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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Runner Girl

Yesterday was another first for me. I did my first two run day.  I have been amazed that the longer I run the more things I discover about what I can do.  Yesterday I got up feeling a little better since i have been fighting this sinus infection for a week now and went for my regular morning run.  I came back sweatier than you should have to be in February at 5 AM, but that's another story, and hubby says let's do the group run at West Stride, our regular running store.  They were having a Red Brick Brewery Group run.  Three miles and then a souvenir cup with four beer pulls for $5.00 and free pizza. 

I told hubby "sounds good." I would see how I feel.  Of course in the back of my mind I am thinking "I have been sick for a week.  I hate running after work, and I just ran three miles."  A funny thing happened, all day I was thinking about going home and meeting hubby for the run.  It did not hurt that it was sunny and 58.   When I got home he was excited, "are we going?"  Now if you haven't figured it, out except for running and work, I am a real homebody.  I am not an out all night kind of girl.  To get up and run at 4:30 AM takes discipline and for me that starts with a rockin 9 PM bedtime.  But last night we went. We ran. We drank beer.  We ate pizza, and gasp, we got home at 8 PM.  I was thinking can I do this.  I have easily run this far, but I have never run in the morning and then started a second run at night.  Amazingly, when we started I felt just fine.  Maybe even a little better since I had already had a run. 

Before we left hubby was very clear 10:30 pace.  "You have already run and you have been sick."  Well we took off and ended up with a 9:30 pace.  I tried to console him with the fact I now think, except for recovery runs, that 9:30 is our comfortable pace.  I think he was fine with that.  The run was HILLY.  At around 1 3/4 mile point until 2 1/2 straight up a huge hill after already going up several smaller inclines.  It was a tough course but I felt good.  Then this morning still managed to make it out for my regular 4:30 AM run.  All of that lets me know I have gotten stronger.  I do feel like a runner.  Not because I ran my half, or because I ran twice in a day.  I feel like a runner because I love running. Because I think about it when I am not doing it, and I enjoy it when I am doing it.

Today I ordered a necklace that has a strong runner girl on it and a small medallion that say 13.1.  I am not the car sticker 13.1 girl.  I think it is fine for those who want it.  For me it was a personal thing I wanted to do.  I don't want the sticker on my car, but the strong runner girl  is really what I wanted.  I want to wear it, because for me it symbolizes achieving something I never thought I could.  I know when I look at it and I am facing a challenge it will remind me I am stronger than I think.  A reminder "that hill won't beat me either. "

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Do You Get out of This

 I love running and exercise and I see the benefits it brings me, even say, the last week when I have felt only slightly better than someone who has been run over by a truck.  Still I compare how would I feel if I wasn't running and the answer usually comes to me...worse.  So why not run?  I am not different from other people I go to work at a job that is sometimes interesting, sometimes suicidal thought inducing.  I come home to 6 forlorn kitties, who seem to forget every time I walk out the door that I came home yesterday and probably, universe willing, will today also.  I have a husband, we have a host of quirks, similarities, and differences.  I have good days, okay days, and not so okay days, some of which you may have read about on the blog.  Sometimes I feel great and invincible, and sometimes, like this week, I feel like hurling the alarm clock across the room when it goes off only five minutes after  I could finally breathe well enough to sleep.  Not so different from everyone else.  Then there is running.  We all have things we like to do.  I was with a friend today and we were saying there are things I like to do.  I said "run" she said "sleep and watch House Hunters International."  So I thought we all do these things, not because of some calling, but human nature.  Folks we do it because we get something out of it.  I mean there must be a reason I will be up at 6 AM on Saturday for the Rocks and Roots 5K and my friend will be sleeping in and then watching an HGTV Marathon.

What do I get from running?  I want to be all philosophical and high minded here but a true examination of my conscience won't allow me to lie.  So here goes my superficial, mostly about me list.

1) I like saying I am a runner.  I mean be real, who doesn't?  You have seen the look from people who say "you run?  I could never run."  It is a rush, not like a PR, but a hair flip confident walk away rush.  Ladies, you know what I mean.
2) Cute running clothes, come on.  I am not the girl who goes out in the mismatched neon outfit.  I select my running clothes for my morning run as carefully, if not more so, than my work clothes.  Please remember most of the time I run in the dark.  I did not say it was logical; I said it was what I get from running.
3) I feel powerful and accomplished.  I am pretty confident in a lot of areas of my life, but 2 years ago if you asked me what can't you do?  I would have said "run, I will never be able to run."  So every time I lace up those shoes and put on that cute outfit and run.  I feel powerful.
4) New appreciation for showers.  If you don't know what I mean you have not run hard enough during a humid Georgia Summer.  Or maybe you don't sweat like yours truly.  Try it once.  It will change the way you look at a shower.
5) Couple time.  Hubby and I could not be more different in many respects, especially career wise.  Running gave us something to share and a new way to explore together.  Plus tell me it isn't healthier than a couple's pizza eating contest.
6) My body on running.  I was always a gym girl and thought I was pretty fit.  Then I started running.  I got trim in a way I have never been, even in College.  When I lived on a can of Spaghettios and Vodka.  Now that is a diet.  Not for the faint of heart, and you better be young.
7)Running.  There it is, the last reason.  The biggest secret of them all.  I like running.  The actual act of running.  The way it feels.  The outside air, the quick steps.  The way your whole body just gets in this rhythm.  It is so zen like.  I actually like all the perks, but nothing beats the run.

That's why even though I should probably take the week off or something while I get over whatever this crud is.  I miss the run and I know all the benefits can't be wrong.  So tomorrow, up and out to enjoy a quiet morning just me and the run.  Oh, and you should see my outfit. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sometimes Running Sucks

Today is one of those days that reminds you why you live in the South. It is sunny and 65 degrees out.  So I went out for a run with hubby today.  I could definitely feel running when I am not 100%.  This run should have been a breeze, but you can't overestimate the importance of being able to breathe.  Who knew hubby was right about that.

Anyway it got me thinking about what we as runners all know, not every run is a great run.  So what makes some runs more challenging than other?  So for me I definitely notice certain things that tend to make running more of a struggle.

1) Time of day.  I am the original morning person.  I mean really by 4 PM you could walk in my office with a bomb strapped to your chest and say "you have 1 minute to get out of here and get a run in or I am blowing this place sky high" and I would have to really think about whether getting up and dressing out is worth it or if I have lived a full enough life.  I just know when in the morning, full of enthusiasm for the day, I say I will get in a few miles after work that it is not going to happen.  My inner voice is saying "liar."  I should totally start listening to her. 

2) How I feel.  I am usually really healthy so if I don't feel healthy I tend to be one of those people who aren't very good patients.  I am just not very gracious.  I have a short temper and a bad attitude and put that on top of not feeling well and it makes for a really charming run, not to mention a super supportive running partner.  Sorry, Honey.  Isn't admitting you have a problem the first step?  (We just saw Flight).

3) Wrong clothes.  You know when you check the weather and choose the appropriate clothing for the predicted weather and then you walk outside and are hit by the reality that meteorologists are the only people with a job that actually gives a bonus for inaccuracy. I hate to run if I am too cold or worse too hot.

I try to avoid these things when they are in my power.  Some things are out of my control.  Here is something I am sure of, if today's run sucked or was hard or made you swear off running, tomorrow's run will make you feel invincible, and pledge your allegiance to the sport.  If not tomorrow than certainly by next week.  Just keep at it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sick of Not Running

That is how this week has felt for me. A couple of days before my half I had a slight sore throat but I just took a lot of vitamins and pushed through.  My half was pretty successful and throughout the week I just felt worse and worse.  I ended up skipping a run on Tuesday, getting up early Wednesday and pushing through, but by Thursday felt really bad and had to leave work early and take off the rest of the week from work and running.  So of course I feel so lazy.  It is amazing the difference a year or two makes.  There was a time when I would have thought, well I am sick so "no way am I going to exercise" but yesterday I was saying to hubby I want to run and he was saying no.  Who knew he was a budding comedian.  His response to my question about when I can run was "you can run when you can breathe."  What a smart%&*.  Doesn't he know sarcasm is my thing in this relationship? 

Anyway who would have thought anyone would not enjoy an excuse to lay around, watching mindless TV in your pajamas all day.  If you asked me that a couple of years ago I would said, "that is a damn fine question."  But ask me today and I will tell you, "me."  To make my break even more torturous I took out my running clothes Wednesday night with every intention of running Thursday AM.  Well see above, that did not happen.  Now most people would just put them away, but I decided to just leave them there to remind me to get out of my pajamas and run.  Feeling among the living today and hoping to get a run in tomorrow. 

On the bright side my cats, who by nature prefer the laying around in PJ's lifestyle, have had the best weekend they can remember since I had the flu last year. I guess it could be worse it could have been last weekend and happened before my half.  Here is hoping this break also gives me fresher legs.  It was certainly a reminder of how integral running has become to life. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Coldest Day of the Year...and My First Half Marathon

So today was the coldest day of the year in Atlanta. Of course it was, because today was also my first Half Marathon.  First, I realize for those of you from the rest of the Country 26 degrees with a 12 degree wind chill in February is considered balmy; and you consider us Southerners to be major wussies about the cold, but I am from Georgia.  That thing about thinning blood is real people.   We don't build up a tolerance like those of you residing in Maine or Wisconsin.  That being said I am a fan of colder weather.  About 10 degrees warmer, sans windchill would have been ideal.

So enough with the weather report, what you really want to know is did I finish and did I finish in the back of ambulance?  The answer are yes and no respectively.  So I met my goal.  I finished the race with an average pace of 9:26/mile.  I am pretty happy with that.  My training runs I had been shooting for around 9:45/mile so the adrenaline of the race ramped me up a little.  Kind of knew it would.  Still the best thing about doing a distance you never have is: automatic PR. 

I would say, minus the somewhat arctic temps the race was pretty perfect for me.  I am a less is more kind of a gal.  So I wore my NB 730's a minimal shoe.  I had a bagel with Peanut butter about and an hour and half before the race.  I stopped to have a little water and one thing of Accelerade during the race.  I had my sports beans.  Took a couple, and my honey stinger waffle, did not need it.  I felt good.  The cooler temps probably kept me from feeling dehydrated or depleted. 

Also hubby and I made a plan that he would meet me at mile 12 and run me in to the finish.  So during the hilly 5-11 mile section I just kept saying to myself "I will see Yung in 7 miles, I will see Yung in 6 miles, etc."  And as I rounded the corner to mile 12 there he was.  It was the final push I needed. 

I am happy.  A couple of years ago if you had asked what I will never be able to do I would have said "run. "  Today I completed one of my New Year Goals and ran 13.1 miles in a pretty decent time feeling pretty good.  I do feel like I accomplished something, and I owe most of it to the support of my husband who always believed I could be a runner, even when I didn't.   What do you think you can't do?  Maybe you might surprise yourself too?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Your Valentine to Running

So it is Valentine's Day the day all single people hate and all coupled people dread, because it is fraught with opportunity to unintentionally mortally wound an otherwise perfectly functional relationship, by the purchase of the wrong card.  So we are nearing the end of this fictional holiday designed to make those not in a relationship feel singled out, and not in that "way to go, nice work" kind of way.  More like that "what is wrong with you? Why can't you just settle for someone then Dad and I can stop counting how many cats you have and get a good night's sleep" kind of way.  So for everyone counting down you have 5 more hours on the East Coast and on the West Coast you have 8 and my condolences. 

What if on Valentine's Day you thought about what you really loved, besides your partner, and I do love my husband.  But for those feeling down, or as if they have no reason not to call into work, pick up a couple pints of Hagen Das, crawl back in bed, and watch Sleepless in Seattle all day as some kind of punishment for not meeting some arbitrary timeline when you are supposed to have "Soul mate" checked off the bucket list.  What do you really love?  What makes you get out of bed sans Hagen Das the other 364 days of the year.  Is it running?  Would you send a Valentine to running?  What would it say?  See mine and give some thought to yours.

Dear Running,

I just wanted to say thanks for all the stars we share on quiet mornings.  I get up and often you are the first thing I think about and usually the first thing I see, since your clothes are laid out right in front of me.  You have made me stronger.  I used to think there were so many things I could not do and you topped the list.  Checking that off made me feel brave.  When times are tough I turn to you and I feel better.  You make my heart race, in a good way, and take away the everyday stresses.  You bring me closer to the people who matter in my life and you make me feel better and healthier.  Thanks for always being one pair of shoes and some well placed body glide away.  I look forward to another year together, but please I would really enjoy sweating a little less.  If you could do anything about that I know my husband would be grateful too. 



Monday, February 11, 2013

Do You Run "Socially"?

So if you go out to dinner but you did not use Four Square or Yelp to check in and then post it to Facebook and Twitter and commemorate it with a quick Instagram picture were you really there?  And let's just say you were there, how do we really know?  I mean I checked your Pinterest account and you don't even have a single recipe from that restaurant, or a picture of the food, or a map of the locale, or a recent Urban Spoon review.  I mean really it isn't even on your BLOG!

Mind numbing isn't it?  But tell the truth.  Most of you knew what everyone of those things were, didn't you?  That is the world we live in.  The world of "my best friend.. sure I talk to them everyday on my Tablet, Laptop, Smartphone."  So one would think the place to get away from all that is the ancient sport of running.   I mean what does social media have to do with it?  Do me a favor right now.  Grab that Smartphone I know is right next you and search "running apps".  Seriously!  And that is just the top ten list!  We don't do anything with  real people anymore.  I mean how 1980's.  All of those apps link to some kind of social network.  When did we stop having friends and become beings who were networked to other beings, or at least we hope they are beings.  The alternative is a little too Matrix for me.

And of course I can be all superior because I don't write a running blog with links to other blogs and a widget to my Dailymile account.  I don't post my new posts on my Twitter account or download my Ismooth Run app to both Twitter and Dailymile and sometimes upload a great run to Facebook.  You have never seen an instagram picture on this blog that I don't even write.

So I am a hypocrite.  I run "socially."  I like talking virtually, or otherwise to other runners.  I like the camaraderie and the advice.  I don't mind the support or the encouragement.  I don't think there is anything wrong with "social" running.  I would just say, sometimes you got to get your head out of the technology and run with a real, not virtual, partner.  Have a very real Latte with someone and talk about running in real time, or talk about something else.  I understand there are whole bunch of cool videos on YouTube.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Taking It Easy this Week

So this is the week before my half marathon.  I have to lower my mileage and intentionally run easier all week.  This should be a fairly easy task, but I am not that big a fan of taking it easy.  I like to think of everything I do as some kind of ultimate endurance challenge.  Hey, you have your hobbies; I have mine. 

I really want to enjoy my half and I want to be ready and feeling good so I know the smart thing to do is to take everything down a notch for the week.  Fortunately, Mother Nature is helping me out.  Apparently she has no faith in my ability to dial back all my natural instincts either.  Anyway we are expecting rain for most of the week, and I think I have been over this before I am not a huge fan of the treadmill so even if I really needed to build mileage this week I probably would not be successful!  I guess everything works out. 

I am excited about my half.  I just need to keep that in mind this week and realize I will get a chance for a nice long run on Sunday.  Hubby and I were looking up the race info and it looks like there are about 1,000 folks running the half so it should be fun.  They posted the refueling stations, and with 8, I think I will be just fine.  Hubby introduced me to Honey Stinger Waffles and I think we will be picking up a couple this week.  The weather should be perfect about 29 degrees at the start and staying in the 30's for the race.  I have my compression jacket running tights and gloves ready.  I have, "knock on everything," managed to stay healthy.  I feel good, no injuries.  I will have my regular Chiropractor appointment on Wednesday and to treat myself, I decided to take Monday after the race off with my hubby who is off for President's Day.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Also today is the Lunar New Year!  It is the Year of the Snake.  My husband is a Snake so this should be a prosperous and happy year for him.  We celebrated with a traditional Vietnamese meal and a nice run together.  Sharing a meal, our love for running, and a quiet day together in our home with the furry little family members we love. Sounds just like the way I want to spend the year of the Snake!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

If you can't laugh at yourself...

So today was the ATC Heart and Sole 5K. It is their annual Valentine's Day run where couples can come in costume!  I have to say when my husband first told me we were going to the race dressed as Angry Love Birds, after the popular smart phone game, I thought "no way I can't do this."  Today was super fun.  The course is great, by far one of the flattest and fastest courses ATC has all season.  No PR today, but we were just taking it easy.  I have the half next week and hubby has a 5K so we did not want to over do it.  

I was surprised by how much fun I had.  It was cool to run past the kids and have them say "Angry Birds!"  We had a few kids say after the race, "your costumes are awesome!"  You can't beat running uphill and hearing "Go Birds!" At the finish all the spectators watching and yelling "go angry birds!"  It was fun to make other people happy and I was a lot less self conscience then I thought I would be.  I was also surprised how many people stopped us and asked if they could take our picture!  Above is a pic of us and another couple we met today.  Most folks did not dress up, and most certainly did not take it as far as we did.  It was fun to find another couple just out to have a healthy, funny Saturday morning run!

Also I had a first time experience today.  Not only were we racing, but one of my staff and her boyfriend were racing.  I have to say that is the first time I have been dressed as a giant bird and heard "let me introduce you to my boss, Kathy."  I also can't believe I posted the pics on Facebook, where I have work colleagues.  But you know what?  That will prove everyone who says I can't laugh at myself wrong!  Sometimes it is just fun to be silly and especially if you can make someone's day more fun.  All the credit for the creative outfits goes to my art teacher hubby and so does thanks for a fun day and a good lesson in not taking myself too seriously!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rest Days...Sometimes makes you Less of a Bleep...

So this week I was really a joy to be around.  For some reason I was just tired and angry and everything was a big freaking deal!  I guess my husband was grateful he was out of town last weekend because at least he had some time to miss me and maybe he used that feeling to get him through the week with me. 

So I guess it was a combo cocktail of PMS, too much running, and simmering career frustration, but I was definitely not in the front running for head mistress at a charm school this week.  Yesterday, as we were going to pick up my husband's car, back in the shop for the third time in as many months, and I was contemplating whether or not I could get away with killing our very responsible, honest, and sweet mechanic.  I realized I had to do something different, because I look terrible in orange jumpsuits.

So despite the fact that yesterday was one of those days that reminds you why you live in the south, despite all the southern stereotypes that say run I hear banjo music I chose to take a rest day.  It was a balmy 68 degree February day with bright sun and everyone including Grandmas in walkers were running down the street and our running store was hosting a group run that ended with free beer and pizza.  I told my hubby go on without me; I was going to take a rest day.  I know one of my New Years Goals is to try and run everyday.  Well believe me I tried.  I also think an unspoken New Year's goal is to not kill your neighbor because they did not pick up their sales circular out of the driveway and now it is blowing all over the road.  You really do have to measure goals against a metric.  I mean you can't evaluate what you don't measure. 

I decided one rest day wasn't going to kill me, but I might kill someone without a rest day.  So I watched meaningless TV and waited for hubby to return from his run and pizza and beer fest.  Today when I woke up I got dressed at 4:30 hit the streets for my run and rediscovered both my sanity and my love of running.  A rest day, just one day, and a new perspective was born.  I am in the home stretch before my half a week from Sunday.  There will be more consecutive days of running and then there will be that day when I just can't lace up for the public's safety and I will take a rest day and regain my burgeoning love for human kind.  What pushes you to know you need to take a break?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Just Cause

Remember when you were a kid. You got away with so much and you had the best answer to questions people asked you.  Why are you doing that? "cause."  Then inevitably your mom or some adult would say "cause why?"  You would get to give an even better response "just cause."  It drove adults nuts and we loved it. 

Don't you just have days where no matter what someone asks you you want to cross your arms and say "just cause."  I especially feel that way when people ask things like,
Co-worker:"what did you do this weekend?"
Me: "I had my last long training run for my half"
Co-worker: "Cool how long did you run?"
Me: "13 miles."
Co-worker: "Why"
Me: thinking I already answered that when I said I did my last long training run before my half, "Cause"
Co-worker: (here it comes) "Cause why?"
Me: "just cause." Accompanied by casual hair flip and crossed arms.

Sometimes you just know the explanation is not worth it.  We knew that as kids, but as adults we always think we should expound on the many esoteric benefits of obtaining a goal, pushing yourself past what you believed to be your limits, etc.  But really all anyone needs is "just cause."  By the time you recount the innumerable benefits of running to this person, they have moved on to find out why Bob has made the bold choice of liverwurst and tuna salad for lunch.