Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Training Tuesday: Watchless April


As I was getting ready for work this morning, my dear friend, Judi, texted me this picture.
This was me after my first half marathon in October 2010 - The Grand Rapids Marathon.  The race that started the obsession, I guess you could say.  I have no idea where we were (Peppino's maybe?) but as you can see from my face, I was a happy girl (and so much younger - wow). 

Somewhere in the last 4 1/2 years, I lost that happy runner girl.  I got wrapped up in paces and splits and training plans and whenever I didn't have a run that went perfectly according to the plan, I got pissed and pretty darn hateful towards myself.  Sure, there's a time and place for all that data, but who am I kidding?  I'm not doing this for prize money or to win races. I'm always going to be a mid to back of the pack runner and there's nothing wrong with that. Yes, I worked hard to improve my times and become a better and faster runner, but along the way I lost what it felt like to run just for fun.

I want that feeling back.

Another good friend, Deb, challenged me yesterday to a month of "gadget-free running".  No Garmin or watch, although she said I could use it for the key parts of some workouts, like speedwork, and for the 2 races I have coming up.  We chatted back and forth on DailyMile a bit and I said I thought I could give up the Garmin but not my music.  We agreed music was OK since we both run with music.  I talked with a couple other runner friends to get their perspectives, too.  They all decided it was a brilliant idea and would go very far in helping me find that love of running again just to run.  (DAMMIT! And here I thought one of them at least would take my side and say it was a terrible idea!)  

So yesterday, I started what will be a month (at least) of watch-free runs (jury is still out as to how I deal with bike and swim workouts). My plan is to leave the Garmin at home for all of my runs, even the speedwork.  I was told I could run by feel - I've been running long enough to know what a tempo effort or Yasso effort should feel like and to focus on that.  My explicit instructions for yesterday's run were to "Have fun".  I did 6 miles on my familiar rail-trail and just soaked up the sun and tried to get lost in my music.  Did it feel 100% fun? No.  But, it's a start.

What about you?  Do you want to join me in a gadget-free month? Have you ever taken an extended vacation from your data?


Monday, March 30, 2015

Kent City Ridge Run 15k Race Report

This past weekend I decided to forgo my usual, flat as a pancake, 11 mile long run in favor of a hilly 15k race.  Friends have spoken highly of the Kent City Ridge Run 15k and I've never run it before, so I figured, what the heck. It was after I registered that I looked at the course and elevation profiles.  Probably should have checked these out first.
Kent City is about 45 minutes from my house and the race didn't start until 9:30, so I was able to sleep in a tiny bit.  I had my usual breakfast and headed out to "Jill's Hills".  The race starts and finishes at Kent City High School and the school was open before the race, so I had a warm place to wait.  Good thing because it was about 16* Saturday morning.


I started out pretty strong considering the race has an immediate uphill as soon as you leave the school parking lot.
Away we go!
 Miles 1-3: 10:32, 11:24, 10:50.  The north/south roads of this course were paved and the east/west roads were dirt and gravel, so the terrain kept changing.  This was both a challenge and a weird change of pace.  I wasn't crazy about the dirt downhills but whatever.  At least the views were nice.
Around mile 2
 Miles 4-7: 11:03, 11:10, 11:05, 11:37.  I wanted to maintain a sub-11 average pace for this race and with the steady uphill in this 4 mile stretch, I saw the average on my watch dip into the low 11's, which pissed me off.  I'd walked a couple times for only a few seconds and was walking through the aide stations, so that didn't help either.
Mile 4.5 ish.  The hill just kept going and going.
Miles 8-9.3: 10:07, 10:11, 8:36 (pace for last .3).  That nice downhill that started at the end of mile 7 pretty much saved my average pace for this race.  I passed a lot of people in these final 2.3 miles, including a guy, so that felt good.  I still had enough gas at the end to log a sub-9 pace too with the final .1 being uphill into the parking lot!  I think I ran this race very smartly and I felt strong at the end, even if in the middle I felt like my legs were going to fall off and that I was sucking wind.


I finished in 1:40:48 with a 10:49 average pace.  I was 11/15 in my AG, 79/115 women and 179/217 overall.  I'm not thrilled with those stats but I am happy with my final time.  This was a training run and I didn't go balls out (unlike in previous years when I've run races as training runs) and my age group is crazy fast.  For reference, the winner in my AG ran a 7:44 pace (finished in 1:11:58) and the top 5 women in my group were all sub-10 average paces. I didn't stand a chance to place much better than I did.  My B goal was to finish in under 1:45 and my A goal was under an 11 m/m pace.  I exceeded both of those goals on one of the hilliest courses I've ever run.  Even with the hills, none of them were as bad as I thought they'd be and I think the varying terrain and ups/downs helped work different parts of my legs.  The race also had a 5k and I saw lots of little kids getting ready to run that one with their parents, so it's a family-friendly event.

For such a small race, the Kent City Ridge Run was a class race.  The intersections were all staffed by EMS and Firefighters from the local fire department and the cutest little girls were handing out water.  While the roads weren't completely closed, the volunteers did a great job of keeping vehicles away from the runners.  Chip timing for a race this small was also a very nice touch.


 The spread after the race was pretty incredible too.  Seriously the best baked potato I've ever had.  In addition to the potatoes with all the fixings, they had cookies, bananas, oranges, apples, gogo squeeze applesauce, carrots, coffee, gatorade and water.  Super friendly volunteers were feeding everyone and they were printing results off as they came in.
For a race that cost less than $25, I would definitely run it again.  The long sleeve cotton race shirt (not tech like they'd advertised but a softer, gender specific cotton) is really nice. They even had 4 different colors to choose from and today announced on their Facebook page if anyone needed to trade sizes that they had extras.  The little medal is super cute, too, and I wasn't expecting that.  If you live in the West Michigan area, the Kent City Ridge Run is definitely one to put on your list.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fitness Friday: hills scare me



I haven't talked very much about my running here lately.  Fact is, I haven't been around here much period.  Sorry.  If you've stuck around, thank you for that.

I do have some races on the schedule.  I'm running the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5/3 River Bank Run 25k this spring.  This year they've created a really cool double-down medal for women who complete both.  You know me, all about the bling.

My training has been less than stellar though.  I feel like I've lost any and all speed I gained last year because of marathon training.  Too many long slow runs where the only goal was to finish XX distance.  That and running too many of those runs with intervals has really fraked up my mental game as well.

In an effort to shake things up, I signed up for a 15k race tomorrow.  The Kent City Ridge Run, or "Jill's Hills" as it's affectionately know around these parts.


For shits and giggles I mapped the route yesterday and I have to admit - those hills scare the shit out of me.  I've been struggling to run on flat terrain so now I'm wondering why I set myself up for this "special kind of torture" as my friend Tami put it.  This is a super small race (only about 350 people between the 15k and 5k) so the hills combined with my slowness means I'll probably be way at the bottom of my age group again.  Sucks after working so hard to at least be in the middle.

On the plus side? At least I'll get a good workout and it's my first official 15k so no matter what happens, it's an automatic PR.

What about you?  Do you love or hate the hills?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Weigh-In Wednesday: sigh

I know it's only been 2 days since I've been tracking, but I've kept my calories to within the range I set on MFP (1500 for those of you wondering) so I guess I was expecting the scale to at least be the same, not up again.  Maybe 1500 calories are too much and I need to drop it back down to 1200.  Kind of scary when I've eaten  a healthy breakfast and lunch today totaling about 850 so far.  Doesn't leave much for dinner besides some lettuce.

I wrote the check-in post for The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans today.  The irony isn't lost on me that I'm now weighing within a few pounds of what I weighed when I started blogging in 2009, writing for a fitness/weight loss site, and not being able to practice what I preach.  To be honest, that makes me really sick.  That post could be written today with the only exception being that I am much more active now.  Back then I'd done a few really slow 5ks and now I've done 15 half marathons, and 2 full marathons.

But I'm still overweight.  I could say the last almost 6 years were all for nothing, but I know they weren't.  I'm definitely healthier than back then.  More active for sure. But I feel like I've learned nothing about what to put in my body to keep me a size I can tolerate and feel good about. Sigh.

Because I'm having a bit of a pity party here's some timely Shel Silverstein instead.  Kinda wishing it was still Christmas time.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Motivation Monday: a fresh start?




I stole this off of my friend, Jennifer's, Facebook page this morning.  I don't really understand why Mondays are reserved for starting over when you really can start anytime you please.

But today it works. I need a fresh start.  This weekend, one I had to buy more new clothes because I'm running out of stuff that isn't sausage-casing tight.  I found a great pair of pants at Banana Republic for about 75% off.  I bought them and I'm wearing them today, but I hate that there is a number 12 on the tag.  I know it shouldn't matter but I haven't been a size 12 in at least 4 or 5 years.

That's depressing as hell.

One of my friends asked if I was still tracking calories.  I said no.  I track for a couple days, fuck up, and then stop.

Today I started again.

Hopefully it sticks this time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Motivation Monday: OMG!


I've had more than a few OMG! moments lately.  This past weekend I had to buy a new pair of jeans because none of my current ones fit anymore.

Do you know how hard it is to "reward" yourself with new clothes because you got too fat for the ones you already own?  Not to mention OMG they were crazy expensive.  Not cool.  I really need work pants too because I'm down to 2 pair that fit, but I can't justify spending another $100 when I really don't want to wear them for very long.

This morning I saw a number on the scale that I said I would never see again. In fact, it's a whole decade HIGHER than another number I said I would never see again.  A full TWO decades higher than where I really think I should be.

Yes, it's just a number and I know some of it is bloat from salt and whatnot this weekend, but still. It took everything I had not to burst into tears this morning.  This number is just further confirmation that I've completely screwed up several YEARS worth of work.  I can't stand what I see in the mirror and I'm so disappointed in myself.

How is this motivating?

I dusted off MFP this morning - although I'm toying with the idea of going old-school journaling a la Weight Watchers and just writing down everything I eat and drink without tracking the calorie aspect.

I'm chugging water this morning like it's my JOB.

I'm making a plan to start lifting again when my stupid back settles down (it doesn't help that I failed my long run this weekend because I couldn't last a mile without pain).

Here's hoping all this motivation lasts for longer than a day or two and that number starts going down again and my current wardrobe starts fitting.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fitness Friday: racing for a laugh

This past weekend I participated in the LaughFest FUNderwear 5k to support Gilda's Club.  Gilda's Club is a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids, MI that "provides free emotional healthcare to children, adults, families, and friends on any kind of cancer journey or those grieving the death of someone in their life due to any cause."


Participants in the race were encouraged to don their most ridiculous underwear over their running clothes.  (This is a rated-G event, in the middle of a Michigan winter, so no one was showing any skin.)  I actually needed a long run that day, so I ran 4 miles before the race (dressed as a normal runner), then went into the gym to change into my race duds.  I ran just under a mile to the race and then had time to snap a few pictures.

We were able to wait inside the fieldhouse of the local junior college, so I didn't get too chilled.  I'm really not a fan of races that allow dogs, but these two were hilarious with their undies and bras.


I wasn't sure how I wanted to run the actual race other than to push the pace a little over the previous 5 miles and beat the women dressed as old ladies wearing Depends. (Spoiler alert - they didn't stand a chance.)


The race wasn't timed in any manner so all I had to go by was my Garmin.  I ran 3.19 miles in 32:41 (10:14 pace).  It definitely wasn't one of my better 5ks but I realized early on that I didn't need to race it and frankly, I'm not in 5k race shape anyway.  Sub-30 would have been nice but the cobblestone hill at the beginning and end pretty much guaranteed that wasn't going to happen.  The goal really was to just have fun and enjoy the crazy costumes.  *note to self - pick up a pair of Wonder Woman Underroos the next chance you get*


So, a fun little 5k in the middle of a 9 mile run, complete with dorky costume and a medal.  The shirt is pretty decent, too.  All for a good cause.



Monday, March 2, 2015

Life Lessons from Dr Seuss

In case you live under a rock or done have children in Elementary School, today is Dr. Seuss Day! Schools all around the country celebrate his birthday (it's today!) and devote March as a month of extra, fun reading challenges.

Many important life lessons have come from Dr. Seuss. One of my twitter friends posted this and I wanted to share it with all of you.



Do you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book?  I think mine is a tie between One Fish, Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat.  We even dressed my twins up as Thing One and Thing Two one year for Halloween.  Best costumes ever :)

Is anybody out there?

So, it would appear I posted about six times in 2016.  Here it is, half way through 2017, and I haven't written a darn thing. In my de...