Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Run Report: New Sneaks

Tuesday AM I actually got my butt out of bed and ran before work (I only hit snooze twice!). I had 4.5 miles planned and I think my eyes were barely opened for the first 1.5. I had picked my original 5k route around Cheeseman Park (a local gay hangout park where I refuse to run at night because women have a tendency to get goosed). I added a loop around the Denver Botanical Gardens (which I had no idea I lived so close to) to get the route to 4.5 miles.

Overall, I love my new sneaks. I wore my running socks: blue with extra padding on the front and heel. Next time I think I'll skip these, as they made the new shoes super tight and I don't think I needed the extra cushion. My tootsies went a little numb around the 3rd mile so I think I'll loosen the laces next time.

But more importantly, for the first time during a run without any walking, I felt incredible. After about 2 miles, I picked up the pace and pushed even harder for the last mile. My overall pace was 10:37 minute miles, which is just about where I want to be for the half. It felt fast to me, but until I really pushed it in the 4th mile, I felt like I could have run for days, which is encouraging for my planned 8 mile run on Sunday. My 7 miles this past Sunday were extremely slow, so I'm going to work to pick of the pace a little on my long runs. I think I'd be happy with 11-11:30 miles.

Next weekend I'm supposed to race a 10k. After searching high and low (or googling "10K Denver July 9" once) I found the only 10k in the area that weekend is right up next to Rocky Mountain National Park. I'm excited because a girlfriend and I are going to possibly camp the night before and then run but also nervous because the race is at 8,500 and the course elevation looks like a heart monitor - straight up and straight down about 3 times. If nothing else, it will give me an interesting race report to blog about!

And even with all the running, lifting, eating well (most days) and drinking lots of water (more importantly, not beer) I have not lost a single ounce. I'm about to lock my scale in my truck and say to hell with it. But, looking back, I figure at least now I can run strong miles, see bicep muscles, bike all over town, and walk up stairs without feeling like I'm having a heart attack. I guess thats enough progress for one year.

Three Things Thursday

1.) While snorkeling last week I got into it with some fire coral. At first it was a cool story and a neat looking wound, but it didn't really hurt and appeared to be healing quickly. Yesterday I woke up and it had 'reactivated' and itches like crazy. After some googling, I found out that fire coral tends to do that and it can last for as long as it would like to. Awesome.

2.) I ran my 4.5 mile loop again today, trying to focus on pushing the pace a little the entire time and not just letting it get faster as I could see the finish line. I had a pretty painful sidestitch for most of miles 2 and 3 but I pushed through and took 22 seconds off of my Tuesday time for an average pace of 10:28!

3.) Today I learned you are not supposed to wear undies with biking shorts. Who knew?!?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Last night I stumbled upon how to view my stats for this blog. I was absolutely ECSTATIC to find out that in just this past week, I've had page views from India and England (boy, you people must be bored!). In my 6,700 page views since starting, people have tuned in from Slovenia, Germany, Canada, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, and Malaysia! Kind of makes the world seem smaller, no?

This blog started out as just a way to do something non-school, non-work each day while I was getting ready to move to Denver. As I settled in, it became a way to keep my family up to date with my goings on (if they so-chose to read). I then realized my dad was sending it to everyone and their brother and felt a bit sheepish but figured hey, that's the point right?

This blog has never really had a purpose. While Katie can effortlessly recount amusing anecdotes about her training and races, I mostly come up with "I ran. It was hot. My calves hurt", which is far less interesting. In training for my Half, its mostly been "welp, went on work travel and didn't run one inch and ate everything in sight - again." I'm also terribly bad at remembering to take pictures, which often liven up other peoples blogs.

So I was excited to see that someone outside of my immediate family (and Katie, my faithful comment-leaver) is actually reading this! Even if they are only logging in to mock my posts filled with spelling mistakes and self indulgent ponderings, hey, at least they are reading!

What I found even more amusing, however, is that Blogger, in a somewhat unsettling way, also tracks what keywords people were using when they stumbled upon this little blog of mine. Some were fairly expected, like keywords for the AICP, which I blogged incessantly about this spring, but others I can't quite imagine how my blog got on the list for things such as: "peeing + triathlon" and "locker room naked" as well as "Jenna Wolfe." I think I've only blogged just once over my disdain for Ms. Wolfe and I can't quite recall ever mentioning peeing during a tri (which I haven't done, btw, but if I did, the Schuylkill would be cleaner for it). And ok, I do blog a lot about how uncomfortable I am with locker room nudity. Fair enough, Blogger.

I will try my best to be witty and clever, but on those days where my posts are lackluster and just say "today i ran some more. I still don't like running" I at least know Katie and my parents will be reading. And Blogger will be creepily tracking them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Sneaks!

This past weekend I finally broke down and bought new running shoes, something I've been contemplating for about a year. Both trainers have looked at my old rag tag sneaks with consternation, suggesting that perhaps it is time for a new pair.

I headed over to Runners Roost and said "I run on the outside of my foot - help!" I had previous had a neutral shoe, and now they don't make shoes that help runners compensate for running on the outside of their foot, so I was back looking for a neutral shoe. The woman grabbed three pairs in my size and luckily the prettiest pair was also the most comfortable.

Look at me, I'm preeeeetttty!

For some reason, my highly productive weekend and shopping excursion prompted me to start my online shopping wish lists again. My favorite targets: NorthFace.Com and Amazon. On Zappos, however, I started searching around for a good walking shoe for Europe, which I am quickly falling in love with.

I'm also very pretty!

I sent this link to my sister who promptly told me that I would look like an American. Well. I am an American. I don't care that I'm going to stick out like a sore thumb, I am used to it. Maybe I'll just throw on an ADIDAS track suit and call it a day. Maybe I can be rude and speak loudly in English to someone speaking another language and just embody the full stereotype. More importantly, the reviewers of this adorable shoe said they walked all over cities for full days and their tootsies were just fine. Sign me up.

After my delightful Sunday of productivity and fantasizing about what I'd buy if I had money, Monday is kicking my butt. I dropped my bike on my foot and the coffee machine at work isn't working - a very dangerous situation for those addicted to caffeine. I'm ready to be on travel again.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

And now for something completely different

...For me, that includes being in Denver for a full three weeks before traveling again. It will be my biggest chunk of time spent at home until nearly October.

I had a wonderful time in Philly, including the excellent PR at the sweltering hot and muggy Worcester 5K. I dutifully resisted most options for soda and Herr's chips and aimed for fruit and water instead. At least as much as one person can possibly resist. For my flight to Miami, I even packed myself a bag of Cheerios to eat before the flight and even continued to eat them once I discovered they were original and not honey nut. My first day was a success.

And then, as is normal, my willpower went the way of all flesh. The park folks we are working with are a wonderful crowd and I am looking forward to seeing the Regional folks next month in KY and TN for another projects. But we ate dinner together after both meetings (which both went very, very well) and all partook (is that a word?) in celebratory beers. And fried bar food. Not to say there werent better choices on the menu, but I certainly didn't pick them.

And then there was the exercise. I left determined to at least get in my two planned runs. I ran one mile, one day late. It was too oppressively hot to run outdoors and the treadmill was hurting my shin something awful. Pathetic. I did, however, get a lovely half day of snorkeling in, so I'm counting that as my cross training. With all the travel I have coming up, I have to do better. There is no other option. Miami was better than DC but there is still a vast amount of room for improvement.

I have spent my weekend rehydrating, buying healthy groceries, spending way too much money, and getting back into my routine. I got my in scheduled 7 miles today. They were slow, but they were there. Thankfully I woke up at 8, was out the door by 8:40 and it was already in the mid-70s. It was in the 80s by the time I made it back and I thanked my lucky stars that S.F. in July will still be in the 60s.

My goal is to be back in the 140's by the time my birthday comes around. Only about a pound or two to drop, but for me, dropping any amount of weight seems to be a Herculean feat. Here's to seconding Alliy's summer goal: reduce!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Race Report: Worcester 5k

While home in PA this past weekend, my training schedule called for me to race a 5K. I looked online and was delighted to find out that the only hometown race we have was being held that very same weekend - the Worcester Fire Department 5k.

I excitedly got my sister and a few friends to run with then realized - people who knew me when I was a much thinner person would have to see me in spandex. And it wouldn't be pretty. I shrugged it off and vowed to just 'suck it in' for most of the race.

I was excited to see if training at altitude would actually make a difference, as I have been banking on that theory to help me finish the SF half. I sprinted across the very high tech chalk start line and got about .3 miles into the race and thought "holy hanna, I'm going too fast" so I slowed it down and fell into a good pace for me. I crossed the first mile mark around 8:40 - one of my fastest miles ever!

The course had almost no shade and it was hot and humid, so by the third mile, I was glad I had joined up with my high school best friend's mom, Mrs. Houser. We chatted about her multitude of grandbabies and Meghan and Colorado until the uphill on the way back, where we both just talked each other into not walking.

I crossed the line at 28:53 (although my watch said 8:45), for an average mile of 9:20. By far my fasted 5k ever, in big thanks to Mrs. H. My hips were tight for the rest of the day and I wish I had had a foam roller, but was happy to have raced!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quite the Quandary - My first 14'er

Back in May when I realized I would barely be home for weekends in June, I asked my friend Morgan if she wanted to go camping the weekend of June 10th. She said, Sure! and then "hey, lets do a 14'er!" I had mistakenly told her my goal for this summer was to summit a 14'er - one of the 52 mountains in Colorado which extend above 14,000 feet.

Along with our friend Chris, we set out for our campsite along Blue Lake just south of Breckenridge, set up my tent by headlamp, and hit the hay. This was the view from our open tent door - not too shabby!

After a lively debate over what time we should get up, we compromised for a 5am wake up call. Per usual, I barely slept, but was toasty warm in my sleeping bag, even though the temp was probably around 30 degrees. This was my first foray into camping and hiking without a campfire for food, so I watched and took mental notes for what works/doesn't work and started to learn the ropes. Lesson learned: always bring a spoon and cup.

We were at the trailhead for Quandary's east ridge trail by 6:45 and within the first 100 yards I thought "why is this a good idea?" Much like running, the first little bit just plain hurts. My lungs burned, my heart raced, and my butt muscles yelled "Why aren't you on the couch - it's Sunday!" To add to the fun of my first 14'er, I was wearing my new boots, which I hadn't broken in yet. The first mile was filled with a few aches and pains from the boots, but by the end of the hike, I was confident the boots will serve me well for a long while. I also put duct tape on my heels, big toes, and baby toes to prevent blisters - and it worked like a charm!

View from whence we came

Just about the time where I started feeling confident and all warmed up, we hit the snow. I had borrowed Chris's girlfriend's snowshoes, which were strapped to my back, waiting anxiously to be used with only one hitch: I've never snowshoed before. Oops! After a quick lesson, we hit the first snow ridge and I got the hang of it. I like snowshoeing, but perhaps not as much at a 60% slope at 12,000 feet. Holy calf workout.

Me and Mo, with Quandary in the background
The rest of the 2 miles up the mountain would require the shoes to prevent postholing - when your foot goes straight down into the melting snow. Even with the snowshoes, we still postholed quite a bit.

On the way up, I was definitely the slowest. I would go about 20-50 feet, then stop and catch my breath, then keep on keeping on. It was slow going, but I was moving along. I had been warned about altitude sickness so was drinking water every time I stopped.

This is what Quandary looks like:

We were hiking along the ridgeline and, while I knew there would be two peaks, I was still crestfallen when I came up over the first one and saw how far and how steep the path to the summit was. I was hurting. The headache I'd been fighting with water was finally surfacing and every time I had more water, my stomach screamed "no mas!" and I was getting nauseous. At numerous times, I thought I might boot all over the snow.

So I made it to the first peak, right before it swales into the summit. At that point Morgan and I decided to sit and eat and see if I rallied. I did not. I probably could have pressed on for a bit further, but I didn't want to get sick closer to the summit and be a burden on someone to help me get down (we had 1,200 vertical feet and one mile to go). Chris kept on to the summit and it took him 5 hours to go from the trailhead to the summit. He said that once he got to the steep incline right below the summit, people were moving at the pace I was moving at around 12,500. I think I made the right decision.

When I got home, I was exhausted and slept for a good long while. I was still downing water, but had a bad headache, racing heartbeat, and upset stomach. A good night's rest got rid of most of these, but confirmed to me that 13,000 is still some good altitude.

I was a little disappointed that I didn't summit, but also realized that hey, I've only hiked three times in Colorado so far, and before yesterday, the highest was at 9,000. This was also fairly early in the season to do a 14'er, with more snowpack than Morgan had ever hiked in before. It was a hard hike. Mostly we were surrounded by people "skinning up" the mountain - hiking up with skins on their alpine skis and then skiing down (crazy people!). By the end of the summer, I want to summit a 14'er, but maybe I'll hike a little bit in high altitude before my next attempt.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why I Run

This morning, while I was putzing around my apartment getting ready to attempt 6 miles, I thought "Why am I doing this?". I've read why others run. Katie downright needs running as an outlet for many things, including her seemingly endless supply of energy. Lauren runs because it makes/keeps her strong and healthy. More importantly, they both seem to actually enjoy running.

I don't. I really don't like running. The activities I enjoy are riding and climbing and being in the water, but running? No way. So why do I do it? Nothing about my body screams "runner" and most of the scrawny girls passing me on the trail have thighs the size of my bicep (how do they run so fast with so little muscle?!). And I'm certainly not fast. So why bother?

I have Katie to blame for why I started. She convinced me to start and, three years later, I'm finally running on my own since I so carelessly moved 1200 miles away from her and that makes for one heck of a long run to meet up. Each year I try to do something new and this year, it is the SF half (sidenote: while watching a movie set in SF last night, they showed a long shot of the bay bridge and I thought "well, shoot, that looks long").

I think I run because of runs like today. After skipping my last two long runs and a full week of training (whoops!) I decided to just keep on the training schedule and go for 6 miles today. Every time I run, I seem to forget that the first two miles are hell. Everything hurts, I can't get enough air, and I always think its going to be the worst run of my life. But after those 2 miles, today was the day where, when I'm coming back from one of my many forays away from running, I feel strong again. Thanks to Eminem and Muse on my ipod, I ditched my idea to run/walk miles 2-4.5, which would be around Wash Park. I felt like my legs could carry me around for miles. Then, the last 0.5, I was tired, got a sidestitch, foot pain, and two uphills - but I put "Lose Yourself" on repeat and pushed it out.

I'm not busting out century rides or contending for an Ironman, but running pushes me daily. The feeling of accomplishment, of feeling strong and pushing through, is why I run. And I (almost) like it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ok, now what?

I spent last weekend in DC really enjoying seeing all of my friends and not running a darn mile. My goals and plans to keep to my training scheduled failed miserable while actually traveling - something I need to be much, much better at.

This was the first trip where I actually thought, hey, I could live here again. I stayed with Marisa and Paul in their new adorable place near U St and I absolutely loved the neighborhood. I guess mostly I had pangs of regret that I never actually lived IN DC, but once I landed back in Denver I came to my senses again and realized I am far happier here.

I still came away, however, feeling somewhat pensive. Since the spring of 2007, I've had a plan. Go to grad school, get my masters, and take the AICP - all by the time I'm 26. Oh, and move to Denver.

Well, ok - now what?

I feel kind of goal-less. And sure, I have little short-term ones like "don't die at the SF half marathon" and "get your butt back into shape so you can keep up with all your active Denver friends", but I don't have any long term goals and this is a bit unsettling to me. I mentioned this to a good friend and soon-to-be former coworker and she asked if there were any projects at work I wanted to work on or anything new I wanted to try. But my goal was to continue running my own projects while beginning to work on bigger ones - but I'm already doing that. I'm not quite sure where to go from here.

It put me in a bit of a mood, so I started to try to think of all the things I'd wanted to do when I would dream of having free time: get back into the Red Cross training, take spanish lessons, get back to playing the guitar. These are all well and good, but I still feel like I need direction. And even scarier, those teeny tiny thoughts of going to law school are beginning to creep back in. Thankfully they are mostly squashed by the next thought of how much that would cost.

Luckily, I'll have almost no time this summer to think about all of this silliness. I am traveling at least two weeks a month until October; some for work, some for pleasure. Work is picking up like crazy and I have the half marathon and then the swim leg of a triathlon back to back in early August. So I guess I can put off my quarter-life crisis until November.