Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh, summer! You've come too early!

It's April. In my book, that is a spring month. These last few weeks have not felt "spring-ey" though. The humidity is already creeping up and ugh - the bugs! I'm not sure which is worse!

So, here's my top five least favorite things of summer running in Mississippi:

5. Time doesn't matter. You can get up early or wait until later in the evening, but either way - it's miserable because of the 100% humidity.

4. Time does matter. I am so slow in the summer. Even when it's a short run, I feel sluggish and like I can't push my pace.

3. Bugs are gross. When I run at night, I feel them smacking my face or arms. Then I find them stuck to my skin when I come in and I'm even more grossed out. Oh, and don't get me started on the horseflies. Do I really smell that bad?

2. Clothes - or wishing for a lack thereof? Ok. Guys can run during the hot months in basically shorts and sneaks. Ladies, we have to keep everything covered and if you're like me, have to keep the jiggling covered, too. I don't know how many times I've wanted to shed some clothes, but unfortunately, my body is not the "typical" runner's body, and I'm pretty sure I need to just tough it out and keep my shirt on.

1. I stink. I'm sure my southern belle readers while be offended by my honesty, but seriously. "Glisten" is NOT what I do when I run in the summer; I am pouring sweat from every pore of my body. There is no "freshening up" after a run - a shower is a must.

There you have it. My honest assessment of summer running. What's your least favorite part of running in the summer months? Or do you L-O-V-E it?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Inspiration and My Friend...

One year ago today, I ran my first 5K. It was the Old Cotton Mill Classic that wound through the streets (and up the hills!) of the MSU campus. Eli was just 11 weeks old, and I had been running all of 5 weeks when the race began. I would love to write about this amazing experience of triumph and victory, and share that I was able to run all 3.1 miles at a record-breaking speed...but it wasn't that and I wasn't fast.

I struggled the entire course, and I think I finished in just under 35 minutes. My friend and colleague, Karyn Brown, was there with me every step of the way. She walked with me when the hills got the best of me. She encouraged and pushed me all at the same time. She slowed me down when I got the urge to rush near the end because she knew we had one more hill to climb. We had run several times together before that day and she always shared tips and advice that helped her complete her first 5K (and several more after!). I am forever grateful to her for holding me accountable when I didn't "love" to run. 

As I "celebrate" my one-year racing anniversary, I am so grateful that I have had many people along the way to encourage and inspire me...but none more than my friend. Thank you, Karyn! Can't wait to run together again soon!

A side note: Karyn is a new mom to the most adorable little boy! Diwas Brown made the long trip from Nepal with his proud parents several months ago and is loving life with his new family! If you'd like to follow their difficult but amazing journey, The Brown Family blogs at New Brown Child.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I've lost it...26.2?

The whole taking-a-break-from-training thing has not lasted as long as I had hoped. Somewhere in my crazy head (I think it was actually around mile 4 of my 6-mile run today!), I decided I want to (try to) run a full marathon...this year (What? Are my eyes reading correctly what my fingers just typed? Who hijacked my blog?).

When I started running last year, the full 26.2 was a bucket list kind of thing. You know - when the boys got a little older...after the Promotion & Tenure process was complete...when I had more time to train, really. But now, I think I want to go for it...and in 2011.

I had planned to run St. Jude's 1/2 again in December, but I'm thinking I may just go ahead and register for the full marathon. It's a great race, amazing atmosphere, great course, far from home so no one will read the police report or see the news where I had to be transported to the hospital...you know, all the great race pre-requisites for your first marathon. And if I think I can't make it the full distance, I can always turn off at the 13.1 mark and no harm done. Well, other than feeling like a complete failure, I'm sure.

Anyway. I'm putting it out there for all the world to read and comment on. I have no aspirations of qualifying for Boston with my time; I just want to finish...upright.

Marathoners - is this really possible? Have I totally lost it thinking I have time to train for this? 

Oh, dear...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Run Like a Mother...Really.

I am probably behind all my other running moms, but I'm just reading Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving - and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity


If you are a running mom (or a mom who wants to run...or a runner who eventually wants to be a mom...ok, just a female runner!), you really should read this book. Sarah and Dimity provide lots of great tips and the witty quips make me laugh out loud (often). They also have opposite approaches to running so between the two, we can probably all relate to their advice and experiences. There are 26 (nice!) chapters that cover everything from gadgets to cross training to injuries. I am learning a lot of new strategies and just purchased my first pair of "running socks" (did not realize what a difference this can make!). I know, I know. Anything to justify more gear, right?

Anyone else read it? Other good reads for runners?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's working!

The new approach is definitely working! I am a new woman...ok, at least a new runner?

The week in review since my break-thru:
  • Sunday: 2.75 miles in 26:48 minutes
  • Monday: Rest day (largely because of the terrible weather moving through!)
  • Tuesday: 4 miles in 38:10 minutes on a pretty hilly route on campus with no music (might as well change big if you're going to change, right?)
  • Wednesday: 2.25 miles in 20 minutes (8:58 pace!) around my neighborhood circle 
And, I've already packed my bag to run after work tomorrow. It's weird; I actually want to run more - and longer and faster - now that I don't "have" to.

I am also reading Run Like A Mother and anticipate there will be several posts related to this soon.

Hope you're all having a great week! Would love to hear what YOU do to change things up in your workouts! Ginny (who blogs at Happy Feet 26-2) had some great suggestions after my last post...what are YOURS?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Disaster Averted

When I re-read my last post, I realized it was pretty whiney...so thanks for not calling me out on that! Apparently, the whining worked though!

Since then, the scale has moved! I weighed 159.0 this morning!! Woot, Woot! I haven't seen 150-something in a LONG time, my friends (Just for the record, I actually saw 158.4 three of the 17 times I weighed - I couldn't believe my eyes and just wanted to stare at the number!!). While I can't attribute it completely to healthy eating and working out because I participated in the 30-Hour Famine with our youth group Friday and Saturday, I'll take it! This brings my total weight loss in just over a year to around 74 pounds!

And second, and probably most importantly, I've had a major break-thru with my running this weekend. 

When running causes more stress than it's relieving,
something's out of balance and needs to be changed. 

To understand this, I need to go back in my journey a little. Last March, I started running. My overall goal for running was to lose weight and get my health back. Knowing how my brain operates, I set a long-term goal to run the St. Jude's 1/2 Marathon in December. This was my motivation to keep running (and justify all the money I was spending on gear, but I digress...). I did St. Jude's in December and in the delirium of my runner's high, I signed up for the Frostbite 1/2 marathon in January (five weeks later!)...and I did that, too. I was really ready for some time off - as in no-pressure-running-just-to-run time off. 

Instead of listening to my body (and my mind!), I began training for the Country Music 1/2 Marathon (April 30) and invited my sister-in-law to join me (it would be her first 1/2!). As the semester picked up speed (no pun intended, runners!), I fell behind in my training and even struggled to get my shorter runs in during the week; then, I began to struggle making time for long runs. All the struggling was stressing me out and stealing the joy of my running. It felt like one of the other million things I HAD to do in the day/week. It was causing more stress than it was relieving!

My sister-in-law (who I swear wears an "S" for Super Woman under her clothes) also had trouble getting in her training runs. In our womanly wisdom, we decided this weekend to nix the 1/2 and just plan a fun visit! We'll have a wonderful weekend with them and will go for a long run, just the two of us, for a distance of our own choosing without battling 30,000+ other runners Since we made this decision, I can't even begin to explain how relieved I've felt!

So relieved, in fact, that I went for a run tonight (on my rest day!) - JUST BECAUSE I WANTED TO! It felt amazing to run without worrying about distance or pace or anything - I just ran to run! I didn't HAVE to - I really WANTED to!

Some of you will read this and think I'm copping out and that's ok. I know hard-core runners will criticize, but what I think I did was avoid the fast-track to burnout. One of the purposes for my continued running is to relieve (some) stress in my life. It's relaxing and provides me some alone time to decompress. Because the other obligations in my life creating obstacles for my training plan, running was actually causing me stress. Defeats the purpose a little...

So, what's my plan now?

Three to four runs per week of varying distances (3-5 miles) with one mid to long run (6-8 miles) on the weekend depending on time and weather. May also try three runs and a kettle bell workout some weeks.

And my advice to others (new or old runners): Listen to your body! If you need a break from race training, take it. There's always another race to train for and no one's going to take your "runner card" just because you're not "in training" for something.