Sunday, August 25, 2013

Getting Faster...for me anyway. :-)

This was my last full week of vacation before heading back to work.  As usual it was packed full.  I don't know when the relaxing portion of my summer break was supposed to happen but I'm pretty sure I missed it.

Last Saturday I was supposed to do a 7 mile long run.  Nothing too terrible and I wasn't too worried about it.  About a mile and a half in the upper part of my right calf started hurting.  Not just getting tight but actually hurting.  It felt like someone with really sharp nails was digging into my leg.  I stopped and stretched for a bit trying to get it to go away and then started off again.

I tend to go on my long runs on country roads and there are several very good reasons for this.  The first is that on a Saturday in a smaller city the odds of many, many people I know driving by and seeing me jiggling down the road are high.  I would rather avoid that if possible.  Second, if I go out in the country then I usually can't weenie out and cut the run short.  Once I'm out and about there really is no short cuts.  If I turn back I'm far enough away I have a long run, if I keep going then, yay!, I got my long run.  It's a win/win for me.  Although sometimes I don't see it that way at the time.  This run was one of those times.

I struggled on for awhile longer but the pain in my calf just kept getting worse.  I decided to walk because I really didn't want a severe injury.  Luckily the pain was only when I was running so I was able to keep moving.  I decided to keep going my route but I texted my husband, who had been doing a trail run after work, that if he was home I wouldn't argue with being picked up.  Otherwise I would keep walking.  He didn't respond so I figured he was still out on the trail and I would just keep moving.  Walking was good for another couple of miles.  At this point I have at least two and a half miles before I get home.  I decided I would try running again because I just wanted to get home.  If I ran I would be there faster.  But my calf protested quite loudly and I listened and went back to walking.  Unfortunately, now my calf was getting really tight.  It didn't hurt like it did when I ran but it was really uncomfortable and was getting worse as I walked.

I had just gotten to mile 5 when I got a text from my hubby saying that he was back in town and was heading my way.  When he caught up with me I had gone 5.5 miles, 3.5 of that walking.  As soon as I got into the truck I started to cry.  My leg hurt and I was so frustrated about how things went.  I tend to keep things going until I'm done and then fall apart.  Saturday was no exception.  I have never, not even at my heaviest and slowest, had to have my husband come and rescue me from a run.  It sucked!  I felt totally demoralized and defeated.  I had the "Why do I even bother?" mentality.  I tend to wallow for awhile when I go there.  Joe gets very frustrated with me when I do that and usually does a little ass-kicking to get me to "knock it off" as he puts it.  :-)

He posted this picture on my Facebook wall this week.  Point taken honey!  :-)

Taken from "Girls on the Run" Facebook page.  :-)
Sunday I went on a fabulous trail hike at Silver Falls State Park.  I took Goober #3 and we went with our amazing friends Josh and Wendie.  The weather was perfect and we got there early enough to beat the crowds.  By the time we finished there were a lot of people on the trails and the parking lot was packed!  If you are ever in the Great Northwest and want an amazing park to visit, Silver Falls is the place to go!  It is beautiful all year round and has been one of my very favorite place to go pretty much my entire life.   There are 10 falls in total if you do the entire loop, although some of them are only going during the winter.  It is worth the drive and the hike!!!  Here's a link to check it out:

Goober #3 did awesome!  I don't know if I'm more proud of the fact that she did it or that she didn't whine at all.  Not even a little bit.  And she was dragging the last couple of miles but she kept at it and got it done.  She is amazing and I love, love, love that she is active AND hanging out with her momma.  :-) 

The hike felt good and my calf didn't hurt at all.  By the end it was tight but that is way better than actual pain.  :)

Monday I decided to take a rest day to let the calf heal a bit.  Tuesday's run was excellent.  I had to go four miles and since the calf wasn't hurting at all I pushed it just a little.  I had a good run that had an average pace of 12'19 which is super speedy for that distance for me.  I looked up my average pace for a four mile run in January and it was 15'00.  I'd say I have improved a bit since January.  :-)

Wednesday I went for a swim and then a bike ride.  The swimming is getting better.  I'm think I can do the 750 yards at the triathlon in about 30 minutes.  I have to get out of my comfort zone on the bike.  I keep doing the same route because it is all right turns.  I don't have to get into traffic and there is little elevation.  I am going to have to get some longer distance in and some elevation.  The triathlon route has us going over the freeway twice on overpasses that, you guessed it, go up.  I'm going to have to do it sometime and I really should do it before the triathlon.  I'm going to do the triathlon route next weekend.  I hope.  :-)

Thursday was a rest day.  Yay for rest days, even though when I'm trying to lose weight I often want to skip rest days because more is better, right?  

Friday I was supposed to run three miles.  The first mile and a half was really good.  I did the first mile in 12 minutes and was on pace to do the same for the second mile.  I got to one and a half miles and then my calf decided that I needed to stop.  I had that same pain that I had on Saturday.  It sucked!  So I walked the mile and a half home.  I didn't want to risk getting injured and I really wanted my long run to go better than last weeks long run.

That brings us to Saturday.  I was supposed to go 7.5 miles.  I took off and tried to start out slow because this is a bit of a distance and because I really work hard on my long runs to have negative splits.  If I start out too fast then that makes it really hard to keep going faster every mile.  I felt like I was going slow.  I was trying to go slow.  Evidently slow is now a new speed.  My first mile was 12'53.  Huh.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get negative splits with that as my starting speed but overall I did really well.  The only mile I didn't get a negative split was mile 4.  I think this was because just before I started over the overpass I had to stop because a very large tractor was rumbling over the overpass coming at me and it was driving right down the middle of the road.  There is virtually no shoulder on the overpass so I am really glad that I wasn't on it when the tractor was on it too.  So I had a gain of 34 seconds on mile four.  But I gained back that 34 seconds on mile 5.  Then suddenly my calf was hurting again.  It must be getting better because it took longer before it started hurting.  So I stopped the run and then walked home.  I took the direct route home so I got a 1.3 mile walk in after my run.  While it wasn't an ideal run because I didn't get my distance in it wasn't terrible either.  

The five miles that I did run were excellent for me.  I was thinking about how my first mile I thought I was going slow and it ended up being under 13 minutes.  I was thinking about how since I started back with running in January I have had it a couple of times where I have taken a big jump in my speed.  It's almost like I can tell that my speed is faster overall because my "slow" pace is faster than it used to be.  I've just clicked down another notch.  Feels good.  :-)

Today I went for a 5 mile hike and it felt really good.  I usually feel like it takes everything in me just to keep up with the rest of the group.  The only time I felt that way today was when we were almost to the top of the hill.  Love feeling improvements.  Even if it's only in little ways.  

This week I go back to work. This means no more running when I wake up, whenever that might be, and then taking a nap when I get done.  :-)  Now it will be running after work and then going straight to bed.  lol  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mr. Expert...Not So Much. Lol

So I'm sitting in the Portland Airport on August 4th, the day after the Cascade Lakes Relay.  I had flown in from Redmond and was waiting for the rest of my group to head down to San Diego for a training for teachers that my school is getting involved in.  As I'm sitting there a big group of teachers show up from another school district.  They were heading to the same training that I was going to.  I ended up with people sitting on either side of me and they were talking around and over me.  I was reading a book and not getting too involved in their conversations.

Until the show off started talking.  You know the show off.  Everyone knows one.  Always bragging about what he or she is doing or how good they have already done something.  And not in way that is just saying "Hey, I'm proud of myself for doing that." But more like "Hey, you suck because you can't possibly be as cool or studly as I am."

First he starts out by talking about how he is going to sign up to do an Ironman.  Not that he has signed up or even knows which Ironman he wants to do.  Just that his next big thing is an Ironman.  He is bragging about how tough it will be and how it won't really be an issue for him because he is in such great shape.  Now I will admit the guy was very fit.  He was slim and because he was wearing shorts I could see that his calf muscles were well defined like a runner/biker.  He was only about 5'10" and when he walked around he definitely had that "look at me" swagger.  At this point I'm enjoying the conversation just because my husband not only actually signed up for an Ironman but he did one.  This guys is just all brag as far as I can tell.

Then he starts talking about the Cascade Lakes Relay.  You know, the relay race that I had just finished the evening before.  He is telling the guy sitting on the other side of me that he also plans to be part of the Cascade Lakes Relay next year.  He thinks that he should have no problem finding people to be part of the 150 mile relay race.  Now I have to say something.  lol  Nope, can't just sit there and ignore the conversation anymore.  I look over at the guy and say "Actually, the relay was a total of 216.6 miles long."  Oh no, Mr. Expert on everything has to argue with me.  He is positive that the relay is 150 miles.  He tells me that in a condescending tone.  Poor little fat girl, what would I know about a relay race?   He then proceeds to continue talking over me to his friend about the relay.

By this time his friend has realized that I am wearing the finishers shirt from this years relay and gives me a big smile.  I look at the Know it All and say again that I know for sure the race is 216.6 miles long because I just did it.  Then he gives me the look.  He looks me up and down and the look on his face is "Ya right lady, I don't think so."  I point out my shirt and say that my team just did our third CLR.  I ran 15 miles this year, the longest was 7.5.  I didn't tell him that I got sick during the second leg and my pace sucked or that I was the slowest person on the team.  He didn't need to know that part.  lol  I proceed to tell his friend where the race starts and ends and how much it was.  He was totally cracking up that I was able to take the wind out of the other guys sails.

At this point I spotted the rest of my group sitting somewhere else so I decided to go join them.  I didn't say anything else as I walked away but in my head I wanted to tell "Mr. Expert" that MY husband actually is an Ironman.  :-)  But that seemed a bit snarky so I refrained.  :-)

99% of the time the runners are the best.  Encouraging and supportive whether you run a 16 minute mile or a 6 minute mile.  I have not met many people like this guy.  I'm sure they are out there but they probably are done and home by the time I finish my race so they aren't part of my experience.

I have joined a Facebook community page called Favorite Run Community.  I love this page!  People ask questions or just post what they are doing.  The comments are funny and encouraging.  Tonight I posted about my run today.  I ran three miles and got another run with an average pace of 12'42".  That's two runs that had an average pace of under 13 minute miles.  I was stoked!  And I had negative splits with my last mile being my fastest.  In a very short amount of time I had over 30 likes and about 10 comments.  For a stranger!  All encouraging and excited for me.  I look on that page and see people posting results of 9 minute miles and they are excited for me doing a sub 13 minute mile?  What a great community to be a part of!!

Run on the left was today.  I worked hard but felt pretty good when I was done.

Run on the right was in January.  It was slow and I'm pretty sure that I was slightly miserable.  About all that was good about that run was that I finished it.  :-)

My splits from the January run.  Ugh!
My splits from today's run.  Awesome!!  :-)
I think the guy at the airport would have really irritated me in January because I would have felt like I deserved the condescending look.  The look that says there is no way this person could do anything that physical.  But the person I am today is not the person I was 8 months ago.  I am stronger, leaner and yep, faster.  Not where I want to be by any stretch of the imagination but I'm heading in the right direction!  It sure helps to have people in my life who cheer me on and a God that loves me and wants what's best for me.  :-)

It's good to look at back and see how far I've come.  It helps keep things in perspective when I get frustrated because the weight isn't coming off as fast as I want or the speed isn't where I want it to be.  At least I'm heading in the right direction.  :-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cascade Lakes Relay 2013

Another Cascade Lakes Relay is done.  This was my third time participating in this race.  I had big goals for this one and I accomplished some and not others.

The Cascade Lakes Relay is a 216.6 mile relay race through Central Oregon.  It starts at Diamond Lake and works its way north to Bend.  Each team has 12 members, except for ultra teams that have 6.  We had 12.  :-)  Each member of the team runs three legs of the relay.  The total distance for each runner varies.  The legs are different lengths and different difficulty levels.

Last year we were Van #2 and I had a 3.9 mile-Easy, 3.1 mile-Easy and a 4 mile-Very Hard.  The first and last legs were in the afternoon and it was HOT!  The last leg had 1,000 feet of elevation gain.  I wasn't in the best running shape because I was really struggling with the tired factor and motivation last summer.  My best leg was the night one in the middle because it was cold but even that run wasn't great with an average pace of almost 14 minute miles.  My worst leg was the last one.  Between the hill, the elevation and the heat I just couldn't run any of it.  The last two years I walked the entire thing.  It really sucked.

So I was really looking forward to this year and having some improvements.  I have been much better with my training this year and I have an inhaler which I was pretty sure was going to help me with my breathing in the higher altitude.

We switched van's this year.  Instead of being the second van to start we were going to be the first one to go.  I was excited about this because even though I would have longer legs the weather would be cooler when I ran.  I also had longer runs this year which I was excited about too.  I really wanted to feel like I was more of a contributor to the team.  This year I had a 7.5-Moderate, 5.3-Moderate, 2.09-Easy.  My goal was to run every step of all three legs and have an average pace that was 13'30" or less overall.

The first leg was long but all downhill.  I felt really good during the run.  Used my inhaler a couple of times and finished with an average pace of 12'46" which is excellent for me.  Especially for a run that long.  I was SO stoked!  I am still the slowest person on the team but this one run was better than any other leg that I have ever done in any other Cascade Lakes Relay.  What a great way to start off my 2013 relay.

Not all negative splits but a good result overall.  :-)

We finished up our first session in the van and headed back to the house to clean up and get a short (and I mean short) nap.  I showered and laid down on the bed but just couldn't sleep.  My head was hurting a little so I took some Advil and tried to rest.  It wasn't long before it was time to head back to the van exchange.  I was the last one to go for our van for the second leg.  All five of the legs before me were on dusty gravel roads.  The van bounced and jiggled for hours straight.  It pretty much sucked.  As bad it was in the van it was worse for the runners.  Dust from the vans going by the runners was terrible and it was just a miserable leg for everyone.  I was the only one who got to run on pavement.  My leg was shorter than the first but was a moderate run because it had elevation gain.  By this time the slight headache I had when we were at the house had turned into a raging headache that was making my stomach upset.  It was actually a relief to get out of the van and get fresh air while waiting for my turn to start running.  I had taken more Advil and some Tums while the others were running hoping to get things settled down before my turn but it didn't work.

I started out my second leg slower than leg one.  I knew I had elevation gains on this run and I didn't want to start out too fast and with my head hurting and stomach upset.  The first mile wasn't too bad but as the hill went up my head hurt more and my stomach felt worse.  I ended up getting sick three times on that run.  And since I hadn't eaten anything other than Tums since we were back at the house there wasn't much to come up.  I didn't say anything to my van when they checked in on me.  I didn't want my husband to try and talk me out of finishing my leg.  I had to walk a lot of the last two miles.  Every time I would try and run my head felt like it wanted to fall off it hurt so bad.  I finished with an average pace of 15'00".  I was so disappointed.  My great first leg made me think I was finally going to having an awesome CLR all the way through and now I was back to sucking it up.  It was really hard for me.  Once again, I felt like I let everyone down, just like when I walked up the big hill the last two years.

Running with a headache and upset stomach sucks!

We headed back to the house to shower and sleep.  I got chilled on the drive to the house.  Usually when we get back to the house we clean out the van of all the trash and empty water bottles.  I walked in the house, got to my room, took off my running clothes, put on my sweatpants and t-shirt, crawled into bed and fell asleep.  Two hours later my husband woke me up to head out for our last leg.  The hardest thing about CLR for me is the lack of sleep.  I kind of feel like I'm all ready working with a deficit in the sleep area going into the race because I'm always so tired.  It just gets ridiculous during something like this.  My headache and upset stomach weren't completely gone but way better than they had been when I went to sleep.  I had a very short run for my last leg so I was sure I could do it, maybe not well, but I could get it done.

My last leg was just 2.09 miles but was really beautiful.  I could go as fast as I had the first leg and I had to walk once and get sick again.  Strangely enough I felt WAY better after that so I was able to finish up my run.  It wasn't my best run but it wasn't my worst either.  I wasn't happy about it because it was so short I should have been able to run as fast a pace as I did the first leg.  It's so hard for me to focus on the positive instead of the negative when stuff like this happens.  My average pace was 13'36" which really is a decent run for me.  Except that last week at the beach I had a two mile run with a pace of under 12 minute miles and the first leg of the relay was 7.5 miles long with a pace under 13 minute miles.  Hard not to get frustrated when I know I could have done better.  But my husband got his grumpy face on because I was down on myself and pointed out that I kicked last years CLR's ass and to get over it.  lol Yes dear!

I have worked really hard at appreciating the things I see on my runs.  So even though I wasn't having a spectacular run speed-wise and I still didn't feel good I stopped to appreciate this amazing view.

Mt. Bachelor and Elk Lake along the Cascade Highway
After we finished up our last leg we went and cleaned up one more time and headed to the finish line.  This is the first time that we have been done and waited for the other van at the finish.  It was kind of fun.  It was beautiful out and they changed the course so that it ended in the Mill District on the Deshuttes River in Bend.  

The past two CLR's we participated we leap frogged.  This where your team does all the actual miles but you have more than one runner on the course at a time.  We did this so that we wouldn't finish way late and could get through the finish line before the shut things down.  This year we were determined to finish with a straight run.  No leap frogging, no putting two people on the course at once, just relay person to relay person until the end. 

I am very proud to say that our team not only finished in straight time but we rocked it!  Our final time was 33:08:43!  Thirty three hours of hills, heat, sweat, sickness, fun, and lots and lots of laughter! Average team pace was 9'17".  That tells you how fast everyone else on the team was.  :-)

I usually hate it at some point while I'm doing it but then I'm always ready to sign up and do it again next year.  :-)  Mostly because I know I accomplished something really, really difficult that a lot of people wouldn't even consider doing.  Most of my running is done as an individual and focuses on improving myself.  I don't usually even work out with anyone because all my friends and family that run are so much faster.  Being part of a team like this one is a great experience but also really hard for me because I'm so much slower.  I don't want to let anyone down.  I know that they want me there and are fully aware of my abilities but it still is hard for me.  (I know, I have whined about this before). 

But in the end, we are a team and we finish as a team.  That's pretty cool. 

Me and my Faylene at the end Cascade Lakes Relay!
Next up is the Last Chance Triathlon in October followed by the Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon the  next week.  Hopefully the training will continue to do well and I will continue on my journey to a healthier me.  

I've been at a training in San Diego all week for school.  I go home tomorrow.  Thursday I will get back to my training.  I've got to stay in my routine so that when school starts I don't tank like I did last year.  

Still feel like I'm running in place but maybe, just maybe I'm going to start getting somewhere soon.  :-)