Why I love running

I just completed a 10K race this weekend and I’m still riding off the high of setting a new personal record; I shaved off 5:16 from my previous 10K time. This race was with the Brazen Racing group, which have become my favorite group to run and not just because they give out It’s-Its after every race.

Summer Breeze finish

 I promise I was not excited because I was seconds away from getting an It’s-It.

While I was running, I couldn’t help but reflect on why I love running so much. This is such an interesting sport with people on every level competing together (and not against each other). There were people of every shape, size, and ability level but there we were, all huffing and puffing towards the same goal of finishing. Finishing was the only thing that mattered.

It didn’t matter if we ran the whole time or crawled over the finish line; we all worked hard and finished. I liked seeing the camaraderie on the course; strangers cheering each other on, high fiving each other and passing on words of encouragement. Anything and everything to keep our spirits up and focused.

Yes, it’s hard to see people heading back to the finish before I even make it to the halfway point and I’m in awe of people who finish half marathons in the time it takes me to finish a 10K but instead of being discouraged by these people, I’m encouraged because they were once where I am. No one is born running; even the most decorated runners had people outrunning them at some point. But they kept at it and, if I’m being honest, while I’m busy admiring them, someone down the line is admiring me. That is quite a humbling idea.

While I love running for a myriad of reasons like: having time to think or not think, competing against myself, having some me time, staying healthy and fit, what I really love about competitive running is the communal spirit. While we’re doing this individually, we’re still doing this together. That strangers encourage and congratulate others because we all know and understand the struggle that is running and the joy of triumphing over it.

The Brazen Racing website has this quote on their homepage:

 We run, not because we think it is doing us good. But because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves – Sir. Roger Bannister

Yes, indeed.

I ran a Half Marathon; I do what I want.

You guys: I did it. I survived the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon. And when I say ‘survived,’ I really, really mean SURVIVED because it was a battle of wills.

As I said before, I didn’t really train as much as I should have. This wasn’t the distance where I could mess around and expect to do well like I did for my last 5k, but yet I allowed myself to be talked out of running at every turn. That was a huge mistake. I was arrogant and stupid and grossly overestimated my ability to run 13.1 miles for the first time ever.

I was a bundle of nerves but ready or not, I was going to run. The race started fairly well. My whole plan was to alternate between running and walking (this helped to inflate my ego and confidence in my ability to finish this race without much issue. I’m trying not to smirk as I write this.) and because I’m a genius, I didn’t have anything to actually time myself to make sure I stayed on a 2 min run/1 min walk pace. I ended up running until I needed to walk, which worked for a while but I ended up running out of steam a lot sooner than I probably would have had I regulated myself.

I started touching the mile markers at 7 miles because I had never ran that far before and it seemed appropriate. Things were going well until around the 9 mile mark and then I hit the wall at mile 10. I could barely convince myself to move and ended up walking most of the last 3 miles, which was kind of disappointing. I thought about quitting several times during the race but when I touched that 13 mile marker I was proud that I kept going through the sore muscles, blistered toes, and a slightly wounded ego.

I did end up running across the finish line (even though the pictures make it look like I just walked) and my final time was 3:10:31. While I hoped to finish under 3 hours, I’m happy to have finished at all. Sure I could barely move and had to shuffle but I conquered 13.1 miles and had the medal to prove it.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

Would I do this again? Abso-freaking-lutely! I’m already looking for my next half and I’m sure I’ll sign up for the Healdsburg race again next year. Would I do a full marathon? Right now I say no knowing full well that I could change my mind later on (remember when I said I wasn’t going back to school?). Let’s just say I’m keeping my options open.

I can do that. I ran a half marathon.

Going Half Crazy

So sometime after I conquered my first 10k run, my ego and competitive spirit got the best of me and decided I was going to run a half marathon. This year.

Yes, it decided for me. Still trying to figure that one out myself.

The original plan was to run The Giant Race as had been my habit the past couple of years; it was my first 5k and 10k race and I thought it would be awesome for it to be my first half marathon as well. Except this year it was scheduled on a Sunday. Whomp.

I flirted with the idea of tabling the half marathon until next year. Like, I was flirting so hard with it that I gave the idea my number. I was convinced that I was going to wait until next year. Then I stumbled upon a half marathon that was on a Saturday. Score!

The race is next month and of course I haven’t ran in about a month. I’ve had a myriad of excuses why: I was hungry. I had to yell at the student loan people to change my due date for the millionth time. I dinner plans. It’s too hot. While this approach may work for a 5k, it definitely isn’t something I want to do with this half. I’m hoping to get more consistent in this final month.

I’m really excited for this race (it’s also a Halloween themed race so I’ll be dressing up! Costume to be revealed soon) and I can’t wait to cross that finish line. Even if I end up crawling across. I’m going to finish.

Running on Asphalt: Weeks 11 and 12.11

I’ve been majorly slacking on writing my running recaps but seriously, I’ve also been kind of slacking on my running, less from a lack of trying and more from uncooperative weather. Stupid rain. So in two weeks, I was only able to run four times, including my first 5k race of the year. Crazy, I know. Even crazier: I totally failed to properly set my sportband so my mileage for the race wasn’t tracked! Urg!

Week 11

Day 1

Distance: 3.68 mi
Time: 40:09 min
Notes: I had to take my walking break at 3.16 miles because I had stupidly eaten breakfast before running. I usually run on an empty stomach [sometimes I'll have a piece of fruit] but since it was really foggy when I woke up, I decided to wait to see if it would lift before going out since it would be safer. Even though I run on sidewalks, I still didn’t want to take that chance since I do have to cross some streets. Anywho, my mom surprised me with crepes and I went all out. I rued that decision later.

Day 2

Distance: 5.01 mi
Time: 53:59 min
Notes: This was my longest official run! And I ran all the miles, unlike the previous high of 4.6 miles because that included my walking breaks. I took my break at 4.05 miles and felt pretty strong. Since I was so close to 5 miles by the time I made it back home, I decided to just push for the extra 0.20 of a mile and got it! So exciting.

Week 10 stats

Total distance: 8.69 mi
Total time: 1:34:08 mins
Average mile: 10’49”
Weight: 145.7 lb

Week 12

Day 1

Distance: 2.21 mi
Time: 23:06 mins
Notes: This week I intended to take a break on mileage in preparation for my 5k race on Saturday. However, we had rain all week [including the morning of the race] so I wasn’t able to run the rest of the week, which was utterly disappointing.

Week 12 stats

Total distance: 2.21 mi
Total time: 23:06 mins
Average mile: 10’27”
Weight: 146.3 lb

Mileage to date: 96.53 mi

My 5k race was a lot of fun. It was raining before we started and the rain slowed to a drizzle while I was out running. The view was ah-may-zing; overlooking the Artesa Vineyard in Napa and I couldn’t help but get lost in it while running. Its one of those views that you want to stop and take a picture of but all you really want to do is just live in the moment and soak it all in with your eyes and not through some viewfinder:

My official time was 36:44, which isn’t too bad since the course was a bit hilly and we had to run up a hill to get to the finish line. I was pleased that I wasn’t caught too off-guard since my regular jogging routes include hills of some sort so I was actually quite prepared for the final stretch.

The whole race itself was a lot of fun. Since it was raining, the organizers, the Carneros Volunteer Fire Department, had to scramble around to set up the back up plan but did a great job. The atmosphere for this race was unique: they started the race by sounding the fire truck horns and served us a pancake breakfast following, including a glass of white wine [a pinot grigio and something else; I'm not sure since I requested a wine glass sans wine] and everyone was super friendly and excited to be there in spite of the weather. I’m definitely going to keep this run on my calendar for next year. I had such a great experience that I’ll definitely show up for a repeat appearance.

Running on Asphalt: Week 10.11

This week has probably been my best running week to date. I was able to go out three days this week and logged at least 4 miles each time. I am feeling stronger each day and excited about my chances of hitting the 10k [6.2 miles] mark by the end of the year. If I can meet that goal, that would mean I’m nearly halfway to running a half marathon! Disney Half Marathon [World and Land] here I come!

Day 1

Distance: 4.37 mi
Time: 47:31 mins
Notes: Took my first break at 3.44 miles, which was slightly further than I had planned. I was happy letting myself meet my last run’s mark but hey, I’ll take this extra bump. I was really pleased with how even my tempo appeared on the Nike Running site. That even tempo helped extend my run over all. I wasn’t dead tired by the end but maybe could have gone another couple of feet. Maybe.

Day 2

Distance: 4.42 mi
Time: 48:18 mins
Notes: I was feeling off but optimistic about at least meeting my previous run’s mark. That did not happen as I tapped out at 3.06 miles. I was bummed but you know, whatever. I did finish stronger though and I do love that I can easily reach four total miles easily now since I front load my runs now.

Day 3

Distance: 4.32 mi
Time: 46:32 mins
Notes: After the second run of the week, this day was AH-MAZING. Seriously. I felt like I had reached certain areas of my run a bit faster than before and even when I did get a little tired, I was able to adjust my stride and tempo and felt much better. And the best part? I RAN 4.09 MILES before stopping! I hit four miles! I nearly jumped when I realized it and could not stop smiling. I don’t even care if I can’t immediately repeat this feat but man, if I can do it once I know I can do it again!

Week 10 totals

Total distance: 13.12 mi
Total time: 2:22:11 mins
Average mile: 10:50 mins
Weight: 145.5

Mileage to date: 81.59 mi

This weekend I spent some time scheduling some additional 5k races for the summer. I’m averaging one every other month at the moment and I’m excited for them, two of them are trail races so that will be extremely new since I’m a road runner at the moment, and the other will be a return appearance at The Giant Race for another go. I’m hoping to get Pat to compete this year [he better not hurt himself before the race again] and another friend so it should be fun. I can’t wait to get my first race of the season under my belt.

Running on Asphalt: Week 9.11

I almost had a repeat of last week with only logging one run but thankfully I was able to squeeze in a second run when the rain that was forecasted failed to materialize. I did manage another round of the Nike Training Club [which wrecked my legs again] so it was still a good fitness week. I’m just a few weeks out from my first 5k of the year and I’m both excited and a little nervous. I hope the length of the first mile doesn’t surprise me like it did in my first race but I’m interested to know how my time will be since this will be the first time I ran on a flat track since last year.

Day 1

Distance: 4.06 mi
Time: 42:53 mins
Notes: It had been a while between my run the week before and this so I was predictably rusty. I had hoped to make it to 3.30 miles before my break but I had to stop short at 3.27 miles. Granted, I coming off of a bit of a break so that helped numb the burn from stopping short. I’m working on not being so hard on myself and appreciating what I do manage to do. It’s a long road for this admittedly perfectionist but I’m working on it.

Day 2

Distance: 4.07 mi
Time: 43:45 mins
Notes: I had to adjust my run on the fly to make sure I would be able to extend my run without having to deal with an incline. Too bad that failed, though the incline I did end up running up was at a lesser angle than the one I tried to avoid so not a total fail. And I was able to reach 3.35 miles before stopping for my break. This improvement is incredibly encouraging. I might be able to hit 4 miles in a few months!

Week 9 totals

Total distance: 8.14 mi
Total time: 1:26:38 mins
Average mile: 10:38 mins
Weight: 145.7 lbs

Mileage to date: 68.47 mi

My new weight loss program is going really well. I’ve actually enjoyed counting my calories. Weird, I know, but its eye opening just how many calories are in food and what a few simple switches can do. I’m still feeling my way around the nutrition and I’ve found some nice tricks and cheats. The best part: I started losing weight! Officially, I’ve lost 1.6 pounds since I started last week, but since the Lose It app doesn’t account for decimals like my scale, I clock in at a 2 pound weight loss. Either way, I’m happy with the progress and most importantly, I haven’t been starving at all! I’m still eating wonderful foods, including cookies. I’ve been weighing my food whenever possible [come on, y'all know I like to be exact] and dutifully logging everything. And I haven’t been afraid of eating out either. I’m dieting without feeling like I’m dieting. Go me!

Running on Asphalt: Week 8.11

Point blank: this will be a super short recap.

I was only able to run once: I missed one run due to exhaustion and was rained out of another one. In all honesty, I probably could have gone out to run a little later in the day on that last day but I didn’t. I felt more comfortable in my bed. Oh well. What can you do?

But I did make it out at least once and squeezed in some cardio on one of my off days so fitness wise, all was not lost. Gotta get it in when and where you can.

Day 1

Distance: 3.68 mi
Time: 39:12 mins
Notes: I managed to push myself and hit the 3.26 miles before stopping for my first break. I’m really encouraged by my increased stamina and I’m positive that I’ll be back in 5k shape for my first race of the season in March [eek, March is next month!!]. I went in a different route so I did not have the help from stoplights [well, only the one at the beginning but whatever.]

Week 8 totals

Total distance: 3.68 mi
Total time: 39.12 mins
Average mile: 10:39 mins
Weight: 147.3 lbs

Mileage to date: 60.33 mi

So a few news and notes: first off, I decided to stop focusing on my total distance and work on improving the distance before my first walking break. My goal is to add 0.10 miles each day. Its a slow process doing it this way but I feel it will work for me. Any additional mileage after that first break will be the icing on the proverbial cake. I also started a new total fitness regimen that I’ll go into deeper in another post [I know my slacking on the posts but I'm working on it!] so hopefully this one sticks.

Running on Asphalt: Week 7.11

This week’s running plan hit a few snags. A positive one was that I was able to install the Nike + program onto the behemoth of a computer so I would be able to keep up my progress by doing actual runs instead of simply speed intervals [which, honestly, I really should look into incorporating anyway]. The negative snag was that its been raining all week so I missed one of my runs.

Sad face.

But I was still able to sneak in some running time between breaks so at least this wasn’t a completely lost week. So yay me.

Day 1

Distance: 2.67 mi
Time: 27:47 mins
Notes: I felt so sluggish this day. I had already missed one running session and I almost missed this one but I somehow managed to get myself dressed and out the door. I was struggling from the get-go, having to take my first break at 1.67 miles in. I did do a considerably easier run that usual but I was just out of it from the start. Still glad I went though!

Day 2

Distance: 3.55 mi
Time: 40:07 mins
Notes: Today was an epic day. I took advantage of a small window of opportunity [I think it ended up raining within 20 minutes of me getting home!] and hit the trails. I actually ran one of my first routes I made and I could actually see my own progress. I managed to run up every incline! While I did end up taking it much slower than usual, I am so pleased to say that I managed to make it to 3.1 miles before taking a break! That’s a full 5k! Go me! Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I do believe I was helped along by a couple of breaks waiting for the light to change at some intersections.

Week 7 totals

Total Distance: 6.22 mi
Total Time: 1:07:54 mins
Average mile: 10:55 mins
Weight: 147.3 lbs

Mileage to date: 56.65 mi

I was supposed to run in a 5k today but I decided to push that back, so now my 2011 5k race debut is scheduled for next March [pending on my entering, of course] and now that it’s raining, I’m really glad I opted out of it. I’ve been tracking the weather for the upcoming week and it looks like the rain might be moving out but we’ll see. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some quality run time in. Only a month until the next 5k!

Running on Asphalt: Week 6.11

I’ve been at this for six weeks now? Holy cow, this year is zipping by quick. Anywho, so here’s what I did running wise for the week.

Day 1

Distance: 4.09 mi
Time: 43:52 mins
Notes: Took my first break at 2.66 miles, just a bit further than Friday’s run and up an incline so hey, improvement! The best thing about running so much in the first half of my route means I don’t have as much to run to meet my minimum mileage [which is 3.1 miles, or essentially a 5k]. Today I blew by that by deciding to run past my house to the other major crossroad before stopping. If I could have high-fived someone I so would have.

Okay, I totally high-fived myself.

Day 2:

Distance: 4.02 mi
Time: 42:52 mins
Notes:  This was an epic day: I managed to push myself to reach 2.98 miles before stopping. While I did think about pushing it to hit my minimum I gave myself a break and just took the walk. It was so encouraging to see that I was able to just about make it to my full 5k distance before stopping though. And since I ran so hard, I told myself I could take it easy on my next running day.

Day 3:

Distance: 3.94 mi
Time: 41:43 mins
Notes: Since this was supposed to be my easy run, I stopped at 2.63 miles for my first break. Honestly, I didn’t worry about pushing myself too much this day because I had ran so hard the run before. This was actually a bit of a fun run since I also modified my route, yet again, and got to see a little bit more of the neighborhood. You know how sometimes you wonder what’s down that one street? This was one of those cases.

In case you were wondering: more houses.

Week 6 stats:

Total distance: 12.06 mi
Total time: 2:08:27 mins
Average mile: 10:37 mins [woot! improvement!]
Weight: 148.1 lbs

Personal goal [50 miles by 2/14]: So did I make it?

I did!

That was such a great feat. One of the best things about Nike + is that there are videos that launch whenever you reach a goal or level up on your runs. So not only did I get a pretty cool congratulations video, I was also given this pretty nifty virtual medal.

Now, I’m without Sarge for the time being so I’m not quite sure what I’m going to be doing running wise. I thought to get some interval training in this week but so far the rain has decided otherwise. I’m hoping to download the tracking program onto the main computer so I can get some runs in next week since it seems I’ll still be computer-less. I also planned on participating in this 5k run this weekend but decided to bump that. I’ll be doing my first 5k of the season hopefully next month instead.

Running on Asphalt: Week 5.11

Sometimes I think if it weren’t for this weekly feature, I might not be writing with any kind of regularity. While I haven’t been as vigilant about writing as I started out this year, which was just last month – sad, I do intend to keep it on the docket for the year. I have no plans on giving up blogging. Its pretty much the only writing outlet I have now and I really love to write.

But this is neither here nor there.

So this week was the first week back to my full running schedule since the bf left. Funnily enough, on my first day out, I actually missed him. After my first walking break, I could feel my hand reaching out for his…too bad he wasn’t there. But on much happier thoughts, I kicked butt this week! My endurance has ever so slightly improved and I’ve been pushing my total mileage up as well. Since my jogging paths are pretty set in terms of distance, I kind of just make up new paths by running down a different street. I’ll probably have to start deviating from my usual paths a bit more so I can continue to increase my distances. I’ve also noticed that my 5k times have been improving, along with my average mile time. OMG, I’m running faster y’all!

I will outrun those hungry thoughts.

Day 1

Distance: 3.14 mi
Time: 34:04 mins
Notes: I took my first walking break around the 1-something mile point. I forget the exact mileage but I did struggle to hit that mark. Guess that week off set me back just a tad bit. I tried out a new route [it was actually just a left turn instead of a right] and ended up running up 1 1/2 slopes, including the slope leading back to my house. I was stoked. And tired. But mostly stoked.

Day 2

Distance: 3.67 mi
Time: 39:50 mins
Notes: Today I took my first walking break at 2.34 miles, which included running up a slope. I really thought my legs were going to give out but I realized that sometimes when I feel like my body’s a little tired, it just wants to stop; and not necessarily because I can’t move any further. If I keep stopping at the first signs of fatigue, how else can I get better? So sometimes its necessary to distinguish between the “I just want to stop” feeling and the “OMG if I don’t stop my legs are going to fall off. For reals this time!” feeling. Yes, that was the exact train of thought I had while I was huffing and puffing up that slope.

Day 3

Distance: 3.76 mi
Time: 40:07 mins
Notes: My first walking break was at 2.60 miles. I was doubly impressed with myself since I figured I would only go probably about .20 miles further. I did run up two slopes this day which was incredibly encouraging. In just five weeks I’m finally running hills; granted, not incredibly steep hills but hills nonetheless. Maybe in a few more weeks I’ll be able to make it up halfway up one of the steeper hills by my house. Here’s hoping!

Week 5 stats

Total distance: 10.57 mi
Total time: 1:54:01 mins
Average mile: 10:47 mins
Weight: 146.6 lbs

Pat’s challenge: I won! Final mileage was 30.92 miles. Second place was our good friend Nick Zee with 16.48 miles and Pat bringing up the rear with 8.84 miles, who’s been busy working two jobs. I wonder what’s going to happen to my running when I start working again. That was another thought I had while running. The things you think about when you’re running.
Personal goal [50 mi by 2/14]: just a mere 11.6 miles left over a week. Can I do it?!

Overall I’m impressed with my progress and I’m glad my weight dropped back down as well. Hopefully I can make that number drop a little later next week.