Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The perfect man

I ran 6.7 miles today. And it hurt. In the knee. And this made me very, very sad. It kind of makes me want to cry (out of sadness, not pain). I have big plans for 2011 that may not come to fruition if this keeps up. And that's all I'm going to say about that. It's just too depressing to discuss further.

On a happier note, I signed up for the Run for the BLING of it Challenge 2011. That means 12 races in 12 months. (So unless you want to read 12 5K recaps you better start praying for my friggin' knee and praying hard!) I'm excited to race, and even more excited to meet a few (more) great running bloggers!

On an unrelated topic, how about one more Christmas picture? Truth be told, I'm mostly posting this to remind you that I don't always look like this.

On an even further and completely unrelated to running topic...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas: the running

Introducing Big Green.

The world's largest watch in the entire world. Holy crap. I've never seen a bigger watch in the whole wide world.

All the more for me to love.

Christmas: the presents...er...family

Christmas: the ornaments

Alternatively titled: Take another guess as to what's filling our wall of shelves.

And while we're on the topic of ornaments...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dreaming of a pink Christmas

Super Happy Merry Christmas to me!! My new Newton running shoes arrived in the mail the other day.

After much deliberation, I finally bit the bullet and shelled out the dough for the shoes I really wanted. Shoes that were made for me. As I write this I feel a bit like I'm confessing to my support group, "Hello. My name is Laura. And I'm a forefoot runner."

And I always have been. It just hasn't always been cool. Beginning in junior high when my dad would tease me about the funny way I ran down the basketball court. (Which is pretty remarkable considering the amount of time I spent on the bench. My dad was very considerate in never teasing me about that.) I used to try and make myself run heel-toe because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. But as soon as I got tired I would always revert back to my forefoot.

I remember discussing the topic with other runner friends and saying things like, "I don't know why I run this why." And, "It just feels a lot easier." They would always reply by suggesting I build up strength in particular muscle groups or buy different shoes. (Looks like I listened to their advice in the end!)

It wasn't until this year when a co-worker suggested I read Born to Run that the stars aligned and all became right with the world. I ran around for the next month proclaiming, "This book validated my life!" Literally. That's what I said.

Now I know I could just trot along on my forefoot in regular, old running shoes. But I'm excited to try a shoe made for forefoot running. And I was a sucker for a few of their other selling points:
  • They're light and (let's hope) fast!
  • The mesh top felt great when I gave them a test drive at the Malibu Half Marathon expo!
  • I'll know I need to replace them when the lugs wear to the shoe. (Usually I just wait until I get bored with my old shoes and feel like a change.)
  • In the product description there's a bullet under Midfoot that says, "ETC anti-friction, anti-bacterial sockliner." I'm not getting my hopes up yet, but I'm hoping (Wups! Looks like hope has been spent.) that this will help prevent blisters.

And let's not forget. THEY'RE PINK!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The limiting factor

Once upon a time I was a weight lifter. Nothing hardcore, just a few curls here and a few presses there. When I found a weight especially heavy I also found it especially difficult NOT to make this face. (Note that I'm lifting the left side of my upper lip in the picture below. My involuntary lips curls were always on the right side of my upper lip. This will be important later...)

But then I stopped lifting weights and Elvis Presley left my lips. Until now. For the last week or so he's crept back in every time I try and pull my leg much higher than my head in this pose. (Picture featuring random internet lady.)

The curious thing about this phenomena is that I can't actually raise the right side of my upper lip on my own accord. If I make an attempt it ends up looking like this.

I'm not sure which is more embarassing. Making an Elvis face in yoga class or posting these pictures on the internet. Seriously. I look really bad.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

From the archives

I ran my very first race (well, my first race longer than 200 meters anyway) at age 23. It was a 10K and I won. I should clarify...I placed first in my age/sex group.

Okay, there's one more little bitty detail. There were a grand total of four people in that group. And the other three girls finished within seconds of each other and right around an hour and a half. If my 68 year old mother had been a part of our group she probably could have walked herself to a second place finish.

They sent me a ribbon in the mail but I threw it out because I didn't feel like it counted. That's not the best part of the story though.

I ran the race with my roommate at the time. He proudly hung his 3rd place ribbon on our balcony door handle for months. There were three people in his group.

In current events...

For those of you who correctly identified Yoda atop our tree, care to take a crack at what's filling the shelves?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The eye of the storm

I've been a little remiss in posting this week. But only because I didn't want to bore you. You need only to look to my blog title to know what I've been up to.

I did also make it to yoga once. Superwoman (That's what Kelsea and I call her.) was teaching and I barely made it out alive. The room is always unquestionably hotter when she teaches. And I laced up my tired, old pair of Adidas' once. The plan was to run one mile, but I was feeling so good I decided to go crazy and run two. How about that?

I did leave one unfortunate detail out of my Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas race report. My extreme knee pain. I started to feel it during the race but pushed through it. Which probably wasn't the best thing to do, because it only grew increasingly worse throughout the rest of the day. I was kind of bummed out about this because I've never really had knee problems before and wasn't really interested in starting.

The good news is it was completely gone by Tuesday and held up just fine during my run. And I only felt the very slightest twinge of irritation during one yoga pose. Still, I'm going to take it easy through the rest of the month. You might catch me cuddled on the couch, eating bags of Christmas cookies, watching Home Alone and enjoying this guy! (Don't worry. I have big off-the-couch plans for 2011...)

Points go to anyone who names our tree topper.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paparazzi on the run

Good morning! The most amazing weekend started off with the most earliest Saturday morning flight to Las Vegas. Don't let those tired eyes fool you. I was giddy with excitement and anxious anticipation. And by the time we had landed and met up with my Team Challenge teammates, my non-alcoholic buzz had turned to full-fledged drunk. Maybe it was knowing I planned to put my all into this race. Maybe it was the energy wafting from my teammates running their first half. Or maybe I had finally woken up. Regardless of the reason, I was feeling good.

From there we shuttled to the hotel, checked in, peed, snacked and headed towards the expo. It was as we stood in line for shuttle #2 of the day that Jason started in with some teenage hysterics. If you're like me you'll take a look at the thuggie boys standing next to one of the buses and wonder what the big fuss was all about. If you're like Jason you'll know that one of those gentlemen is Method Man. (That's right. That there's a link to his Wikipedia page. You know, for the occasional blogging runner unfamiliar with '90s rap.)

The expo itself was an experience. There were a ton of vendors, a few great products and even more people. I walked away feeling confident in my Christmas wishlist and with a Halo headband. There's a rubber-like strip on the bottom of the headband that's supposed to redirect sweat away from your face. I was sold after one look at their snazzy demonstration model. While I don't drip sweat while I'm running, I definitely pour buckets in the yoga studio, and I'm hoping this will do the trick.

I don't really have anything to say about this other than I thought it was funny.

Unfortunately no amount of runners high or retail therapy kept me from getting grumpy and claustrophobic. There were too many people to maintain a healthy bubble of personal space. At one point some guy turned and walked straight into me. I stormed forward, eager to find some breathing room. He put his hands on my shoulders from behind and told me he was sorry, but I wasn't having it! I mumbled a sorry under my breathe in a tone that said something more like, "Watch where you're going dickwad!" and continued to charge ahead.

Jason was a few feet behind me and managed to get a picture of the back of his head.

As well as the front of his head.

Excuse me, WHAT?!?! My turn for some teenage hysterics!!! Uh, turns out random body check came from...oh...you know...Mark McGrath!!! Only the lead singer of Sugar Ray and subject of my high school celebrity crush! (I've decided not to link to his Wikipedia page because I want you to do your own Google image search on this guy.) Don't worry. I learned my lesson. Be patient. At least until you know who you're dealing with.

After the expo we grabbed some lunch and snuck in a nap. Dinner was magnificent, but I'm going to save it for my Team Challenge recap. Let's just get to the point already.

The expo was good practice for the race. There were so many people! I started in corral #13 and learned a valuable lesson. Under predict your finish time by A LOT. I was weaving in and out of people for the first four miles! (And I'm going to pretend like that had nothing to do with starting off too fast.)

I checked my watch after the first mile, and it read 8:26. I knew this was faster than I wanted to go, but didn't worry too much about it. I always let the race atmosphere get the best of me and run my first mile fast. No problem. "Just back off," I told myself. My goal was to run between a 9:00 and a 9:10 pace for the first 8 miles and then reassess.

But then I went and ran the second mile at around an 8:45 pace. "Whoa, Laura. Relax." Said my head. My legs had a different plan. Miles three and four were pretty much a repeat of mile two. That's when I got greedy. I was feeling good. I started thinking I might be able to sustain that pace for the whole race. I didn't bother doing the math because I didn't want to jinx it, but the idea of super-sub-2 was seductive.

And I did hold onto that pace until about mile 6.5 when I caught up to the 2 hour pace group. I didn't know what corral they started in but knew they must have started a few minutes before I did. I don't remember feeling especially tired, but it must have been slowly sneaking in because I told myself to pull back and run with the pace group until mile 10.

That plan lasted all of maybe a half mile. There were too many people crowded around the pace leader, and the longer I hung around the more frustrated I got. By mile seven I had had enough and sprinted ahead of the group like I was running from Mark McGrath.

It wasn't too long after that that the reality of my body's limitations started to kick in. I could feel my pace slipping. I figured as long as I stayed ahead of the pace group I was okay. And even though they stayed out of sight, I continued to slow down. By mile nine I was ready to be done.

I went into "just keep moving" mode. I tried to give myself little pep talks:

  • "Just remember that no matter what pain you're feeling right now, it's nothing compared to what Stacey's had to endure with Crohn's. This one's for Stacey. Don't let her down."
  • "Just pretend like these are Kelsea's legs, and she's stepping in to finish the race for you."
  • "This is a choice. Your body can do this. You just have to make the choice to run in a place that's uncomfortable."

Except for my body couldn't do it. As it turns out, these races aren't completely mental. There is also a physical element and mine was breaking down. The only self-coaching I was able to respond to was, "Just don't stop running. Put one foot in front of the other, and don't stop."

Around mile 12 an angel came and saved me. It was my 6 foot 60 inch teammate (Can you pick him out in a line up?). There was his head, bobbing up and down above the sea of heads way off in the distance. It was just what I needed. I vowed to catch up to him. And even though it took me the better part of that last mile, I did. I couldn't have dreamt of a better finish.

The rest of the day followed suit. We ate the most amazing brunch - veggie omelette, potatoes, bacon, ice cream and bottomless mimosas! (Why is it that food tastes so incredibly good after burning 1300 calories?) And slept pretty much all afternoon. Once rested we celebrated our victories with margaritas and guacomole at the Northern California Team Challenge after party!

After some pizza in bed we called it a night. Pizza in bed. Does it get any better than that?

Monday, December 6, 2010

One habit I picked up in Sin City

I travelled to Las Vegas this July to celebrate a friend's bachelorette party. In August I signed up for the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon with Team Challenge. And right now, as I write this post, I feel at a loss for words. Or rather, there are so many words I pretty much don't know where to start. This weekend I realized how truly life changing the whole process of training has been.

I attribute most of my emotional surplus to Team Challenge. I've been somewhat hesitant to write too much about Team Challenge throughout training because I didn't want my 2 - 3 readers to think the purpose of my blog was to solicit donations. Now that fundraising is behind me I feel like I'm on safe ground. So be on the lookout for a Team Challenge recap.

This weekend also served as one big, colossal milestone for me personally. Last week Kelsea described me as a "yo-yo runner," and I think she pretty much hit the nail on the head. Since a mere pre-teen I have picked up and put down running about a millon and a half dozen times. And I've never held onto it long enough to make any significant progress. This is probably the reason I never have and still can't seem to call myself a runner.

But as I look back on the last six months, I can't help but feel proud of how far I've come. I was running one mile a day in July when I last visited Las Vegas. I remember saying to one of my marathoner girlfriends, "I wonder if they have any marathons or half marathons on the strip. That'd be pretty cool." And now here I am having finished one.

I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment when I started running under an 11:00 min/mile pace and under a 10:00 min/mile pace. I was thrilled to beat my 5K PR, and floored when I ran a 10K with an average pace under 9:00 min/mile. I couldn't believe how good I felt after cutting 10 minutes off my half marathon time in Malibu, and started to believe I might not be an athletic retard when I beat my 5K PR again. By more than 4 minutes.

And then there was Las Vegas. I called my mom this morning to tell her how the half marathon went. I'm going to go ahead and spoil the end of my (will be posted soon) race recap by summarizing our conversation.

Mom: And how long did it take you?
Me: 1:56:48
Mom: Oh good! I know you wanted to finish in less than 2 minutes.
Me (chuckling): I'm not quite that fast.
Mom: Well, what does 1:56 mean then? Does that mean 1 hour and 56...?
Me: Mom. Do you really think it's possible to run 13 miles in 2 minutes?

We both had a good laugh over that. My mom and her orders of magnitude...

But all of that falls in the shadow of the death grip I have on running. This race marked a turning point. I don't plan on quitting this time around.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pick on someone your own size

I'm thinking about changing the name of my blog to, "I'd (probably) rather be Kelsea." I've already painted blog-character-Kelsea like Superwoman (here and here), and she's about to get even more kudos in this post.

You see, we've had this on-going debate about whether it's acceptable to tell someone it looks like they've lost weight. Kelsea always maintained that it's rude because it's really saying, "I recognized that you were fatter before." I always considered it a compliment on the accomplishment of losing the weight. Today I joined Kelsea's team.

Before I tell you about how I was recruited, let me start with some background info. My calves and my quads are feeling a little sore after my (maybe too?) speedy 5 mile run Wednesday. I went to yoga yesterday thinking it would help, but I think it just made it worse. And I'm kind of freaking out about it. I have this half marathon thing on Sunday, and I want my legs to be fresh.

So at 9:00 pm last night I ate an entire Chipotle burrito. I woke up this morning, shovelled my usual oatmeal into my mouth and washed it down with a donut. Before I knew it I was sitting across the lunch table from Jason. Four tacos in and I was swirling rice and beans around my American proportioned plate.

Me: "I'm stuffed."
Jason (sarcastically): "Well, you should probably keep eating then."
Me: "I have this weird and surely inaccurate notion that if I eat more my muscles will heal faster."
Jason: "I think it's probably just going to make you poop more."

Despite my better judgement and unsettled stomach, I finished my plate and went back to work. Funny that this afternoon, of all afternoons, would be the afternoon that one of my co-workers would decide to tell me that I'm losing too much weight.

What followed was a pretty awkward and unpleasant conversation, during which I tried to explain that while I have lost some weight I'm neither currently losing or trying to lose weight. He came back with a nice, little lecture on how, "losing weight can be good, but there comes a point..." blah blah blah. Argghhh!!!

I wanted to scream at him, "Look buddy! I know! That's why I'm not on a diet! That's why I always eat when I'm hungry! I just happen to run a lot, and I happen to not have fat genes. Go mind your own scale!"

I've had a number of people comment on my weight over the last several months. Today was just the last straw. Some comments have been complimentary, but some have been subtly insulting. And a couple, like this one, have been directly offensive and condescending. So now I agree with Kelsea. Please do not comment on my weight, unless you want to tell me the things I know are true. I am healthy. I am strong. My body is capable and smokin' hot.

Anyway, he must have sensed my frustration because he tried to recover by saying, "Maybe it's your hair that's different." What a ridiculous thing to say. We all know it's been ages since I did anything to my hair.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A few highlights

1) After I kicked the turkey's ass in the Walnut Creek 5K, I got to thinking that I might be underestimating myself. Really what I'm saying here is that I'm afraid to set goals there's a chance I can't reach. And that's stupid. Life's about taking risks, right?

This is what I was thinking when our Team Challenge coach gave his schpeal on how, "It's okay to run in a place that's uncomfortable." Right. It's not a question of what I can do and what I can't do. It's a question of comfort. The 5K showed me how much more I'm capable of if I let myself become "uncomfortable."

And this is what I was thinking when I opened up my Google Reader and saw this post on the Oh Healthy Day blog. I stopped thinking, and I decided. I'm shooting for a sub 2 hour half marathon in Las Vegas. I'm going for it. THIS SUNDAY.

2) Our Team Challenge coach also gave us a stern lecture on not wearing anything new on race day. I listened quietly, knowing full well that I plan on wearing a new shirt and two new pairs of socks. Yes, two. These socks are my next anti-blister plan of attack. I feel so rebellious.

3) My calves hurt for 4 days after the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot.

4) I did some speed work on the track on Saturday anyway. I was pretty excited to get out there during the daylight. Unfortunately all that meant was I was able to see all the puddles, mud, goose poop and random benches and tables really well. I had to jump back and forth between the track and football field. And, not surprisingly, managed to slide in the mud and fall down halfway through my first 800m. Beautiful.

5) I love 105 degree yoga in the winter. This is exactly where I wanted to be last night.

6) I went for a cold, dark 5 mile run tonight. I took a handheld flashlight. Pretty sure I looked like a strobe light running down the street. An elementary-school-aged boy out collecting the mail sprinted back into his house when he saw me coming. Intimidated by my beauty probably. Oh puberty.

7) My calves are sore again.

8) I'm pretty excited for the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon this weekend.

9) It's been ages since I got a haircut. My color is looking a little dull too. What do you think? Brown or light red?

Dark red?
Bright red?
Or blonde highlights?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Walnut Creek Turkey Gallop

If I had to sum up the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot in one word, I know exactly what word I would choose. Cold. As usual, we both woke up and arrived on location way too early. We may have actually been the first participants there. But, on the positive side, we had no problems finding parking and the non-existent packet pick up line moved extremely quickly.

We did have to wait a few extra minutes for Kelsea, who had a surprisingly difficult time with the Scantron form, to register. Despite the time and effort, Kelsea still went down as first name - Kelsea, last name - Ks. What can I say? We engineers aren't known for our spelling.

As soon as our bibs were in hand, we ran back to the car to warm up. And there we stayed until the time came to summon up the courage to get out of the car, take a few pictures and make our way to the start.

Now usually I feel like, "the colder the better," when it comes to running. But I have changed my mind! Now I say, "the colder the better, unless it's too cold." By the time the race started my toes were completely numb. Yes, actually numb. And the running gloves that I had taken off my Amazon wish list because, "How often do I really need gloves while I'm running?" are now back on that list.

But my frost bit extremities were nothing compared to my lungs and lip. Which I'll get to later. First, let's go over the race.

Those of you who read about my pre-race anxiety know my strategy was to try and keep up with Kelsea for as long as I could. Well, after about 30 seconds I figured I had reached my max. I was full on ready to slink back into the pace group where I belonged when Kelsea turned around. And slowed down. Forcing me to continue to try and keep up with her.

After about another 30 seconds I found myself thinking, "Screw getting a good time. I need to SLOW DOWN because THIS SUCKS!" But somehow I managed to hang on and maintain my three foot lag behind Kelsea. I checked my watch at the first turn around at 1.15 miles, and it read 9 minutes and change.

I realized we were running around an 8 minute mile pace and figured I had room to slow down. It was around this time that I tried to get Kelsea to leave me behind again. She refused, telling me, "We're almost done. You can do it." Or something like that. I thought back, "Almost done?! Are you (insert choice word here) kidding me?! We're one mile into a three mile race! We're just starting!" I replied verbally by saying, "Okay." Probably because that's all I had breath for.

I figured as long as I was stuck with Kelsea I might as well make the best of it. I tried to remind myself to relax and breathe. And I have to say, for as much pain as I was in, at least I didn't sound like I was having an asthma attack. I cannot say the same for one lady running near me during the second mile. If I had had the energy I might have turned to her and said, "I know how you feel. I feel the same way."

I checked my watch the second time at mile two. It read 15:50. I must have said something to Kelsea about, "go ahead," or, "I'm dying," or some combination of the two. I can't remember exactly. I do remember her saying, "You can do anything for 8 minutes." I thought back, "Wow. How did Kelsea know we're running at an 8 minute mile pace?" I also thought, "I don't know about anything for 8 minutes. I don't know if I can run a whole other mile in 8 minutes." Instead, I replied verbally by saying, "Okay."

Towards the end of the third mile Kelsea saw the finish line. I could tell she wanted to pick up the pace, but my legs just wouldn't move any faster. I told her I would meet her at the finish, but she wouldn't stray from my side. I thought for the last time, "Dammit Kelsea! Just go ahead!"

I finally picked up my pace with about 50 feet to go. I mustered up every last bit of energy and pushed it into the finish for a (my) watch time of 24:37 and a gun time of 24:42. I came in 7th out of 128 in my age group and 134th out of 1654 overall. Needless to say, I am super excited about completely bulldozing my goals. I'm also pretty excited that I don't have to run another 5K for time for a LONG TIME.

Kelsea came in 4th in her age group (we're in different groups) by 9 seconds. Prizes went to the top three, which means I now feel especially bad for holding her back. Can you say good friend? If it weren't for Kelsea, there's no way I would have finished in the time I did. And let's not forget about Jason who actually ran this race and finished, coincidentally, in my old PR time of 28:53.

As soon as I finished I noticed two things right off the bat. My lungs hurt. My lungs actually hurt. And they didn't stop hurting for probably another hour. It also felt like I had taken a shot of Novocain to the upper lip. I could barely form the words, "I need to throw up," without slurring my speech. And I worried that I might actually be drooling. When does summer start again?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pracing with friends and dinosaurs

I have a Turkey Trot 5K race recap to write up. But first I'm going to write about a 5K I haven't run. The Pteranodon Ptrot.

A few weeks ago I told one of my best friends from college, Elsha, that she should run a race with me. See, I have a tasty habit of trying to get everyone I know to run races with me. But I mostly figured Elsha would scoff at me the way she did every time I ran out the door in college saying, "Want to go for a run with me?"

But then a curious thing happened. Elsha caved. She agreed to run (specifically) the Pteranodon Ptrot on the condition that I travel to Grand Junction, Colorado, the town in which both Elsha and the race resides. And let me tell you what my first reaction was...

"How the hell do you pronounce Pteranodon?!" In case that was your reaction as well, it sounds kind of like tyrannosaurus rex, only replacing "saurus rex" with "dawn." Also, make sure to (mis)pronounce the "tyran" more like "teran". And so I went, with phonetic confidence, considering Elsha's proposition over the next several days.

I even told Kelsea, "Elsha has suggested I fly to Colorado to run the "Ter-an-o-dawn P-trot."
"Are you going to do it?"
"I'm considering it."
"Where is it?"
"Oh my God, the other P is silent!" Genius.

Now here's my dilemma. As much as I would love to run the Pteranodon Ptrot, I'm having trouble justifying a trip for it. I could see buying a plane ticket for a half marathon. Maybe even a 10K I've always wanted to run. But a 5K? I don't know. And if I fly out to Colorado I should see my parents, right? Only problem is they're in Denver. Not Grand Junction.

So ELSHA. After much diliberation, I have several counter offer options for you to ponder.

1) Why not just run a half marathon instead? Now before you immediately trash this idea, know that you can totally do this. I'm going to throw out two races that are almost a year away. That's plenty of time to build the endurance, and we can go as slow as you want. I've already talked about running one with Stacey next fall/winter, and she's only running 1 mile at a time now. We could have a college reunion!!

There's the Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half Marathon on 10/9/11. It's $85 if we sign up before 5/31/11. Or we could run the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon sometime in August. Early registration for the 2010 race cost $35.

2) I have always wanted to run the Bolder Boulder. It's a 10K on Memorial Day. Shorter distance, but less time to prep.

3) I will probably travel back to Denver to recruit at Mines sometime next September or October. We could run a 5K around Denver while I'm in town. I'm not sure how things will line up next year, but this year I was in town the weekend of Race for the Cure.

4) I will run the Pteranodon Ptrot if you wear a dinosaur costume like this one.

Let the bartering begin.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just another one of those thankful Thanksgiving posts

First off, I'm thankful for my husband, Jason. Of course. He is so many wonderful things that I can't even begin to describe him in a few words. But I will try. Accepting. Supportive. Calming. Cute. (Really) smart. Hard working. Loyal. Honest. Funny. Genuine. And many more.

I'm thankful to be married to a man that would buy me flowers on Thanksgiving because he knows how much I like them on the table during a special dinner.

I'm even more grateful to him for waking up at 5:30 am on Thanksgiving morning to go run a 5K. Even though I know he didn't want to.

Before there was Jason there were my parents. (Well, they're still there, but you know what I mean. I'm actually quite thankful for that too.) And like everyone, the older I get the more blessed I feel that I landed in their home.

My dad is probably the hardest working, most driven person I know. He is also able to forgive in superhuman amounts. No matter the drama or wrongs that surround him, he always manages to remain neutral and accepting.

My mom is like basically Jesus. Ha! Seriously though. She once told me that she feels like her purpose in life is to love, and every part of her life is a testament to that statement. My mom is absolutely my role model, and I hope that one day I will be able to set the example she has for my children.

I'm thankful for old friends. I'm thankful for Stacey, who is kind of my female version of Jason. I'm thankful for Elsha, who also has a blog, and for Laura, who reads mine. I'm thankful that I can see any of these girls once a year when we're in the same town, and it's like we haven't skipped a beat.

I'm thankful for new friends. Like Kelsea. I'm thankful that she likes to have a plan and shows up places on time. I'm thankful that she'll let me talk her into signing up for any number of fitness events...Four Bridges Half Marathon Relay, Muddy Buddy, Emerald Across the Bay 12K, Oyster Adventure Race, Malibu Half Marathon, and the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot.

Speaking of the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot, I'm grateful that Kelsea stuck with me and cheered me on through every painful step. She is 100% responsible for my new PR!! (Race report to follow.)

I'm thankful for my blog world friends. You keep me entertained and inspire me to both keep at it and set my sights higher!

And, although I don't always love my job, I'm thankful that I have one. Not only that, one that affords my lifestyle of fitness events and good eatin'!

And last (but certainly not least) I'm thankful for my body. I'm thankful that it puts up with everything I drag it through and only complains with a few minor aches and pains.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Please, let me run farther!

Tomorrow morning I plan to pre-burn off all (okay, some) Thanksgiving calories in the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot.

There's both a 5K and 10K race, and for the last couple months I've been planning on running the 5K. The last 5K I ran was in July when I was just getting back into running, and I want to see how much better I can do now that I'm in better shape.

But for the last week or so I've found myself thinking, "Maybe I'll just run the 10K instead." Have a guess for why that thought is crossing my mind? It's because I'M AFRAID of the 5K!! I've got it in my head that I want to run this race for time, but I'm so bad at running fast!

I ran my fastest 5K (that same July race) at a 9:19 pace. If you catch yourself wanting to say something like, "That's not so bad Laura," just wait until I tell you that I ran my 11 mile run last Saturday at a 9:17 pace. I reach what feels like a challenging pace for me and although I'm able to sustain it, I can't seem to go any faster. I guess this means I'm a distance runner?

To add to my out-of-control nerves, Disgusting Kelsea has now decided to join us. Don't get me wrong. I'm super excited to have her along. But now I know there's truly no backing down. When it comes to those shorter distances Kelsea is FAST and I'm going to try and keep up with her for as long as I can.

So here are my tiered goals:

  • Beat my PR - Barring large crowds or other uncontrollable road blocks, I should be able to do this.
  • Run faster than a 9:00 pace / finish under 28:00 min - This also seems feasible, but you never know.
  • Finish under 27:30 - I feel less confident about this one even though it's what the race calculators tell me I should be able to do.
  • Keep up with Kelsea - If I manage this one we'll know it's because Kelsea held herself back for me. Awww...what a good friend.

And with that I will begin my race prep activities - drinking water and baking pies!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Barely treading water

THANK GOD for Team Challenge! They got me out of bed Saturday morning and out for an 11 mile run. I feel like having at least this ONE solid run in the week is keeping me afloat.

I was a little worried about how it would go after sitting on my butt for a week. Also, I didn't hydrate properly the day before and dinner consisted of wine, a baked potato and a large quantity of ice cream. (Hmm...looks like running isn't the only department lacking a little motivation?)

I figured I was testing myself. How well would I run after doing everything wrong in preparation? One of teammates, however, saw the silver lining. He referred to me as "well rested." And perhaps he was right. I ended up running faster than I usually do. Not quite as fast as my last magicial 11 miler. But better than usual.

I also had an awesome breakfast afterwards with the rest of the crew. Not only that, one of the women offered to teach me how to swim! I had made a comment about a triathlon sounding like a nice idea. Only problem is I can't swim or bike. I'm not quite sure yet whether I want to take on the challenge, but it's penciled onto my list of 2011 goals. (I'll put that list to ink blogger-style sometime around New Years just in case your interested.)

And now for a picture on a un-related topic. For those of you that might not have fully appreciated our Halloween costumes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I can feel the burn

OUT. I don't feel much else burning because I've been spending a lot of time doing my favorite thing. Sitting on the couch. Let me break it down for you. Here's what this week's training schedule looked like:
  • Monday - Rest
  • Tuesday - Speed workout
  • Wednesday - Yoga
  • Thursday - Tempo run
  • Friday - Rest
  • Saturday - Long run
  • Sunday - Rest

Here is what actually went down:

  • Monday - Rest (per the schedule)
  • Tuesday - Rest
  • Wednesday - Rest
  • Thursday - Ran about aimlessly for a half hour
  • Friday - Rest
  • Saturday / Sunday - In the future

Of course I have the excuses that I came up with... I missed yoga because "my throat hurt and I felt like I needed to rest to avoid getting sick." Sounds like a pretty good one, eh? Too bad it turned out to be canker sores on the back of my tongue.

Then there was, "I must need the rest if I'm this unmotivated. I did run a half marathon on Sunday after all." Convincing, isn't it? I was pretty proud of that one. But do not be deceived. I'm a conniving little devil. My only body part that ever got noticeably sore was the top of my right ankle, and I'm pretty sure that was from the driving. My body would have been just fine with one (or even two) rest days.

By Thursday I was so disappointed in myself I vowed to get all of my running workouts in. That meant three days of running in a row - Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I managed to get my running clothes on, into my car and over to the high school for some speed drills on the track. Guess what? The lights were off. Sound familiar? I drove home and ran out the door in a fury, forgetting my IPOD. When I realized I was without tunes I lost any remaining focus. I ended up running amok for a little while angry and without a plan.

Today it's raining in addition to being dark.

Here's where I could use some help. I'm about five months into my "Healthy Living Plan" and I can feel myself starting to lose motivation. I'm not surprised. In fact, I kind of figured I would get here eventually and have been quietly hoping that I would make it through. I think part of the problem is my running honeymoon is coming to an end and part of the problem is the winter (dark and rainy = yucky running). So I held a brainstorming session with myself and here is a list of ideas I'm toying with to help me get over the hump:

  • Buy a headlamp

  • Run at lunch - This is the only way I can feasibility run in daylight. The only problem is I don't like taking 2 hour lunches and I don't like getting sweaty in the middle of the day.

  • Join a gym - This is expensive, and I don't really want to run on a treadmill.

  • Join my work gym - This is cheaper but it's at work. How do I say what I want to say here without saying something I shouldn't say? Hmm...I don't think there's a way.

  • Run less - I'm at least going to focus on shorter distances (5K or 10K) for a little while after the Las Vegas Half Marathon. I could go so far as to revert back to my 1 mile a day plan if necessary.

  • Find an indoor track

  • Find a running club or something similiar to hold me accountable.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brad Pitt owns a home in Malibu

But try as we did, we did not see him. Still, the Malibu International (Half) Marathon was well worth the hours upon hours of driving across California!

We awoke bright and early Saturday morning (and by bright and early I mean around 11:00 am or so) and headed to the expo. The expo was pretty small, but still held in attendance a few booths of interest.

Truth be told, we didn't even stop at this one. Because they didn't have free samples. (But I thought it was worth a picture anyway). We did spend quite a bit of time at the Newton booth, trying out these bad boys.

Both Kelsea and I took them for a spin around the parking lot.

I'm pretty due for a new pair of running shoes and have, like a diligent student, been researching products online for the last month or so. Which means that I knew, even as we approached the booth, that these beauties cost a pretty penny. But let me tell you. They felt good. Fast and light, with plenty of mesh for a nice airy feel. And let's not kid ourselves. A pair of bright pink and orange shoes are definitely worth more than a couple white, gray or even blue ones.

But, alas, no purchases were made. We were, however, barraged by a pot-bellied running coach who was completely unaffliated with Newton. Of course, we didn't manage to figure this out until later in the day. All the pieces came together like in a movie when a series of flashbacks clues the viewer into "who done it." When we finally realized that he was just some random guy promoting himself in the parking lot at a race expo I felt completely violated! So not cool.

And with that, I'm moving on. After the expo we spent a few minutes on the beach and hit up the local shops.

Yes, I recognize that I look freakishly excited about that cupcake. And it was just as GOOOOD as it looks. We rounded off afternoon dessert with an awesome dinner at Padri Restaurant. I had the most amazing pumpkin filled tortellini, and, of course, more dessert!

Sunday/race morning came before we knew it. This time we actually did get up bright and early. Or rather dark and early. We made it to the race in time to catch a 6:30 am shuttle to the start per the schedule. (Is it just me, or do those pants make me look short? And by pants I mostly mean Kelsea.)

What we did not fully realize in assembling the schedule was that the race itself didn't start until 8:30 am. This meant that I finished my entire water bottle and, therefore, had to pee like 80 million times before the race started. In fact, we were in line for the potties AGAIN when the gun went off. We may have actually been the very last people to start. We even received some "encouraging words" from the race officials on the importance of beginning the race so they could take down the start.

I've never started a race after the start and never wanted to. But it actually worked out quite well. A combination of the late start and solid pacing meant that we were passing people the entire race. No better way to keep both a bladder and an ego happy!

The 8:30 am start also meant that it was quite a bit hotter than I planned for. Weather.com tells me the Sunday high was 80 degrees, and I believe it. I ended up taking off my long sleeved shirt (uh, long sleeve black shirt in 80 degree weather, no thank you) and getting a sunburn. Oh well, better than the rain that came along with US Half Marathon, right?

The race itself went really well. As noted, the weather was beautiful, and the whole course was along the coast on Hwy 1. There were a few minor hills, but nothing too crazy or unmanageable. The aid stations were bittersweet. The half marathon lined up with the second half of the full marathon, which meant that there were a ton of them (specifically, every 2 miles). Even better than that - entire bottles of Zico coconut water were handed out at several stations. Unfortunately, the first 3 or 4 aid stations were so jam packed that it took both time and effort to battle the crowd and surface with a cup of water.

Generally speaking, I ran at what felt like a reasonably comfortable pace. I did push myself, especially the last 3 miles. But I also feel like I could have gone just a little bit faster. Which is okay. That was my goal. I wanted to gauge where I'm at with this race. I figure with a little more effort, a flatter course and cooler temperatures I can only do better in Vegas. Needless to say, I was super pleased to finish in 2:07:16, a full 10 minutes faster than the half marathon I ran in 2008!

And let's not forget about Kelsea who ran alongside me the whole time without training! (Disgusting, isn't it?)

(A couple of tired girls after running and driving many miles.)