Saturday, July 31, 2010

Words of wisdom

You know those runs that seem to drain every last bit of energy out of you? You're barely shuffling your feet. You're huffing and puffing like you have a house to blow down. And worst of all you're about two steps away from becoming a walker. But then your favorite song comes on! And your inner runner comes sprinting out from the depths of your determination!

Well, my friends, that did not happen to me yesterday. My iPod crashed and after 40 minutes of fiddling with it I decided I needed to get a move on. So I ran unplugged. I ran like it was 1999.

I'll tell you what did happen to me though. I missed a turn. I didn't know I missed a turn, but I knew I screwed something up when I reached a dead end. I had to make a decision and fast. I couldn't stop running. Left or right. I panicked. I didn't think. I took a left.

As soon as I took that left my inner dialogue turned to, "Ohhhh shit." I was running downhill. Fast. Too fast. This hill was capital S-T-E-E-P, which only meant one thing. I would have to run back up that same hill. And running up that hill felt like the first paragraph of this post.

The only thing that kept me going was a conversation I happened to have had with a co-worker earlier in the day about running in Benicia. "You have to run hills if you want to run anything longer than 1 mile." And he had said, "Yep. Good for the gluts." So I thought about my glorious gluts and made it up the hill. Thanks to Sergio.

Sergio may have carried me up the hill, but Kelsea brought me to the finish line. After repeat run-throughs of the hip hop dance this week I started to feel nauseous. I sat down and told Kelsea, "I'm beat. I'm going to sit this one out." To which she replied, "Get up. This is where you burn." (Firewood? No. Fat.) So I thought about Kelsea's words of wisdom and all the fat I was burning off my glorious gluts when I started to feel my pace slip.

The results? 3.32 miles. 32:50 minutes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Will run for chocolate and zucchini

The San Francisco marathon weekend started Saturday morning, with a haircut. Okay, so the haircut didn't have much to do with the marathon, but it did place me down around Union Square. And because it was a nice day and I wasn't planning on a run, I decided to walk the 1.5 miles to the race expo on 7th & Brannon.

It wasn't the first time I walked through those parts, but it was the first time I did it alone, and I think it will be the last. I almost re-configured my workout schedule to include a run around 7th & Market in order to get away from The Crazy running in a figure-eight-like pattern and screaming, "I NEED A DOLLAR!! PLEASE!! I JUST NEED A DOLLAR FOR BART!! I JUST GOT OUT OF COUNTY JAIL AND I NEED A DOLLAR!!!!!" I'm pretty sure by BART he meant drugs. And by jail he meant, well, he probably meant jail. (And yes, his outburst warrants all five exclamation marks.)

Fortunately, I made it to the expo unscathed and quietly slipped into one of the two lowly 5K lines. Here I learned a valuable lesson. No matter how good you feel about yourself for running a 5K, you will still feel like a poophead when surrounded by 5942 people running 8.5 times what you are. But we all have to start somewhere, right? So I scraped together my pride and took the plunge into the "expo pit".

I would compare the "expo pit" to the Arvada West High School lobby, which should paint an accurate picture for about 50% of my readership (i.e. my mom probably won't get it, but Laura should). Yay Laura! My Saturday morning also included a very lovely visit from Laura who was in town for work. That doesn't have to do with the marathon, but is important to note.

This zucchini doesn't have much to do with the marathon either, but Jason just brought it in and I cannot NOT comment on it.

But I whole reason for even mentioning the expo is to provide free advertising for One More Mile running apparel. I walked away with one running shirt...

...and a wishlist. Among my favorite slogans were:

  • In my dreams, I am a Kenyan
  • I'm only doing this so I can post the pictures on Facebook
  • My race strategy: Start off slow, then back off

And from there I will fast forward to the race itself. As I stood shuffling my feet at the start line, silently complimenting the genius of Mark Twain ("The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco), the race official gave us the run-down (no pun intended). We were to run about 0.5 mile and turn around. About 1.5 miles into the run we were to turn around again and stick to the left. Easy business. Off we went.

I started at what felt like my typical pace. Maybe just a little bit faster. That was my plan. Mile 1-10:00 min. Mile 2-9:30 min. Mile 3.1-9:15 min. That would leave me with a few seconds to slack off and still finish under 30:00 min. So I was hoping to see 5:00 min when I checked my watch at the first turn around (0.5 mile). Instead, it said 4:00 min. What? I figured it had to have been less than 0.5 mile. I would just have to wait until the 1 mile marker to check my time.

Except for there wasn't a 1 mile maker. Or I missed it. Either way, the next check was at the second turnaround (1.5 miles), and this time my watch said 14:33 min. Okay, that made more sense. I was right on schedule. At least that's what I thought until I reached the 2 mile marker. 20:30 min. The reality of my defeat set it. I would have to run the next 1.1 miles at a pace of about 8.5 min/mile in order to finish under 30:00 min. I was already tired, and that wasn't going to happen.

So I quickly made my peace with the situation and settled on a new goal - 31:00 min. I would still have to pick up the pace a bit, but I had just been recently inspired by the 80 year old woman running in front of me. I repeat - 80 YEAR OLD woman running IN FRONT of me. No, I don't know for a fact that she was 80. But she was definitely under 5 feet tall, weighed about 90 pounds, and had a head of short, permy, white hair. The same hairstyle my Grandma, and your Grandma and every lady WHO IS 80 sports.

So I kicked it up a notch. And when the finish line was less than 100 yards away, I kicked it up another notch (as seen in the photography feat displayed below - props to Jason!).

And then a wild thing happened. Just before I crossed the finish line I looked at the clock. Not my watch. The race clock. It read 28:47 min. I'm still not sure how it happened, but I finished under 29:00 min. I beat my best 5K time.

(Note: Much to my dismay I don't know my actual finish time, and therefore don't know my new PR. My gun time was 28:53 min, but that doesn't account for the time it took me to get to the start line. I started my watch right when I crossed the start, but, of course, forgot to stop it when I crossed the finish.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A litte of this, a little of that

Seeing as how I cannot decide on a blog topic, I will comment on several topics:

Comment 1: Yesterday at hip hop Mighty put a stop to our dancing and said, "Hold up. I want you guys to get the timing." (Or something along those lines.) This was a drastically different tactic than the typical hand cup behind the ear, followed by two peace fingers pointed at this eyes that I gather mean: listen and watch. No, this time he was serious enough to use his voice. And his voice said, "Hold up. I want you guys to get the timing." And then he said, "It goes, da, da, da, da, boom, boom" etc. Really?

Comment 2: Today was the first day I was "too tired" to run even 0.95 miles. Now I will have to run 2 miles tomorrow to make up for it. Work is really getting in the way of my life...

Comment 3: It occurred to me the other day that Bikram is like the red headed step-child. I never blog about yoga. It's just overlooked, even though it's probably my favorite form of exercise. And my favorite hair color! (See pic of me and Mom.) I'll have to make a point to blog about it sometime.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Mountain of Death

With only one week between me and the 5K, I thought it would be prudent to run longer than 0.95 miles yesterday. Specifically, something more along the lines of 3 miles. And that is how I came to run the 3.5 mile loop I ran the other week.

Very early on in the run I decided I needed to amend my workout schedule and include a rest day (Yes, yes, I know this is good practice.). My leg muscles felt tired right from the start. But I held strong and soon found myself atop the first hill. With my iPod shuffle freshly charged and my playlist fully optimized, I was ready to take on the world. Ya-di-ya-di-ya...I turned a corner and there in front of me stood The Mountain of Death.

The reasoning behind my nomenclature is two-fold. To begin with, running up this hill sucked. Running uphill is always hard, but when it's particularly steep and thrown into the latter half of the run it's, well, worse. But I was determined. And "Imma Be" by the Black Eyed Peas kicked in right at the base of the mountain. "Yes, I am going to be the flyest chick," I thought to myself as I huffed and puffed up the mountain.

What is the second reason you ask? The second reason awaited me at the very top of the mountain, waited for my moment of glory, the runner's victory dance. The second reason - a dead cat. The Mountain of Death.

Now let me warn you, my friends, The Mountain of Death, is a sly and cunning villain. On one hand I feel grateful that is was the cat and not me that fell to the mountain. But I fear the cat was not the only victim. In the end, I fear the mountain may have got the best of Jason. He about passed out in the backyard as soon as we got home, and when I asked him, "Would you rather do that run again or go to yoga with with me?" he...(get ready for this)...hesitated.

And this is the end of my story. But not the end of this post.

You may recall that Google Earth and I had it out over this run the last time. The debate had to do with the distance. This time and I had it out over the elevation change. I thought surely, The Mountain of Death was like a 30 to, say, 50% grade. Yes, that hill was easily at a 45 degree angle. And, therefore, the equivalent of an additional 2 - 3 miles. Right? But really stuck it to me...

In case you're having trouble reading the graphic - that's a 5% grade. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

(Engineering note: Since writing this blog I have Wikipediaed "Grade (slope)" and learned that a 45 degree angle actually corresponds to a 100% grade. This means a 5% grade is actually somewhere between 2 and 3 degrees. Beautiful.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

This is your moment to suck!

This is what a lady in my hip hop class shouted out on Wednesday right after Mighty's pep talk. Mighty is the main hip hop instructor. He is the one that thinks boom is a number (as referenced in this post). Mighty is an interesting little man. I say little because he's fairly small. Mostly in height (kind of in frame, but he's clearly done a lot of working out to remedy that).

Now I'm also fairly small in height, and I like to say I make up for that in height of character. I would bet Mighty would say the same thing (He does call himself Mighty after all). Sitting a few inches past 60 is a multi-colored (purple and hot pink I believe) mohawk. And lying just below that - all the musings that fused together into the pep talk.

Now I can't remember exactly how it went. But I do remember mention of 80-year-old water skiiers, crotchety dancers and how we needed to wade through suck to become any good.

(Be forewarned, my engineering tendencies come out in this next paragraph.)

I suppose this was good advice. I took it to heart yesterday evening after my...drum roll please...0.95 mile run. (This is a 5.6% increase from the 0.88 mile daily run I had been doing. Yes, this whole time the 0.9 mile run has actually been 0.88 miles.) For some crazy reason I decided to time myself. I gave it my all and felt like I was running at a pretty good clip. I even kept my pace on the uphill! But alas, it took me 8 minutes and 28 seconds. Normalized to a full mile, that's an 8:55 minute/mile pace. An unsustainable beyond 1 mile 8:55 minute/mile pace.

I wanted to feel disappointed. But then I remembered Mighty and my fellow hip hopper. This was just my moment to suck. Just a little more wading and I'll be good.

(Also note that in a couple weeks I'll post a link to the video of our hip hop class and you will see. I suck at that too.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

Well now that's not entirely true. I took about 2.5 lbs home with me. And if you think vigorously dancing the night away offsets your increased alcohol consumption, well then I have news for you. That's not true either.

I have been recording my weekly stats on Sunday mornings. But yesterday (Sunday) morning I was in Vegas so the weigh-in went down this morning. Oh what a moment of hopeful dread filled me as I stepped onto the scale. Followed by inevitable disappointment. But I'm trying to stay positive and realistic. I'm still net negative for the week, and I'm still on track to meet my goal. So no harm done.

Today I went for a (you guessed it) 0.9 mile run, and tried to practice the hip hop dance. I also baked a cake.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two weeks until the San Francisco 1/2 Marathon

Good thing I'm signed up for the "and 5K" part of the racing festivities! I had been planning on waiting until August to sign up for a race so I would have time to ramp up my mileage. You know, to something more than 0.9 miles / day. But I went for a hilly 3.5 mile run the other week and felt like I handled it pretty well.

Don't get me wrong. It was definitely hard. In fact, Google Earth and I had a bit of a disagreement over it. I was of the opinion that I ran 5 -6 miles. Google Earth insisted it was only 3.5, and (in the end) won the argument. Still, I managed to keep up a reasonable pace and convinced myself I could handle a 5K now. So I signed up.

Now here's my inner turmoil - for completion or for time? Logically I know I should run this race for completion. After all, I have been on the 0.9 mile / day program. I should be satisfied with crossing the finish line and not feeling like death. But, of course, this is not good enough for me.

Instead, I spent part of my evening Googling my past race results. Yes, I Googled them. Because I have never bothered to actually keep track of my race times. (Wow, I'm promoting Google a lot in this blog.) Through my research I learned that my best 5K time was 29:03. How irritating!! :03?!? Seriously? :03?! Argh!!

There's no way I can beat that in two weeks. So maybe a more realistic 30:00. I would like to finish under 30:00. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I beat the week

This week kicked my ass for two main reasons. The refinery decided to take a crap. I also happened to start a new job, and this new job placed me right in line with that crap. At one point I told a co-worker of mine, "I might have to schedule a meeting with myself just to make sure I have time to go to the bathroom." That was my work week. Long, busy hours and not enough sleep.

My workout schedule also took a step change (up) this week. Thus far I have been pretty content on the 0.9 mile/day run program. I've found that I can maintain my weight by managing what I eat and running for, well, 10 minutes a day. Then I lose a little weight once a week on yoga day. This is very manageable. But not good enough for my all or nothing personality.

So I signed up for a hip hop class. The signing up took place several weeks ago, and class just so happened to begin this week. Of all weeks. I could probably write a blog just about hip hop class, but I don't have time so I'll just share a few highlights:

1) The teacher had a completely opposite teaching style than I do, and I did not like this. When I was coaching cheerleading I taught many a dances, and I always used the 1 to 8 count approach. You know, the routine might go to a soundtrack like, "1, 2 and 3, 4, 5, 6 hold 7, 8...1, 2" etc. This instructor used the boom to boom count approach. I hadn't a clue what move was supposed to happen when until he turned the music on at like 100 times the speed.

2) The ab workout...oh my God the ab workout. All I need to say about this is I just about cracked my skull open on the decline when I hit it on the wood floor. I also woke the next day to find my muscles were about the sorest they have ever been. My neck muscles of course.

3) The 90 minute class ran 20 minutes over.

With that said, it was a good workout. That was Wednesday night. Thursday night was yoga night (Ahhh yoga!! I like you so much better than hip hop!!). Today is Friday and I have already completed a 2 mile run. These are my results:

My neck hurts (sit ups), my chest hurts (push ups), my back hurts (yoga), my legs hurt (but only a little) and my elbows hurt (I have no idea). My Monday morning weigh in was 117.6 lb / 19.5% body fat. My Friday morning weigh in was 114.4 lb / 18.4% body fat. Say what?!?! I officially need new jeans (YES!!) and as soon as I click 'Publish' I'm off to Vegas!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My life off the couch

Here I go (gulp)...the first post. There's a surprisingly large amount of pressure associated with this first post that no one will read. As I embark on this blogging journey the first thing to note is that I am sitting on the couch. This is a place I like to be. It can actually be embarassing at times.

"What are you up to these days?" The people will say. (Which people say this? It's not really important.)

And I will reply, "Just chugging along." (I always say this. As if I were a train. I suppose I am an engineer...but not that kind.) "Just chugging along. Working. You know, the usual."

"What do you do for fun?" They always ask next. Those people.

"Nothing too exciting really. I mostly enjoy relaxing on the weekends." And then sometimes I add a little splash of honesty. You know, just to spice things up. "I really like to sit on the couch," I say. "I like to watch television and surf the internet." Yes my dear, non-existant, reader, I can do all three of these things at the same time.

But alas, life is not all fun and games. This glamorous, multi-faceted life of mine does not lend itself towards sustained health and fitness. So that is what this blog will be about. My life. Off the couch.