Sunday, September 30, 2007

Race Report: Big House Big Heart 5K

I had waited so long for this day. The Big House Big Heart 5K. Finish on the 50 yard line inside Michigan Stadium! From the moment I saw the article in the Ann Arbor News back in June, I was so there for this race. I'm a Michigan grad and football fan, so I could simply not pass up the opportunity to set foot on the hallowed ground inside the Big House.

I had a specific goal in mind: to finish under 26:00. Otherwise I just wanted to have fun. And fun was had! It was a beautiful day for running. Cool, dry, and still. I had on the Garmin, ready to put it to the test for the first time. I took Fritz's advice and set it to "Auto Lap" in one-mile increments so it would keep track of my pace per mile. It worked beautifully. Thanks for the hint!! It would have worked more beautifully if I hadn't accidentally fumbled at the finish line and double-hit the start/stop button without realizing it, so I stopped and then restarted the timer...I noticed I had done so after about 2 minutes had passed. That made for an interesting pace graph when I downloaded the race info into the Garmin Trainer program at home later. Oh well...learning experience!

I reached my goal of finishing under 26:00. I finished in 25:28, better than I had anticipated, and finished 28th out of 196 in my age group. 8:11/mile average pace! According to my Garmin I ran mile splits of 8:10, 8:04, and 8:14. I didn't really feel like I was overly stressing myself. It was a good hard workout but I wasn't left utterly drained and dazed at the end.

First Look: Big House Big Heart 5K

I'll write a full race report once the results are in, but for now, here's a picture of myself and John standing midfield in the Big House. This was a great, great day.

(Looking at this picture I still can't believe it. I was on the field in Michigan Stadium!!)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shiny New Toy!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I own a Garmin Forerunner 305! EEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

The deal was John got to purchase a bass guitar and I got to purchase a Garmin. We all need our shiny new toys! He got the bass Wednesday and yesterday after work I came home, said, "Let's go out to dinner and then to Running Fit so I can get my Garmin!" And we did, and I did!

As soon as we got home I plugged it in to charge it and it's still sitting there, waiting for me to get home from work today so I can play with it. I might even have to go for a short run around town to road-test it before the race on Sunday.

Running Fit got in their first shipment of new winter running clothes and I was drawn to the shiny display like a moth to a flame...I got a Nike Dri-Fit long-sleeved shirt and a Brooks vest. I really, really needed a long-sleeved tech shirt and a new, high-visibility vest, of course! Oh, and I also got a whole box of Chocolate Outrage Gu.

My friend Elizabeth once said something to me about once upon a time she thought all one needed for running was a good pair of sport, right?

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAA! Oh...(wipes eyes)...sigh.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just in Time

This morning I ran five miles. When I left the house at 6:15, it was sprinkling lightly but had stopped before I had even run a half-mile. Upon returning home I went to the sink and splashed a few handfuls of water on my face, then filled my water cup. Suddenly:

WHOOOOOOSH! It started pouring rain. Oh-my-God-the-world-is-ending kind of rain. It was so loud it sounded like someone was aiming a fire hose at the side of the house. I quickly ran around and shut the windows.

If I had been out for my run just a bit longer, I would have been completely soaked (well, more soaked than I already was with sweat) even if I had been within 100 meters of my house. It was raining that hard. I think my timing was excellent!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Little Tuneup

This morning's run was my "short" run of the week: 3 miles. I do this one on the treadmill at the gym and then hit the weight machines afterward. My SOP is to set the treadmill for a more demanding pace than I would normally do outside. I like to see how my strength and speed improves over time. When I resumed running almost a year ago my first treadmill runs were done at a 12:00/mile pace (5 MPH). I like the treadmill because there's absolutely no slacking off the pace I set for myself. I have to keep up or else I'll be crashing off the back of the machine.

This morning I cruised along for 2.5 miles at an 8:27/mile pace (7.1 MPH), then sped up to 8:00/mile (7.5 MPH) for the last 0.6 miles. Yeah, I decided at the last minute to take it to 3.1 miles because I'm running in the Big House Big Heart 5K in Ann Arbor on Sunday (and can I just add HOW FREAKING EXCITED I AM ABOUT THAT???!!!) and I really, really want to at least do it in the low 26:00 range if not sub-26:00. I treated today's workout as a preamble to the race on Sunday to gauge my preparedness. Not bad-- I finished my treadmill 5K in 26:08. I hope on Sunday my excitement will boost me to an even faster time.

Why am I so excited about the BHBH 5K? Why, the race ends ON THE FIELD IN THE BIG HOUSE (aka Michigan Stadium), of course! I get to step foot on sacred ground! I wish it was still natural grass because I would totally have taken a pinch of grass blades and sod to preserve and cherish for all time, much like some kind of religious relic enshrined in a gilded reliquary.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Home Stretch

Four weeks from today is the Detroit Half Marathon. I have four full weeks of training left. Starting tomorrow, all of my regular weekday runs will be five miles in length. I will be getting up and running five miles before going to work. Holy crap.

Yesterday I ran another eight miles. Even though during the run I felt like I was moving slowly, I finished it in the same amount of time I did last week: 1:17. I ate another two packets of Gu, but this time I had Espresso Love (yummy) and Chocolate Outrage (YUMMY!!). This time the Gu did not sit so easily. I felt like I had a lead ball in my stomach and I had an annoying side stitch from about mile 1.5 on, which I never get. I deployed some breathing tricks I've learned from my vocal training to stretch my intercostal muscles and diaphragm, which alleviated the pain somewhat. I was very irritated because I have had very good luck in keeping side stitches at bay. In fact, I never even had to consciously think about avoiding them because I simply just didn't get them. However, yesterday I did. That, plus my general feeling of stomach heaviness, had me convinced I was going to be slower for this 8-mile run than I was last week. That turned out to not be the case.

Interesting. I felt like I was going more slowly...but I maintained the same 9:37/mile pace I did last week. So...could I have run even faster and not had it bother me? Is this what (gasp) training is supposed to do for one's strength and stamina? You's actually working? Well, who would have thought.

It's becoming exponentially darker each successive morning. I spend most of my pre-work runs in total darkness. My five-mile loop includes a section (from about mile 1.5 to mile 2, along Dexter-Chelsea Rd.) where I have to run directly on a road (there is no sidewalk). I'm kind of nervous about this as people don't always pay attention. I have my reflective vest, and I hope it will keep me safe. I'll hug the berm as close as I can but past that I'd be running in the ditch. And past that are the railroad tracks and that's so not even an option. It's only for a half-mile, which taken out of five isn't that bad, but a lot can happen in even half a mile. I just have to trust that the good Chelsea folk heading to work aren't yammering on their cell phones and not paying attention to the road that early in the morning.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Run Report: Eight Miles! EIGHT!

Saturday morning's long run was a milestone. Eight miles is the longest continuous distance I have ever run. And I totally rocked it!

I set out at 8:10 am. The weather was perfect, about 40 degrees. I had my super sleek new pants, new fab cushy socks, new stylin' headband, new packet of Gu, and a new flavor of Gatorade ("FLAVOR BURST BLAST-O-RAMA TIDAL MEGAWAVE OF FROST" or some dumb was the only variety of mix-it-yourself powder at the grocery store). I had a new route mapped out, a perfect 8-mile loop. I felt well-rested, fresh, ready to rock and roll.

On all of my previous long runs I started out at a slow pace because I had this mental thing about "I have to run X number of miles...better not go out too fast! Don't want to get tired!" However, after the string of really awesome 4.5-mile runs I put together on recent weekdays, runs that I did at a 9:19/mile pace in some cases, I decided that I wasn't going to hold back on my long run. I thought of it as "I'm going to run 4.5 miles! And then, I'll run another 3.5 after that." So off I went at my regular run pace. I felt really good. My hands were cold, though. All that new gear, and I didn't bother to spring for a pair of gloves?

The sun rose higher and the air warmed and by the time I reached mile 5 I was ready to get rid of my jacket. My hands weren't cold any more, either. I stopped in a convenient place and ate my reserve packet of Gu. Then I took my jacket off. It was about 50-52 degrees by that time and the cool air felt wonderful. I was sweating heavily per usual but my totally superb new headband kept all of it away from my eyes. Around mile 6.5 I passed a little woolly bear caterpillar on the road and I picked it up and brought it over to a rock under a tree on the side of the road. I didn't want the little guy to get squished!

I finished my run in 1 hour and 17 minutes. 9:37/mile pace. My little mental exercise worked. This was by far the best long run I've done. I proved to myself that I don't have to be pokey in the name of "conserving energy," that I do have the endurance and strength to maintain a faster pace over longer distances. Otherwise, what the hell have I been doing for the past 3 months? I certainly haven't been sitting around with my thumb up my butt...what has all this insane training been for if I don't have something to show for it by now? This bodes extremely well for the half marathon. I am feeling more confident than ever. Eight miles is well over half the race distance. Plop another 5 miles on top of that eight and...that's it! The whole nine yards! Or should I say thirteen miles. It really doesn't seem that daunting any more. Not now that I've done 8 miles and at the end I felt like I still could have kept going!

Emboldened by my success on Saturday, I went out at an even faster pace for my 4.5-miler this morning. I mean, I really hoofed it. And what do you know, I finished in 40 minutes. 40! That's an 8:53/mile pace! Holy moley!

I am SO going to kick ass at the Big House Big Heart 5K on September 30. Definitely under 26:00, but might I also break 25:00? I would so love that...

And by the way, I'm now at 48.6 pounds lost total! This could be the week I hit FIFTY POUNDS. I'll let you all know after my weigh-in tomorrow.

Also, I redeemed my certificate for my free half-dozen rolls that I won from the Run for the Rolls last month. We ate them with dinner on Saturday (dry-rubbed, New York strip steak, oven-grilled asparagus, and roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary and garlic. Yum!). Victory never tasted and yeasty!

And finally, my distant partner-in-running crime who will be doing the Detroit race with me next month was having a wee crisis of confidence which she expressed on her blog. I commented:
Remember we're in this together. This crazy-ass endeavor. I decided to
do it because YOU inspired me to do it. And remember this, too: WE are
going to be doing the race while everyone else is going to be standing
around watching us. WE are putting our feet into our shoes and hitting
the pavement. There's no way we can fail. The only way we'd fail is if
we never even tried. Remember that!!
Semi-dorky, but it's totally true. I might not be the fastest runner out there, but at least I'm out there. Hurting, sweating, and still getting up every morning to do it all over again. There's no fail. Fail would be never even trying at all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Must Take Umbrage...

I don't care what my Athlinks profile says, I won my age group in the Run for the Rolls. I have the certificate to prove it. I guess it came out that way because the overall female winner was in my age group, but she got a certificate for rolls and a snazzy clay tile.

I also don't care if my results say my mile time was 7:58. I crossed that line at 7:52, dammit! I saw it with my own eyes! There weren't so many people in the field that it took me six seconds to pass the starting line.

When You Gotta Go...

This morning I set out for my 4.5-mile run without first "taking care of business," which I try to do every time I go for a run outdoors. Most of the time I am successful and therefore avoid issues while on the road.

Not so today. I was in the cemetery just past mile 3 when The Urge hit and hit hard. With over a mile left to go and feeling extremely uncomfortable I knew I was going to have to take an unscheduled pit stop. Luckily I knew there was a Porta-Potty by the cemetery groundskeepers' shed on the edge of the property and I made a beeline for it. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

I felt much better and finished my run in 42 minutes (45 if you count my little detour, which I'm not). That's 9:19/mile pace!

I don't remember ever having to "go" during a run when I was in high school. Now it's essential that I make an effort to clear the system before I run or I always end up scrambling desperately for the bathroom when I get home. I haven't yet been forced to hide behind a bush by the side of the road but I've got some really long runs coming up and sometimes even with my pre-run ritual I'm struck by The Urge while out for longer runs (like Saturday's 7.5-miler, but I was able to stick it out until I got home).

I just hope they have Porta-Potties on the half marathon route!

Sunday, September 9, 2007


After approximately four months of running including over two months of rigorous training for the half marathon, this is what my legs look like.

Pretty cool, eh?

Run for the Rolls article

The Run for the Rolls that John, James, and I did on August 25 was in the August 30th edition of the Chelsea Standard. According to the article there were 91 participants. There was one picture that accompanied the article. Of all the people in the race and all possible moments the photographer could have captured, the one that made it into the paper included me and James. Here's a scan of the article:

I'm dead center in the white T-shirt, and James is behind me. Cool!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Really Good Week

Several things:
  • I officially reached 45 pounds total loss at Weight Watchers. 45.2, to be exact.
  • I ran 7 miles on Saturday and it was awesome!
  • I can wear a size EIGHT comfortably.
  • I love vine-ripened late-summer tomatoes.
So, my long run. Seven miles. A full mile farther than last Saturday. I was ready. The distance pushed the limits of my experience. (The farthest I have ever run at once is eight miles.) I was out the door at 7:35 am Saturday morning. It was a gorgeous morning, about 52 degrees and very dry. I even wore pants. I felt really good. I even sped up at the end. It bolstered my confidence and reassured me that the half marathon distance is totally within my reach. After all, I ran over half the race distance and felt fine. What's six more miles?

I went shopping with my mom over the weekend for some new cool-weather work clothes since all of last winter's clothes are too big. That was when I discovered I can wear a size eight, at least in Ann Taylor clothes. The last time I wore a size eight anything was over ten years ago. I was very pleased. I now have a bunch of nice new clothes for work. I hated clothes shopping for a long time because it reminded me of how fat I was. I hated the size 16-18s, hated seeing myself in the mirror, hated not being able to shop at certain stores because they didn't carry clothes past size 14. Now all of that has changed. I enjoy clothes shopping because I look good in what I put on my body. I have an actual waist again! And my runner's legs...whoo boy, bring on the skirts.

My neighbors have a bumper crop of tomatoes. They told me I could pick some while they were out of town. Can't let them go to waste, can we? Friday afternoon I took a bowl across the street and filled it with several different varieties of tomatoes. I was eating cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. I was rolling my eyes they tasted so good. I chopped up a couple of them to use as a topping for our dinner Friday night (Weight Watchers tacos). I took some Roma tomatoes to my parents' and we ate them on open-face Italian farmhouse sandwiches. I used some more in last night's gumbo. I have cherry tomatoes on my lunch salad today. I love fresh ripe tomatoes!