Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quick whine

I think maybe running in the rain is the worst thing ever.

Aside from a quick (minus a human traffic jam around Comerica Park - I knew the Tigers were on the verge of post-season bliss, but I didn't expect to run into throngs of people around the souvenir shop)  three miles around downtown last Wednesday, I haven't run at all since the Women's Half.


The Free Press half marathon is in TWO WEEKS.

Double yikes.

I tried to get back on the horse today and was motivated to lace 'em up and run.  So, of course, two blocks from home it starts raining.  And then about a mile later it starts pouring.

Triple yikes.

I ducked under an awning for a few minutes and waited for the rain to let up.  It didn't.  I turned around and ran towards home, running though huge fat raindrops.  I couldn't see where I was going and I had to tuck my chin into my chest.  I lost my motivation after two miles.  I was hoping to get in at least 45 minutes, no matter the distance.

I was completely miserable.  I was back in my living room in 22 minutes.  I quit.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Detroit Women's Half

Spoiler alert: I finished.

The short version of what I guess I could make a long story is that the Detroit Women's Half was great.  Fantastic.  And I'm so glad that I was my first big race.

It was the inaugural year of the Women's Half, so of course there were some minor issues, but overall they didn't take away from the experience. 
Just to get them out of the way, they were:
Not enough portable toilets (Um, hi? you have 1,500 women signed up for a race.  For 1,500 women you need a lot of portable toilets.  You need like.....1,500?)
Not easy to find the start.  Right before the race started a very nice man asked us to "clear the course" when we were actually trying to weave through crowds to find a start line. 
Race started late.  I'd say about 15 minutes late?  Probably because all of the women were still trying to a) pee and b) find the start line!

 Here it is.  The one picture I managed to take. 

Now, onto the goodness that was mah race! 

I took of like a maniac.  This was in part because I was trying to keep up with my friends.  I knew better, but it was hard to stop myself because I was SO TOTALLY HANGING IN THERE!  Before I knew it I looked up and saw that I was right next to the 2:00 pacer, which was completely bananas.  I slowed down a bit and tried to find a comfortable pace.  I thought I had one when all of a sudden I felt a swift smack on my rear and saw my friends settle in next to me.  I was ahead of them.  This was a huge problem as they are light years faster than me.  I slowed down again.

And then I felt the pain.  THE PAIN!

My legs - my shins - they hurt.  But my feet?  They were numb.  It freaked me out.  I stopped for a minute to tie and then re-tie my shoes and settled in again.  I still hurt.  I reminded myself of how I felt during the Crim race and how it passed quickly and then I took advantage of an aid station and walked a bit.  I wanted to be so pissed at myself for walking so early in the race, but I knew that in order to finish I needed to take it easy.  I was right, by mile 5 whatever the pain/numby thing was had worn off, never to be felt again.

I fell in with another (much more manageable) pace group and started to zone out.  I felt fantastic.  Even running past a particularly bewitching volunteer that yelled "have the best runners passed you yet?!" (Thanks, lady.  Suuuuuper motivational!") while waving her iPad in the air.  I even had a few conversations with other runners along side of me.  Thanks to all of the walking that I did in the beginning I knew that my hopes of a 2:40 were pretty well gone, but if I held steady I could finish at about 2:50. 

I knew that the 3:00 pacer was well behind me, so I made it a goal to keep my pace and make sure that 3:00 didn't creep to close.  I fully understand, of course, that there are plenty of women that run full marathons in less time that this, but for me - training for my first big race, what I really wanted was just to finish, even if I was barely jogging! 

Before I knew it I was at the final turn (even though I had run by it on the first two loops of the island!) and was almost at the finish.  I gunned it as hard as I could toward the balloons and the noise and the crowds that made up the fantastically lively finish line, and made it in 2:51.  I wasn't mad in the least that I didn't make 2:40.  Finishing at all, especially under 3:00 had me so pumped. 

I will say that I was a freakin' genius for those few longer runs on Belle Isle.  The spectators and cheer teams were mostly friends and family that had traveled for a specific runner and weren't so lively when strangers ran by.  Running loops around the island was nice and pretty the first time, but the second time around I was thinking really nasty thoughts when even thought I knew I was on mile 9ish I was running by a sign that said Mile 4.  The second time I saw that little red bridge I thought about just swimming across a pond and cutting a mile or so off the race.  Having the memory of running by landmarks on my training runs was off-the-charts helpful in estimating how far away from other big points I was.  I felt like kind of a genius for practicing on the actual course. 

I sure have babbled (typed?) more then necessary, so I can wrap up quickly.  The medals were cute, I found my friends, we ate some peanut butter roll ups and cheese and then I went home.  The next day I dropped some things on the floor and had to beg my coworkers to pick them up. 

I loved every single second of it. 

(And I'm definitely looking forward to the Free Press half-marathon.  I'll be wearing throw-away clothes.  I may have forgotten to mention how shiveringly cold I was at the beginning.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

A 5K with a 10 mile warmup

This coming Sunday is the Detroit Women's Half, and I will be running it.

I decided to sign up for this race shortly after I really got into running.  I had run a 5K and while I was pretty pumped to finish the race, we've already discussed my frugalness how cheap I am, and while the bright yellow Hanes cotton t-shirt was a neat?  It was decidedly...less than bitchin' swag.

Sure, there was fitness, camaraderie, some pancakes and all those high-fives at the finish line, but if I'm forking over my cash, I want more.  Medals.  Tech shirts.  Awesome stuff.

I needed to run longer races.  Longer races come with stuff.

Right after I found out about the Women's half I picked up an issue of Women's Running with a 14-week 1/2 Marathon plan.  I was almost exactly 14 weeks (13 weeks and 3 days) away from the race, and I've tried my damnedest to stick to that plan.  Sadly, one work trip and some crazy shin splints cut my long runs short twice, meaning that 10 miles is the longest I have ever run.  And this Sunday I need to run 13.1!

A friend told me to just pretend that I'm running a 5K, and since I know I can run 10 miles, pretend that the 10 miles is just a warmup for the last 3.1 miles.  Clearly, my friends are super nutty.

Since I'm only a week away and I know I can't run an 11 mile long run and still be ready for 13.1 miles this weekend, I did what I thought was the next best thing.  I've run twice this week on what will the race course.

 I went back to Belle Isle.  And played with the panorama on my iPhone, clearly.

The race course is a loop that is run 2.25 times.  I've run it 1.25 times once, and 1 time around yesterday.  If I keep the same pace, I should finish the half in 2:40 (it's my first - and we've established that I'm still slower than slow) but I hope that the atmosphere and adrenaline from the race will cut some time off of that. 

Honestly, even if I don't make it in 2:40 - I really just want to finish.  I'm so excited to run in this race, but I'm also terrified.

Terrified that I won't finish. That I'll be dead last.  That I won't have any fun.  I'm even terrified that the girls I'm running with will be mad they have to stay on the island until I finish.  I know that I'm only psyching myself out, but I can't help it.

I'm a really super excited kind of scared. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Golab K

I ran another race on Monday, since Labor Day provided me with a much needed day off of work.

As has been the case with me lately, I followed my pattern of good run, bad run, good run, and so on...

I wasn't going to run Golab K because I'm broke and decided that if I was going to race, I'd make it worth my while.  I want at least two of my three critera to be met: 10K or longer distance, righteous shirt (preferably tech), medal.  This race was none of the three, but like the good Polish girl that I am, I caved and registered about 4 minutes before Active closed registration.

I should have saved the money.

The race itself was pretty nice.  Low cost, decent swag (a tote bag with a running cabbage on it isn't a tech shirt, but it still can't be beat) and in one of my most-loved cities on planted Earth, Hamtramck.

I stunk up the entire course.  Maybe the Crim with it's fancy swag and rowdy spectators spoiled me but nothing was really speaking to me on this particular day.  My legs were killing me only a quarter mile in, I walked at least half the race because I was so desperately thirsty that my throat was sore and I tripped in pothole because I wasn't paying attention.  Not everyday it our day, you know?  And Monday was without a doubt not mine.

Despite my outrageously poor showing, as long as Golab K is put on, I'm running it.  The course was fun, running though main streets, back alleys, a football field and even for a short time on the Labor Day Parade route!  We also pounded pavement past quite a few of my favorite bars and it took everything in me not to stop my sore legs, rip off my bib and pop in for a beer.  The race was really (really) small - there wasn't even a marked start line! - and it was the perfect amount of campy and small town, just like I'd expect in Hamtramck. 

I was pretty pissed after crossing the finish line and just turned around to watch a few more runners cross the line and then went back to my car.  I never stopped my GPS and I didn't stick around to see the race times posted, so I'm not sure of my actual time.  This is probably for the best.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I should have written this before -- just to make it real -- but I'm avoiding putting it in the universe

I am officially signed up for two (2!) half marathons.

Like a crazy person.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


It's been nearly a week, but I ran a race.

A 10.  Mile.  Race.

This HUGE for me.  I've ran a whopping three races before, and they've all been 5K races.  I like racing, I really do, but I'm also pretty (read: a lot) broke at all times, and paying $20-$40 to run 3.1 miles with nothing but a banana, cotton t-shirt full of logos and maybe a 'complimentar'y watery beer doesn't really fit in with my budget.  I'd rather run 3.1 at home and enjoy 1/6 of an $8 6-pack when I get home.


A friend talked me into running the Crim race a few weeks ago, and I was ready to register for the 8K version of the race.  I whined that she and her running group were really fast (they are) and I was really slow (I am) and that the rest of the girls in her group would be cranked when they had to sit around and wait for me to cross the finish (they weren't).  Then I started getting angry at myself for wimping out on the bigger race (and medal).  As soon as I learned that the 8K started waaaay after the last wave of 10 Mile runners took off and realized they'd have to wait for me anyway, I held my breath and registered for the 10 Mile.

Hold up.  Let's quickly mention that my LONGEST run had been 7 miles.  A slooow 7 miles. 

The race was packed.  Corrals for the 10 mile race alone were filled with about 8,000 people.  I'd guess it was really well organized but I've never been in a big race before so I have no frame of reference.  We got to the corral with about zero seconds to spare, so there was no time to worry or wonder what would happen.  We were almost immediately off.

And I had a BLAST.  For 2 hours and 10 minutes (told you.  slow.) I was almost constantly happy.  There were about 10 minutes during mile 2 where my shins were on fire, but thanks to adrenaline, stretching or just easing nerves the pain disappeared really quickly, thank goodness.  There were beer stops.  There were other people that had to stop and walk.  Every racer was friendly and every spectator was friendlier.  The weather was perfect.  People were cheering nonstop.  Residents of the neighborhoods lined up in lawn chairs on their driveways and cheered their faces off for total strangers.  Volunteers held up signs telling me I (well, everyone) was amazing.  There were HILLS, but each time I got discouraged a downhill run made me feel like a damn speed demon.  It was perfect.  I was on mile 7 when I realized that I still felt great and there was no way I wasn't going to finish. 

By mile 9 I was pretty tired. I walked for awhile because I wanted to save energy to finish strong.  As soon as I hit the brick road that led to the finish, I took off running (again) toward the finish line.  I was exhausted, getting sore and my Honey Stingers were wearing off so I was hangry - but I got chills, actual chills!, once I was a few steps from the finish line.

I didn't stop looking at my medal for hours once I got home.  I barely got off the couch for the rest of the day, but it was totally worth it.  I've never felt so great in my life.  I still can't believe I did it! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

When all your runs are slow, what's a bad run?

There's a really lovely island park, Belle Isle, near my home.  There are small but lively beaches, a wicked fun water slide and a golf course - all of which I've taken advantage of.  The island is also a pretty perfect round track that I decided to give a try a few days ago.

My question last post was whether or not hotter temperatures and bad scenery squashed my mojo and worsened my runs.  This particular 7-mile island run was pretty gorgeous and since the parks were pretty quiet I got to share a few nice words and high fives with runners, walkers and cyclists (save for a few back road minutes that were boring and lonely) but it was REALLY.  EFFING.  HOT.


I left home at 9am so that I could get running by about 10 after and even with almost 5 entire miles of water only a few feet away from me it was hot and humid and not at all breezy and I'm lucky that damn island is round because if I didn't have to get back to my car I'd have quit at least 10 times.


I finished.  7.2 miles, bridge entrance to bridge exit and felt pretty beast mode when I was done. Mostly, though, just because I was done.  Even for a slowpoke like me my time was pretty poor.  Almost 1:30 for the 10K and 1:45 for the entire thing.  Almost 15 minutes per mile, a lot of which were walking thanks the many, many awful heat induced feels.

I only ran twice the rest of the week because I was feeling so terrible after that run.  At least it helped me learn the lesson that I need/want to work on not only endurance (and with that, speed) but also my own motivation.  I hope that after my next bad run I'll be motivated to do better next time rather than feel bummed and wanting to quit.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An experiement with two variables.

Or, too - as in, too many - variables.

Saturday is supposed to be my long run, but I decided to switch it up this weekend and push my long run until tomorrow.  There is a 10 on my calendar, but I'm aiming for 8. 

I've already said I'm behind, so let's not start judging, now.

I was supposed to work this morning and was going to get a ride in so that I could run home.  My office door to home door is just over 8 miles, so it seemed like fate.  Then my event got cancelled and my long run plan was up heaved.  I'm still pretty pumped to not have to work extra hours on a Saturday, so it's all good.

Now.  Let's set up my experiment.  I've already said that I run better near my office in downtown Detroit.  I've also noticed, after a careful review (read: glance at Nike+ Running) that I also run better in cooler weather.  Which!  It just so happens that it's always been a bit cooler when I've ran near work.  I can't figure out if it's the cooler temps or the kickass scenery that always help me to run better.

My hypothesis has always been that I run worse at home because I'm bored with my route and nothing interesting ever happens.  I also now suspect that the weather has a whole bunch to do with it.  This weekend I'm lucky (not really) enough to be able to run in wicked hot weather both days.  Saturday at home and Sunday in a gorgeous park downtown.

So far I squeezed in 3.5 miles today on the most boring side streets in the world near my abode with 80+ weather and I, not surprisingly...ran like garbage.  The worst.  It's a miracle that I managed even 3.5mi.

I'm trying to get myself in the mindset of 8 miles for tomorrow.  We'll see if I do any better in a park that is happy, scenic and lively - yet still blazing hot.

Oh, and even more important, the route that I'm running tomorrow is part of the route for the half marathon I'm training for so it will give me a change to check out the course and anticipate my pace and finish time. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Feelin' Fine

I'm about 3 miles behind on my long runs.  When I glance at my schedule I see that this Saturday I should be running 9 miles, but the longest run that I've had was 6 miles.  I know that what I need to do is run 7 miles this Saturday, but I can't help being disappointed that I'm off-track.

The weather was a lot cooler today than it's been the past few weeks and I really felt the difference in my running.  I made it 4.5 miles today and had my a (for me, at least) really great time!

1 - 13.35
2 - 13.59
3 - 11.41
4 - 12.54

In addition to the weather, I think the scenery really helped.  I ran downtown Detroit today, and it was a huge improvement over the same blocks that I run over and over near my house.  Getting to cruise past a major league baseball stadium is out-of-this-world-better that cruising by some craftsman style bungalows no matter how cutely they may be fixed up.

Whatever the reason, I'm pumped that I was able to make pretty good time.  4.5 miles in under and hour is still a really huge accomplishment for me and after how down I was following my last run I'm really pumped to boost my self-esteem.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Start Line

I've toyed with the idea of blogging for awhile. 

I've also toyed with the idea of accountability for awhile.

Not to mention I've got a pretty short memory.  Wouldn't hurt to keep track of a few things. Right?

I want accountability for - and a record of - my running.  Run/walking.  Attempted running.  Running.

I decided to do something scary today and I signed up for a few races.  Some real heavy hitters, too.  A 10k and half marathon.  The scary part of that is that I am a really terrible runner.  Signing up for the races is terrifying because I've been steadily training for two months and I'm STILL a terrible runner.  I started Couch to 5K and was doing fairly well and sort of abandoned the idea of it because the mileage that I needed to train for a few races was more than I could fit into the C25K time frame.  Maybe going out on my own wasn't the greatest idea, but going backward isn't really and option now.

I'm not worried about speed.  I'm not even (terribly) worried about injury because I'm being very careful and only doing what I'm able to do and what feels comfortable.  What I'm most worried about is my endurance.  I've been running(/walking) for weeks now and my endurance level is still the same.  I can still run the same distance before stopping to walk.  I'm still barely making a 15 minute mile and it's really starting to get me down!

I didn't sign up for any races to win.  My goal is to complete, not compete, but I'm barely even confident that I'm going to be able to do that at this point.  The idea of a last chance pacer kicking me off the course causes my stomach to sink and I get so nervous that I want to quit.

My first long race is six weeks away. Six!  I keep telling myself that I've still got six weeks until the race (and then 10 weeks until the next race.  And then 14 weeks until the next race.) to train and then I immediately remind myself that I've already been training for six weeks with little to no results.

As much as I don't want to quit, I also don't want to humiliate myself.  I know that increasing my endurance is 100% up to me and I'm hoping that if I start recording my running then a pattern might appear.