Monday, December 8, 2014

So I ran a marathon yesterday...

What an amazing experience yesterday was! You've probably already seen my posts on facebook, so you know I finished. I'll give a little more detailed account of how it went for those who are interested.

I was up at 3:30AM as Sunny picked up Kim and me to take us to the shuttle bus that was to leave at 5AM. Surprisingly, I slept fairly well. I didn't even think about the race when I went to bed the night before--I guess I'd obsessed so much about it in the weeks previous I'd gotten it out of my system. I was wide awake the second the alarm went off and very excited about the day. The bus took us right to the start line, and we were able to sit there for a while before getting in line for the port-a-potties and then get in the mass of 10,000 or so people at the start line. We'd gotten warm-up clothes at the thrift store, and I took them off right before the gun went off. I was glad I did, because I warm up really fast and the temperature felt perfect by the end of our first run interval.

We had set up a pace schedule that had us gradually fading every 5-6 miles. I felt awesome and kept to that schedule for probably the first 8 or 9 miles (Kim used his Garmin watch for the pacing and interval timing so I can only guess. then we hit some hills in Fair Oaks and although they weren't as hard as they would have been a few months ago, they did slow me down and by the halfway mark I was already behind the pace. I decided to not obsess about it and just do the best I could.

I didn't have any real problems on the course, My right calf wanted to cramp for a while so I had to stop and stretch a couple times, but it worked itself out. I felt a little nauseous a couple times, but I talked myself out of it. In fact, whenever Kim and I weren't talking, I had a near-constant internal dialogue going. "This is f*ing hard" "It's fine. you trained for this. You can do it." "Maybe this is too hard for me. Maybe this was too much to take on." "Nope. You're strong. Just keep going."

When we hit the 20 mile mark, traditionally called The Wall because that's where a lot of people completely run out of energy due to the body's inability to store fuel for much longer than that (or something like that), I still felt really good. I was really happy to still be as strong as I was at that point, especially after my disheartening performance in the Clarksburg 20. My average pace at that point was about 45 seconds faster than Clarksburg and I hit that point 15 minutes earlier. That was a good confidence booster, and I only had 6.2 miles to go.

I did end up starting to get really tired around the 22 or 23 mile mark, and the last two miles were really hard. I had blisters and they hurt and my legs were just tired and didn't want to go anymore. However, one thing I'm really proud of (of many) is that the whole day we only skipped one run interval and didn't cut any short other than to walk for fuel/hydration, and that doesn't count because it's important to do that. At both Clarksburg and Urban Cow, I had to walk a lot the last few miles. So that was a huge improvement on a much longer run. This was one of my goals for this race so I was really happy to accomplish that.

There were spectators all along the way, holding signs, cheering, ringing cowbells. Two of our relay team members, Paul and Grace, were able to wait after their leg to cheer us on as we passed, two of my students met us near Sac State with a coconut water for Kim and a sign saying "Go Jennifer go!" and lots of other people shouted encouragement, and that was really cool. There's a lot of camaraderie on a race...people tell each other "good job! keep going!" etc. I love it. One guy even recognized us from running on the American River Parkway, so that was kind of funny. And being met at the end by Dana, Cathy, and Grace with hugs and congratulations was a sweet, sweet ending.

Some people report this course as being pretty flat. That is a lie. However, the hills are not too bad. Most of them are rolling. The steepest one is not long and it's right at the beginning. The longest one, near San Juan on Fair Oaks, is pretty long but not overly steep. Once you hit the halfway mark, the inclines are very gentle and there's a lot of downhill. The last hill is the H street bridge, and it's not even that bad.

There were plenty of aid stations that had water, nuun electrolyte replacement, and about every third one had Gu energy gel (which I used in training a lot) and oranges and bananas. Some had brownie bites, which Kim was all over, but I stuck to gel and fruit. I drank and ate at every opportunity to do so. I carried my water belt but only needed it a couple times.

We ended with an official official pace of 14:30, 45 seconds slower than what we'd hoped for, but we got in before they reopened the course so we didn't get pushed onto the sidewalk and I got my medal. It took 6:20:04...which is a long time to be on your feet and running!

I totally bawled at the end...a combination of exhaustion, relief it was over, immense pride in my accomplishment, and the outpouring of love and support from my teammates. That was the  hardest thing I've ever done in my life, and having that support system made a HUGE difference. Kim sacrificed his own training and goals to hang with me through the long runs and stay with me every step of the way on the big event. Having a group of people, or even one, to whom you've made a commitment to be at a certain place at a certain time to run is great motivation to get out there and do it.

I have to say, too, that another thing I'm proud of is this was not just about my efforts yesterday. It was a six month commitment of running three days a week and cross-training 1-3 additional days. I didn't miss a single run because I "didn't feel like" it, although I missed some due to illness or injury. Again, having that accountability of the group helped a lot. Knowing I'd told the whole world I was doing this marathon and not wanting to tell everyone I'd failed helped make sure I followed through, too (shame works well on me). Being self employed helped a lot, too, because I have a flexible schedule. However, I did get behind in my work because of it and that was not good.

Looking back at my first post on this blog, here are the reasons I gave for embarking on this journey:

1. Because I didn't think I could, and that pisses me off so I need to go do it.
2. To do something that supposedly less than 1% of people have done. How cool is that?
3. So the next time some slimeball looks me up and down and suggests I need his personal training in his home gym, I can say, "Screw you. I ran a marathon."
4. To improve my cardiovascular fitness, especially for dancing.
5. To lose some weight.
6. To get myself on a regular exercise regimen

I did all those things, although I didn't really lose any weight. Maybe a pound or two, and I definitely feel leaner and my clothes fit a little better. Guess I'll have to start watching what I eat if I want to do that.

So, that's it. This particular journey is at an end. Will I keep running? Yes. Will I run more races? Heck yes. I don't know for sure yet if I'll do CIM again next year, but right now I'm really leaning toward it because I want to improve my performance. If I did this well  with only 6 months of training from practically ground zero, how will I do when I start at a higher level? The time commitment is huge, so that's a mitigating factor. We'll see.

Regardless, I don't know if I'll continue this blog unless I use it to review races. I've disconnected Daily Mile from facebook so it won't keep posting my updates, but I'll still log workouts there. I'm still in my facebook running group, the current challenge for which is "135 miles til Christmas." I'm at 245...BOOM.

Thank you for following my journey. You've all been amazing!

Friday, November 28, 2014

So I'm doing a marathon next week....

The big day continues to draw closer. I have a tab constantly open on my browser with the home page for CIM. I've studied the course map, read all the FAQs, watched the videos, looked at past results. I go from being serenely confident in my probable success to scared to death of what will happen. I drive by the finish line going to and from the gym and picture myself running across it. Honestly, I'm pretty sure I got this. But, I can't help letting those little thoughts pop up...what if? What if I don't? What if something happens? What if it's too hard? My biggest goal for the day is just to keep a positive attitude, because that will be everything. Attitude will make or break me, and I'm choosing to make it!

Whatever happens, it's been an amazing journey and I don't plan to give up running once the marathon is over. I'll take some time off and start again in January, and maybe next year it'll be easier. I'll get stronger and faster and finish in 5 hours instead of 6.

I'm incredibly proud of my achievements. It's been difficult and I've stuck to it, thanks in large part to the support I've received from my family and friends, most particularly my running group, and most of all, my friend and coach, Kim. He's been absolutely amazing in getting me here and I'll be eternally grateful for that.

Here are some interesting stats from my training. This is just what I have tracked on since I began official training on June 1 of this year:

  • I have gone 413 miles. This includes running, stationary bike (only a few times), and swimming. This is .02 of the distance around the world.
  • I have logged 100 workouts totaling 103.6 hours.
  • I have burned 28 pounds. Sadly I ate enough to offset it that I really haven't lost any weight although I do feel leaner.
  • I have burned 544.33 donuts
  • In the beginning, I was happy to break a 15:00/mile average pace. Now, my short runs are often faster than 12:00 and my long runs are regularly under 14:00.
  • In the beginning, 3 or 4 miles was tiring. Now that's a short training run and I have gone as far as 20.
How can I not be proud of that?

Just a little over a week until the marathon. Thank you all for your support. If you happen to be there and watch, feel free to hand me a piece of banana or a triple berry Gu. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I'm tired!

This past weekend I did the Clarksburg Country Run 20 miler. The good news is, I finished and under the time allowed. The unfortunate things is it was really hard--harder than it should have been. At around 10 or 11 miles in, I started to get tired and slow down. However, even then we were still doing OK pace-wise until I started feeling nauseous around mile 15. My stomach wasn't upset, but I felt like I needed to throw up. This kept me from fueling like I needed to as well as forcing me to walk more, and I really lost my rhythm. I started the self-defeating self talk and it just spiraled downward from there. I even had a moment where I was staring at the shoulder of the road, which was raised a bit so if you stepped off the edge of the shoulder you'd fall a couple feet. I pictured myself tripping in my clumsy state and falling. I actually had the thought, "Well, if I fall, at least I can lie down for a while." It was not good. Kim and Dante pulled me through, though, and I got to the end. I cried a bit when I finally crossed the finish line.

There are several factors that probably led to this. First of all, I should have been carb loading and hydrating for two whole days before the event. I did some the first day, but ate for crap and drank hardly any water the day before the event. That will not happen again. I will be super diligent about that from now on! Secondly, the weather had cooled down and then was warm again on the day of the race. I don't do well in heat anyway, and I suspect I got a little acclimatized to the cooler weather. Finally, the nausea might have been because I ate a flavor of Gu I've never had before. That may be nothing, but you never know.

The final possibility, and a real one, is that I was just fatigued. I've asked a lot of my body in the past few months. It's responded to everything I've asked of it like a trooper, but I'm tired. I've also been cross training and dancing and it seems like there's just so much happening. I'm overwhelmed. Part of that will be when our dance studio's showcase that I've been practicing for happens this coming Sunday so I can stop thinking about that and take a break.

So we talked it over and decided to alter our training schedule. We were supposed to do 23 miles this weekend, but decided to start tapering now instead. Many people only run 20 miles before doing a marathon, so I know it can be done. I'm strong. I just need a chance to recover a bit and I'll come back even stronger and ready to go. Meanwhile, I'll work on my cardio while swimming and I'll still run of course. We'll do 6-8 miles on Monday with some hills, I have a half marathon next weekend, and the rest will be short runs.

I got this. I just need a break! I'm still sore from Sunday. It's never taken me this long to recover from a run. I'm getting there, though.

I'm glad I'm in such good hands!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

23 weeks in

Another month has gone by, and I'm one month closer to the CIM. I have to admit I'm getting tired. When this started, I had no idea the number of hours I would be spending on this! Not only the time spent actually running, but travel time, needing a nap after the long runs and losing most of the day, etc. Don't get me wrong--this is an amazing experience. But it is demanding!

Since my last entry, I have done a few really long runs. I did the Urban Cow Half Marathon and while I finished in decent time (for me--13:54) and had no real problems, I had hoped it would be easier since I'd done the distance several times before. However, it was hot and that really got to me. I do not do heat well.

Because I struggled so much with my 13 and 14-mile runs, I was a little worried about doing 16 a couple weeks later. However, we went out and did it, and I made the whole distance! Woot! Doing that was a huge mental breakthrough. It made me realize that even though the last distance was hard, that doesn't mean I can't keep going up because my body will just keep getting stronger and responding to the training. I was starting to have doubts again that I could do the marathon, but the day I did 16 restored my faith. Average pace was 13:56, so I'm starting to regularly finish in under 14. I'm a little worried about the marathon, which has a 6 hour time limit so we need to average 13:44.

The next week, we were supposed to do 18 but started in the wrong spot and it ended up being 17.55...close enough. There were a lot of hills that day, which I have not trained on very much. Yet, I had my fastest pace at the 10+ mile distance with 13:43, and it was faster than all but one of my 5-10 mile runs. So, I was absolutely thrilled. AND I had energy left at the end--I felt like I could do another mile without much of a problem. I still felt mentally sharp, which is not always the case after a long run, at least until I get food in me. So, that was another triumph. This is something I love about running: you keep going a little further or a little faster and it's a constant rush to see those milestones and evidence of improvement. The weather was much cooler that day, and I think that made a big difference. Good thing it should stay cool now until the big event!

Yesterday was a cool down week and we "only" did 14 miles. We pushed hard at first and my hamstring started bothering me so we slowed down, which did the trick (along with a little stretching at the bathroom stop). We ended up finishing with an average pace of 12:56. Wow! Of course this is because it was a shorter distance, but that's great. Again, it gives me hope. It was pretty cold and threatened rain...perfect running weather.

Next week the Clarksburg Country Run, a 20-miler. I'd love to hit that 13:30 pace, but as long as it's under 14 and I stay sound (don't injure myself) and finish, I'll be happy. I know I can do it because my training is paying off. This will be the first time I do an event where I haven't already done the distance. On the one hand, I don't have the assurance of having already done it (not that I'm worried), but on the other hand, I'll have all the excitement of the event spurring me on. Cheering crowds, people holding funny signs, and....ahhhh....a finisher medal. Ok, and the t-shirt doesn't hurt either.

After that, we do a 23-mile training run, and then we start tapering off for CIM. I'll do the Davis Turkey Trot Half Marathon and the Run To Feed The Hungry 5K as part of that tapering.

The marathon is just about all I think about and I'm nervous and excited by turns that our goal is almost  here. I worry about hitting the wall on course. Or getting sick/injured beforehand and missing out. But I also picture myself crossing that finish line, and that will be an extremely awesome feeling.

And now to put in some time with my foam roller!

Friday, October 3, 2014

19 weeks in!

I've now been in training for 19 weeks and things are getting difficult. My last post was right before my first attempt at the half marathon distance, 13 miles (well, 13.1 for the official distance). I "bonked" around the 10 miles mark--I ran out of energy. I had to skip a lot of run intervals and was absolutely exhausted after. I was in the car and I had no strength in my limbs. It was a really weird feeling, but getting some food and electrolytes in me fixed me up. The next week, I attempted 14 miles, and my achilles started bothering me on my right leg at the 12 mile mark. I had to walk the whole last two miles. I was pretty upset...what if 12 miles is as far as this body will go? What if it's telling me to knock this crap off?

So we had a cool down week and I got sick, so my body got a lot of rest. However, I realized that my feet were really hurting after every run, even the short ones, so I thought it might be time for new shoes. I went to Fleet Feet, and the salesman said there was no support left. I'm not really surprised. So he fitted me for new shoes, which was an educational experience, and I wore them this past Monday for a 14 mile run...and I made it through the whole thing! We did skip a couple of intervals--one so I could eat (Gu did the trick!) and one because we were on city streets and there were a lot of lights/busy intersections and it was just easier that way. Although they were welcome breaks, I didn't *need* them per se. So that was a much needed victory! I was very tired at the end, but I feel like I could have gone a little longer if I had that means I should be ready for the next step up, which is 16...right? I hope so!

In other news, on Thursday of this week we tried 4:00 run/1:00 walk intervals for the first time. we had a good pace at about 11:58, which makes me happy. Poor Kim had to have the same conversation with me we always have when the intervals get harder:

Me: (having not done the math yet and thinking it was slower than that) shouldn't I automatically be faster since my run:walk ratio is higher?
Kim: not right away. At first you'll be tired because of running longer.
Me: it'll get easier, right?
Kim: yes.
Me: I hope so.
Kim: it will.

He's always right, of course.

This Sunday is the Urban Cow Half Marathon, my first official half, although now that I've done the distance three times it's not too big of a deal anymore. But still, I'm very excited! My first real finisher medal (cow bell, actually)! I'm looking forward to it. I've dreamed about it twice and both times I got through it with flying colors.I"m sure that's a good sign.

Only about two months until the marathon, and only a handful of long runs between now and then. I'm getting a little scared! On the other hand, my body keeps getting leaner and I feel good. I just have to keep on chugging.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nearly 13 weeks completed

I have now been in training for nearly 13 full weeks. Hard to believe it's already been three months!
My finish picture from
Davis Moo-nlight 10K
Facchino Photography
The time has flown by. I haven't had much to report or say, so I haven't been posting here much. How many times can you say "I went running today" and have it be interesting?

Yesterday went out for a short run (which is now four miles--a distance I was concerned about when I first started) and for the first time I broke the 12:00/mile pace. In fact, we've been regularly running around 12:30 on the short runs, which is a fairly recent accomplishment and I was very happy about this--but beating that by :44? Wholly cow! I was listening to my favorite workout music on Pandora (Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Rage Against The Machine, etc.) and I just felt motivated to go fast...and I didn't seem to get too tired, so I just kept it up. Runkeeper's GPS jumped around a bit and told me I went 3.98 miles, but then I checked and discovered it was only 3.76, so if you saw my facebook post that said 11:07, blast it was actually 11:46. But damn...still very fast for me! It felt good to be able to run like that.

Tomorrow I run 13 miles, and we usually end up going an extra tenth or two, so it's basically a half marathon although not official. Pretty exciting. When I look back at my earlier posts and being nervous each week about going 4, then 5, etc., and now I know I can do 13 because I did 12 last week and 10 the week before that...that's pretty cool. I do worry that I'm going to reach a point where my body just says it can't do anymore, but so far it's been a trooper. Knees feel fine, I'm not overly sore the next day, etc., although of course I'm pretty tired after a long run. Knock on wood!

Monday I'm running a 5K in the Labor Day Races in Davis. It's part of A Change Of Pace's Tour de Fit, for which I'll get an extra medal after I do three of the designated races. This is one of my short runs for the week, and since it's only 3.1 miles I plan to push my speed as much as running conditions allow. There's only so much under my control so I can't get too obsessed about it, but I want to see how fast I can get it done. I have several races lined up for this fall and I'm looking forward to doing them (and getting the t-shirts and medals, ha!)

I far surpassed my goal of 100 miles for the summer as part of that challenge--153 as of yesterday. I'm going to continue tracking it to see how many I end up running by the time the marathon gets here. I don't think I'd run 153 miles in my whole life to this point, let alone in three months! Woot!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What a journey so far!

I did my long run yesterday--8 miles with an average pace of 13:48, which is my fastest long run pace to date and rivals a few of my short runs. I have to say, around mile 5.5, I started getting really tired. So I slowed down a bit, but then I got a second wind and finished without wanting to die. I was a little worried there for a while, because I hadn't run since my long run the week before, which I didn't run all of because of the heat and my ankle. I was relieved to be able to pull it off!

I have 10 miles this weekend, and I have to admit I'm a little nervous about it...but kind of excited at the same time. I am definitely seeing a shift in my attitude toward running! In just about two months' time, I've gone from hating running to enjoying it, being nervous about running four miles to knowing I can do eight. This process has really been huge for my outlook on life and myself: every week I have to challenge myself to go further, and every time I have risen to the task (even if I didn't rise quite as well as I'd hoped last week, I still made it). I get emotional about it sometimes when I think about it too much. I feel like a rock star, and it feels soooo good to feel this good about myself!

Total for the summer: 83. Closing in on my 100 mile goal!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Body, don't fail me now!

I probably need to thinking about stretching more. My Achilles tendons, particularly on my left leg, are starting to protest. I've been icing and using ibuprofen, but Saturday I tried to do my long run (supposed to be 7 miles) and only got two miles in because of the pain. Gave it a couple days off (I did swim, but since I do breast stroke the tendons aren't aggravated), then tried again yesterday. I taped both ankles up with KT Tape and hit the trail, sporting my new water belt and armband cell phone holder.

The first mile was pretty fast (for me), but then I started feeling some minor pain so I stopped and stretched on my walk intervals. That definitely helped, but the tendons continued to bother me. I continued on and went the full 3.5 miles out, so I was committed to the whole distance. It got to the point where I had to stretch on every walk interval. And then the heat started getting to me because I got out there too late--it was only maybe 78 or 80, but that's hotter than I'm used to. I ended up just ignoring the intervals and running on the flat and downhill portions and walking the uphills. Thankfully, the extra walking really helped and it got to the point where my leg didn't really bother me anymore and I was able to keep running in small distances (1-2 minutes at a time) all the way until the end. Now I'm going to take three days off in hopes of it being better for my 8-mile run on Saturday, although I may swim tomorrow. I just hate it when I have goals and my body doesn't want to keep up!

I do think the swimming in between is helping me a lot. It seems like each time we up the distance or change the intervals to be more challenging, it's not as hard of a change as it used to be. Not that it's easy to run 7 miles yet, and not that I'm not huffing and puffing and sweating and getting tired, but somehow it's all easier. I don't get nervous about running further because I know I can do it. If I made 7 miles yesterday in adverse conditions, I know I can do 8 when I'm feeling right. I also want to add biking soon, but maybe I should give the tendons a chance to heal. I'm also going to try doing some yoga to help with flexibility and such, so maybe that will help.

Total miles for the summer: 75. 3/4 of the way to the 100 mile goal. Cake!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I learned a new trick

I learned a new trick yesterday while running on the dreadmill. I had gone 2.5 miles of 4 since we upped our distances this week, and I was thinking about how much further I had to go. In a way, on the treadmill a mile and a half doesn't seem like as much as it does when I'm at the park, because I don't have the visual laid out before me to show me how far it is. On the other hand, when I'm outside and I can see my goal but don't know the actual distance, sometimes that is an advantage...

Anyway, so I was thinking that 1.5 miles was still a long way to go, and I thought about the time it would take to do that and wondering if I could make it. At the pace I was going, I figured it would be no more than 20 minutes. I thought, "Oh, that's not too bad! I can keep this up for another 20 minutes!" so I did. Even at a 14:00 pace, it only takes 14 minutes to finish that last mile...and that's not really that long, especially when you've already been going for 40 or so. And I was going faster than that, so I finished a bit earlier (nothing like under promising and over delivering to yourself!). I also do things like think, "Well, if I go slow it'll take me an hour and a half to do this 6 miles. That's just like teaching two private lessons. I can handle that!"

So basically, it's just another way to trick myself into keeping going and not despairing at how much further I have to go or letting myself slow down!

Monday, July 14, 2014

God help me, I think I'm addicted

Since my last post, I've finished two races--a 5k and a 10k. While the first was basically my short training run for the week (with more hills! ack!), the second was the length of my long run the week before so still a little bit of a challenge for me. Plus, it was at night so it was a little warm when we started and there were a couple big inclines as we crossed the highway twice.

It was really a cool experience to line up with 600 other people (just in my wave!) and all hit the trail together. There was everything from people just out for fun to serious runners who wanted to win and everything in between. I loved being a part of that.

Being a competitive person, it was  hard to watch people pass me left and right. Of course, I know I'm only so fit and so fast, so I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't there to race, I was there to finish and meet my goal of not having to skip any run intervals. But I couldn't help feeling satisfied when I passed others...what can I say, I'm human. I did meet my goal in both races, and as  bonus I finished both in just under a 14:00 pace and still had some left in me. Of course I want to be faster, but that will come with time and training.

After I finished the 10K, I got really emotional. I realized that two months ago I wouldn't think I could run that far that fast. It was really awesome to be able to accomplish that! It made me feel like I can do anything. I'm actually looking forward to doing seven miles this weekend, because I know I can do it. That is just crazy.

Today it's swimming, and tomorrow I up my short distance to four miles and up my intervals to 3:00 run, 1:30 walk. Eep! But I know I can do it.

Total miles for the summer: 59

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pre-event thoughts

So tomorrow is my first running event, the Folsom Firecracker 5K. I suppose you could call it a race, because they do give awards to the fastest runners, but my goal is just to go do it, have fun, and get a feel for what it's like to run in a crowd and in front of people. I doubt I will ever be a competitive runner, but there is definitely a winning feeling that goes with taking on a challenge and completing it. This is just one step on my journey toward the marathon! The distance is easy enough as it is the same as what my short training runs have been for the past couple of weeks. My goal is to finish with a sub-14 minute pace, which I should be able to do, although Kim has warned me that if it's really crowded I may not have much control over the pace. So, I can't get too hung up on it.

It was really cool to go pick up my packet today. It was at Sports Authority in Folsom, and there were a bunch of other people there picking up their bibs and t-shirts. It was neat to be one of them. I've joined this whole community of people from all walks of life who all run. I've found that most of them are very supportive. Out running, especially on the American River Parkway, it's common for other runners to not only say good morning, but to offer words of encouragement. I think they all know how hard this sport is, especially when you have a body like mine, and they encourage each other to keep at it. I love that. Anyway, I walked around the store for a bit to see if they had anything I wanted, and I felt really proud carrying my bib and t-shirt. I'm part of something. And that something is happening tomorrow. It seems a little silly being so hyped up about a little 5K run, but I am.

I used to tell people I hate running. In fact, just last week someone said, "I hate running. I suck at it." and I replied, "I do, too. That's why I do it...I hate being bad at anything!" and you know what? I don't hate it anymore. It's not as hard as it used to be, although it's still hard enough, especially when we up the distance or the interval. But even though it's hard, I end up getting through it. And that feels awesome. I can run two and a half minutes without stopping, and that's more than I could a year ago. I can run/walk five miles and still sprint at the end. I couldn't do that a year ago. Remind me of that next time I talk about how hard it is, ok?

Here's to my first event tomorrow...going to get a good night's sleep tonight!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cross training has begun!

I realized last week, and I think noted in my last post, that I need to do some cross training if I really want to improve and do so quickly. 24-Hour Fitness was having a special, so I took advantage of it and joined. I swam today, and it felt great...swimming isn't even like exercise to me. I mean, I feel tired after and I can tell I got a workout, but I don't have to drag myself kicking and screaming to the gym to do it because I love it. Nothing hurts when I'm in the water...which means it's a nice break for my aging joints. Plus, I can do other things like bike, zumba, or use the dreadmill when it's too hot to run outside. I figure the extra workouts will help my running pace improve, but also if I can get some weight off it should make running easier as well.

I had two good training runs last week, but I was nervous about Saturday. I had my 5-mile "long" run in the morning and then was going hiking in the afternoon. I didn't know if I'd be able to handle all of it, but I did! In fact, during the last 1/4 mile or so, when I was so tired and happy we were almost done, I was thinking that I was glad Grace wasn't there because she'd want me to "finish strong" and sprint to the finish. But when we started our last run interval and I could see how little distance we had left, I got a second wind and easily ran at a faster-than-normal pace...and when I was within sight of the finish line, I sprinted! It felt good to know I had something left in me. And I did go hiking that afternoon, and although I was not as go-getterish as I might normally be, I went for a couple of miles and had a good time. I wasn't even that sore the next day. OH--and because I messed up my schedule earlier in the week, I ended up running two days in a row with the long run being the second. That means my body wasn't as rested as it would have normally been, so I feel extra good about it!

So, much better outlook this week than last! I have my first event this Friday, the Folsom Firecracker 5K. Sunny is going to be my buddy and stay with me from start to finish...what a sweetheart! I'm a little nervous, but more excited. It's only 3 miles, and I've been doing that for the past couple weeks so it's not a big deal. In fact, this will just count for one of my training runs and I'll do 6 miles on Sunday. Think I can make it? I know I can!

Total for the summer: 35 miles

Monday, June 23, 2014

Running is hard

I'm feeling a little blue about running today. We upped our intervals last week to 2:30 run, 1:30 walk. It's been a little bit of a struggle, although I got through my "long" run of 3 miles today and hung in there although I wasn't pleased with the pace (14:18). I'm nervous about this weekend when I have to run 5, although now our "short" runs are all 3 like today so I guess that will help me get there.

I feel like I should be fitter by now, that it should be getting more manageable. I know it won't ever be easy, but shouldn't it be slightly less hard? I think this means I need to seriously start some cross training. The most likely way for me to do that is to swim, because I can always make myself do that, especially in the summer. I think I need to forego other financial things I was going to take care of and join a gym. Then I'll have some other options as well like zumba, yoga, weights, stationary bikes, etc.

Oh...and the bad news that really got to me was when I found out a few days ago that my normal loop at Southside Park, which I could swear I read online was a mile, is only 3/4. So these awesome times I was having of 10:30-11 minute miles was a lie! My speedy time is about 13:30. Damn! I need to get it under 13 by the time I start doing events.

Don't worry, I'm not going to quit. I have been through this before and know there are going to be down moments when you're working on something hard for a long period of time. I'll get over it...but...ugh. On the bright side, I treated myself to some running pants and a hat so now I'm pretty well outfitted. the pants are form-fitting capris and they don't look gross on my (at least to my eye), so I'll take that as a minor win!

Total for the summer: 24

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week two: further and faster!

Yesterday I went on my "long" run for the week. Four miles, and I was very happy to have the company of at least part of my running group: Tall Paul, Grace, and Dana. Always good company! I was smart this week and fueled and hydrated before I left the house, and I'm sure that made a difference.

Grace pushed us to go faster than I would have been inclined to without her, and we finished in about 54:30 (there were some discrepancies in the time, but it was somewhere around there), which is in the neighborhood of 13:30 per mile. I was very happy about this! My goal was to keep it under 15:00 and I more than exceeded that. This is probably the slowest I would want to be for the marathon, because that would take 6 hours to finish. We're aiming for a 5 hour finish time, so I'll need to up the pace a little more, but I still have lots of time to ramp up.

Another thing that may have helped our pace was that we dropped to 1:45 for the walk intervals instead of 2 minutes. This week we go to 2:30 run/1:30 walk, which is the hardest intervals I've done to date, so it was a way of sort of easing into that. I was nervous doing that on a long run, but I hardly noticed the 15 seconds difference. Running 2:30 will be a little hard at first since the last 15 seconds I'm usually ready to stop, but at least I have some shorter runs at the nice, flat park to get used to it before we do it on a long one again.

Anyway, so I felt good about this week's run. I was tired of course and I am pretty sore today, although that might have  had more to do with ballet class on Saturday than the run. It feels really good to see my progress and know I'm improving.

Total for 100 Mile Summer: 17 miles

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Getting my groove back

Just got back from today's run, and I'm thankful today is cooler than the last couple days, because I got a late start! I felt quite strong today and finished the first mile in 10 minutes on the dot, which is probably my fastest ever. I felt good about it but decided I'd be sorry if I tried to keep up that pace for another mile so I dialed it back a little and finished in 20:50 total--again, probably my fastest time ever. I feel good returning to my former pace and besting it, although we'll see how I do over longer distances since I still haven't returned to where I was at before when I could run 3-5 miles without much problem. Gratefully following Kim's ramp-up training schedule!

This weekend, my long run will be 4 miles. I imagine we'll be on the river trail, so my goal is to do it in under an hour, or sub-15-minute miles. I'm interested to see how it goes since last week's 3 miles was a struggle, but my short runs this week were easier than last week's so there's that.

Total for the 100 Mile Summer: 13

Monday, June 9, 2014

One week complete

I completed my first week of training on Saturday, and I'm looking forward to week 2. My two-mile run at the park went well on Thursday, but then I went out on the American River Trail with my running buddies and  had a really hard time. I was huffing and puffing during the very first run interval, even though I'd warmed up by walking half a mile from the car. I think this was partly from not eating until the drive over--not enough time to get the nutrients into my system, so I need to just get up earlier and eat before I leave. Then, it was a bit warmer, which I'm not acclimated to yet, and of course even though there aren't huge hills, there's still quite a bit of up and down on the trail vs the park. However, I pushed through and kept up my intervals (as in, I didn't skip any run intervals) for the whole three miles. I was proud of myself for pushing through!

This week, I still run just 2 miles on my short runs but push up to 4 on the weekend for the long run. Hopefully I start getting acclimated to the heat soon!

Total miles so far: 7

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Second Day of Training

Today was a great day. It was my second official training run, and I'm to run 2 miles all week so that's what I did. However, I felt stronger and fitter, so I went a little faster and averaged 11:45--much better than sunday and I wasn't as out of breath. Then, I went for a 2.4 mile walk to the bank. Then, I went swing dancing! Whew! I'm going to sleep well tonight. Although I did take about a two hour nap after the walk.

Total today: 2
Total for the summer: 4

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Training begins!

Today was my first official training run for the CIM. Since I was sick the last two weeks and inconsistent for a month or two before that, I only made it two miles. However, it was good to get out there and get started! I was tired at the end, but I still had the energy to go to the farmer's market and the grocery store, so that's good. Bought some fruit, which I'm usually too lazy to eat, so I have something good to eat after runs or during the long ones.  My friend Andee gave me a running watch which I haven't really figured out how to use yet except for the total time.

I joined, so send me a friend request: (I think that works)

Also, my friend Rita invited me to a "100 Mile Summer" challenge, where you run 100 miles between June 1 and September 1. This is just over a mile a day, so my training schedule should get me there easily, but the more goals and milestones I have, the better. Looking to do a 5k and a 10k this summer and then a half marathon at Urban Cow in October. Bring it on, bitches!

Today: 2 miles. Pace: 15:25
Total: 2 miles

Friday, May 23, 2014

Welcome to Jennifer Runs!

Every once in a while, I get it in my head to do something crazy. In 2008, I quit my day job to write for a living (which I'm still doing!). In 2005, I got a horse.

In 2014, I'm going to run the California International Marathon.

The idea of doing this is so ridiculous, I have to laugh. And I also have to do it, if nothing else because it is so ludicrous. Me? Running a marathon? It's 26.2 miles. I'm clinically obese. Up until a few years ago, I hated running. Until I started going out with some of my swing dancing friends, I only tolerated it. Now I almost...well, like is a strong word, but it's not that awful anymore. I like that the more I do it, the easier it gets. I like finding that I can run longer or faster when I'm consistent.

So anyway, my friend Kim has a training schedule, and I'm going to get on it. I'm sure there will be some shorter races leading up to the big event, which is in December. I have been inconsistent with running this spring due to various excuses, so I'm going to have to buck up and make it happen. Sadly I am sick right now, so the minute I'm better I need to start ramping up.

My reasons for doing this are as follows:

1. Because I didn't think I could, and that pisses me off so I need to go do it.
2. To do something that supposedly less than 1% of people have done. How cool is that?
3. So the next time some slimeball looks me up and down and suggests I need his personal training in his home gym, I can say, "Screw you. I ran a marathon."
4. To improve my cardiovascular fitness, especially for dancing.
5. To lose some weight.
6. To get myself on a regular exercise regimen

I'm not always good about keeping up on my blogs (there is a serious layer of dust on my others), but I'll try to track my progress here. Wish me luck!