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First Race of 2011! January 30, 2011

Yesterday I ran my first race event of 2011. It was really a test – to see if I had it in me. And man, I had my doubts. After being sick for most of the new Year, I could feel my strength and mojo ebbing away from me. I orginally had signed up for a 10k but then downgraded it to a 5k  – this just seven weeks after doing a half marathon!!

I was nervous, no doubt. But I’d signed up and I was determined to do it. I had my great sister-in-fitness Lisa Marie with me, and I also got to meet health Tweeter @Faby_Gonzalez who told me about the race in the first place.

This was going to be a small race (150 people as opposed to 30,000 in Las Vegas!). Which meant that most of them were probably going to be really fast runners. This seems to be the trend at small runs. Anyway, we drove out there and it was beautiful – easy parking (this was a HUGE stresser at the Redwood run I did last year – I got there, the lot was full and I had to park a mile away and RUN to the start line! Ack!) and just a nice, friendly vibe. They had “pep talks” for the 10k and 5k runners both. There were massage tables and food tables and it was just nice.

It was pretty chilly when we got out of the car (East coast people, don’t laugh! or throw stuff) Lisa Marie and I warmed up by doing lunges across the parking lot just like we do at the trainers. It turned out to be a perfect way to warm up.

The 10K pack took off (I was glad I was not with them). Then for the next 10 minutes I powerwalk/jogged around the parking lot in an attempt to REALLY warm up so I’d be ready to run at the start. The peptalk guy mentioned something about the first part being uphill. WHAT? I had not noticed this. I really, really dislike running uphill. Especially at the beginning! But what could I do about it? Not much. Ready, set, RUN!

We took off. I tried to remember my mantra of staying at my own pace and tried not to notice all the people passing me right at the beginning. And then of course it started climbing up hill. And up and up. I was panting. It was really hard! I tried to take small steps, but still I was not ready for that. I tried to just focus and run slow and keep going. A bunch of people around me fell back to walking but I really felt like I wanted to keep running. I felt like I was running really slow.

Then my RunKeeper (on phone) spoke up. “Five minutes. X-tenths of a mile. Pace 12:30.” I was like, Whaaaaaaaa? I’m running 12:30 uphill?  I know this is glacial for many of you, but I gotta say, I’ve been running an average of 15:00 pace for the last six months or so. The half marathon was pretty much at a 15:00, which was an average of 13-14 running and 16-18 walking. So this shocked me. Um, no wonder I was winded!!

A note on gadgets: I brought the (dreaded) Garmin in the car and tried once again to decipher the little manual while I waited for LM to get ready. It just frustrated me. I have the feeling this thing is going to be going up for sale soon. I just don’t like it. On the other hand, RunKeeper Plus (the deluxe version) is FREE on iTunes until TOMORROW!!!!! and man, it is even better than the RunKeeper free. I just love it. So I think that’s gonna be my device for the time being.

So we got to the 1-mile marker and I was still not feeling very comfortable. It was still an uphill climb which I was getting tired of. But what could I do? I am used to having orthopedic issues but I have not been out of breath running in a very long time. I kept going.

The thing about a 5k is, no matter what, it goes by pretty fast. We got to the turnaround (it was an out-and-back course) and that made me pretty happy because it meant… yeah! DOWNHILL!

Yeah I was happy. As bad as it feels to run uphill it feels great to run down (unless it is super steep, then it sucks). But this was pretty much a rolling hill and it was just like… wheee! Then it got fun. I passed the 2 mile and then it was on cruise. The finish line was there before I knew it (wheeeeeeeee, downhill!). I was so happy!

This little race was the bomb. Not only did they give us cute little finishers’ medals, they also had the BEST FOOD! Hot pasta, Caesar salad, fruit, what??????? I couldn’t believe it. All for free. And free massages. And just a nice happy vibe. I got to see LM thru the finish line (YAY) then we got our medals and food. She had had some breathing issues on the course too, but she finished strong and I was so happy we were there!!

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This event was really important for me. It truly felt like my “comeback” event after feeling so sick and out of it. LM asked me if I had any goals before we started and I said, “One, I want to finish, and Two, I want to make friends with running again.” Both accomplished! I was really amazed at my time (true penguin time, but for me, it was like cheetah time!). When I got home and studied my RunKeeper stats, I was sort of amazed to see that I’d kept that pace pretty much steady no matter if I was going up or downhill. Which was very surprising to me. But good! It made me feel good.

I’m not sure if I will be able to do an event in February but this got me very pumped for my BIG WEEKEND in March: StairClimb, 5k AND Oakland Running Festival! (probably Team Relay, which is cool by me) I’m ba—ack!

 

A Run, A Walk, and a Plankathon! January 23, 2011

I’d say I am finally finally FINALLY getting to feeling better! I had an awesome workout on Friday with the trainer and gang. This involved a lot of lunging-with-weights (10 lb barbells) which believe me ended up being a lot tougher on the legs than the arms. I’ve been sore!!!!!!! since then. But good sore.

Yesterday I went out for a run, considering I have a 5k race next Saturday (ahem!). The route I took was one of my typical training runs before the half. This run used to be like, effortless! joyful! Painless! UM. After a month of inactivity, let’s say it was really effortful, kind of painful (not orthopedically but emotionally) and in retrospect, way too long. But when you park you car that far away, you kind of have to finish. It was a little under 6 miles and I think I probably ran about 50% of it, hopefully a slow 5k somewhere in there. It really knocked me out though. I should have aimed for a 4 mile thing. Ah well. Live and learn, right?

Today I just went for a nice, slow, restorative walk in the woods near our house. There were a ton of people and kids and dogs and bikes up there. EVERYone was out enjoying the warm weather and sun (cold-weather people, please avert your eyes, don’t mean to rub it in, honest). Including at the side of the trail, I a little kid sitting on a plastic potty. And parents hovering over kid with a roll of toilet paper and a bunch of plastic bags. They hauled that potty out here in your backpack? Wow.

Anyway. Whatever! It’s all cool!  You see all kinds of things out there in the woods. It felt good to just go out there at a nice amble pace, listen to my music and and think about stuff. And it did also feel good to move my bones around 3 days in a row. THAT was good. It’s sure been a while. I was starting to get worried there.

One thing that really lit a fire under my butt yesterday was realizing that I can be kind of … er… competitive! I saw that Josie (aka @yumyucky) had posted on Twitter that she had held a plank position for two minutes! This got me kind of curious. How long could I hold a plank? When we do planks with the trainer it is usually for 60 seconds OR we do a combo of plank-straight arms-plank-etc back and forth. So I had no idea what my maximum was. I decided to time myself, and I made a video. Three minutes!! (note: the video says 7 minutes because I am very techno-challenged and I ended up uploading it 2x) Yahoooooo! Then Josie saw that and SHE made another video (3:20) in response! The plankoff is on!!

I love this stuff. It was all in fun and yet both Josie and I got to really stretch our limits and realize we could do more than we had previously believed. Another limiting belief dissolved! Yay!!

I might try and go for 4 minutes this week. :-)

EDITED TO ADD!!!!!!!!!!! We have had two more additions to the great Plank-Off of 2011! Check out videos by Julie and Reinaldo, who is competing all the way from Chile! Both amazingly impressive and cool. (and suspenseful!)

 

Events WishList for 2011 January 19, 2011

Calendar

Okay, so I must be feeling better. I’m making up my wish list of active events for the coming year. And: I would LOVE COMPANY at any of these!!!!!! Tell me if you want to join in! Remember, the “company” is for before/after shmoozing. I go at my own pace which may be much slower or faster (<<ha ha unlikely!) than another person. But I love sharing events with people and especially reading race or event recaps where I shared the same experience.

  • January 29: Dam Run 5k (I downgraded from a 10k just because of my shaky health and that I still have not run a mile this year!!) — COMPLETED! YAY!

  • January 30: My Healthaversary! TWO YEARS of health and fitness, yahoo! A ritual hike to the labyrinth at Sibley Volcanic Park, followed by awesome lunch at my house. Email me if you want to attend.
  • March 27: Fight For Air Stair Climb – sign up for our team!! East Bay Fit Club! I am about to post about the amazing fundraiser I’m doing to raise some $$ for the American Lung Assocation.
  • March 28: Oakland Running Festival – not sure yet if I’m going to do a Team Relay or go for the Half-Marathon. It all depends on how my running goes in Jan/Feb.
  • May 15: Bay to Breakers! My first! Yahooo!
  • May 20: Fitbloggin! Including the Fitbloggin’ 5k! Yay!
  • September 4: Disneyland Half Marathon
  • December 4: Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon!
 

Tired. January 15, 2011

Filed under: emotions,health,injury,struggle — Susan @ 12:23 am

 
I think I may have had a bit of a relapse since tromping around the snow in New Mexico. Since I’ve been back, I feel like I’ve been getting tireder and tireder. I’ve had two not-very-intense workouts with my trainer – the first one resulted in some kind of weird pulled hamstring/groin situation from doing the basic lunges I have done EVERY WORKOUT FOR YEARS (this really annoyed me!), and today (in order to avoid the pulled hamstring) I just did the elliptical plus some ab and pushup stuff, and it just knocked me out. I feel like I have just enough energy (almost) to get through my work but then I am spent.

I am so grateful to have this 3-day weekend to just REST. And maybe attempt some kind of slow long walk. But it’s weird and disconcerting. I still have a bunch of gunk in my throat, my voice isn’t right, and my head feels like it’s full of fog. It’s hard to think. Wahh.

Ever since I started this blog, my two greatest fears were illness and injury. Right now I feel like I have a little bit of both. I’m trying not to freak out. I am trying to be patient and just wait it out. It’s not easy. I have all kinds of stuff I need/want to do, but right now, again, I guess the top thing is rest.

Sigh.

 

Friends with Snow Again January 11, 2011

Sargent Wilderness Area, Chama, New Mexico

By the time I’d gotten to the heaviest of my Before phase, I had become a true hater of snow and snow sports. I grew out of my very-largest, expensive snow pants and SWORE I was not going to move up to the next size. So I’d go out in the snow with the pants unsnapped and only halfway zipped up. That was, er, chilly and distressing. I also remember that the maneuvering that involved snapping or buckling ski boots or other such things resulted in an uncomfortable/impossible squishing together of my ample midsection, and just tightening my boots made me dizzy enough to pass out. Often I’d opt to sit by the fire and drink lots of hot cocoa. Eventually I ended up opting out of going to the snow altogether, it was so unpleasant.

It had been probably more than 3 years since I’d done anything snow-related. But my very best college friend and the godmother of my daughter was throwing a 50th birthday bash with all her besties in the New Mexico mountains, and it involved cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and I could not say no. I thought maybe I’d end up sitting by the fire and reading/writing all weekend. But no.

The first NSV (nonscale victory) came the night before the trip, when I went down to the basement to rummage around the piles of snow clothes. I found the hated VERY BIG snowpants that I could not even zip up 3 yrs ago. Then I found the 3-sizes-smaller ones that my kids had worn when they were maybe in junior high. I held my breath. I tried on the small ones. HEY! THEY FIT! So that put me in a pretty good mood.

I got there, and it was beautiful. So beautiful! I am spoiled by being one of those people who can “go to the snow” and then leave it. And this was some of the nicest, prettiest snow I had ever seen. The flakes were giant crystalline shards of beauty. I was entranced!

My friend had rented me some cross-country skis. Back in the day, I was probably the World’s Worst Cross Country Skier. One, I had absolutely no stamina or cardiovascular endurance. So after about three feet I would be panting. Secondly, I was absolutely terrified to go up or down the slightest incline because I would immediately fall to the ground. NO JOKE. Once I went to this X-C ski resort with the family and I signed up for this hellaciously long (could it have been more than 2 hours?) X-C group ski lesson. It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my LIFE because I was either panting in absolute oxygen debt, or I was trying to struggle up from an upside-down turtle position on the snowy ground, while the entire group looked on in abject pity and disgust, or left me miles behind. It was miserable and I swore on ten frozen Bibles that I would never, ever, EVER cross-country ski again.

But my best college friend, the hostess and birthday girl, had rented me some X-C skis. What was I to do? Well, the REI gods were smiling on me. They sent me one defective ski so that I could not for the life of me get it latched on to my boot. DEFECTIVE BINDINGS saved my dignity. I praised the Lord and reached for the snowshoes. Which I loved. And adored.

It is damn near impossible to fall down while wearing snow shoes. And thanks to all the running I did in 2010, I was not the least bit cardiovascularly challenged by this activity. I tromped through the snow, sometimes up to my knees, in total glee. It was freakin’ AWESOME. And it made my heart pump and my DirectLife activity monitor wake up and say “hey, she’s not dead!” and a happiness rang out across the snowy land.

So now I am friends with the snow again. I went out twice on Saturday and once on Sunday, the first exercise I’d done since the Plague hit me on New Year’s Day. It felt really, really good! And now I can actually contemplate the idea of renting some snowshoes again and going to play in the snow in my own home state.

PS. One of the nicest things about this weekend was learning how to make homemade chai. SO DELICIOUS and so simple. There was always a pot of chai on the stove and I became obsessed with it. Recipe and how-to photos here!

happy birthday, JAZ!

 

Weakly Ushering in 2011 January 3, 2011

Filed under: emotions,Fitbloggin',friendship,running,solo performance — Susan @ 3:45 pm

Kleenex Box

I spent the weekend sick in bed, watching a ton of junky TV on hulu.com. Where I came to the conclusion that the Barefoot Contessa is soft porn, and Paula Deen is like … a snuff film. Really. It boggles, but for a few hours I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

I’m still feeling pretty weak. My throat is a mess, and I have absolutely no energy. Taking a shower just now just wiped me right out. I am going to work from home today for one job, and probably calling in sick tomorrow for my physical job. Or at least taking a short day.

It is almost making me cry reading everyone’s energetic posts about New Year’s goals, and getting out there running! and weight lifting and boot camping and the like! Right now the idea of a WALK makes me very, very tired. Sadly, I am missing the inauguration of Oakland’s mayor Jean Quan, the first Asian-American woman to be mayor of a major US city! And I even had a VIP ticket, darn. But I realized after my exhausting shower that it was just out of the question.

I don’t want too many days to go by before I post a New Year’s post. I am going to say what Pubsgal said  in her post: “More of the same.” I want to stay healthy. I want to go a third year. I want to do some races – at least one more half marathon and maybe a few 5-10ks scattered around. I want to be the best Weight Watchers leader around! I want to just, you know, KEEP IT UP.

It’s not as exciting as reaching goal weight or lifetime or running a race for the first time, but it sure beats the alternative, doesn’t it?

I’m really looking forward to going to ‘Fitbloggin11 in Baltimore in May! and am working on a brand new solo performance to bring there. I’m psyched about meeting so many of my invisible friends.

My 2nd healthaversary is coming up (officially on Jan 17th, but celebration will be on the 30th). I feel really good about this. Last year, it still felt kind of tentative. I was pinching myself, like, is this real?? This year, 24 months after I began this blog, I believe that this is real. I am a healthy person committed to fitness. I’m in it. Which feels good.

I’m definitely committed to being part of the Oakland Running Festival here in my home town in March! But I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to do the half-marathon or the team relay. I’d love to do the relay with my family, but not everyone has committed (Junior might do the half) so… I don’t know yet. But I’ll be out there March 27th no matter what!

And speaking of March, I also signed up to do the Lung Association Stair Climb on March 26th (yeah, the day BEFORE the ORF!). Thanks to @travelgirl007 for talking me into this. 104 flights of stairs on the B of A building! (thinking about it now makes me want to crawl back into bed) Want to join my team?? Or sponsor me??? Click here!

I’m also planning to return to Las Vegas for the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon in December 2011. Because I know it’s an awesome venue and it’s gonna be FUN! I hope a lot of my friends will join this party.

Okay, I’m tired just typing all that. Back to bed! Happy New Year, everyone, and may you have a great and healthy 2011!

 

 
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