December 1, 2013

December 1

Total time: 15 min
Total distance: 1.22 miles

First run after a two-week break... ugh. That was really not fun, y'all. I could feel the progress slowly undoing itself. Maybe I'm just being dramatic, but... yeesh. It's kind of a good thing I'm a little anal-retentive about my minimum requirements for a run. I want to keep a baseline of always running at least a mile every time to make it "count." Geez, will you listen to me? It still blows my mind when I think back over the last year. A mile or it doesn't count. Just a mile, no big deal, just a short little run... a mile is kind of a long way, though. Especially for me, when I started. The first time I ran a mile last year, I wanted to jump up and down with excitement (though I'm guessing I didn't have the required energy afterward). It was a BIG deal. And now I'm almost dismissive of it. I think that's kind of a testament to how far I've come, and I'm proud of myself for setting that new standard for myself.

In other news, the snow is starting to creep in... I think you can see some in the back of the picture. We'll see how winter plays out. If I had space and a few extra hundred dollars lying around, I'd invest in my own treadmill or something, but as it is... neither of those is applicable. I guess I'll figure it out. Ha.

November 16, 2013

November 16 - Chocolate Charity Run (5K)

Total time: 38:44 min
Total distance: 2.78 miles*

*This was supposed to be a 5K but it appears as though they mis-measured the race route. Grump.

This 5K is sort-of new this year... I say sort-of, because Chocolaterie Stam, the chocolate shop that sponsored this race, used to co-sponsor the Hot Chocolate Race in the past... which is how I knew about it in the first place. LOVE me some Stam... their bonbons are amazing. I digress. They broke off from the HCR in order to be able to do it more their way, and to be able to donate more directly to charity. They paired up with the organizers of the Des Moines Marathon and I have to say, I was really impressed with this race, except for one minor detail, which I'll get to later.

Their charity recipient is the John Stoddard Cancer Center, which is a major medical facility here in Central Iowa - so it was nice that the money was going to a local charity. They announced before the race how much money they were going to be able to donate, and I wish I could remember what they said, because it seemed like a lot. More than I would have expected from any event, let alone a 'new' event. The route was in a different part of downtown Des Moines than the other ones I've done, so it was nice to have a change of scenery (a lot of the other routes overlapped, even if slightly.) It was a fairly chilly day - hey, it's mid-November! - and they had a lot of space and vendor tables inside where people could wait. They had a fondue station too for after... the chocolate dipped banana I ended up with was pretty amazing. Not to mention the hot chocolate, which was also refreshing, once I'd consumed some water.

As for the race itself, I was a little disappointed in how I did. I guess that's what I get for taking a week off. On the one hand, I felt really good - it wasn't exactly warm, and the sky was gray, but as I got warmed up it felt just right. Even better, the rain held off, which was good because that would have been realllllllllly cold. Mentally, I was in a great place. Physically... well. I was just kind of slow. I felt like I was going slow and it was frustrating.I think once I landed on a song that seemed to properly motivate me to keep a solid pace, I just kept playing it on repeat. For the entire race.

When I crossed the finish line and checked my time, I was incredibly surprised to see that my time was faster than I expected - a new PR?! Maybe I hadn't been going as slow as I thought! ...But according to my UP band, the distance fell short of an actual, full 5K - I crossed the finish line at 2.78 miles. HUGE bummer! (This was the only bit of the race that I didn't love - they mismeasured the route! Hopefully they will fix it for next year. My ONLY complaint about the whole thing.)

At any rate, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and energy of this race and I am currently planning on giving it another go next year. I love how local this one is - from the organizers to the charity recipient. And hey, chocolate.

November 10, 2013

November 10

Total time: 25 mins
Total distance: 2.05 miles

Definitely slowing down as fall creeps on. Not sure if it's the colder weather setting in or what - or the fact that it's dark by the time I get home from work, so I can really only run on the weekends. I really impressed myself with this run - I was ready to quit after a mile, but I pushed through. I wanted to make it count since I suspect that the number of outside running days for the rest of the year is limited. Plus, I have another 5K next weekend again! Gotta keep sharp!

You'll see in the photo the snazzy jacket from the Hot Chocolate Race - it's really quite comfortable. It's a tad on the cheaply-made side (I am skeptical as to how long that zipper will last) but the fit isn't quite so tight like the other jackets I have. This is even after I traded in for a size down after the race. It's pretty too - bright ultraviolet with neon orange trim. I suspect I will wear this one a lot.

At any rate - not a terrible pace, even for feeling so sluggish! Hoping to finish the year strong before I get snowed in. Not sure what I'm going to do when the Weather hits. Try to find a treadmill somewhere, I guess.

November 3, 2013

November 3 - Hot Chocolate Race (5K)

Total time: 41:22 minutes
Total distance: 3.22 miles

I was equally nervous and excited for this race for a variety of reasons. It was the first 5K that I'd participated in since the Color Run back in July, and that was definitely a novelty run that was intended to be leisurely walked/hopped/skipped through. This was going to be an "actual" 5K - all running, no gimmicks. Well, unless you count receiving hot chocolate at the end a gimmick, in which case, I shan't argue the case with you. Most of all, this was going to be the first 5K I would be participating in that was officially chip-timed. I've never been officially timed before and, honestly, I thought it was kind of neat to be able to finally do.

This particular 5K, the Hot Chocolate Race, has been around for a few years. I almost, almost got persuaded to sign up for it last year by one of my friends, but I knew I was nowhere near ready to run a 5K. The charity partner for this race was Above + Beyond Cancer - not really here nor there but I'm noting it for my records.

This particular race took place the weekend after Halloween, so I wasn't sure if the expectation was to wear a costume or not. Based on photos from previous events, it looked like there were a smattering of festive participants, but for the most part, it was just straight up simple running gear. Additionally, the temperature was supposed to be a bit cooler, which meant a bit of bundling. The registration fee also included a nifty fleece jacket, which I had full intentions of wearing during the race (if for no other reason than to differentiate this race day photo from other runs) but imagine my surprise when the size I ordered was way too big. You can never be sure what to expect with the sizing of women's fitnesswear; most of the time it runs small and so you have to plan accordingly. Not this time! Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me trade out the jacket for a smaller size until after the race was over, so I kept my trusty old jacket on instead. I'm sure you'll see that jacket pop up on some of my other normal runs in the future.

Pre-race, it was pretty chilly. I was factoring in the fact that I'd probably warm up once I started running, which I'm glad I did, because if I'd added any additional layers I would have been miserable. As it was, I wanted to rip my jacket off after about two miles but then I'd have to carry it somehow so I just left it, quietly cursing at it for the last bit of the run.

The race website advertised it as being a nice, flat, fast course, tempting people to sign up for it with the possibility that they could break their PR for the year. I strongly suspect that at some point near the eleventh hour, they changed that route... because it was not flat at all. I mean, it wasn't monstrously hilly or anything (this is central Iowa we're talking about) but there were a lot of inclines and little hills and, frankly, it was kind of challenging for me. I struggled. Not to the point where I thought maybe I wouldn't finish - no, I was determined to finish - but enough that I had to constantly pep-talk myself. I also had to stop and tie my shoes which was supremely annoying but I was able to start running again without any hesitation or problem.

It was a relief to cross the finish line. In the end, my own finish time wasn't really that far off from the Official finish time. It was not my finest performance, but the important thing is that I was NOT LAST.

In case you can't read the stats in my image below (screencapped from the website), I finished:

Overall place: 415 out of 550
Division place: 41 out of 55 (female 25-29)
Gender place: 295 out of 414

Which means that out of everyone running, I beat 135 of them. Out of the other ladies in my age range, I was ahead of 14 other people, and out of all the ladies of all the ages, I beat 119 people. Which probably means I simply beat the people that walked a lot. I will admit that I was passed at least once by someone with a stroller. It's okay. Some of those stroller people are fit, man.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race, it was pretty well organized and I really liked having the chip timer aspect. I don't generally like to compare myself with other people because I am slow and it will be years before I'm able to be competitive (if ever), but it was still fun to have a benchmark. I will likely do this one again next year so long as the registration fees stay reasonable.

Sadly, out of all the post-race photos they posted, I didn't seem to be in any of them. I'm really curious to see if I still look like I'm barely moving like I did in the photos from the 80s Run 5K. Maybe next year!

October 29, 2013

October 29

Total time: 15 minutes
Total distance: 1.24 miles

Tonight's weather was perfect. If I could clone it for every day, I would. The temperature was in the upper fifties, it was overcast, there was the slightest of breezes but it wasn't windy... basically, this is the weather that I would love to run in every day.

While the problem of cold was temporarily solved, another issue is fast approaching: the end of Daylight Savings Time. Long gone are the days when I can hit the trail at 8pm and have it be light out long enough for me to run. It gets dark now around 6:30. And after this weekend, it will be dark at 5:30, because we have to turn our stupid clocks back an hour. It's always been a mere annoyance, having it be dark when I leave work, but I've never been so acutely aware of the rapidly disappearing daylight as I have been lately. I took it for granted until this summer, when I started paying close attention so that I could schedule my runs. And I've watched helplessly as that time slips away a little more each week. I'm at the end of the road, now. This will be my last week of being able to run in the evening with any daylight left at all, unless I reconfigure my work schedule and come in early so I can leave earlier. Given my sleep problems, I highly doubt that's going to happen.

On the bright side, even if I have to resort to a treadmill, I've still got a few more weeks left of being able to run outside on the weekend until it gets absolutely too cold. Or icy. I'm more concerned about ice than the cold, really. I'm okay with bundling up. I'm not okay with slipping and falling on my face.

But in the meantime, tonight was a lovely run and I wish I could have gone longer, because I was feeling pretty good... but I want to save my stamina for this weekend's 5K. I'll probably do one more mile run (probably on Friday - I have no real plans for Halloween but I'd like to leave the night open just in case!) and then Sunday is showtime.

October 26, 2013

October 26

Total time: 26 mins
Total distance: 2.11 miles

I'm noticing a huge change from just a few months ago and I can't help but wonder if the weather isn't partially responsible. Sure, it's cold... but when it was hot and muggy in August, it was all I could do to get through a mile. Lately, when given enough time and enough daylight, I seem to be doing pretty well with distance.

It used to be that the first mile was easy and the second (or beyond) was the hard part. I've found the opposite to be true lately. If I can get through the first mile, the second (or third) becomes the easier part. Not that it's "easy" - but it's usually by that point that I've found a steady pace and I just keep going until I hit a designated stopping place.

I'm hoping this theory holds true into the upcoming weekend - it's almost 5K time again! Eek!

October 22, 2013

October 22

Total time: 14 min
Total distance: 1.2 miles

There's no denying that it's getting colder. Which means I'm going to have to come up with a plan for the miserable and cold winter months. Probably a treadmill, which means I'll probably have to join a gym or fitness club or something. Yech. I'd rather run outside. Not only does a treadmill feel monotonous but if it's in a gym with other people, that kind of ruins the solitude of it. There are other runners (and cyclists and pedestrians) on my trail at any given time too, but it's different. We pass each other with a nod or a smile (or sometimes a wave). It's freedom. A gym is confinement.

At any rate, the temperature on my phone said it was the same as Sunday, but it felt a lot colder to me. Maybe because it was a shorter run and I didn't have as much time to get warmed up. I don't know. But I could feel the chill this time.

Interestingly enough, this is the fastest pace I've held in a while.

October 20, 2013

October 20

Total time: 53 minutes
Total distance: 4.29 miles

Today was one of those runs that kind of re-affirms for me why I'm even doing any of this. It also re-affirms my theory that the first mile sucks and if I can get past the 1.5/2 mile mark, then I'm generally good to go for a while longer.

I used to have an easy time getting started - the first five to ten minutes were the best and easiest, and the eleven to twenty minute set was where I struggled. Somehow, that's shifted. The first two minutes are great (and usually faster than they should be) and then I struggle to find my pace. I don't know if it's because of the weird downhill/uphill soft slope of the first part of my route that it just takes me until I'm on level ground to settle down, or what. But I have found that I've had to mentally push myself through that first mile. (Which is really annoying when I only run about a mile - that means the whole thing sucks!).

Then there's the pivot point where I either (a) stop or (b) decide to go for the 2nd mile. That little stretch there kind of sucks too, but once I'm in the no-man's land of the road that loops around the baseball field at the edge of the park, well - I'm in it to finish it, because there's no good spot to stop and turn back.

I'm not exactly sure where the edge of my two-mile route is, so oftentimes I will run a little extra just to be sure that I've cemented that milestone. And sometimes, during that "little extra" - I decide to keep going. Recently, I've found that Mile 3 is the best mile. I've found my pace, and it's slow, but I keep chugging along and I'm usually feeling pretty good about things at that point. It's magical and I wish I could get to that point every day, but I'm not there yet. (Maybe next year??).

At any rate, once I finished my "5K" route- I decided to keep going. So I circled the baseball field again. I honestly thought about trying for a fifth mile when I was done - it was tempting. But I could feel the fatigue setting in and I opted against it. The fact that I was able to do four miles again, though. That was huge! I felt like I picked up where I had left off at my peak from this summer. (Additionally, if I had known how close I was to my PR (currently standing at 55 minutes), I definitely would have kept going. Unfortunately I didn't have a watch with me so I had no idea how long I'd been going. Bummer.)

There was a combination of things contributing to the success of today's run, I think. A lot of newness. It was one of my first sub-40 degree runs since May (yes, May, with our freak snow and all that) and I got to take some of my new cold-weather gear for a spin. I also had a new pair of headphones. I knew that my clunky over-ear phones weren't going to fly with any winter hats or earbands, so I finally decided to try the Yurbuds that were designed specifically for lady ears. I hate earbuds. They fall out and they're uncomfortable. These were recommended by one of my runner friends and they're designed to be smaller so they don't fall out. I was skeptical but I needed something, so I decided to try them out. Instead of just sticking them in your ear and hoping for the best, you sort of twist them to lock them in place. They stayed put the entire time, though I'm not sure if it's because they were actually locked in place, or if it was because my snug earband was holding them in place. Either way, they stayed put, they had great sound, and they really didn't bother me at all until I was walking home and kind of adjusted one - so, after about an hour, they were sort of starting to hurt my ear a bit, but that's not too shabby. I think I'll keep 'em.

New gear aside, the fact that it was cold actually helped a lot. Because it felt really nice once I had gotten fully warmed up and sweaty. I was really comfortable for my entire run. It wasn't until I stopped and stretched and started home that I realized how cold it "suddenly" was again. This was particularly promising because that means that I can continue to run outside this winter, as long as it's (a) above freezing (gotta draw the line somewhere) and (b) not icy. Ice + running = seems like a bad idea.

But, cheers to a great run, I'm hoping maybe I can squeeze in a couple one-milers this week then another 3 miles on Saturday or Sunday, because I've got a 5K coming up that first week of November and I really really want to finish it strong. It's my first chip-timed race so it feels all sorts of official. :)

October 17, 2013

October 17

Total time: 16 minutes
Total distance: 1.34 miles

I've made it pretty clear that I'm not terribly keen on running in the dark, but I had some company on my run today so that helped alleviate whatever strange paranoia stems from lack of light. Just a quick run around the perimeter of my park before heading to my neighbor's house for an at-home catalog party (I warned her I would either be sweaty or late - turns out, it was a combination of both).

Nothing remarkable about this run but it felt good all the same. I'm starting to adopt a pattern of running a mile (ish) a couple times a week and then getting in one big, long run - usually on the weekend, since that's when I have the most daylight to work with. It's starting to get dark around 6:30-7ish now, which is absolutely awful, because that's when I would leave for my run in the summer. Oh, well. I guess I'd better get used to it. I'm probably going to have to start running inside on a treadmill during the week once winter comes because I won't have any daylight at all once I leave work.

And yes, I am being photobombed in my photo.

October 14, 2013

October 14

Total time: 15:57 mins
Total distance: 1.31 miles

I've gotten used to the first run of the week being rather crappy. The exception is if I do my weekend run on a Sunday, which is arguably the beginning of the week, but in some cases it also functions as the end of the week if I don't get to go on Saturday. But for a Monday or Tuesday run, I need to learn not to expect much.

This run, while as far as I expected, needed to be rather short anyway, as I was squeezing it in quick before I had to head to a sleep study appointment. Long story short: my sleeping patterns suck and I want to fix them so I can function like a normal human being again. Running doesn't seem to really throw off my sleep one way or the other... sometimes it makes me tired and sleep better, sometimes it doesn't. But I had to get one in because otherwise I'd have gone too many days without... I generally don't like to go more than two or three otherwise I tend to feel like I regress on my progress.

October 11, 2013

October 11

Total time: 17 minutes
Total distance: 1.3 miles

It's always hard to follow a "good" run. Good by my terms generally means 2+ miles because I don't really feel like I've accomplished anything unless I go at least that far. Which amazes me every time I think about it, given how hard it used to be to simply run a mile. Now, I refuse to run less than that.

It's especially hard after a 5K-equivalent run. Because after I accomplish one of those, I feel like I can take on the world! If I can do it once, I can do it again! Except, I can't. That usually wipes me out for the week. Which is why this run was disappointing, because I was trying to achieve another good run (not another 3 miles, necessarily, but... more than one at least!) and I had to stop sooner than I would have liked. Not to mention the fact that I was struggling to keep a sub-13 minute mile pace. (And by "struggling to keep" I mean "I ran really really slow").

But, that's how the cookie crumbles, I guess. Still, a run is a run, and I did manage to get this one on the books.

October 8, 2013

October 8

Total time: 42:55 minutes
Total distance: 3.26 miles

Today was a perfectly lovely fall day and I had nothing on my calendar for the evening, which is getting to be a rare occurrence these days. As such, my brain made the executive decision to go for a run after work. I was pretty indifferent to the idea. It’s become a pretty solid habit, even if I am marginally lacking so me of my enthusiasm from earlier this summer.

When I started running, I wasn’t sure how it would go. The initial stretch felt good but it wasn’t long before my legs started to feel heavy. Last week, I’d mentally forced myself into running two miles – I debated whether I wanted to do it again tonight. I decided to just run my mile and see where I was after that. I’d done a lot of walking over the weekend so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I only did a mile today. 

There would be other opportunities to run the two miles this week – the forecast is calling for sunny 70s all week.

So I ran my mile route and it felt okay, but not great. I decided to force myself to do the two mile route – I mean, hey, if I do it today, that means I can run shorter distances the rest of the week. Might as well knock it out while I was here. It was a lovely evening for running or just simply being outside, so I didn’t protest too hard.

I felt myself slow down significantly as I entered Mile 2 and slogged my way through it – “slog” being the operative word. It was slow and sluggish – not terrible, but I had to pep-talk my way through it.

Then, something odd happened. As I was finishing that mile, I suddenly found my groove. I’m going to try for three! It was a decision I made without really realizing it until I was already into it. If I could pull it off, it would definitely prove to myself that I could do it, and it would make me a lot less anxious about running my 5Ks next month. I had already run more than I’d planned on, so however long I went was a bonus.

Mile 3 felt fantastic. Mile 1 was okay, Mile 2 sucked, but Mile 3… Mile 3 was a feeling I’d been missing for months. I jogged along happily and at one point I realized I’d actually picked up my pace. (My average pace ended up being Not Amazing, but I don’t think that disproves what I felt. It just meant that  Mile 1 and especially 2 were reallllllly slow). It almost felt like I was going too fast, considering that I was on my third mile, but it felt great, and I had no desire to slow down. It reminded me of one of my earlier runs from that summer, where I felt like I was Actually Running instead of just trudging along.

Honestly, if it hadn’t started to get dark at that point, I may have even kept going and tried for Mile 4. I had a burst of energy while I was walking home and randomly ran about a block at what was left of “full speed” but I was kind of bummed that it was time to go home. It’s probably good that I stopped when I did, though, because I developed a nice big blister on my left foot that was getting quite painful by the time I got home. Lame.

October 3, 2013

October 3

Total time: 16 min
Total distance: 1.3 miles

This was a rather uneventful run. It was a nice lovely fall day and... that's really all there is to say about it. (Partially because I waited so long to post this recap that I literally don't remember anything about it other than that it happened - I'm almost three weeks behind on my recaps, don't let the post date fool you, I'm assigning it to their actual day so I don't get backlogged again.)

September 28, 2013

September 28

Total time: 30 minutes
Total distance: 2.33 miles

I decided to perform a little experiment with my run today. The last run had sucked; I was feeling a little defeated and I needed to prove something to myself. That I could do what I set out to do.

So I told myself that I was going to run two miles.

Whether I felt like it or not. Whether my legs were heavy or not. Whether I was in "the groove" or not. I was going to force myself to do it. Not like other days when I start off with the grand ambitious idea of running X amount of minutes or X amount of miles and then adapt to what I feel like for the day, which usually (though not always) ends up being shorter.

I told myself that I was going to run two miles... and I ran two miles. And some change.

It felt really good to be able to do that. Not only because last week I was all "two miles or bust" (though that did cross my mind), but just knowing that I could, in fact, do what I set out to do. That was a motivation boost that I really needed.

September 26, 2013

September 26

Total time: 14:59 minutes
Total distance: 1.16 miles

The good news is, the two 5Ks that I thought were coming up in October are actually in November (whew!) so I have a lot more time to get back into my groove.

The bad news is, I'm probably going to need that much time, as rapidly as I feel like I'm regressing.

I have never wanted to quit in the middle of a run quite so badly as I did tonight. Sure, I've been miserable and there were a few times when I was on the verge of tears, but I always pushed on, and quitting hadn't been an option. Today, though - there was a point when I swear my legs almost stopped moving as I trudged up the incline to cross the bridge on my way back. I felt like I was going to drop on the ground right then and there, and it's not like I was running some great, impressive distance. I hadn't even completed my mile yet.

Not sure what my deal was today, maybe it was just an off day, or, possibly (and more likely), all my birthday feasting was finally catching up with me. Maybe I'm just heavier right now and was struggling to adjust for the extra weight. I don't know. I walked another mile after I finished the first one, because hey, activity is activity. I also jogged for a little stretch toward the end but I didn't bother to track it. It was a bonus.

Interestingly enough, even though it felt worse, this run was nearly identical to Tuesday's run. Same distance, same pace - just three seconds slower. I didn't notice it until I put together my recap photo and saw it next to the last one.

I'm really hoping to get back up to two miles soon, maybe next week. If I can do two miles consistently, I'll be a lot less nervous about trying to do three when it counts. I will need to push myself harder again instead of letting myself talk myself into stopping at a mile under the guise of "hey, at least you ran" and "a mile's not bad" - ugh, I'm terrible. Two miles or bust next week, guys. I will take away my ice cream and my pumpkin spice lattes if I need to. I mean it.

September 24, 2013

September 24

Total time: 14:56 minutes
Total distance: 1.16 miles

The inherent problem with not wearing a watch is that I don't know when I'm so close to the next minute to keep running for, say, another four seconds. Alas. I still maintain that it's nice to be free of it, though I suppose at some point I suppose I should get it back out. I felt like I did better with it - sure, it was frustrating, but it kept me on task. I ran longer. I was trying to beat my previous times - not for speed, but for endurance.

It's worth mentioning that yesterday was my birthday. This is most relevant to the overall scheme of health and running and fitness because I've been an absolute glutton the last 48 hours or so. I mean, I love that people want to celebrate with me and take me out to dinner... but three meals out in a row is starting to make me concerned about my, uh, weight management. I've been pretty lax with things anyway - I haven't counted calories for months and I've done an okay job of not over-eating, or eating just to eat. But these last couple days have been rough on me, probably more mentally than physically. There's an inherent amount of guilt that goes along with such a binge, because in the back of my mind, I "know better" - and I'm afraid of ballooning up again. Frankly, I haven't made that much progress on the weight loss goals this time around, so it's not that far removed. But, instead of berating myself on my indiscretions (thanks, society!), I simply told myself that I was required to run today.

I was expecting it to be a much more difficult run than it was... though I didn't go that far. I won't let myself run less than a mile... which may not be that much, to some people (and it doesn't feel like a lot to me, either, except when I'm in the middle of it, and not even always then), but considering where I was when I started, the fact that I have set that as my baseline... well, that's not too shabby. Because running a mile was something that I used to not be able to do at all... and now it's something that I do every time. That's something, right?

September 21, 2013

September 21

Total time: 16 min
Total distance: 1.3 miles

There was nothing particularly remarkable about this run. It followed a day of errands which also seemed to result in a truckload of pumpkin-flavored goodies... which, frankly, was reason enough to go for a run. We're getting into dangerous territory with fall flavors and impending holidays. I'm already starting to be concerned about what this is going to do for my waistline. Here's hoping that all my running this summer has boosted my metabolism and that I have a fighting chance at minimizing the damage done...

September 19, 2013

September 15

Total time: 13 minutes
Total distance: 1.08 miles

Fall is finally starting to settle in, and I could not be more pleased. It's my favorite season for a thousand reasons that I can't even begin to name, and I'm adding reason #1001 to the list: it's awesome running weather. For me, anyway. Some people love to run when it's scorching hot outside (my dad is one of those people). Some people love to run in the middle of winter. I like to run when it's comfortable. I also like to run in pants and a jacket, so this pleases me.

Today was almost too great - it was incredibly cool and there was a nice soft breeze and it looked like it could rain at any time. However, I was an hour and a half away from my running trail and while the thought crossed my mind to bring my shoes with me, I decided against it. The last few family get-togethers we've had didn't allow any time for sneaking off for a run... so, go figure, this afternoon was pretty chill and there would have been plenty of time. So I started to get a bit anxious around 4:00 - allowing for drive time, I was trying to mentally calculate how late I could leave, and still allow myself some daylight. I don't like running at night. And I would have been very sad to have missed out on running today.

I got held up in road work traffic coming home (naturally), but even so, I was able to dart upstairs, do a quick costume change, and hit the trail just as dusk was starting to settle. Some of the streetlights were starting to come on here and there, but I figured I had enough time to run about a mile or so. I tried a slightly different route, combining my 1 mile route + 2 mile route, but cutting out the mile that goes through the heavily wooded area that just seems like it would be creepy when it is dark. As suspected, this gave me a new 1-mile route, with the added bonus of eliminating a turnaround point. (Having to slow down to turn around always feels like it jostles my momentum a bit). My legs complained a little bit but the whole run went smoother than expected, considering that Grandma's House = Food. Lots of Food.

September 18, 2013

September 12

Total time: 29 minutes
Total distance: 2.2 miles

I'm signed up for two 5Ks in October.

This thought has been creeping into the back of my mind on all the days where I either (a) don't run or (b) have a crappy run. It seems like such a feat to be able to run that far again, even though it was something I did just a month or so ago. I know I can do it; I just don't know if I can do it again right now. Oy. This is extra worrisome because these are "real" 5Ks - they aren't gimmicky runs like the Color Run (which have their place, of course), but actual runs, with most people running them... and they're even chip timed! I've never done a chip-timed race before. My goal, really, is to just not come in last. Or, I mean, even if I come in last, I'm still in "JUST FINISH" mode.

So with each passing day where I barely eke out a mile, I get a little bit concerned about the fact that I have to run over 3 miles on command. That's... a daunting thought, right now.

I felt much more hopeful after tonight's run, though. Because while I felt myself slow down considerably after my first mile, I made it through a second mile (and change) before calling it quits. I didn't want to push myself too hard but, had today been race day, I could have slogged my way through another mile, I'm pretty sure. I thought about attempting it tonight, but I didn't want to overdo it. This is the first time I've run 2+ miles in over a month, after all.

I feel like I'm starting to get back into my rhythm again. As a bonus, it's finally starting to cool down, too.

September 17, 2013

September 4

Total time: 15:44 mins
Total distance: 1.27 miles

I don't really have a lot to say about this particular run. I've been trying to give myself "rest days" (at least one day off in between runs), not because I necessarily need it physically, but I think it's good for me, mentally. I'm still sort of bouncing back from that spell of bad runs last month and I'm trying to maintain a positive experience with running so I don't, you know, just quit.

This was a nice steady run - again, no watch, just me and the path I wanted to run. It felt good. Adding this to the "win" column.

September 16, 2013

September 2

Total time: 12:59 minutes
Total distance: 1.07 miles

So... I took a long hiatus. Not on purpose, necessarily, but lots of random things popped up, and it didn't help matters that the temperatures skyrocketed and we had the hottest week we'd had all summer. I don't do well in the heat, and while I'd braved the 90-degree temps earlier and gotten a few runs in, once that number ticks over into three digits... I'm out. I will stay inside in the A/C.

I was just about to hunt down a treadmill when the weather finally gave us a break, so I took advantage of having Labor Day off and headed on up to the park. I left the watch at home again, since it had felt so good last time, and I knew that coming off a small break might be a bit challenging, and... I was one second short of the next minute. D'oh. That's what you get when you can't see what you're doing, I guess.

My pace was pretty decent too... I felt like I was running a little too fast, which is kind of funny in a way, because this isn't even the fastest I've run all summer (there was a stretch where I was actually under a 12 minute mile, hard to believe). Even so, it felt pretty good, and I'm getting pretty adept at guessing where my mile markers are, ish. I think that will help with being able to run for longer without obsessing over how long it's taking me to do so.

September 15, 2013

August 19

Total time:18 mins
Total distance: 1.44 miles

I did something completely different for this run.

I ditched my watch.

I am a compulsive watch-checker. It gives me a good idea of my distance (give or take a couple minutes) because - usually - I'm pretty consistent with my pace. Lately, though, I've been slower than usual, and each check of the wrist seems to create a mental block of some form.

So I took the advice of one of my good friends who has been running much longer than me, and I just... didn't. I took my watch off as I walked to the park and attached it to my pouch-belt-thing and didn't even look at it. I simply started the stopwatch mode on my UP band when I was ready to start and I just ran until I felt like I needed to stop. I know my path well enough to know my approximate distances, but I wasn't concerned about how long it was taking me to get there. I just... ran.

And it was amazing.

This was definitely one of the best runs I've had in a long, long time. I think the no-watch run might need to be a regular feature.

September 12, 2013

August 17

Total time: 15 minutes
Total distance: 1.25 miles

I've been a bit behind on my updates - which is probably just some side effect of laziness, I don't know. The problem with this is that I'm really kind of drawing a blank on the details of the remainder of the August runs.

All I remember about this one is that I managed to return to my (relatively) faster pace, but I could only keep it up for fifteen minutes. But it was progress. I also remember being incredibly discouraged because the mere thought of running a 5K again seemed impossible - even though I'd been doing them. Recently.

But: I'm sticking with it. I went out and ran. So that's something.

August 20, 2013

August 11

Total time: 10 minutes
Total distance: 0.84 miles

After another disappointing run at the lake, I had a hard time getting motivated to get back out there. It was almost a week before I laced up my shoes again and went out to attempt to run. I decided to return to my usual park, since I knew the trail really well, and it could accommodate a shorter run. If it was truly a mental block at having a long distance laid out before me, then returning to my familiar path should help that.

I had no grand ambitions of running for a long time today. I didn't even expect to try to run a full mile. I was going to run ten minutes - to the end of my turnaround point, approximately, and then I would walk home. However fast I could run it, however slow, I was just going to try to get back into the groove and get my legs working again. It felt a lot like starting over, which is always frustrating, but it's become obvious that I can't do longer distances right now, for whatever reason.

So I ran my ten minutes and then stopped. Back when I was at my peak a few weeks ago, I would run until I reached an arbitrary time and then I would stop - and I always felt good when I was done, almost like I could keep going and going. Lately, I've had to force myself to a good stopping time and when I was done, I felt done. If that makes sense? Maybe not. But today, when I stopped, I felt like I used to - that maybe I could keep going. I didn't, though. I didn't want to overdo it and I didn't want to be disappointed when I couldn't keep going. But the fact that I felt like I could, was encouraging.

August 19, 2013

August 5

Total time: 30 minutes
Total distance: 2.06 miles

After such a positive experience at the lake the previous day, I decided to head back out and give it another go. Part of me was pushing for doing another lap again, while the other part of me was toying with the idea of attempting the longer route. I didn't really decide until I reached the point where I would have had to cross the bridge, and then I decided to stick with the perimeter again.

I'm not sure what happened today. I'm not sure whether it was the fact that I was running two days in a row - which I've done before, though I'm not sure the distance was ever this ambitious... which leads me to my other theory, is that my brain got incredibly psyched out by said distance that it panicked. Either way, I was having a very difficult time. I was going slow again, I was ready to quit with every step, and suddenly everything was miserable and awful. I was eagerly anticipating the magic point that I had reached the day before, when the second half of the run seemed easier and smoother, but it didn't happen. It continued to suck, and I eventually came to terms with the fact that I probably wasn't going to make it the whole distance.

It was close; I at least made it to the thirty minute mark. But that's as far as I could go. My pace was incredibly disappointing, too - it hasn't been this slow since I was first starting out. I posted my usual post-run photo collage, with the heavy hearted caption: I am literally getting slower every day. Not even the power of the orange sweatband could help me this time.

My neighbor tried to suggest that it was the humidity, which was nice of him, but I think I'm just getting worse. It's pretty disheartening.

August 18, 2013

August 4

Total time: 35 mi
Total distance: 2.67

I decided to try something new today. There is a lake north of town that has a nice paved trail around it - if you do it right, it equals out to a 5K. I think the trick is to do the "Figure 8" and cross over in the middle when you get to the bridge. I decided to simply run the perimeter of the lake this time as I got my bearings with the "new" trail. I've been out here before, even run little bits of it, but usually it's for leisurely walks. I've never tried to run the whole thing, and I decided that my primary objective this time would be to do a lap and see what the distance was.

The first part of the run was a struggle - seems to be a recurring theme - and it took a lot of mental berating to keep myself going. I knew I was running pretty slowly again and it was just, well, hard. But then the second part, when I rounded the south end of the lake, suddenly felt different. I settled back into my pace, and it suddenly felt good again. It felt like I remembered. And it was significantly more enjoyable than my last few runs.

I stopped at the same place I started, a distance of just over 2.5 miles, confirming my vague recollection that the 5K distance required some looping. Even so, 2.5 miles is nothing to shake a stick at, so I was pretty pleased. Mostly because I finished what I set out to do, and because for the last ten minutes or so, it felt good to run again.

August 17, 2013

August 1

Total time: 25 minutes
Total distance: 1.81 miles

The struggling continues. I'm getting slower, too. I'm not sure why this is - if I'm getting psyched out by the distance (I had intended to do the 2-mile route) or if I'm just physically exhausted right now. I followed the trail as planned but I stopped at 25 minutes - usually, that's enough for 2 miles, but I wasn't surprised to see that it wasn't this time. I think I am going to have to return to simply running for time and ignoring the distance again, even though it was kind of fun to see how far I could go. My pace is slowing down too much to be able to reliably measure it.

Not sure what's happening, it kind of feels like it's in my legs. (And probably my head.) They don't hurt, but they feel a little bit stiff or rubbery - hard to explain. But I've been going slow, and while I was originally talking myself into "finding my pace" as a mantra, I think I overshot that goal and found a new, much slower pace. It was also a struggle to get to that 25 minutes, which is why I stopped there instead of finishing the route - starting to wonder if I imagined that whole "I ran for 4 miles a couple times" thing. Seems so impossible, now.

August 5, 2013

July 30

Total time: 15 mins
Total distance: 1.18 miles

It was kind of dreary all day, and me being the weirdo I am got pretty excited about that fact. I was overdue for a run. So overdue. And yet… and yet, my body wasn’t nearly as enthused as I was, because despite the perfect temperature, it was another disappointing run.

I was mentally berating myself for most of the second half of the run – I had run almost an hour last week, and now I could barely handle the idea of anything over fifteen minutes? Even knowing that I wasn’t planning on running a long time or distance today, my legs felt really heavy and sluggish. I felt slow. I felt, once again, like I was regressing.

I threw in the towel at fifteen minutes, resolving to be better at hitting the trail more often this week and build myself back to where I was. I was almost afraid to check my time when I was done, knowing that I’d been kind of trudging along. Surprisingly, it’s not the slowest I’ve been, but I was back to ~12.8 min/mile again. 

I guess that’s the problem with it feeling like spring again – I’m starting to RUN like it’s spring again. Starting over after a long break. 

August 4, 2013

July 25

Total time: 25 mins
Total distance:  1.79 miles

We’ve had an incredible heat wave lately. It’s been in the 90s, it’s been humid, and even when the humidity was down, it was still just hot. I still managed to get outside and run, and was just starting to acclimate to the hellish weather when something miraculous happened: it rained. And the heat never came back.

It’s barely been over 80 degrees, intermittently cloudy, absolutely perfect outside.

And I’ve been a huge bum.

Each day that went by without a run was a day that I kicked myself and got even more annoyed with myself. But I was busy, or had obligations, or, on some days, I was simply too tired and/or lazy to do anything.

Finally, though, I pulled myself out the front door. I could tell I’d taken some time off. I followed my newly-established “long route” that would get me close to two miles, and somehow or another I managed to run for 25 minutes, but it was the slowest 25 minutes I think I’ve ever run. Distance-wise, I didn’t make it 2 miles, but at that point, I didn’t even care. I was just proud of myself for sticking with it for that long, even though it kind of sucked.

August 3, 2013

July 21 - PR Run!

Total time: 55 mins
Total distance: 4.2 miles

One of my biggest pet peeves about running in the heat is that I get a lot of sweat in my eyes. I mean, I usally wear a hat and/or sunglasses, but it doesn't quite prevent the trickling. I lamented the fact that sweatbands had gone out of style, because frankly, I could use one of those... and then I decided, ah, who cares? And I got myself a sweatband. An orange one, for reasons I'm sure made sense at the time.

Feeling just the slightest bit ridiculous but looking forward to test-driving my new "gear", I set out for a run of indeterminate length. I think I was either hoping to go for a half hour, or, if I was really feeling good, something equivalent to a 5K.

I'm not sure at exactly what point I decided to go for it, but I was soldiering along nicely for quite a while. With the last 2 mile run I'd done with the BF, I'd extended my route by following the road that went behind the baseball field that was attached to the park - one full loop gave me almost 2 miles, so I decided to go ahead and integrate that into today's run. It's better than zig-zagging around and I hate reaching a point and then having to turn around, because that half second of turning feels like a tiny momentum drop. I was going pretty slowly, compared to what I usually do, but I was feeling really good.

So good, I decided to attack my PR.

And before I knew it, I had run fifty-one minutes - technically the new PR, but you know me and how much I like my 5-minute increments. So naturally I had to go another four. It timed out just right that running home from the park instead of walking home would bring me to my doorstep right at around my goal time, so that's where I stopped. Plus the BF told me that he would buy me some frozen yogurt if I made it all the way to my house, and I clearly had to take him up on that.

This also means that the next time I try to break my record, I'm gonna have to go for an hour. Eek!