low – Father-in-law lost his job after 41 years with the same company.
Lower than low – Realizing (again) that people are evil.  They will do or say anything if they think they have something to gain from it, no matter how much of a LIE it is or how much it will make someone else suffer.
Even lower than that – Realizing how truly effed up our justice system is.  Innocent until proven guilty, my ass.
Low – Going back to work after 10 days away.
High – At least I have a job to go back to.
High – Set a new 3-mile PR.
High – Set a new 6-mile PR.
Low – Couldn’t hack it during my scheduled 13-mile long run today.  Cut it to 10 miles and walked the last two of those.  Stress?  Lack of sleep?  Dehydration?  81 and no shade?  Probably all of the above.
Low – Chafed arm pits.

I’m really struggling right now.  Not with the running.  Screw the running.  This was one bad day.  We all have them.  I ran strong during my midweek runs.  Next weekend will be better.  I’m struggling emotionally.  I hate seeing the people I love hurting.  I hate the fact that it’s so senseless.  I hate the fact that we live in such a litigious society.  I hate people that want something for nothing and will do whatever they can to try to get it.  I hate the fact that our judicial system caters to these people.  I hate the fact that I’m so weak that I’ve let these people get to me the way they have.  I hate that I’m struggling with my faith right now.  As a Christian, I know I’m supposed to pray for my enemies, and I hate that I’m not strong enough to do that.  Well, I’ve DONE it, but come on, this is God we’re talking about.  He knows I didn’t mean it.  He knows what I really feel in my heart, and He knows that it’s nothing but pure and raw hatred.

I keep telling myself, “God’ll get ’em.”  But how wrong is it that I want a front-row seat when he does?

Whirlwind Weekend

How is it possible that it’s 8:30 Sunday evening? I feel like it was just a few hours ago that I got off work on Friday afternoon!

Yesterday consisted of a 1.5-hr drive with me, Hubby, and two 50-pound dogs all crammed in my two-seater to go to my hometown for a combination Mother’s Day/Dad’s birthday/friend’s 30th birthday celebration. Busy day to say the least!

This morning I got out of bed about 8:00 and did some light housework (the quiet stuff, so I didn’t wake up Hubby), all the while arguing with myself about whether or not I felt like running. All week long I had planned on doing a longish run this weekend because it was supposed to be sooooo pretty out. I honestly did NOT feel like running, but I convinced myself that I would hate myself if I didn’t because in all likelihood this is the last of the cool weather. (It was 47 when I got up.) Might as well take full advantage of it.

I am SO GLAD I did.

I just recently bought a fuel belt so that I could change up my routes. I’ve always had to lay out my long runs around my house or my parked car or a convenience store or something. NO MORE! I threw on my belt and hit the pavement.

And today I hit a pretty major milestone. I ran ten miles NONSTOP. Since I had my belt, I did not have to stop for water. I did not stop to walk. I did not stop to stretch. I did not stop to pee. (I did not pass Go. I did not collect $200…) I started running, and I did not stop running until my Garmin beeped it’s 10th alert. I struggled with a humongous hill between 4 and 5, and I just kept telling myself, “Push to mile 5, then you can stop and walk.” Well, the hill ended shortly before I hit 5, so I told myself, “Okay, you’re fine now, you don’t have to stop because you’re fixing to turn around and coast down the hill you just overcame. Enjoy it and you can walk at mile 6.” Well, hell, by the time I got to 6 I was feeling great because I had just pretty much coasted for a mile. So I pushed further: “If you push to 8 miles, you’ll be back to the highway. You can walk then.” So I did. And I still felt pretty good. So I was like, “Ah, what the hell! You’ve come this far! Two more miles! Go!” And I did, and I made it, and it was awesome. Average pace 10:49.

Yay me!

And then I rewarded myself with more housework and laundry and a shitload of yard work.

I’m exhausted, but I’ve earned it.

Back on Track

I don’t know if it’s because it’s 30 degrees cooler today, or if I was blowing off the week of frustration, or if it’s because I’m excited about some plans me and my friend Michele have got cooking, or if it was all the whole grains I’ve eaten the past couple of days, but SOMETHING got my ass in gear today. I just finished a fantastic five miles and beat my old PR by more than three minutes. IT FELT GREAT!

And seriously, thank all you guys so much for your encouragement after yesterday’s post. EZEthan’s comment rang so, so very true. I DO need to realign my expectations. I’ve only been running for nine months, and I’m trying to compare myself to you guys who have been running forever. Stupid, I know. That’s just my competitive nature coming out. I always feel like I have to be the best at what I do. And if I’m not, I quit because I can’t stand to be outdone. I’ve been plagued with this for as long as I can remember. But I’ve fallen in love with the sport of running, and I REFUSE to quit. So I’ll just keep plodding along, faster than some and slower than some, and loving every second of it.