Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A day behind and a tough run this morning

Our training schedule called for a 5 mile run yesterday. I'm ashamed to say that I skipped it. I've been studying extra hard lately. I've stayed on campus the last few nights until 9 or 10pm. By the time I get home, eat something, and unwind, I'm up way past my bedtime. It's has really worn me out. Plus, it's been snowing like crazy here for the last few days. Morning exhaustion coupled with snowy sidewalks hasn't exactly been the best motivator to get outside and run.

I sucked it up this morning. Instead of doing the scheduled 2 miles, I did yesterday's 5. It was awful. There was a good inch or two covering the sidewalks, and my legs were absolutely exhausted. Putting one foot in front of the other was a struggle.

To top it off, Akitla was extra hyper and excited to be outside in the snow. She was incapable of concentrating on running. It felt like she was always either trying to pull ahead of me, dive sideways into the snowbanks lining the sidewalks, or chase the falling snowflakes. If she wasn't doing those things, she was distracted with [fill in the blank: squirrel, car, person, bird] and getting dragged behind me. On a morning like this morning, the last thing I needed was to have to wrestle with a 30 lb. puppy.

Normally she's a great running partner. I loop her leash around my waist and secure it with a carabiner, and she runs right next to me without pulling. When we're on the trails and have to maneuver through a tight space, she automatically falls behind me and allows me to lead. Not this morning.

Luckily, my legs woke up and switched into autopilot about 4 miles in to my 5 mile run, and I was able to finish comfortably. I hope today was just a fluke. We'll give it a shot again tomorrow morning, and hopefully I'm not so exhausted and Akitla will behave better.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

woot. woot.

I did it!

I had an amazing run today. Our Team in Training schedule calls for a 2 mile run every Sunday to recover from our Saturday morning long runs. I normally take it easy, but today I was determined to run my hardest and kick some butt. I decided to run two 1-mile intervals with a short rest in between. I ran my first mile in 8:13 and my second in 8:30!

I repeat- the day after a 9 mile long run, I ran 8 minute miles! That's a personal record for me, and I'm so proud of myself!! I normally stick to a 10 minute/mile pace-- high 10s for my solo long runs and low 10s for my mid-week runs. To date, I've always focused on increasing my distance, so I've never really pushed myself to run fast. In the future, I will definitely start to incorporate speed workouts into my weekly running regimen.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

9 mile group run

This morning Julie and I had our 9 mile run group run in Dewitt. A new Team in Training group started, so we were joined by new members who were beginning their training for summer half and full marathons. It seems like just yesterday that we were the newbies, running only 3 or 4 miles on our group "long runs." I'm so proud of how far we've come! I'm amazed that I often catch myself uttering the phrase, "only 4 miles" when my husband asks me how far I'll be running as I head out the door in the morning.

Our run this morning was relatively laid back and relaxing. We took it easy, and (mostly) stuck to our 1 mile run and 1/10 of a mile walk intervals. Julie's making incredible progress, so I think I'll have her weaned off her walk breaks in no time.

The picture to the left was taken at one of the Team in Training aid stations. I had just tried the chocolate PowerBar gel for the first time, which I don't recommend during a run. It was delicious, thick, and rich, like a decadent desert, and not at all refreshing. I think I'll stick with their energy blasts or Gatorade from now on.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

two halves do not make a full

Last month I created a poll asking if I should switch to the full Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. I had been feeling unsatisfied and like I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I could. Since it was going to be my first race, I wanted it to do my absolute best.

As you've probably guessed, I decided to stick with the half marathon. Although I would have loved to switch, training to run 26.2 miles would just be too time consuming. As it is, I run 5 days and swim 2 days per week. Somewhere in there, I need time to work and study. :)

In lieu of switching to the full marathon, I've decided to run two halves in the spring and train for a full fall marathon. On April 10th, I'll be running the Martian Half Marathon in Dearborn, MI. This will be my first half marathon, so I'll run it solo and the quickest I can. Then, in May when I run the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon, I can relax, keep pace with the group, and fully enjoy the experience. When I have a bit more time in the summer, I'll train for the Chicago Marathon.

It sounds like a good plan to me.

sun and dry pavement!!!!!

Today was the first day in weeks that I was able to run on dry pavement! And the sun was shining!! It was amazing!

Since our snowstorm last week, Akitla and I have been suffering through deep snow and ice on the sidewalks. Unfortunately, when we get a lot of deep snow-cover, Lake Lansing trails are converted into cross-country ski trails and are closed to pedestrians and dogs. I love running on the snowy trails, but snowy sidewalks can be very treacherous.

Last week I fell for the first time on pavement. I was 1.98 miles into my 2 mile run and rounding the corner to turn onto my street. I hit a patch of ice, and lost control, skidding across the pavement on my palms and knees. I had just taken off my mittens, so I was skidding on bare palms. Ouch! I was lucky I didn't seriously injure myself and I was able to walk away with skinned hands and knees and a hole in my favorite running tights.

Since then I've been extra careful. I've ignored my Garmin and focused on safety rather than speed. Today, with our newly dry roads, all of that went out the window. I shaved a minute off off yesterday's pace and finished at just over 9 minutes per mile.

Lately I've been discouraged with my 10 minute per mile pace. Today confirmed my hopes that I'll slowly get faster as the conditions outside improve. And since I've never really worked on improving my speed, only my distance and endurance, knocking a minute off my pace is kind of exciting!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

three posts in one day?

Julie and I ran 9 miles with our team on Saturday! I was really nervous about the run, since I had barely run at all the week prior and was still struggling with back pain. I surprised myself, and it was a breeze! I'm so proud of us! We're getting so close to 13.1!

Sunday was an easy 2 miler, so Akitla and I ran the trails at Lake Lansing park. Although I usually swim after my Sunday runs, I was feeling too sore and tired. My back didn't hurt at all when I was running, but it was extra sore afterward. To make up for it, I snuck in some swimming on Monday afternoon.

I really struggle with my controlling my breathing when I swim (freestyle). Exhaling underwater is a mess, and I struggle with getting enough air when I lift my head to inhale. Not to mention all of the water I've inhaled.... I'm used to being able to inhale and exhale when I feel like it!

I've also been struggling with my endurance, which I'm sure is a result of my breathing difficulties. Right now, I have to catch my breath at each wall of the pool. If I don't rest, I inevitably inhale a lungful of water. It's ridiculous that I can run 9 miles without getting winded, but I can't swim 50 yards.

Luckily, it gets a little easier everyday.

baking for hope

Julie and I have been baking like crazy! We held an extremely successful bake sale in our department last Monday, and our homemade all-natural puppy treats were a huge success! So much so that we're now taking special orders! We've made three deliveries so far this week!

Julie and I spent the entire weekend prior to the bake sale baking. We made most of the goodies on our own and then met for a few hours on Sunday to make the dog treats and do all of the packaging together. Julie's dog, Ava, came over, so the puppies had a blast running amok together in the snow. Every few minutes we'd catch them both staring into the house wondering where all of the wonderful peanut butter smells were coming from. Then one would pounce on the other, and they'd both race back though the yard, chasing and wrestling one another.

We used bone, paw-print and dog house shaped cookie cutters to make the dog treats and then packaged them in either cellophane bags or larger colorful poop bags (depending on the size of the order). Julie was in charge of packaging and found some adorable bone print ribbon. She did such a great job! We've decided that if our PhDs don't work out, we can always open up a doggy bakery...

With our combined efforts over a two day period, Julie and I made:
  • Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
  • Banana bread with chocolate chips
  • Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting
  • Brownies with mint icing
  • Raspberry flavored jello cake
  • Peanut butter dog treats
The bake sale itself was a huge success! We had customers before we even finished setting out the goodies! Luckily, and quite coincidentally, there was a faculty meeting that afternoon so every single faculty member in the department was in the building. Nearly everyone stopped by to support us! Because of the meeting we had a much better turn out than we could have possibly expected. I couldn't believe that every single cupcake, piece of bread, slice of cake, and package of dog treats were purchased! We made nearly $300 and it far exceeded our expectations.

The outpouring of support from our (perhaps sugar addicted) department was truly inspirational!

another amazing trail run

This morning's run through Lake Lansing North's trails was truly magical. I saw eight deer!

It's been snowing here all day, so I threw my camera in my CamelBak and hoped to get a few pictures of the snowy landscape. About 5 minutes into our run, I was startled by two white-tail deer racing through the forest. I usually listen to music while running, so the deer caught me by surprise. I fumbled in my massive mittens, trying to get my camera out of my bag and snap a few pictures, but it was too late.

Not 5 minutes later, Akitla and I rounded another corner of the trail and came face-to-face with a doe and her calf. They slowly meandered their way deeper into the forest, away from us, where they stopped and watched us for several seconds, and I was able to snap the picture above. As I stood there with my camera, four more deer bounded out of the treeline, leaping toward the mother and her calf, before disappearing into the dense forest.

I know it sounds cheesy, but mornings like this are why I love running so much. It doesn't matter what's going on in my life, I always find peace when I run. My head clears and the stress of daily life melts away. Nothing beats the serenity and peace of mind that trail running brings.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Back pain, 8 miles, and Sparty Beads

I suspect that I threw my back out last Monday. I have been waddling around ever since then, so I skipped all of the mid-week runs last week and spent all of my free time lying on a heating pad. Sitting for any length of time is painful, let alone running 4 miles!

Saturday was our 8 mile group run. I was really concerned about whether or not I'd be able to finish the full 8 miles, but I surprised myself. I probably should have played it safe and skipped Saturday's long run, but I was terrified of falling behind in my training. Despite the back ache, I still managed to complete the full 8 miles. Julie and I took it slow and stopped often for walk breaks. Before I knew it, the 8 miles were over, and we were enjoying homemade hot cocoa with our teammates!

Earlier in our training, Julie and I ordered a case of 30 lbs of green and silver Mardi Gras beaded necklaces off of the internet. Saturday night was our first night (of many to come) selling these "Sparty Beads" to MSU fans outside sporting events. Rather than selling our beads for a fixed price, we have been giving out beads in return for a donation.

We expected the students to be our biggest customers, so we began by standing outside the entrance to the student section. Of the hundreds of students lined up, only two wanted beads and donated! Sadly, either undergraduate students don't carry cash or they were totally unwilling to donate to charity, since the two students who donated emptied their pockets of pennies into our jar. Silly kids!

We quickly switched doors to target families and children. That proved to be a smart move as parents generously donated for beads for their kids and men diplomatically bought beads for their ladies. We were initially a little unsure about what to yell and how to get people's attention, but the longer we were there the sillier we got. By the end of the night, we were able to work the crowds and get everyone's attention. In retrospect, the delirium was probably the early stages of hypothermia setting in.

We were a little concerned about getting in trouble for standing outside the Breslin Center soliciting donations. We had anticipated being either chased off the property by a screaming employee or arrested. Seth was on stand-by, prepared to bail us out of jail if the need arose. At one point, we were concerned about a sting operation when we noticed a police badge in a donator's wallet. It luckily wasn't a "bust," and we were able to fundraise without incident.

Although the temperature was in the single digits, we were up to our usual shenanigans and had a blast! We made a sizable dent in our bulk bead order and raised well over $100 to support blood cancer research and patient support! Hopefully future games will go even better now that we know what to do!