June 30, 2013

June 25

Total time: 12 minutes
Total distance: 1.05 miles

Last run of the week before the 5K! I didn't really have a goal time/distance in mind when I set out, but at some point I decided that a mile would be sufficient - but this time, I was only giving myself twelve minutes. I've been running faster lately, so my goal was to run another mile under 12 minutes. By cutting myself off at the twelve-minute mark (instead of running to 12:30 like I have been, to accommodate my old pace), I'd either make it, or I wouldn't.

Spoiler alert: I made it, though my time went up (minimally) - from an 11.6 minute mile to an 11.7 minute mile. In other words: I'm starting to become more consistent with this pace. I'm curious to see how this carries forward into next week. I'm not sure if I like having a race on the horizon or not. It's a nice benchmark to see how I am doing (and if I can do it when the time comes!) but I've been pretty content running on my own without a finish line, just me and my stopwatch. We'll see. I'm curious as to how the 5K will affect my mindset, if at all. Or if it will just be a fun side-detour for a weekend.

I will say, taking three days off on purpose feels kind of weird. I really wanted to run last night. I think it's safe to say I'm hooked.

In other news, I picked up a new hat, it's one of those meshy ventilated ones intended for activities like running... black with a hot pink stripe? Yes please. Though I haven't decided if the pink is actually reflective, or if it's just so hot of a pink that my phone camera can't handle it. At any rate: IT GLOWS.

June 29, 2013

June 23

Total time: 25 minutes
Total distance: 2.17 miles

I have a 5K coming up (though by the time this gets posted, it will have likely already happened!) so I decided that it might be a good idea not to push myself too hard this week. I'm incredibly concerned about being able to run 3.1 miles on command. I've done it a few times, but it usually just sort of... happens. I've mentioned this before, and worrying isn't going to do anything, so I guess I'll just see what happens. In the meantime, I am hoping that if I conserve my energy this week, that'll give me a bit of a boost. I'm usually good for one really long run every week, and I guess I'm saving it for Saturday.

The BF joined me tonight, and it's kind of nice to have a running buddy - keeps me accountable, in the most immediate way, in the middle of actually running (not like this blog, where I have to shamefully report back if I wimp out). I think I run faster with people too - whether that is good or bad, I don't know. (I mean, running faster is generally good, but I'm not sure what that will do to being able to maintain my slow-but-steady pace when I'm in it for the long haul).

What I do know is that I ran for over 2 miles and managed to keep a much faster pace than usual. While I was surprised to see an 11.6 minute/mile pace earlier in the week when I ran just one mile, I was even more surprised to see it again for a time and distance that was twice as long. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't kind of proud of that, though I don't think it will keep happening (or maybe it will? I don't know! Time will tell!)

I've also encountered a new foe in my running adventures: mosquitos. And a myriad other bugs. Good thing I'm equipped with bug spray. Still, I'm pretty sure I've inadvertently consumed a fair share of gnats because apparently I run with my mouth open. I'll try not to think about it too much.

June 28, 2013

June 21

Total time: 12:30 min
Total distance: 1.1 miles

It's been kind of hot lately. I was afraid that this was going to cause me to wimp out on my running, but I haven't really had a chance to prove or disprove that theory yet. I've had softball almost every night which is a pretty effective way to either (a) keep me from running at all or (b) pushing my run back to later in the evening when it's much less hot. Either way, the heat hasn't been an issue.

Due to the crazy spring we've had, there have been a lot of makeup games that my team has been trying to squeeze in - one of these landed on Friday. Unfortunately, both my assistant coaches were tied up with other obligations that night, so it was just me, flying solo. Normally, not a big deal - I was without an official assistant most of last summer, so I've done it before. But it was slightly more exhausting than I expected and it was pretty warm outside. None of this stopped me from deciding to go for a run when I got home, though. In hindsight, that was a pretty terrible idea. I was much more worn out than I realized, and I knew from the get-go that it was going to have to be a short run.

I told myself to run at least 12 and a half minutes just to ensure that I could get at least a mile in - because that's the minimum, right? Well, turns out I was going a little faster than I thought, because when I plugged in my band afterward, it told me I was running at an 11.6 min/mile pace. Not too shabby! And here I was worried about clearing the mile mark. Silly me.

June 19, 2013

June 18 - PR Run!

Total time: 50 minutes
Total distance: 4.13 miles

Yesterday was my "day off" from softball for the week and as much as I absolutely love that sport and I enjoy coaching my team, it's gotten to be exhausting. We lost almost the first half of the season to bad weather - rain, snow, flooding, you name it. The result is that we're cramming all of that missed time in, now. It's running me ragged. It pains me to admit it, but it's really starting to take a toll on me. But I'm trying not to let it show because my team will pick up on it if I even give the slightest indication of not wanting to be there - I have to be excited so they stay excited. And that's hard work too, in a way. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I've been exhausted lately, to the point where I am feeling physically awful, but we're in the home stretch, near the end of the tunnel.

All of which is another roundabout way of saying that I haven't had much energy for running, but I've been making myself do it anyway, because I've got some great momentum going and I don't want to lose that. All I need to do is get started and my feet take it from there.

I was on the fence about if I wanted to try to squeeze in a run last night. There are so many other things that I've been neglecting that I should have probably done instead. I got dinner with a friend and decided to leave my options open so I got a salad... that way if I wanted to run when I got home, I could probably do it without making myself sick.

Which is why I was really surprised to find that my entire body was in the mood for a run. As soon as I started moving, I was almost startled at how good it felt. I had my pace back under control (or at least back to normal) and so I settled in for a long one. I am really worried about my inconsistency in distance right now - I am running a 5K next Saturday and it's still so hit-or-miss with how far I can go on any given day, that I'm worried I'm going to get to that actual race setting and then not be able to complete the whole thing. Today's run is only the third time I've made it at least 3 miles, ever. I guess it's good that the two 5Ks I'm signed up for right now are more "fun runs" than actual races, but even so. I want to run a full one so badly! I failed at both attempts last year, but then again, I'm in better shape this year. I don't know. We'll see.

At one point along the way (because I had a lot of time for my mind to wander, which is always preferable to spending the time thinking about my legs and the fact that they kind of just want to fall off), I started to contemplate my reason for doing this. Why was I pushing myself so hard? Why did I even take up this hobby? I guess, at the root of things, I started running because I wanted to lose weight. I was getting bored of everything else and while running isn't particularly riveting, it's different every day. Even if you take the same path every day (which I usually do), something is different. The weather, the temperature, the people on the trail, how I feel, what order my music plays in, something is always different, and no two runs are ever the same.

I don't think I've really experienced the oft-talked about "runner's high" (though I did do a celebratory fist pump when I watched the numbers on my watch click over to 5-0), but it always feels good to settle into a run and see what I can do. The first ten minutes are nice, because they have started to pass relatively painlessly; it's the eleven to nineteen minute stretch that's the worst. That's the stretch where I frequently have to remind my legs to keep moving, where I am mostly likely to want to quit. Once I reach minute 20, though, something changes in my brain. Maybe because twenty minutes just seems like a long time, at that's kind of my checkpoint for having truly achieved something, and everything else on top of that is just icing on the proverbial cake. From there, it's just a matter of seeing how much further I can go. I decided last night that 25 minutes should really be my new base marker (25 is the new 20!) because at that point, I've locked in two complete miles, and that's nothing to shake a stick at.

What's really interesting, though, is the psychology of what happens at Minute 30. At Minute 30, I'm pretty much all-in. If I can make it thirty minutes, I'm more likely to believe that I can go 35, or 40, I can reach that 5K mark, I can reach whatever goal I set for the day, if not surpass it.

That's kind of what happened last night. I kept reassuring myself that I only had "a few more minutes to go" and coaxed myself to that 30 minute mark. From there, each five minute interval seemed attainable, so I just... kept going. When I reached 40, though, I decided to go for it. I decided to reach for the PR. I would have only needed to make it to 46 for it to count, but that's not how I roll. I measure my runs in terms of five-minute increments, as I've mentioned before, so it was 50 minutes or bust. At this point in my game, due to my tendency to just round up, I can pretty much determine that for every ten minutes I add to my run, I add a mile. Because 2 miles is really around Minute 24, but I go to 25 to make sure; 3 miles is roughly around Minute 37, but I go to 40 because 37 is a weird place to stop; 4 miles would then be around 49 minutes. It's not an exact science, and it will work better when I get my pace down to an even 12 minute mile instead of the random 12.2ish that it seems to be, but following this trend... if I can make myself run for a full hour, that will almost be 5 miles. And by the time I am able to run for an hour, maybe my pace will be a little better. (because, technically, 5 miles would take me about 61 or 62 minutes. Do you know how much it would suck to run for 60 minutes and then be THAT CLOSE to 5 miles and not make it? I guess I'll have to shoot for 65 just to be safe...)  But that's probably a few weeks away.

But to answer my original question of why: I don't really know. I guess I'm competing with myself, in a way. I'm not competing against anyone else or anyone else's times, I'm just out there doing my thing to see how far I can go. Posting about my runs online afterward is sort of a way to keep me accountable, but I think it's more of a reward. I don't give myself ice cream afterward (usually), but I do get to document it and share it and I think the encouragement and support I've been getting from my friends is far better than any sort of food-related treat I could bribe myself with.

At any rate, I ran for 50 whole minutes yesterday and I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that I ran for four miles. FOUR MILES. This is something that I never, ever thought I would be able to do, ever. Even running for two miles felt like an accomplishment. There's something incredibly exciting about not only running farther than you have ever run before, but farther than you even ever set out to do. My goal has always been the 3.1 miles of a 5K, but now? Who knows! Maybe by next year I'll be running 10Ks!

June 17, 2013

June 16

Total time: 25 minutes
Total distance: 2.09 miles

Yesterday was one of those days that most people would generally agree to be a perfect summer day. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze, it was warm but it wasn't unbearably hot. It's the kind of day that you should spend outside, if you value being outside in even the slightest manner.

Mostly, the sunshine meant that I could finally, finally wear my new running shoes. I had gone and gotten fitted for some Real Running Shoes a couple weeks ago, but it's been so rainy and gross outside that I didn't want to ruin them on the first run out of the gate. So I've been biding my time for a nice day, and it was finally upon me.

I went all out: I used the last freebie packet of Vega Sport pre-workout energizer (note: the acai berry is way more delicious than the lemon-lime, in my ever-so-humble opinion), I collected all of my various accessories, I laced up my new shoes, and I put on the most neon of neon pink polyester performance tees my retinas have ever had the pleasure of being burned by. (It was so bright it was literally reflecting off my face. You can kind of see it in the photo but it doesn't do it justice.)

I even talked the BF into coming with  me. We ran the first ten minutes or so together and split off onto our various preferred paths, which was okay with me, because I'm used to running solo and he can go faster on his own.

With the new shoes, my feet felt like magic. It didn't hurt that my old shoes were, well, just that: old. Old and ratty and terrible.

I had originally set my sights on running the 40-ish minutes that would get me a 5K (or even shoot for a new PR of 50 minutes?!) but had decided I'd be content with a 30 minute run. What I didn't expect was for my pace to change; I had gone from around a 12.2 to 12.4 minute mile (depending on the day) to an even 12 minute mile. That might not sound like a huge difference, but it felt like one. It felt like I was going too fast and that I was going to burn myself out. I kept trying to slow myself down, but finally I gave up and just told myself to get to 25 minutes so I could at least lock in a 2 mile run. So that is what I did.

It wasn't one of my longest runs but I felt kind of like a rockstar when I was done. I'm still going to try to work on distance/time, but it was kind of fun to see a new, improved pace and to feel like I was running a little faster.

June 15, 2013

June 12

Total time: 20 minutes
Total distance: 1.64 miles

I hadn't really planned on running on Tuesday, but in the back of my mind, I kind of felt like it was my only chance for the week because I had softball games scheduled for every other night (including a double header on Thursday!). Even if it weren't almost dark by the time I got home from the game(s), coaching is surprisingly exhausting, and I was pretty much ready to crawl into bed immediately upon walking in the front door (after showering, of course.) So this was my only non-softball night of the week, and I felt like I should take advantage of that... but guys, even without a game, I was so mentally and physically exhausted that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to muster up the energy to actually do it.

Additionally, I was a bit wary of the weather. We've been bouncing between high heat during the days and cooler temps in the evenings, which is the perfect recipe for a summer storm. Now, I don't know about you all, but I prefer cloudy days over sunny days, hands down. And I really love that sense of Impending Doom and Gloom that hangs in the atmosphere right before a storm - dark clouds, a slight breeze, no rain - so as soon as I had finished eating and realized it hadn't started raining yet, I scrambled to change into some running-appropriate clothing and quickly scampered out the door while the weather-window was still open. I had brought all of my stuff with me (except my shoes, because I forgot them until I was already in my car - I still haven't gotten to run in my new shoes and it's really kind of torturing me) to the BF's place with the intention of talking him into running with me (because I couldn't back out if I had a running partner!) if it hadn't started raining by the time I got there, but he was neck-deep in Projects, so I decided to hit the trail solo. There is a paved sidewalk/trail that winds around most of his apartment complex's property, so I had a path to do some laps on, which I thought might be a nice change of scenery from my usual park. The temperature was perfect and I was suddenly in the mood to run...

...I just hadn't realized how windy it had become while I was inside.

I've been pretty fortunate in that I haven't had to run in the wind yet (snow, yes, and rain, yes, but wind... not so much) - it helps that my usual trail is lined with trees. It kind of sucks, a lot, that wind. I was really surprised to see that my pace wasn't significantly slower than usual, because it sure felt like I was struggling along. It also wasn't maybe the smartest of ideas to start running right after eating, but (a) it was now or never, because the rain was definitely on its way and (b) when you arrive to discover that your BF has made you dinner, you obviously eat it right away. (Plus, again, I hadn't even decided if I was going to go running - I'd brought the stuff, and I'd had great intentions, but I also thought I'd probably talk myself out of it.) Right around minute 10, I was starting to get some side aches, but they weren't severe enough to make me stop - but they probably kept me from going as long as I would have liked to. Even so, I made it 20 minutes, which isn't anything to scoff at.

Forecast is calling for more rain and storms throughout the rest of the weekend - if it's a light rain, I'll run in it, but if it's a heavy rain or a thunderstorm, no can do. I've also got games stacked up again most nights next week - we had so many rained out games at the beginning of the season that we've got all of our makeup games crammed in now. So Tuesday might be my only free night again, but if we have an early home game, I might be able to fit one in, though it would probably have to be a short one. I don't know. I don't really plan my runs - I'm not really training for anything, per se. I've got some 5Ks coming up but I know now that I can run that far, so as long as I keep running regularly, I should be able to keep doing it. My running schedule right now pretty much consists of "run whenever you can, as often as you can" and it seems to be working for me. I know you're supposed to take rest days and do cross-training or strength-training and stuff, but that seems kind of advanced for where I'm at and I have no idea how to do any of that, and I'm not really a competitive runner, so... I don't know. I don't know at what point I really need to start thinking about stuff like that, especially since I'm just doing 5Ks (at least for now!) Things to ponder, I guess.

June 14, 2013

June 8 - PR Run!

Total time: 45 minutes
Total distance: 3.75 miles

I set out to meet my PR today, or, if I couldn't do that (since I've been working my way back up lately) then to do at least 30 minutes to rebuild some of my time. I made a new playlist and dug out my old iPod shuffle so I could wear regular headphones. I put band-aids on all my blisters and almost-blisters. I didn't put on my new shoes because it had been rainy and gross all day and I didn't want to junk them up just yet. (Soon!) I even tried one of the Vega pre-workout drink packets from the Bloggers in Sin City swag bags - whether it helped or not, I don't know, but it at least put me in the right frame of mind.

While my iPod was charging, I waited for the rain to stop or at least let up a bit, but at this point, I was pretty much going to go anyway. I took some garbage out to gauge how hard it was raining (and if it would even be noticeable), and since I had a jacket and a hat on, I barely noticed it for the most part. Since a large part of where I run is heavily treed, I figured I'd be pretty protected anyway.

Once I started running, I could tell that it was one of those days where it probably could have gone either way. But I had already made up my mind that I was going to have a respectable run, so I told myself I might as well just make my peace with it and settle in for the long haul. Easier said than done, of course. I whisper-yelled at some point for my legs to shut up, because they were fine. (I'm not a crazy person, at all.)

I bargained with myself the whole way. My brain begged my body to go at least 25 because that would get us 2 miles. I kept chastising myself because if I couldn't do this, then how was I ever going to be able to run a 5k? Except that I knew I could, because I HAD. Only once, but that was enough to prove that I could.

I trudged along, willing my legs to keep moving and taking deep breaths and reminding myself that it was all a mental game. So they say. I reached my 30 minute mark and congratulated myself on at least hitting that goal. From that point forward, I would simply see how far I could go. Each minute I added felt like a minor victory.

When I hit 39 minutes, I told myself I only needed two more - one to tie my PR and one to break it. 41 minutes came and I didn't let myself quit. I didn't know how much longer I would go, but however long it was, was going to be a record. Around minute 43, it started raining pretty hard, making it all the more dramatic. The rain didn't really affect my running, it just made me wet and vaguely concerned about my various devices. I kind of caught myself flailing like a muppet and decided that that was probably a strong indicator that I was done. At first I thought I had gone 46 minutes because there were raindrops obscuring the display on my watch, but turns out it was "only" 45. Which worked out pretty well because I apparently like my five minute marks.

I was pretty proud of myself when I was done, obviously. I was surprised to see that my average pace was still consistent with my shorter runs, because I definitely felt like I had slowed down considerably by the 30 minute mark.  Everything past that was fueled on sheer willpower and, okay, pride. I like being able to post about doing well. It kind of keeps me accountable - if I wuss out after ten or fifteen minutes, everyone will know. 

I was joking to myself as I finished up my last few minutes that maybe I had died back in Minute 34 and my ghost kept on running, ala Professor Binns in Harry Potter. The last bit was definitely a struggle, and this sort of distance is definitely not something I can do consistently yet. I am signed up for a race on the 29th, and I'm hoping by then to have gotten a couple more long runs in so that when the time comes, I'm not worrying about whether it's a 20 Minute Day or a 40 Minute Day, and I can just start moving my feet and do it. Because every day is NOT a 40 minute day - not even a 30 minute day. But I've still got plenty of time to build up to it.

June 13, 2013

June 5

Total time: 20 mins
Total distance: 1.59 mi

Despite the fact that I had decided I didn't particularly care for running at night, I thought I could probably squeeze in a run after a 2.5 hour softball practice in the last bits of light for the day. (I'm a volunteer softball coach for 5/6/7th graders. This is my eighth summer as a coach and I still really miss playing. The only option open to me at this age is slowpitch and it's not the same, at all. I've tried it.) It was about 9:00 as I made the drive home, and I could tell that the daylight was starting to fade, but if I hurried, I could maybe squeeze in something. I was simply going to hop out of my car and go, but I didn't have anywhere to put my keys, and it would only take me a minute to run up to my apartment and grab my headphones anyway, so... I did. I left my phone behind because I couldn't readily find my running belt, which felt a little weird, because I like to carry it with me since I run by myself.

I started jogging as soon as I hit the sidewalk, instead of waiting to get to the park like I usually do. The streetlights were coming on and I knew I didn't have a lot of time before it got dark. I was kind of okay with keeping it shorter anyway because I had some blisters forming on several parts of my feet, because it's been so rainy lately that my shoes have never really fully dried. I ran along my usual path but I stayed on the non-woodsy part of the paths (which was kind of fun to explore a different part of the trail and gave me a new way to extend my overall path a little bit for the longer runs instead of just running back and forth along the same stretch of path like I usually do) because the wooded part was darker already than the non-wooded part, and frankly, it creeped me out.

I called it good at twenty minutes and made it home as it was really starting to transition to dark. I kind of felt like I did when I was a kid, coming home at dusk from wherever I'd been all day, though usually it was on a bike instead of my feet. Funny how some things never change.

June 12, 2013

June 3

Total time: 10 minutes*
Distance: 0.89 mi

*I was SO CLOSE to eleven minutes, I should have just kept going, but I couldn't see my watch. When I stopped it, I saw I had maybe five more seconds to go and I would have hit the eleven minute mark. Alas.

I have this irrational fear about running at night. I live in probably one of the safest places in the country (one of the perks to living in the Midwest) but I'm still afraid I'm going to get mugged or kidnapped or something horrible. My usual trail is in a nearby park and runs through a heavily wooded area - it's nice during the day, but feels like the setting for a horror movie at night. So I've pretty much avoided it.

However, by the time I got home from softball (we ended in a tie - bummer) it was already getting dark. I waffled for a few minutes but, ultimately, I felt like going running. I decided it would probably be okay if I stuck around my immediate neighborhood, where there were lots of streetlights and people at home in their houses. So, that is what I did. I put my headphones on but left them around my neck and cranked the volume up, so I could still hear music without preventing myself from being able to hear anything else - it was really the only way I would have any semblance of time, without reaching up to make my watch light up every few seconds. I gave myself ten minutes, long enough to feel like it counted as a run, but short enough to not overtax my poor paranoid imagination.

I didn't particularly love it. I mean, I felt weird running on the street because I'm used to running on a path, but when I opted for the sidewalks, I had to be super careful since they have a tendency to be incredibly uneven and they weren't always very well lit, so I was kind of playing concrete roulette and hoping I didn't trip and fall on my face. Temperature wise, it was nice running at night - it hasn't gotten super hot here yet (KNOCK ON WOOD) but the evening was a nice, cool temperature that could accommodate a jacket if I wanted one, or I could have left it behind, and either would have been fine. I was far too paranoid about all the potential hazards (tripping, darkness, invisible muggers) to really settle down and just run - my brain was always somewhere else. I felt like I was running faster than usual and was tired sooner - though in the end, my pace was right about where it always is.

The moral of the story? I prefer to run in the daytime.

June 11, 2013

May 29

Total time: 22 mins
Distance: 1.74 miles

This run was much better than the last one - I made it at least a respectable twenty minutes and felt pretty good when I was done. I of course waited too long to write anything down afterward so I don't really remember much else about this run other than I think it was slightly rainy that day.

I think my pace is improving, too, and I've started including that in my image crop. Again, it's not something I'm focusing on (slow and steady is my MO) but it's interesting to watch how that has come down from being up around a 14 minute mile. I haven't set any goal pace in which to run a mile, frankly, I'm more interested in finishing at all than doing it quickly. Someday, perhaps. But not yet.

June 10, 2013

MAY 26

After weeks of steadily improving, having a crappy run is really, really unpleasant.

I'm not really sure what caused this one to be such a bummer... I'm sure it was some combination of having taken quite a bit of time off and warding off impending illness, or maybe it was just destined to be a bad day. A couple friends reminded me on Instagram that bad days happen, a lot, and to just roll with it and that will make you appreciate the good ones more. (As in running, such as in life. Profound, really.)

I knew I was starting to come down with something (I wasn't sure how it was going to manifest itself - a fever? The flu? A cold? The suspense was killing me) and by Friday I was down for the count. I lost a couple days during the week - my "getting back into the swing of things" run was on Tuesday and I can't remember why I didn't go run on Wednesday. Thursday I had a softball game (I volunteer coach twelve and thirteen year old girls every summer - which is possibly the most fun ever even though it does make me miss playing, a lot). Saturday I spent most of the day in bed, though I couldn't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, going outside for some fresh air and a jog wouldn't make me feel better? So I made up my mind that I would go on Sunday.

Almost immediately, I knew it wasn't going to be anything like I'd hoped. My legs were screaming at me from the moment I started and every step was a struggle. I was ready to quit at five minutes, I was fighting for breath and every last bit ached. I forced myself to do ten and then I stopped. I sat on a park bench for a while. I begrudgingly walked home and stretched in my kitchen since the ground was still pretty wet from all the rain of the weekend. I took a shower and crawled back into bed.

I know that not all runs are going to be super awesome - I think I realized that when I did the 16 minute run shortly after my awesome 40 minute run. They are going to vary. It was just really frustrating to struggle so much, to feel like I'd taken a few huge steps backward. It was the type of run that I was used to; the type of run that had always made me hate it. One of the things I had observed earlier this spring was that while running wasn't particularly fun, I really enjoyed how I felt afterward. Stronger, more powerful, healthier. Even on my first post-Vegas run, which was "short" too, I felt pretty good afterward. I just felt cranky after this one. Cranky and uncomfortable.

I at least managed to cooperate with myself for my ritual post-run photo. 

June 9, 2013

MAY 21

I did not take my running shoes to Las Vegas.

From a practical standpoint, I didn't really have room. I might have been able to stick them in the outside mesh pocket of my backpack, but I would have had a really hard time stuffing that thing underneath the seat in front of me on the plane. I would haven then had to make room for additional clothes to run in, which wouldn't have taken up that much space, but space is at a premium when you refuse to check any bags.

The other reason I opted out of the Saturday morning run was that, well, I didn't really feel like I was there yet. A lot of these girls have been running - competitively - for a while now. They're really good. And they're fast. And I would have gotten left behind. Which is fine, I am used to running by myself and that's possibly one of the things I enjoy about running, because I can do it whenever and wherever and by myself on my own schedule, but maybe not so much in the hot desert heat of a city that, while I'm pretty familiar with it, just reeks of The Unknown. So, I let myself talk myself out of it. And that was that. I was on vacation, after all.

When I got home, though, I was eager to get back into the swing of things. After having an overly emotional breakdown over not being able to find my shoes (because jet lag + PMS + saying goodbye to a bunch of friends that you probably won't see again for at least a year if not longer = disaster), I managed to get out the door before all the daylight was gone.

I'd taken about a week off, so I was okay with a ten to fifteen minute run, which is precisely what I ended up with.

This is a surprisingly flattering photo since I was coming up on two days since my last shower. The earrings probably helped. I forgot to take them out after coming home from dinner with the BF and darting back out the door again. I also learned how to make collages for Instagram so I can now lump together all of my gratuitous photo/time posting into one image. TECHNOLOGY IS GRAND.

Captioned: My "getting back into the swing of things/finally found my shoes/I ate Orange Leaf right before this so it's a miracle I didn't vomit in the bushes" run.

June 8, 2013

MAY 12

Time: 31 minutes
Distance: 2.54  miles

You'd think my brain would learn by now that my pep talks are lies. “You only have to do 10 minutes today... HAHA JUST KIDDING, MAKE IT TWENTY!”

It was a busy weekend, what with being Mother's Day weekend and all. I kicked off Saturday morning with an early start, out at the softball diamonds by 7:45. It was a hellishly windy day – and it was a cold wind, at that. After being thoroughly windblown and acquiring a lot of softball diamond dirt in every exposed crevice (I was still getting dust out of my ears today), I roadtripped up north to take my dad, stepmom, and grandma out to dinner.

Today was much nicer, weather-wise. There was a little bit of a chill but the sun was out and it wasn't miserable being outside, which is always a plus. I took my mom out to lunch and then we kind of bummed around a bit, then I decided to hit the trail. I'd be lying if I said my motivations were a bit superficial; I ate a lot this weekend and my Vegas trip is coming up fast. The fact that I did lose about ten pounds before the trip this year (like I say I am going to do every year) helps, but... the truth is, I'm not skinny enough for that town. Oh sure, you've got all types of people from all over, but you've also got ninety degree desert heat, and I'm barely comfortable in my own skin, let alone anything that shows any skin. I can't remember the last time I wore shorts. Skirts are always accompanied by leggings. I will wear jeans in the middle of the summer sometimes. I'm not terribly keen on my arms, either, and I'm a bit anxious about having to wear arm-baring shirts soon. One of the many, many reasons that fall is my favorite is that I can layer and wear, y'know, sleeves. (Body image issues. I have them.)

But I digress. I decided to work off some of the food I ate (totally worth it) and enjoy the nice day. So I suited up and went out the door before I could change my mind. I wasn't going to even turn on Runkeeper, so disillusioned was I with the inconsistent distance tracking, but then I decided that I did like it announcing my five minute milestones – even though I could obviously track that myself with my watch. It was just that little extra nudge of encouragement that I needed.

I was trying to pay attention to my form and stride a little bit more today. Not that I have any idea what that means (and I actually have pretty okay form, anyway), but mostly I was trying to keep my posture somewhat respectable (I have terrible posture) and maybe lengthen my stride a little bit (cover more ground in the same amount of time?). This worked a little bit but eventually I just reverted to my usual strategy of “don't stop, don't stop, no, you're not going to throw up, just keep going....”

I was also a little better (slightly) about checking my watch – I averaged about two minutes between checking as opposed to my usual obsessive “it's only been forty seconds?!” routine.

I told myself that I'd settle for a fifteen minute run today, since I'd had my Super Awesome Run for the week already, but I'm a liar to myself, a lot. I was approaching fifteen when I decided that, obviously, I had to do at least twenty. Twenty should be my new minimum.

I really was going to let myself stop at twenty, but then I started doing the math in my head, and if I was truly averaging a 12-minute mile (okay, it's probably still closer to 13, but shhh), then I'd need to run 25 to get two miles, and two miles is kind of awesome. When the Runkeeper Lady's voice drifted up toward me to announce the 25 minute mark, she also told me that I was at 1.95 miles. Now, I've grown rather suspicious of the distance tracking on Runkeeper, but... damn, so close. I obviously couldn't quit there.

At that point, I told myself that I could do thirty minutes, and then I could stop, whether or not I had hit two miles, I mean, I probably would, but if I didn't, that's still a respectable run. Plus I didn't think I could go much longer than that, since somewhere around 25 minutes I had picked up my pace. I think my brain had stumbled onto the idea of “the faster you go, the faster you'll be done” or something equally profound. I was breathing heavily (and probably really loudly and unattractively) but it felt kind of good to go a little bit faster. I'm looking forward to the day when I can sustain that pace for the whole run. I was really pushing myself there at the end and it really felt like I had always thought running should.

I stopped the clock at 31 minutes and whatever seconds. Runkeeper spit out a distance of 2.44 miles and the UP band gave me 2.54, so if I split the difference, that's 2.5 miles, which, frankly, is pretty awesome. I wonder if I should start averaging the two? Hmm.

I think I do need new shoes. My left foot randomly hurts a little bit sometimes and it was noticeable today. My back felt better though, maybe because I was trying to keep my posture in check. Visibly, my shoes look like they're toast, anyway. Or maybe I'm just trying to talk myself into new shoes. WINK.

Today felt better. Even though it wasn't a record-breaking run, I think it was probably my favorite so far. It just felt like a good run.

 Easy? Speak for yourself, technology!

June 7, 2013

MAY 10 - PR Run!

Total time: 40:18
Distance: 3.22

They say that getting started is the hardest part. Not for me, not really. I'm usually pretty ambitious about getting out the door. The hardest part is willing my feet to to keep moving after fifteen, twenty minutes.

My pace is already excruciatingly slow (though I think I'm closer to a twelve minute mile average than my original thirteen/fourteen, so that's progress) that it's not much faster than most people's walk (or my walk, even), so it's hard to keep pushing myself to go when it feels like I'm doing barely more than walking anyway. Then I start thinking about my feet too much and I'm afraid I'm going to trip over myself and fall on my face.

Have you ever fallen on your face? I mean, literally. On your face. I did once. I was in fourth grade and outside at recess and walking around the sidewalk and the next thing I knew I was face down on the concrete. It wasn't particularly graceful, I'm sure, and it was kind of embarrassing. Especially 'cause I was kind of a weird kid anyway and spent a lot of my recess time with a notebook and a pencil.

But I digress.

One of the things that I've been pleasantly surprised to notice was how easily I can run ten minutes now. Something that used to be a huge accomplishment, I can now do pretty easily. I'd even go out on a limb and say that fifteen minutes is probably my new “minimum” run time. Anything less than that and I'd probably be really disappointed in myself when I got home.

I'm not sure what inspired me to go for a Big Run on this day, but like most of my record-breaking runs, it was probably just a case of “why stop when you can keep going?”

As I think I've mentioned before, I measure my runs in five minute intervals. Why, I don't really know, but each five minute segment is a checkpoint for me, and it's easier to tell myself “you can do five more minutes!” than, say, “you can do another ten! Piece of cake!” Five is big enough to mark those notches off, but small enough to not be too intimidating. So I kept building with my five minute blocks. When I got close to thirty-five, though, I told myself I had to make it to forty, and break that PR. Because thirty-six was an insufficient victory, I guess, even though that's all it would have taken to break my record.

Five minute intervals.

The exciting thing about forty minutes is that I knew I had to be close to my 5K goal. I eagerly pulled out my phone and took a look at Runkeeper. I was really disappointed to see 2.91 staring back at me. So close, and yet... I'm not sure I had enough left in me to have gotten that last 0.09 miles. I synced my UP band to see what that one had to say, and it cheerfully announced 3.22 miles. That's more than a 5K. My heart leapt. Did I do it? I think I did it!

The problem, of course, is knowing which device to trust. The UP band has proven itself to be more accurate in the past, so... I don't know. It's hard to say. I decided to go ahead and give myself the 3.22 – hell, I'd earned it.

This also raised an interesting development inside my head. 3.1 miles was my goal; I had no aspirations to run anything more than a 5K. I have no desire to ever run a marathon, or really even a half marathon. I figured I could run 3.1 miles over and over until I got really good at it, and just focus on getting faster. But now that I know I can run 3 miles... I almost don't want to stop there, you know? I might change my distance goal to 5 miles, once I can consistently reach 3 miles. I don't know if today was a fluke or something I'd only be able to pull off once a week or once every other week. I don't know if I'll be able to replicate it again soon. But seeing as how I got there so quickly this year... I'm thinking maybe I'm capable of more than I think. (Aren't we all?)

June 6, 2013


Total time: 16
Distance: 1.28

I was oddly disappointed after this run. I mean, on some level, I have accepted the fact that not all runs will be glorious, record-breaking events. But when I had to stop earlier than maybe I had thought I was going to, I was a bit down. It's hard to get excited about running "only" 16 minutes after I did so awesome in Sunday, but I have to remind myself that that's still impressive given my running history AND this is the first time in my life I've been able to consistently run over a mile. I couldn't even do half of that time at this point last year. I'm not even sure I would have even been able to run half a mile at this point last year. Honestly, I'm not even sure I was running at all at this point last year. So when I look at it like that, 16 minutes doesn't seem so bad. And thus concludes my pep talk.

June 5, 2013


Total time: 35 mins
Distance: 2.86 mi

May 5 is always kind of a bummer of a day for me because it's the anniversary of the death of one of my really close friends. But we finally had a nice day (and the snow was gone!) and it seemed like the perfect tribute to her – she was one of the first runner friends that I had. This one was mostly for her, but, selfishly, a little for me, too.

In case you missed my first post, you will know that up until now, my longest run clocked in at 32 minutes. Not only did I smash that record, but this is also my first recorded run of 2 miles – and I smashed that one too. I hadn't really planned on breaking either of those today, but when I thought I wanted to stop and pulled out my phone to check Runkeeper, I was at 26 minutes and 1.91 miles – too close to quit, and I was feeling all right, so I decided to go for it. Unfortunately, in the process of putting the phone away, I managed to pause the stupid thing, though I didn't realize it until I was done. I never heard it announce the 2 mile mark, but by that point, I had decided to go for it and break the time goal. When I pulled out the phone again to gaze at my triumph, I was incredibly disappointed to see that it was still at 26 minutes. I mean, not that I need to have proof, because I knew that I had done it, but... I was still a disappointed. It's nice to see it in black and white, you know? Fortunately, my UP band came through in the clinch and had recorded the whole thing. Whew!

I was definitely toward the end, but sometimes, when you get so close to your goal, you just have to keep going. I think that's one of the things that I'm most proud of myself for – not giving up, for not letting myself quit when it gets too hard. I know statistics and records are kind of superficial, but that's what keeps me energized and keeps me going when I want to quit. I know they say not to wear a watch, not to look at it – but it doesn't discourage me, no. It pushes me. I can see how far I've come and I can push myself for smaller increments until I get to a point where I'm farther than I've been. Maybe that's weird, but hey, it works, so I'm going to keep running with it. (Pun totally intended.)

June 4, 2013


Total time: 15:15
Distance: 1.32 miles

So, something weird happened at the beginning of May this year. IT SNOWED. 

I stayed inside and grumbled about the weather just like everyone else that first day, but on the second day (oh yes - it not only snowed, it stuck around), I'd had enough of being cooped up. I bundled myself up with all the warm gear I'd acquired for the chilly October Color Run and hit the trail.

I didn't go as long as I did on the previous run, but considering it was 34 degrees and there was still SNOW ON THE GROUND (I still can't get over that), I think I did mighty well.

Interestingly enough, I think I run a little bit better when it's slightly chilly. My longest runs have been on cooler days; the first day it was legitimately warm, I didn't do so great. I'm not telling myself this to talk myself out of running on warm days; I'm telling myself this to motivate me to run when it's cold. If I start whimpering about the weather when fall rolls around again, someone remind me that it's okay because I had my best early-year runs in the cold.