Running Favorites and a Rough End

Happy Thursday!!!

Tonight’s run started and stayed pretty damn good right up to the end.  So before we get to that let’s do something fun!  I was tagged by Charissa to participate in a running survey/ questionnaire.  So here we go!

1) Location: Trail, Road, or Indoors?

Can I compromise and say dirt roads??  I run mostly on roads but love trails.   However I run a little crazy on trails and that probably wouldn’t be a good idea all the time.  :)

2) Time of Day: Morning, Noon, or Evening?

Late afternoon to early evening.  It’s partly due to my work schedule and partly due the fact that I love sleep.   I am so not a morning person.  Even races can be rough.

3) Weather: Sunshine, Mild or Hot?

Warm!  Crazy, I know but once I adjust to it, I love high 70’s-low  80’s.  However for races I would prefer it to be in the 60’s.  But I know the way I see the seasons going, I will be running in 90-100 sooner than later.

4) Fuel: Before, After, and sometimes during?

Runner fail.   :(    I don’t fuel before morning runs and rarely during long runs.   I usually have something with me when I am doing more than 10 miles but I rarely ever use it.   My stomach makes those choices and I’ve learned to listen to it.   For runs over 6 miles, I run with Skratch instead of water and I take Gatorade for races.  It’s odd but it works for me.

5) Accessories: Music, Watch & More?

My Garmin is a must, I love tracking those numbers.  I also always have my phone, my inhaler and my pepper spray.   I always listen to music but only keep one ear bud in and keep the music low.   Man, that’s a lot of things.

6) Rewards: Food, Wine, or …?

Food!!!  I love food.   :)  I celebrate most races with a good burger and fries.   We have a couple of great local burger places.  :)

7) Type of run: Long, tempo, intervals, hill repeats, progression, or recovery/easy?

Progression.    Tempos and intervals always seem harder and stress me out.  I like how a progression can start pretty easy and pick it up along the way.

I nominate-

Slow but Steady-ish

Boring Broad Runs

Don’t Blink Just Run

Piper’s Run

Embrace the Neon

Single-tracked Mind They count for 2!

Everyone else!!!

Alrighty, back to today.  My stomach was a little asshat today but no worse than it has been off and on since this stupid “flare”.  Seriously, it’s almost been a year.   Ugh.   My training plan called for a 15 minute warm-up, 2×2 tempo miles with a 3 minute jog in between, followed by a 15 minute cool down.   I knew that was unlikely the way my stomach was feeling so I  was optimistically aiming for an easy 4.    It was in the low 80’s when I got to the lake and it felt awesome.  IMG_9846FullSizeRender (4)Somewhere along the line I decided to see what I could handle.  After a warm up mile, I threw in a mile at tempo pace.  Then to give my stomach a little break I walked .10 mile and then ran another tempo mile.  And repeat.   The miles felt comfortably hard and my stomach was cooperating.  I made sure to take a break between all 3 tempo miles just to keep it happy.   After a .75 mile cool down, I was at 5 miles and called it for the day.    I felt pretty good and was stoked about the times I hit for the 3 tempo miles.  I as on the back side of the lake so I figured I would walk back to my car the long way around.  I would stretch along the way and I wanted a few pictures because it just looked so pretty.  The ducks are coming and it was kind of fun running with them flying overhead.   I took a few then I was on my way.  IMG_9854 IMG_9850I didn’t get very far before I was hunched over trying not to scream.   I felt like someone had stabbed me in the left side.   I figured I could breathe through it- nope.  Tried to walk it out- I could barely stand up straight -walking was barely happening.  I sat on some playground equipment to wait it out but it didn’t help.    It took me more than 20 minutes to make it the 3/4 of a mile back to my car.   Once there I finally did let myself moan and curse out loud.    I also googled which side your appendix is on.  I knew it was the right but  it hurt so bad, I figured if I was wrong I was driving myself to the ER.   I wasn’t wrong.  So, what, the gas pains from hell?! Yeah, tmi, sorry.  Now I’ve had gas pains before but this was ridiculous.  I could barely walk, I was hunched over the whole walk back to my car.  But now, I feel better.  Not great but back to where I was before.    I don’t think it was the running that did it, I felt fine, I made sure to check in with myself.    I did go back to my old medication today, so maybe the switch didn’t go so well?   It figures it happens the day after I see my gastro but we have a whole new plan to start next week..so yay?

Happy Friday!!!

What are your running favorites?

Ever have the side ache from hell?

Kick It Out

Monday came and went and I was in the oddest mood all day.   I was tired, like stupid tired but for some reason I wanted to run.  Which is odd in itself because Mondays are my rest days and I always look forward to just going straight home after the chaos that is Monday.   Thing is, Monday’s have only been a rest day since fall and darkness sent me into the gym in the evenings.   I refused to go to the gym on Mondays because of the crowds so I picked a Tuesday- Thursday schedule.   Last summer was more of a run when I felt like it kind of schedule.  isWatermarked

I kept it super easy on Sunday with a puppy jog, on more populated roads, so I optimistically packed my gear on Monday morning.  I still wasn’t convinced but figured if I stuck to the usual plan at least I didn’t have to pack for Tuesday.   :)  Slacker at my finest, right?   After work, I was still dead on my feet but wanted to run.   So I changed into my gear and then just couldn’t decide.

I was like Goldilocks, I didn’t want to run at work because it was too windy and kind of chilly.  I drove towards run town but wasn’t feeling it either.  It was still windy and I wasn’t liking the temp my car was showing.   Which was sad because it was in the 60’s.  Plus I figured one lap of the lake and I would end up bailing the first time I passed my car.  So I headed home for the river path, opposite end of town from lion sightings.   Third time’s the charm?isWatermarkedI set out with the low goal of 20 minutes.  If I still wasn’t feeling it, I would call it and just go home.    As I walked my warmup, I noticed something.  The way the sun was going down behind me and where the pouch on my belt was, I had the perfect silhouette on the ground.  I first selfishly noted that my shadow looked thin, thank you tricks of the shadows.   Then I noticed my hips, well first the previously mentioned pouch and how it was moving.  My hips were all over the place.   Do they always do that?  I am trying to run for crying out loud not strut the catwalk!

I started to run and just felt off for the next half mile or so.  Nothing ached or hurt, it just felt awkward.  Maybe it was because I was thinking about it more?   It seemed like my left leg wasn’t fully engaged in the party.  So I decided to focus on my form for the rest of the out and back.   I ignored my pace and my watch buzzing at my usual walk intervals (I’m still using walk breaks on most of training runs) and just paid attention to my legs.   I tried to focus on bringing my left leg around but telling myself that didn’t work.   Next I told myself to bring my knee up a bit higher on each step.  No luck.  I was running tall but it wasn’t helping.   IMG_9828The word “kick” lodged in my mind around mile 2 and for the next 2 miles, I repeated that to myself every few feet.    I focused on how I kicked back each time my left leg moved- not sure if that makes any sense.   I felt straighter and any ankle twinginess I had went away.  I felt pretty good at the end of the 4 miles but man my brain was tired.  Trying to think about my form and run at the same time was hard!  But I felt better than I had prior to my run.   :0    I checked out my Garmin data later and noticed a few things.   Over the last 2 miles, my average cadence picked up and my stride length increased.   The cadence made sense but I felt like I was taking shorter strides.  Huh?  And my run inadvertently turned into a mini progression- 12:52, 10:04, 9:25, 8:30.  Double huh.

Now to see what happens next run.

Ever felt like your stride was just funky?  What did you do?

Ever been completely exhausted but felt the urge to run?

Lions and Miles

I am not ready for the weekend to be over.  Not at all, I mean who ever is but this last week was just soooooo long.

I normally take the work day after a half marathon off but for some reason didn’t do that this time.  Silly slacker.   Monday I was definitely feeling those hills.   I would stand until my hamstrings protested then I would sit.  Getting up and down off my chair was a little challenging.  :)   Tuesday I was a little achy but I was ready to run.  However, I read the signs that I should have another rest day.   There was an incident nearby to work- thanks St. Patricks day- so after waiting for a bit I really just didn’t like the idea of changing and leaving the building by myself so we all left together.   So rest day #2.

We had been gearing up for a big inspection at work and had thought it was Wednesday.  Turns out there was a typo and it was actually Thursday.    I felt all out of sorts for the rest of the day.  We had prepared and readied ourselves but then nope, wait one more day, ugh.  I was looking forward to running so I headed to the lake path after work to get in some miles.

Got to test out the camera on my new phone though!!

Got to test out the camera on my new phone though!!

Ouch, ow, I was sore.    Stinkin’ hills.  I was feeling tight and a little stiff so I called it after 3.5 miles.   I was hoping for a better showing on Thursday.    However, that was the actual inspection and even though we had prepared the best we could, I felt like I ran around like a loon for most of the day.  By the end of the day I just felt nauseous and my head hurt.   I passed on running and just headed home.  Even my training plan recommended taking an extra rest day this week.  So I did. IMG_9774For some reason I felt like running long on Saturday instead of Sunday this week.  The plan called for 12-14 miles but let’s be honest, that wasn’t happening.   Partly because I was tired and partly because I just didn’t want to.  I thought that would be too much after last weeks race.  I’m trying to walk a line between my slacker ways and modifying the plan.   Normally the week after a race, the highest I would go would be 6 but I really wanted to hit 10 for some reason.   I really want to get used to running a minimum of 10 miles for my long run.

I have no idea why I am smiling.

I have no idea why I am smiling.

I headed out in the early afternoon prepared to take it super easy.  The week had kicked my butt and it was in the high 70’s.    The hill repeats in the middle hurt but they will help in the long run right?  I really need to find a long run with fewer hill repeats.  Plus the home owners probably think I am crazy.   I was doing good up to 8.  I should have called it at 8 miles but stubbornly pushed on to 10.  Miles 9 and 10 were so slow, they probably could have been walked.  Actually they mostly were.  :)

My normal run route from home is mostly on back roads or in older neighborhoods.  No sidewalks, lots of trees and green spaces and space between houses.  Narrow, windy roads and a couple of areas that look more like woods than town.   I usually see few cars, Saturday’s 10 miles had maybe 8 except for the 2 blocks I was on a main street.   Sometimes I hear things in the bushes while running.   Usually I see a deer or 2 (or herd) so I brush it off.     Like on Saturday, I heard something moving but didn’t see anything so I brushed it off and kept running.  This hit my Facebook later that night.

Ummm, crap?!   Think I’ll be running somewhere a little more mainstream for a while!!  Yes, I know they are around here but this was just a little too real for me.  I shared it again to my wall, and got comments reminding me that even dogs like to bite me.  Seriously a former co-workers’ husband calls me ass-bite.   So, yeah the gym is actually looking pretty good right now.  :)

How was your weekend?

What kind of critters do you run into?

How long do you rest after a race?

Why Worry

Warning- this was a little disjointed before last weekends’ race now it may seem even more so.

I’ve been a little all over the place lately.   I don’t think I’m in a funk at the moment but I feel it getting closer.   Maybe that’s why I fixated on this damn song so quickly.  It’s not like it’s awesome but it’s been bouncing around my brain and finding ways into this blog and my Instagram over the last month.   I need to figure this out so I can branch out the music options a bit, hehe.IMG_9363I’ve been so tired lately and things just ache. My head, my legs, my ankle, etc.   My stomach responded to the new medication for a bit but then decided that was just a trick.  Even I am sick of talking about my damn stomach.  But on that note, I see my gastro again next week so maybe we will try something new, fingers crossed.     Oh, I dream big, don’t I?   :)

As for my aches and pains in my legs, I know it’s not overuse.  Despite my goal of 1000 miles this year, my mileage has remained average and steady.   Like I wrote in my February recap, I am not going to break myself to hit some arbitrary mileage number.   It wasn’t until writing that statement that a light bulb lit up in my head.  Even then, it took a while to turn on.  Kind of like the way the original compact fluorescent bulbs used to warm up slowly?   That was me.   But once the idea was there I couldn’t shake it.  I fought with myself on every run because while part of me realized it was something I needed, it also made me feel like a quitter.   That or I was admitting defeat.  A part of me still feels that a little bit.

Where I am going with this?  Re-assessing goals.  I set a goal to break 2:00 in the half this year and I am not changing that goal.  It will happen this year but it is no longer my goal for SLO.   While I am loving my training plan for the sense of direction that it gives me, I am not 100%.   SLO is 37 days away now and I still haven’t figured things out stomach wise.   I almost skipped Wine Country because I was afraid it might interfere with the goal to break 2:00.   I finally decided that was not a good enough reason to pass on one of my favorite races.  Turns out, running it was the better choice.

I’m also changing my plans for SLO because I want to have fun that weekend.    I want to enjoy the expo and not worry about how much walking I am doing.  I want to enjoy the ambassador meet and greet and meet all the new ambassadors.  We are tentatively planning to all do dinner that night and I would like to not worry about how what I eat will affect a huge goal the next morning.   I want to enjoy the amazing scenery and crowds that are a part of this race.  Don’t get me wrong, I am running that half to the best of my ability and I will have no complaints if I PR.   But whether or not I do will not color my view of that weekend or my performance in a negative way.  I had enough of that in 2014.  IMG_9785

I love running and want to continue to improve but I am not going to lose the fun that I find in it as well.  So, yes, a part of me feels like a quitter taking a step back.   I also think this made more sense before I pulled off a 2:06 at Wine Country.  However I made the decision to push my goal back before registering for Wine Country.  So maybe the reason I ran it well was because I wasn’t stressed.   Maybe I put forward my best time since October 2013 because I finally remembered that one of my strengths running wise is in not stressing.    Well and being healthy, but I think I’ll actually break 2 before they figure out what’s going on with my stomach.  Ha!    I am sticking to my training plan because I want to improve as a runner long-term not just for a short-term goal.   This way I won’t want to cry when I am nowhere near the prescribed pace for 400 repeats.    Give me some time and I will nail those paces.   Before last week I was nervous about the hills at SLO-  now- bring em’ on.

So, tell me your thoughts?

Good choice- bad choice? 

Is this quitting or being smart?

Do you have another song co I can get this one out of my head?!

Wine Country Half- Recap

Otherwise known as the tale of 8 seconds.

I registered for Wine Country knowing that it might not be the best idea given my recent hamstring issues.   But, it being the very first half marathon I ran,  I really do love this race, hills and all.   I wanted to run it partially because of that and partially because it was year number 5 for me and you can’t break that streak right?   That said, I was going into it with low expectations.   I had a rough week with troubles sleeping.  I pushed too hard on Thursday’s run and was feeling it in left leg.   Plus the weather was predicted to be hot and cloudy.  I was ok with the hot forecast but not so much with the cloudy.  Clouds = moisture = asthma.  So, very low expectations.   Which I was ok with as I have been having some thought battles with myself while running lately.  But more on that next time.

Saturday- So not a restful day before the race.  I worked in the morning and had a full afternoon of errands and tire rotations.   Lunch was mostly skipped due to that- smoothie for the win!  In fact I ate less on Friday and Saturday then I have in weeks, let alone leading up to a race.   I tried to catch part of the tennis team’s match but it was seriously over 90 and there was no shade at the courts so I only lasted 20 minutes.  I picked up my bib and swag and did manage to drive the course.  Yes, I know it well but I wanted to make sure there were no surprises.   The plan was to update my playlist and go to bed early that night.  Ha!  I have been having troubles with my phone and it crapped out on me.  It took me 2 hours to get it running again and by then it was late.   So no new playlist.   I ran to a mix of Fall Out Boy, Set It Off and Papa Roach.

Prior to the start

Prior to the start

Race morning came all to soon.  Since it was so close, I slept as long as possible before heading out.     The lane to the grass lot where we park always backs up so I briefly thought about parking in a little lot about 1/4 of mile from the start line.  I figured that wouldn’t be a horrible warm up but nah.   I parked in the grass lot and wound up a stones throw from the start line.  Literally, I could have thrown a rock and hit it.    I ate nothing prior to the race and when I could have gotten out and warmed up a bit I stayed in my warm car.   The morning had dawned a little cooler than expected.  I was just feeling meh.   It was kind of nice not being nervous.  :)  While I had low expectations, I had told my mother I was aiming for 2:15, but really thought it would be more like 2:20.  The plan was to text her at mile 10.    I headed to the start about 3 minutes til.   I met up with H real quick to say hi and then we were off!

Smiles at the end.  :)

Smiles at the end. :)

Miles 1-3-  9:36, 9:13, 9:15

And I went out of the gate too fast, what else is new?   There is fairly large hill at the end of this race so I always intentionally positive split this race.   A slightly fast start is one thing but this was ridiculous.    There was no way I was maintaining that.   Annoyingly enough, I had to stop and tie my shoe during mile 1.  Ugh.   The hills start in mile 2.   I kept telling myself to slow down but my legs would just not listen.  I even went so far as to try and bottleneck myself.    I tried to intentionally run behind groups of people in an effort to slow down.   No luck, but first hill done.

Miles 4-6-   9:19, 9:27, 9:28

Still too fast.  I caught up to H around mile 3, it was a nice little check in.  I admitted that I was going way too fast for my current fitness but had decided to just go with it.   I figured I would hang on as long as I could but knew I was probably going to hit the wall hard at some point.   But I was enjoying the views, the vineyards and the clouds and the morning sun and was having fun so I decided to go with it.    My breathing was on point, so I figured why not?  Just past mile 4, we turn onto the airport road.   The road is Trashed.  It makes the pic I posted the other day look like a walk in the park.    After running this race so many times, I had a plan.  I hopped onto the dirt shoulder and ran there for the next 3 miles.    It was shale and slightly uneven but it was awesome.   I lost H around mile 5.   IMG_9747Miles 7-9-  9:25, 9:05, 9:03

Miles 6-9 are a series of rolling hills, I guess all my hills are finally paying off.  Where the heck did those splits come from?!  I was still feeling good but lost all math computing skills.   I hit mile 8 at 1:15.  Looking at my watch, I quickly did the math and knew that if I maintained a 10 minute pace I would hit the finish line around 2:07.  However that didn’t take into account the big hill at the end so my math told me there was no way I was PR’ing or beating last year’s course time.   I was really ok with that.  I felt great and was having fun running and rocking out to music and that was the point.   Do you see the problem with my math?

Just one of the on course spectators.  (taken Saturday)

Just one of the on course spectators. (taken Saturday)

Miles 10-12-  9:44, 10:09, 9:34

Oh hello wall, nice of you to join me.  My breathing had gone from nice and easy to labored.  My left leg was feeling tighter as well.  Both in my hamstring and my IT band.  I took a walk break, texted my mother, and used my inhaler and then pushed on.  I also used that walk break to restart a particular song.  I have developed a weird fascination with Why Worry by Set It Off, I deliberately started the race with it and used that break to start it over.   Guess it helped because look at mile 12.

Mile 13-  11:01

Damn hill.  I walk this hill every year.  If my math is right (ha!) the hill has an elevation grade of 10+%.  It kicks my ass just walking.  My heart rate usually increases so I end up walking more at the top too.  But I know that going in so seeing an 11 minute split was fine by me.   A girl ran past me on the way up, telling me not to give up and just keep running.  Nope, I knew what I was doing worked for me.    She started walking about 10 feet later.  See, the hill is just a beast.  I started running again but I was tired and it was so much harder than before.  I pushed on though because I was so close to the finish.   I really should have paid more attention to my watch.  It didn’t occur to me until I was crossing the line what time it was.  I crossed the finish line at 2:06:05.

Just a little tired.

Just a little tired.

Are you FREAKIN’ kidding me?!  My PR is 2:05:57.  8 seconds.  8 seconds.

This race gives you a medal and a wine glass and a bottle of water at the finish.  I always feel like I am going to drop something.  My mother usually ends up rescuing the wine glass.   :)   I had seen H a little ways behind me during the tiny out and back so I knew she wasn’t too far behind me, so we waited for her to cross.   After chatting a bit, she headed off to find her co-workers and I headed off to stretch in the grass.  IMG_9737I can think of 2-3 places where I could have shaved off 8 seconds.  My math had been so off from mile 8 on and I just didn’t pay enough attention to my watch after that to know how close I was to my PR.  Partly because I hadn’t thought I had a shot in hell of getting anywhere near that time.  It honestly hadn’t occurred to me.   That said, I am damn proud of how I ran this race.   Yes, I started too fast but for the most part, I managed to maintain that.  I ran the hills smart and I think running in the dirt for so long was a huge help.  I also finally ran the freaking tangents!  Which for the windy part meant running along the center yellow line.  I just had to dodge a car every now and again.   :)

Hills, hills, and more hills, I still love this race.    Great set up, great views and always a good crowd.  Did I mention that the male/ female winner gets their weight in wine?  I will be back for another Wine Country.