Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Feel like a runner

It's pretty amazing what our bodies can do in a year.

In January 2012 I was crawling bouncing back from IT Band Syndrome.  I was signed up for my first marathon just 4 months later.  I was celebrating my first pain free mile, and then my first pain free 2 mile run.
I did go on to finish my first marathon, and I will never claim that any step of that process was easy.  The long runs hurt, and I admittedly walked at least as much as I ran during most of them.  I would still ache for days.  My training commitment was lousy at best, and I spent most of the time trying to catch my breath and shake out cramps.  I paid for it in the days following the marathon.  Compression and foam rolling fun...
Now, in January 2013, I am training for marathon #2.  With the Pittsburgh Marathon again less than 4 months away I have a whole host of things going for me that I didn't have a year ago.

I can run a whole lot more than 1-2 miles pain-free!  My shortest runs are a respectable 3 miles.  My longest run this month has been 11 miles.  It felt great, and I still felt great the next day!  I have committed myself to my training plan, and I literally see and feel it working.  Long gone are the days of constantly pausing the treadmill to catch my breath.  Gone are all the excuses to not run, because making excuses was easier than pushing myself to get better.

I finally feel like a runner!
Post training run... Marathon #2 here I come!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dressed to Run: Freezing and a wind advisory

With most of my running on the treadmill and some unseasonably warm weather this month, last Sunday was my first winter weather challenge of marathon training.

Run: 6 mile "long" run (first stepback week)
Forecast: 32 degrees (much colder with wind chill!), dry, high wind advisory

What I wore:
1. Champion long sleeve top over a Kirkland technical tank (both Costco)
2. Salomon tights (REI)
3. Columbia shell (Columbia outlet store): This is my usual "snow" jacket.  I wanted the wind protection, but I ditched the inner fleece.
4. C9 headband with ponytail hole (Target): This was the first I wore this and loved it; it didn't budge and was perfect protection.
5. Nike fleece running gloves (not pictured, Nike outlet store): Too warm but I couldn't find my lighter pair.
6. Mid-calf wool socks (Target): These were the perfect solution to keeping my toes and ankles toasty.
7. Wave Riders

Did it work? Sort of, and it was probably the best I could do.  Unfortunately, the wind was totally kicking my butt at times in the shade.  Then I would start sweating when the sun came out and wind calmed.  The  gloves were on, and off, and back on, and off again.  The jacket was zippered up, down, up, down ad nauseum.  I fluctuated between wishing I had a balaclava and wishing I had left my jacket at home.  Flexibility to adjust by the minute was key for this one!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why I needed an SUV

Oh, today's weather put even yesterday's to shame.  I headed out earlier in anticipation of afternoon rain that never came.  I got in 9 glorious miles (+1 walking back to the car) in the warm January sun and even got a little too warm.  I couldn't have dreamed of more perfect weather for my first long run of the year!

I also discovered one more reason why I needed an SUV: to lay out all my stuff and regroup after a run.
...and to give me somewhere to sit while I change shoes.
Fact: This is never a good angle for taking pictures of your legs.

Another Fact: I bought this North Face running skirt at REI for $11 a few weeks ago.  I'm in love with it: super light fabric, great fit, and a zipper pocket.

With my re-entry into outdoor running though, I've made an interesting observation.  I'll have more to say about it late, but for now...
When running/walking on the shoulder of the road, do you run with traffic or against traffic?  Assume no sidewalks, though it is an "extra wide" shoulder intended as a walking/running path.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Surreal weather

The weather was absolutely surreal here today.  It should be freezing on January 12th.  Instead, I headed out for my 5 mile run in 63 degree weather, wearing a running skirt and t-shirt... and there was sweat.
Post run glow sweat and redness... so amazing to be running like this in January!
The park was overflowing with people enjoying the unseasonably beautiful weather, and it's always nice to be surrounded by other runners.

It was an oddly beautiful sight as well, odd sights to see when the weather feels like late Spring.  The shaded areas were still covered in inches of snow.  The lake is still iced over in most areas, creating an amazingly cool looking fog/steam(?) rising off of the water.  It was easily my most enjoyable run in a long time.

It is forecast to rain for my long run tomorrow but still just as warm.  Then it will done to usual January weather by Monday.  Rain or not, I'll be taking in every last bit of this warm weather while it lasts!

And to throw the cherry on top of this awesome day, the hubs took down our Christmas lights while I was out running.  I think he's going for sainthood!

How's the weather there?  Outdoor time today or were you stuck inside with your nose at the window or finding a treadmill?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sometimes you "have to" shop

With the holidays in the past and major vacation booking in the near future... I've been purposefully avoiding all the after-Christmas sales.  Then I stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods to pick up just lifting gloves, because callouses are not cute on me.  Just gloves, that's all I needed, and I found a nice Nike pair for $15.

A half an hour and a bit more money later though, I left with my fair share of running clothes for 1/3 of their original prices.  There were racks and racks of shorts, tanks, and tees under $10.  So shop I did!
Columbia rain jacket, UA thermal hoodie, 6 UA tanks, and 3 pairs of shorts = vanity motivation
Though I didn't pick any up, they also had Nike Tempos, dri-fit tees, and running skirts for a steal.  For the prices, I was surprised how much there was to pick from.  If you need some cute new duds to sweat in, Dick's is the place right now!

Now someone hide my wallet... this girl can't resist cute cheap gym clothes!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Real athletes wear pink... spandex

My plan calls for a rest day on Fridays, and I really rocked that yesterday.  I changed my work schedule, and it was the first Friday I've had to work since last April.  I've been spoiled and I chose to make this change, but it was still an adjustment.  I was happy to veg on my couch all evening.  And yes it was a 2 day work week, but it felt like 10!

Today called for 5 miles.  Since it was cold out and getting late, I chose to hit the gym for my run.  I found a distracting movie on the tv and was cruising along for the first mile.  It was downhill from there.  I never settled into a comfortable breathing pattern and I was far too hot and sweaty for the effort.  Even with a run/walk (which I haven't had to do in so long!) I was recovering absurdly slow.

I stopped at 4 miles after playing through a list of pros and cons for 20 minutes.  I'm hoping it was just the lingering effects of being sick and resting so much recently, and not the settling in of something new.  I followed my run with an intense arm/shoulder strength session and left the gym not feeling totally defeated.

On the bright side (pun intended) I brought out my new hot pink capris and wore them with furry boots to run errands before hitting the gym.  If you are ever concerned that you don't look put together enough while running errands, just assure yourself that I go out in public looking 10x more ridiculous for the sake of warmth and comfort.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Here we go again!

Here we go again- I've officially begun my second round of marathon training!  My start was delayed just a few days thanks to my stomach bug, but I was ready to run today... inside on a treadmill.
Kids- Don't take Iphone pictures while driving, especially when it takes you 5 tries to turn off the flash.
75 degrees inside...... 10 degrees outside.  Brrrrr.  This girl does not run in 10 degrees.  I cranked my seat warmers on high and took my warmed-up toosh to the gym!

I am following Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 Marathon plan, and today called for a 3 mile run.  And because less than 30 minutes at the gym never feels like enough, I threw in some strength training after: abductors, adductors, quads, and hamstrings.  I know I'll be cutting back strength training as my miles increase, so I might as well keep maintaining while I can.

Day 1 in the books!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Run Love

When people ask me if I'm a runner, I never know how to answer.  Can you run without being a runner?  I feel like "runners" are defined by being solely passionate about running, but I feel like running is only one of many ways I choose to get my sweat on.  I don't hate biking, or the elliptical, or strength training, or team sports.  There are some things I just l-o-v-e about running though.

While my athletic passion has always been for soccer, for the past 20+ years and counting, I was surprised by the things I love about running that you won't find on a soccer field.  So while soccer will always hold top billing in my heart, these are the reasons I can find a little love for the running world.

1. It can be a loner sport when you want it to be.  Ever try fielding a soccer game by yourself?  It's not much fun.  If I want solitude, or a partner, if I want to run twice what was planned or cut if off short, I can.  I can because it's my run, and it's only for me.  I am solely accountable for my efforts.  The risk, rewards, and failures are mine alone.

2. It's a passion for life.  Do I see myself still playing soccer weekly (like I do now) when I'm in my  30s?40s?  50s?  60s?  It's hard to imagine that.  But do you know who I met at mile 20-something of the Pittsburgh Marathon?  I met a man 70+ running his 12th marathon, after he just started running in his 60s.  God willing, I have many more running years left than I do soccer years.

3. Runners are really super duper nice people.  Ok, maybe not every last one of them; I'm sure there's some out there that I'd rather not know.  But the people I've met at the local running store, every runner I've exchanged waves with on the sidewalk, every last person I met along those 26.2 miles back in May; they're all really nice people.  Soccer players, well, we can be a mouthy, pushy, and dramatic bunch.

4. Did I mention that runners are nice, even when being competitive?  Even on race day when, technically speaking, you are competing.  They encourage one another and even physically help one another when the situation calls for it.  Soccer?  I recently had a guy tell me "I will &$^%*$# hit you!  Don't think I won't!", and then he did.  That was after his teammate, twice my size, tripped me and then started a shoving match with me.  When was the last time a runner tripped you on purpose and called you words that rhyme with witch?  Never?  That's what makes runners awesome.

Dear runners, thanks for being awesome.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Glancing back and looking forward

2012 was a year of grand celebrations and exciting new beginnings for us and those people closest to us.  Taking the time to look back at all of it has me really excited for the new adventures that will come to us in 2013!

We rang in the New Year with our traditional trip to a friend's cabin.
I finally started to win my battle against ITBS and ran my first mile in a long time.
The rest of the month was a lot of PT sessions and being cold.

I started February off by losing my wallet (womp womp), but there was lots of fun too.  I can't even remember how we spent Valentine's Day, but I'm sure it was lovely.
I bought a gym membership for the first time ever.
Made my first visit to a running store and bought my first pair of real running shoes.  I later hated them and returned them, but have fallen in love with my new shoes and the local running store.

The highlight of March, by far, was our cruise to the Bahamas.  We desperately needed an escape, and this vacation was the perfect answer.  We had a wonderfully low-key relaxing trip with beautiful weather... of which the hubs is still keeping the pictures hostage.
I also hit double digits running in style with a 10 miler in a blizzard.

April was a month of happy endings.  After 3 long years and countless tears, I walked across the stage and received my doctorate degree.  That will be one of the greatest days of my life... ever.  Really, anything else that happened in April pales in comparison.

The major excitement of May was undoubtedly the running my first marathon, which also happened to be my first race ever.  I was officially hooked as a runner after this.
The rest of the month was consumed by studying for my board exam, catching up with everything that had been neglected for the 3 years I was in grad school (literally, that long), and job searching.

June was time to get really serious about studying for my board exam, and I tackled it like a full time job.
I spent most of my time here...
Reading this...
But occasionally found some time for fun with friends...

July was a month of new beginnings and celebrations.  I took and passed my board exam.  I also accepted and started my first PT job.
I spent the 4th of July poolside with my family, finally relaxing with my boards behind me.
And the hubs and I celebrated our FIVE YEAR anniversary.  How time flies when you're having fun!

August was a month of fun.  I was off of work for the summer (yes, just two weeks after starting), and I spent my birthday with the fam while the hubs was out of town.

I tackled the Color Me Rad race with a few friends and had a blast.
And I threw my sister's bridal shower, which was pretty ridiculously awesome if I do say so myself.

The parade of 2012 weddings started in September with one of my close grad school friends and the hubs good hometown friend both tying the knot.  I also got behind the camera for the first time, shooting a wedding with the hubs.

The wedding festivities continued into October with the main event being my younger sister tying the knot!
We also celebrated another couple's nuptials, where we had a blast.
And I tackled my first half-marathon, only further hooking me into being a running-lover.

We started November by finally capping off wedding season with my cousin's wedding.
I ended November by trading in my beloved Cavalier for a shiny new set of wheels that I am in love with.  A belated graduation present to myself!

For the first time in a long time, I didn't spend December studying for finals or preparing a final project.  It was amazing to actually relax and enjoy the excitement leading to the holidays, even if it meant spending half the month at home while the hubs was working in Italy.  We spent much of the last weeks enjoying time with friends and family.
The hubs did not make the nice list after touching the Elf on the Shelf!
My nephew is adorable and the hubs is a major goof
New Year's was a little bit of a downer after I got hit with a ridiculous stomach bug, cutting our cabin trip short and bringing us home.  Bummer, but the hubs at least woke me up at 11:55 so we could quietly ring in the new year together.

Now.... spending these lazy days planning a fun 2013.  Marathons and a trip to Europe are in the near future, and we are so blessed.