Where does the time go?

Have I really neglected my poor blog for more than five months? I knew it had been a while since I last posted anything, but May? Really?

Okay, so what has happened since my last post?

  • I successfully finished Bay to Breakers 2012 with a time of 1:42:32. I spent an afternoon working (didn’t have to use a vacation day for that!), earned a medal, got to hang out with my girlfriends from my youth, and saw the Pacific all in one trip. Wins all around!
  • The Boy and I watched his Kindergarten friends graduate, and I got a glimpse of what was to come. I’m not ashamed to say that I teared up a bit out of pride. One nice thing about volunteering at school as often as I do is that I get to know The Boy’s classmates, and it was great to see them all moving up to first grade.
  • I skipped my 20-year high school reunion (though I planned it), mainly because work got a bit hectic and I had no desire to only fly across the country for what would amount to only 36 hours. Which leads to the next point…
  • We took a family vacation up to New York to see my sister! The Boy asked to see the Statue of Liberty (Cute Husband had never seen it, either), and we also visited the American Museum of Natural History and Strawberry Fields at Central Park. And as if that wasn’t enough…
  • We saw the Red Sox play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, sitting in ridiculously awesome seats (thanks to my brother-in-law). I hope The Boy realizes not all visits to Yankee Stadium will include seats right by the visiting team’s dugout.
  • The Boy started Kindergarten! And boy, is he thriving. He loves his Kindergarten breakout sessions.
  • The Boy learned, struggled with, and has now almost memorized “The Star Spangled Banner”. It only took him about a month to get the rhythm right, too. I posted an early video of him practicing on YouTube in the middle of September and sent it to his teacher. It quickly spread to the rest of the staff and was shown during circle time at school. Now he is working on Bach’s “Minuet in G” and is poised to start learning “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.
  • We received The Boy’s first real report card (prior to this, they were all progress reports), and he earned Os (for “Outstanding”) in all the core subjects and PE. He received Ses (for “Satisfactory”) in Spanish, Computers, Music (HA!), and Art. And in all of the Social Development and Work Habits areas, he received Os except in Handwriting. But as his penmanship has improved dramatically over the past few months, no one is concerned. All in all, we’re incredibly proud.

So that’s the past few months in a (very abbreviated) nutshell. I have a few stories to tell about specific events (chaperoning a field trip to a children’s museum, Halloween events around Central Florida, etc.), but I can save that for later.

Just as long as I don’t wait another five months to post something.

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I finished my first 12K!!!

And amazingly enough, I did not finish last overall!

(I was close, though. Overall, I came in # 171 out of 180, I was # 96 out of 100 women, and I came in last place in my age group.)

But the truly important thing is that I finished it. I saw a woman’s shirt this morning before the race that encouraged me. It said

DLF > DNF > DNS

(Dead Last Finish > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start)

It was a nice reminder. Even if I finish absolute last, at least I finished!

I took a lot more walking breaks than I probably ought, but I needed them. After my scare on Thursday when my calves felt like they were about to declare war on the rest of my body, I knew that pushing myself too hard wouldn’t be good. Plus, it’s not like I’ve been training nonstop the past few weeks like I should have been. I needed to take care of myself, which meant taking walking breaks.

So, I didn’t finish in 80 minutes like I wanted. I didn’t even finish in 90 minutes. I ultimately ran my 12K in 1:37:31, which meant I averaged about a 13:05 mile. And for my first 12K, and especially for not feeling adequately prepared for the race, I’m pretty happy with that time.

Plus it just leaves room for improvement.

All my fears about inclement weather were for naught. The morning was perfect, and I don’t think I could have asked for better running weather.

Sunrise over the registration area.

An early-morning, pre-race view of Lake Minneola.

The Earth Day 12K was a much smaller race than Disney’s Family Fun Run. Between the 12K runners and the 5K runners, there were still a bit fewer than 300 people there to race. That meant that the course didn’t feel congested at all, though it might have helped that I was also trailing almost everyone there.

I arrived early to get my packet and get myself psyched up for the race. I was extremely anxious; I had all kinds of running-related dreams last night. By the time 4AM rolled around, I was ready to start the day. I ate, hydrated, and stretched at home, but I also figured it wouldn’t hurt to do some extra stretches while I was waiting for Theresa to arrive.

I affixed my chip timer…

My chip timer and my New Balance sneakers.

…pinned my bib…

The low number only means I registered early. It did not help me run any faster.

…and waited for Theresa.

Once she arrived and got her packet and shirt, the runners were already beginning to congregate at the starting line, so we hurriedly joined them. I ran with her for about half a mile before (wisely) deciding to hold back a bit and run at my own pace. Lots of runners passed me (obviously, since I came in close to last!), but I didn’t pay much attention to them. After all, this was a race with myself.

I will say this much about this morning’s race: it was a very pretty course. Some of the areas were residential, and I felt awkward about dropping my empty water cups on someones’ lawns (which is why I just carried them to the next water station), but I could admire the water throughout most of my run.

A view of the finish from the halfway point.

Unlike the Family Fun Run, and contrary what the course map led me to believe, there were not little mile markers posted to let me know how far I had gone. In fact, if not for my handy-dandy Garmin (I love that thing!), I wouldn’t have had a clue. (This, by the way, is not good, since those little mile marker thingies work as psychological rallying points for me.)

But the event staff did put out the marker for Mile 6…

The lone mile marker on the course.

…and the Finish Line didn’t seem as far away from this point.

The view of the finish line from the 6-mile mark.

It was still plenty far away, but it just seemed a whole lot closer.

Theresa met me at the edge of the park to cheer me on to the finish. She had already finished (# 45 out of 100 women with a 9:50 mile) but doubled back to wait for me. Is that a great running mentor, or what?

All in all, I feel good. Now that I’ve showered, hydrated, and had a little something to eat, I feel really accomplished, too. I’ve come a long way from when I first began C25K in January. I think I feel just as sore now as I did during that first week, but after completing 7.46 miles, I’ll cut myself some slack.

And the forecast for my run is…

There were some terrible thunderstorms in Central Florida yesterday. We had nickel-sized hail at our house in the afternoon when Cute Husband came home from work. By the time I picked up The Boy, the rain had largely subsided, but it made me nervous about this morning’s race (as though I wasn’t nervous enough!).

I called Theresa yesterday and we agreed not to run if there was thunder. Big Sis E agreed that was a solid plan, but she also assured me that running in the rain was quite exhilarating.

I’m still dubious.

At any rate, today’s forecast calls for more thunderstorms, but at least that’s not until 10 (and there’s only a 70% chance of that). During the race, there will only be about a 40-50% chance of rain.

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So, really, it’s not enough that this is my first 12K; it may very well be my first run in the rain.

Wish me luck!

Excited for the Earth Day 12K!

Well, tomorrow is the big day: my first 12K.

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m scared to death. But I got a peek at the map yesterday, and the more I look at it, the more excited I am because, if nothing else, it’s going to be a really pretty run.

Tomorrow's course. Oddly, 7.46-ish miles doesn't look so daunting on paper.

My calves are only feeling a bit sore today, which is to say it doesn’t feel like I’ve pulled or torn anything. Tomorrow may be a different story, of course, but I have every intention of listening to my body the entire time and just going at my own pace.

And enjoying the lakeside run, of course.

I had a series of dreams last night that I overslept for the run. I doubt this will happen; I will likely have trouble going to sleep tonight because I’m that excited about it. But I know I need to get a good night’s sleep, so I have to make sure I go to bed early tonight. I may be up at 4AM with nervous anticipation, but I at least need to get a decent amount of shut-eye.

In the meantime, I wonder if I can find a way to bottle up this excitement so I can draw on it the next time I need motivation to run.

Stupid calves

Yes, I know it’s not my calves’ fault. I’m the big dummy here. I thought I thoroughly stretched this morning, though (clearly not!), but perhaps obviously I did not stretch my calves as thoroughly as I ought. At any rate, that means I ran about three-quarters of a mile before I caved and admitted I needed to stop before I really hurt myself.

This also explains why I’m lying on the floor of my dining room with both legs propped up so that I can simultaneously apply ice packs to both calves. (And incidentally, one of my most brilliant moves of the past 6 months was to ask my coworkers if I could have the ice packs that came with their Godiva holiday sets. I frequently put them to use, and not just for my running-related injuries.)

The Earth Day 12K is in two days. I simply cannot afford to be injured.

I figure the worst thing that will happen is I’ll walk more than I would like (and subsequently finish later than I would like). But I know better than to beat myself up over it because I know I need to take care of my body.

In the meantime, though, I think these ice packs are my new favorite running tool.

Ok, I ran

I knew that if I publicly (to all of the 12 people reading my ramblings – thanks, by the way!) announced my intention to go for a run this morning that I would actually do it. In fact, I had nightmares that I didn’t and had to subsequently issue an apology for my false bravado.

But no worries. I ran this morning. I’m hot, I’m stinky, and I’m tired, but i otherwise feel great. No aches or stiffness anywhere.

I only ran 2 miles today, though. I ran up the hill that 3rd time at full clip and didn’t exactly save anything for afterwards. I was testing out my new Garmin 405CX (my C25K graduation gift to myself) with intervals, and the interval I programmed was alternating a 1 mile run with a 30 second walk. I think when I run tomorrow morning (oh, yes, I need to keep training!), I should try a 15-minute run with a 1-minute walk. It will come out to a bit more than a mile run (since I’m still averaging about an 11:24 mile, according to my handy new contraption), but I got used to the timed intervals doing C25K, and a part of the reason I pushed myself so hard going up that hill was that I just wanted it over. At least if I do the timed intervals, charging up the hill won’t get me to my walking break any sooner than crawling up it. (It will just improve my average time.)

So I’m still able to run, but now I just need to remember how to run sensibly. I’m really hoping to finish the Earth Day 12K in 90 minutes (though 80 would make me happier), which I think is quite reasonable given my average speed. But we shall see.

In the meantime, I need to hydrate and shower and eat. I’ve got a parent-teacher conference this morning, and I already know it’s going to be a crazy day at the office.

Overbooked

Someone, please remind me next year that signing up for a race right after The Boy’s birthday is not such a great idea. Sure, it sounds like it’s doable, and on paper, it totally is, but the reality is that I’m still exhausted and I really need to do some training so that I don’t kill hurt myself running this Saturday’s Earth Day 12K.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t sign up for the 5K at Legoland this past weekend. I really wanted to, but The Boy’s first guitar lesson was that day, so it kind of quashed that plan. But thank God I didn’t because I would be hating life in a major way today.

I’m not scared, exactly, of the 12K. I know I can do it, and I also know that I’m going to be giving myself plenty of walking breaks to make sure I don’t hurt myself. But I’d kind of like to do a good job of it, too, which is why I’m beating myself up about it. (Never mind that I would have scoffed at the idea of running roughly seven and a half miles a mere 6 months ago.

Well, I’m hoping to get to bed early tonight to catch up on rest, and then I can take my new Garmin watch out for a test run (I’m so punny!) tomorrow morning. I need to set my alarm and just get out there.

And I figure if I say it here, I’m more inclined to do it!

My latest revelation

For somewhat with a fair amount of intelligence, I’m admittedly quite clueless about a number of things. In sure I’ve been told stuff at some point in my life, but I guess it doesn’t really sink in until I can directly apply it to some aspect of my life.

After today’s run (if you can call a mile and a quarter a “run”), I realized that I was way too tired to run. I didn’t sleep well last night, and I don’t feel rested as a result.

Not rested = No energy = Not enough energy to run

Brilliant, no? And it occurred to me as I walked back into the house from my wimpy 15-minute run. I should alert the American Medical Association, or at least the local news. This is groundbreaking stuff here.

It makes sense, right? If I barely have the energy to fold laundry or load the dishwasher or clean the kitchen sink or even make the bed, how fair is it to expect myself to run for 30 minutes?

Now, I’m not saying I can be excused for today’s poor excuse of a run. I can do better. And with the Earth Day 12K just 13 days away, I need to do better. But my body is also saying something that my brain can’t refute: I first need to rest.

That’s enough criticism, Eileen

I really need to cut myself some slack, especially with this whole running thing. I saw a shirt on Cafe Press that sums up how I should be feeling:

As an aside, there’s another shirt that sums up my general feeling about running, only because the Space Coast Half doesn’t seem all that far away (especially with that damned counter on their website):

Anyway, I didn’t beat my personal record this morning. But you know what? I ran today, and I can truly say I did my best. I paced myself in the beginning, held myself back when my breathing was erratic, let myself push harder when the road was running slightly downhill and I felt good, and sprinted the last 15 seconds of my half-hour run.

So I only ran 2.5 miles in that half hour. Okay. But three weeks ago, I was recovering from a fairly new injury. I think I’m allowed to cut myself some slack and ease back to where I was. Rome didn’t become an empire overnight, after all.

So instead of criticizing berating myself, I’m going to celebrate some of this morning’s wins:

  • I did not hit the snooze button (or worse, turn off my alarm) and go back to sleep.
  • I did not complain either time I ran up the blasted hill. (I waited until after I turned the corner and started running downhill the second time before jeering it).
  • I didn’t beg for a walking reprieve until I had almost reached 2 miles, and by then it was easy to tell myself to just suck it up.
  • I didn’t look at the timer to see how much longer I needed to run until after the 2-mile mark.
  • I only had to struggle to catch my breath once, and that was because I had stopped focusing on my breathing for a bit.
  • I found enough energy to sprint the last few seconds of my run and didn’t collapse in exhaustion afterwards.
  • I didn’t hurt myself or feel any pain during my run (or even afterwards).

Again, it wasn’t my best run ever, but it was a really good run, far better than I thought I could have done in January when I started this whole thing. And at the end of the day, that’s what really counts.

After all, I’m only competing against myself, and there’s no rule that says I have to top my best every time I lace up my shoes.

Not my best run…

But I still ran this morning.

Sort of.

I did not want to run this morning. My alarm went off at 3:30, and I dutifully turned it off before willing forcing my eyes to stay open. (Once I got out of bed, of course, I was fine, but those first few moments are critical.)

I got dressed, drank water, ate my pre-run snacks, stretched, then headed out. And I started out fine, I think. I caught myself going a little fast at first but checked it by controlling my breathing.

Anyway, long story short (too late!), somewhere along the 12-minute mark (even after running up that blasted hill twice without complaining), I started feeling lightheaded. That’s never a good sign. So I walked for about 3 minutes (enough time to bring my heart rate back to normal) and jogged the remaining half mile home. I still traveled a little more than 2 miles this morning, but I did wimp out.

Now that I’m home, I still feel a bit lightheaded, but at least I’m home and not wandering the neighborhood. And I can eat a banana or something to boost my blood sugar levels, since that’s all I think it is.

(Note to self: Be sure to eat a good dinner the night before you decide to get up and run.)

On another note, my knee feels fine and my foot feels okay – not perfect, but okay. I am still taking it easy on my rest days, but I think I’ll ice my calves for a bit when I get out of the shower.