December 15, 2009
For those of you loyal folks out there who have been reading my blog for a while now, you know that I ran indoor track last year with my running group. You might have been wondering “will she do it again this year, given her blogging has been really off?” The answer is a RESOUNDING YES! For those of you who are new readers, thank you for reading, and please drop me a comment so I know who you are, and if you’re on Twitter or have a blog, please let me know that too! (Full disclosure: I tend to spend more time on Twitter than blogs lately but I do try to catch up from time to time with everyone and find out what’s been going on, so you may not hear from me for a little while, and then all of a sudden you’ll see lots of comments all in a row.)
Anyway, Forrest Gump Anonymous is my husband’s nickname for my track workouts. This year, the sessions are still being held at the same high school, where 11 laps = one mile. But it’s with different coaches than last winter. This group has a different philosophy than last year. They try to be pretty inclusive and not necessarily stick people in groups based on pace. For example, for tonight, we worked in pairs, where one of us was running and the other was timing and tracking laps. Each of us ran a mile, while the other one yelled out splits and lap times. Then we traded places, and got time to catch our breath. Then we repeated the same thing, another mile. I worked with someone who is now going to work on doing the “run program” rather than the “run-walk program”, so unfortunately for her, she got less time in between than I did.
Because the track is so small, the new coaches want to treat these sessions more as interval sessions than as speed sessions. But, I kind of feel like this is the season where I do work on speed. They say that at the outdoor track sessions, that people are going to be doing speed work. But, to be honest, in the cold that we have to endure in the Northeast, I am not going to be doing outdoor track. To me, one of the worst feelings is when sweat dries on you when out in the cold, as you stand around in between laps. At least when you are outside on a normal run, you just kind of keep on going, and going, and going….you don’t stop long enough to get chilled.
So, tonight, during each of those 11 laps you were supposed to start out at a slower pace and gradually get faster. During the first mile, I’m embarrassed to admit, but I couldn’t remember how to start the stop watch, it’s been that long since I did track workouts. So my paces were all over the place, and to be honest, I didn’t want to start out that slow! So, for the second mile, I just started at 44 second laps, and tried to keep it consistent, at a pace where I felt like toward the end I could go faster. So, I know, I’m a bad rule follower, but I’m happy to say my first mile was 7:49 and the second was 7:43. Now here’s where I was a total idiot. I did one lap too many for the first mile that Gail timed me. She was yelling out numbers of laps that I had done, and I thought the number I heard was the number of the lap I was starting. So, I think I could have done the first one faster, but I was holding myself back a bit on “real lap 11″/”my brain thought it was lap 10.”
God, I LOVED running fast again tonight! (Well, fast for me, but not for a lot of other people out there.) It’s been a while, and I’m so glad I decided to do this again. Gail thanked me for running with her. She said that last year she always felt self-conscious being the last one out there running, but she was happy to see that this year, people that didn’t even know her were yelling out encouragement as she went around and around. (I wonder if she realizes she was pretty supportive herself?) The people in this track group look to be good for that reason. I hope it continues that way!
Because it’s late and I’d like to get up and get some writing in, in the morning, I’ll leave you now with one of my favorite songs to run to when I’m not worrying about my pace. It’s called Chances by Five For Fighting. I really like the lyrics, which I find to be uplifting.
December 11, 2009
I got into work today and one of my colleagues (who is a beginning runner himself, I am glad and proud to say) asked me if I’d run today. He knows I’m a die-hard, I guess. Or just insane, take your pic. It was 21 degrees this morning around 5:30 a.m., and with 20-30 mph wind gusts, the wind chill temp was 7, according to my iPhone’s weather channel app. I laughed and told him, “yep, because a guy from Scotland made me do it.” So, this is my shout-out to Mickdo100 (as he’s known on Twitter), or the writer of the Nowhere Fast Revisited blog I have on my blogroll. Funny how people you’ve never met in person can inspire you. Well, I guess that means almost all of you reading this blog, in my case!
I was sitting on my couch this morning, watching my dog Ruthie, who’s oh-so-cute, sleep all curled up on her chair, with her blue blankie wrapped around her (she will put up with anything from us as long as it means she’s getting attention, including being treated like a human baby), and listening to the wind howl. And I mean howl. We have chimes hanging on our one deck and you could tell from the lovely sounds that they made, that the wind was pretty strong. And when I took Ruthie out to relieve herself at 4:30 a.m. (imagine that being your rude awakening to the day), she could stand on top of the snow without breaking through. It was that cold.
So, the idea of getting out there and running (especially since I was afraid that somehow there’d be more black ice like yesterday when I was an idiot and didn’t wear my Stabilicers, thus forcing me to abandon my run for a power walk with Ruthie) was not really an appealing one. I mean, on the one hand, I have this good volume of the Vampire Diaries saga I’m reading (this book series is so much better than Twilight and mind you, coming from me, that’s saying a lot), or I could write some of my own fiction (really liking it the more I do it), and on the other hand, I could freeze my butt off. (Oh, my other hand [I know, this gives me something like 4 hands right now if you’ve been adding them all up] had the option of decorating our Christmas tree.)
So, what do I do? I start whining about it on Twitter. And the power of the Internet, Mickdo100 , being 5 or 6 hours ahead of me, time-wise, and who also had the day off, and is injured, well, he tells me to get out there, dress warm, and remember that even if it’s only for 20 minutes that I get out there, it’s still better than nothing.
So, I thought about it. For a few minutes, and thought, “well, now or never, I’ve got to be on time today, I’m covering the reference desk first thing.” So I started getting dressed. Not a quick proposition with our weather. Three shirts, a pair of tights, one long pair of pants, a neck muffler, heavy thermal hat and warm gloves, smart wool socks, sneaks with Stabilicer Sports later, and I was ready to go! (Oh yeah, and my Road ID, or Road Kill ID, as I call it with iPod were worn also but those go without saying.) For any of you who are wondering (and still reading), I do wear a headlamp in the dark. I want to live.
Running with all that gear can make it hard to move. It was not my fastest run, but I didn’t wear my Garmin either. I didn’t want to have to stand outside and wait for the thing to pick up satellites, it was that cold. So, just two laps around my nearby lake, which means about 3.4 miles, and that was it for me. But I got out there, and I did it, and I’m glad for that. Because sooner or later this season, those temps are going to feel downright balmy to me. (Oh, and I did stop about halfway to remove the Stabilicers, they just weren’t needed today. Luckily they are pretty lightweight so I put them in my pockets and started up again.)
While I was out there, I looked up at the sky, as I do many times on my runs when I can’t wait for the sunrise. The moon was very thin this morning, and of course the sky was completely cloudless (helping to keep the temps down.) This reminded me of another of my Twitter friends, TurtlePower1 (if you are on Twitter, I highly recommend following him. He has some great sayings, and perspectives. He protects his tweets but just send him a request to follow and if you’re lucky, he’ll agree to it.) He’s a runner that keeps his eyes on the heavens, watches for meteor showers, and has taught me a lot about the International Space Station and how you can see it in the night sky. I think he would have enjoyed the pre-dawn sky I saw this morning.
Anyway, have you ever noticed that the moon sometimes seems to move further upward in the sky as the sun tries to take over? I thought of it as an epic battle that gets fought every day between the sun and the moon for control over the sky. We all know how it’s going to end, yet it gets repeated day after day. It’s one of my favorite reasons for being a morning runner.
I leave you now with a picture I took of the Cape the last time I was down there. Don’t worry, there’ll be no shortage of my opportunities to take more snow pics and post them up here for you! LOL
Grey's Beach, Cape Cod
Ok, gotta go and decorate my tree now – thanks for listening!
By the way, anyone think this post wins the award for use of most parentheticals or run-on sentences?! 🙂
December 9, 2009
We got our second snowstorm of the year – but personally I didn’t really count the first one. And even this one, while it created tons of havoc, didn’t leave a ton of snow behind like others have, but that’s just because the snow was followed by a ton of rain, and if you can believe it, thunderstorms and fog this evening?!
Anyway, Bill looked at me like I’d gone insane this morning when he got up around 5:30 a.m., saw it was snowing, and then saw that I was getting dressed to head out. He was like “you’re really going out in this?!” And I said “yeah, just around the lake.” I meant for two laps around the lake, but he thought just one. Just 3.8 miles down for the day, but I couldn’t wait to get out there! (For non-runners reading this blog, they’re thinking “that’s sick, and why would anyone want to do that?” The runners reading this blog know exactly what I was thinking.)
It was definitely coming down quickly, and it was the wet, heavy snow. The kind that can come down at about 1-2 inches per hour, if not more. I actually had fun out there, and on the first lap out there, I even found myself smiling. Yep, drivers must have thought, “who the hell is that insane person out here in the driving snow, smiling like a jackass?!” There was something very invigorating about being the only one out there, having the snow fly into my face, knowing that if I could get myself out there in this type of weather, and actually enjoy it, there’s pretty much nothing I can’t do.
I have to say this – I had NO FEAR OF FALLING. I was wearing my Stabilicers (Stabilicer Sport model) that I bought last winter, which are made for running. They slip on underneath your shoes, and then have an elastic strap that you put around your sneakers as well, definitely keeping them on tightly. It probably helps that with a 7.5 shoe size, I am at the large end of the small size. (Still with me?)
Today was also my first day of this fall/winter running season where I went with three layers on top. For the first lap around the lake anyway. I felt too warm, way too quickly, so I stopped at my house, took the outer layer off, and kept on going. After which, overheating was not a problem, but then I felt tired. Not sure why. So I may take a page from Lindsay over at the Chasing the Kenyans blog and try doing a warm base layer, tech shirt mid layer, and then my running jacket over the top, next time, and see if that keeps me warm enough. I know, though, that will only work down to about 30 degrees, if it’s precipitating. If it dips into the 20s, I need my fleece, and sometimes I’m fine with just two layers, as long as it’s not raining/snowing.
Anyway, if you do live in a colder climate, I highly suggest the Stabilicer Sport model. The roads had not been plowed at all this morning when I was out there, and I felt like I had teeth on the bottom of my shoes. I thought, this must be what mountain climbers must feel like – these things REALLY grip the road beneath them! I even felt fine when climbing my little overpass, and running down the other side. It was a very liberating feeling.
The only thing that scared me was my husband’s words “don’t get hit by a plow” as I left the house. (And we thank you for your support, LOL!) In fact, I wish I could have actually SEEN more than one plow during my almost 2-hour drive to work today (18 miles in total in case you are wondering.)
Anyway, have to get to bed, mornings come way too early around here! But at least I get to go in late to work tomorrow so if I can get a run in in the morning, it’ll be in daylight – wahoo!! (We’re down to a whopping 9 hours of daylight here on the East Coast.)
I leave you all with a snowy picture I took this past Sunday – we only got about 2-3 inches that day. The orangeish glow in the background is the sun trying to break through. As you can see, it had its work cut out for it.
the beauty of the first snowfall of the season
December 6, 2009
Jolly Jaunt's many running shoes!
25:40!!!! 25:40!! I finally did it – I finally met one of my goals for this year, in running a 5K race somewhere in the 25s! I broke that elusive 26 minute barrier! Wahooo!!! I was smiling about that all day yesterday.
The picture on the left is of our shoes after the race. (Some of us are camera shy, meaning we don’t want our sweaty mugs out there for everyone to see.) As you can see, one of us, Meg, wears the Vibram Five Finger shoes. She really loves them. Me, I just can’t bring myself to wear them. I am really not a biomechanically efficient runner. I can’t imagine my running form would get any better with them.
A few weeks ago, a few of my coworkers decided to do this race and pledged to raise $200. As of the last time I looked, they had raised over $800. We could join the team and just pay $35 to register without having any fundraising responsibilities, so that’s what I decided to do. We ended up with 4 people from work, including a coworker, for whom this was his first race EVER, and Lis and her husband rounded out the team with a toal of 6 people.
The race begins and ends on Charles Street, which intersects the Boston Common and the beautiful Public Gardens. It’s an out and back loop on Commonwealth Avenue, with the only incline being where Commonwealth Ave.’s thru traffic goes underneath the green grass separating Beacon Street from Commonwealth’s “local” traffic. (If you’ve ever run the Boston Marathon, you know where I’m talking about, and how hard it is to describe Boston’s roads!)
I have to be honest, I am not sure I would do this race again. The entry fee was on the high end for a 5K race. I realize it went to charity (Special Olympics of MA) though, so I try to take that into account. However, I’ve run other races where the entry fee proceeds go to a charity and they’ve been a lot less. Yes, the course was fast but I’ve got lots of other fast races that I can choose from, I mean, this is Boston!
Things I liked:
- We had timing chips (D Chrono tags, nice and disposable)
- Fast and flat course, not too crowded with runners, but enough so you didn’t feel like you were running all alone the whole way
- Jingle bells on everyone’s shoes, making it sound very festive
- Number pick-up option the night before at City Sports
- Prompt race start (but see below)
- I set a PR!!!
Things I didn’t like:
- No starting mat at the beginning (so the results on Cool Running are really not accurate unless you’re standing smack on the start line when the gun goes off)
- Absolutely no way to tell where the start line was once the gun went off. Literally, no markings on the street.
- The race started at 9:57. What?! When have you ever seen a race start EARLY? I was still setting up my Garmin, because as anyone knows who has one, if you do it too early, and then wait too long at the start, it’ll reset itself to sleep mode.
- They closed down the street, yet only had a narrow timing mat off to the right where you could jump on it at the very end. What’s the point in giving us timing chips, and closing off the street if you’re not going to have a timing mat at the beginning?
- Results not even broken down into divisions. I’m happy with my placement overall (288/1043) but to me, the “placement in division F35-39” is usually what I judge myself on more than how I do compared to the overall field.
- Walkers were not given bibs, yet they had to pay the $35 fee. To me, I think that’s crap. If you’re going to take their money, then treat them as many other races do, like real entrants. Really. (Lis’ husband, Steve, was a walker, and he should have had a timing chip and bib.)
- Really the bare bones of information on the website beforehand. No info on the fact that if you were a walker, you’d not receive a bib.
- No info on the website (at least that I could see) about being able to pick up the numbers beforehand. We just got the idea to call City Sports beforehand, since we knew that they were a sponsor, and for many races that they sponsor, that’s how registration is handled to take the pressure off of race-day pickup.
At the end of the race, we were all handled bottles of water. There may have been more stuff around but I didn’t see it ( I mean, other than in the vendor’s tents.) I’ve run races where I’ve paid a lot less and there’s been a lot more food at the end. Why is that? That little local races seem to really put out quite a spread, but one that is run by a much larger organization doesn’t? I ran a race in October that benefits Special Olympians of Newton, MA, and they go crazy with the after-race spread! So, maybe it’s just this race. That’s what I am going to choose to believe, anyway.
I don’t want to sound completely negative about this race though. There was good support for water around the 2 mile mark. I stopped to get my heart rate down, as my first mile had been run at 8:10, and I suspected that was a bit fast for me. By the way, my second mile was 8:43, and third was 7:59!!!! I covered the last .1 in 7:30!!! Yay! I just kept looking at my watch occasionally and doing some quick math in my head, and I was so excited as I rounded the Public Garden, because I knew I still had about 2.5 or 3 minutes and I could still finish before the 26 minute mark (where my watch is concerned, which is the time I’m choosing to go with!) I kept looking and seeing my Garmin show me something like 7:53 as my pace, and I was like “oh my God, oh my God! I’m going to do it! FINALLY!” And whenever I felt tired, I just kept repeating “25! 25! in my head over and over.” Such a good feeling, believe me. (And it’s funny, I didn’t really want to say this goal to anyone ahead of time, other than Lis, because I was worried that might jinx it. My best races have been the ones where I’ve not put a lot of pressure on myself.
I am proud of my coworkers for running the race the way they did. Meg and Lisa finished within a second of each other. George ran his first 5K ever, and much faster than he expected. He thought it’d take about 39 minutes to do it (he runs for time in the mornings, rather than miles – he sets a time goal and aims to get out there and continue running the whole time, regardless of the distance he covers.) His time on Cool Running is off by probably over a minute or maybe two. I know this because he started at the back of the pack, and I even had a time that was off by about 45-50 seconds, and I started in the middle. His official time was in the 36 minute range. We all finished the race with him, too. When I finished, I caught my breath, and started walking back on the side of the road so I could see Meg and Lisa, who yelled out to me when they saw me. I told them I was going to go back and find George, so that’s what they did when they finished.
Oh, and I found out that there had been some private bets at work about who would beat whom, between Lisa and Meg. I’ll have to find out how much was wagered! 🙂
Anyway, thanks for reading.
December 3, 2009
November was an unusual month, but in a good way. My brother lives in NYC, and usually we only see each other every few months, or even less. (Part of it is due to my aversion to that city – having grown up in upstate NY, I always feel like it is patently obvious that I don’t belong.) Anyway, I digress.
I was able to see my brother three weekends in a row in November. I went to NYC for a few days before a meeting, then he ran the Philly Marathon, and then he came up to visit for Thanksgiving. (I’ll write more about the Philly Marathon, complete with pics, in another post.)
For those of you who don’t know my brother, or are new readers to the blog, my brother goes by Jim, but of course, and much to his chagrin when his friends are around, I call him Jamie. (Sorry, 35 years of calling him one name ain’t going to change overnight!) Anyway, Jamie and I have begun a tradition of always running the Feaster Five on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a race that is run by the running group to which I belong, the Merrimack Valley Striders. There’s a kids’ race at 7:45, and then a 5K and 5 Mile race that start at 8:30. This was our third year of running it, and the second year in a row that we’ve done the 5 Miler.
Over 7,000 people run this race. It’s organized by Dave McGillvray (sp?) and his management company, which is, of course, the same guy that directs the world-famous Boston Marathon. So, it follows that it attracts some big names, like Dick Hoyt, Joan Benoit Samuelson (she lives in Maine), and this year, Nate Jenkins. Nate’s name might sound familiar because he placed 7th in the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2007. He’s also from the area. It’s no surprise he won the 5 Mile race, with an average per mile pace of less than 5 minutes. The results are on CoolRunning.
As usual, my brother wasn’t able to make it into town until late the night before (traffic is always horrendous, coming to Boston from NYC.) I picked him up from the Bus Station in Boston around 11:45 p.m., and think I finally got to sleep around 1 a.m. or so. We had to get up around 6ish, so we could leave the house a bit after 7 a.m. (Parking can be an issue at the race.)
This year, we were lucky to have some nice mild weather and we got to the race by around 7:50, in plenty of time to visit the porta potties. Jamie brought his new gloves that he got in the goody bag at the marathon the weekend before. Too bad he didn’t actually get to run in them. You see, when he used the porta potty, he put them up on the shelf. Then, what do you think happened? That’s right….they fell into the abyss. Totally gross….He said he thought, for a split second, about trying to fish them out, but then (thankfully, in my mind) gave up that idea. Lucky for him, I had an extra pair in the car. When I got back in line to use the porta potty a second time (nervous bladder, what can I say?), he ran back to the car and got them.
So, then, we get into line at the start, and put ourselves close to the 9 minute pace sign. As we’re standing there, and it’s getting warmer from all the bodies around us, and we hear the national anthem sung, he looks at me and says “oh boy, I need to use the bathroom.” Trust me, at this point, there is no way in hell he could have broken out of that group. And unlike the Boston Marathon, it’s not so accepted that you might pee in your starting corral. So I looked at him and said “looks like you might need to hold it for a while.”
The course goes like this: There is a MONSTER hill in the first mile. I mean, huge. As in, you keep going up and up and up, and you wonder when the hell will you ever see the crest? It flattens out about halfway up, but it’s just a tease, literally for just a few feet, and then you continue on with your climb. I saw someone in full-on turkey regalia, walking. Can’t say as I blamed the guy. This year, even though my lower back has hurt a lot recently (yes, I know, I need to do more core work), that hill, while being tough, didn’t cause me as much agita as it did the past two years. Maybe because in the mornings I’ve been making myself end my runs up and down over the bridge near my house a few times. After the first mile marker, the 5Kers and the 5 Milers split up, and the road literally opens up more to our race, which is awesome.
From there on, it’s pretty much a flat, but sometimes rolling course. My brother and I even commented to each other that it seemed like there were a lot of downhills on the course. (Maybe they just felt that way after the huge hill at the beginning.) My brother and I remembered that after the two races merge, there is a stretch where you’re not running alongside houses on both sides of the road. We saw that area (not really a woods but that is what we kept calling it, and I pointed out the largest tree I could see and said “go, run there!”) At this point, I think my brother would have been happy peeing behind a pixie stick. At one point, he’d said to me, “the water’s knocking on the door!” with a big smile on his face.
Here’s the funny part – he said that as he was “taking care of things” he heard people yell out “we can still see you!!” and then when he ran back into the field of runners, a lady looked at him and smiled. She said “hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.” When he’d left me initially, a guy running next to me just kind of smiled, and I was like “he’s been looking for that patch of trees for 4 miles now!” and he just laughed. I said he’d just run Philly a few days before that, and I had no fear that he couldn’t catch up to me.
So, here’s the thing. For most of my runs, it’s felt tiring to run in the low 9 range, for more than just a few miles. Yet, that day, despite being on very little sleep, even running in the 8s didn’t seem too difficult. I even said to myself at one point, even as I looked at my Garmin as it beeped out the miles and paces, “I’m feeling pretty good today. This is COMFORTABLE!” So, after my brother caught up with me (it even looked like he was sprinting there for a moment), he said to me “you want to throw the hammer down and go below 9?” To which I responded “we’ve been under 9 for the past mile!” (He has a stopwatch but not a Garmin, although now he wants to get one for himself. See what a great influence a big sister can be?)
Well, we picked up the pace, and started weaving around people, trying to get ahead. When you get to the last .3 or .4 mile point, there’s a downhill. Followed by an UPHILL at the very end. That’s where my morning runs have really come in handy. I felt strong through to the very end! 🙂
All in all, this is a great race. If you register early enough (online), you get a long sleeve technical shirt, plus an apple pie and tons of food at the end. It’s very well organized. Never a worry about there being enough porta potties, thank God. (Hey, it’s a concern, because Lis and I ran a race last winter where there were 3 toilets (count them, 3) for over 600 people…enough said.
Ok, I’ve gone on long enough. The stats are below.
- 136/384 in division, F35-39
- 1295/2798 overall
- Official net time: 44:49, but average pace of 9:01/mile (doesn’t add up, right?)
- Mile 1=9:46
- Mile 2=9:03
- Mile 3=9:01
- Mile 4=8:49
- Mile 5=8:03!!
This weekend, I’m running a Jolly Jaunt 5k in Boston with some coworkers. I usually like to keep these two parts of my life separate, but for one of them, it’s his first race ever, so I want him to have a good experience. I’ll write about it afterward, and hopefully get some pics! (And the scary thing is, they think I’m the fastest of all of us. That’s never been the case. I just think they’re being nice, honestly.)
Oh, and just because she’s adorable, and I don’t have pics from the Thanksgiving race, below is another picture of my cutie pie, Ruthie. She’s hanging out on my brother’s lap -note the blurriness around the tail, because it’s constantly wagging. She enjoys life, what can I say? And isn’t every 55-60 pound dog a lap dog? 🙂
Ruthie, the lap dog, sitting on Jamie
December 2, 2009
I am so far behind on posting, it’s not even funny.
A few weeks ago, I got an unexpected, but very nice message on Facebook from someone with a company called 32North. They are a company based in Maine, and they make products for people with active lives who live in northern climates, such as the Boston area experiences. Last year, I ran outside a lot, even in the snow and ice. I was happy to have bought a pair of their Stabilicer Sport product last year (you can read more about my experience with that product here.)
Anyway, I’ve registered as a fan on the 32North Facebook page. They had a random drawing to give away a pair of Stabilicer Lites, and guess who won? ME! I received my prize very quickly from their representative and it was delivered along with a handwritten note. When is the last time you could say that you got something like that? (By the way, I should mention that when I called the company last fall, a real person answered the phone and helped me with my questions on sizing, etc. They didn’t keep me on hold forever either. Again, when is the last time you could say that you had that experience with a company?)
I’m really looking forward to trying out the Stabilicer Lites and seeing how they work compared to the others I bought last year. I’ll write up a review on here when the time comes. (For the record, I’m not looking forward to the usual Boston winter.) I see on their website that the Lites are best used for lite outdoor exercise such as walking, and the Sport model is more for running. Well, this year, because I now have Ruthie in my life, and she appreciates being walked every day, I think the Lites will get a lot of use. As anyone who lives in cold climates knows, it’s really important to be prepared for the weather, especially if you don’t want to get sick or injured. 32North is a company that can help you do that!
In case you’re curious as to what they look like, I’ve put pics below, which I would like to acknowledge are from their website.
Stabilicer Lite (from 32North.com)
Stabilicer Sport from 32North.com
Also, be sure to check out their channel on YouTube!