January 2010


I couldn’t resist posting these photos of Ruthie.  I put a few of them on Twitter, but I know not everyone is on there, so I hope it’s ok to also post them here.  She is definitely one of the apples of my eye (in our house, there are three of them, of the furry sense: Ruthie, Chloe and Callie. The latter two are adorable cats!)

Thank you to all of you who left comments on my last post.  I felt so much better about reading them. Thank you for reminding me, I need to take joy in what I have done, and not worry about what I’m not doing.  Lis reminded me yesterday, it’s all about balance.   I’ve been enjoying running less, and I have been writing more on this blog, and both of those things make me happy. I need to not compare myself to what others are doing, anymore!

Due to the Special Election to replace Senator Ted Kennedy taking place today in MA, we dind’t have track practice this evening.  It bummed me out because I missed last week to attend a board meeting.  But, they sent us the workout early, so I did it this morning on the treadmill.  I had a great morning! (If only the rest of the day went as well, but I’m going to try to mentally put myself back there again.)

One of the coaches told me I should set the incline to .5 or keep it at 0 for the speed work.  What a difference that little .5 made! Or, was it the fact that I finally added my playlists back onto my iPod?  Or, perhaps smart beans with caffeine and propel that I was guzzling? For some reason, it just seemed so much easier this week.

Today’s workout: 8-12 400 repeats, at 5K pace (didn’t specify goal or actual), with 1 minute standing rest in between, water stop halfway.

Here’s the thing.  Treadmills don’t allow you to stand still. At least our gym’s treadmills will say “user not detected” and shut off. So I just put it down to 1.0 in between to simulate no movement. Also, instead of taking a water break halfway through, I just drank when I needed to. And, as best as I could, I tried to keep the breaks to 1 minute, but we all know that the treadmill doesn’t “ramp up” in speed like we humans do.  

I DID 12!! I DID 12!! AND WAS DONE BY 6:40 AM!!!!

 I told myself that I’d start them out at a speed that would allow me to get faster toward the end. After all, it’s always easier to start faster and then get slower, right?   Lis and I had been emailing each other yesterday and we decided to call the pace I’d do them at as “I feel like I’m going to die” pace.  We all know what that pace is, right?  (She’s been reading through a book I’ve mentioned before, and have used, call Run Less, Run Faster.)

Anyway, our treadmills measure pace like this (others may be a bit different, I realize):

  • 8.1 mph=7:24 pace
  • 8.2: mph=7:19 pace
  • 8.3 mph=7:13 pace
  • 8.4 mph=7:08 pace
  • 8.5 mph=7:03 pace

How I did the 400 repeats, to the best of my memory (hey, it wasn’t even 7 am! LOL):

  • Repeats 1-3: 8.1 mph (Wow, this doesn’t feel too bad at all.)
  • Repeats 4-6: 8.2 mph (Time to kick it up a notch)
  • Repeats 7-9: 8.3 mph (Just keep thinking, over halfway!)
  • Repeats 10-11: 8.4 mph (Wow, this is weird, my legs moving like this! I don’t want to fall off of the machine!)
  • Repeat 12: 8.4 and 8.5 mph (Wanted to be done!!  It’s not even 6:45!)

I am so bummed – because of my having to teach next Tuesday night, I’m going to have to Gump it all alone again.  But, I’ll try to remember how it felt when I finished up today and try to feel that way again. Wish me luck!

P.S. I’m still working on my new Music Page – now that I’ve got my playlists back, it should move along faster! Also, I think I may be looking at races for the year, including a half marathon.  Maybe.

Of course it’s all relative.  What seems “long” to me now is probably like a short walk in the park for a lot of others.  Other runners, that is.  Last week, I had lunch with a friend. When I told her I’d run a bit over 7 miles that morning, she said “that sounds far.” So did my husband, when I’d told him the route I’d run.  To me, I felt like it was short, compared to all the tweets and blogs I read, where people are getting out there and doing 16 or more (hell, anything over 7 qualifies.)  It makes me think back to 2007 when I’d done all those long runs in the summer while training for the Maine Marathon. Back then, 3 sounded so short. Hell, 8 sounded short. I still look back in amazement, and think “did I really do that? 26.2? In one day? The same day I started?”

Not having a long(ish) race yet picked out on the horizon, it is hard for me to rationalize getting out there and doing more than say, 6 or 7 on the weekends.  I know, I know, for a 10K, I should be running about 8 on the weekends. But again, not so many of those even on the horizon. Yes, I live outside of Boston, which is definitely a running/walking city, but the 10Ks don’t happen every weekend. 5Ks, pretty much, yes, but not the longer races all the time.

Let’s be honest. I would much prefer to do longer runs over the spring and summertime than I would here in the winter.  It’s much easier to sweat and lose layers as needed, than to sweat and then feel colder because the sweat gets cold. Honestly, it can be kind of miserable. Yes, I had the option to run with some folks from MVS yesterday morning at 8 a.m. but that would have meant a 30 minute drive to meet them, and I just wanted to sleep in on Saturday since I have to work today, and on the holiday.

Anyway, a weird thing happened yesterday. The weather hit 45 degrees here.  Beautiful and sunny. You think I could get myself out there to run? Nah. Went to the gym instead.  After much thought, I figured out why.  Two reasons.  One.  The idea of doing a “long” run two weeks in a row just made me want to say “Ugh.”   Last week I did 7 miles because it was something I hadn’t done in a while. So it was new. (It is no longer new, when done two weeks in a row.) And when it’s nice out? Yet still cool? I don’t know how to dress for that anymore!  🙂  No, really.  Call it short-term memory loss.  I’m all good with dressing for frigidly cold weather now, even for running in it. But dressing for semi-nice running weather, where I might need fleece to start with, but not end with? Too difficult for me to choose!

So there I was – literally all dressed – hat/headband: check; Garmin: check; Road ID: check; long tights: check; two layers on top, getting the third out: check; iPod (with playlists still erased, ugh again): check.  And then I decided not to go. My husband looked at me and said “if  you don’t want to go, then don’t. You won’t enjoy it anyway.”  So I didn’t. I rationalized, I’d run 5 miles the day before at a good clip (average: 9:16 pace) so today I could just ride the bike.

And, so I did. All 18 miles a hill workout, I rode the bike, while reading a great book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. It’s a book told from a dog’s point of view. Absolutely hysterical, and also really sad, at parts. I highly recommend it!

The Art of Racing in the Rain (photo from Amazon.com)

Don’t you love it when two things you love come together? (For me, that’s reading and exercise.) By the way, I’m noticing I can now put the bike on Level 6, and it doesn’t seem like I am working too hard. But I digress…

Tonight we’re supposed to get rain, then rain mixed with snow, then snow tomorrow morning. And you know what? I’m excited to run in it if I have time (read: not too much shoveling to do) before heading out to work on the Martin Luther King holiday. (Yeah, kinda sucks I am working, but this way I get a comp day to take on Friday!)

Does this make me strange?   Well, at least it won’t be considered “long” even if I can find time to get in 4-5 miles. I just want to make sure that I retain the fun in running, you know?

Hope you are all enjoying a good, fun holiday weekend.

I can’t make it to Forrest Gumps Anonymous, as my husband calls it, or indoor track, as I call it, tonight.  I have a board meeting to attend to, for which I am the Recording Secretary, so really I can’t miss these meetings!

Luckily, though, the coaches sent us the workout yesterday so I was able to do it on the treadmill this morning. First of all, my abs still feel whatever I did to them on Sunday. Good Lord! I definitely should have been doing more core work all along! Secondly, speed work is so hard to do on  your own, and on a treadmill, and before the clock even hits 7 a.m., let me tell you!

I took my Sports Beans with caffeine to wake up, and I also took my Propel, again, to help me wake up. This is what we were supposed to do: 6 to 8 repeats of 600 meters (on the indoor track, it’d be 4 laps), at 5K goal pace, and with active recovery in between.  I translated that into .4 on the treadmill, and .15 as the distance to walk/slow shuffle in between.  If I’d been at the indoor track, we’d not have had water breaks until after the 4th one, but since I was on the treadmill, I let myself drink when I needed it.

I originally intended to do 8 of them, but I ended up only doing 6.  This is the pace that I used:

  • 1st 3 repeats – treadmill set to 8.2 (7:19 mile pace); incline set to 0 for the first two (I forgot to change it to 1.0)
  • 4th repeat – treadmill set to 8.1 (7:24 mile pace), then changed to 8.0 (7:30 mile pace), incline set to 1.0  (felt like I was dying for a while there)
  • 5th repeat – treadmill set to 8.1
  • 6th repeat – treadmill set to 8.1 again, still on incline of 1.0

I did take a bit of a pause break in between the 4th and 5th repeat. I figured if we were at the track, we would have taken about a 1-2 minute break.  Total running including cooling down and warm up was 3.6 miles.

Anyway, I’m off to my board meeting, have a good night everyone!

photo by Gregory Bastien, from flickr.com

Or is it discipline I’m trying to get back? I’m not sure. (Warning: I’m feeling a little undecided about things right now.)

Up until last August, if I had a run planned, I did it. Or, I felt extremely guilty about not doing it.  But last fall, with my library’s reorg, and a completely crazy workload, I kind of fell off of the discipline wagon.  And then became more “flexible” or at least that’s what I told myself it was.  But really, it was a way that I could rationalize taking some days off.  Which makes it sound like a bad thing, but in some ways, I feel like it was good for me.

My running may have suffered from this more flexible attitude, but I feel like it was needed for the rest of my life.  This year, I’m going to see if I can add back in some more of my mental discipline but try to keep it in check, and not let running become an obsession so that the rest of my life is out of balance.    That means no running out there with a ski mask on, and when it’s so cold that I literally have water freezing on my eyelashes.  When I think back to those runs, and the fact that I did them in the dark mornings (with my head lamp on, of course), my god, I was like a woman obsessed.  This year, if it gets that cold again, I’m either going to take the day off or do some cross training, or something inside (maybe attempt yoga) but running in cold weather like that, well, it was not good for my lungs.  (I believe those were runs that had wind chills in the negative digits.)

This year, the weather has just been so cold.  And I think part of what’s making it feel even worse is the wind.  Yesterday, for some unknown reason, I had this number “7” in my mind as the number of miles I wanted to do. I’m not training for a long race right now, so it’s not really necessary, but I figured if I want to do better with 5Ks and 10Ks this spring, in addition to the track workouts, I should try to run further than that distance on the weekend.

I ended up running 7.26 miles.  My average was 9:47 pace, but I do have to acknowledge turning off the Garmin a few times when I ate some of my sports beans.  (Try running and opening up a ziploc baggie with bag gloves on in the cold. Go on, try it. Not so easy, is it?!)

Good things to report. No one beeped at me to remind me that I am just a small human, and they are driving a large vehicle weighing at least 20x as much as me. No drunks or people high on whatever running out and trying to get into a fight with me.  HOWEVER, I did get a driver who slowed down, caught my eye and then gave me a big thumbs-up, and affirming nod.  That definitely helped me to pick up my step! 🙂 

Then, a few miles later,  I think I may have run past Dan Vassallo, the local running phenom I was blogging about recently.  The maybe-Dan had on an orange hat like he did, and where I passed him, it definitely would have made sense for him to run, as we live in neighboring towns and we were not too far from the town line. Well, for someone like him, anyway.   He had on the same kind of orange knit hat I saw him in a week ago, and he was running super-fast.  Of course, I could be completely wrong, but for now, I’m going to go with “that was him!” as my memory from yesterday.  Whoever he was, he acknowledged me with another nod, and said something but I didn’t hear it – was listening to my headphones and we were on opposite sides of the street. Also, my legs didn’t feel like lead when I finished – yay! 

Oh, yesterday’s run began around 9:20 a.m., with temps in the teens, and wind chills somewhere in the single digits. I think. Today’s weather was forecast to be even colder.

So, I planned to do cross-training at the gym.  I used the rowing machine for the first time in months.  I was frustrated with myself yesterday for having back pain on my run, and also that my arms felt tired from carrying a water bottle.  Can we say, I NEED STRENGTH WORKOUTS AGAIN?  Yes!!   So, today’s workout was a combo of rowing, weights, and escalator-to-nowhere.  No bike riding, but the variety felt great.

And the mental workout consisted of me thinking about which races I want to run this year.  I may add a page to the blog with the list once I’ve decided, and if I’ve run them last year, put down my times. That way I can stay accountable, and actually go through with all of them.

If you’ve made it this far thru this post, wow, you’ve got stamina.  I leave you below with a picture of the sunrise from a few months ago (when it was warmer, sigh).  It’s a big part of why I prefer to work out in the mornings and helps me to get out of bed in the pitch black darkness of night.

Sunrise - why I get up when I do

This is one of them. I’m out there for my run this morning, in the cold darkness of pre-pre-dawn, thinking everything is going well and thankful that I have a doctor’s appointment at 9:30, so I can leave home a bit later than normal. Everything’s going fine.  Around mile 3.5 or so, I’m on the main road.  Cars see me with my bright headlamp on, yet no one can seem to move more than 2 feet from me (I swear, if I straightened out my right arm, I could touch their cars and freak them out), and someone senses the need to remind me that they’re there, with a beep. That doesn’t bother me so much.

I should explain, I run on the roads a lot in the winter. The sidewalks are uneven, and they are covered in snow and ice.  Yes, I could wear the Stabilicers but they tend to hurt your feet a bit if you do end up running on dry patches for a while. It’s like wearing cleats on dry floor. You get the idea.  (Anyone from 32 North reading this though, please know, I still love them and wouldn’t wear anything else.)

Ok, I digress. So I’m running on the busy street and up in front of me, I see someone stumbling. I mean a lot. Like movie-type drunkness, where each foot is crossing way in front of the other. I’m thinking, it’s not even 7 a.m., maybe this guy has a problem and I should help him out.  I almost did run over to him but when I got up closer, I could hear him yell (over my headphones, which I try to keep somewhat lower sometimes so I can hear the traffic better) “You’re gonna get hit!” and not in a nice tone. “Maybe so, JACKASS, but at least I can run in a straight line.”  This is what I am thinking, but you know what, it’s not even 7 a.m. and I don’t feel like getting into an altercation so I just keep going on.

I should probably mention that this is the SECOND time in two weeks that I’ve been yelled at by someone clearly under the influence of something, either in liquid or some other form. It also happened on Christmas Eve when I was out for a run with my brother and some guy ran after us.  When my brother called the police to report it, the cop said “XX Grove Street, we’re already on it.”  Love our local cops.   SO WEIRD THOUGH!

Then, as I’m just about home, I see some 5 teenagers waiting for their bus. It’s about 7 a.m. now. All I hear out of them is the word “headlamp.” I tend to think it wasn’t complimentary. Whatever, lazy asses.  I swear, the teenagers I see in the morning – most of them are way overweight, and I see them smoking. Way to go, you idiot.  Spend some more time on the computer rather than getting outside and getting fresh air. How can anyone be so dumb to start smoking in this day and age? How can you avoid all the tv commercials that tell you how bad it is for your health?  (Although I have to say that there are two good kids who always say good morning to me, no matter what the weather. So, good kids, I’m not talking about you right now.)

So it’s already a sh&i$TY day.  I head off to my doctor’s appointment after showering and an uneventful walk with Ruthie (that’s a good thing in case you’re wondering.) It’s only supposed to be a 15 minute check-up. I get there in plenty of time and wait in my car until about 7 or 8 mins. beforehand and put my 4 quarters in the meter.  Well, the doctor ran late. It was still a 15 min. checkup, but I realized I needed toothpaste and a toothbrush – I forgot mine at home and have a dentist appointment this afternoon. So I stop (quickly) in CVS and get my goods. As I’m heading toward my car, who do I see but the lovely and oh-so-friendly neighborhood meter maid. (For those of you who might be local and are wondering, it’s the city of Somerville, where they must train them to be douchebags.) 

I swear, he must have been checking my meter, because I got to my car, literally ONE MINUTE after the damn thing expired. He hadn’t even started writing the ticket and I said, “I’ll throw a quarter in it now, I just got back.”  To which he answers “it’s too late.”  I said the thing just expired one minute ago, and he said “I wouldn’t know that,” and continued on writing, all the while he’s avoiding any attempt at eye contact.  I said “you know, usually I end up giving extra money to the city” (seriously, I do) and I said “I do know when it expired, because I know when I put the quarters in.” He continues writing and even though I’m standing RIGHT THERE, he tries to put it on the front of my car.  I was like “just give it to me.”

A $30 ticket.  I just paid $15 for my co-pay, so really that doctor’s appointment, which was just a check-up on my asthma, cost me $45.  NICE.

I can only imagine what’ll happen when I head off to the dentist this afternoon. Can hardly wait…

Anyway, I’m not normally like this anymore (at least I try to not be anymore).  I don’t like being mean to people.  So, I’m going to take a few deep breaths and hope the rest of this day doesn’t totally suck. 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I got in 5.21 miles (thanks Garmin for the accuracy), average miles of 9:24. Considering I’ve not run that early in the morning due to the holidays and my being off from work, I’ll take it.

Thanks for listening to me vent.

My husband asked me tonight if I was Forrest. Of course I was!

I realized I neglected to say anything about our last workout. For those of you who don’t have track groups to run with, why don’t you try to run what we do? And just modify it accordingly?  Try it with a partner though – it is much, much easier to do with even just one more person.  That’s what I found every time Lis and I did track workouts during our marathon training.

Anyway, two weeks ago, that would have been Session 2, right before Christmas, we did the following either 3 or 4 times.  I was a “Running Yahoo” that night, and said to myself “eh, why not do 4?” Actually, I felt kind of guilty because my friend, Karen, was doing 4 repeats, so I pushed myself to do it 4 times.

  • 400 m, rest 1 min.  (2.75 laps)
  • 400 m, rest 1 min.  (ditto)
  • 800 m, rest 2 min. (5.5 laps)

Repeat, if desired.  Repeating this four times equals 4 miles, or on the track that we run, a total of 44 laps.  We were supposed to do the 400s at 5K pace, and the 800s at 10K pace.  Me, I like to push it when we’re inside, so I did the 400s at around 1:50 = 7:20 min pace (in case you’re trying to shift this over to “treadmill speak.”)  I tried to keep all of the 800s to 4 minutes or less.  Usually I was able to do about 3:58 or so.  However, the last time I did it, I did a 400, then an 800, and a 400.  They were slower but I was kind of drafting off of others for a bit too long. 

You know what, though? That’s alright. The 4th repeat was supposed to be for people who are training for marathons, which I really am not doing right now! I”m lucky if I’m running 3-4 miles in the mornings.  Having to walk Ruthie every morning definitely cuts into my training time, but you know what? I wouldn’t trade my walks with her for anything! She’s way too cute and gives me so much pleasure.   

Tonight’s workout (#3) was different than what I’ve done before, I think, due to the size of the track (remember, 11 laps = mile.) We did repeats of 300m.  If your weekly mileage is not that high, you were to aim for at least 8 repeats. I ended up running with Lynn, who is 56, and just so full of life.  She also says things like it is and she cracks me up.  We got passed by a guy at one point, and she yelled out once he was out of earshot “well, at least he’s good looking!” which just made me laugh.  Not a small feat when you’re doing track work!  Anyway, we got to 12 repeats, at about 38 sec pace per lap (7:12 pace) or 40 sec pace per lap (7:20 pace.) At that point, we were both like “ok, and we’re done now!”  🙂

I guess we’ll see over the next few days if I pushed it hard enough tonight.  After Session 2, I have to be honest, I felt it in my legs for over 24 hours!! (Oh, and I also felt nauseous after it too, and tonight I didn’t, thankfully!)

By the way, did anyone else see the note in the back of the recent Runner’s World about upcoming races, and the one that is a 10K that you can run on an indoor track? The answer to “Why to run it?” is “to wear shorts!” (Living in the NE, I totally get that!) It’s a .1 mile track, so you have to do 62 laps.  They even have people who are designated for each runner, to count laps (trust me, you’d lose count on a track that size.)  It made me laugh tonight when a few of us realized, our track is even smaller than that one!

Oh, and by the way, if any of you read Marathon Mama’s blog, she’s one of our coaches! How cool is that?

Snowy January morning (that blob is a light-up polar bear)

In case you’re not on Twitter the picture above is what my front yard looked like this morning when I got up.

We got a lot of snow this weekend.  As I was shoveling, I thought, “I am so ready to be done with winter.  And it’s only January 3rd.”  Ugh.  When I took  Ruthie out this morning for her first walk of the day, I was wearing snow pants and in places the snow was up to my knees. I wish I could say I was kidding.  So it’s understandable that I waffled a bit about whether I should go to the gym today or get out there and run.

Well, I ran.  Just 4.5 miles, but that was enough.  Air temp was 24, with winds somewhere in the 19-20 mph range, so it felt more like 11, according to the Weather Channel app on my iPhone. (Love that app.)  I probably averaged something in the 10 minute speed range.  For me, running in those temps means 3 layers up top (warm base layer closest to the skin, dry-wicking long sleeve shirt over that, and then a warm fleece jacket on top.)  Only had my long tights on my legs, because I’ve found that sometimes two layers on the bottom can make me overheat.  Oh, and of course, I have to wear warm fleece gloves and a thermal fleece hat with flaps that cover my ears.  I find that if I wear the muffler around my neck, sometimes it just ends up making me more hot, and then I’ve got a sweaty wool thing around my neck that turns cold and wet in the cold.  Not a great feeling.

Today’s run was slow.  But I had my Stabilicers on (I cannot say enough good things about this product, and no, the company is not paying me  a cent to say that.)  So the run also became a good thigh workout.  The sidewalks were covered with snow and ice, so I paid a lot of attention to not falling and staying steady on my feet.  I also counted people clearing snow: 2 using snowblowers, 2 shoveling, 3 christmas trees sitting at the curb, looking very sad and lonely.

I also spent some time thinking about that guy, Dan Vassallo, who won our race on Friday.  His time for the 10K was 32 minutes flat. The guy who won the 5K did it in something like 17:17.  That means that even though he ran twice the distance, his mile per minute pace was still faster than the guy who won the shorter race.   Dan is from the same town as me. I want to see this local guy do really well. When he ran our town’s half marathon, he did it in something like 1:05.  Now, you may be thinking, “well, he has a long way, 5 whole minutes, to go before he can beat the likes of Ryan Hall.”  Yep, that’s true. But  let’s remember that Ryan Hall only runs for a living. That is his full-time job.  Dan doesn’t have the sponsorship that allows him to do that.  And he’s still running 5 minute miles. This guy is amazing.  Think about how fast your treadmill is moving when you put it up to 12.0.  Now think about running at that pace for about an hour. Puts it into perspective, huh?

I know this is usually the time of year that we set goals, running and otherwise.  I’ve not come up with my running goals yet, but when I do, I’ll let you know.  For right now, these are the things I want to focus on in my life:

  • Try to stay more positive at work and not let myself be dragged down by the cloud of negativity that has been over our heads for many weeks now.
  • Get writing every day. No excuses. Sort of like those folks who want to run at least one mile per day.  It may mean writing in a journal, or writing down my dreams that I remember from the night before, or writing down notes of conversations or observations I’ve had. Maybe responding to prompts.  But just doing it. Because you never know where it might lead.
  •  Clear out the clutter. In my head, in my life, at home and at work.  That way when of the day comes, I can leave with a clear conscience, and head home to what is important to me – my husband, and my animals. This will be a hard thing for me to do, but I need to let go of a lot of the small stuff, more so than I’ve already succeeded in doing.  This may require me saying “no” more often, in many ways.  (And if all else fails, watch an episode of Hoarders to re-scare myself straight where the physical clutter is concerned.) 
  • Keep up with fellow bloggers (and my own blog)  more regularly.   I learn a lot from others, and it’s good to see other writing styles too! 

That’s it for now.  One thing  I am going to change on this blog over the next week or so will be the Motivating Music page.  I’ve not been good at keeping up with re-posting videos for a long time now. So, I think I may have a new idea for that.  Stay tuned.

 I hope you like the new blog theme, by the way.  I think it looks “cleaner.”

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