Friday, December 31, 2010

Dec Tally and 2010 Summary

December Tally

Numbers:
  • 67.6 miles by feet (48.0 miles running, 19.6 miles walking)
  • 8 trips up the hill
  • 1 5K race
Thoughts:
  • My walking mileage suffered due to inclement weather. My running was right where I wanted it to be though
  • Vitamin D3 experiment was successful. Felt more like myself after starting supplements regularly.
  • Really enjoyed training with my marathon friends.
Plans for January:
  • Keep running outside!
  • Begin half-marathon training for possible April race.
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2010 Summary (Running version, bullet style)
  • Kicked off year with half-marathon training
  • Ran consistently, had fun, felt great
  • Achieved a half marathon PR
  • Experienced sudden recurrence of PFS in left knee
  • Tripped and suffered road rash and fractured radial head in left elbow
  • Quit running for three full months
  • Spent lots of time walking dogs and climbing hills
  • Received Euflexxa injections
  • Started over with running
  • Discovered trails and off-road races
  • Joined marathon friends on long runs

2010 sure didn't unfold the way I anticipated, but I learned to adapt and enjoy each day as it came. I'm not sure what 2011 has in store for me, but I'm ready to do the same.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A few of my favorite things - cold weather edition

I hate the treadmill and love running outside. It's a bit of a challenge with the cold weather, but not impossible. Here are a few things, in no particular order, that have made a big difference for me.

[p.s. It's been a bit busy this week with the in-laws visiting. I should be back to normal posting and commenting soon.]

1) CEP compression socks:
I was lucky enough to win these from a blog giveaway back in November. It took quite a while for them to arrive, but it was worth the wait. It does take a bit of effort to get them on, but that's due to the compression which is where the benefit comes from. They come in different sizes based on calf circumference which makes it easy enough to choose the correct size.

To be honest, I think they were my secret weapon in helping to conquer the hills recently. From the moment I put them on, my legs felt 'fresh.' I noticed an improvement in recovery after my long run as well. As a bonus, it is nice to have an extra layer under my tights in the cold weather

I got them in black which is a 'safe' color, but would love to get a pair in one of the fun colors (pink or neon green) for when the weather warms up.

2) Sugoi Mid-Zero Tights:I bought a pair of these several years ago and they are my "go-to" tights when the weather turns chilly. I picked up an extra pair this year so that I don't have to rush these through the laundry. In my experience, these run small. I recommend sizing up.

3) SportHill Infusion Splice pullover:Got one of these on clearance this year and love it so much that I bought a second one in another color as well as one for Husband. It's rated for weather 0-40deg and winds up to 30mph. I can vouch for it being wind-proof up to ~20mph winds. If you are looking for it, Sierra Trading post is the only place that I've seen it online.

4) Descente Coldout Balaclava:It had gotten to the point where the cold air on my face was the weak link when it came to getting out to run in the cold weather. Problem solved with this balaclava. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer in the back so that it would stay tucked into my collar.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tenacity pays off

Tenacity (n): doggedness: persistent determination

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Ours was quite merry, but to be honest, at this point I'm sick of Christmas music, Christmas decorations, and Christmas treats. How long do most of you leave your trees and other decorations up? I was seriously tempted to take ours down today. But that seemed a bit drastic. Especially since the in-laws are coming on Monday. I'm thinking I really should leave it up until they arrive. But don't be surprised if I take everything down on Tuesday. Just saying...

Anyway, that wasn't what I really wanted to blog about. I wanted to blog about a couple of recent runs. The first of which occurred on none other than Christmas Eve morning. It wasn't a long run, only two miles, but it was a special run. Remember me talking about the hill that I wanted to be able to run up without stopping? Well on that morning, I *owned* the hill, at least by my standards. And boy did that feel good!

Then this afternoon, I met one of my marathon training friends for the back portion of his long run. He was running 15, I met up for the final 7 miles. We took a different route than we usually do. This one had us out on some rolling hills. At first I was a bit nervous about whether or not I could keep up with the hills. But guess what? The hills were no problem. They were very mild compared to "my" hill. I actually felt terrific throughout the run.

All-in-all,I think it's just another reminder that hard work and tenacity pays off. And that's a great lesson as we contemplate all the possibilities that lie ahead in the upcoming new year...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, everyone!

"Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles." ~Author Unknown



These are the photos that are going out in our Christmas New Years Cards. The cards may be going out late, but the smiles are genuine. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Off to a good start

Normally, I'm not a fan of Mondays. But I'm off work all week, so today is different. Instead of the start of my workweek, it is the start of a week off. First on the agenda, a morning run.

I chose a loop for my route today. Two sections of it are on trails, and two sections are on asphalt. I figured it would be a nice way to mix things up.Unfortunately, the trail sections were a muddy mess. But it worked out okay.

The total distance was just a little shy of 5.5 miles. I went easy on the pace and planned in a few 90 second walk breaks. I was happy to see that the last two run sections were a bit faster than the first two. I always like it when I feel strong at the end.

This is what the splits graph looks like with the walk sections broken out separately.

That was a nice way to kick off the week. Next I'm going to spend a little time doing some much neglected yard work. Then a shower and off to lunch with the kids!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And then it snowed

When we last left our superhero, she had gone on a nice 3.5 mile test run in new shoes. I was thinking of going out again Friday for a short run before heading out for a long run with my marathon-training friends Saturday morning.

However, Mother Nature had different plans. Thursday evening, it started to snow. Nice heavy slushy snow. It was pretty, but the roads and trails were a mess Friday morning. Most of the schools were cancelled or on a 2 hr delay.

Not so good for running, that's for sure. But it made for a nice backdrop for me to get some really nice photos of Daughter and her Boyfriend. One in particular turned out excellent. Fun times.

By late Friday afternoon, the roads were in pretty good shape. That was good news for us as we needed to get to the airport to pick up Son, who I hadn't seen since late August. I am happy to have him home for a few weeks over the holidays. His first request was to stop for some authentic New Mexican food.

This morning, the marathon-training friends were running 18-20 miles and I planned to join for the final 8-9 miles. When I walked out to the trail to meet up with them at the back of their run, I was happy to see that it was mostly clear of ice. My distance was 8.5 miles running plus another mile walking from the warm-up/cool-down. I think that's my farthest run since March. And the marathon runners really appreciated the company for those final miles, so it worked out well for everyone.

[correction, it's the farthest I've run since April. But still...]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

test run in new shoes

I woke up to find temps of 42 deg at 6:30am this morning. Excellent! Must have been cloudy for a change last night, that's the only reason I can imagine for why it wasn't in the 20s as it has been lately. I did a happy dance, put on my running clothes, and was out the door before 7am. My intention was to get in a nice 3 mile run.

I had cleared up the confusion with Husband about the shoes that I bought over Thanksgiving. It seems he never had any intention of making this into a gift, so I decided that today was as good a day as any to put them on and test them out. They are Saucony Triumph 8s, a neutral cushion shoe. I have been wearing the Triumph for a few seasons now, but didn't care for the update from the 5s to the 6s and never tried the 7s.

First impression is quite positive. The 8s are notably lighter, have good cushion, and fit my feet well. Plus they don't have the wimpy laces that the earlier models did. I'm looking forward to taking them out on a longer run this weekend.

I must have been feeling pretty good this morning because 3 miles easily became 3.5 miles. It was a much appreciated opportunity to run outside in comfortable temperatures. I would have kept going if I wasn't short on time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Looking Back to Look Forward

This morning, our sunrise was scheduled for 7:07am. No amount of positive self-talk was enough to motivate me to get outside to run in the dark cold morning at 6:30. I just wasn't feeling it. And I hate treadmills. Hate.Them. I've only run on a treadmill ONCE this entire year and I'm not changing that now.

So I started wondering how I managed last year. So I went back to my log book to find out.

Observation #1) I logged a whopping two days of running in December 2009. On Dec 30 and 31. The rest of the month...nothing. Looks like I was working through the push-up challenge, but not running. Okay, that's not going to work for me. Need to figure out something else.

Observation #2) In Jan 2010, I ran on Friday, Saturday, & Sunday. Did walking during the week. I presume that is due to the dark cold mornings. While this is not ideal, it is certainly something that I can see working well enough for a few months while trying to stay afloat.

Observation #3) In Feb 2010, I picked up once mid week run, but still ran consecutive days on Sat and Sun. It wasn't until March that I returned to my normal Tues/Thu/Sat running schedule. And this must have worked just fine for me, because I PR'd at my spring half-marathon in April and felt terrific at the finish line.

Okay, now I have a plan. Don't worry so much about the mid week runs for the next few months. Run consecutive days over the weekend if necessary. Keep walking. And have faith. Just one more week of the ever increasing darkness; the days will start getting longer soon enough.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Miscellany

1) I've upped my Vitamin D to 4000 IUs for this week, then will drop down to 2000 IU. This is different that the 1000 IU that I reported in my last post. I personally feel safe in doing this because the sun supplies 10,000 IU Vitamin D in 30 mins sun exposure wearing shorts and short sleeves. However, I am not a doctor so I'm certainly not suggesting that anyone else do this without drawing their own conclusions about it first.

I'm going to hold off on any conclusions until I've had at least a week of vitamin D supplements in my system.

2) Saturday I went out for my "long" run. I hadn't been feeling well, so I scaled everything back. The distance ended up being 4.7 miles with a 2 minute walk break every 1.2 miles. I certainly wasn't setting any speed records during the 'run' segments, but I did head out on my favorite dirt path, so it was nice.

Afterwards, I grabbed the leashes and walked the dogs for an additional 1.3 miles. When it was all done, I had 7 miles by feet.

3) Yesterday afternoon I decided to make my most favorite of all Christmas cookies, old fashioned thumb prints just like my Grama used to make. I have fond memories of going to her house to make these treats every year at Christmas. I put in my favorite Frank Sinatra Christmas album and went to work in the kitchen.

I guess I should have spent a little less time being nostalgic and paid closer attention to what I was doing. As it turns out, if one grabs the bisquick instead of the flour, there is pretty much nothing that can be done to save the batch of cookies that are being made. Not only will the texture be all wrong, the taste will be terrible from the extra salt and baking powder. Oops.

4) Daughter and Boyfriend came home after taking the ACT on Saturday and asked if I wanted to play RockBand. Heck yeah! It's been too long since I'd had a chance to throw any remaining dignity out the window and channel my inner rock star.

Despite being the only one playing on easy and routinely getting the lowest accuracy of the three of us, it was a lot of fun.

5) Don't get me started on the whole gifting thing at Christmas. Not only does it detract from the holiday, it just adds undue stress on both sides. Anyway...

I bought a new pair of running shoes online during Thanksgiving weekend and suggested that Husband wrap them up and give them to me for Christmas. It doesn't seem like he wants to go with the plan of turning this into my Christmas gift. Now I'm not sure if I should just lace them up and run or wait to see if they turn up under the tree. Either way, I've got a new pair of Sauconys Triumph 8s waiting to be broken in. Maybe a review before the year ends.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winter Blahs

I have really struggled this week. Haven't blogged because I haven't had much to say. In general, I have felt like I'm fighting something all week. I've been tired, with body aches but no fever. And my energy and motivation has been at an all time low. I'd think it was a flu or cold, except for the no fever thing. At times I think maybe it's just the Winter Blahs and all in my head.

Yesterday I read some interesting articles. In summary, it is estimated that up to 60% of adults have insufficient vitamin D during the winter months. As it turns out, the best way to get vitamin D is from ~30 minutes direct sunlight on your skin. However, that's difficult, if not impossible, in winter when days are short, sun is low, and temps are cold.

This is what really caught my attention. Low vitamin D levels can lead to fatigue, depression, aches, and pains. That's pretty much what I'm complaining about. Hmmmmm. Maybe it isn't in my head; I might just be solar powered after all.

I'm sure the best way to find out if there is a relationship between my Winter Blah symptoms and vitamin D levels would be to see a doctor and have my blood tested. But I figured it would be much easier just to add 1000 IU vitamin D in with my daily supplements and see if it helps. I'm pretty sure it won't hurt.

The experiment has begun. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Thoughts

I wrote a post around this time last year about being solar powered. I think it's becoming true again. These short days are really zapping my motivation and energy. December 21st can't come soon enough. This solar-powered runner needs the days to start getting longer again!

This morning I went out for a 2.2 mile run. I really didn't want to tackle the hill today, so I took another route. That last .2 was tough, I was heading east just as the sun was coming up over the mountains. Ack! Blinded! Note to self, next time do the route in reverse.

I generally only run 3x week and add in another 3 days of walking. This is a strategy for injury prevention because I have a chronic issue with my left knee. However, I also generally run 4 miles on my mid week runs and lately I've only been going out for 2 milers. I don't like running in the dark and by the time it's light enough, I don't have time for more than a couple miles. As a compromise, I think I may add in another day of running in the short term. I feel bad for my dogs though, they do LOVE our morning walks.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jingle Bell Run

Background

This was my fifth running of the local Jingle Bell run. The first three years that I ran it, it was at Balloon Fiesta park. Last year they moved to Mariposa Park with an out and back section at the beginning, then a loop around the park. This year they changed it to be a three loops around the park with a little straight section at the beginning and end. It's the kind of terrain where you are either going up or down the whole time, no part of it is actually flat except for a short section right near the finish line. It's worth mentioning that the course also measured short. According to my Garmin, this is a 3 mile route, not a 5K. Here's the elevation chart:

What went well
  • Despite being a very small event, maybe 150-200 runners and walkers combined, collectively everyone involved managed to raise $19K for the Arthritis Foundation.
  • You could sign up as a runner or walker, with or without a dog. I believe this encouraged more people to participate than they would have if it was just a race.
  • Our swag included a pair of running socks from Lady FootLocker. Husband gave me his (I guess he didn't want to keep the women's socks).
  • Husband had a great race. His finish time was 25:17. That's a good couple minutes faster than last year and good enough for him to place 2nd M40-49. Really impressive because he's just coming back from a hip injury.
  • The weather was great. Sunny, 40s, no wind. I wore capris and long sleeves over a tank top and was quite comfortable.
  • Lots of people dressed seasonally. They had a band & music the whole time. The event oozes fun.
What didn't go so well
  • All those runners, walkers, and dogs started at the same time. Since this was a three loop course, I found it to be very frustrating at times. Walkers are notorious for taking up the entire width of the path.
  • I had a very mediocre race, especially compared to the recent events on dirt. Not horribly disappointed in my finish time, but not particularly happy about it either.
  • Perhaps I'm getting spoiled, but I really didn't enjoy running on a hard surface this time (I have really liked those last few races on dirt).
  • I was passed by a poodle. Wearing a sweater. I think that was more humiliating than the time I was passed by a chihuahua a few years ago.
Summary

Husband had a great race; I'm thrilled for him about that. I'll most likely do this one again next year, but perhaps I'll consider entering as a walker with a dog rather than as a runner. Short races on hard surfaces just aren't my thing anymore. I'd rather run on dirt or go longer (or both!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1) I'm pleased to announce that I have successfully started the month without being a weather wimp. I was determined to get out and run no matter what on Wednesday morning. I was thrilled that it was in the low 20s rather than teens, that certainly made it easier. Then I got out again this morning for another chilly run. Go me!

2) Am I the only one counting down the days until Dec 21st? Just need to survive a few more weeks until the days start getting longer again. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

3) The local Jingle Bell 5K run is on Saturday. This is always such a fun event and for a great cause. While I've had good intentions of dressing up seasonally for the run, I've failed to act on that AGAIN. So unless I get motivated to go out tomorrow during lunch to find some fun accessories, I'll just be wearing normal running clothes. Oh well. There's always next year, right?