Sunday, June 29, 2014

Still Got It?

I have a secret. . . and it terrifies me.  Do you want to know my secret?  Are you sure?  Ok, but let's just keep this between us.

I think I broke my foot.  No, not THAT foot.  The other one.  I know, right?

I can't pinpoint when this happened like I could that fateful day of the nuts.  All I know is that the top of my left foot has been feeling a bit sore lately.  I really noticed it when I tried walking on my heels during a cool down, but it didn't hurt in my heels; it hurt in the top of my foot.  I massaged it, but it didn't look bruised or swollen, so I didn't worry too much.  

Yesterday I ran eight miles before hopping a flight to Atlanta.  The foot was a bit sore again, but I thought maybe it was overuse as I had run for three days in a row.  Then I got to Atlanta, and I walked all over the place (I'm at a teaching/tech convention) in flip flops (I KNOW!!!  I'M SORRY!), and I looked at the top of my left foot, and sure enough, there is a bump.  And it's tender.  


I'm going to self-diagnose here.  I'm going to say that I have the beginnings of a stress fracture, although I can't comprehend why or how because I haven't really ramped up my mileage.  Was it the two half marathons last month?  I don't know.  I do know that I worked on the recumbent exercise bike today instead of running, and I plan to jog in the pool tomorrow.  I am also not touching the five pairs of really cute sandals I brought to Atlanta with me; today I am wearing the running shoes with my dress. 


 I have a race on July 4th, and I intend to tear it up.  The race.  Not my foot.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Talking to Bob

Bob kicked my ass today.

Last night I got home at midnight from our vacation in Holden Beach, North Carolina.  I drove fifteen hours, two of them in a traffic jam FOR NO APPARENT REASON.  I needed a run this morning, but I didn't get my act together until about noon.  That is when I met Bob.

I had decided to run six miles on the Sand Run path as my "long run" for several reasons: 1) It is close to home,  2)It is shady (and it is HOT today), and 3) I thought the hills would make up for my lack of distance.  I am still tired and discombobulated from the drive, so I knew that I had to take care of myself.  I chose to drive to my starting point at the opposite end of the path because this gives me a largely downhill run on the second half.  I also told myself that I should take it easy on pace, maybe doing an eleven minute mile.  That didn't happen.

Around mile two I noticed that I was doing under a ten minute mile, and I thought I had been running more slowly.  I started to pass a gentleman ahead of me who was easily running (no gasping or sweating, unlike me), and I thought, "I should really run at his pace," but I didn't.  When I got to the three mile marker, I stopped to drink water, and the gentleman came in a few minutes later.  He introduced himself (Bob), and asked if he could run at my pace on the way back.  Damn.  I thought I was going to slow down, but I knew that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to run with someone who seemed to be running so effortlessly, so we took off.

Bob kept me going at about a 9:40 pace for the next two miles, and then I made him slow down in the last mile.  He was super-interesting to talk to about marathon training, and he really kept me going on what felt like a pretty tough run.  Thanks, Bob!  I hope we run together again soon!

One of the reasons I chose to run hills today is because North Carolina was so flat, and I felt like I got increasingly lazy during my runs last week.
This is the road I usually ran along the beach.
I ran the sidewalk along this road, and it was very nice and very flat, but it got very old very quickly.  I tried running around the marina, but it was really hot and muggy, and I found myself making excuses to just get the run finished quickly.

One day I chose to run barefoot on the beach, and it looked like this:

Holden Beach.  What you can't see are the clam holes in the sand.  Very cool.

I liked this much better, but I'm not sure barefoot running is something I should be doing when I still have a broken foot.  The sand felt great under my feet, and the wind coming from the ocean was a relief.

All in all, I got in four runs last week, and I think that is pretty good for a vacation.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I got in four runs on vacation.

Next week I'll be spending four days in Atlanta for the ISTE conference, and I'm thinking the runs will be just as hot and sweaty unless I choose the dread mill, in which case the runs will be frustrating and boring.

Also, I've joined a team from The Ohio Runner's Network (TORN) to run a five mile race on July 4th.   I usually don't do firecracker runs because it's so hot, but this sounds like fun.  I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Beach Running

This is sort of a bye week for the blog, as I am attempting to write this post on my iPad.  I've got no pictures that you would want to see, unless you'd like me to show you a deer again.  No?  Ok, then, I'll keep it short (sweet not guaranteed).

This was my first morning in North Carolina, and I tested the waters (see what I did there?) with a four miler on the beach road.  I didn't want to run directly on the beach yet because I don't want to deal with sand in/on my running shoes.  Maybe later in the week.

I ran at 6:00 AM, and there was a slight breeze coming off the ocean.  It was extremely humid, but it's humid in Ohio, too.  The road had a sidewalk, so I was safe from Sunday drivers.

The run was really pleasant with beautiful scenery, and as a bonus there was a cooler of ice water and cups outside the local coffee shop.  Thanks, coffee shop!  I anticipate checking out your version of a java chip frappucino later today.

I will take some pictures to post for next week.

Happy Father's Day!

Oh, and I lied.  Here is your gratuitous deer pic:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Increasing My Pace on the Long Run

     "Mom looks like a train wreck!" my daughter shouted when I entered the house this morning after my Sunday morning long run.  She and my son giggled and danced around me as I hobbled to a mirror.  I was sopping wet, muddy, red-faced, chafed under my arms, and I had last night's mascara dripping down my face, making me look more like a sad raccoon than a train wreck.

     "I look like a train wreck," I thought, "but I feel like a goddess."

     I had just run ten miles in a torrential downpour, without music, and my average pace was 10:16/mile.  For the most part, I was comfortable during this run; the proof is that I was able to maintain a conversation with my two running peeps the whole time.

     We ran along the Towpath in Canal Fulton, a place I had never visited, and it was my first time running that part of the Towpath.  During our run, we saw three snapping turtles.

This looks exactly like the turtles we saw: poised, ready to bite off our toes.

We saw a few Great Blue Herons.

When they fly, they look like pterodactyls.

We saw lots of frogs.  We saw geese.
Geese are scary and nasty.

  We also saw two deer.  I won't show you a picture of a deer because I always show you pictures of deer.  I know your limits.

     When you need to increase your pace, there are lots of ways to go:  fartleks, intervals, ladder drills, tempo runs, hill drills.  I try these on at least one short run a week, but I know I should do more.  The best way to increase your pace is to get comfortable with running faster.  Period.  I have been slacking off on my long runs by going much more slowly than I should, even with the advice of going at least one minute per mile slower than half marathon pace.  I knew I could do better, but how could I push myself?  Shelby, from The Ohio Runner's Network, advised me to hook up with Jen and Michael on my long runs and my tempo runs, and today was the day I was finally able to do it.

     One of the best parts about this run was that my Garmin crapped out on me (yet again) because of the rain (It was a monsoon, I tell you!), so I had to rely on Michael and Jen to dictate the pace.  I'm not a good follower, so it was good for me to match their cadence, and I listened when they told me to slow down or to maintain our current pace.

     They were so kind to slow down their regular "slow run" pace for me, and at the end of the run I followed our badass high fives with a truly grateful hug for them both.

     You wanna increase your pace?  Run with someone faster, and run naked.  No, Dirty-Mind, I didn't mean without clothes; I meant without a watch or music.  Let the faster person dictate your pace and give you the information you need when you need it, not when you want it.  Carry on a conversation while you run.  Look at the scenery to block out your discomfort.  When you need to, go deep inside your head, concentrate on your feet and your breathing, and look ahead to the finish.  That is what I did, and it got me through.

     I look forward to getting more and more comfortable with a faster "slow run" pace.  If my mascara streaks didn't scare off Michael and Jen, I hope to run with them again!

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Race Recap: Medina Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran the Medina Half Marathon.  I ran as a part of two different groups:  The Ohio Runners Network (TORN)

The Ohio Runners Network, Medina Half Marathon 2014

and as a member of the faculty/staff at Medina City Schools

These are my colleagues at Medina High School.  We are badass runners and teachers!

 I excitedly laid out my race clothes the night before:

Medina, I'm coming for you!

 And then I realized when I got to Medina that I didn't bring my Garmin.  Grrrrr.  I wasn't too troubled about it at the time because I had decided to run with the 2:10 pacers, so I figured I wouldn't have to track my time.  Renee and Carrie (my TORN peeps) wanted to run with the pacers, too, so we decided to stick together as long as we could.

You can tell this is pre-race because we are smiling and not swearing.

Let's get to it, shall we?

The Good:  I was so excited to run this race that I had paid for it a year earlier.  I also paid for next year's entry at the expo because it was only $35.  Psst. . . You may be able to get in on this if you click on this link for early bird registration for 2015.  What a deal!  I would say that I received more than I paid in this race.  The swag and the bling were amazing:

The medal has glitter on it!  The seeds were a nice touch, too.

 The race had lots of hills that I just don't remember from last year.  I happen to like hills, but I somehow had it in my head that there were only two hills of significance.  I was wrong.  When I talked (whined) to other runners about this, they said that the course had changed from last year.  To me, this is a plus.  If I had actually studied the course ahead of time, I would have been more prepared.  Now I know.

Aside from the hills, the race had a bit of every kind of surface:  trail, grass, gravel, road, bricks, pavement.  It was nice to mix things up.  Of course, the run around Lake Medina was again my favorite part.

Photo credit:  Christa Hammontree

The crowds were cute, as they mostly consisted of elementary school children in a contest to see who could support the race the most.  The winners of the cheering contest will receive a donation to the school.  They were all adorable, though.  We saw clever signs (Power Station:  Touch to power up), squirt guns, chalk art, bands, DJs, and a little boy handing out bottled water from a little red wagon.  The kids seemed to have fun, and they really made our day.  The donation must have been a good incentive.  I think this is a genius idea--way to go, Race Director!

The post-race food was plentiful and excellent:  Subway sandwiches, fruit, rice chips, cookies, and lots of water.

The Bad:  I came into this race determined to PR after my defeat in the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon.  As you can read in this post,  I had decided that my downfall is going out too quickly and then crapping out around mile nine or so.  I had thought that the solution to my dilemma would be a pacer, so I chose to run with the 2:10 pacers.  This calculates to a ten-minute mile, a pace that I know I can sustain in 13.1 miles, and it is a two-minute PR for me.  When the gun went off, the pacers (who were pretty young) took off like rabbits, and my peeps and I started after them.  At one point Renee and Carrie (who had Garmins, unlike me) said that the pacers were running an 8:50 mile.  We knew we could not sustain this, so we dropped back within the second mile, but we were so focused on our previous goal (sticking with the pacers) that we kept creeping up to 9:15-9:45 miles.  I caught sight of the pacers around mile ten, so I knew they had to be running eleven-minute miles at that point.  It made me mad because I could have done that with my old strategy, which I still believe isn't a good one.  The pacers did come in at 2:10, but they were definitely not consistent in running a ten minute mile.  I asked some more experienced runners if maybe I didn't understand the concept of pacing.  Maybe none of it matters if they come in at their time?  Every runner I talked to said that a good pacer runs a consistent mile.  Anyone can mess around and pull it out in the end, but it takes an experienced pacer to maintain that time for each mile.  So much for my attempt to run with a pacer.  I guess I'll have to figure it out myself.

The Ugly:  The course runs through neighborhoods and along a highly-trafficked road (Route 18).  You would think that the most difficult place to control drivers would be the busy road. . .but it wasn't.  There were LOTS of cars in the small neighborhoods who were actually WEAVING AROUND RUNNERS.  I saw several cars go around race marshals and almost hit runners.  It was extremely dangerous.  I know for a fact that the Race Director communicated to the neighborhoods about road closures and the race, but there were many people who didn't care at all.  This is truly a problem, and I would suggest that Medina's Race Director have some talks with Medina Police and possibly with other Race Directors to see how to overcome this dangerous dilemma.  Some of my peeps told me that they won't be running this race next year because of the drivers.

Overall:  I'm happy to have run the Medina Half Marathon, and I have faith that the organizers can fix these problems.

The best part for me was seeing and hearing all of my Medina Peeps:  friends, colleagues, students and former students.  I loved hearing my name when I ran by a group of people, and I tried to always respond with fists raised and a Turtle call.

This is Ashley, a former student who flew in from Florida.  Her boyfriend proposed to her when she crossed the finish line!

I love the Medina community, and I'm glad they have this race.  I hope it continues to grow and generate money and publicity for Medina.

TORN: Alumni Turtles

Ok, I lied.  The best part for me was this:

PR, Baby!
A tiny step closer to the sub-2 half marathon!

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