Monday, October 22, 2018

Running Rut

Since July I've been in a running rut. I wanted to run the Baystate Marathon and earn a Mill Cities Double jacket. I had a training plan, but events in my personal life made it difficult to make training on that level a priority.

Have you ever had an event that rips the wind from your sails and you struggle to find the desire to do anything again? My event happened on July 3rd. While it was likely not, it felt as if in an instant I lost all the speed I had been building up, speed I was determined to use to make marathon training a real possibility. A month ago, I accept ed that I would not be running the Baystate Marathon, and settled that I'd run the half, earning my jacket in May at Gate City. Two weeks ago, I accepted the reality I would not be running Baystate at all. Yesterday I went and cheered on friends, helped some friends at the Gate City Striders table until the cold got to me. I know what to expect next year.

Enough of the failures, lets look at the successes. I enjoy running and I should be able to get out there whether or not I'm training. I challenged myself to run at least a mile for 7 days straight. I succeeded.

Day 1 Sunday October 14th. 
 A start. I got to test out some of my colder weather clothing. It was a struggle. Due to paving in my development at home, my normal 0.6 mile loop had to be changed to a 0.22 mile loop. Each loop I passed my door, but I kept going.

Day 2 Monday Oct 15
I discovered I had an open afternoon and I'd been planning for a while to head to the Y to work out. I grabbed clothing and decided I'd see how the weather was before decided indoor track, treadmill or outside.

I wish every run could be like this one. I knew I needed to do at least a mile, but I challenged myself to run a 25 minute Zombie mission. It felt so good, I ended up running FOUR miles. I checked off a few more roads in my Run Nashua Challenge. It was great. 

Day 3 Tues Oct 16
Tuesdays are my busy day at the office. We also drive a meals on wheels route at lunch. I'll be honest I didn't want to run. Once I was home that evening, I wanted to sit in my comfy chair, drink tea and read a book. This run happened because I committed to the streak. 

Day 4 Wed Oct 17
Another I committed so I better get out there. I ate a few snacks an hour before running that did not agree with running. This mile was more walking because I didn't want to get sick. 

Day 5 Thurs Oct 18
I took my Mom shoe shopping and came how with new sneakers. It was later than normal but I wanted to try them out. Thank you Mom! 

Day 6 Fri Oct 19
By the time I got home from work I was HUNGRY! I ate too much dinner and ended up sitting around going I need to run but I can't move. Finally before bed I got up and got out there so I wouldn't lose my streak. 

Day 7 Sat Oct 20

The weather was beautiful! Seriously! I couldn't settle with just 1 mile, so I aimed for a zombie mission and ended up with closing out my streak with 2 miles!

Day 8 didn't happen, so according to my Nike Run Club app, I only had a 5 day streak. I was at Baystate and I got too cold. I just could not warm up once home and I could not motivate myself to the Y to run indoor before they closed. I do not feel my decision to rest, if walking around Lowell in the cold, not properly dressed for the wind is considered resting. 

I heard so many stories of running success and challenges from Baystate and Ghost Train this weekend. In a way I feel as if the race season is over. In my head I'm looking forward to next spring and fall. I want to have two anchor races, ones that I am training for or at least getting prepared for. 

I still have three planned races this year.

Novemberfest: Benefits the Nashua Children's Home. 5 miles in downtown and Mine Falls. I've got 3 costume ideas to pick from and make happen.

Santa Shuffle: I won this entry in June at the Flag day race. My best running friend and I will be dressed as Santa running the streets of Manchester. After the race that family will enjoy the Manchester Christmas Parade. 

Mill Cities Relay: I'm sent in my information to be placed on a team. Whether I run or cheer will be decided by who else is participating and if there is a turtle team or females in their 40's that needs a 5th runner to compete. I'm good either way.

As for next year, there is always the freeze your buns series, and winter warriors at Fleet Feet. I'm thinking my anchor races will be the mill cites double half marathons(Gate City and Baystate). A part of me wants to run Hampton Half again and I'm thinking I want to do the New Hampshire Grand Prix series. Full marathons, I need to either improve my speed or get more of my personal ducks in a row. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Have Skirt, Will Travel - Chicago

A few weeks ago I went on a business trip. When booking my plane tickets I discovered some things had changes in the years since I had last flown. Unless I wanted to pay extra, I could only bring 1 bag that fit under the seat in front of me. I'm not the lightest packer to be honest, so this took some thought. Thankfully it was summer and my skirts don't take up much space.

The trip: 4 days in Chicago, of which 2 would be in a seminar room that might be excessively air conditioned.

The plan: Wear the heaviest clothing on the plane(jeans, long sleeves, and a sweatshirt). Bring only 1 pair of shoes, that needed to be versatile enough for running and walking. Leave laptop at home, relay on phone for all computing needs. Pack snacks and tea, so I have something if there is nothing there I can eat. Take full advantage that my running skirts can double as everyday wear, takes up very little space, and can easily be washed in a hotel room sink.

I may have over packed honestly. Snacks, notepads, purse and 5 outfits. What's missing is my run belt and hydration bottles that I brought as well. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Broad Sided by July

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” - Mary Anne Radmacher

July and August this year have been DIFFICULT.

My Baystate Marathon training never started. I've gone running, but the speed I was gaining in June is gone. The last time I ran 5 miles was July 7th, and in August, my furthest distance is 3.28 miles.

While I'm still hoping to run and finish the race, at this point the likelihood of success is dropping. I may opt to just run the half marathon and earn my jacket in the spring with Gate City Half.

The good news is, I'm still running. Not as often as I should for marathon training and not as far, but I didn't quit when life got hard. I can thank Kelsie,  my support network and new Pokemon Go challenges for that.

At a total of 470 miles run this year, I'm tracking very well to hit my 500 miles in the year goal.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sub 30 - Second Attempt

Friday June 15th Flag Day 5k in Amherst NH.

I told NO one that this race was another attempt at a sub 30. A part of me was nervous about another defeat, and a part of me wanted the out of "nope, didn't try".

This is the first race in a while that I headed off to solo without a clue where I was going and no idea if I would know anyone once I got there. Due to that, my introvert anxiety was on high alert before I left and I swear I delayed leaving the house 3 times for 1 more bathroom trip.

Setting my GPS I headed off to parts unknown. Well, not entirely unknown I'd been to that very location for a fourth of July parade a few years back, but I was a passenger, my husband did the driving and we ended up parking over a mile from the green and walking. Speaking of parking, that was the one thing I was nervous about, where and since it was a small town, would it be obvious. I was right to be nervous, but since I got there early I pulled up behind another car and hoped for the best.

Checking in went smoothly and I got to walk around a bit. I bought a bunch of raffle tickets, less to win awesome items(more on that later) and more to support the Moving Wall.

I may have found the introverts trick to meeting people at races, dress silly. I felt extremely awkward but I wore a patriotic tutu and thus people stopped to say hi and compliment my outfit. I ended up having a nice conversation with another runner.

As more runners showed up, I bumped into another She Runs This Town member and a few Gate City Striders. I chatted with a woman around my mothers age in a Naval uniform. Her stories were different than my mothers stories from the Navy. My mother was an officer, she was enlisted. She talked about how the men treated them like ladies and were careful about their language around the women. She was a photographer but just printed other people photographs. In contrast, my mother's stories involve improving staffing numbers at her station, and arranging honor guards for funerals as it was Vietnam Era. The only policy she's ever mentioned that applied to women was that at the time you could not be pregnant and in the military. Pregnancy was an automatic discharge.

As we started to line up under the fire truck ladder and flag for the anthem, my stomach screamed at me to EAT. I'd left my clif blocks in my car, which was now too far away to claim with moments before the race starting. The volunteers gave out little flags for us to wag for a picture and run with if we wanted to. I did.

Can you find me? Photo credit: Race 
The race was a nice course and oddly well shaded.  My less than perfect hydration for the day and hunger led to me fighting side stitches the first mile. Some focused pressure and breathing seemed to help ease it. I pushed onward. Just like with the marathon I felt like I was playing interval tag with a couple of other runners. Interval tag is where myself and other runners take alternating walk breaks and end up repeatedly passing each other.

I can not tell you how happy I was for the water stop, or that the water stop was at the top of a short steep hill.  Woohoo an excuse to walk. The problem was, this was the half way point and I knew a sub 30 was still possible if I didn't give up. I also contemplated the days of being in the back of the pack and not really caring about time. But here I was pushing for a sub 30 and it was still within reach. Somewhere after the mile 2 marker I saw unicorns. Yes seriously, two women in unicorn costumes with a decorated car cheering on runners. That gave me a boost of speed and I pushed it another quarter mile, before I started to struggle again.

Pushing my way to the finish Photo Credit: Race

As I closed in on the end of the race, I realized while I wasn't going to get my sub 30, I was going to get a new personal record. With that in mind I dug deep and ran the last 0.1 miles to finish in 30:32!

It took me a bit of walking to be able to grab water and drink after that. I cheered on a bunch of finishers and high fived a little girl who rode in a stroller the whole race while I'm guessing her grandfather ran. Eventually I chatted with the PTs at the event and signed up for roller kneading of my legs.  Later, my name was called on the loud speaker, which was just to check in with the organizer as I always request a 2nd medal to mail to Kelsie.

Since I bought a lot of raffle tickets I hung out to see if I won. I was well rewarded for my donation. I won a Her Tribe Athletics tank top and the only hard part was deciding which one to get. I also won TWO entries into the Santa Shuffle, so now I need to figure out who to bring.

The face you make when you miss your
goal but still get a PR. photo credit: race

Monday, June 25, 2018

I can (still) run 10 miles

The Gate City Marathon was a month ago and since then I haven't run any long distance runs. I've been mostly focusing speed.

Sunday morning I made plans with a friend to attempt 10 miles. He's training for Ghost Train, an ultra marathon so all miles are good. I honestly was not sure how it would go or if I would be successful but I also knew he would make sure I was successful even if I had to walk the last 2 miles.

I have stopped with my pre-run snack since the last time I had it, my digestive system revolted sending me on a dash to the port-o-potties. No thank you, I'd like to avoid that again. I don't know if it was my pre-run snack or the volume of junk food I ate the night before but either way it's made me scared of food. I need to try my pre-run snack again, but when I'm running at home and have easy quick access to a clean bathroom.

The Epic hills were between 3 & 4.
Due to this, while I was awake an hour before we were to meet, I had only consumed 2 glasses of water. As we started out, I was already hungry. Thankfully we started with more walking than usual, which was a nice warm up.  Quickly once we started running legs were sore, so I took one of my electrolyte pills, and continued on. Sore legs early into running is a new thing to me, but I have been pushing speed. Plus last week, I donated blood on Monday, ran track workout on Wednesday evening, ran at 5am Thursday morning and went to a baseball game that evening which resulting in many flights of stadium stairs, then Friday morning I ran at 5am again. I did rest on Saturday, if hardcore house cleaning counts as rest. I likely didn't help myself out by having some scotch Saturday night, but it was really good.

Eventually on the run I started snacking on my clif bloks, while I had a few gus with me, I just wasn't feeling like I wanted that much nutrition at once.

My friend had a plan to run out to Browning Rd and then back. Browning is a well know hill here in Nashua. Local runners training for the Mt Washington race will go there to do hill repeats.If I recall Browning is a half mile long hill. My mini van complains when I've driven up it. After that we wandered through a few more streets, found more hills and I introduced my friend to an amusing intersection here in Nashua that I can only guess was done to slow down drivers and prevent accidents. The goal of this run was not rolling hills, but that is what happened. My friend told me about the new Chelmsford Rail trail and how flat it is. If I had access to a teleporter, I would have requested a transfer, I was super done with hills after 5 miles. I just looked at them and declared We're walking the hill. My friend didn't seem to mind. When we were not walking I think we were going a 10 -10:30 pace which is a faster run pace for intervals than my interval run pace before the marathon.

It got humid out, so a little after halfway I opted to join the Sports Bra Squad and remove my shirt. The rest of the run was a lot more comfortable, plus I was starting to run out of water and hoping cooling off would minimize sweating. As we were getting close to the parking lot, we were both starving, but my friend insisted we loop the parking lot so that my watch registered all 10 miles.

In the end with all the walking my pace averaged out to 13:41, with my fasted split being 11:55 and slowest 16:10(which was the monster hill). I'm happy with this. Now I know I can run 10 miles still. Marathon training starts in July.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Miles for Meghan

I'm not sure how to begin this blog, so here it is, I've begun.

On Friday night when I got home from the flag day 5k, I checked Facebook and saw the news about one of my Skirt Sisters, another Skirt Sports Ambassador, had been involved in a horrid tragedy.


Mom, kids shot point-blank after Westminster road rage incident, affidavit says

It's a hard article to read, and honestly you've likely heard about it on your local new affiliate. 

I was in shock, sure I've heard horrific stories in the news, but never have they ever hit so close to my circle. I didn't even tell my husband that night, I just talked about my race and kept the horror to myself. 

Miles for Meghan
Saturday morning I told my husband.  I changed to run so that I could include that with our plans for the day. I did not intend to run on Saturday but I did 1 mile, relatively slowly for Meghan. I spent the late morning and mid day with my family, wondering a park and downtown Nashua. I shared the story on my instagram and fb page.

I checked for updates and plans to support Meghan and her family. I prayed for them, as she and her son struggled in the IUC and for her husband. 

On Monday I donated blood. I'm all for preventative medicine and making healthy choices, Meghan was as well, but somethings you can not control. In a crisis, one of the critical supplies needed is blood and it's not something we can manufacture in a lab. 

If you are like me, you may be wondering what can I do? Right now, these are the simple things you are do.

1) Donate to help the Bigelow family with expenses.

At a local Red Cross blood drive.

2) Donate Blood. They are alive because of blood transfusions, if you are able, help make sure if anyone else is in dire need the supply is there. 

You may need to click on this picture to make it readable.
Colorado friends, there are specific drive going on with Bonfils Blood Center.

If you are anywhere else, the Red Cross has set up a virtual blood drive. If you do the instagram/facebook hashtag thing, use #Fight4Bigs 

Sub 30 - First Attempt

To celebrate my birthday, I attempted a sub 30 5k, or in non-runner language, I attempted to run 5 kilometers in under 30 minutes.

My first attempt I talked about a bit in my last post. I signed up for Hunger is the Pitts with my local chapter of She Runs This Town. I asked on the group if anyone would be willing to pace me for the race, and Nancy offered. I'd never met Nancy before but runners are awesome like that. We chatted a bit, I shared with her some of my previous run times.

The Monday before the race, the Gate City Striders Mine Falls series started. The weather was on the chilly side, so I opted to delay my plan of bringing my children to run that race. Instead I decided to challenge myself, without a pacer or a friend to chat with and distract me, could I run a fast 5k. Could I push myself to have my pace around 10 min miles?

With that race time of 31:41, I felt good. Evening races are not my thing, I know I run worse in the evening than in the morning. I was hungry during that race.

Now onto Sunday's Hunger is the Pitts race. This race benefited the NH Food Bank. Our chapter of SRTT had decided to coordinate our outfits. I was one of 30 or 40(maybe more I didn't count) women running in tutus. I got to the race early as I like to do because parking is the most stressful part of running for me. I was likely one of the first 10 people at the race that wasn't volunteering.

Once there, I did the next thing I always do at races, stand around awkwardly because my inner introvert doesn't know how to meet people. The area for pre/post race hanging out was fantastic, we were in the backyard of the Auburn Pitts restaurant. Had I known what this layout would be, I would have insisted the rest of the family come. The area would have been easy to let the boys run around while I'm out running. Plenty of picnic tables to sit at, shade to avoid the sun(and it was going to be a hot day), corn hole set up for playing, and all in a fenced in grassy area with no cars.

Nancy and I before race started. You can see how bright it already was out.

I met up with Nancy who had gone full on princess mode. Pink tutu, and tiara. Two of her friends were dressed the same. It was awesome! She had used glitter letters to add "PACER" to her tank top. We talked strategy, correction she shared her suggestions and strategy with me. It was getting close to the start so we headed over to do the big SRTT picture. I bumped into my good friend Robbie who was also celebrating her birthday. We chatted a bit, took a picture and finally lined up to run. At this point I was starting to get hungry, and the sun was starting to get hot.

Start. Nancy and I ran off, trying to navigate all the people at the start. One of the biggest things I'm getting used to with this pace is having to deal with other runners. The number of 12-14 min mile runners is sparse, sure they are there but they spread out, they take walk breaks. When I was running my 37 min 5ks, I rarely had to worry about runners around me, I could see them, but I wasn't running close to them.

The race started with a downhill and we did our best to keep with the planned pace, while letting other runners settle into their places in the pack. It didn't occur to me what starting the out and back race on a downhill would mean for the finish. We chatted and I was doing pretty good at this point. The race turned onto the rail trail and we got some shade for the next mile or so. The crushed rock path wasn't an issue for me, I'm used to Mine Falls. I was beginning to struggle at this point though. Soon the path narrowed and we had to go single file to make room for the runners coming toward us. It was great to see Nancy's friend run by us looking like she was barely trying, but it also made running difficult as I needed to pay more attention to footing and speed. Nancy told me to focus on her and I tried my best. As we got close to the turn around, I needed a quick walk break and we needed to walk the turn around that was a tiny side path that went up and down, uneven footing, and then back to single file running. I was struggling more and more at this point. Nancy and I talked and that helped distract me but I was starting to have trouble talking and running. I could still breathe.

Breathing, we had a great discussion, or more her speaking encouraging informative words while I listened. I was able to breathe, but according to my heart rate monitor I was up around 190-195 beat per minute. She talked about lactic acid threshold and that 5ks should hurt, they are a different race than a marathon. All of this lead to much research the day or two after the race.

Remember how I said the race started on a downhill, when we hit the pavement again we had some breathing room to run, I'd slowed down too much, or taken too many walk breaks my 2nd mile was too slow to succeed at the sub 30 without really digging deep and pushing out an amazingly fast 3rd mile.  Just as I wondered if it was possible, we hit the hill, now going up it. I walked more and more, I was hot, I was thirsty, and my legs hurt.  This was all new to me. I walked more than I should, I remember the moment I knew it wasn't going to happen. I looked at my watch and saw it click over to 30 minutes. I looked up and saw what I thought was the turn for the finish line. I was wrong, it was people directing traffic and cheering, I had more to go. Nancy was encouraging me as I walked more and more. My heart rate was not coming down. As we got to the end, I started running, faster now and we crossed at 31:14. Better than Monday. We talked a few moments and even though I missed the goal I still felt good. I was able to get some finishing photos of Robbie, and the three of us posed for pictures.

Nancy and I finishing the race.

After Robbie and I hit the food line and I was able to get a burger. Normally I avoid all post race food and while burgers are safe, if the grill is also cooking cheeseburgers, then I assume cross contamination happens. The cheese was available in the condiment area, it was not added on the grill, the burgers were safe!  Yay! I was hungry and not hungry as I was still calming down from running. I did get to surprise Robbie by sticking a birthday candle in her burger and singing Happy Birthday to her. My birthday was the day before and it was her birthday on race day.  We chatted for a while, relaxed and eventually we headed off our separate ways to go home.

Nancy, Robbie and I post race.

I may have missed my goal time, and Nancy pointed out in perfect running conditions I would have succeeded, faster runners that day were missing their usual finish times by 1-2 minutes. I missed mine by 75 seconds. In all honestly, the course was not a good on for a PR, between the single file running, ankle risking turn around and ending on an uphill. Even with that in mind, I'd run it again, but not for time and I'd bring the family to run/walk or just hang out. I had a fantastic time, made a new friend and spent time with a friend I've known for decades.

The Thursday after this race was the Hollis Fast 5k. I suspected if I ran that I'd get my sub 30, but I want my sub 30 on a standard 5k course, not a course designed for it. I opted out of the Thursday night race early in the week and it was a good thing, as Thursday was a LONG day in the office and I was exhausted by the end.

My next attempt was on Friday June 15th for a small town Flag Day 5k to raise money for the Moving Wall.