July 31, 2013

July 13 - The Color Run (5K)

Total time: 41:41 min
Total distance: 3.49 miles

This was was hard. Logistically and physically. I was determined to run it because I'd tried (and failed) twice last year, so I had a personal vendetta against this event. That said... it was a pretty awful outing for me, but I'm proud to say that I did not quit and I ran the entire thing. There were so many times I wanted to stop, but I told myself that, sure, I could quit anytime...but once I did that, I was done. Once you give up, you've blown the whole thing. Which really did make me think twice about stopping, which in turn got me through the middle of the run, and then it was replaced by the familiar mantra of "well, you can't quit now!"

I was a little anxious about accomplishing this due to the fact that I haven't run anything above 2 miles since my last 5K, I was wearing a pair of old shoes (not my running shoes), no music and no watch. And while my shiny gold fanny pack is great for its wackiness and for storing all my crap, the strap was a little loose and it bounced around like crazy.

This particular 5k doesn't actually seem to be designed with runners in mind. It's a very unfriendly course. To start, you have to navigate a sea of people walking or pushing strollers (sometimes three deep, taking up the entire street). At one point near the beginning, the runners actually got squeezed off the course, having to run alongside the road in the grass. I overheard another runner tell her friend that she heard people complaining about the runners. That annoyed me. It is called the Color RUN after all, not the Color Leisurely Stroll Through Downtown. Also, I'm no expert, but I really don't think babies should be breathing this stuff in. Adults probably shouldn't either, but at least our lungs are fully developed and we are at least cognizant of the potential consequences of our choices. I mean, I wouldn't bring my baby. If I had one. Which I don't. So maybe my opinion is invalid. Plus it would ruin the stroller. And those things are expensive.

Eventually the pack began to thin, and I found more space to run, at least for some stretches. I spent probably 85% of my effort just dodging people. Whenever we got to a color zone, everyone would just flat out STOP to get hosed with powder. Which left me with the choice of stopping so that I, too, could actually get some color, or keep running in order to meet my goal, therefore running down the middle and getting no color at all other than what happened to be floating through the air. This was incredibly frustrating and I gave up after the first two zones. I consoled myself with the fact that the post-race color was better and brighter, anyway.

Last but not least, there was an incredibly steep hill to climb for the last three-quarters of a mile. It sucked. I remembered it from last year, and it was a tad difficult even walking it. I soldiered through it, reminding myself that once I got past it, I had about a hundred feet to the finish line. It was rough, and no matter how slow I went or how small of steps I took, it was awful. Plus people were funneling back into a single lane so there was very little space to actually run.

I didn't have a watch, which in hindsight I was glad for. Since they used the same route as last year, I could gauge where I was and how much was left. Because of all the pedestrian obstacles, I would have been completely thrown off, anyway. My finish time was 41:41, which is my slowest 5k time, but because of all the weaving and dodging and general not-straight-path-ness of it all, my tracker actually told me I had run 3.49 miles. Yeesh.

Crossing the finish line was great, though. Some girl shouted a compliment about my fanny pack which put a smile on my face for the first time since the race had started. Plus then it was time to rip open our packets of color and really douse ourselves. I had managed to get good colors this year - one of the perks of picking up my race packet early. In past events, we've either had all blue in our group, or some combination of blue and orange. This time, I got pink and purple. One of them belonged to my friend but he disappeared so I adopted it as my own. So we got ourselves all colorful and took some pictures and then departed in search of food.

I'd call this a success. I finally conquered the running component of it (third time's a charm), we got wonderfully colorful, and the string of hot humid days disappeared - leaving us with my favorite weather of 70 degrees and cloudy. I am still very frustrated by the actual race, though, even though I did manage to trudge through it and run the whole thing. I think that if I do it again, I'm not even going to bother with trying to run it. It was clearly meant to be casual and to be enjoyed, and it's damn near impossible to run it and enjoy it. So next time, I'll probably just walk it and call it good, and find some other race to run. There is no shortage of 5Ks in this area.

I'm the one in the tutu. Because, obviously.

July 30, 2013

July 12

Total time: 12 mins
Total distance: 1.05 miles
Unlike the last 5K run I participated in, where I was very careful to take it easy the days leading up to the event and get lots of R&R, I took a different approach – lots of small runs leading up to the event day. I don’t know what is generally recommended, but I do know that I struggled quite a bit at the 80s Run and one of my theories is because I had taken too many days off.
So, I decided to go for a “quick” mile run (or for 12 minutes, and hope that I managed to squeeze a mile in there) the night before to keep myself loosened up and in the right mindset.

I got done wishing I’d had more time to run that night because I was feeling good and could have possibly gone longer, but I had too many things on my schedule for that night and I knew there was a Big Hill in the run the next morning, so I decided it was best just to leave it at that.

On an unrelated note, I’ve been pretty pleased to see my pace averaging under a 12 minute mile. I know it doesn’t really mean anything because my distances are pretty arbitrary, but it’s still nice to see.

July 16, 2013

July 9

Total time: 12 minutes
Total distance: 1.07 miles

Apparently going for a run in 90 degree heat two days prior and feeling like I was going to pass out afterward wasn’t quite enough crazy for me for one week, so… I did it again! Granted, this time I didn’t go at 3 in the afternoon (otherwise known as the HOTTEST TIME OF THE DAY), instead I waited until the 8:00 hour in the hopes that it would be cooler, which… it was not. The temperature was still hanging out at 90 degrees, with about 70% humidity – which is code for “miserable.” 

I went anyway.

On the bright side, I managed to run the fastest mile I’ve ever run (11.3 minute/mile pace) and it felt great.

On the downside, the city apparently chose that night to mosquito-bomb the park. I mean, they could have waited until the park was closed, but no. That means I got caught in the fumes and had to come home and flush out my eyes and hope that I didn’t just get permanently poisoned. Bug fumes are incredibly stinky and gross and rather potent and getting caught in the cloud is really rather unpleasant.

I also made the mistake of wearing too-short socks, which resulted in my very first running-related blisters on the back of my ankle. Oops.

By the time I got home, I was dripping sweat like a melting candle, which was both amusing and strange. Fortunately, I felt much less like collapsing in a heap after this run, so I’m calling it a success.

July 12, 2013

July 7

Total time: 20 minutes
Total distance: 1.68 miles

Three days in a row! Lest you think I'm being terribly hard on myself, let me reassure you that it's simply because it's the weekend, and sometimes, if I don't find a reason to leave my house, I simply won't. Going for a run forces me to do something other than lounge around (and believe me, it's definitely been a lounge-tastic sort of weekend) and ultimately a reason to shower and get cleaned up.

In the same vein that running to fetch my car the day after I'd maxed out my energy to complete a 5K was maybe not a good idea, going for a run in 90 degree heat today may not have been a good idea, either. I'm not even sure what compelled me to do it, because I hate the heat and I generally prefer to stay indoors when it gets to be that hot out. I bribed myself with the promise of getting to wear an Oiselle running tank that I had won from a blog giveaway, because it was finally warm enough to justify it, and to hell with what anyone thought (I haven't worn a tank top in public in, erhm, a long enough time that I can't even remember – let alone a fitness tank that tends to cling maybe in places that you'd prefer it didn't.) It was incredibly soft and comfortable and it's really kind of amazing how much new workout gear can motivate you to, you know, work out.

I actually didn't think the heat was that bad when I first stepped outside. The humidity is usually the killer – the air gets heavy and it's twice as miserable as a high temperature alone. I swapped my usual evening bug spray with middle-of-the-afternoon sunscreen (I'm always spraying stuff on myself before I head out for a run, it seems) and was on my way. I had somehow convinced myself that the heat wasn't going to deter me at all, despite my usual aversion to it. I felt pretty good. Good enough to make myself run for twenty minutes, at least – and at around Minute 16, I even toyed with the idea of extending it to 25. (Minute 17 and 18 quickly changed my mind on that, though.)

It wasn't until after I'd stopped running that the heat became a problem for me. I had a really, really hard time catching my breath, and the walk home from the park was excruciating. I wanted to stop and sit, but I was kind of afraid that I wouldn't be able to pick myself back up again. So I kept going. It's a short walk – three blocks, maybe? It felt like forever, today. I've never, ever been so exhausted at the end of a run that I had issues with the walk home. But today, I had to will myself to keep going, to drag my worn out body all the way back home.

Even once I was inside (sweet glorious air conditioning!) and had started rehydrating myself, it took a really long time before I could breathe properly again. It was really rather unpleasant and almost a bit alarming, but eventually everything started to return to normal and I no longer felt like I was going to collapse or pass out (though, really, at this point, I was pretty much just lying on the floor, so I was probably not in any danger.)

So, I'm possibly turning into a crazy person, but I was still pretty proud of myself. Not sure if I'll shoot for four days in a row and try to get out for another run tomorrow, but we'll see. I should probably take a couple days off this week if I have any desire at all to attempt to run the Color Run next Saturday.

July 11, 2013

July 6

Total time: 15 minutes
Total distance: 1.29 miles

I don't really have designated run days or designated days off – I just run when I have time, or when I feel like it. I've been pretty good about always lacing up the shoes and heading out regularly, but now that softball is over for the summer, I don't have to be quite so strict about my free time. Instead of cramming in a run whenever I can, I am at my leisure most evenings, and that means I can run when I want to.

Or, in this case, when I tell myself I need to.

Today was another frustrating run, mostly because I struggled to make it to fifteen minutes. I'd been doing so well up until now – I was getting to the point where twenty minutes was almost easy, or at least consistently attainable. Now, I was struggling to do anything past a mile. Sure, I could simply go out and run a mile every day and that would probably be okay, but it wasn't really pushing myself. Not like I'd been doing. In a way, I kind of feel like doing that race had a negative impact on me, even though the very reason I'd been out running so much was so that I could run in a race. IRONY. I wasn't expecting my progress to regress so much and it was definitely upsetting.

So now I am doing baby steps. I am starting back over and hoping to add five minutes to each run until I am back to being able to do 25-30 minutes consistently, and maybe someday even reach that 50-minute PR again. It doesn't help that I'm signed up for another 5K next weekend, which I am seriously considering Not Doing – I mean, I'll go, I've paid for it, but maybe I'll just walk it with a friend or something. We'll see how the next week or so goes. If it's anything like today, I don't know if I can run it.

July 10, 2013

July 5

Total time: 12 minutes
Total distance: 1.02 miles

I was pleasantly surprised to find my pace was much better today than it had been for the previous run. I had no intentions of setting out for a long run tonight – after an afternoon consisting of an air-conditioned Netflix binge, it was really kind of a compromise to myself to at least do something. I mean, I could have continued to sit on the couch and watch TV, but given my lackluster performance on the trail earlier in the week, I decided that a short run was better than no run, so off I went.

My legs felt better today, and I could have possibly gone further if I'd really wanted to – but, that was the kicker. I didn't want to. I just wanted a little bit of a success to rebuild to where I'd been before the race on Saturday, which, for whatever reason, seemed to have knocked me backwards in my progress. Something was better than nothing, and if I'd had my way, I probably would have done just that: nothing. 


July 9, 2013

July 3

Total time: 25 minutes
Total distance: 1.95 miles

Today's run, well, kind of sucked. I'm not entirely sure what it was I had hoped to accomplish, but it became apparent that it was not going to be a long run sort of day. Like I'd been doing with my short runs ("you have twelves minutes, go run a mile"), I kind of gave myself a time limit and a distance goal all wrapped up into one. Based on my past history, 25 minutes should have given me just slightly over 2 miles, and that seemed like an acceptable distance.

But I was going a lot slower than I thought, struggling like I had during the 5K on Saturday, and when I stopped my watch and plugged in my UP band, I had fallen short of that 2 mile goal. In fact, my pace was almost a full minute slower than it had been recently - which is fine, I guess, but I was a little disappointed with myself. I just reminded myself that everyone has bad nights and trudged home, incredibly grumpy.

July 8, 2013

June 30

Total time: 12 minutes
Total distance: 1.04 miles

I had left my car at my office building on Saturday (the rendezvous point for my carpooling crew) and had hitched a ride back home with the BF – meaning that at some point, I would have to retrieve it the next day. I got the crazy notion inside my head that it would be a great idea to go there on foot. Specifically: I could run there! It wasn't far. Far enough to get in a mile, maybe two if I really wanted to stretch it. Yes, it was a brilliant plan.

I procrastinated most of the day, a bit of lingering exhausting from the night before making me lazy. Finally, though, I got dressed and headed out the door. I walked far enough to the point where I wouldn't have to cross any of the major roads (and thus possibly having to stop and wait for traffic) and then started to jog. I realized that this was, in fact, not the best idea ever, and it was pretty warm outside, to boot. I decided that I would run a mile and call it good... but I was only giving myself 12 minutes. Given my recent increased pace, I thought that seemed fair. If I couldn't make it at least a mile in the allotted twelve minutes, I would just have to live with my failure.

I did, in fact, make it a mile in that twelve minutes, plus a little extra to be safe. I wasn't quite to our parking lot yet, but that gave me enough time to walk my cool down. And then I hopped in my car and drove home, which made it very tempting to plant my car somewhere near the end of my running route in the future.

July 7, 2013

June 29 - 5K Race

Total time: 38:50 minutes
Total distance: 3.19 miles

I had done everything I could to ensure a successful race day. I had taken off the days leading up to the event; I got plenty of rest, I ate as well as I could, and I took it easy all day. I felt my nerves starting to set in as I got dressed and ready to meet up with my coworkers/friends to drive down to the race.

Despite everything, I was still a bit anxious. Yes, I had run this distance before - but only a couple times, and never on cue. I had never set out to run a 5K, it always just sort of happened. If I was having a good day, I would keep going. If I was having a bad day, it would be a shorter run. I'd never set off with a specific distance to run. I was hoping that today would be one of the "good" days, but really? There's no way for me to know ahead of time.

The race was a lot smaller than I was expecting for a themed 5K; perhaps it was because it was the weekend preceding the 4th of July, perhaps it was because of the city art festival that was going on that day, perhaps it was because there were other 5Ks going on elsewhere in the metro area that day - who really knows, but I was expecting a bigger crowd. Instead, it was closer to 200 people, and I kind of got the impression that things weren't as polished as they could be. Sure, it's a newer event, but... I don't know. Something felt missing. There really wasn't anything specifically "80s" about it, save for the cover band playing at the end. It could have been called the Neon Run and it would have looked the same. I was under the mistaken impression that there would be 80s music playing along the route; this was not the case. It was just a bunch of people dressed up running through a park - we even got chewed out by some jerk on a bike for being in his way (hi, you don't own this path, and clearly we were having some sort of event - no need to be so rude or force the runners off the path to make your way through!). Even so, it was probably just what I needed - no huge crush of people, no pressure, just... goofy people in goofy attire, traipsing down a trail at whatever pace they felt like going. In other words: I had chosen wisely for my first attempt at an "official" 5K. (Because a 5K with a starting line and a finish line is much more official than randomly running through a park, obviously.)

I was feeling pretty good when we started. This didn't last long. Once I finally got around all the people who were walking and/or had been running and suddenly started walking (or, had been walking and suddenly started running), I tried really hard to find my groove. I had my phone in an armband and Runkeeper open so I could monitor my distance - I know a lot of people think looking at your watch or monitoring your progress is a bad idea because of the mental blocks it might cause; for me, it's actually a motivator to keep going. I tried to tell myself repeatedly that I was simply out for a run, on a different path - it was a perfect night for running, which made it even more frustrating that I was struggling.

The fact that I had expected some sort of music along the route meant that I had left my own music behind - and I know a lot of people run without it, but I'm not used to it, and I think that also contributed to my struggle.

But I kept going. I trudged along, willing my feet to keep moving, not wanting to let myself down. I finally got to Mile 2 and this is when it got hard. I was ready to be done, my head was in the wrong place, my legs felt heavy, it was all wrong. But I kept going. Mile 2.5 and I flat-out told myself that I had come to far to quit, and I was going to finish the damn thing. I didn't care how slow I went, and I made a conscious effort to keep slowing myself down - it would take me longer, sure, but I'd rather it take a long time than to not finish.

Finally, the finish line (or, more accurately, the ladies handing out bottles of water and a sandwich board that said "FINISH" on it) was in sight, and I picked my pace up the best I could for that last bit. I ran through and tried to stop my various devices with varying degrees of success (my hands were too sweaty and I slipped while trying to stop my watch; I bumped a button on my phone, causing Runkeeper to add another 45 seconds to my time - at least my UP band caught the actual stop time). The BF was waiting for me at the end and I vaguely recall hugging him before I moved off to the side to catch my breath.

So: I did it. It wasn't my finest run, but I finished what I set out to do, and that was the main objective, so I'm calling it a win. I clocked myself at 38:50 which is my new "official" 5K time to maybe someday try to beat. I think it will be a while before I'm competing with myself, though - I'm still very much in the "just try to finish" stage.