Last Minute Racer

I’ve been debating for a while of running a half marathon this month to help in my Newport Marathon training. I had to miss the Jamestown stop of the UHC Triple Crown (of course, the one I was looking forward to the most!) and I’m trying to get my competitive running juices flowing.  I know, I don’t really have competitive juices. A girl can dream.

While I was looking through half marathons I was thinking about the last distance race I did- The Providence Half. I went into that fresh off an injury, a bow out from Boston and an overall question of why I bother running. I “ran” it just to finish it, and I affectionately refer to it as my “walking tour of Providence”. Before that was Boston training, and before that was the NYC Half Marathon. In 2011. It’s been 18months since I really raced a race. There has been tons of training, lots of long runs, even a few races; but nothing I actually went into wanting to race. This is an issue.

I’ve been running and training for Newport, and I’m going into this to race because of that little side bet I have going on. While I am confident I can race Newport, I don’t think I should go into it without having raced anything else first. I need to figure out how to really push myself and not take the safe route I’ve been comfortable in. After over training for Boston I’ve been hesitant to up my mileage very much. My longest run this training cycle has been 14 and I have zero intention of going above 18. The one part of training I’ve really improved on this cycle is listening to my body. If it hurts I rest it. If it doesn’t feel right I lay off. It seems to be working for keeping me healthy, but doing very little to help me get speedy. On a brighter note, my knee is feeling good thanks to a new trick I’ve taught myself. KT Tape plus an IT Band strap means no knee pain for this girl. And it’s pretty. That helps too.

My KT Tape matches my sneakers. We’ll pretend that’s an accident.

If I’m going to start racing that also means I need to start fueling and cross training better. Summer is always hard for me because there are lots of cookouts, lots of cocktails and lots of time on the boat.

Boat Life = The Good Life

None of this makes me sad. It does make me the slow kid on the track, though.  It’s hard to fit everything in, and Yoga has most certainly taken the biggest hit. Remember that New Years goal of 100 hot yoga classes? Not even close. Dinner last night? Salad. And fried brocilli cheese bites.

Heaven in a deep fried coating.

 

There is a lot I need to work on over the next 10 weeks leading up to Newport. I need to focus on pushing myself. I need to get outside of my comfort zone. I need to go back to Yoga so I can touch my toes without feeling the stretch anymore. I need to not eat everything in sight that is covered in cheese. I need to foam roll more. I’m also approaching the 8 week mark where I try to cut out drinking. Oh boy.

So- what do you think- is a half this month and next month a good idea? If so, what are you racing in the New England area this month? Any awesome races I need to check out?

Life’s a Balancing Act

With training for a race, like everything else in life, there is a certain level of give and take you have to expect. Yesterdays post involved me saying I need to be more accountable for my training and taking each and every run seriously. I knew at some point I would have to live up to these words, but I didn’t expect it to be night one of the training schedule.

For Boston training, I gave up on a social life in general. I did not go out. I did not drink. If I was dragged out of the house I was home and in bed by 10pm at the latest and cursing myself for putting my recommended 8 hours in jeopardy. I am making it a point to maintain a work/life/training balance this time around. The people in my life who love me and deal with me deserve time and attention without me worrying about what I’m not getting done the next morning.

Jim called around 4:30 yesterday to say he had made plans for us to go bowling with some friends after work. Yes, bowling. We’re wild. But, it was an awesome time. A couple beers, good friends and lots of laughs.

Like when we realized Jim forgot to take the tag off of his new pants. Oops.

The friends we were with don’t work the typical 9-5 and where Jim is self employed he gets to decide what his schedule is. I’m forever jealous of this flexibility and it makes me miss bartending in my weaker moments.

We left the bowling alley around 9, stopped at the liquor store to pick up a 12-pack and then drove over to our friends apartment. On the way from the store to the house, the guilt kicked-in. I knew I had to be at work early today. I can’t stay late because I have to run tonight. I can’t skip my run. I could take a sick day? I can’t take a sick day to go out and drink. The guilt would forever consume me and I would spend the next month convinced someone found out and I’d be fired immediately. As I pulled into the driveway, I called Jim over to tell him I was taking off and heading home. He stared at me like I had just spoken to him in some third world language. You’re not staying for Wii Dance? Huh? I still don’t’ think he really gets it.

On the way home I was a combination of ashamed of myself and proud. I’m 26. My life should not be as structured as it is most of the time. I should go get drunk on a Monday, stay up till 5am and use a sick day once in a while. On the other hand, I know myself and my personality and I find a huge amount of comfort in structure and consistency. I’m working on balancing the two. Let’s face it- I’ve never been a wild child and I probably never will become one. I think I’ve passed the age where I can have a “wild streak” and it would be socially acceptable. So instead of beers and dancing, I had soup, a book and an attempt to watch the Game of Thrones finale without falling asleep (fail).

It was good soup and a good book though.

I really want to know that I’m giving this training season all I have. Every once in a while that’s going to mean giving up a night out or sleeping in. However, when I’m waking up in a tropical location after winning this bet it will all have been worth it.

How do you strike the work/life/train balance? Early or late workouts? Also- where do I want to go on vacation? I need to start looking into this.

Favorite Things Friday: Pastimes

It’s been a busy week. Work was crazy, double workouts were fun, and by the time my head hit the pillow I was already passed out before I could enjoy the feeling of resting. Weeks like these tend to fly by, but luckily it wasn’t so overwhelming that I wanted to scream. Win!

Last night I went to spin class at Just Ride in Plymouth for a free class with an auditioning instructor. After CrossFit on Wednesday I was sore, and I thought spin would work out the kinks and I’d feel refreshed after doing a workout I’ve grown so used to. Wrong. If you happen to see a girl waddling through Boston today say hi and remind me that rest days aren’t the worst idea ever. Sometimes they’re necessary. Then laugh at me and walk away. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been this sore since after the Chicago Marathon.

See those cold wraps on my legs? Those were to prevent me from screaming.

Sometimes four day weeks seem longer than full work weeks because you need to fit 40 hours of work into four days. When I have weeks like this I always like to make sure to block off a little time each day for some of my favorite pastimes. Some people like to call them timewasters or distractions. I prefer pastimes. A half hour or so to regain your sanity and makes sure you’re not going to snap is key to that whole work/life/workout balance. Being that it’s Friday, let me list them out as my favorite things…

Fitness Blogs: Shocking that I would be into these right? But taking a few minutes over lunch or something to read about an awesome workout, or a new healthy meal to try actually helps me get motivated for workout #2 that night. A few suggestions…

–       Ali on the Run. This is my favorite running blog by far. Ali lives in NYC and has Crohn’s disease. If she can still run through Crohns flare-ups and have a smile on her face, I should just shut up and run, right? Right. She also inspired me to remember the positive things on a regular basis through her “Thankful Things Thursday”, which inspired my Favorite Fridays.

–       Undressed Skeleton. Taralynn was overweight in high school, but then found a healthier lifestyle when she got to college. Because it’s super easy to be healthy in college, right? She has a lot of great recipes for “Grab-And-Go” healthy meals and even healthy cupcakes. And we all know how I feel about cupcakes.

–       Rhode Scholars– This is the forum I’m a guest blogger for, but all the other featured bloggers are great. It’s really interesting to read about other people training for the same races I am and see what works for them. Hoping to meet all these lovely people in Jamestown in July.

The Dog Park Near My Office: There is a terrifying info graphic that explains how much more likely you are to die if you work in an office and sit during the day. This scares the living hell out of me every time I see it. Since it was passed around the office, I’ve made it a point to take a walk during lunch every day. How convenient that there’s an adorable little dog park 5 minutes from my office. Not dying and puppies? Sold.

If Jim asks anyone, this is what I want for any gift giving occasion ever.

Pinterest: Yes, I am guilty of Pinning while working. Sorry. Sometimes it’s just fun to dive into a little dream world where my only responsibilities are to bake, decorate and wear amazing outfits. But aside from all the amazing food I’ve found, there are also a lot of great workout ideas to change up your gym routine. See, it’s not all gluttony.

What helps you waste 30 minutes a day? Any awesome suggestions for me? Let me know!

Race Recap: The Providence Half Marathon

This weekend I ran the United Healthcare Providence Half Marathon. Also known as that time I took a walking tour of Providence. But that’s ok. I went into this race with very few goals and expectations. Finish, don’t blow out my knee and try to have a good time despite what was sure to be a slow race. And you know what- that’s exactly what I did.

Saturday was Cinco de Mayo, and as sad as it was for us, Jim and I stayed in so I could sleep and not be margarita hungover (certainly one of the least desirable forms of hungover) for race day. We went to dinner early, were home by 10 and I was in bed by 10:05. In bed, yes, asleep, not so much. For whatever reason, I could not fall asleep to save my life. I’m guessing I finally passed out somewhere around midnight, but who really knows.

That made for a less than desirable 5am wake up call. I was a little nervous about getting to Providence and finding packet pick up in time, so I left with some buffer time. Thankfully, I didn’t need it and had my bib in hand by 6:45.

One of my favorite things about this race was how non-chaotic the start was. I really think splitting the full and half races a half hour apart made a HUGE difference. By the time the full started at 7:30 the half-ers took our spots and had plenty of space to stretch and warm up. It really was the best race start I’ve been to. Kudos, Cox Rhode Races.

I like calm start lines. They set a good vibe.

8am came pretty quickly and we were off. We were told up front the course split at mile 2, and I had heard from a few friends who ran in 2009 that the course wasn’t very clearly marked so I made sure to keep an eye out for the split. Turns out, it was as clear as day, and the whole course was marked very clearly (though not correctly- we’ll get to that) throughout the whole race.

While I was stretching and waiting I came up with a game plan. My doctor tells me when my asthma flares up to walk a quarter of a mile each time I hit a new mile mark. This was I never put myself in too much danger and always have a set break to catch my breath. I figured this was the best plan since I haven’t really run- never mind raced- in 6 weeks. The doctor also told me to walk the uphills for Boston so I wouldn’t tear my knee up anymore than it already was. I figured this was also sound advice but wasn’t aware of one key thing- Providence was MOSTLY uphill. I really don’t know how they designed a course with such little downhill compared to the amount of uphill.

So as I approached the 2 mile mark, I didn’t have to worry about blowing past the marker signs because I had been walking for the half mile of serious uphill that precedes the two mile mark. While looking for the course signs I found a much cuter one.

A penguin race sign? Amazing.

And that’s how it went for mile 6 too. 7 through 9, those were also a crazy amount of uphill. Mile 10 had a super sharp decline that was as close as you could come to just jumping down 40 yards onto the flat pavement below. I’ve honestly never seen such a steep decline on a course in my life. If one person tripped half of the field would have been taken out by the tumbling person behind them. Thankfully, this didn’t happen. Though there were certain moments I was fairly convinced it was going to.

The full and half courses converged for what I assumed was the last 1.1 miles of the course. Right after I passed the 12 mile sign, the super speedy marathoners came around the corner. As those crazy runners blew straight past me, I was in awe of how comfortable they all looked despite the 25 miles of pavement they just covered. Every runner I saw was cruising along like they had just ran a 5K. While I was staring in awe, I also noticed that we were passing the Mile 25 sign about a half mile after the Mile 12 sign. Ok- maybe we have different finish lines? That’s strange, I thought it was the same one?

It was the same one. This became more confusing when a mile later we passed the Mile 26 sign, but had yet to pass the Mile 13 marker. Really, did they not think anyone would notice that mile 12 was way further than a mile? We’re runners. We’re known to carry GPS enabled devices any time our feet are in something that may resemble a running shoe. I know it was more than a mile. My Nike+ told me so. A lot of the half-ers were more than slightly irritated by this because they had paced for the last mile thinking it would actually be a mile. Silly runners, why would you think a course would be accurately marked?

Once the race was finally over, I was greeted with one of the best finish lines I’ve ever had the pleasure of crossing. I expect to be greeted with a medal. The water is never expected, but also never surprising and certainly always appreciated. One thing I have never been greeted with was pizza.

A medal and pizza? You rock my world Providence.

That was not expected and appreciated doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. I can’t think of many things that would have made me happier in that moment. Temporary forgiveness for the Mile 12 issue, for sure.

Friday I set some goals for this race. To recap…

–       Finish. Check. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it got done.

–       Enjoy Racing. Check. I didn’t get the rush I normally do from attempting a PR, but I did genuine enjoy being out on the course. Even when my hands got that swelly thing they sometimes get.

I swear, I normally do not have sausage fingers. I promise.

–       Meet the other Rhode Scholars. Sadly, no check here. Attention Rhode Scholars- For Jamestown let’s plan a meeting spot at the finish in advance. Or the start. You guys pick. But let’s find each other!

So that was Providence. I came. I saw. I ran. I walked. I didn’t quite conquer but I finished. And right now that’s good enough for me.