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couch to 10K

10K and BEYOND!


Lake Merritt stroll

Originally uploaded by TomLog

Yesterday was a big day! I decided to check out my entire marathon relay leg. I wanted to feel it from beginning to end. I had no expectations I would run the whole thing, in fact I was hoping for 60-40% at best. Normally I have to start at the beginning, then run for a period and then turn around to get to my car. But yesterday was a Saturday, and Mr. McBody was available to pick me up at the “finish line” so I could go all in one direction. I was psyched!

I was all in a quandary about how to pace myself for this run. I thought about possibly using one of the couch-to-K programs on my phone, so I could interval. But then I decided (big brave move!) to just interval intuitively; ie to run as long as I felt like it, then walk as long as I wanted to, etc. and just SEE what happened.

Previously, the longest I had run was 5 min run/2 min walk and that felt strenuous enough last week. But I wanted to see what I would do without that dinging in my ear.

So I took off. I walked fast for 2-3 minutes and then started running. I was about half a mile down the road, and jogging in place at a stop light, when this guy comes out of NOWHERE and leaps out at me. I was so freaked! And scared!

Guess what he was holding in his hand? My car keys. My only set of car keys in the world. They had flown out of my pocket while I was running, and I hadn’t heard (due to music in my ears) or felt a thing. He had seen this happen, had stopped his car in the middle of the road, and charged over to me before the light turned! After being totally scared of my wits, I was quickly thrilled by the kindness of humans.

I kept running. I ran for about 12 minutes, or the first mile, according to my Runkeeper app. That was pretty shocking and exciting for me – and more than double what I’d run consecutively, since last summer. So that was great. I only needed to walk for a minute before starting up again. So I decided that I’d try to run to each mile and then walk if I needed to. Which could also come in handy during the event itself since I am assuming there will be mile markers posted.

I got to the point where I normally turn around. I continued on to the lake and that was very exciting, because I’d never made it that far before. I’ve done so many runs on that lake and I love it – it makes me so happy to be out there in the community, and to see other people walking and running, from really old people to elite athletes. So I’m super psyched that my relay leg includes the lake.

I was running with a sheet of paper in my hand, with the road directions for the marathon. (but no map) I looked down at real quickly and saw “right on Grand Avenue.” So I turned right and started circling the lake counter-clockwise. So far so good. I was at about 3.5 miles then (5k!) and feeling okay.

When I was about halfway around the lake, I thought I’d take a peek at my directions. They didn’t make any sense to me. 14th St.? 19th St.? Lakeside? Suddenly I felt completely turned around and disoriented. And I realized I had run way past my last intersection.

Suddenly I was exhausted. What if I had run way beyond and I had just added like a mile to my 10K? I couldn’t bear the idea. I turned around and headed back to 14th St. I was so confused. I searched for my location on my phone’s GPS, and kept staring at the paper, and nothing made any sense to me. Finally I stood at the corner of 14th and Lakeside and burst into tears. “I don’t know where to go!!!!!!!!!!!!” The idea of going further away from the real path just seemed unacceptable. I knew I was close to the end but didn’t know which way to go. I was losing it BIG time.

Finally I backed up and studied it all again. I realized I had made a mistake when I got to the lake. The FIRST direction said “Turn left on Grand,” but I’d skipped down on the paper and read the wrong one. I had gone counterclockwise when I should have gone clockwise.
But there was NO WAY I was going to do it all over again so I got a grip and kept running. I found my way to 14th, then Lakeside, 19th, etc., until I was in the home stretch. Then I got a text-message ding from one of my relay partners from Team Penguin. She was just a few blocks away! At every intersection I jogged in place and texted, “I’m at Harrison now! Broadway! Telegraph!” until finally I was running the last 3 blocks to the finish. I was so elated. I imagined the finish line and the thousands of people and I was beside myself.

I know now that I can do this. When I got home I mapped my route, lost turns and all, and found that I’d run 6.69 miles. Which was MORE than a 10k! (a 10.6k, in fact) This idea in itself has been overwhelming to me. I ran almost 7 miles, with only a couple of walk breaks and a few stops for traffic lights. I can’t believe it.

It also woke me up to the sobering realization that the relay itself is going to be 12K! Yowzers. But I can do it. Yes I can.

My Feet Hurt

Some days you feel like Rocky. Other days, it’s hard to take a few steps. I don’t know what was going on today. I had the same exact foot gear as Monday (ankle brace + newish running shoes). I procrastinated my run workout until I didn’t have enough time to do anything except a quick session from Couch-to-5k. I think it was week 5? 6? Five minute run, two minute walk, seven minute run, two minute walk, five minute run.

It hurt. It hurt a LOT. At one point my feet were just screaming out. I got really discouraged. I do not know what was wrong. Maybe I should’ve put in my orthotics. But I didn’t have them on Monday and it felt great. I am not sure the new shoes work really well with the orthotics because I think they caused me to have pain on TOP of my feet.

At any rate, it sucked. It was a really bad run. I suppose it was better than no run at all, but after my victorious Monday run, it made me really sad. It made me want to throw away my shoes and just say forget it. Wah.

I did have my iPod on. At one of my lowest points, the song “Drive” by Incubus came on. I couldn’t help but feel they were singing, like, directly into my brain.

Sometimes, I feel the fear of,
uncertainty stinging clear.
And I can’t help but ask
myself how much I’ll let the fear
take the wheel and steer.

It’s driven me before, and it seems to a faint,
haunting mass appeal.
But lately I, am beginning to find that I,
should be the one behing the wheel.

The fear of uncertainty stinging clear. Yeah, that’s it, all right! Listening to that helped keep me going a few more blocks. Then my very very very VERY favorite and best running song came on. It’s a really sad song but it motivates me and moves me like nothing else: “You Found Me” by the Fray.

Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why’d you have to wait?
Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me

When I think of this, I think I’m the one who found me. Susan found Foodie, or vice versa. After a long while of waiting. Isn’t that a crazy running song? It’s no “Eye of the Tiger,” that’s for sure. But whenever I hear it, it makes me want to run. It makes me feel really emotional and glad to be alive.

Cue up the Rocky Music

It’s so weird. Some days I feel like I can barely drag myself around the block. Other days… well, wooh!

I think I felt extra motivated after the half marathon 5k was over, and ready to turn to a new page, which is the marathon relay coming up at the end of March. I want to be ready. I want to be a strong contributor to my team.

So yesterday I drove down to the start of my relay leg. This is new for me, to actually be able to train ON the route of a running race. It was kind of cool. I parked my car at the intersection and already I could imagine the thousands of people who will be there too. My heart started pounding. I got all gadgeted up: first I put on my Bodybugg, which has been out of commission for a while because I couldn’t find my armband. Then I set my iPhone to the couch-to-10k app, week 5, day 1. This same workout totally killed me last week. It is supposed to be 70  minutes total, and I pooped out after 30, and felt totally defeated. Back in the saddle.

At first, my feet and ankle were really bothering me and I was worried. I was wearing new running shoes, which I feel like I really need. The soles of my old ones were SHOT and I think it’s not healthy to run on them because they’re all uneven. I had on my ankle brace. Something about the lacing had been messed up at the 5k and the top of my foot was really, really sore. But whatever. I had to do it.

There’s something very Pavlovian and addictive about the “couch-to” apps. They play some loud tone and a voice says, WALK NOW or RUN NOW. And do whatever it commands. I started with a 5 minute warmup. As I was walking (fast) I noticed what a beautiful route it is. It’s a wide, flat road called the Mandela Parkway. Which I love. There were some plum blossom trees already blooming, and some awesome graffiti art. (I didn’t take pics while running, I stopped and took them when I did the mileage with my car later) It made me so happy that I chose this leg of the marathon. It feels perfect for me.

It’s a really industrial, warehousey kind of neighborhood at first; a lot of trucks and industry. And you know what was amazing, I got like half a dozen thumbs-up and people waving at me. They seemed so happy to see me out there running. Did they know I was doing a marathon training, and that the marathon is going to be coming through this neighborhood? I don’t know. At any rate I was feeling very Rockyesque.

After about 15 minutes my feet stopped hurting. Everything just loosened up, got warm and lubed up and felt great. I got into a real groove. The intervals felt great: 2:30 run, then 2:30 walk, back and forth, 20 times. Every time I started feeling a little tired, cardio wise, the voice would say WALK NOW and I was so happy. Then every time my bones started hurting, it would say RUN NOW and I’d be happy all over again. It actually felt a lot better to run than to walk; it took pressure off my feet and just felt… relaxing. (I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST WROTE THAT)

As I ran, I kept imagining doing this with hundreds/thousands of other people, and several times I got teared up. After a while I realized that I was in a completely different part of town. I could not believe I’d run that far. When the Voice told me I was “halfway” I pulled a U-turn and started heading back to my car. I couldn’t believe how far I’d gone.

My return trip took two minutes less than the trip out. Which was great. I got to my car and I felt like a million bucks. Then I got in and drove the route again to see my distance (which C210K doesn’t measure, and I didn’t want to run C210K AND Runkeeper simultaneously). My halfway point was at 2.9 miles. Which means… I ran 5.8 miles of intervals! In 70 68 minutes!!!!

I was a damn happy puppy after that. And it made me feel like, it IS going to be possible, I AM going to do this, and it’s gonna be great.

Here’s some pics along the way. Look at this cool metal person sculpture. It’s enormous, and there are two other half-people on the other side of the road. Everything just made me so happy. It was one of those great, great, great runs. I feel so lucky.

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