Monday, August 27, 2007

Great Train Race Video!

I found a video of the Great Train Race (August 19th) in which I appear starting at 3:50 remaining in to about 3:36! I'm on the right in black shorts and black jacket. Not only that, but the still frame shown before starting the video is from that time segment so there I am again. Please try to ignore the horrible music!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Family Fun Run Day!

Yesterday was a day chock full of running. I started by heading out in the morning for my scheduled 6-mile training run. It was uneventful and I finished in 1:04 (10:39/mile average). A few hours after returning home, John, James and I all took part in the inaugural Run for The Rolls 1-mile road race, held as part of the Chelsea Community Fair. The race started in front of the Chelsea fire house, went south on Main St., turned west on Old U.S. 12, and ended across the street from the fairgrounds.

Having already run 6 miles about 3 hours prior to the road race, I wasn't sure how well my body would react to being pushed into exercise once again. I wanted to do it just for the hell of it, really. To see how fast I could go even when tired. The start was staggered and I went in with the probable 8:00/mile finishers. Everyone bolted off like a stampeding herd. This was no "warm up, settle in, cruise along" race. This was an all-out, fast-as-you-can, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it dash down Main St. I went as hard as I could and lo and behold I crossed the finish line in 7:52! James was right behind me at 8:04 and John was just behind him at 8:08.

We hung around for the awards ceremony. The first place award for each age group winner was a certificate for a free half-dozen rolls from the Common Grill. As you can see from the photo above, I won my age group and thus won a half-dozen rolls! I really did "run for the rolls." John and James each finished second in their age groups. John got a gift certificate for a dessert and beverage from the coffee bar at the Chelsea Gallery. We went there for dessert last night. My rolls certificate will remain on standby until a later date.

What I was most surprised by was how hard I ran and that I only ran a 7:52 mile. The first thing I thought was, "That's all? Holy crap, I used to run sub-7:30 miles in cross country and I never felt like I was running as hard as I just did." I once ran a 7:02 in competition in high school. That was the same day I set my P.R. (23:21). There is no way I could sustain the pace I ran yesterday for a 5K. I busted my butt! I suppose that is all I am capable of right now. Hey, you know, it still got me a first-place medal last week and six free yummy rolls this week. I also suppose that as I continue to lose weight I will be able to increase my speed. When I ran in high school the most I weighed was about 145 my senior year. I'm 30 pounds heavier than that now. Who knows what I could do once I shed these last 20 pounds!

Here we are with the spoils of victory!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Race Report: The Great Train Race

Yesterday I ran the Great Train Race 5K in Ypsilanti. Race time was 8:10 am; we arrived at the Corner Brewery around 7:20 for packet pick-up. It was raining off and on and the temperature was hovering around 55. I stretched in the car as best I could and then around 7:50 we walked down to the start. I decided to keep my jacket on for the race because of the temperature. Shortly before the start one of the race organizers told everyone that the reason it was called "the great train race" was because a train was going to pass by (we were next to the train tracks in Ypsilanti's Depot Town). Sure enough, not two minutes after he said that, a slow-moving Amtrak passenger train went by. Everybody waved. Then we started.

As soon as I took off it began to rain in earnest. By the time I reached Mile 1 I was completely soaked. I ran that first mile in 8:22, a pace which I felt I could sustain for the rest of the race. I felt good. Really good, in fact. The rain felt wonderfully refreshing. It was a welcome change from having salty sweat run in my eyes.

There was a long hill from mile 1.5 to mile 2 which I ran as if it was flat. I was surprised by how little extra effort I felt I was expending to climb the hill. I managed to permanently drop a few male runners who had been hanging around, which made me feel even better. When I reached mile 2 and turned the corner I was greeted by the glorious sight of a long, gradual downhill, of which I took full advantage. That downhill lasted all the way to the finish line. I coasted along feeling pretty darn good about everything. I finished in 26:36, which was exactly what I had wanted from this race (to finish under 27:00). I averaged 8:35/mile. I was totally 100% drenched from head to toe. I felt great!

I changed into my stash of dry clothes at the Corner and grabbed a post-race breakfast from the spread which had been set out. I wanted to hang around long enough to find out if I had placed in my age group. I suspected that the size of the field was small enough that my chances of placing were good. When the results were posted I looked and discovered that not only had I placed in my age group, I won my age group! Well, well, well! Yeah, so, there were only 5 people in my age group. Who cares! I won! I got a little medal with a pin. I joked to John that I was going to wear it around the house all day. (I didn't.)

I was curious to see how I would perform in this race given my additional 8 weeks of half marathon training since my last race (June 23). What an improvement! I felt so much stronger. The distance went by so quickly now that I'm more accustomed to running 4 to 6 miles at once. And of course, I shaved another 26 seconds off my previous time.

My next scheduled road race is the Big House Big Heart 5K at the end of September. That is the race which concludes on the field at Michigan Stadium. I'm so freaking excited!

Here's me at the end of the Great Train Race.

And here I am after receiving my medal for winning my age group!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Run Reports: Various and Sundry

I have been remiss in keeping up with my run reports. The past two weeks of training have been good. I increased my mileage as I have moved into Weeks 5 and 6 of my training schedule, wherein I run 4-2-4 during the week and 6 on the weekend.

Last week was my first week of running 4 miles in the morning. To my surprise it was easier than I had anticipated. It was invigorating, actually. I like my 4-mile loop a lot.

Saturday was my first 6-mile run. I mapped out a new route through the country west of town. It covered some familiar and unfamiliar territory. I was slightly apprehensive before setting out because I have not run 6 miles at once since...uh, 1993 or 1994. Putting those fears aside, I told myself that I have trained so hard and my conditioning was surely up to the task. I have successfully run over 5 miles at once, and the new route was only 0.63 miles farther than that. Less than three-quarters of a mile. Totally doable!

I followed the advice of my running friend and took a water-Gatorade mixture along with me. Holding the bottle in my hand felt awkward and strange and reminded me that I really need to hook myself up with a waist-mount CamelBak. I set out at my usual 10:00/mile pace. At the turn onto Conway Rd. I stopped briefly for a swig of water and to observe a pair of sandhill cranes that were hanging around nearby and making a terrible racket. Then it was back to the grind! Only this run was less of a grind than it was a pleasant stroll through some very nice countryside. Conway at Bush Rd. was mile 3, halfway through the route, and I hit the long paved straightaway with renewed vigor despite being nearly blinded by the sun rising in front of me. Perhaps I should invest in a visor hat or some cool sporty sunglasses, too? Ivey Rd. was a tree-lined pleasant surprise; I had never been there either on foot, bike, or car. When I reached the intersection of Werkner and Sibley Rds. I only had one more mile to go and I felt so fresh I decided to push myself and finish strong. I sailed past the "finish line" at the Department of Public Works yard driveway one hour and three minutes after I had started. Not bad, not bad. That's a 10:30/mile average pace, which is what I hope to do for the half marathon. I planned the route to end at the DPW yard so I could walk the rest of the way home for a cooldown. It worked out beautifully.

Tuesday and today I did 4 miles each morning. Tuesday I did 9:45/mile and today I did 9:30/mile. Today I decided to push myself a little to see how tired I would get if I kept up a faster pace for longer. I shifted to a faster breathing tempo sooner but otherwise I didn't feel any more fatigued than usual. I still had enough oomph to power up the little hill on Summit St. and charge down the short stretch between Summit and my driveway.

Sunday is the 5K race in Ypsilanti. I want to finish in under 27:00. I have been doing my short 2-mile runs on the treadmill at the gym with the machine set to an 8:34/mile pace and at the end of those runs I still feel fresh. If I can sustain that pace for another mile (and 0.1) I will definitely finish in under 27:00 and perhaps even 26:00.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cooking Is... that tastes good.

I heard that on some NPR show and liked it so much I wrote it down.

Cooking is also something I have grown to love doing over the past 6 years. When I moved to Ann Arbor in 1998 for graduate school I barely knew how to make toast. Suddenly I found myself living alone in an apartment with a fully stocked kitchen that I was expected to use to feed myself. I could no longer count on Mom or the college dining room to prepare food for me. Thus cast into the ocean, it was sink or swim time. I stayed afloat...barely. I ate a lot of Lipton Rice & Sauce, macaroni and cheese, tuna melts, Gardenburgers, cereal, omelets, bagels, and Chinese takeout. My repertoire was limited and my confidence low.

All of that changed when I met and subsequently moved in with my husband. Now I had to feed two (and occasionally, three when James came to visit) people. Rice & Sauce and tuna melts weren't going to be enough. I was going to have to (gasp) learn how to cook.

It was surprisingly easy. I got a couple of cookbooks I really liked, and worked my way through them. After all this time, all I had to do was follow a recipe? That's it? To quote the film Ratatouille (again), "Anyone can cook!" It was true! I found myself churning out pasta with gorgonzola cream, beef barley soup, potatoes gratin with Gruyère, chocolate cakes made from scratch, roast pork loin with currant sauce...One of the side effects of my culinary awakening was that I gained a lot of weight. Eating spaghetti carbonara or filets mignon with shallot-mustard-cream sauce can do that.

Unfortunately, the nights of of stick-of-butter and pint-of-cream cooking had to come to an end once I started Weight Watchers. Eating that kind of rich food was not going to help me lose weight. That is not to say I completely abandoned all of my pre-Weight Watchers favorites. I still make them...occasionally. They aren't staples, they're treats. Just like pizza, beer, and ice cream, there are some things I could never give up for the rest of my life. That is why I love Weight Watchers so much. The program is designed to accommodate occasional indulgences. It expects me to take advantage of its flexibility. Sometimes I do (pizza on Tuesday, ice cream last night) but most of the time I do not. It's the "do not" part that has helped me lose 43 pounds thus far.

Now, back to cooking. I have reached a point where I do not need to read a recipe to create a meal. I have reached the realm of...improvisation! My favorite no-recipe, improvised dish is "Pasta with Tomato, Onion and Whatever Else Is Laying Around" sauce. I made it last night. I had a bunch of fresh tomatoes I wanted to use before they started getting squishy. I had two turkey sausages in the freezer. I had an open can of tomato paste. I had a jar with two lonely sun-dried tomatoes. I had an herb garden with oregano and basil. One diced yellow onion, clove of garlic, and jar of my mother-in-law's homemade tomato sauce later, I had a pan full of chunky, hearty sauce simmering away and a pound of whole-wheat pasta ready to dump into a pot of boiling water. Last night's dinner was apparently a big hit because between the four of us (myself, John, James, and my father-in-law, Chris) we ate all of it. Every last strand of linguine and spoonful of sauce was gone. That's my favorite kind of meal-- no leftovers!

Friday, August 3, 2007

When Worlds Collide

Sunday, August 19, 2007, 8:10 am: The Great Train Race.

Sunday, August 19, 2007, 1:00 pm: The 3M Performance 400.

The Great Train Race is a 5K road race in Ypsilanti. The 3M Performance 400 is the August NASCAR event at MIS in Brooklyn.

I'm going to both. I'll be done with the 5K by 8:40 and home by 9:30. Plenty of time to head to the track and party before the race. I won't even bother to take a shower; I'm just going to get sweaty and dirty at the race.

The catchphrase "Let's go racing!" was never so appropriate.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Morning Run Thoughts

It's a wee bit steamy out here this morning. Gonna be a hot one today.

Stop thinking about the fact that you've only run one mile.

I like this downhill!

Summer is waning...the street lights are still on.

Who would have EVER thought I would be one to get up and go running at 6:00 in the morning?

Ah, it's that woman running again with all that crazy gear. I wonder where she's going?

There's that old guy. Hey dude. That's so cool. He's like 70 and he's still hitting the pavement.

I wonder if the cemetery crew only comes in this early if there's a grave to be dug?

Let me see if that hollow tree has a raccoon in it

Drop your arms.

What's that weird bird?

I'm glad I wore this baggy shirt so I can wipe the sweat off my face!

I hope a deer doesn't run out of the swamp and trample me.

I wish I could focus on the horizon but the stupid sidewalk is so uneven I have to watch my feet so I don't trip and fall flat on my face! And the road is hardly any better!

I love this part of my loop. I'm going to run right down the middle of the road. (here I was heading down the tree-lined drive from the cemetery to Middle St.)

I wonder if I will be able to run straight across Main St. instead of stopping for traffic...yesssss!

There's a crowd in Pierce's Pastries today.

Oh, they're unloading grain at the Jiffy Mix plant! Cool!

I'm so glad I don't live across from this driveway with these noisy trucks roaring by every morning!

Drop your arms!!

Only a half-mile left!

I gotta go to the bathroom AGAIN?

I've seen that lady before.

Did that house finally sell?

For the last goddamn time, drop your arms!

Only a quarter-mile left. Pick it up, girl.

Look, there's one of the TV-Watching Old Farts putting out his recycling. With no shirt on. Work it up the hill past him so he doesn't think you're a wimp. Arms, arms, arms! Go, go, go!

Ah, finally. Home. Gee thee to a toilet, girl!

With all of this (and more) banging around in my head over the space of 35 minutes, why do I even need an iPod?