Thursday, August 26, 2010

Run early, feel virtuous

I have come to the sad realization that as it gets darker earlier, it's going to become impossible for me to run outside in the evenings after Haakan gets home.  Why is this sad?  Because it leaves me with only a few alternatives - make friends with the Treadmill (which I really don't want to do - the Treadmill and I get on best as acquaintances), or transform myself into an early morning runner.  Ick.  I get on with Mornings even worse than I do with the Treadmill.  If the Treadmill and I are acquaintances, who give one another a smile when we pass and make smalltalk in the checkout line, then Mornings and I are more like frenemies.  Oh sure, we pretend to make nice, mostly because we have to, but Mornings are more than happy to give me the smackdown, along with a little help from its friend, Sleepless Night.

Still, perhaps I haven't given Mornings a chance to show me how sweet it can really be.  So, in the spirit of second chances, I decided to give morning running another shot and got my tired behind out of bed this morning at just past 6am (those of you who have jobs outside of the home and leave the house at this hour every morning - showered, dressed, and prettied up - feel free to call me a big wuss), put on the running clothes I had laid out the night before, and headed out into the breaking dawn with a 8 mile goal.

The really fab thing about running in the morning is that it's SO much cooler - temperature-wise - than going and running at 5pm, which is like the hottest part of the day.  it was a fabulous 60 degrees when I left the house and I ran comfortably in a short sleeved shirt.  I can't even tell you the last time I was able to do that.  I walked the half mile up to the reservoir and decided to do my 8 miles around the flat upper course, rather than the hilly lower track (I'll build up to that one).  And it rocked.  I started out slow, well below my modest 11 minute mile goal pace, but I picked up the pace as time went on and I ended up at exactly an 11 minute mile by the end.  Woohoo!.

And the REALLY fabulous part, aside from having the run finished and out of the way and not hanging over me, is that I felt incredibly virtuous all day.  Of course, then I snacked like a mad woman and undid any calorie deficit I created with my 8 miles, but whatever.  It turned out to be a good thing that I had pilates this morning, too, since I was able to stretch out my sore calves.

Haakan has to take the car in for service early tomorrow, but I may haul myself out of bed to do my 4 miles early, and bask in the satisfaction of being done.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

An Ode to the Bob Ironman

OK, not really an ode, because my poetry skillz are pretty rusty at the moment, but I do have an almost profane love for my jogging strollers.  I loved my Dreamer Designs Ditto Lite when the older kiddos were small and compliant enough to ride in it, and I love my Bob Ironman single for running when I only have to take Charlie with me.  We set out today to do 6 miles while Haakan took Oliver and Elliot to the pool, and the plan was that I'd meet them when I finished up, but I ended up doing 7.7 miles, thanks to a bit of a miscalculation, as well as a desire to keep Charlie asleep as long as possible.  Poor guy hasn't been napping well at all since he started this obsessive rolling over phase (totally annoying - I remember this from the older boys and it makes me crazy every time) so I wanted him to get some quality sleep.  We did a rather hilly course, and I'll cop to a fair amount of walking on the hills.  Running with a jogger is not for the faint of heart, and I'm rather out of practice since I've had either the luxury of running alone, or been unable to figure out how to push both strollers at the same time, which I'd need to do if I were going to run with all three at once.  I hope this is just the first of many fabulous runs to come!

I had Haakan snap a picture of me afterwards with my new favorite running partner.  Clearly I need to wipe the smears off the camera lens on my cell phone, it looks like I'm standing in a heavy fog or something!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Moving in the right direction

So if you're one of the three people who follow this blog (and hello to all of you! <3 ), you know I've been struggling a bit with the running for a while.  I expect too much of myself, Haakan was expecting too much, blah blah blah.  So, with this in mind, I dragged myself out of bed last Saturday morning for the Brookline Breeze 5k. Charlie doesn't sleep great, so the fact that I made it out of bed at all is pretty impressive, but I managed to show up at the race an hour before the gun, so I had plenty of time to snag an excellent parking space (which I then had to vacate once I realized that I wouldn't be able to actually leave after the race, since the main drag was closed for a community festival - oops) and try to get my head together.  At the registration I checked out a map of the course and realized that I had driven in on the out and back course.  Suddenly, the "challenging" course seemed a lot more doable.

The last 5k Haakan and I did together was pretty disappointing with me stopping a lot and walking.  I'm sure the heat had something to do with it, but as I stared up at the biggest hill of the race (which I would be running down at the end) I vowed not to walk during this race.  If I was able to handle giving birth three times without drugs, I could handle a 5k without stopping.  My goal was just to do better than the last few 5k's, and to feel good about myself at the end, rather than wondering why I didn't push harder or do more.  And in that, I was absolutely successful.  My finish time of 30:28 definitely didn't break any land speed records, but it does make it my best postpartum 5k and means that I'm finally moving in the right direction.

It seems so silly and almost kind of stupid that I had to relearn that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and I'm not going to die right there on the spot.  I've had a couple of really excellent runs since that race and I feel like it's a bit of a corner that I've turned and I'm finally on my way back to where I was before I got pregnant.  I've got the Run around the Square next weekend and I'm actually looking forward to it, and going for a sub-30 minute finish.

Friday, August 13, 2010

5k tomorrow morning!

Apparently I am running the Brookline Breeze 5k tomorrow morning, and I'm trying not to think about it all that much.  Mentally, I am not in the best place with the running, though my trip to San Francisco definitely showed me that the temperature has a HUGE impact on how fast and well I'm able to run.  I'm also having to kind of rediscover what my speed and distance feels like, since it was so different while I was pregnant.  I was purposely NOT pushing myself, so to push myself again is just taking more getting used to than I was anticipating.

So tomorrow's 5k (9am start - good because I don't have to be up at the butt crack of dawn, bad because it's going to be on the road to hot already by then, and there is something to be said for being done earlier rather than later) is described as a "challenging" course, which I think is code for "hilly."  The question is why, as a native Pittsburgh gal, a hilly 5k would be a surprise to me.  Isn't "hilly" the default around here?  Rather than stressing on it (the disappointing Skirt Chaser 5k that I did back in June was also a pretty hilly course, and I felt pretty demoralized after that), I'm just going to deal with it.  I run hills all the time, I can handle a few hills!  And it can't be any hotter than it was during the Stampede in the Park 5k that Haakan and I did a few weekends ago (which also started almost a half hour late ).  So perhaps this will be the race that starts me on the road to rebuilding my racing self esteem.  And if it's not, then there's always the Run Around the Square in two weeks.  And then the Ikea Half (which was my first half and is a nice route - the first mile is all downhill!) on September 11th.  Lots of chances for a good race and lots of chances for me to work on pushing myself more and not being afraid of what will happen, silly as that sounds.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What a difference 30 degrees makes!

We got back on Sunday from a week in the San Francisco Bay area and it was a wonderful trip!  The family had a great time, and more than that, I had a week of really awesome runs.  We happened to be in a hotel that was right on a stretch of the San Francisco Bay Trail, which was just fabulous.  No stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge or anything like that, but it was still lovely to be able to run next to the water.  I ran 4 times while we were there, and most were pretty gray and windy, but there was one lovely sunny day and it was gorgeous running next to the water.  The trail isn't completed and we were at one end of what I think was around a 7 mile stretch.  In one direction, the trail went 1.71 miles from the hotel, and in the other direction I'm guessing it went closer to 5 miles or so.  The farthest I went was 4 miles, to do an 8 mile out and back.  Other than that one sunny day the weather wasn't above like 55 degrees or so when I went out to run, and it was overcast, but that made for some excellent running weather.

The first day Haakan pushed me out the door while Charlie took his morning nap and I did 6 miles at 10:22, which is quite a bit skippier than my usual 11-12 minute miles I'd been slogging through at home.  I had a spring in my step and it really barely felt like an effort.  The two 8 mile runs were both around 10:55, since Haakan had told me to keep it around 11 minute miles, since that's where it seems like I should be right now.  Those 8 mile runs were awesome.  I ran past a couple of marinas, a veritable minefield of giant snails trying to cross the path (that made for an interesting little stretch, trying not to stamp on them), and ran up a nifty hill to a spectacular view of the bay (I believe that was at San Bruno Point - I was mostly running between there and Oyster Point, closer to the hotel).  And, totally geeked about this, I ran past the Genentech offices, which thrilled me a little since I know they were the company that first synthesized human insulin (thank you, Mr Salsi, for that tidbit of info that I've remembered since high school!).  I also ran past a building that one day smelled like Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and the next day smelled like black licorice.  It was a USDA building, I discovered the next day!  The anise smell wasn't too bad, but the Krispy Kreme smell was like torture, since I was pretty hungry when I went past it.  The last run I did was a 3 miler that Haakan suggested I do at a zipper pace, since it was short.  I did it at 10:12, significantly faster than my most recent 5k.

Clearly the weather is a HUGE factor to me in how fast I'm able to run, and how much I enjoy my runs.  This is amazingly comforting to me, knowing, for real, just how big of a deal the weather is.  I just need to get through these next few weeks until the weather cools off, and then I can begin to enjoy my runs more, add to my mileage, and think about some future cooler weather races.  Heck, even a drop out of the 80s would probably make a huge difference.  It was 91 degrees when I went out to do 6 miles yesterday, back down to 11:38 for my pace (and a stop to tie my shoes in there, during which I stopped the clock), but it didn't seem so bad knowing that cooler weather is around the corner.