Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stress Relief Run & August Tally

Stress Relief Run:

Tuesday evenings are the running group meetings. However, I needed to run this morning before facing the day. The group would just have to meet without me. Note that I said needed to run, not wanted to run. Some days are just like that, you know?

When I got out on the trail, each step would be like hitting the backspace key, working to erase the stress in my life. Didn't bring the Garmin along. This wasn't about pace and I already knew where my turn point was. This was about enjoying nature. Taking in the sights, smells, and sounds.

By the end, I could honestly say that I was in a good mood and ready to face the day. Ahhhhhh.

August Tally:
  • 66.4 mi walking
  • 28.8 mi running
  • 5850 yds in the pool
  • 13 trips up the hill
  • 2 rest days
  • 3 trips to urgent care/ER for daughter
  • 4 calls from school about related absences
  • 1 child off to college
  • 1 volunteer event
  • Run + walk = 95.2 miles by feet which is my highest month ever.
  • My knee treatment worked, no more pain. Hallelujah!
  • Best swim was a 400 yd TT under 9 minutes
  • Best run was Saturday's negative split progressive run
  • Favorite run was my 4 miler this morning.
  • Favorite walks was hiking Garin with JoLynn
  • The sunrise as viewed from out on the mesa never gets old
  • Trips to Urgent Care/ER are never fun
  • Volunteering is cool, but participating is better
Plans for September:
  • Nothing concrete. Hitting 100 miles by feet would be cool. So would doing some race for fun. Otherwise, I guess I'll just keep on keepin' on.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Saturday morning I met up with the running group again. Most of the folks were running 7 in preparation for and upcoming half marathon. Coach & I agreed that I should stick with running 4s for now, until it doesn't seem like such a struggle. Then I can start building again.

A simple goal for the run: Control. Don't start out too fast, work toward negative splits.

The resulting graph is almost unbelievably close to a perfect stair step. Each mile at ~15 sec faster pace than the one before.

I'll count that as Success! I always feel like I owned the run when I can control my pace like that.

I spent some time looking into possible short races for the fall and put them on my sidebar. Not committed to any of them at the moment, but it gives me something to aim for.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Virtual Run Report

I was so excited yesterday evening to be able to join my running group again after well over 3 months of down time. The route they had chosen was a loop that I haven't run for a while, but one that I know is a bit short of the 4.0 miles I wanted to run for MCM Mama's virtual run. No worries, I figured I could add a bit on at the end as needed. Which is what I did, just not quite the way that I had expected.

The first mile was uneventful. Everyone was 'warming up' which means they were running my speed. My favorite part of running with the group is that first mile that we run together.

Soon we had reached the magical one mile point, and the rest of the group pulled on ahead. Coach stayed back with me so that I wasn't alone. He mentioned how glad he was to see me out there again and encouraged me to focus on everything I love about running. Soon enough the speed will return, he promised.

At about 2 miles, we noticed a few of our runners we walking up ahead. When we caught up, we realized that one of them was not feeling well. He declared that he would walk in with her, and the other runner & I continued on ahead.

This part of the loop is on a shaded dirt trail. It didn't take long before the other runner was far enough ahead that I lost sight of him. I just continued on, fairly sure that I knew my way back. However, apparently I don't know it as well as I thought. When I saw the group back at our starting location, they were on the opposite side of the ditch bank.

I thought about doubling back, but remembered that there was a bridge up ahead. So I continued on until I was able to cross back to the other side. That little mistake added another .4 to what would have been a 3.6 mile run, so it turned out perfectly.

I'm certainly no speed demon, but I got it done. 4.0 miles in 45:13, a pace of 11:19. That's actually quite a bit faster than my 4.0 miler Tuesday morning, so it made me smile.

Slowly, but surely, I'm coming back!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1) Just for grins, I decided to tally my month-to-date numbers. So far I have 71.2 miles on my feet (56.4 mi walking, 14.8 mi running) and 5850 yd in the water with six days left (including today). I thought about running solo this morning, but I really want to meet up with my running group this evening. So I'm taking it easy for now.

2) Look what arrived in my mailbox the other day, courtesy of a give-away on Java Joggers' blog. Thank you! I'll bring a bottle of nuun along on my run later today.

3) I still need to put together a 4.0 mile run race report for MCM Mama's virtual race. I hope it's not considered cheating if I hold off to choose between the best of several 4 mile run attempts. Given that my pace right now is in the 11:30-11:45 range, I'm guessing I'm not positioned to win anything other than bragging rights that I actually made it through the distance. Which reminds me, I'm happy to say that my knee hasn't been bothering me at all this past week. Woot!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sanctuary at Sunrise

sanc·tu·ar·y n. 3. A place of refuge or asylum.

The only healthy way I know to deal with stress is to get outside. The dogs & I found peace this morning out on the mesa.

* Daughter was in ER for 6 hrs last night. This time, I think we have a solid diagnosis and treatment plan. I'm home with her today to ensure she is making forward progress.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Letting Go

Some personal struggles over the past several months have really forced me to employ the principle of "Let Go and Let God." Good thing that I've been working on this for awhile, because the weekend gave me opportunity to put this into practice.

Son & I had an early flight Saturday morning to Oakland. From there we took a taxi to his housing complex. He stood in the check-in line for well over an hour while I stood guard over his luggage. Surprisingly, he was the first of his room mates to arrive. The dorm was configured with one set of bunk beds and a single. There appeared to be space to debunk the beds and reconfigure the room and debunk the beds. So we did. Then we made his bed and went out for lunch. We returned to find one of his room mates had arrived. They spoke a bit about the configuration and he was more comfortable unpacking his stuff. We had some time to kill, so we explored the housing complex and surrounding area then decided to walk over to my hotel.

Exploring the grounds of his housing complex

This courtyard looks peaceful.

Just as we walked out of the dorm, JoLynn texted me to make plans for Sunday. We intended to finalize plans shortly after I got settled into my hotel.

However, I arrived at the hotel to discover that while they had my reservation, they didn't have any available rooms. How does that even happen?!? Both the hotel clerk & I tried our luck at finding some other accommodations near campus to no avail. After all, it was move-in weekend. Sigh. The only option in Berkeley was down by the marina at a much higher rate.

JoLynn graciously offered her spare room and after working through things in my mind, it really seemed like the best alternative. It was better for her because she wouldn't have to drive up to Berkeley early on Sunday morning. It was better for me because I wouldn't be alone Saturday night. It was better for Son because he was anxious to get on with his college life without mom hanging around for another day. However it did mean that I had less time to explore Berkeley and needed to say goodbye to him much sooner than I expected. We had a quick dinner, walked to the nearest BART station, said our goodbyes, and I was on my way to Fremont...

I must say, JoLynn and Keith are wonderful people. I feel so blessed that things worked out the way that they did. What initially seemed like a bad situation (no available hotel room) turned into something wonderful. We we up late Saturday evening chatting away until JoLynn & I were both exhausted. They fed me breakfast. JoLynn took me to her favorite hiking location (Garin, of course!) along with Boomer and Bella. She even lent me some shorts because the weather turned out much warmer than expected (irony, huh?) and dropped me off at the airport when it was time for me to go home.

Single Track at Garin

JoLynn (and Boomer too!) & I

Despite the fact that the weekend didn't turn out anything as expected and Son has moved out and moved on, I have nothing but pleasant memories...

It seems I also may need to let go of my plan for the half marathon in October. With the pressure off, I was able to really enjoy my four mile run this morning. It rained last night, so I found myself running on a muddy ditch bank. We're never too old to play in the mud, right?

Life is good!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Follies - Stressed Out Edition

Didn't end up swimming Thursday either. This time it wasn't caused by laziness. I have been in full-time Mom mode for the past few days. And Mom duties *always* take priority over training.

Daughter is fighting intestinal issues that left her severely dehydrated. We ended up at Urgent Care twice in less than 24 hrs. The meds that were supposed to help with GI problems caused nausea and made it worse. Re-hydrating her orally wasn't working. She ended up with 2 liters of fluids by IV and some anti-nausea meds. She seems to be doing much better today. Whew.

Son & I leave early tomorrow morning to board a plan to so that we can get him moved into his dorm at Berkeley. Today we need to finish getting him packed and ready to go. He's very excited, and I'm sure he'll be just fine. Can't say the same for me. Whether I like it or not, he's leaving home tomorrow. It makes me sad.

However, I am very much looking forward to meeting up with JoLynn on Sunday morning. She's currently planning to whisk me away to enjoy a bit of hiking the hills of California. This after doing a century ride on Saturday. Wow! By the way, she keeps telling me to bring warm clothes. Apparently the Bay area is much cooler than New Mexico. Right now that sounds awesome to me!

I was able to get out this morning for a 2 mile run* (~11:30 pace) followed by a 4.25 mile walk along the bosque. Got a little bit later start than desired and it sure was hot out there. Other than that, it was a nice way to work off some of the stress that I've been experiencing over the past few days.

*Note: If I were following my abbreviated half-marathon training schedule, today should have been a 5 mile run. It really doesn't seem like that is going to happen. I have my eyes set on mid-September 5K or 10K as an alternative.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Morning Motivation

Remember how I was going to swim yesterday. Yeah. So that didn't happen. For me to have time to swim before work, I need to leave the house at 5:45. I don't think I rolled out of bed until 6:20. Oops. Swimming is back on the schedule for Thursday. Guess my swim motivation was missing.

Yesterday afternoon I talked to Coach. He wanted to know how the return to running was going. I told him about the knee incident on Friday and cancelling my run Saturday. Also about having success with some short runs. We agreed that frequent short runs was a good way to ease back into running. At the end of the discussion, I mentioned that I would like to try 3 miles (easy pace) in the morning, but would back off from that if my knee showed any signs of distress.

The nice thing about running vs. swimming is that I don't have to travel anywhere to do it. No problem rolling out of bed (again) at 6:20 and still having time for a short run. Even thought it wasn't exactly an early morning wake-up, I had plenty of motivation to get out there this morning. I queued up Matisyahu "Smash Lies" on my ipod and took off.

"Dream awake. Make no mistake.
Strive to be alive most every day"

I promise not to complain about how slow I am or how much of a struggle running even three miles is after taking 3 months. I am and it is; this is not a complaint, just a statement of fact. Rather than dwell on how running was before or how I want it to be, I'm really just trying to enjoy how it IS. What I love most about it is the feeling of being alive. What do you love most about running?

mile 1 11:24
mile 2 11:39
mile 3 11:29

Hey, if nothing else, my splits were more consistent than usual. That's gotta count for something!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I was rather disappointed that my Friday 2 mile easy run turned into two half mile running segments and a mile of walking. And after working the water station this weekend, I was really chomping at the bit to get back to running. I figured that if my running is limited to half mile segments, then so be it; I'll run half mile segments.

So that's what I did. And I made through a 1.2 miles without experiencing knee pain.

With that bit of success, I made it a goal to head out again this morning. This time just a little bit further... 1.5 miles. Again, no knee pain.

Then I got really crazy. Decided to go out one more time after work and try to go 2.0 miles. Now I know twice in one day may seem like a bit much, but it's no different that running one day in the evening and then again the next morning.

And guess what? I made it through 2.0 slow miles without knee pain. Don't get me wrong, there was significant struggling with the heat. At points I doubted that I'd make it back to the house without keeling over from heat stroke. But no knee pain.

Are you following along at home? I've run a total of 4.8 miles over the past 2 days without knee pain. This, my friends, is a very good thing. It's nowhere near what I need to be doing to prepare of a half marathon (yeah, I'm thinking that probably won't happen, but we'll see), but I think I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Trust me, I don't want to push it and end up with another injury. Tomorrow I'll swim.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

After my failed run attempt Friday morning and my lovely 4 mile walk, I went to the pool. I didn't have any particular workout in mind, I just wanted to repeat my 400yd time trial. I was happy to find an open lane, no sharing required. It helped that the guy in the lane next to me was swimming a similar pace. I tried to stay with him for a bit, then kicked it in to pass. I was quite pleased to check the time at the end of my 400...08:53. Finally! Under 9 minutes. I *knew* I could do it. Woot!

My Saturday 'long run' was off since my knee isn't ready yet. Instead, I took the dogs for a 3 mile walk, including one trip up and down my hill. When I got back home, Son was ready to start packing for college and taking inventory of what he still needs. We also did some shopping. Next Saturday I will be flying out with him to get him moved into his dorm. So far, we have two large suitcases full, 2 more pairs of jeans on order, and a pretty good idea of what else needs to be packed.

Had to wake up early this morning to make it to the race venue by 6am for a volunteer's meeting. It was about a 40 minute drive from my house, so I had set the alarm for 4:30am. Yikes, that's early! Got instructions and supplies and went to the 1.5 mile location and got the table set up.

Here is how the table looked while we were first getting set up:

Here I am ready for the runners to come through:

The aftermath:

The half marathon runners came by first. Then we had a pause to get more cups ready. Then the 5K runners came through. After that, we picked the cups up off the ground, packed up, and headed over to the finish line. Got there in plenty of time to cheer for every one of my friends who was in the race (and everyone else that I saw).

Volunteering was a great experience, but I sure miss being a participant...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Fail

I have a standing Friday morning bosque walk date with a friend. Today, I decided to show up at the meeting place a bit early to test my knee with an easy 2 mile run.

And so I did. And the knee promptly failed the test.

I made it roughly a half mile before my knee started to ache. I walked a bit, then tried again. Same result. Drat. My knee is clearly not ready yet. The planned 2 mile run turned into a few half mile run segments filled in with walking. Drat.

This is disappointing, but I still have hope. The doctor said that it could take up to six weeks after the final injection for me to experience maximum results. It's only been two weeks. At two weeks, I was cleared to run if it didn't hurt. But it does. So I'll be giving it more time.

I still went off with my friend for our scheduled 4 mile walk and it was grand.

It would be so easy to be bummed out and frustrated about the knee situation, but it's important to put it all in perspective. If the worst things in my life right now are not being able to run and my son leaving for college next weekend, life must be pretty darn good.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three Things Thursday

THING ONE - The Return to Running and an Attempt at Half Marathon Training

Yes, I promise that I will take it easy. If my knee isn't ready, I will give it more time. If the half-marathon isn't meant to be, there will be other races. I get all of that. Really, I do. But right now I really, really, really want to get out there and test it out. My rusty-trusty running partner is meeting me bright and early Saturday morning. He has promised everyone that has expressed concern that we will be going SLOW.

THING TWO - Race on Sunday

I got my assignment for the half marathon on Saturday. I will be working at the first water stop along with another lady from my running group and her daughter. I think it is going to be loads of fun!! I'm so tempted to bring my camera (lots of friends are running this race), but the assignment is to give water to thirsty runners, not take pictures of them! LOL

THING THREE - Swim Progress

I made it to the pool four times last week and twice so far this week. I timed another 400 yesterday morning: 09:11. While this is not bad really, I am rather disappointed that I still can't get under nine minutes. I can feel my form fall apart in the back half of the 400, but I'm not sure what "one thing" to focus on right now (While it is quite possible that there may be multiple things that I can improve, but I can really only focus on improving one thing at a time). Without knowing for sure what that one thing is, I will focus on my head position and see if that helps.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cramming for a Half Marathon

I'm getting really close to my 'cleared to run' date. I haven't received my training plan for the mid-Oct half marathon yet, nor do I know how my knee is going to respond. Neither of these two things stopped me from sketching out a path to get there.

4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11-12,6,race. <---- that's the answer.

Those numbers represent my planned weekend LONG runs (left out the mid-week runs at this point, will fill those in later) beginning this weekend and taking me up to the race in 10 short weeks. And quite frankly, it scares the snot out of me.

Officially, I am cleared to run on the 15th. Which is Sunday. Which is the day I am volunteering for the Rio Grande half-marathon. So I'll just have to bump up my first run a day (or two). I'm going to try to go 4 miles. Doesn't seem like a lot on paper, but it's going to be my first run in two months. Fingers crossed.

The following weekend I will be out of town for Son's dorm move-in at Berkeley. I'll try to get in my long run of 5 miles Friday before heading out there. (I'm also planning on checking out some single track with a certain someone while I'm out that way, more on that later).

From there I will ramp up 1 mile at a time. The decision about whether to do the race or not will need to wait until my long run gets to 7 or 8 miles. Want to see how my knee holds up before I commit.

Oh, and the peak weekend will be two weeks before the race with an 11-12 mile run scheduled. Of course this is all subject to change, but it's a first pass.

What do you think? Is this doable? Have you crammed for a race before? Is this a recipe for disaster? What can be done to increase the likeliness of success?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Product Reviews - Ab Roller and Balance Board

Several weeks ago, the good people from America's Nutrition, sent me a few products to review. Their site has several interesting items, including nutritional supplements, but I was mostly interested in the fitness gear. The two items that I received to test and review were the Ab Roller and the Balance Board.

I'm including images from the boxes, because it does a better job showing how to use these products than I'll be able to explain with words:

The Ab Roller is an interesting addition to our home gym equipment. As shown by the photo on the box, you kneel, grab onto the handles, and roll forwards, then back to your starting position. Both my Husband & I have noticed that while doing the exercise (2-3 sets of 10), it doesn't seem very difficult. However, the next day we both really feel it in our abs! I like it. My only complaint is that the knee pad that is included is too thin to be helpful. If you have your own mat at home, use that instead.

The Balance Board is more of a therapeutic tool, in my opinion. It's something that was recommended to me by my PT for rehabilitating my knee. The main idea is that you stand on it, and shift your weight side by side to improve balance and agility. You can also stand on it while to engage your core while doing upper body free weight exercises. I like the balance board for these reasons, but I'm not sure it's something every runner would appreciate. However, I did notice that Balance Board exercises were mentioned in the latest issue of Runner's World in conjunction with barefoot running, so maybe I'm wrong on that point.

Thank you, America's Nutrition. And readers, go check them out! Both items arrived quickly and were well packaged well; I wouldn't hesitate to order from this company.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Morning Musings

Started this morning off with a 400 Yd TT at the pool. I don't know what I was expecting my time to be after taking such an extensive break, but I certainly wasn't thrilled with the 09:14 that I clocked. I could feel my form fall apart at the end. That's what I need to focus on: form. Next time I show up at the pool, I'm doing drills. I won't be happy until I get my 400 back under nine minutes.

This morning when I went to the hot tub afterward, my swim stalker mentioned that "that guy over there" prefers that lane that I was swimming in. "Just watch, when he realizes that lane is open, he'll move over" And by golly, that's just what happened.

[NOTE: I've come to the conclusion that this man is harmless. He's just an elderly gentleman who comes to the gym regularly and doesn't have much else to do with his time other than people watch.]

I had also arranged to meet a friend for a 4 mile walk along the bosque. I stopped home first for a quick snack and to change clothes. My poor dogs were confused and disappointed when they saw me leave the house in walking clothes without them. I almost always take them with me, but not when I go the bosque.

It was a nice morning for a walk. I should have brought my camera, we saw about 3 hawks circling up overhead near our turn point. I wonder if there was a nest nearby?

My garmin says that we maintained a decent walk pace, ~16:50. It was much faster than the last time we did it. After I got back home I realized that my knee didn't bother me the whole time. I do believe it's getting better!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mid-week swim

Set my alarm for 5:30 this moring so that I could get up and swim. I realize 5:30 isn't all that early when it comes to early morning workouts, but I haven't needed to get up before 6:15 for months.

I hit the snooze button when the alarm went off. This is never a good sign. Caving into the snooze button is generally a path that leads to disaster.

But not today. I actually popped out of bed when the alarm went off the second time. I put on my swim clothes and stumbled into the kitchen. Poured a cup of coffee, sat down and drank it, and was off.

I was pleasantly surprised to find not one, but two open lanes when I arrived at the pool. Nice. My plan was to swim 1000yds, and that's just what I did.

I hopped out and went over to the hot tub to stretch. Some retired gentleman said to me "Haven't seen YOU here for MONTHS. You used to swim farther than that."

Great. I have a swim stalker. Or perhaps my conscience takes the form of an elderly gentleman at the pool.

Either way, I'll try to be back tomorrow. After all, I used to swim farther than that...