Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Hustle 5K

My BF Mike and I and our friend Rae ran in the Halloween Hustle 5K at Hudson Gardens in Littleton, CO yesterday. It was Rae's first race and my third. Mike ran cross country in high school, so who knows what number race it was for him.
Me, Mike and Rae - pre-race
The temperature hadn't cracked 40 degrees when we left the house (I'm pretty sure it was actually still around freezing). Littleton isn't that far from us, so we got there with plenty of time to pick up our shirts and bibs and head back to the car to warm up.

Mike models the race shirt
Ostensibly it was a costume run, but I'd say about half of us didn't bother (I can barely run in normal clothes, I'm not about to make it worse with a costume). However, we did see an awesome Scooby Doo Mystery Machine costume for a kid in a wheelchair; the construction and artwork was quite well done. Mario and Luigi showed up with blow-up sledgehammers and were going to town on each other during the race. There were a few other interesting costumes but nothing so incredible that I quite remember them today.

Luckily the sun started warming us up just before we started lining up. My long sleeve tech shirt, capri tights, calf compression sleeves, fingerless gloves, and fleece headband were pretty much spot on for me. Mike usually runs quite a bit faster than me (over 2 minutes per mile faster), so I was expecting him to take off and leave us in his dust. His knee was acting up a bit, so he stuck around with us for maybe 5 minutes while he waited for it to loosen up. Then it was just us girls!

Our first mile was way too fast at 11:51. I was feeling great, but we weren't sticking to our plan to start slow and then pick up speed. In fact, even with that first mile coming in too speedy, we continued to pick up the pace until about halfway through the second mile. I told Rae we should slow down and she said she was thinking the same thing. The second mile was a bit better at 12:06. Unfortunately that first mile speed came back to bite us; Rae developed a side stitch going into mile 3 and we had to slow it down for a while and ended up with a 12:25 third mile. At this point, I looked at my watch and knew I could get a PR, and Rae was okay with me taking off. I took off in a sprint that I couldn't sustain, had to let up just a bit, and man I was wheezing coming into the finish line - the first time I had an issue with my breathing all race. The last 0.1 mile was at a 9:27 pace. I got my PR... time was 37:26. Beat my last race in mid-September by about 15 seconds and feel like I can break that 37 minute mark next race. Shortly after, Rae came in and we enjoyed some water and gathered ourselves. We learned some lessons about racing; I enjoyed my first race with a running partner.

As we left the finish chute volunteers handed us our goody bags and we took a peek. The bag felt awful light... yeah... a coupon to a sports store and some brochures. What?!? That's it?

No food was offered. Just water or gatorade. There were two vendors handing out stuff; one was FRS energy drinks, and the other was 5-hour energy drinks. While those were nice (even though I don't really do energy drinks),  it was a bit disappointing. We left fairly quickly since there wasn't anything to stay for.

Mike and I headed to a diner near home for some good post-race greasy breakfast. We discussed the race and how it went. The course was beautiful; the location was easy to get to and parking seemed ample (although we got there early enough for it not to be an issue either way). We were disappointed with the swag but I guess the money that would have gone toward food went toward the tech shirt instead of a cotton t-shirt. There are other races held at this venue, and we'd be happy to check them out. We're not sure, though, that we'd return to this particular race. All in all, it was a good day and we enjoyed beautiful weather and beautiful views.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New milestone - 5 miles!

First things first... my doctor's appointment was very enlightening. I am in fact a very allergic person. It looked like my skin was trying to jump off my back for the grasses!

grasses on the left
My insurance isn't the best, so we didn't test everything; this at least was a good indicator that I'm not imagining my symptoms. I was given lots of good medicine, and also an inhaler for suspected exercise-induced asthma. Since that visit, my runs have felt better. It wasn't a cure-all, but I'm feeling better. So much better, in fact, that I ran 5 miles today!

A friend of mine ran the Boulder Marathon today. I'm not sure I want to ever run a marathon, but I'm not ruling it out. However, my long-term goal is to run a half marathon, and the Boulder Half Marathon sounds like a good beginner race to try. So, I've got a year now to see if I can get myself in shape!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tough week so far

I've gone running the last three days. Sunday is usually a longer run day; I don't work, don't have any commitments, and can get out there for as long as I like. Monday is hit or miss; sometimes my afternoon is free, like it was yesterday, and sometimes I have to squeeze in some time in the evening. For half of the year, Tuesday is one of two softball nights, and if the game is late enough, I'll get my run in, otherwise it's usually a rest day (although I decided to squeeze it in during my lunch hour today). I've been having fun lately running the streets in my neighborhood; just north of me is a quiet little set of streets with little vehicular traffic. Runs in the middle of the day see maybe one or two cars every ten minutes. Each of the runs so far this week, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, have been in the 'hood.

Runs this week have not felt great. I've been working on getting in at least one 4 mile run a week, and Sunday is the natural candidate for that. Wow, did I ever struggle with that run. I felt like I lost my breath during the 3rd mile. The only thing that kept me going was my goal distance, and even though I felt like I was "walking with a bounce" at the end, I made it. I chalked up the bad run to just being one of those days. But then it happened again yesterday, and even worse... I didn't even get 2 miles in. I couldn't breathe. I felt defeated and disappointed. I figured, okay, we'll try super-slow the whole way during today's run... and yeah, got my 2 miles in, just barely, and at just under a 13 minute/mile pace. Ouch.

I don't know what's up with my breathing. I have an appointment with an asthma/allergy specialist on Thursday, and I'm hoping that I'll find some answers there.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Clothing for winter

So far, I've only run in one cold, nasty day. I wore a long-sleeve tech shirt, a fleece vest, running capris, and a fleece hat. The clothing felt good, and I ended up having a good run. The weather has turned warm again (for now), so it's back to short-sleeve shirts. However, I've been stocking up my winter gear to be ready when the temperature drops again, in addition to preventing injuries. I've picked up a few extra long-sleeve shirts and found a great fleece vest at TJ Maxx today.  In addition, I'm eagerly awaiting the delivery of my RecoFit calf sleeves (scheduled to arrive tomorrow!)

RecoFit Calf Components
and I picked up some Pearl Izumi compression sleeves a couple of days ago.
Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Arm Warmers

I'm excited to see what running in cooler weather is going to be like!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Avoiding injury

Last week, I had a softball double-header in very cold weather. It didn't help that we played at 8:15 and 9:15. I stretched, I tried to warm up, but somehow I still managed to tweak my left calf. I took the next day off, then felt good about running again. Wouldn't you know it, but dang it, I tweaked the calf again, playing softball last night. I think it's the sprinting and rapid direct changes when I run the bases, because my normal running routine (slow and steady) doesn't bother it.

I did end up going for a shorter run today (two miles) to make sure I don't make it worse. I felt it, but it was all right. I ordered some calf compression sleeves from Running Warehouse which should be here in a couple of days. Hopefully they'll do the trick; even though softball season is almost over, I still worry that one wrong step will really mess it up.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Online support

I've been lurking on the  Runner's World Beginners forum for several weeks now. The people there are very helpful; lots of opinions, lots of folks at various stages of their running careers. Some have been running for decades; others, like me, having been running for mere months. It's fascinating to read their stories, their ups and downs, and race reports. I often see great questions and even better answers. It's a place for inspiration and commiseration, sympathy, support and cheerleading.
Part of the joy of finding this forum is the miles game. There are maybe half a dozen teams. Each week, players submit their miles, and each teams' place in the weekly standings is determined by the average miles of all its members. It's not uber-competitive, but it does give me an added incentive to make sure I'm getting out there and keeping up my running. I had a lower week last week, and I'm motivated this week to do better. Go Team Phoenix Rising!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Winter is coming

Whooo today was cold! I wasn't sure what my work schedule was going to be this afternoon, so I tried to get up this morning to go out for a run. "Tried" is the key word there. I got up, watched TV, sat around, and then had to go into work.

Luckily having to get ready for work and leave the house was the kick in the pants I needed for the rest of my day as well, not to mention the fact that my only client of the day came in to see me for a post-half-marathon massage, and mentioned the full she's doing in May. Nothing like seeing someone where you might want to be in the future for motivation!

There are some great trails around Westminster City Park, and I got myself lost on them this afternoon (no really, I got lost... I had to find some street signs when I came up to a major road to figure out where the heck I was!). It was a cold, dreary, snowy/rainy day.

The high for today was at 2am, and was a measly 36F. When I started running around 2pm, it was definitely spitting snow (changed into spitting rain by the end of my run). It was my first time running in this kind of weather, and I didn't know how it was going to go. By happy chance I wore the perfect amount of clothing -- a pair of capri tights, long-sleeve tech shirt, fleece vest, and a fleece hat. I wanted to run 4 miles, but got a little thrown off by a bit of walking I did in the middle to find street signs. In the end, I ended with a total of 4.4 miles of running, and with a pace of around a 12 minute mile, which is my best yet for any runs over 4 miles (honestly there haven't been that many). If this is a sign of how I run in the cold, bring on winter!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Upcoming races

Calf feels better today, but still decided to take the day off to make sure I give it rest and make sure I don't reinjure it or make it worse. The idea of a run wasn't terribly tempting today anyway; I think I've been a little tired and run down lately, and it was nice to use my unexpected day off from work to putz around the house and not worry about having to do anything.

I'm the kind of person where if I don't have motivation to keep me honest, I let things slide... I lose interest... and next thing I know, I'm done. In order to prevent this with running, I've decided to sign up for a bunch races and give myself something to work toward. My boyfriend and I ran a couple of 5K races in September, and we've signed up for 5K races coming up in October and November with a really good friend. We've also signed up for another 5K in December. I've also got my eye on a 10K in January, although I haven't signed up since I want to make sure I can actually run it. The first couple races are for Halloween and Thanksgiving; the second is in fact on Thanksgiving Day. I'm hoping that by Halloween, I'll see the improvement I've been waiting for the last few weeks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Last night was my beer softball league, and for the first time in a while, I decided to tie one on. It left me feeling not 100% today, but I still managed to take a few turns in the park behind our house and get in three miles. I then had a double-header with my other softball team tonight. The combination of being tired from last night, already having a few miles under my belt, the super cold temperatures at night, and a few quick sprints around the bases gave me a twinge in my left calf tonight. I'm hoping it's nothing, just a tweak, a little overuse... we'll see how it goes in the next couple of days. It's funny... when I first started feeling it, my first thought was, "wonder how this will affect my running schedule... will I still be able to go for my run tomorrow?"

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tonight's run and perspective

I set out for a 3 mile run tonight just before 6pm. That's a popular time to be on the trails around here; everyone's out of work and the sun is still out. There are a lot of fit, athletic, outdoorsy folks in my part of the world, and I see them out on my runs quite often.

Tonight was a bit depressing. I started off on my warm-up walk, and was passed by two attractive young people running at a decent clip and holding a conversation. If I was running at their pace, I'd be wheezing and done in about 2 minutes. My own run was okay, but not fantastic; I pushed myself a bit and breathed quite hard. Although I ran under a 12mm pace, I still want more than I have right now and it's hard to be patient and wait for the results of my work.

When I got home, got showered, and thought about it, I realized that I haven't been running that long. In June I couldn't run for a measly minute. Two days ago I ran for an hour and reached my farthest distance to date, 4.5 miles. Impatience is a part of my personality; while I know this about me, it doesn't make it any easier to wait. Sometimes I just need to take a moment and think about where I've been to appreciate where I am now, and not worry too much about the future.