Thursday, May 24, 2012

The "Get To"

Well this morning I checked one of my goals for this week off the list by getting up early and going for a morning run.

I'd been thinking a lot about how I was going to make it work. Our (mostly) sweet Ellie wakes up around 6 a.m. every morning and our alarm is set somewhere around 7:30. One of us wakes up with her at 6:30,  takes her out and then crashes on the couch for another hour or so (all while a crazy "morning puppy" is biting, swiping, and jumping all over you). While Josh can pass out on the couch almost instantly, I don't go back to sleep so easily. So this morning I got up and tossed her outside and then Josh slept with her on the couch while I ran.

It worked like a gem! I got to go for a 2 mile run (not used to that only taking 20 minutes) and I came home to a sleeping man and biting puppy. Perfection.
Thought I was going to get puppy kisses - got puppy bites instead
The rest of my morning was spent in a Bar Review lecture. The topic was ok - criminal law, thankfully - and the lecturer did his best not to be dense but lets face it: 3.5hrs of anything is going to be boring. He surprised me at the end though by offering us one last piece of advice. I was expecting "get a good night's sleep before the exam" or "take this studying seriously" or even just something totally silly. Instead, he said:
"Everything in life can be broken down into two categories: things you have to do, and things you get to do. Remember that this is something you "get" to do. You'll do far better if you think of it like that"
I know we runners talk about the power of positive thinking all the time, so I won't belabor the point but I will say this: there are so many things in live that we have to do. We have to pay bills, we have to change diapers/take out the trash/clean the floors/go to work at a job - or two, or three - we hate. At the end of the day there are so few things we "get" to do. Even then, they can sometimes become a chore.

So if nothing else, don't let running fall into the "have to" category. Even if you feel like you "have to" get in x number of miles, or hit a certain pace, remember that there are so many people who wake up every morning and don't even have the option to run a step. It's easier to remember when we're injured, or when we're coming off of a great race - it's a lot harder to remember when we're in a rut. Running may be a natural part of the human condition, but being a runner certainly isn't. At the end of the day, being a runner is a privilege we've earned by having the courage to try it, and because we love it. We run because we love it, and we get to.

Keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow brings another opportunity for a morning run. Whatever the case, tomorrow's miles will be for all of you out there who can't run today or tomorrow. And because I get to.

Happy Running!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Five Quick Updates

Lets just start by saying that these last two weeks have been absolutely crazy. If you follow me on DailyMile you may have noticed...
Or if you realized I haven't posted in a week
I'm going to do this in some sort of orderly way lest it devolve into complete long winded chaos (too late? too late).

1. Last Friday Josh's whole family rolled into town and we celebrated our graduation from Law School. On Saturday, we actually marched across the stage and received a piece of paper that tells us how to receive our actual diploma at a later date.
(Juris) Doctors!
2. When we were not celebrating we were moving into our new house. I don't care how far you're moving, it's always stressful. Granted it was only really Josh moving (I'll move in at some later undetermined date) but it still managed to stress me out. I have had the opportunity to do some running around the new neighborhood though (not really reflected above). We're only 2 miles from my favorite park so I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.
Upside? Awesome new bloggy space in the new house!
(Including giant new computer thanks to Josh's folks)
3. I'm LOVING my new job! It is mindless, friendly work that doesn't require any added responsibility or outside work. It's perfect. The only downside is the standing. For those of you who work in the service industry and spend so many hours on your feet and still manage to run so far and so often...I salute you! After a 5 hour shift last night my feet were so sore and tired and my legs were beat up this morning. It's a nice challenge, but definitely hasn't helped my running motivation.

4. Miss Eleanor has been a joyful - and exhausting - addition to our lives! The vet thinks she's mixed with basset hound by the way and thus the really huge looking feet (which are actually just really low knees). We took her on a long walk Thursday and she's a perfect lady on a leash. So excited for her to get big and strong so she can go exploring with me.
But we like being lazy too
5. I'm setting some goals for the upcoming week. Not knowing my new surroundings - or how my legs are going to feel at any given moment - I'm going to go based on time this week. Goals include,
  • 150 Minutes of Cardio
  • At least 3 Runs
  • At least one run in the morning
  • Getting my new running shoes!!
I think it's equal parts challenging and doable

That's it for me! We're off to Lowes to pick up an air conditioner and yard tools. All of the sudden we're so domestic. It's not too shabby.

Happy Running!

Anybody raced lately? How'd it go?
How do you manage your fitness/running in the midst of chaos?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

2 Weeks out & A new Running Partner

I woke up this morning and realized that it has been almost 2 weeks since the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon. I can't decide if it feels a lot longer or shorter than that, but somehow 2 weeks just doesn't seem right.

My body is almost completely back to normal after the race. During the first week out I managed to get some quality walk/runs in, going for time rather than distance. My hips feel a lot better and those two horrible blisters on my feet have all but disappeared. Well, one has turned to a callous that all but dominates one of my toes. Oh well, I'll take it!

Life post marathon is a little bit weird. I finished Law School and my marathon in the same week which was exciting and thrilling and depressing all at the same time. With both I experienced the overwhelming feeling of, "that's it? oh." I know sometimes you come off of a race and you're so high, and it feels so good that you feel like you're floating on a cloud for the next week. For me, neither one of these major achievements left me with this feeling.

Instead, we're turning life upside down!

  • Old - Clerking at the Public Defenders Office. New - Working retail at the Mall
  • Old - Legal Education. New - Prepping for the Kentucky Bar Exam in July
  • Old - Current Just-Me Apartment. New - House with Josh
  • Old - Training for KDF Marathon. New - [Giant Blank Space]
  • Old - Running Solo. New - Running With Ellie

Among all of these crazy new things, the new running partner has to be the most notable running-related item. Who is this new running buddy you ask? Meet Eleanor
Back in January I opined that I needed a dog like the desserts needed the rain. I was studiously doing my research, checking into the rescue associations so we could rescue our new best friend. Lo and behold Saturday after a rescue event we stopped by our local human society and there she was. Two month old Beagle Mix just waiting for us. 

She does great on a leash for a pup that's only had a collar on for four days and I can already tell she'll be needing some evening tempo runs to wear her down. I'm over the moon. Now if only she'd stop trying to chew my hair off (and stop pooping in my bedroom, but one thing at a time). 
 While the addition of a new pup and a new job are making it really hard to get out and run (as in I have only done 30 minutes of physical activity this week, ugh), these lazy summer days spent with puppies are once in a lifetime. I'll try to ignore the non-running blues and soak up the puppy kisses. 

Happy Running!

Have you ever had a case of the blues after finishing a big race?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

KDF Race Report - The middle and the End

When we left off our protagonist was bearing down on mile 9 as the marathoners split off from the Mini Marathoners....

As we rounded the corner from the split, I saw it. There in the distance were four port-o-potties sitting completely on their own. They glistened in the sunlight like an oasis in the desert. As if on cue Pacer Greg piped in, "Now that we've thinned out, this would be a great time to use the bathroom. We'll see you when we see you." Though he was speaking to everyone, I knew this was the best shot I'd get to both use the bathroom and keep my pace group. But I wasn't alone. As soon as Greg got the words out of his mouth, three other members of the group took off in a dead sprint towards the impromptu rest stop. I bolted in an attempt to gain some seconds on the pace group and get ahead of the others.

The woman in front of me came to a screeching halt to start a line. She was staring around, whistling, looking totally carefree in the moment. I heard the port-o-potty click "open" before I saw it, and then I saw the green. To me, the little green "vacant" sign on a port-o-potty handle means "GO." Unfortunately, this woman did not have the same idea. Over 8 miles I'd learned that she was not a novice, she'd run marathons before, and this time she was running as part of a team. What she hadn't learned in all of these outings was how to handle this port-o-potty situation. Before I knew I was doing it I looked at her and pointed to the port-o-potty and said (ok, yelled) "MOVE!!" Socially graceful? No, but there is no room for social graces in a mid-race port-o-potty line. 

After the pit stop I jumped right back in. I had no idea how long I'd been in there or how far I was behind. Guessing I wasn't too far back, I kicked it into high gear. I felt great, and I pushed the pace without feeling like I'd die. Since this part of the course was an out-and-back I started to see marathoners scattering the oncoming street. I was uplifted by their energy and their speed. I didn't even hear my Garmin beep at mile 10. I could see the little "5:00 Hour" sign up ahead and I knew that If i just kept pushing I would catch them. What I didn't know, and would soon realize, is that I was going way too fast.  When the Garmin beeped at Mile 11 I saw a 10:32 min/mile pace. Add that to the 10:19 min/mile I made out of mile 10 and I was throwing the plan out the window. I reevaluated and decided I didn't want to trash my legs early; if i just tried to stay 2 steps faster than the pace group then I'd catch them when I made a strong surge in the park. I reluctantly pulled on the reigns and focused on staying strong and steady.
Next up - Iroquois Park! Horrible shots of the map & elevation chart
Elevation? Hilly!
Sure enough, as we started into Iroquois park I put on my big girl pants and prepared to race. This hilly 3 mile look used to be part of the mini-course and routinely kicked my butt. I ran it several times during training in an effort to kill it on race day. I felt great both up and down the hills and curves. Sure enough, I met up with my group about half way through as we passed the half-way point. I felt a huge relief knowing I'd made it back to them and was really proud that I'd managed to get back without being a total idiot. I hoped from here out I could just sink in and ride the energy to the finish.

Once we left the park it was just a matter of heading back downtown. Miles 14 through 17 were uneventful. It was starting to get really warm - not just sunny, but humid. I don't remember exactly where it was, maybe as early as 16, but we started getting faster. I looked at my garmin and saw something like 10:46. We'd been walking the water-stops and I guess we had to compensate was too fast. Slowly they started pulling ahead of me and I couldn't catch them at the water stops.

I realized I was still making good time, but feeling left behind and outrun by the group really took a toll on me mentally. I turned up the Ipod and just kept moving. The shade from the trees was keeping things cool and the water stops - though only pouring out about maybe 1.5" of water per cup - were plentiful. As I saw the sign for mile 19 I thought, "If I can just make it to 20 I can make it."
Slow-poke Bonus: no one around to steal your photo time
(chillax legal-types, I plan on buying this obviously copyrighted photo)
Like most mothers mine always told me "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." Well, I have nothing nice to say about the last 6 miles of the 2012 Derby Festival Marathon. It's been almost a week since, but I can still feel the disappointment and the failure I felt in that hour in those miles. Rather than relive it all in detail, lets sum it up:

Mile 20: No water at the water stop. Roads are uneven and there is no crowd support
Mile 21: Sun is beating down and there is no shade. I feel totally isolated
Mile 22: Just realized my digestive system has been at work....enter digestive panic mode
Mile 23: I push hard up a long, steep hill and I succumb to the need to walk. I hate myself instantly
              Switch to 5 to 1 run:walk ratio. Try not to overheat.
              Suddenly I feel it happen: A blister on the ball of my big toe pops. I feel like I've been shot
Mile 24: Shock of blister subsides, pushing beyond 5:1 and just trying to stay with it
Mile 25: We're back downtown. It's hot and smells like livestock. I try to pick it up
MIle 26: Want to get through the last mile without walking - no such luck. Walk a little in hopes of
              looking strong at the finish

After those (7?) horrible miles the last 0.2 were a dream. I started to see the turn to the finish and I took of my glasses and pulled out my earphones. I heard my dad shout at me from the left and I felt a wave of relief hit me like an ice bath. A few more yards and I hear Josh, then see him behind the fence. Then my mom, sitting up on what looked like a building waiving wildly and shouting after me. Then I'm in the finish chute, and it's almost over. What crowd remains is enthusiastic, they're joyful. I hear over the PA, "And here's Jenn S from right here in Louisville Kentucky" and I lose it. I yelled and waived and went bonkers.

And then I finished.

It was so hard to hold back the tears as I went over the pad that I damn near choked. This wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting the elation, the pride, the pure unadulterated joy that I felt when I finished the Flying Pig. Instead I felt simple relief that the 2 hours of awful were finally over. The volunteer reluctantly placed the medal around my neck as I choked and heaved and attempted not to lose my hormonal, angry, crazy guts all over her.

After some quality time in a finish-line bathroom (they had toilet paper, miracle of god!) I found my family. All I wanted was to hug my mom and tell her how disappointed I was. Their excitement helped push away the bad and I couldn't help but share in their pride. I was the only one who knew how awful the second half had been, and it didn't matter to anyone else. So maybe it didn't have to matter to me either.
Marathoner (Squared)
So that was it! In total, not my favorite experience. I think I trashed my legs trying to catch up early in the race, but there's no way to tell. To call the whole race a failure because of 6ish bad miles would be to throw the baby out with the bath water, so I'm going to keep that in mind. I don't think that will be the last of my 26.2  - I definitely want to do at least one more. That being said, racing this distance really got me excited to do my next Mini and I think this training cycle was a real winner.

The Kentucky Derby Festival gets a D on crowd support and water stops this year, though. What the hell? Definitely not as good as the past 3 times I've run some part of the event. Also, no food when I finished. Jerks!

Overall, I guess it made for a good story though!

Up next -  So did the last 4 months work or what?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

KDF Race Report - the Beginning & Middle

First off - THANK YOU! - thank you for all of your wonderful comments and congratulations on Monday's post. Blogging and being a part of this 'community' has really enhanced my 'running life' and regardless of how the race went, I'm just blown away by your positive vibes. So thanks :)

Speaking of how the race went....

The race began just about as great as any race you can ever run.

Friday night our plans to see the Great Balloon glow has been botched by horrible winds and left my foot achey after a trek through the fairgrounds. As I was setting out all my gear I was numb: I was nervous, and angry about the knee and the foot developments (and about the balloon glow!), and just didn't know what the morning would bring. Josh, being the best coach out there, pressed me to think positive and ignore all the doubt. If he knew I could do it, then I knew I could do it.

Saturday morning I woke up around 5:30 and had toast with butter spread. Since my digestive system has been so wonky these last few years - and months - I was determined to mirror my pre-20 miler routine as best I could. I hydrated, I ate my toast, I got dressed. To my surprise, Josh offered to walk me down to the start line. While normally I would've enjoyed a bit of alone time before a race -after all, I'm almost always alone when I start - I was happy to have the company. We walked down to the start line and promptly started looking for Julia. Thanks to cell phones and a relatively spaced-out crowd (at the time) we managed to meet up with her!
Stolen from Julia's facebook (Sorry Jules!) :D
If you think Julia is inspiring just from reading her blog, well, she is the real deal. She is every ounce as genuine and strong and wonderful as she is on the blog, so you should check out her BLOG!

Unfortunately, I had to make a bee-line for the bathroom so I couldn't meet up with the other 100 people I'd hoped to see that morning. By my estimate, my fueling plan was working perfectly: I'd hit the bathroom right before the start and be good for the duration! My handsome trooper Josh stayed with me up until the minute I came zooming out of the port-o-potty headed to the start line.
Coach Josh stayed with me up to the start!
I left Josh and headed to the start, which was packed in. What had been an empty start-chute had completely filled! I quickly found my pace group, the 5:00 folks. I owe my perfect finish in the Flying Pig to Pacer Judy (from Pacer Jim's team) and I knew I wanted to run with a group this time too. My pacers were Greg & Dwight and they were absolutely FABULOUS! They were so calm and friendly and did exactly what I'd hoped pacers would do: hold a steady pace, keep everybody's spirits up, and be a cheerleader for the group. Can't say enough good things about these two from the ASICS pace team.

Before too long the gun sounded and we were off! Despite how far back we were I crossed the start only 10 minutes after the gun, which was pretty good. The only thing I really remember about the first four miles is how fast they flew by. We were winding through downtown Louisville from west to east. The early miles were packed, but not so much that it was super uncomfortable. Dwight & Greg exchanged funny stories about previous races and at each mile we all had to cheer as we went past the marker and Greg would tell a bad pirate joke.

The only downer in those early miles was a little bit of rain late in mile four. Luckily it was short-lived and didn't do any serious soaking to my shoes.

We turned onto fourth street and I felt like i was home. So many of my long runs went through the area known as Old Louisville up fourth and third streets. It felt so normal and the beautiful trees created this canopy that only held the excitement in for us. This was probably the most crowd-packed portion of the course that I can remember. Everything felt great: my pacing was dead on (thanks to G&D), my hips and glutes both felt great and my feet were just clopping right along.

The only complaint I had at this point was, well, I had to pee. Bad. My old coach Leslie used to tell us, "don't worry, it'll reabsorb" but wow, this wasn't going anywhere. I was weighing the pros & cons in my head: find somewhere to pee and feel infinitely better in general and love life again BUT lose my pace team OR don't pee and be miserable for another 4 hours but finish with my pace team. I decided to try not to think about either and just keep moving.

As we came into mile 7 the sun was starting to come out. I was a little bummed that the water-stop didn't have any water for us and really hoped that wasn't a sign of things to come. Up next was the part that is wholly unique to the KDF Mini & Marathon: running through Churchill Downs. One of these times I'm going to stop and take a photo, but not this race. The race goes through the stands and into the infield, then out the back. It's really a neat experience to see the horses out galloping around and going through workouts. The only negative? You have to go down through a tunnel (and then back UP and out) to enter and exit the infield - it's a steep, steep concrete incline that's not very fun (at all!).

We popped out on the backside and prepared to part ways with the mini-runners. This poor girl in front of me almost didn't realize the split (despite the signs and the guys with bullhorns....) and had to dart deer-across-interstate-style to get back. So there we split, mini runners headed back to the river and the Finish line and the Marathon runners drumming along out towards Iroquois park and it's three miles of glorious hills....

Next up: the middle & the end