Sunday, March 25, 2012

We're Half Way There

Week 6 of half marathon training.

"Whoooaa we're half way there, whoooaa livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it I swear, whoooaa livin' on a prayer." - Bon Jovi

I have reached a place I never thought I would be. Simple as that. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be training for a half marathon, I'd run over 8 miles, I'd drop around 60 pounds, or really anything associated with what the first half of my half marathon training has been, I would have called you a cotton headed ninny muggins (Elf anyone?). I would have laughed in your face. But these last 6 weeks have been incredible. Watching the distance grow and grow, and simply getting out and running 4 times per week consistently... I have done things that are normally tough for me to do. And that makes me excited for what's to come. So as I look back on these past 6 weeks, I smile. For what has been, and what the next 6 weeks have in store. Bring it on.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.01 miles - 29:27 - 9:47 pace
This run was awful. I almost tripped over a gap in the sidewalk and ended up tweaking my calf a bit. I think being back at a mile high after the weekend away made it tougher. I had to stop and wait for traffic twice (cost me probably 30 seconds), had to stop for a second and catch my breath. Felt sluggish. Overall, a run to forget.

Wednesday - 4 Miles Pace
3.13 miles - 30:04 - 9:36 pace
A long, tiring, and exhausting day... and it hit 9:30 PM and I still hadn't made it out - so I mad to squeeze in a few miles before bed. I like running at night, but not this late. Also, I normally run clockwise around my neighborhood but tonight on a whim went counterclockwise, only to find that just about the entire loop. My calf still hurts from gracefully catching myself after almost tripping yesterday. I am talented. It's been a pretty rough start to this week - let's hope for a good run tomorrow gearing up for my 8 miler this weekend.

Thursday - 3 Miles
3.11 miles - 28:23 - 9:07 pace
I was secretly hoping for a good run to make up for the not so good last two. I got it! The fastest pace of any of my training runs over 3 miles. Splits were 8:53, 9:13, 9:18. My best pace of a training run was 9:27 and I beat that easily. I know I've said it before, but I love seeing the week to week progress. But now is when I start looking at overall progress. When I first started training, I was averaging somewhere between 10:20-30 pace. I have dropped another 10ish pounds during training. I am falling in love with running A LOT. Let's keep this momentum going this weekend - I'll need it.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - 8 Miles
6.25 miles - 1:03:11 - 10:06 pace, Volleyball
Decent run, but one of the stupidest moves I've made during training. I wanted to find a new place to do my long runs just to throw some variety in my life. I was aiming to do this earlier in the morning, but before I got to the place and started it was 11:30 AM. I couldn't find my handheld water bottle, so I brought my jug to keep in the car for before and after. So I set out on my run. It was already about 75 degrees and the sun was brutal. The first 4 were good, but then I started feeling super tired. Mile 5 was brutal. I kept telling myself to push through, but by the time I hit 6 it was bad. So I decided to listen to my body and walk the almost 2 miles back to my car - I simply ran out of gas. I haven't felt that dehydrated in years. I took a lot of things away from this run that will help moving forward. At the end of the day, when I am slightly disappointed with a 6+ mile run, life is pretty good. After I rested for a little bit and got something to eat and drink, I played about 3 hours of volleyball at Wash Park. I've never seen so many people there! What a beautiful Saturday :)

Sunday - Cross
Yesterday, I thought Sunday would consist of running the remaining 1.75 I was short from my long run. I woke up today and every muscle in my body is sore. Like if-I-move-3-inches-I-am-in-pain sore. Running isn't going to happen. Doing anything for cross training isn't going to happen. Taking the day off and going to the zoo. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You Have a Choice

Week 5 of half marathon training.

"You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face." - Gatorade

This training is getting to the point where it's getting real. I am now over a month into it and I am nearing the half way point. I am running more and more every week. I am running farther and farther. Do I want to get up off of my couch all the time? Absolutely not. There are so many days where the last thing that I want to do is to go run. There are so many times where it is simply not fun. It would be so easy to just stop - to call it quits. But I have never really been one to just take the easy way out. So when I am forced to make a decision of whether to quit or not, I look at the benefit and the accomplishment. And this one's a big one. So I will trek on until May 6th. But I won't stop there. This is just the beginning...

Monday - Rest
And rest I did!

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.15 miles - 30:09 - 9:34 pace
Tonight's run was pretty good minus the TERRIBLE mistake of eating a bunch of peanut butter desserts this afternoon and therefore skipping dinner. Big mistake. Toward 1.5-2 I felt like I might throw up. I didn't. However, I felt strong during this run. I am noticing the progress even from week to week - although I am constantly sore, each run seems to get easier and easier.

Wednesday - 4 Miles
4.26 miles - 40:19 - 9:27 pace
I spent most of the day in pain because of my lower back. Uh oh. But I went to the chiropractor after work and that helped a lot! I tried a new strategy tonight. My normal route is fairly flat but has a slight slope the entire way. Just enough to make an impact. So normally I start downhill and then turn around and end uphill. I decided to flip it tonight - so started uphill then half way through it switched to downhill. My splits were: 9:41, 9:31, 9:36, 9:14 - ended very strong.

Thursday - 3 Miles
3.01 miles - 28:54 - 9:36 pace
The first mile was good, but then I tanked. This run was pretty miserable. I felt sluggish and tired the entire way. Pretty disappointing feeling going into a rest day. On the plus side, just 3 weeks ago I couldn't run under a 10:00 pace - now, I can have a terrible run and still be well below. Very promising, and I love seeing the progress. After this run, more soreness, and being in more pain this week I am looking forward to this off day tomorrow and a super epic 5 mile race in Moab, UT.

Friday - Off

Saturday - 5 Mile Race
5 miles - 47:47 - 9:33 pace
What an amazingly beautiful race! After a beautiful drive into Moab, UT, we got settled for the night. Woke up bright and early, boarded the shuttle, and made my way to the starting area of the 5 mile race. The view was unbelievable, as we were wedged in the canyon on the border of Arches National Park. After waiting a while for the race to start, we took our positions and ran through the canyon. Words can't even describe how beautiful the first half of this run was. Then we rounded the corner and the last 2.5 miles were into and through the town. What I started noticing at this point was how I was passing so many people! Usually there are a few. And a few that pass me. But for a couple miles, I was passing everybody! I started picking out a few of the people I HAD to beat and kept trekking my way toward the finish. I rounded the final corner, had a decent finish, but not my usual sprint. I knew I had a decent time and was excited to lay low for a bit, watching the rest of the finishers of the 5 mile and the first several of the half marathon. On the way out, we decided to check out the finish area that had music and other activities. They had already posted the results of the 5 mile race - "cool, let's see what my official time was." I look on the sheet - find my time - and I see 48:38. Cool, not a bad time - and I know that's gun time so I know my chip time is a bit faster than that. I glance at the sheet - "Wow - I finished in the first 1/3ish of everybody - that never happens." Pause for a few seconds. "Just for s's and g's, let's see how many people finished ahead of me in my age group..." Look. Look. One. Look. Two. Look. Look. Wait, what? Were there just two? Looked again. Ummm... So I went over to the awards table and caught a glimpse of their official sheet. 3rd place: Jeff Parker. No freaking way! This is something that would have been a goal in my life, but I basically gave myself a 0% chance of ever placing in my age group. I am still in shock. What I find funny is I originally signed up for this to be my first half marathon. I chickened out a bit but also realized that they don't have finishers medals for the races- even the half (except for top 3 in each age group), which I found odd, so I decided to switch to the 5 miler. And at the end of the day, I came home with my medal!
Final time : Gun time: 48:38 - Chip time: 47:47
147/717 Overall
3/16 Age group
Side note: The only other 5 mile race I've done was a month ago. I beat that time by 3 1/2 minutes.

Sunday - Rest/Hike
Tried to spend the day in Canyonlands National Park, but it was rainy/snowy/windy, so not the greatest day to explore. So we had a nice lunch and made the drive back to Denver.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Distance You Traveled

Week 4 of half marathon training.

“Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” - Steve Prefontaine

The more I run, the more I realize that I am not doing this for 13.1 - that's a small part of it. I am looking forward to seeing if I can accomplish it. But more than that, I realize that with every mile and every run I am stepping closer to where I want to be in my life. To the weight I want to be. To the goals I have. Seeing where I will be from where I've started - from a health, confidence, goal setting, and motivational standpoint - no matter what it will be a success. It's not about a single race. It's about the journey that I have been on and where it will take me.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday -3 Miles
2.64 - 25:41 - 9:43 pace
This is the latest I've gone out on a run s
ince I started training. It was a busy day, and I was on my way home from a DetermiNation info meeting and I knew I still had to get out. I started getting a stomach ache since my eating has been a little off the last couple days and I had not had dinner yet and it was pushing 8:30. So I got home, laced up the shoes, and took off. It felt amazing! I honestly feltlike I was gliding across the pavement. Although I'm sure it wasn't as graceful as I imagined...

Whatever the guy version of this is, welcome to my life.

Wednesday - 4 Miles Pace
4.00 miles - 38:06 - 9:31 pace
Probably my best overall run of training thus far. First run with iPhone - used Nike+ - found out fastest was just before 1 mile, slowest was about 1.75, then picked it back up. I think I backed off a bit when I saw my 9:14 mile 1. Not sure how I feel about running with the iPhone - has its pros and cons. Biggest pro was being able to see where I was at and my pacing so I could adjust on the fly. Biggest con was over-checking... seemed to take away some of the joy of the run - but I think this will be perfect for the days like today when I am supposed to push the pace a bit. And I just realized that I beat last Wed's 4 miler by over a minute and a half.

Thursday - 3 Miles
3.11 miles - 29:58 - 9:38 pace
I was a little nervous that I wasn't going to get this one in tonight, but I managed to squeeze it in. Was across town so I had the pleasure of trying out a new path - it was a lot more hilly than I am used to. Had a 9:52 pace at the halfway point so I was glad I could pick it up a bit in the 2nd half. I'm noticing a couple things - The 3rd day in a row is always tough - I'm usually still sore, but it feels great leading up to a rest day. I am floored by the progress week to week. Times get a little faster and the runs get a little bit easier. This is making me very optimistic - hopefully this trend keeps up.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - Cross
Skiing, Volleyball
I am aware that today is going to kill my legs for tomorrow, but it is worth it! Such a gorgeous day out, so I decided to hit the slopes at Breckenridge. After a handful of great runs and conquering a couple of my first Colorado black diamonds I came back and played a few hours of volleyball. It felt amazing getting out with our group of friends, laughing, joking around, and getting some quality games in. Is it summer yet??

Sunday - 7 Miles
7.11 miles - 1:13:12 - 10:17 pace
This was the farthest I have ever ran in my life - I have done a couple 10Ks, but now as I move forward with my training, I am reaching uncharted territory - and that's exciting! It's tough not to think about the 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 mile training runs I'll have to do before my half marathon, but for now, I am just going to be excited about this 7. I was SUPER sore from yesterday and now I'm even worse, but it's done! And went fairly well too. The first 2 miles were mostly trying to get into a rhythm because of the soreness and morning running adjustment. Then, I had a solid few miles. But around mile 5.5 I started to crash. Not only was this a long run, but it was getting warmer, but most of all, my route was uphill for the entire second half of the run. Note to self: make the second half easier! But I didn't rest, I didn't stop, and 7 miles is in the books. Although I am now only 1/3 of the way done with my training program, I am over 1/2 way there distance-wise. I am super excited about this past week, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the next few go. No turning back now... only forward!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Conquering the Plateau

In weight loss, you always hear stories of the plateaus - when the weight just seems to stop and stay fixed on a certain number for an extended time.

Ask anyone who has lost or is trying to lose, and you'll hear the same stories: everyone faces them, and they can be some of the most disheartening parts of the journey.

This picture was taken on September 25 immediately following my Fans on the Field race - my first 10K.

After the race, I took it easy for a bit, basking in my accomplishment and patting myself on the back. 235. 239.

Once I started hitting numbers I wasn't happy with, I started doing something about it again. 237. 234.

October. November. December.

233. 231. 236. 232. 238.

January. February.

230. 235. 232.

Then, one day in late February, it happened.


Not convinced.

233. 230. 232. 231.

My biggest plateau I have ever faced is 230.

Then, this week I've been seeing these numbers consistently.

227. 229. 228. 226.

I can finally say after 5 1/2 months, I have conquered the plateau!

This has taught me some valuable things:

I need to have the patience to let things happen when they're supposed to. When things are going well, I am ecstatic. But if they don't go as planned or take longer than expected, then I tend to get discouraged and let things slip a little. Or a lot. So when I get close to getting over the hump and it doesn't happen, it's tough to take. The other side of it is patting myself on the back when things go well and getting complacent. If I have a really good week or especially a good race, I am quick to take a little time off - and sometimes that turns into a lot of time off. This training is making me learn how to stay focused and motivated because I don't have any time to take off- it's 12 weeks of being on my A-game and getting out on the road 4 days a week. Every week. So as I continue to get toward my goal, I am learning how to do some amazing things that I have failed to do over and over again. As you can see, it is making a huge difference. And it feels.... amazing!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Greatest Pleasure in Life

Week 3 of half marathon training.

"The greatest pleasure in life, is doing the things people say we cannot do." - Walter Bagehot

It goes back to my letter from the beginning of this journey. Throughout my life, I have been labeled, judged, and criticized because of my weight. When people find out I am actually athletic, they are usually surprised. But for me, I get a satisfaction out of it - when someone doubts me, it usually drives me - to try harder, give more, and be better. So hearing the things I can't do makes me want to show people that I can and will do it. Granted, I haven't accomplished a lot yet on this journey, but it is week 3 and I haven't given up. I won't give up.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.14 miles - 30:14 - 9:37 pace
I am slightly astonished by this time - I was hoping for around a 10:00 pace, but started out not feeling stellar. I wasn't sure how fast I was going until I checked my split at mile 1. Faster than I thought. Mile 2ish. Faster than I thought. I've ran faster before, but not in a while - when I started this half marathon training, I essentially had to start over. To see the improvement just from Week 1 to Week 3 is awesome. Great way to start week 3!

Wednesday - 4 Miles
4.01 miles - 39:52 - 9:56 pace
Today started out a little rocky... mile 1 was ok... mile 2 was crap.... I had to walk and take a quick breather. When I started up again, I felt pretty strong and made it the rest of the way without a hiccup. Pace was good the whole way. Wednesdays are tough...

Thursday - 3 Miles
1.51 miles - 13:32 - 8:57 pace
I tried a different strategy tonight... I made a goal to see how quickly I could run a mile, and I needed to find a time to test it out. So that's what tonight was. About .75 I started feeling the dinner I ate, but other than that, it was good! 8:22. After a quick breather, added another half mile and called it a night.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - Cross
Yea, I gotta get on that...

Sunday - 6 Miles
5.92 miles - 1:00:14 - 10:10 pace
First "spring" run - shorts & t-shirt, no layers - it felt so amazing! I expanded on my normal routine and took a quick loop through City Park, a park in the heart of Denver. The trees, the fresh air, and the people enjoying the beautiful day made it so much better than the usual boring run through my neighborhood streets. The first 3 felt amazing. Had to take about a 30 second breather at 4.5, and the last mile was a struggle. But I'm getting there.

Yea, it was pretty much like this outside...

And with that, I am officially a quarter of the way done with my half marathon training.