Thursday, October 28, 2010

Down with OPM – Three things Thursday

The month is coming to a close and I thought I'd share three very important lessons I learned this month.

What goes up must come down

After my first 5K, I somehow got the notion that I no longer needed my training plan and took matters into  my own hands. I thought running hills instead of my usual semi-flat route would make me stronger and the next race would be easier. I mapped out my new route that consisted of three hills of varying ascent and took  off.  

Wow!  Three hills going up results in one helluva coming down.  That very first day after slowly making my way up, coming down was super fast and felt amazing!  Short lived.  I learned that FLYING  down a very steep hill, pretending to be a GAZELLE then suddenly hitting a patch of brand NEW ASPHALT  that’s been rained on for two days results in things get real crazy real fast. Even crazier if you have a dog attached to you.  I survived though. No broken skin and only two people had to witness it. 

Do not start a strength training program the week of your race.

 I got cracking on my Octoberfast challenge and wrote out a plan for the month that included three days of weights, three days of core and four days of running. It looked beautiful on paper but I got so busy the first week that I didn’t do hardly any of it. The second week I jumped right into my lower body routine, doing three sets of various weighted squats, lunges and dead lifts which resulted in very sore and stiff legs. I could barely walk. That was on Tuesday. By Friday I could finally run again and Saturday was the race. Lesson learned.

I’m so not down with OPM (other people’s money)

 I'm finally wrapping up that fundraiser. Way more hours than I had expected.  I used to do the penny fundraiser at our school, which basically consisted of collecting coffee cans full of pennies from all the classrooms each month, driving them 10 miles to the bank and depositing them. I thought I was being smart by taking on the big fundraiser, as cash and checks are a heck of a lot lighter than thousands of pennies. Jokes on me though, as I grossly underestimated the time and frustration involved.

 It totally paid off for the school though. We made a lot of money. What I learned is that I'm so not comfortable with wads of someone else's cash in my possession. Oh its fun to pretend I'm an accountant or a pimp for a minute or two, but then the nightmares start. For three nights straight I tossed and turned dreaming about people breaking in to our home and stealing the school's money. So freakin' happy to get that to the bank.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Going On

Super quick post about where I'm at health and training wise and what else is going here. Long overdue, no? October is almost over and I don't think I even posted my month's goals (I'm too lazy to look).

I took Clyde and Patrick's Octoberfast Challenge at the beginning of the month. My goal was to run 50 miles,  cross train 3x a week and lose 5 lbs. Weeeeell, seeing as there is only a few days left in the month and I haven't lost an ounce, I don't see that one happening. I have reinstated my strength training plan, but am only averaging about two days a week. I've slacked a little on hard core club too, getting only two days in per week instead of three. Ah, but what's this? If I combine weights with hcc, I'm getting three (sometimes four) cross training days in. Hells yeah. I think I've ran thirty some miles (again, too lazy to actually pull up a new window to look) so if I run all my planned days, I'll hit my goal of 50. Not too bad*.

I won these cool Ryders sunglasses from Neil's Virtual Race. Thanks Neil! Ryders also sent me a pair of crazy black and red socks. Sweet!

What else? New hairdo.

Hmm. Looking at it, I guess its not so much a new do, just a shorter one. I had several inches cut off the back. And a change from summer blonde to winter blonde. I'm working on getting a different job, and thought the change would make me look slightly more pulled together than my usual thirty-six year old surfer chick look. Or bum. I prefer surfer chick.

Halloween costumes. I've finally started working on them. I still have two more days til trick or treat. I'm headed out right now to search for a big bag of snakes.

How's your week going and who's ready to face that giant mountain of Halloweeny candy? 

*Damn you candy corn for getting between me and my goals. Soon though I will be rid of you and your wicked ways. Yesterday at the grocer's I noticed your gang that was once so large and strategically positioned is getting smaller and smaller, down to just a few bags of Autumn Mix and an errant Indian Corn. Die candy corn, die!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hot and Heavy Pumpkin Pie

After the race on Saturday we stopped back at the house for a quick change and dropped Mr. Run and Knucklehead off at the dojo for his karate test. Then Smiley and I headed back out to P in the P for the second event.

The Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest!

Seriously, Smiley has been waiting for this all her life. When she was around three, she started asking if there are ever any pie eating contests around here. It always cracked me up, because while she loves horses, softball, Littlest Pet Shop and lots of the other good things in life, the kid is passionate about food. Not just any food, either. She became pretty health conscious last year after she developed a little crush on Jamie Oliver and watched his vid about how chicken nuggets are made. Then about a month ago, she announced that she was vegetarian. This thrilled me because I had nothing to do with it, she arrived at the notion totally on her own. She's pretty selective about her sweets too.. She knows whats good and can spot something delicious amongst a sea confectionery mediocrity. But I digress. On to the event.

The rules were: Absolutly no hands. No drinks may be consumed. If you puke you are disqualified. The winner is the person who consumes a whole pie in 5 minutes. If the whole pie is not consumed, the winner will be the one who had eaten the most, and the audience will judge by cheering.

Get ready. Set. Go!!!

This was probably the funniest yet most horrifying thing I've ever witnessed. Pies were scooting around. I swear I heard some snorting. One kid's mom, who apparently wasn't paying attention when the rules were stated, kept shoving a large beverage at her kid."Get a drink!" The kid kept giving her this awful look and shaking his head. The other moms were poised, ready to rat cheater mom out as soon as the boy dared sip. Somebody finally gave her a heads up about the no drink rule.

After about the third or fourth face full of pie, I noticed Smiley's expression seemed a little off. Hmmm, the girl next to her wore the exact same expression. I elbowed the girl's mom and whispered, "Not sure about this."  She whispered back, "They look like they might throw up."  We started cheering for our girls, hoping that our enthusiasm would somehow curb their need to spew pumpkin pie all over the place. Around the fourth minute, I could tell Smiley was losing momentum. Fortunately a little girl that she knows and a teenage girl moved in behind her and began cheering her on. "You've got this," the teen shouted. This was all she needed. She began chomping on the crust and I knew it was in the bag.!!!

Looking down the line, I noticed the boys all looked totally normal, save for the pumpkin all over their face. It was the two girls who looked pale and disgusted.  The judges walked around checking out the damage and immediately declared Smiley the WINNER!!!

Okay, did you see all the contestants? All kids right? Guess what the prize was? Ready?

Dinner for two, two tickets to the Comedy Zone (not a kid show)  and an overnight stay at the hotel where they have the comedy hour. So basically they will feed you, entertain you and put you up after you spend all your money on booze. Smiley didn't even care about the prize, it was the experience she was after. After it was all said and done, we traded. She gave her prize to her dad and me, I gave her cash.

After the contest, we were looking for some paper towels and she said, "Mom, your pumpkin pie is way better." Then a few minutes later as we were searching for the restrooms, "That was the grossest pie I've ever eaten." "It was really nasty. It was all hot from the sun and it tasted funny."  I felt so bad for her and she still had no color in her face. After she got cleaned up and blew all the pie out of her nose, she said, "Can we have a different kind of pie for Thanksgiving this year?"  Sure thing, babe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkins in the Park

Has it ever taken you three days to write a post?  Life is full and happy, but crazy at the same time. Every time I sit down at the computer, something or someone demands my attention.

We headed out Saturday morning for the Pumpkins in the Park 5K.   I picked up my swag bag:  my first race bib- good ol' number five, a long sleeved pumpkiny t-shirt and mostly ads but the kiddos got a voucher for free tickets for activities later in the day, which rocked.  I pinned on my bib then tried to warm up by running up and down the sidewalk and stretching a bit, but mostly I just jumped up and down trying to stay warm. I made a couple of new friends and ran into Amy, whom I recognized from the last race. We chatted a bit and then as everyone was lining up, I started choking on all this smoke that came rolling out of a little building next to the lineup. At first I thought it was a clever ploy to kill the competition. Smoke everyone out. Turns out it was a vendor firing up the bbq.


You can see the smoke better here. It ended up being an advantage, cause all the runners took off fast to get away from the smoke.
 The course was straight and flat, which I thought would be an advantage, especially since I've been running some hills, but honestly I thought this course was tougher than the last. I think being able to see pretty much the whole course is much harder than winding around through streets. With the streets there are distractions, things to look at, people to see, etc. Here, all I could see is the fog rolling around on the river and the long, long road ahead. There were three or four water stations which was kind of funny for a 5K. No one stopped, or even slowed down, so I felt kind of sorry for the volunteers who looked so eager holding out their cups.

I didn't take off with the fast front runners. I got near the back of the pack and started off slow. I found a little pack of runners who were running about my speed and stayed with them pretty much the whole race. In hindsight, this was not my best plan. There were several times during the race when I could have passed them, and I should have. I kept thinking that by going slow and steady, I would have enough punch at the end to pick up some speed and blow through the finish. Didn't happen. By the end, I was worn out. It was weird. My time was ten seconds slower than my first race.

This totally bummed me out until I found Amy later on. She confirmed my thoughts about the course. She said her time was way off too. That when she looked at her Garmin at 3.1 miles, she still had a way to go to the finish. It WAS longer. Are they trying to kill me? Made a mental note to start increasing my miles so that 3.1 (or 3.whatever they have to throw at me) won't feel like a hundred miles.

Thankfully there was water at the end. And some damn good bagels (thanks Panera!).

The kiddos hammin' it up in the fog.
After the race, we headed over to the WV State Museum for a bit. The museum has been redone and it's fab, they even have a scavenger hunt for the kiddos, which makes it easier for the adults to look around and absorb a little WV history. If you are ever passing through Charleston, you should check it out.

More to come!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Virtual Race Report and Strange Sightings

To celebrate 10/10/10 and in honor of Neil's birthday, I signed up to run the 10/10 virtual race. My contribution was to run 10 miles by 10/10/10. I went a little over, so maybe I get extra entries.

Sun - 3.1mi.   Firehouse 5K
Wed - 3.3mi. New hills training route.
Fri. -3.4 mi. New hills training route with a small detour.
Sat. 2.5 mi. Short run with the doggy.
I ran my 10 miles plus two 1.0 milers. Woohoo! And a big Happy Birthday Neil Z!!!

Congratulations to all of you runners who ran races this weekend! It was a gorgeous fall weekend to race or get out and do stuff with the family.

We headed out to the trails again today.  The scenery looked a little different than a few weeks ago. Instead of roller skating on fallen acorns, we walked on red carpet. 

 Looking up, we were surrounded by sunny yellow and happy, happy orange.

We weren't just sightseeing today though. We were on a mission. Knucklehead wanted to go back to look for this:

It 's going to become rustic decor for the new fort he's been working on all week. We found it, cleaned all the dirt off of it (please, please let that be dirt that was clinging to the eye sockets) and went on our merry way.

Mr. Run Hard's favorite trail activity is to run way ahead, hide and just as we approach his hiding spot, jump out and scare the begeezus out of us.  Only today it went a little differently. Today as the kids and I walked along, we heard this strange thumpity thump sound and when we found the Mr. he was standing in the middle of the trail in front of a ginormous fallen tree (perfect for hiding behind) and looking at us very strangely.

"Did you not just see that deer with the car seat on its head?"

"What? Did you say something about a deer with a car seat on its head." (I ran this image through my mind and when it proved to be totally illogical, I thought maybe "car seat" was some kind of new slang for giant rack).

"What are you talking about?"

"A deer just ran right by you and Smiley and it had a car seat stuck to its head. I can't believe you didn't see it or hear it. I jumped over this log to hide and almost landed on top of it. It scared the sh*t out of me."

"What do you mean by a car seat?" (At this point I was certain he had hit his head on a tree and knocked himself delirious.)

"I mean a car seat!"

As those final words came out of his mouth I heard something in the woods and turned to catch a glimpse of what looked like red plastic bobbing along behind some trees. As I moved closer, the bobbing stopped and I adjusted my eyes to separate the forest from the trees and saw this:

The poor guy had a baby swing wrapped around his antlers. Doesn't he look so sad? Now what? Smiley's freaking out. "We've got to get it off! Oh, mommy look at the poor thing!" I'm at a loss here. Look, I'm all for helping animals in need, but I've seen the video.Wild animals are one thing, but one in distress is another thing entirely.

When we got home, I sent an email to our local DNR with the picture and all. Hopefully they can find him and get that contraption off his head. Deer season will be here soon, and with a target like that, he has a snowball's chance in hell.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Another First

The lack of posting over here isn't due to inactivity.  I've been running, doing core work, and fueling myself with candy corn. I'm so behind on blogging because I've been gobbled up by a giant monster called Fundraising. It's my first year doing the BIG fundraiser for my kid's school and every time I think I see the light at the end, it swallows me back down. The end is near...I hope.

But that's not the first I was talking about. This one is much more important and exciting. 

My son ran his first race last Sunday! 

Look at them go!!  See how he and the girls are neck and neck? See the look of determination and joy? It stayed that way pretty much the whole race. When they hit the half mile mark, Knucklehead was in first place. On the way back, he slipped back to second...then third. As they neared the finish, I moved closer to the sidewalk behind some bushes to get his picture as they came in. First came in, then second, so I got ready. Nothing. Then some other kid ran by. Okay, he must have run out of steam. As two more kids ran by I stepped out from behind the bush to see where he was. He wasn't. My heart jumped up into my throat. I could see all the way up to the half mile mark, and he was nowhere. Not running, walking or my worst fear - lying on the ground. I opened my mouth to yell his name, but then noticed the yellow emergency ATV coming up the road, my little guy sitting between two EMTs. He was crying but looked intact and as soon as I saw him I knew what happened. I ran to the car to get the inhaler. He never has to use it, I think he's used it once in two years. But it isn't every day he runs a mile trying to beat two girls either.

He was a little shaken, but more than anything he was upset that he didn't finish. I told him to go back and walk across the finish line, but he would have none of that. He felt much better after a cup of Gatorade, some fruit, a granola bar and hearing that he still gets a medal and a t-shirt. Even though he didn't finish, it wasn't for lack of trying. We are sooo proud of him!!!  He's looking forward to his next race and now he's even developed his own training program. He runs Tucker up and down the street every single evening after school.

I tried to get him to trade his cool medal for a bag of candy corn but he'd have none of that, either. Smart kid.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Race Report

On Sunday I ran the Eleanor Firehouse 5K.  They even gave me a shirt! I was hoping for my first race bib, but we got popscicle sticks. I was number 48.

It was freezing (by freezing I mean 50 degrees) and drizzling rain when we first arrived. There weren't that many runners - maybe 100, but the ones that were already there looked tall, skinny and fast. I was sooo nervous. I signed in, picked up my packet and went back to the car to contemplate going home get warm. People were already stretching and running around the parking lot.

My race shirt. It's a tech t...all slick and shiny.

When it was race time, I took off right in the middle of the pack. I wish now I had started farther back, only because all the lightening fast track kids and crazy runners were in my sight and I took off waaay too fast chasing them. I didn't mean to, I told myself to take it slow, but the excitement, the cold and  the fact that there were a bunch of people behind me trying to pass me freaked me out.

About a half mile in, I was worn out and my mind started taking me to bad places. "You'll never make it, you're already toast." "What were you thinking?" "You are so not a runner."  I slowed down and forced myself take a realistic look at what was going on. I always struggle the first ten to twelve minutes of my runs, usually about the first mile. Then, my breathing gets more steady, my gate more rhythmic, my legs no longer threaten to leave me lying in a heap in the road. If all my running felt like the first ten minutes, I would have quit a long time ago.

I hung in there. Finally we turned onto a residential street and as we were coming in, we were met by the front of the packers who had already circled the block. I had to laugh. Those guys were fast. There was a little guy hanging right up there with them. Came to find out later that he is seven...and he came in tenth overall.

By this point I'd certainly found my pace and was doing so much better. I liked the residential route. People were out in their yards and they would wave and I'd wave back- so much better than the honking cars that scared the begeezus out of me along the main road.

I was by myself for a long time. I wasn't quite sure what to think of that, so I didn't. Instead, I thought about Shelly, and how she just puts one foot in front of the other... Every. Single. Day. And Emz running fifty freaking miles in one day.  Who the heck can run fifty miles and come out looking spectacular? Must be the pickle juice.  I thought about Rae and how she started out with a beginner program just like me and now she's running 10K's. I've got this.

Finally I began to catch up with a group of runners. Then I began to pass them, one by one. By myself again, I saw a couple ahead and made it my goal to catch them. We went back and forth for a while, they would lead  then we would switch places. At some point I looked back and didn't see them anymore. When I rounded the corner, I could see the finish line way up ahead. Excited, I picked it up a little.  I passed a few young runners and could see three more before the finish. Slow and steady, I caught up. The last girl was seemed to be struggling a bit so I said, "we're almost there, just a little farther." She grunted and I went on by. I started searching the finish line for my family and thinking about what I was going to eat. Suddenly I heard clomp, clomp, clomp behind me. What? I glanced back to see yellow shirt closing in. I took off as fast as I could. She beat me to the finish, but not for lack of trying.

I had no idea what my time was. My husband cracked up at this. "You didn't see that giant clock?" Um, no. I was too busy trying to get away from yellow shirt girl.

I finished at 31:41. My best time so far. I learned a lot too. I learned not to give chase to the fast kids. Not to listen to anything my mind tells me the first mile. Do think about all the people who inspire me. I learned not to fall for last stretch shennanigans. And last but not least I learned I can run pretty fast when someone is chasing me, but then when I stop I get all woozy and feel like I might pass out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thick, Luscious October

October is my favorite month! I love the dark beer cooling temperatures and the gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows of the changing leaves. Not to mention dark beer my husband and I got married in beautiful October. All the little beasties get to morph into even scarier beasties and trick or treat til their hearts content. Then there's all the dark beer pink. I get so excited to see what comes out in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Last year I bought a pink Swiffer. So far I haven't found many cool pink clothes, shoes or accessories, but I did see dark beer pink dishwasher tablets at Sam's yesterday.

Did I mention that October ushers in a whole new venue at my local grocer and nearby brew station? No? Oh yes! Have I ever mentioned how much I love dark beer? I'm not a big drinker in the summer anymore. When I do partake, I like something like Corona or rum and pineapple juice. You know, yellow, like the sun that's beating down on me. But fall's the time to get serious. It's time to hunker down, stoke the fire and stock the beer shelves. It's good to be prepared. You never know when a hard winter is coming.

There are at least four different Octoberfest varieties available and that's just for starters. There will be pumpkin ales, lagers and deep, dark porters to try and I can't wait. Oh, and when the fall brews are winding down, the holiday ales and winter sampler packs await. Tis the season to be jolly and all that.

You might be wondering how all this beer factors in to exercise and eating well. Weeeelll, you know how there have been all those studies about red wine and the good effects of resveratrol on heart health. Turns out, beer ain't just a social lubricant. Check this out, Jack. Did you see this part:  " if you like your beer dark, richer concentrations of xanthohumol occur naturally in dark beer". Here's another one. Yeah. You might also be wondering why I'm thinking about beer at 10 am on a Saturday. I'm blaming Big Clyde. I joined his challenge and have had beer on the brain ever since.

So enjoy October. Build a fire, kiss someone, run fifty miles and have a brew or two. If you;re already a dark beer lover, share your favorites. If you try something new, tell me all about it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chickity Check Yo Self

I'm finally ready willing to talk about what went wrong last week. Monday's run went off without a hitch, I was still adhering loosely to my training plan. I say loosely because instead of run/walking for thirty minutes I've extended my route to three miles and run/walk however long it takes to finish.

It took about 36 minutes. That is a long time to run three little miles. Let me do the math for ya. That's a twelve minute mile. My great-granny can run faster than that. And she's dead.

I was feeling slow. Discouraged. Very frustrated. I told myself that it was all psychological. That I was afraid of failing and that fear was holding me back. See, I found and signed up for a last minute 5K that's two weeks earlier than my planned 5K on Oct. 16. I figured it would be no big deal and I wouldn't even really mention it to anyone. Just a "try it, before you buy it" kind of thing to test the waters to see if I was ready.

Until the very moment I mailed that check, I never really cared about my time. I was perfectly happy to be running the prescribed amount of time on my plan. Suddenly, all this doubt started creeping in and visions of crawling to the finish waaay after everyone else had moved on to other Sunday afternoon activities played in my mind. Instead of making me feel good, running had become my overlord.

At the same time, I was reading Ultramarathon Man. Then I watched this amazing video. So inspired, I started thinking...if Dean Karnazes can run all freakin' night and eat a pizza and a cheesecake while he's running, I can run THREE miles in less than 36 MINUTES! If Ben can start running weighing over 350 pounds and finish an Ironman in a year's time, surely I can manage to shave a couple minutes off a three mile run. I mean, c'mon!

My ego mended (and maybe a tad overconfident as egos tend to get sometimes), I set out Wednesday believing that I could run...fasterish. And I did. Only it wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I imagined that I would run my first two miles at slug normal pace then kick it into high gear for the last mile. Instead, I made it to the mile mark in 10 min. and some odd seconds - almost a full two minutes off my normal time. Wow, ow, ow, ow.  My right knee was screaming in pain. Awesome. I walked a little, then tried to run. No go. I walked some more. A lot more. Knee started easing up a bit, so again I tried to shuffle run. Not happening. I limped home.

The pain was in the same knee but different than before. This time it was right on my kneecap. I iced it, which helped and the pain subsided somewhat. When I got out of bed the next morning it hurt. A stiff, must be going to rain kind of hurt that I imagine people with arthritis suffer. Walking down the stairs was excruciating. Down anything was bad. Interestingly, going up almost felt good. Sitting for any length of time was painful too. Having my knee bent was not an option here. After searching the internets, the only thing I could come up with was runner's knee, which made me laugh. I run less than ten miles a week and I have runner's knee? WTH?

So I didn't run. I did some HCC and baked some cookies and ate some cookies and all the remaining chocolate chips because I was certain it would make my knee feel better. Too bad I hadn't seen this post first. Who knew?

I'm running again, happily. I'm not worried about my time. I have plenty of time to get faster. Why rush things? Why wreck myself?