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I haven’t run 6.2 miles since 2013.  I did on Saturday for the Get in Gear 10k!  It feels good to be “back”.  I put that in quotes because I’m not all the way back, but part of the way.  I have the rest of the summer to get back into 2012 shape, or at least closer to it.  That was the year my Get in Gear time was 1:00:11.  So close to my goal of under 1 hour!  That was also the year I ran 100 miles in the month of June.  My time at the Beach to Beacon 10k that year was 1:00:21.  So close again!  And 2012 was the year I WOULD have reached my goal if the Time to Fly 10k hadn’t actually been unfairly longer than an official 10k.  But I’m not going to dwell on the past (although I’m still thoroughly irritated by that!).  I need to focus on the here and now.

The Get in Gear holds a special place in my heart.  The 5k was my very first race, back in April 2008.  Every time I go back, I am hit with a wave of nostalgia for that first race.  I remember the emotions I had that day.  Excited, nervous, awestruck that I was running in an actual race.  This time, I was running the 10k, a course I know very well.  I have run this race 4 times before, including the 1/2 marathon in 2010, which shares the 10k course.  It’s a pretty flat course, which is nice especially since this is my re-introduction to road races after a hiatus.  My goal was to be under a slow 1:10.

My coworker Jamie had a baby last year, and wanted to get back into running like I did.  We have been working toward this day since January, checking in with each other almost daily with our accomplishments and struggles as we trained.  We met at 7:30am Saturday morning and drove together to the race site.  We were both nervous and excited!  We parked on a side street and walked to Minnehaha Park.  It was cold outside (low- to mid-40’s) so we headed for the indoor pavilion.  We stayed in there for a little while, warmed by the hundreds of other people milling about in there.  Then we went out to the Falls and got a picture.  My selfie-taking skills suck.

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The 10k (and 1/2 marathon) race start was at 9:00am, and the 5k (which Jamie was running) started at 9:20am.  We walked from the falls, and I dropped my bag containing my phone and keys at Gear Check.  After wasting as much time as we could chatting and people-watching, I headed to the start corral at about 8:45am.  I positioned myself near the 12-minute-mile pacer who was holding a sign.  The road filled in with people, some of whom were doing the 10k and some the 1/2 marathon.  I was standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers.  Anyone who’s been in the start corral of a big race knows exactly what I’m talking about.  The chatter of all the excited conversations going on drowns out all other noise.  I was vaguely aware that the announcer was saying something on the loudspeaker, but there was no way to hear what he was saying.  And I’m only 5’2″, so I couldn’t see above people’s heads to know what was going on up ahead at the start line.  Basically I was stuck looking at people’s backs.  I looked down and saw a sea of running shoes on feet, all different types and some very colorful.  I wished I had my phone to take a picture of all the feet, but I would have wanted to crouch down to get a good angle for the picture, something I couldn’t have done in the close company I was keeping.  I heard the last line of the Star Spangled Banner being sung, and when it ended, there was a round of applause and some excited cheers from the runners….let’s get this thing going!  Excited chatter started again, deafening any sounds coming from the loudspeaker.  When you’re that far back, you can’t even hear the official start of the race.  At some point, the crowd just starts moving forward.  We walked for about a minute, then right before the start line mats, began jogging.  As I crossed the mats, I hit the start button on my Garmin watch.

People-watching during a race helps me to pass the time.  There were people of every fitness level, some tall, some short, some with friends, some alone.  The temperature being in the 40’s brought out all variations of dress.  Some runners were wearing t-shirts and shorts (too cold for me!); presumably they were doing the 1/2 marathon and would be out longer, when the temperature got into the 50’s.  Some were wearing multiple layers of shirts and/or jackets.  I had decided to wear a long-sleeved shirt, realizing that I might get hot later on, but I didn’t want the temptation of trying to remove my jacket while running.  I was cold at first, but warmed up by the first mile.

It was pretty crowded on the course, and I don’t like getting stuck behind slower people, so I ran up on the curb around mile 1.  It was kinda like running on a balance beam.  It was about as wide as both of my feet side by side.  I was up for the challenge, and I stayed on the curb for probably half a mile, then dismounted (hehe).  I tried to keep my pace around 11:00min/mile by looking at my Garmin now and then.

Right around mile 3 we have to cross a bridge.  In order to cross a bridge you have to climb up onto it, and the uphill was hard, even though at home I have plenty of hills on my runs.  I powered through (I passed several people walking up that part) and got onto the bridge.  Halfway over the bridge and it’s a nice downhill slope.  We passed the 5k mark, and I looked at my watch…a little over 34 minutes.  If I wanted to make 1:10, I’d have to speed up a little.

Having done many 10ks in the past, I knew that around the 4-mile mark I could gradually increase my speed without jeopardizing my finish.  I couldn’t go all out until around mile 5.5, but I could increase gradually until then.  Somewhere between 3 and 4 miles, we came to a hill.  What?  I don’t remember this hill being here!  But then it occurred to me that every time I do this race, I say the same thing about this hill.  Damnit, I must block it out every year.  I muscled up the hill, and I would barely classify what I was doing as running, but I kept at it, and eventually got to the flat section at the top.  And a little bit farther and there was a nice downhill section.  I sped up and let gravity carry me down.

At mile 4, there are timing mats.  I recalled that the race results will report how many people you passed from that point to the finish line, and in turn, how many people passed you.  I was determined pass a greater number of people than passed me!  My gradual increase in speed would guarantee that.  My watch even registered that I was running at a 10 minute pace at times.  The old me, the one who raced for time, was starting to surface.

Up ahead, I saw the bridge that we cross on the way to the finish line.  The half marathoners continued down the road, but those of us running the 10k took a sharp left after going under the bridge.  The incline up to the bridge is short but brutal, this time made so much better by a (very loud) police officer yelling and clapping “You can do it!  Keep it up!  Great job!”  I smiled, even though I felt like dying at beginning of that bridge.  That is at about 5.5 miles.  Time to turn on my “switch”  (Natalie coined that term when she was about 4 years old, running in a fun run).  That bridge was the last obstacle before the downhill to the finish.  As I ran up the front side of the bridge, I started passing people.  I was going faster now, though not my fastest, as I wanted to save that for when I had the finish line in sight.  I was gasping for air like a fish out of water, but that didn’t stop me from pressing on.  I looked ahead and picked out someone from the sea of runners, and made my way to them and passed them.  Then I picked someone else up ahead.  Repeat.  Then finally, the downhill off the bridge.  This is it; get out of my way!  I passed a bunch of people and started sprinting toward the finish.  I crossed the mats that were about 100 yards from the finish, and the announcer called my name as I came up to the line.  I hit the stop button on the Garmin: 1:09:02.  Even though my goal was under 1:10, I was a little disappointed with my time.  Honestly, I had thought that I would be at 1:07 or so.  But I don’t really care, the most important fact of the day was that I had just run 6.2 miles.  Satisfaction.

My official results are below.  I did pass more people than passed me!

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And they had my Salted Nut Roll at the food tent.  Bite size, but whatever.  A great way to end an eventful morning.  Until next time!

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Saturday, April 23: One week until my 10k race!  And I ran 5.5 miles!  I had hoped to be up to 6 miles by now, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.  Honestly, I wanted to turn around at the 2 mile mark, but I pretended that I was running the race, so I pressed on.  The library is 2.5 miles from my house, and today I ran only 0.25 miles beyond that to my turn-around, and I couldn’t believe how FAR it was!  Regardless, I did it, and I will run 3 more times (3 miles) this week in preparation for the race.  I really can’t wait!  It will be my first real race in over 2 years.  My goal for the race is to 1) run the whole thing (not a problem) and 2) finish before 1:10:00.  That seems like a given (I ran the 5.5 miles in 1:01:43), but I take nothing for granted.  So, officially, I’m ready!

As I ran past the library and onto the longest quarter mile in history, I looked ahead.  Less than one mile down the road is Prince’s home and recording studio, Paisley Park.  He lived in my small Minnesota town, though I rarely gave him a second thought.  On long runs (seems like so long ago), I used to run past Paisley Park.  It’s about 3.5 miles from my house.  In the wake of his death, several friends and neighbors have said that over the years they had spotted him at the grocery store or around town, but I never did.  Honestly, unless he was wearing his Purple Rain getup, I probably wouldn’t have recognized him.  I wasn’t a particular fan of his music, but even I can acknowledge that he was a gifted musician.  More than that, he seemed to appreciate Minnesota and his many fans.  Every now and then, it would be announced in the afternoon that he was giving a surprise performance that night at Paisley Park on a first come, first served basis.  For some lucky fans, this was an opportunity of a lifetime (he had one such performance just a few days before he died).  It always struck me as generous.  Celebrities often appear as untouchable, but he always seemed willing to share his gift with his fans.  For that, I respected him.

Natalie, who is 10, had no idea who he was, or that a celebrity had been living in our small town (why didn’t you TELL me someone famous lived here????   I actually had, many years ago, but she didn’t care because she didn’t know who he was).  This past Friday, everyone at her school was talking about Prince, and she learned some things.  When I picked her up on Friday afternoon after work, I asked her if she wanted to go down to see Paisley Park, and, curiosity getting the better of her, and she said yes.  We got there around 5:30pm.  The place was packed.  She saw the news trucks with their super tall antennas.  She saw the helicopter hovering above, taking pictures of the area.  She saw all the fans milling around, looking at the fence filled with balloons, messages, and flowers.  Many people were wearing purple.  She asked: “Is this history?”  I said, “Yes, this is definitely history.”  We stayed for a little bit and took some pictures.  In the car on the way back we talked about Prince.  She asked, “Exactly how famous WAS he?”  I thought about it for a minute, because a legend such as Prince is hard to quantify.  I explained, “If Taylor Swift remained just as popular as she is right now, 40 years from now, THAT’S how famous he was.”  “Whoa.”

RIP Prince, there is no doubt that your legacy will live on.

 

The Get In Gear 10k is in 3 weeks.  I have been increasing my weekend runs by a 1/2 mile each week, and this week was slated for 5 miles.  I remember (with some fondness and admittedly, some jealousy) when 5 miles was my normal easy morning run.  My house is exactly 2.5 miles from the library, so I used to run to the library, go around the outside of the building, circling back toward home for 5 miles.  Last weekend on my 4.5 mile run, I could see the library up ahead a 1/4 mile, right before I turned for home.

This morning, I ran 5 miles.  I did it!  It wasn’t pretty.  It wasn’t fast.  It wasn’t fun.  But I sure feel better having done it!  (And no, I didn’t return my overdue library books).  This run was a big hurdle for me…if I can run 5 miles, I can run 6.  If someone twisted my arm and insisted that I run a 10k next weekend, I could do it (provided they let go of my arm).  So the plan is to do 5.5 miles next week, 6 miles the week after that, and 6.2 miles for the race.

FYI, running in 20-degree weather (such as this morning) poses a few problems for me.  When I run, I breathe through my mouth (gasping may be a more appropriate word).  When it’s cold, the air doesn’t feel all that great going into my lungs, but it’s my tongue that suffers the most!  The tip of my tongue gets so cold, and kinda goes numb, which drives me nuts.  Sigh.  The second problem is cold fingers.  I wear thin knit gloves in colder weather (you know the kind you can buy for a couple dollars at Target, so you buy a few pairs, and then a few days later can’t find 2 matching gloves at home).  But my hands were still cold this morning despite the gloves, through the first 1/2 of my run.  After that, the tips of my frozen fingers slowly thawed and actually felt warm.  Which brings me to the pectoralis story that you have been waiting for since you read the title of this post…

Last weekend, when I went out for my run it was about 40 degrees.  I wore my little knit gloves, because, hi, 40 degrees is still cold.  About a mile in, my fingers warmed up.  Then my hands felt sweaty.  I debated taking the gloves off, but where would I put them?  I took stock of what pockets I had on my person.  None at all in my pants.  I could stick them in my waistband, but that would be uncomfortable.  The only pocket I had was on the left-hand side of my jacket (Monster Dash jacket, circa 2012).  I don’t know why it only has one pocket, but I could put them both in there…who cares if I’d look like I had a tumor sticking out of my left side?  I took the gloves off, pulling off each finger (my hands were sweaty and sticking to the gloves).  I hadn’t stopped running during all of this, and I held each glove balled up in each hand, to see if that would be fine.  Nope.  Felt weird and sweaty.  So I put both gloves in my left pocket.  Now to zip the pocket.  As I continued to run, I crossed my right arm over to my left side, pulling down and away from my body on the bottom of the pocket, to give adequate traction.  Then my left hand fumbled for the zipper, and pulled it up, sequestering the gloves in their new home.  As I pulled my arm back to the right, and my right pectoralis muscle came back into its anatomic position from that Twister-like, awkward cross-over, my pec muscle went into a spasm.  And not a minor one, I might add.  It was so painful!  Prior to this incident, I had never given my pec muscles much thought.  And now one was screaming at me.  I was trying to continue to run without looking like an idiot in pain, all the while thinking “I’m having a right-sided heart attack!”  After a few seconds (seemed like hours) it calmed down, but was still sore.  By the next day, it was totally fine.  So, you apparently use your pec muscles when you run (you’re welcome for that little tidbit of info).  I will never again take any of my muscles for granted, and I swear I will give them the respect they deserve.  All because I had cold hands.

So, I haven’t posted for a year and a half.  Eighteen months.  Many, many days (I don’t have a calculator handy).  I’d like to tell you that in the interim I have been a running machine, and have broken some speed records and was invited to represent the U.S. in the over-40 Olympic Games.  But alas, that is not the case.  I have struggled with running since the birth of my second child.  It’s like I lost motivation.  More like I lost momentum.  If you stop running for a while, it’s a heck of a lot harder to start back up again (from scratch), than if you just taper down a little then try to get back to the previous level.  Really hard.

But (lucky you), I’m back!  I started running again mid-December 2015.  In painful 1 minute bursts on the treadmill.  I slowly worked my way up, and then one day I went from running 5 minutes at a time, to running 20 minutes at a time.  It’s really all the same effort, just depends on how long you can endure it.  Reminder: I hate the treadmill.  But at this point, it was the only solution.  The indoor track was not in the cards this year.  Because of my husband’s frequent travel schedule, it was impossible for me to leave the house to run.  Can’t really leave 2 sleeping kids at home by themselves at 4:30am.  At least I don’t think you’re supposed to, anyway.  So the treadmill it was.  I worked up to 30 minutes of running, then increased my speed.  Many times I have felt that I was going to die, but I’m still alive, so that’s good.

On weekends for the past month, I have been running outside.  That first outside run of the year is always a painful lesson, because it never equates to the same distance and effort on the treadmill.  It’s always harder outside!  It’s very hilly around my house, which is good for training, so I slogged through those first few pavement runs and now I’m doing better.  Last week was 3 miles, this week 3.5!!  We are in uncharted 2016 territory now.

Next bit of news: I am running a 10k on April 30!  It’s the Get In Gear that I’ve run almost every year since 2008, other than the last few.  I can’t wait!  I decided to sign up for the 10k so that I would train harder and be ready for a few more 10ks this year.  My coworker is running the 5k, and is also starting over with running, so we have been reporting to each other every day at work on our successes (and many failures!).  We are working together toward this goal, which has helped me so much to stay accountable.  With 6 weeks to go till race day, I’ve got another 2.5 miles (or so) to add to my distance.  I plan to add a 1/2 mile each weekend.

Running is still hard at this point, because I have about 40 pounds to lose.  I have already lost 10 of the 50 that I have set for my goal.  It’s slow-going in the weight loss department, but I’m working on my issues.  I’ll get there, but a little later than I had planned.

Lastly, a friend commented to me that my blog was motivational for her in the last year as she took up running and lost weight (she has accomplished that—she is awesome!).  For me to be a small part of her success is humbling and gratifying.  I always said that if even one person gets something out of my blog, it will have been worth writing.  Now that I’m struggling again to start over, I went back and re-read some of my posts…they will serve as my motivation to keep going.  I know how I felt when running was “easy”, and I’m determined to get that back again.  The picture I chose for this post is from the morning of the Get in Gear 5k, April 2008.  My first race ever!

 

Until next time, happy running!

 

 

5k dreams

Last night, I had a running dream.  I haven’t had one for a while, but on the eve of my first race in almost a year, the visions came.  I was running fast and it was easy…invigorating!  I woke up knowing that I wouldn’t feel like that today, but with the hope that some day I would know that feeling again.  Natalie, who is now 8, would be running today as well.  She didn’t seem to be as excited as I was this morning (I know, what??).  She hasn’t been running at all, but we had planned to run/walk this one together.  Perfect for me, since I’m only on week 5 of my C25K (re) training.

It was a gorgeous morning….a high of 81 predicted for the day.  (The last weekend of September?  Yes, please!)  When we got to the race it was probably in the low 60’s.  Perfect running weather!  (Despite this, Natalie did her obligatory whine about the temperature—“it’s cold!”—but it was short-lived.)  She allowed me to have someone take our picture together.

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FYI, race bibs cover a good part of the post-baby belly….bonus!  Maybe I could start a new fashion trend.  I could wear a race bib wherever I go.  “Oh this?  I’m running a race later.”  Obviously.

We dropped our bag at the bag check (much to Natalie’s horror—“You’re giving these people your phone???”), and walked toward the start.  Ran into some of her classmates and their moms, and headed to the start line.

At 8:30, we heard the horn signaling the start, and started running once we crossed the start line.  I tried explaining to Natalie the magic of the chip embedded in our bibs.  The whining started shortly thereafter, although it was much less annoying than last year, and said with a smile.  “Running is hard!”  “My legs are tired!”  “Why did you sign me up for this?  I never said I wanted to do this race!”  “Don’t sign me up for another race unless I say I want to!”  {insert my eyes rolling after each of these statements}

She begged me to walk after we had only run for a few minutes.  I could have run longer, which felt good.  There were lamp posts lining the road, and we decided we’d run from one to the next, then walk to the next, then run to the next, etc.  It was a pretty good system.  I cringed a little when she asked if we were at mile 2 yet, and I knew we hadn’t even gotten to the turn-around.  She took the news like a champ (a champ who has been defeated, and wants to give up).  After the turn-around, I convinced her to run a little farther each time (i.e. to the next street sign), because the faster we went, the sooner we’d get there.  She got somewhat of a second wind, and heeded my advice.  We made it to the bridge over the road, and we ran to the finish from there.  She kept saying she couldn’t do it, but she did it.  I have to say it felt really good crossing a finish line again, with all the excitement of the fans and the music.  The announcer called out our names as we crossed (baffling Natalie yet again—-“how did they know who we were??”).

We went through the food line, and I got my Salted Nut Roll!  Natalie didn’t understand why I had to take my picture with it. #saltednutrollselfie

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We walked over to the waterfall, and I took a picture of it (sans Natalie in the picture…that was apparently asking too much).

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All in all, it was a successful morning, and I can’t wait to do it again!  I’m actually entertaining the possibility of doing the 10-mile next year (I ran it in 2012)!  We’ll see how that all works out 🙂

Progress…..

Well, I haven’t written since June, but it’s not because I haven’t been running.  It’s because it’s difficult to type more than a sentence with a baby on your lap.  So I’m seizing the opportunity (while she naps) to type out this post that’s been swimming around in my head for the past month.

During my maternity leave, I was walking 2 miles each morning with the stroller, hoping to build up my stamina.  It was while walking that I came to accept that I’d have to essentially start over with running.  I’m ok with that.  When I first started running in 2008, I did my own version of Couch to 5k….walking and running on the treadmill, slowly upping my running minutes.  This time, though, I have a smart phone!  I downloaded the free C25k app on my phone and waited for the opportunity to try it out (tongue-in-cheek, waited=procrastinated).

I went back to work full-time on July 30.  I had to figure out WHEN I could run.  As you know, I have always been a morning runner.  But the baby gets up at 6am when I get up, and I just don’t think it would work out for me to get up earlier to run.  I would be worried that she would wake up, and that she would wake everyone else up while I was out running.  So, I came to the conclusion that running on the treadmill in the evening would be the best for everyone.  Blah, I hate exercising before bed, but whatev.

The first week of August I tried out my new app.  There’s actually a lady who tells you when to walk and when to run.  I love her!  Especially when she says “Start walking”.  I don’t love her as much when she says “Begin running”.  However, she’s nice enough to tell me when I’m halfway through my workout.  I really needed her.  Someone has to tell me what to do!  I have followed all of her instructions to a T so far.  I’m on week 4, day 2.  It is up to 5 minutes of running at a time.  Man it’s hard!  I have to keep reminding myself that it will be easier later on.  If I push through the hard stuff, I get to the easier stuff.

My weight has steadily been going down.  I have been trying to be good and log all my food each day with myfitnesspal, although during the workweek it doesn’t always happen.  I have lost 37 pounds from the day the baby was born, 16 pounds from where I settled about 2 months ago.  I have 14 more pounds to get to my pre-pregnancy weight, and 30-40 pounds beyond that to be at my goal weight.  By the way, I love the myfitnesspal app, because it has a barcode scanner!  I just scan the barcode on my food and it automatically enters it in!  Way easier for me.  And I need all the easy I can get these days.

In other news, I registered for a 5k Sept 28!  Yikes, that’s only 3 weeks away!  I will be running with Natalie and some of her 3rd grade friends and their moms.  This will be Natalie’s 3rd 5k (she’s 8).  Let’s hope it goes better than the epic fail Turkey Day 5k last year (the last race I did).  At least her toes won’t be freezing into popsicles.  Everything’s better when your toes aren’t freezing into popsicles.  I’ll report on the race afterwards…fingers crossed for minimal mid-run whining!

Until then, here’s a peek at my inspiration:

 

Esme

Esme

Sister Selfie!

Sister Selfie!

Aaannnnnddddd…..she’s awake.  Gotta go!

 

Epic!

Epic run.  Well, epic run/walk.  In the rain.  With lightning and thunder.  Maybe really not so epic.

I went out this morning at 7am, after feeding the baby, to run for the first time in, well, forever.  I had the foresight last night to find and charge my Garmin Forerunner so that it would be ready to record the event.  It had rained overnight, and the air was cool.  Perfect weather for a run!  It wasn’t raining anymore, but there was thunder rolling in the distance.

My plan was to go out for a 1/2 mile, then come home.  A quick 10 minutes in the “olden days”, aka before getting pregnant, but today I knew 1 mile would take me longer.  “I’ll be back in 20 minutes.”  That way, if I had to hobble home, I’d have a little leeway and nobody would freak out.

I left the safety of my driveway and walked out onto the road.  I hit the “start” button on the Garmin, which committed me to do something, so I started running.  If you can call it running…my legs felt like lead, and quickly my lungs were burning.  My pace was 12 min/mile or more.  I kept telling myself “it gets better, remember?”  Hopefully in a month I will look back at this first run with fondness.  Not today, though.  I watched the Garmin like a hawk to see the numbers climb to 0.5 miles so I could turn around.

Finally, I reached the turnaround.  That felt good.  Remember, the home stretch for me is mostly downhill, which always makes things easier.  Not easy, but easier.  A woman was walking on the path coming toward me.  She waved and asked me to stop, apologizing for the interruption.  I thought she must be wanting to congratulate me on my first postpartum run.  No, she wondered if I had seen an iPhone on my travels, she lost hers on the path earlier.  Slightly disappointed, I said no, and continued on.

Thunder and lightning were still in the background.  I wasn’t sure I was going to make it home without stopping.  Garmin said 0.85 miles, and I relented to my burning legs and started walking.  Almost on cue, as if to say “dummy, you should have kept running!”, the skies opened up and it started pouring.  Thunder crashed overhead.  As I got close to my driveway I ran up to the garage door and punched in the code.  I was soaked.  I forgot to hit the “stop” on the Garmin until I was safely inside the house.

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Well, epic or not, I did it.  I ran.  And I will run again.