The miles can be different

When people discover I run (marathons,) the most frequent question I am asked:

Don’t you get bored?

I don’t.

When I tell them that I run with music on a rare occasion, they are even more shocked.

I just run with my thoughts, I tell them. I also draft many blog posts. I draft emails that need to be responded to. I remind myself of things I need to do when I get home. I plan the rest of my week in my head. I do all of these things while running. Or, I just let my mind wander and not really think about anything specific at all. No one can interrupt me. It’s just my thoughts and I.

But I’d be lying if I said that there are no runs that get “boring.” I’ve lived in my new house for a month and I’m already “tired” of the neighborhood streets.

What I’ve learned is that new neighborhoods and streets can make your run — especially if it’s a long marathon training run — substantially better and even great.

On Saturday morning, I ran a good 10-ish (of 16) miles on unchartered lands. I had this sense of renewed energy. My legs felt great. Everything felt great. I even started to run faster as I went along Shilshole Bay to Golden Gardens. I was lucky enough to have Bryce meet up with me to run up a very steep hill and then a few miles after that and to have my friends waiting for me at Discovery Park where I finished up my run with three miles with them. (Oh, and I got a ride home!)

Most of the time I am too lazy to drive somewhere new to do my long runs because I feel like it takes up too much time. Honestly though, it’s very much worth it.

I see more of my city of Seattle with every run I take. Just the other day I ran on residential streets that I have never been on — and I’ve lived here my entire life (27 years!) And on vacations, I discover otherwise-neglected areas while running as a tourist.

Where do your runs take you?

I don't run with my phone so here's a picture of a run in Bruges, Brussels from April 2013 — obviously new running terrain!

I don’t run with my phone so here’s a picture of a run in Bruges, Brussels from April 2013 — obviously new running terrain!

Something about the morning

I wouldn’t call myself a morning person. I don’t like waking up early but I do it on the weekdays (before 6:30 am) so that I can avoid driving in traffic. I usually sleep in during the weekend — unless I have a morning long run scheduled with Joanna or I have non-running (gasp) plans.

This morning I decided to wake up even earlier so I could get a run in before work.

Yes, it was difficult to get myself out of bed.

But once I was outside running, it was a great feeling.

It was peaceful.

It was cool. (As in temperature. No 80-degree running for this girl!)

It was a nice start to my day.

Although my new neighborhood is surrounded by major heavily-trafficked roads, I tried to run on the side streets and even when I had to run on those busy streets, they just weren’t so busy at 6:15 in the morning. They were actually pretty calm and quiet. (But, I guess that’ll happen on a Friday in the summer.)

All I could hear were my foot steps and the occasionally car drive by. I saw three other runners on my 3-ish mile-run. We all nodded and smiled at one another, as if we knew that we had a good thing going on.

I decided to run this morning because there was no way I’d be running in the heat of the afternoon.

All my runs earlier this week felt gross because the sun was beating down on me and I was moving at snail pace. They were not fun. They felt uncomfortable.

I was by no means running fast this morning.

But, that didn’t matter.

There’s just something about the morning.

A rockin’ and a rollin’ — and runnin’

The two weeks prior to the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon looked like this for me:

6/8: 5K (birthday race) – the recap is here.

6/9: Rest/nothing

6/10: Rest/nothing

6/11: Rest/nothing

6/12: Rest/nothing

6/13: Rest/nothing/you get the idea

6/14: 5.5 mile run at Discovery Park

6/15: 30-min run

6/16: Rest/nothing

6/17: 20-min run

6/18: 35-min run

6/19: Decide to do a half-marathon in two days

6/20: 2.8-mile run around inner Green Lake

In the two weeks before the half-marathon, my longest run was only 5.5 miles. Prior to that, my longest run was my previous half-marathon in April (the Whidbey half!)

Jo and I before the race!

Jo and I before the race!

Somehow, I convinced Joanna to run Rock n’ Roll with me and we decided to just “see how it goes.” If we felt like pushing ourselves and racing, we would. If not, then we wouldn’t.

We started out going a little over 8 min/mile pace. We thought that that was a good place to be. Hey, if we kept up and went faster, maybe, just maybe we could get me a PR?

Nope.

About two miles into the race, I felt like I needed to use the bathroom.

And, I wasn’t going to be able to just “sweat it out.”

We probably jinxed it because right before the race, Joanna and I had been talking about how lucky we had been for never having “to go” during a race — ever. (And we’ve done quite a handful of races!)

So, shortly after the 3-mile mark, I found a porta-potty tucked behind the stage of one of the musicians performing along the course.

After taking care of business, I felt much better.

And we continued running but sights of PR-ing, or even just pushing ourselves were now over.

“Portland Marathon training starts today!” I told Joanna.

And, to be honest, the first day of training sucked (for me).

I was dragging my feet and not feeling so great starting at maybe mile 8 or 9. Joanna (as always,) was a great cheerleader and running buddy. I told her to tell me some stories (specifically funny, but not too funny). She told me about the preparations for her friend’s upcoming wedding. She told me of her boyfriend’s travel experience in Jordan.

When we got onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct, as dead as my legs and feet felt, it was a pretty spectacular view. We had a full view of Puget Sound with ferries going in and out of the terminal. The ferris wheel was right below us. The sun was out and the skies were blue. It was perfect (Seattle running weather).

My body just did not feel perfect.

With three miles left to go, Joanna reminded me that all we had left to do was “a quick loop around Green Lake,” our neighborhood stomping grounds.

Those three miles seemed longer than three miles. And, my feet and legs felt like they were doing a full marathon rather than a half!

“What is this madness??” I thought to myself.

(Oh right, I did this to myself. I thought that it would be fun to do a half-marathon with no training).

Finally we were approaching the finish. Right before turning the corner onto Mercer (the finish line street,) I heard people yell my name. I turned to find two of my running friends! It was so nice to see them cheering!

I smiled (or at least I tried to,) and continued on. There was one last dip and uphill on Mercer (not to mention that the finish ends on an incline!!)

I am moving at a very slow speed. I am going up a hill (sure, it may not be steep but at this point, it doesn’t matter!) and a 10-year-old boy passes Joanna and I. We cringe, We can’t let him beat us!

But I didn’t have it in me to catch him.

“Joanna, go catch him and beat him!” I told her.

She asked me if I was sure and if it was really OK for her to leave me. (I told her “yes” as long as she beat the kid).

She did.

And, I eventually finished (like two minutes after her).

Jo and I after the race!

Jo and I after the race!

We clocked in sub-2 hours. For first-day-of-Portland Marathon, training I’d say that’s pretty good.

My final time was 1:56:08.

I feel like lately my motto has been: Just think how fast I’d be if I trained!

I want it to turn into: Look how fast I am since I trained!

So, everything I do between now and October will be for the Portland Marathon. (Sub-4 hours, I’m coming for you!!)

Just keep swimming

I’m not as terrified of the pool as I was two years ago when I was beginning to train for a triathlon.

I do get extremely tired after like two consecutive laps. I can’t do a proper crawl. I can’t do that flip-thing against the wall to turn. I just move my body from one end of the pool to the other and then back again. I’m actually a horrible swimmer. I never did swim team. I am just a “good enough” swimmer to save myself if I were on a sinking boat — or so I hope.

The pool was crowded yesterday. I mean, with 80-degree weather in Seattle, I’m sure every outdoor pool was crowded! If two’s a company and three’s a crowd, four’s too many and five is just not gonna’ happen — in one swimming lane! I went to the “fast” lane since it only had two swimmers in it. Plus I was nearly done with my workout. Both the medium and slow lanes had four swimmers each!

There was one younger guy who looked about my age or maybe in college in the fast lane. He looked at me and I asked if I could share the lane with them. He replied “yes” and said that he and the other “fast swimmer” were just doing loops (rather than splitting the lane since now as the third person, I was crashing their party). I never exchanged words or even made eye contact with the woman who was also in the lane since she was in the zone — and fast! — and never took a break.

The guy told me I could start ahead of him but I let him go. I didn’t want him on my tail the whole time! I’m sure he’s faster than I am! The thing is, I’m pretty sure the woman was the fastest of us. Each time I started to swim, I thought she was going to catch me so I proceeded to kick faster and swing my arms harder. I could only do this for four laps. Then I called it quits. I was out of breath and my entire body felt exhausted. (Plus I had already done 16 laps before it got super crowded and 20* was my goal for the day).

I jumped out of the pool and my legs felt like jelly. I hobbled to the showers and rinsed some of the chlorine off. Then, it was off to my car to drive home run home. My legs continued to feel like jelly but I managed to trudge home in the uncanny Seattle heat. Since I just pulled shorts over my swimsuit, it was difficult to tell what was sweat and what was remnant pool-water from my swimsuit.

Summer has (sort of) arrived so I’ll take advantage of outdoor-pool weather while I can.

Plus, my knees will thank this runner later for swimming when I’m older, right?

 

*I was really proud of my 20 laps. But, upon looking through my old running logs (where I also kept track of other physical activity), I realized that last year I was doing 30+ laps at a time and the year before that (when I was training for the tri,) I was doing upwards 40!

Just keep swimming?

Getting race ready

I type this awkwardly as I try not to ruin my just-nail-polished-nails.

That’s how I get ready for a race, by painting my nails neon pink.

I’m being serious.

But, getting ready for a race also means solidifying my race goals. And, I have put together a list of several goals for tomorrow’s Whidbey Half Marathon:

A. Set a PR. This would mean breaking 1:46:40.

B. Race my all without any IT band/knee pain.

C. Run negative splits.

D. Break 2 hours.

E. Finish with a smile on my face.

 

In a perfect world, I would attain all of the above goals.

I have been training for this race with the “I’m going to PR!” attitude. However, in recent weeks, I have been having runner’s fatigue/burnout. Going out on a run has been “meh.” I’ve more been doing it because I don’t want to die during this half and the hills that come with it. If I wasn’t signed up for the race, I probably wouldn’t have gone running half of the time in the last month.

I’m burned out.

So, I will give everything I’ve got during the 13.1 miles tomorrow. It may be my last race of my 26th year. (I’m not signed up for anything before my June birthday month).

I will push my hardest. I will smile my hardest. I will run smart. I will run fast. I have a lot of other friends who are also running and will be there cheering so it’ll be a fun one. It’s also going to be (allegedly) sunny.

My nails are done and I am ready.

Six days away

My (what-I-like-to-think) “re-debut” race is in six days.

Last fall I had IT band/knee injury-stuff going on and ran a very painful Chicago Marathon.

Thus followed physical therapy and very minimal running through the holidays and New Year.

In February I ran a half but this one is my “real race.” That one I signed up for at the last minute (like a week before) and my goal was to moderately race it without any pain. I did that. This one I signed up for in the midst of my PT rehab, the one I would race when I would be well and healthy.

This weekend’s Whidbey Island Half Marathon is to actually race — to not hold back.

I’m nervous because what if my IT band does act up?

I’ve also been hearing from multiple people that this course is hilly. I’m just in denial and telling myself that the full is hilly and the half (hopefully) isn’t too bad.

After all, my goal is to PR. (Isn’t that the goal every “real” race?)

I’ve been training like I want to PR. This has actually been my first half marathon (out of 14) where I followed a training plan.

Also, for the past month I’ve been that one obnoxious friend “who can’t drink” because I’m in training mode. (At least my friends have been grateful to have a DD).

Yesterday I rolled my ankle while playing ultimate. The awful thing about it is that I wasn’t even doing anything cool or difficult. I just tripped over my own feet and fell the wrong way on my left ankle.

It still feels funny today. I’m kind of bummed out about that because isn’t one supposed to be 100 percent going into race week?

I’m wearing my running shoes to work today. If I’m going to have a wonky ankle, it’s going to be well-supported and in comfortable shoes.

Because, I’m six days away.

It’s Friday night and I feel all right

Everyone looks forward to Fridays, right?

I mean, unless Friday afternoon/evening isn’t the start of your weekend, then you may think differently.

But, for me, I have a normal Monday – Friday work schedule.

And, I’m usually a Saturday-morning runner. As in, I log in my miles for the week’s long run sometime before noon that day. There was a time when I tried playing around with Sunday morning long runs. But, usually Saturdays seemed to work best. It was good to “get the run out of the way” so I could enjoy the rest of my weekend.

But, what if you take that notion a step further? Why not do your long run on Fridays? Why not do it immediately after your work week ends?

I did that two weeks ago out of necessity. The Seattle Sounders’ season opener was mid-day on a Saturday and I knew I wouldn’t manage to get the run in before (or after). Sundays are now for ultimate Frisbee and I don’t like to do my long runs on the same day as that … so, that left me with Friday afternoon.

It wasn’t that bad.

Last week the forecast called for rain all weekend. Friday when I left work around 3:30 p.m. it was not raining and the sun was even (partially) out. It seemed like a good idea to get my miles in. So, I did. I ran to beat the rain.

This weekend I had no plans Saturday. The forecast looked promising (i.e. no rain) all weekend. But, regardless, I went on my long run Friday after work.

Yes, it is tiring to go after working a full day. But, at least that means I can sleep in on Saturdays rather than waking up early so I have enough time to get my run in plus stretch and shower and do whatever else the day may hold.

And, that also means that staying up until 2 a.m. hanging out with friends won’t ruin me for my Saturday morning run because it’s already been done!

Side note: Currently I am training for a half-marathon so the longest run I have done on a Friday after work has been 10 miles. Next week I’ll do 11 and the following 12. I assure you that when summer comes around and I am training for my full marathon, I won’t be doing my long runs on Fridays. Eighteen miles after work? I don’t think so!