Friday, March 16, 2012

Do striped socks make you run faster?

Running the St. Patrick’s Day races was once again a great experience.    
I was hoping to improve my 10k time and I felt pretty confident about it. Anything lower than 52 minutes would do it but I was really hoping for 51:3x.  For some reason the last four times I ran a 10k I would only improve by about 5 seconds.  An improvement sure but I was always looking for more.  On the way down to the race I reviewed the eight times tables with my third grader so I could know roughly what my pace should be.  He wasn’t thrilled but I felt I was doing us both a service.  Low eight’s would work. 
The race fell on the spring forward portion of daylight savings time.  That itself was not a problem since it did not start until 10:45 but the fact I was dragging the boys to the race did mean a morning whine fest.  They lasted all of ten minutes.   As we picked up my bib they complained about the cold and convinced Grandma and Grandpa to take them back to their house.  I made them take a few pictures with me before they left but my phone was not having it!  Boo for no pictures of my striped socks! 
Suddenly my four spectators left me alone.  I wasn’t alone for long as I bumped almost immediately into one of my facebook friends who I attended k-12 school with.   Actually she is one of the people who’s time I looked up two years ago!  We walked over to watch the two mile race.  It was nice to catch up and talk all things running.  We both ran our first marathon’s last fall and I was happy to hear first had her NYC experience. 
I made a pit stop at the car to drop off my sweatshirt and take a last drink.  The sun was coming out from behind the clouds just as we were lining up.  I questioned my long sleeve shirt (don’t you hate that?) but the wind and a couple of friendly strangers made me confident that I would be OK.  It ended up being PERFECT running weather!
I had lined up pretty well and was free of the crowd rather quickly.  I felt good then first hill was as I remembered it, a turn around right at mile one.  I caught a quick glance at my watch and saw 7:00!   HOLY CRAP! SLOW DOWN!!  I used the downhill turn to breath and resist the urge to continue to book it.  If people passed me whatever.  And man when I saw the hill just after mile two (15 min and change in) I was glad I had it stepped back a little.  How the heck did I forget this hill?  It was a slight steady uphill that lasted about a half mile!  I was happy to get to the midpoint and start lap 2 well under the 24 minute guide in my mind.  A quick cup of water and I was off to do it again.  The sun felt great and the wind kept it cool.  I willed myself to continue strong. I hit the hills and used the downhills to regain myself.  I loved hearing people comment on my socks!  I told myself it was almost over! I kept running.  Kept doing calculation in my head.  Guessing.  I guessed wrong that the next parking lot I passed was the last (Ooooops those park, parking lots all look the same).  I pulled my way to the finish line and could not be happier with 49:17!  To say I surprised myself would be an understatement!
I stumbled to find a drink and catch my breath.  I wandered over toward the food for a bagel and hung out in front of the outdoor fireplace.  I wanted to make sure of the time I had.  And whatayaknow?  Third place in the 40-49 age group!  OMG, OMG,OMG!!  This club is so competitive how did I do that ? 
Who cares!  Yeah Me!! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

First Race Reflections

Tomorrow I will be re-running the Taconic Road runners St. Patrick’s Day races.  Two years ago this was my first race ever.  A 10 k that started my journey as a runner, who raced. 

I think back to how I trained to run that race, my approach , my goals and even what I wore.  I didn’t follow any plan and I wasn’t reading any blogs.   I don’t know how I decided how far to go when I hit the road each day.  I didn’t have a watch and never knew my time other than a quick look at the clock when I got back in the house.  I just did what I had always done and got going. I wanted to do it in under an hour.  That seemed doable.  I looked at the race results of the previous year and scanned the names.  When I found the names of some girls I knew from high school, I thought “If she could do that, I should be able to do that”.  I had no idea what a pace would be or what PR meant.

The shoes I wore were adidas, comfortable and pink.  I bought them for those reasons, two summers before when I started taking long walks with my son in the stroller.  They were the sneakers I wore for everything.  No idea how many miles I wore them for.  A pair of pink yoga pants, a green cotton shirt and a hat with shamrock pin completed by ensemble.  I believe I entertained the thought of a windbreaker.  Thank god I did not find one or I might have worn it. 

It was cool and damp, a classic March morning.  I ran my heart out and felt great.  I kept my brother in-law within view just ahead of me and the girls I knew from HS were just behind.  The course is two laps in a park with an out and back at the top of a hill.  As I rounded the hill for the second time somewhere in the 4th mile I realized something.  I have a lot of hills in my neighborhood and run them a lot.  People were sucking wind on these hills and I was passing them left and right! The last two miles were hard but I gave it all I had.  The two girls whose previous race time I had looked up were well behind me.  I passed my Bro in-law somewhere in the last mile and realized that I was faster than I had imagined.  I was overjoyed with a 57:35!

Fast forward to today.  I take my sneakers off as soon as I step in the house!  I record the miles I have covered in each of the three pairs of shoes in the current rotation.  I log my workouts into three separate places, read articles on my smart phone and buy colorful knee socks to run in.  Most of the book marks on my computer have to do with running and my new clothes are all ones I sweat in. 

In the two years since this first race I have run in twenty events and fell in love with distance running. I have picked up a few technical tools of the trade but my running is still ruled by one thing. The time and opportunity I have to run, revolves around the schedule of the little people in the house.
That was always the hardest thing.  And these are the daily questions; "When can I run, if when I have the boys with me all day"? "How much sunlight do I have before Pete goes to work"? 
This year the real bonus has been the afternoon school bus.  It being 20 minutes later this year has been huge!  The window of opportunity I have between getting home from work and the boys arriving home is close to an hour!  An hour to decompress from the stress of the day.  An hour to prepare for the homework and activities ahead.  An hour to get the metabolism going.  An hour to decide what to make for dinner that someone will actually eat! And some days Pete is home too, so he can wait for them!.  So there is now time for the mid week long run if it’s on the schedule!  That really has really enabled me to train for marathon number two during the school year. 
Bus Stop!
All that racing home before the school bus had been a benefit to me.  As a working mom it helps me feel connected to their school day. But it just might be the secret to my speed because I pride myself on getting there on time ;) 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February Wrap-up

It’s been a really busy month.  Even though I haven’t been doing a whole lot of blogging I have been doing quite a lot of running.  I am happy to report that in the month of February, I ran One Hundred twenty-two miles and and only missed one nine mile run. 
I enjoyed good weather and had a wonderful productive and relaxing week off that found me becoming a godmother, reading a book getting my taxes done and several other homeowner things accomplished. 
In addition to that I finally started to do some cross training activities as well.  I am not very good at making sure I do my strength and cross training.  But the nagging thought of injury has gotten me moving.  As much as I love my rest days I have given the “active rest day” a try twice in the past week in the form of the stationary bike, in front of the TV. 

MJ and B enjoying the game bike's
To be honest what got me going was that my husband made me help him carry two game bikes down to the basement for the boys to play.  If I have to do the work I might as well use it two right?   For those of you who have never heard of a game bike it is a regular stationary bike but it has moveable handlebars and a video game controller attached to it.  You hook it up to a Playstation and race your way through a game by pedaling and steering instead of using the buttons on the controller.     We have had these bikes in the garage from when my husband owned a kids gym a few years ago, back before the economy went to complete crap… 
Anyway I am happy to be starting to do something other than run, so now I can bike and elliptical on my rest days or even swap out activities on bad weather days, as is the plan of today ,since leap day brought snow to NY and today is gross and daylight was shortened by my errands.  Eight miles will happen tomarrow as this crazy mixed up winter weather continues into March.