Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Race Re-Cap Part 2: The Night Before

Remember all my taper rules guidelines? Those kind of went out the window on Friday. It ended up being a crazy busy day at the hospital. Several codes, lots of tears, and trekking around the hospital trying to find a family meant quite a bit of time on my feet. It was a great chaplaincy day, which means it was pretty emotionally and physically exhausting. When the clock hit 5, I headed downtown to the WHM Expo to pick up my packet. Even though it had been raining that morning, it miraculously cleared up and was a beautiful day. Very promising for race day.


This year, the expo was in a much larger space making it a lot easier to navigate. There might’ve been a lot of people there, but it didn’t feel crowded. I got my number, my shirt, and my goodie bag and went to find my WHM contact to snag my official blogger goodies. Because she forgot my things in her hotel room, we went on a little shopping spree in the WHM store, and I left with a magnet, water bottle, tech shirt, cotton t-shirt, and hat. Fun stuff!


All of the volunteers were great and made the process so smooth. I wandered through the expo and purchased a sports bra for my mom and two more Bondi bands for myself. There were all sorts of vendors, and I scored even more gratis goodies, including a tiara which I plan on wearing on my birthday in a few weeks. Even though I had a long day, being at the expo helped pump me up for the race the next day. Everyone looked like they were already having a blast.


Having consulted with Joe, I had a pre-race hankering for pizza, so I called in an order and went to pick it up. By the time I got home, I was ready to collapse and in need of a glass of wine, even though it was a taper guideline no-no. I just made sure to drink a lot of water as well. I debriefed my day with Joe and then we settled into watch some season 5 of Dexter. Vigilante serial killer dramas help me sleep better.


With the help of the cat, I laid out my clothes & accessories for the next day so that I wouldn’t disturb H’s beauty sleep banging around the bedroom at 5 am on a Saturday. He appreciates that. Then I tucked myself into bed while visions of finishers’ medals danced in my head.

To be continued…

Monday, September 26, 2011

Race Re-cap Part 1: The Numbers

(Because I want to focus on a number of different aspects of the race, this is going to be a several part race re-cap.)


50: Degrees at the start


3043: Bib number


13.1 (+ some tangent junk): Miles run


25: Number of times I said I wasn’t going to race WHM because it wasn’t my goal race and the course is too hilly

1: Times I looked up what a sub-2:10 pace would be

2:07:28: Official chip time

2:11:50: Previous PR


1: Number of seconds I beat my mom by

3: times she told me to “go ahead” only to catch up with me again


1: happy and exhausted official WHM blogger

Monday, September 19, 2011

Taper Time

taper (verb) – to diminish the length and intensity of one’s workouts in the days preceding an important competition in order to optimize one’s performance

taper (verb) – to drive yourself crazy checking the weather forecast for race day, sensing every little twinge or ache is an oncoming injury, and lacking an outlet for said nervous injury due to your taper

Women’s Half is less than a week away. I’ve been training for months. I’ve executed every long run, every speed workout and tempo run, and most of my scheduled easy runs and cross-training according to my training plan. The hay is in the barn. Now I let my body rest. Of course, reducing exercise doesn’t mean eliminating exercise. I’ll still do some easy miles to make sure my legs know how to run, but otherwise, I wait.

Tapering can be mentally challenging. There is a desire to want to “cram” for the race. The desire to fit in one last speed workout or tempo run to make sure I can really hold my goal pace. I tend to start feeling phantom injuries. My shins ache or my IT band feels a bit tight, even if everything has been working fine up until now. I check the weather forecast a couple of times a day, hoping that it won’t be raining or too hot.

This year I’m going to try some new things in addition to some old things.


1. No drinking the week before a race.

I like my glass of wine or beer with dinner, especially if we’re socializing with friends, but no dice this week. I’ll need the hydration of water, and there won’t be any possibility of me overdoing it the night before the race.

2. Don’t try anything new.

I’m going to wear the same clothes I’ve done my long runs in, race in my trusty Ghost 4’s, and take GU somewhere between miles 6-7 while alternating Gatorade and water at each aid station. I’m going to run the paths I’ve been running, and while I might take a spin class this week, I’m going to resist trying anything that will make me sore or that I haven’t done in a while. I’m looking at you BodyPump, yoga, and pilates. It’s also not the time to try out a new sushi restaurant that I’m unfamiliar with.


3. Wear comfortable shoes (like not these).

My job requires that I’m on my feet and walking around a good portion of the day. This week I’m going to make an extra effort to wear flats that offer good support. There’s nothing worse than developing blisters from work shoes that rub in exactly the same spot as my running shoes.

4. Take extra good care of myself.

Sleep, healthy “clean” foods, and lots and lots of water.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Running Rev’d

We’re within 2 weeks of the Women’s Half Marathon – Nashville. Driving home from work today, I saw signs up along my route warning people that the roads would be shut down the morning of September 24th. Even though I’m ready, it’s hard to believe that it’s that soon.

I had a stellar 12 mile run on Saturday with a running group that was a bit too fast for me. I panicked a little after seeing the pace of the first two miles, but I settled into my groove and was able to hang on and enjoy the ride. The cooler, drier weather was a blessing, and even with the much faster pace, I felt better than I did on my 11-miler the week before.

This is my third week of my new position as a chaplain at a pediatrics’ hospital. I’ve done chaplaincy work before on a shorter-term basis, and I think it has a lot of running corollaries. Running makes me a better chaplain, and being a chaplain makes me a better runner.

Now that I’ve been running for just over a year, I’m realizing that I do it less and less for its visible effects on my body and more for the therapeutic aspect. When I run in the morning before heading to the hospital, it’s me time - time to set up my intentions for the day, wake up my body, and get my physical, spiritual, and mental juices flowing. When I run in the evening, it’s my time to debrief, be angry, be grateful, and turn stuff over in my head so I can leave it for the night. Running is my time to take care of myself, both physically and mentally, so that I can take care of my patients.


And while it doesn’t feel like it when I’m rolling out of bed at 5 am, I GET to run. I used to greet statements like that with some eye-rolling because I never understood it, but now I do. I GET to run and be outside and go to beautiful outlooks like the one above or just enjoy how green my normal running path is lately. An 18 year-old girl with leukemia who spent her birthday in the hospital isn’t able to do that, at least not right now. So I’ve started running for the people I meet in the hospital, patients and families, holding them in my heart and praying for them with my feet and my breath.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Running in the Rain

When I signed up earlier last week for the Franklin Classic 10K, I checked the weather report for Labor Day. All clear. Slight chance of showers but cooler and sunny. Perfect Labor Day weather. But then Tropical Storm Lee happened.


The rain started Sunday afternoon and kept on through the night, rarely pouring or storming but always steady. Even in the early morning darkness of Monday morning, I could hear the rain pitter-patter away. Well, I thought, maybe the rain will scare everyone away from the race, and I’ll come away with an age group prize! Wishful thinking.

In my having-woken-up-too-many-mornings-at-5-o’clock haze, I pointed the car towards downtown Franklin, got myself parked in the garage, and realized I had no idea where I was going. Fortunately, I was able to follow some runners to the mass of people in City Hall getting race numbers, t-shirts, and chips. I found my mom passing out chips, and even though she had to get up early to volunteer, she didn’t seem too upset about not running. I had not looked up the course, and she warned about the one big hill between miles 1 and 2. Having weaved my way through the crowds, I went back to the car, which was on an unknown floor of the parking garage. By sheer instinct, I found my car again and ditched the race t-shirt, jogged a few steps, bounced around while I stood in line for the bathroom, and headed to the start line.

This race actually had us line up according to expected pace, which was really nice. There wasn’t any second-guessing about whether I was in the right spot, trying to judge by how people looked if I would be trapped behind 5 people walking side-by-side on one hand or getting mowed over by cross-country team members on the other. After a gun misfire and a false start, we were off through the still-steady rain. With a good-sized crowd, I was trying to focus on running my own race and not getting caught up in the people passing me, and I hit the first mile at around 9:30. Not as fast as I would’ve liked, but it wasn’t feeling too tough either. I was holding back a little for the hill that was coming, and I waited and waited but no hill. Finally, right at the 2 mile marker (9:05!), the uphill began. Chug, chug, chug, I think I can. I know I can. Up the hill followed by a few more rolls in the terrain. Can I get a downhill? Mile 3 (9:28) and an aid station that I successfully ran through without dumping water all over myself. Not that it would’ve mattered with the rain.


By this point, the people around me who were obviously out for some kind of leisurely stroll while chatting with their friends were killing me. They’re holding a conversation, and I’m huffing and puffing, while we’re running the same pace. Not cool. Trying not to be miserable or stop to walk. Trying to focus on the last half of the race. Mile 4 in 9:17, definitely feeling my PR dreams slip away. Oh well, We did a little out and back where I saw that a guy juggling while running and an old guy in a track suit running barefoot (not in Vibrams, literally, BAREFOOT) were in front of me. Screw that part about running my own race. I picked it up. Mile 5 in 9:03. Unless I found some rocket blasters, a PR is definitely not happening. One more mile of pain. 10 more minutes of pain. Ching-ching-ching-ching Why did the guy in front of me decide to carry change in his pockets? Blast by him. Why does this course have an uphill into the finish? Finally I started to recognize the names of the streets and know we’re close.

 2011-09-05 07.57.16

Main Street downtown! The church where I got married, stores, people lining the streets cheering. I see my dad and wave to him as he takes a picture. Good dad of a blogger. I kick it in to pass the stupid guy juggling and stop my watch. 57:33, over a minute slower than my PR, but given the 11 miles two days before, the rain and the hills, and the bottle of wine I drank the night before (Oops, didn’t mention that), I’m pretty happy with my tune-up race. I was 18/46 in my age group, and I’m always pleased when I’m the top 50% of finishers. I felt strong and totally ready for the Women’s Half in 3 weeks!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Need for Speed

Of all of the words I might use to describe myself and my running, “fast” is not one of them. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was slow either. It seems to be a universal truth that there will always be people faster than you and slower than you, so it doesn’t do too much good to compare to other people. But I would like to run faster. I’m envious of people that simply run for fitness rather than to race but do it at a pace that would leave me clutching my chest a 1/2 mile later.


For me, it’s not just a lack of Shalane Flanagan-like physical giftedness. I’M AFRAID. I’m afraid of running fast. Well, not the actual running fast. I’m afraid of crashing and burning or passing out or throwing up. True story.

So I’ve been running consistently for about a year and have just started to do actual speed work, things like intervals and tempo runs. Because I don’t have access am too lazy to go to a track, I do my intervals on the treadmill. It’s better for me mentally because I just set the treadmill to the speed prescribed by my SmartCoach and try to hang on.

Last Thursday’s speed session:


1 mile warm-up, 3 X 1600 @ 8:44 pace (essentially 5K pace) with 800 jogs in between, 1 mile cool-down.

Joe asked me how I felt, and I said, “Well, it was hard, but I didn’t fall off the treadmill or puke.” He looked at me like I was crazy. I realized that I actually am afraid of puking or falling off the treadmill. It’s why I don’t want to go fast. I don’t really trust that my body can go fast. My body does other things well like climbing hills or running for a long time but fast is kind of a foreign and uncomfortable concept.

Doing some speed work has actually taught me that I’m faster than I think and that speed work can be kind of fun. I NEVER run sub-9:00/mile when I’m just out for a jog. That’s reserved for race speed only, so it’s cool to see what I am capable of.


With the Women’s Half less than a month away, I thought it would be useful to see where I’m at race-wise with a 10K. So on Monday, I’m running in the Franklin Classic, a race I’ve never been able to participate in because my graduate institution didn’t believe in celebrating Labor Day. I’m pumped but a little scared. This is my first race in several months, so I’ll be interested to see how I do and will definitely give you a race recap!

Is anyone else afraid of running fast or is that just a weird me-thing?