Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hardest Run Yet - For The Win!

I ran my hardest run yet today - and I'm on cloud nine about it! I mapped out a route that started at Gresham Main City Park and went on the Spring Water Trail towards my friend Sheri's house, and then caught up with where we usually run when we start at her house and head towards downtown Gresham.

I had two goals in mind;
1.) To complete the 2 sets of 29min
2.) To run 5 miles.

Running by myself outside was a little harder than I'd anticipated, and I felt like I was just crawling along so slow! I must have been going fast enough, though... I managed to squeeze in an entire half mile extra into the same amount of running time. :) I did end up walking a couple extra minutes in between sets, as the last three minutes of my first set were up a long hill. Not a super-steep one compared to what I'll be facing on race day, but a longer climb than I've ever run before. I wasn't sure if I should be trying to power up the hill like on smaller/steeper ones, or if I should be trying to keep pace and stay strong. I'll have to ask one of my more experienced buddies about that one.

When I got close to the park - where Daniel and Ethan were waiting for me - my alarm went off to signal the end of my second set. I wasn't sure how much distance I had to complete a full 5 miles, but I was so eager to be done and be back to my guys that I settled for completing the intervals and made a point to remember to look up my mileage when I got home... so I could see how short I fell.

Now that I know I only had half a mile left... I feel a little silly! I sort of want to go back out there and kick that half mile's booty... but I'll have to wait. I need at least one day to rest my little newbie legs, and will have to arrange for someone to entertain Ethan while I run.

Next weekend, I'll get to join my friend Kaylee on the last 5 miles of her first marathon! I'm super excited and really look forward to supporting her, and to seeing if I can keep up with her. It will be the last 5 miles of her marathon... but she's still pretty fast. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Did some hills!

To be precise - I did one hill... but I did it ten times. :) A friend recommended doing some drills that involved running up a hill for about ten seconds, and walking back down, ten times. I warmed up by running on the Spring Water Trail for just a mile and then went back to the Main City Park and attacked a hill I saw the high school cross country team using for their drills earlier in the week.

It definitely helped build my confidence. Somehow, running up a hill feels a lot more productive than walking up the same hill. Not sure if that's true for anyone else, but I'm going to stick with it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I ran for half an hour... TWICE!!

Started week 10 today. Two sets of 29 minutes of running. I'm feeling great! After having several hard runs (mentally and physically), I was happy to have what felt like a really smooth run today. It took me about 1.5 miles to get into a groove and get over some aches - but after that it was smooth sailing.

Just wanted to let everyone know I haven't quit yet!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"I let that hill get in my head"

Today I ran week 9's second run at the Glendoveer trail. My wonderful hubby took Ethan around for some adventures while I ran so that I could have some time to enjoy a run and clear my head. I really enjoy the Glendoveer trail. It's a 2 mile (ish) loop around a beautiful golf course, with varied incline and terrain. I'm thinking it might be a perfect place to practice for the Gresham Jazz Run. I usually start at the end of the trail that heads up a respectable/intimidating hill, just to get my heart rate kicked into high gear. I did my warm-up walk up that hill and started into my run and tried guessing in my head how many laps around Glendoveer I'd make while doing my intervals. I was surprised to make it almost the entire way around the 2 mile loop when my first 20 minute interval ended. When I rounded the corner to the "starting" area I realized I was heading straight for the hill during my second running portion. Uh-oh!

I took the hill with all sorts of, "I can't do this... this is going to be lame!" stuff going on in my head. I ended up slowing down quite a bit while heading up the hill, and made it about a third of the way up. Then I realized I was "running" slower than I could actually power-walk and sort of auto-piloted into a power-walk the rest of the way up the hill. I thought I was pretty clever, until I started hearing all those, "Oh no! You're cheating! You're not running!" sort of perfectionist things in my head. For some reason it caught me off guard and really took the wind out of my sails. Up to this point in my training, I have run every single step of every single running interval that I set out to run. It's been 6 months! For some reason I got pretty discouraged and considered giving up, walking back to the car, and quitting my run so I didn't have to count it. lol. I ruined my perfect record!

I walked myself the rest of the way up the hill and started into a jog again, fighting back and forth in my head about whether I was going to give up or keep going... and whether or not this run would "count." Needless to say, it was a pretty miserable run. I finished the second of three 20-minute intervals. As I looked around and tried to gauge where I was on the trail, I realized that if I completed the third interval, I'd have a chance to try that hill one more time right near the end. So I did it. I made sure to pace myself and run a little slower, and to concentrate on breathing and enjoying the run. I hit the hill with only a few moments left and made it about halfway up the hill when my i-pod signaled that the interval was over. With burning legs and a happy heart, I made my way back down the hill to find my guys waiting for me.

I realized as I was cooling down that I'd let my mental game get the best of me. I found myself listing all sorts of reasons why I should quit, why I didn't have it in me to finish, and all sorts of justifications. I'm disappointed that I ruined my "perfect" record of running every step I set out to run... but it taught me that I have some lessons to learn about persevering even when I won't have a "perfect" record. I let that silly little hill get into my head and ruin my attitude, distract me from my run, and tempt me to despair. No bueno!

Finishing the Gresham Jazz run is going to be the hardest thing I've done so far, in an athletic sense. To be honest, I'm actually quite intimidated and not really sure I can do it. I think maybe today... I probably couldn't do it. But I do have 3 weeks left to keep working hard and preparing my body for the challenge. My goal is to run the entire course... but if for some reason I end up walking part of it... it will be an experience in itself to grow up and finish my race like a grown up instead of sulking off like a perfectionistic little school girl.

Tomorrow: Daniel and I tackle the Jazz Run course together so I can get more comfortable with it and practice some hill running.

Walter's Hill... I'm coming for you. Be afraid... be very afraid.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I made it into Week 9!

On Tuesday I finally started into week 9. It's crazy to think that I've been training for over two months! Life sure goes by fast when you're having fun, right? Haha.

I do have to admit that walking the race course effected my mental game way more than I anticipated. I was actually dreading to start week 9, afraid that I was getting myself in way over my head. I'm happy to report that instead of throwing in the towel and grabbing a bucket of chicken - I did indeed start week 9. :) haha.

Three intervals of 20m/run& 1m/walk. I actually ended up doing really well and feeling great at the end of it. Though I did return to incline on the treadmill to 0% - it occured to me while running that perhaps the explanation for my sudden onset of charlie-horses and calf-knots is that I jumped into the incline all at once. I also started biking on my cross-training days, which I've read works your calves in a whole different way. Some deep-tissue massages (thanks hubby!) have helped with those, and I've been trying to be more concious about getting some good potassium in during the day so my body has more to work with.

Now that I'm into the "running for about an hour" crowd - I've got to start thinking about replacing electrolytes, fueling during runs, and keeping my blood sugar balanced. Towards the end of my outside run on Sunday (with Sheri) I was feeling that familiar light-headed floaty feeling. It wasn't really that hot, so I know it wasn't the heat. I'm not sure if it's an electrolyte thing, or a blood sugar thing, or a hydration thing. I'll just have to keep experimenting.

My new plan for dealing with my fear of hills is going to include incorporating some hill training into my workout. Not sure exactly how I'm going to do that - but I'm on a mission to build my confidence in running hills. Any suggestions would be awesome. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Per my last post - I'm having a hard time picturing myself doing well on this upcoming run. I know that all I can do is train my hardest and then give it my all on race day. Looks like I'll be doing some hill-training in the coming month to help prepare my body and mind for this upcoming adventure!

It is funny to think about me, the girl who use to fake sick to get out of PE (where we only ever ran like two laps to warm up), is actually planning on running 6 miles through trails and hilly neighborhoods.

Lord, as I take these steps and push myself physically - would you meet me? People talk of running in order to better know themselves, and I do want that, but I know I NEED You. If there's a way for You to show me something about Yourself (which I'm sure there is because You're really creative and smart) through this whole experience... would You do so? Surprise me with Your love and greatness.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Took a peek at the 10k course... uh oh...

This morning when we were packing Ethan and myself up to head to the gym, I was feeling rather spontaneous. I decided that today would be a wonderful day to grab the map of the 10k course for the Gresham Jazz Run (less than a month away now!) and spend the morning walking through it. It took me 2.5 hours to walk the entire thing - and I'm SO glad I did it!

The race website describes the course as "relatively flat except for the ascent up Walter's hill." What that means in newbie-speak is; the first third of the race is a sharp incline, followed by a gradual decline, and then more small hills. LOL. I'd really hate to see a course that these race people describe as "hilly."

The first portion of the course heads east from Gresham Main City Park. A flat (for reals), shady, and beautiful walk. Lots of friendly faces and even some crosswalks where the path crosses streets. Then a right turn up Regner and some zig-zagging through an affluent residential neighbhorhood. (I wonder if these folks know there will be a race through their neighbhorhood next month?) That's where the fun starts. I figured at that point, "oh, this must be Walter's hill and the small ascent" and pushed confidently up the hill. I was eyeing the map, studying the layout of the streets - as the map had no street names - and guessing where to go. I think the Lord was with me today, because usually I have ridiculous navigation skills.

I eventually found what the course website called, "Gresham Green Space" - which was a thin gravel trail running up an even steeper hill that I hadn't been able to see from Regner. Uh-oh. I was starting to feel a little apprehensive, but pressed on. The trail through the green space is truly ridiculous! At certain points the incline was so steep that I was hunched over pushing the stroller with my arms over my head. I had to laugh at their description... "relatively flat!" Ha! I did find that running up the hills made them easier to manage, not sure why.

The green space spits out into another beautiful Gresham neighborhood and goes pretty sharply downhill. The course zig-zagged through the neighborhood and crossed a busy street before going into more neighborhood. Then the course disappears into a private park that's run by the homeowners association. It took me a while to find the head of that trail, because it's not marked. I was lucky enough to find "Jazz Run" with some arrows spray-painted on the sidewalk, though - which pointed me in the right direction.

So I was off into more trail. Lots of bumps, tree roots and twists. This race is going to be interesting! I enjoyed this part of the trail, though I was surprised by a really steep downhill portion that had really tight switchbacks.

Eventually the trail ended back at the Spring Water Trail, which gets back to Gresham Main Park. But I'd gotten a little confused about which direction to turn after so many twists and turns on the last trail. Uh-oh. All I could see around me was a huge power station on the other side of the Trail, and then lots of foliage. Nothing else. I had no clue where I was. Oops.

Then I realized - hey! It's not noon yet, which means the sun is probably still in the east. So I stuck my right hand at the direction the sun would have come from, stuck my left hand opposite that and then located North. I aimed the map's north symbol at North and took off on the direction that seemed to be NorthEastish... praying that I'd get back to the park and not end up downtown.

I did eventually make it back to my van. Yay! Ethan even slept for the last two miles. We ended up having lunch with Daniel at Jazzy Bagel as I recounted my harrowing tail of adventure and intrigue. Haha.

Now that I know how crazy this course is - I've got a better idea of how to prepare. All of my training so far has been actually relatively flat. So maybe some more walks along that path will be in order? But it took SO long... but, I guess I can just tell myself that means running it will be way easier than walking it. As long as I don't die.

Which reminds me of a great shirt a friend posted on their blog, "Running won't kill you; you'll pass out first." Too true.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pictures from My First 5k!

I already wrote about the 5k right after it happened, but wanted to share some fun pictures from that day. :) Most of these are on Facebook already, but now they're here too!

Me and Sheri before we lined up to start. Ethan was confused, I think.

What's this? Teagan and Katie are running today too! I was excited.

Ethan waving at me while I go to line up at the starting line!

Waving at Dan's parents - yay!

This is my, "OHMIGOSHAREWEDONEYET!?!!?" Face... Still smiling, though!

I think this was our actual time... I can't be sure though. But it looks good... haha.

After: I could blame that face on my runner's high... but I always smile like that... haha.

We did it! Me and Sheri after the race. :)

Week 8 Begins... Thank God for Running!

I started week 8 of the 10 week 10k training today. I'm starting to feel a little intimidated, but am choosing to see that as a good sign. :) This week's intervals are four sets of 14min/run + 1min/walk, for a total of about 70 minutes of actual time when you factor in warm-ups and cool downs. My body was feeling more sluggish and achey than usual, which I can attribute to several factors. First being that the last two weeks I've only done 2 of 3 runs for each week, making this the second week in a row where I've "jumped ahead" rather than taking an extra day and getting behind on my training. Getting behind isn't a huge deal, I'll have two whole extra weeks to get training once I complete the official training plan. I've been pushing myself to keep with the flow of things more to keep my mind engaged. Secondly, I took my run after three days of no exercise (aside from chasing a toddler around) which happened to include traveling for Labor Day - which always means junk food and bbqs and lots more soda than I'm happy to admit. I'm falling out of love with Taco Bell... it's totally cramping my style (haha). Thirdly, on top of jumping ahead after skipping a run and having a weekend full of sitting around and eating junk, I also set the treadmill on the higher incline (just 1%) and increased my speed slightly (from 4mph to 4.2mph). Those changes themselves didn't seem like a huge difference... but on top of the other two factors, it all adds up to one sluggish run.

Then there's the mental component. Jumping from 9 minute intervals to 14 minute intervals was really getting to me, mentally. Those old voices of doubt were sneaking in as soon as I woke up this morning. Can I really do this? Maybe I should just finish week 7? I don't know if this is a good idea! I tried reassuring myself by focusing on the fact that there were only FOUR sets instead of SIX. Time feels really relative when I'm running anyway - as long as I'm not watching a clock - so if I could just focus on that then I'd be fine. That helped - but I found myself still facing those voices anyway.

So I was having a sluggish run and battling those voices of doubt. I noticed during my first run my mind was wandering all over the place and my form was really sloppy. I was running like I did back in grade school - the sort of run that just screams, "I feel sorry for myself that I'm running, and you should too!" It occurred to me that things were getting hard again, after almost a month of running feeling fun and easy. I was actually a little excited to realize that things were getting hard again. It means I'm growing... or at least that I have the opportunity to grow if I handle it correctly. So in the face of a sluggish run, a wandering and doubt-filled mind, and a pity-party sort of funk, I made a choice: this is when I need to focus. I started reminding myself of how far I've come, how much I've grown and accomplished. Instead of playing that, "I don't know if I can do this" tape in my head over and over, I replaced it with, "I AM doing this! I'm strong and I'm getting stronger with each step." And I dropped the pansy-whiner-baby-running form and engaged my core, dropped my shoulders and tried to "think tall" so my head wasn't slouching.

I remember the last time things were hard like this - when I first started running back in April. I learned some amazing skills by sticking with running through those difficult workouts. I learned how to replace doubt and fear with truth. I learned how to carry myself with strength and dignity. It was invigorating to feel those skills just sort of rise out of me when I hit the hard part today. It gives me hope that I can do this!

Now to translate that same principle into action in my spiritual life. I'm asking the Lord to help me apply these lessons to my heart in a very real way. The verse from 1 Timothy comes to mind;

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather, train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.

I'm going to do some soul-searching and some listening (to the Spirit of God... it's so humbling that He speaks to us) and will keep you all posted on what I learn. :) It'd be really nice to have that all figured out and be able to put it in one nice little blog... haha. But this is what you get for now. Anyone who loves Jesus can go ahead and ask Him to lead me - I'd love to know your praying for me!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jumped into Week 7 a little early... AKA... Being bold!

No run this last Sunday - which would have been Day 3 of week 6. My running partner was getting over being sick, and that seemed like a good opportunity to take some time to spend with my hubby and little boy. We tried to take Ethan to the park to "get his play on" so he'd be ready for an afternoon nap. When we arrived we found him already asleep... lol. So we all went back home and had a nice nap together before getting ready for church.

Monday morning I decided I was feeling great with week 6 and was eager to start week 7, so I just jumped straight into week 7 instead of finishing the third run from week 6. It didn't seem like that big of a jump in my head... adding "only one minute" the each interval. Each of the six intervals. 6 minutes isn't that much, right? And it didn't really seem to be! I'm actually really stunned/impressed/blessed/elated at how great I'm feeling when I run. I've been keeping an eye on my heart rate during treadmill runs as a sort of marker for my fitness level, and I'm actually close to keeping my heart rate on the low end of the cardio spectrum... right above the whole "fat burn" spectrum. I'd love to be able to spend an hour running in the fat burn spectrum... blasting away pure fat calories while doing what my body has grown to love. Mmm! I think I have a few more weeks of running before my body hits that level, but I'm really looking forward to it!

When I stepped on the treadmill on Monday I actually thought, "Is that all? Maybe I did it wrong... I feel amazing!" That gave me the assurance I needed to resolve to finally set the treadmill at a 1% incline.

I've read in several places now that treadmill running is slightly easier than road running. With a treadmill there's not much difference in incline (unless you use the incline feature), not as much keeping your balance on varying terrain, no wind resistance, and your body isn't working as hard to propel you forward as much as it is keeping your legs under you. It's not enough of a difference that you could be a "fake runner" by only using the treadmill, but I've been concerned that it might be just enough difference to make me think I'm awesome and then be disappointed/surprised when I get on the road for a race and find things are harder. So... I finally followed the advice of setting the incline to 1%. I actually avoided it for the first interval and a half... I was REALLY like the feeling of running feeling easy. :) But I finally "put my big girl shoes on" and pushed that darn incline button. I could definitely tell my body was working harder - but was excited to see that it wasn't pushing me as hard as I'd feared it would. My run was harder, my breath was a little heavier, and I was WAY sweatier... but it still felt good. And after it was all over, there's just something wonderful about walking away and feeling like I accomplished something. Even if it was just kicking my own butt. :)

I'm going to register for my 10k as soon as Daniel gets paid this weekend... and I can't wait! When I think about the race my tummy starts to get a little tense... but I know it will be an amazing experience and that I'll really enjoy it. I've got about 4.5ish weeks left until the 10k... and I'm SUPER excited! AH!