February 28, 2010
Today began the first of three races in the Wild Rover Series. They’re run 3 weeks in succession, and the distance increases every week. Week 1= 3 miles. Week 2 = 4 miles. Week 5 = 5 miles.
Week 1 = big f%&*S hill. Week 2 = HUGE F&*##(%# HILL. Actually, correction, it’s a mini-mountain. One that was so steep last year, I just gave up and started walking because the walkers were passing me while I attempted to run up it. Week 3= ?? because I was sick last year and didn’t run it. I’m looking forward to hearing the bagpiper play as he marches back and forth through the cemetery. Yes. More on that in two weeks.
As the title of my post indicates, this was a PR. A PR that almost didn’t happen. Because of Ruthie. She got out today from the back yard, through a post in our fence that was a bit loose, and with all the rain we got here, we think she just pushed against it and slipped out before she knew what was going on. Then, it snapped back into place. I’d just arrived home from the grocery store, and Bill greeted me outside with “I let Ruthie out to pee, and now I can’t find her!” Our backyard is not to large, and is totally fenced in, with really no place for her to hide. Plus, she usually comes running when we call her back in but this time, all he got in response was silence.
Luckily, we have tags on her with Bill’s cell number and because she’s so friendly, she’s a horrible fugitive, and was easily captured by a man wonderful enough to call us, as we were both out canvassing the neighborhoods and trying not to panick. She’d only gone about 1/4-1/2 mile.
As you can see below, she’s just fine now. Thank God, because I don’t know what we would do without her. She’s so much a part of our hearts, I was crying when I hugged her when we got her home, and begged her to never do that again. Bill told me that when he arrived at the good samaritan’s home, she started wagging her tail and trying to get to him. She then jumped into the backseat of his Explorer in a jiffy. Thank God, she wanted to come home!
Ruthie, the fugitive, sleeps...
Anyway, Bill has put lots and lots of barriers in Ruthie’s way so that she can’t bolt free again. Phew.
Anyway, here are the stats for today’s race. My friends Lis and Meg also ran it.
- 806 total runners
- 35/162 in F30-39 division
- 251/806 overall
- official time: 24:47
- overall pace: 8:19
- Mile 1: 8:32
- Mile 2: 8:11
- Mile 3: 811
Me, Meg, and Lis at the start (Gumps 3)
- Ran with friends!
- Starting mat at beginning AND end (change from last year.)
- Disposable timing chips.
- Technical long-sleeve shirts, male and female cuts, flourescent color!
- Warm enough to run in only 2 layers, with lighter gloves.
- Only 3 porta-potties outside, 2 stalls inside for women, 1 of which wasn’t working (same as last year, not enough!)
- Smallish size bar, with not enough bartenders working so crowds got crazy afterward inside (same from last year)
My goal for today was to break 25 minutes. So glad I did it, especially because that last mile was hard. Harder than the first because at least then I felt fresh. The first mile is uphill for at least half of it. Enough of a hill that I think a fair amount of people walk up it or portions of it.
But, what goes up, must come down, as we all know. I concentrated on trying to make up speed. I knew I was in alright shape though, because the Mile 1 clock said 8:29 when I ran by it (gun time, remember) and that’s what it said last year as well. However, I didn’t remember the mini hills that followed. (As Lis said, she and I have a good way of blocking out stuff we don’t like to remember. Yep, she ran it also, under 30 minutes. I think that’s an awesome time, especially because she’s not been able to run in at least 2 months due to shin splints, and the fact that she’s a CPA.)
Garmin wonder twin nerds, go!
Mile 2’s clock said 16:30 as I passed it. My brain was somehow able to calculate that I was running faster at this point, which made sense considering Mile 2 included the mini but not mammoth hills, and some downhills. I knew could just try to hang onto the pace I was doing and my goal was within reach.
Mile 3 was when I felt like I was running much slower. I didn’t feel as strong during mile 3 this year as I did last year. But, the good thing was that I knew some landmarks this time around, and that, combined with my Garmin, helped me to know when I could really sprint at the end. Plus, I said a silent plea to any angels who might be around and listening, to please help if they could, and they answered. I looked down at my watch close to the end, saw 2.91 on the mileage, and an overall time that started with “24” and just ran as hard as I could. I’m really trying to improve on my times this year.
At the start, think I'm stretching and trying to keep warm (didn't know Bill was taking it)
Some good news – a lady that has run indoor track with me for part of this winter, who I’ve mentioned on the blog, Lynn, ran it also. She’s 56, and afterward told me she’d just be happy to have come in within the top ten of her division. I checked her out on Cool Running, and she WON her age group, with a time of 23:48. (I said to Lis that inside I can beat her on the track but get us running further than a 1/4 mile and she kicks my ass!)
Anyway, I now have the center of this year’s 3-part medal. (If you run all 3, they fit together like the pic below.) Yay!
Wild Rover Series medals
February 24, 2010
Jim at the Philly Marathon finish, a Boston Qualifier again!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, odds are you’ve heard me talk (write) about my brother in the past. If you’re new to my blog, let me tell you a few things.
First, his name is Jim Saint-Amour (I call him Jamie but I’m one of the only people in the world that calls him that.) Second, he’s my younger brother. The baby of the family. According to my husband, he has two moms, me and our real Mom. I admit it, I will always worry about him but that’s because I’m older and we’re close in age, only 15 months separate us. Mom always said that, growing up, I’d be the first to get in a fight-to-the-death with him, but I’d also be the first one to stick up for and defend him against anyone outside of our family. Third, he helped me to finish a marathon back in 2007. When he found out I was going to do it, he offered to run it with me, at my pace, which, believe me, was a LOT slower than his! He also carried a sign during the entire race, which he’d put over my head whenever we saw crowds, which said “Run Happy:My Sister’s First Marathon” to get people to cheer for me. I think you need to read this post of mine about that experience, to really see what I’m talking about. Did I mention he also carried an extra camelbak on his back, just for me, the entire 26.2 miles? He did.
While he’s younger, I can tell you that in at least one aspect of his life, I’ve always envied him and looked up to him. That aspect is his positive, just go-with-the-flow attitude. I’ve always been the one that needs to have things planned out. He’s the one that’s been able to go backpacking across Europe and move cross-country, without having a job lined up, only to have a job on an Australian cruise ship land in his lap 4 days later. (Ah, the life.)
So, over the past two years, while he was pursuing a job as a middle/high school special ed teacher in inner city NY, I could tell something was off. He was usually very stressed, and he sighed. A lot. So much so that when I visited him last year, I commented on how often I heard him sigh. Without knowing I’d said something, that same weekend, his friends noted the same thing.
Well, he decided to follow his heart and leave that job, to pursue a job working in the running/coaching industry full time. He now works for Urban Athletics in NYC. He works in the store and is also part of their coaching program. He is RRCA certified. He does one-on-one training, is the speed-and-form coach at their downtown location, online training, and yes, he does also work with beginners!
If you read his bio, you’ll hear about his first coaching experience a few years ago, when he worked with individuals who had never run before. I met a few of the folks from that program at the Philly expo last November. Three of them were planning on running the half-marathon the following day. It was clear that they still looked up to him, and he’d helped them to nurture a true love of running, as I discovered at dinner that evening.
Here’s what I am really happy about. Every time I talk to him now, even if he’s tired, there’s a lift in his voice that’s been back. I know it’s because he’s doing something he truly loves. I can’t tell you how positive and knowledgeable he is, and how generous he is with that knowledge. He won’t judge you. He’ll work with you, and you will accomplish your goals, and probably a whole lot more than you thought possible.
If you’d like his contact information, just drop me a note in the comments and I can give you his personal email address. Or, of course, you can contact him at the store (I’ m not great with knowing where things are in NY, but I believe this is their downtown location.)
2 World Financial Center
in The Winter Garden
New York, NY 10281
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the photo above is from the 2009 Philly Marathon, where, again, he qualified for Boston in 3:07 and some change. And he was smiling. 🙂
February 22, 2010
About a week or two ago, I worked out for three days in a row. On the final and third day, my legs just felt like lead. Running just three and a half miles (or two loops around the small lake near me), I really felt exhausted and it was one of those plodding runs that we all hope to just get through. Yep, you could say my endurance is definitely much lower than it has been in the past, when even 8 miles seemed like “oh, it’s just 8 miles on the schedule for today, shouldn’t be a big deal.”
Then, I got to thinking of this one guy who has followed me on Twitter, and who I’ve followed back for several months now, Paul Both. You can find him here on Twitter. Now, I have to admit something. When I first saw his picture (or what they call an avatar on Twitter), he had dreads and was all in black. The picture was on the smaller side, and I was like “hm, he looks kind of menacing/scary.” Yeah, I kind of thought of all the stereotypes and was like “do I even want this guy following me?” But, I saw that some folks who I’ve talked online with now for quite a while seemed to be talking pretty regularly to him, and thought “ok, I won’t block him.”
Flash forward to January 9th. Paul started running across the country, literally from the Pacific Ocean, on that date. He is currently running through New Mexico, with the support of his friend, Chris. Think about this. He’s running about a marathon per day. Think about how most of us who have run marathons have felt the day after. We literally want to die. (I know I was sick after mine, so in addition to the pain of my body, I felt the usual cruddiness that comes along with illness.) Now imagine getting out of bed, and doing the same thing all over again. For several days in a row. (I believe today was a light day – he only ran 15 miles. Yeah, if only we could all have light days where you only run more miles than a half marathon.)
Now, he does take days off. Of course. Everyone has to. And it’s amazing that he has enough energy to respond like he does to folks on Twitter. (I’d just want to lay down and die every night and be like “leave me here, save yourself.”)
If you want to know why he’s doing this, please check out the website that he has, Run for Liberty. He has a VLog (or video) on the left hand side of the home page. Even if you don’t agree with him, you have to hand it to someone who’s willing, and physically and mentally able, to get out there and do that, day after day. I admire him for that because I know I couldn’t. I think I’d be too afraid to do it, or afraid I’d fail.
So, next time you’re on a 4-5 mile run, and your legs feel heavy, just push on through. For Paul, that’s just a warm-up!
Map photo by Back Garage, from flickr.com
February 19, 2010
Photo by Ben Sutherland, from flickr.com
Because I’ve not blogged about it (or anything else for that matter for most of January), you may have wondered if I was still running Indoor Track this winter. Short answer: yep! Longer answer: just haven’t been able to make it to all the indoor sessions due to work, board meetings, etc., so I’ve had to do quite a few of them on my own in the early a.m., on the dreadmill. But not this past Monday, when I had Presidents’ Day off (THANK FREAKIN’ GOD!)
This week, indoor track is cancelled due to a (possibly Massachusetts only?) school vacation week. So, I begged one of the coaches for a suggestion to do on the dreadmill. She told me to do 8-10 600s (.37 in actuality, but for easy math because that’s what you need while sweating, .35), with .20 distance recovery jogs in between. Each of the repeats was to become progressively faster, so she advised I start out conservatively. Well, I end up putting the treadmill to 4.0 mph for the recovery periods, which is kind of like a fast walk for me. I rationalized it was alright to do that today since the gym was so hot, and also being on the third floor, it was really, really hot in there.
Oh, and guess what??!! The lady on the treadmill to my left was chugging away at a very fast speedwalk pace. She didn’t have headphones on, nor did she have her own individual TV like I did, so I leaned over and told her that if she put her treadmill up to 1.0 incline, it would be more like walking outside. She thanked me saying she could always use tidbits. Later on, during a recovery break, I told her she should enter races, as she was a really fast speedwalker! She smiled and laughed. Well, at the end of her workout, she said “you got me!” I thought she meant I had hit her with sweat (I’m a big sweater, this is not a stretch of the imagination, unfortunately.) I apologized, turned off my headphones, and asked her to repeat herself, and she said “thank you! You got me to run and it felt amazing! I ran the last 5 minutes, at 4.8 mph!) She laughed out loud when I told her what I thought she’d said. VERY COOL!
I am happy (and a bit proud of myself too) for getting through 10 of them. Keeping the treadmill’s incline at 1.0, I started at 7.1 mph, and worked my way on up from there. I usually start the 600 at one speed, say, 7.6, and then halfway through it, I’ll bump it up to 7.7. For the next repeat, I then start at 7.7, and bump it up to 7.8 halfway through. It makes the speed jumps less painful and it’s easier for my mind to work around. If we were running around the indoor track, a 600 would be somewhere between 4-5 laps, I think. It’s much easier indoors to gradually work up your time. On the treadmill, every .1 that you increase your speed, you’re going about 7 seconds per mile faster. So, that’s why I started so much lower than I ended (my last repeat worked up from about 8.3 to 8.5.) At the very end, I have to admit, I felt like “ok, any more of this and I might hurl.” I’d say that’s the sign of a good workout, no?
Total running on that workout:6 miles, including warm-up and cool down.
Did I mention this workout came on the heels of my 6K race, and what I intended to be a light cross-training session, but which ended up being 30 mins. on the elliptical, 20 mins. on the bike, and some weights, plus a 3:06 plank? Needless to say, a planned rest day comes right after this workout!
Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know this, but it was during my recovery break between repeat 7 and 8 (or was it 8 and 9) that the guy next to me on the treadmill farted?! Holy Moly. One advantage to running outside(that cannot be overstressed in this instance) is you can always run away from whatever stink you come across. Indoors, not so much. There I was, minding my own business. Then, because both of our treadmills had the fans going on full blast, the malodorous stench blew across my face. Now, I’d seen the guy looking at my treadmill screen from time to time while I was running. Suddenly, his eyes were only, and I mean only, looking straight ahead with intense concentration. Oh yeah, it was him.
Now, this is not to say that I think I’m better than him or that I’m above all that. I’m human. But, GOOD GOD. Probably the only smell worse than that is my adorable dog Ruthie’s farts. Which are always silent, but oh so deadly. Just sayin’.
No Farts sign, photo by ab9kt, on flickr.com
February 17, 2010
Anne, of the world famous blog, Run-DMZ ,
bestowed a bit of sunshine on me recently, and I’d like to pay it forward to some other peeps out there. Actually, I’d like to just bestow it on all of you, even those of you who taunt me online on Twitter
about it being 70+ degrees outside, by posting pics of your car’s temperature reader, when I’m sitting here in freezing cold weather, day after day after day (cough, ahem, Running Fat Guy
, you know who you are but shall remain nameless….ooohhh, was that out loud?!) Honestly, I can’t pick just 12 people, and some of you don’t have blogs, but make my day better on Twitter
and in other ways, so I don’t want to just limit it to bloggers. (Does that make me a bad passer-onner?) Thank you for providing me with smiles or a laugh, or just a positive attitude. Now please go out there and pay it forward, either virtually or in person, by giving someone else the same.
musical note photo from ttarasiuk, flickr.com
On another item, you may have noticed I’ve added two new pages to the blog. One is titled Races to Run, and another is titled Music for Runners. I used to embed a lot of videos from youtube, but thanks to the copyright and intellectual property powers that be, many of them had been taken down and the videos had not played forever. So I’ve decided to try to separate the music on my iPod as best as I can into what works for me for various types of workouts. Truth be told, I’m not sure I ever done a real tempo run (not self-disciplined enough to try to stick it to a specific time) but I do do plenty of track workouts, so I’ve included the songs that keep me going, even on the dreadmill by myself in the early a.m. hours.
Here’s the thing – I need your help in expanding the musical choices, and always appreciate suggestions. If you’d like to contribute to the page, please drop me a comment, and let me know what keeps you going. If you’ve got a blog, please let me know the link, so I can add your suggestion and give you credit. I’ve noticed that in the past “music” and “running” were common search terms that brought pepole to my blog, so hopefully if someone sees something they like, the link to you on my blog could help direct a little traffic your way! If you’re not online via the blogging world, but talk to me on Twitter, feel free to send me suggestions via that route as well! I’m Middlepackgirl on Twitter.
February 15, 2010
I get asked this a lot from people in southern climates: “how do you do it in such cold weather?!” They think they could never do it. But, they could, they just need to wear the right gear. And being a card carrying Gear-Head, I’ve got lots of it. Although I have to admit, I’ve acquired much less this past year. Maybe because two years ago, I was such a Gomer (to steal a word and refer you to my friend Jill, of Jill Will Run’s blog), that I was a total running merchandiser’s dream. Tell me something would help me run better, and I’d buy it. I was so worried about not having that dream piece of equipment or clothing that would make me an awesome runner rather than just a middle-of-the-packer.
And then, I got real. And realized I was not ever going to receive a raise again, even though I work for a pretty well-off school. Plus, before my husband switched jobs last November, he’d taken a 10% pay cut at his previous job. Doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but it does make a difference in your budget. At least the professors kept their “student entertainment” funds intact, and the students still have food brought in at dinnertime, just for, you know, showing up to class. Ah, well. (Can you tell I’m a bit bitter about that?) Ok, enough about that – I can’t change it, so why try? (No, really, I was part of a focus group that suggested cuts in order to save jobs, and that was one of the suggestions. Clearly, it went unheard.) Ok, I really am digressing…need to get off this subject!
Brooks Wanganui Cabrio Mitt, photo from thefind.com
So, I’m going to write some reviews about my purchases that have gotten me through the cold weather. Usually bought with discounts through my employer or by signing up for email coupons. By the way, so as to not piss off the FTC, I should mention no one has asked me to review these products, or sent them to me free of charge. As I said, I paid for them with my own money. The only reason my work ID gets me a discount is because my employer is a pretty big one in my area.
To keep these posts (relatively) short, I’ll just cover one per post. I know, you’re sitting on the edge(s) of your seat(s), wondering “what will she review next?!” Ok, so the Brooks Wanganui Cabrio mittens. I did pay $28 for them (minus my 10% discount) when my husband woke up one morning saying he wanted to get some “real” running shoes. READ: expensive, not bought at the discount store. I was excited. This meant maybe eventually we could do a race together, and I could go to one of my favorite (albeit expensive) stores: Marathon Sports.
One thing that sucks about wearing just gloves or just mittens in the northeast. Your hands love them at first, and then as you warm up, so do your gloves. Your hands start to sweat. And before you know it, you’re left with the unenviable dilemna of “should I take them off, and risk cold numbness, or should I keep them on, and get hot, & sweaty, and then let the sweat turn to cold wetness?” With these gloves, I feel like I’m wearing, simultaneously, a heater and air conditioner on my hands. Really. They are nice and thermally (is that a word? If not, it should be.) They’re not too bulky to throw in your jacket pockets if you get REALLY hot, or you just plain overdressed to begin with (Exhibit A, my last post from the Bradford’s Valentine Road Race). (Did I also mention, they’re also good for wiping sweat off of your face?)
The mittens are magnetized, so when you flip back the mitten part, you don’t have to worry about that rounded part just flopping all around the place. Y’all know what I’m talking about. The fingered portions of the gloves are just long enough to keep your digits warm. I also must add that they are just long enough and warm enough to prevent my knuckles from getting all dry-skinned, red, and cracked, as would otherwise happen if I was running, and had to completely take my gloves off every time I ran outside and got hot. (Yep, it’s happened to me in the past, and it’s pretty painful. It sucks.)
The one thing I would advise is this – if you are a person with small hands, make sure you do buy a small, and don’t let yourself be impatient and buy the medium size, just because you are at the store with your husband and don’t want to be the only one leaving empty-handed. I did. So, the thumbs are a bit on the big side for me, which can make opening up my snack baggies filled with sports beans a bit on the difficult side. I’ve learned to deal with it by opening up the baggies with my pointer and other fingers, but it does make me slow down a bit so I can concentrate and not fall on my butt in front of a car, at the same time.
Nike thermal gloves with key pocket, photo from thefind.com
I prefer these gloves over other pair, which are thermal gloves from Nike, with a key pocket in the palm. I can’t fault these gloves for being not warm enough. For me, they’re just too warm. It may be that I sweat more than the average person (ok, my husband says, so romantically, that I sweat “like a farm animal.”) But, I end up having to take them off, then getting cold, and then putting them back on again, during my runs that are anything longer than 2-3 miles.
Bottom line: the Wanganui mitts may seem expensive at first, but they are totally worth every penny.
February 14, 2010
Several people may have just fallen over onto the floor, in shock. “What? She’s posted twice in three days?! Say it ain’t so!” I’ve got news for you, kids, I’ve even got ideas for a few more posts this week!!
This is a really fun race. They take great care of you at the finish also, although there were some changes from last year. Last year, you got your carnation at the end. This year, you got them beforehand (still handed out by a bunch of cute little girls who were dressed in girl-scout type sashes. I broke mine within 5 minutes of receiving it.) With the bad economy, this year, you had to be one of the first 400 who signed up, I think, to get a long sleeve shirt. I waited until yesterday to sign up, but it’s my own fault I didn’t get one, so I’m not upset at the organizers, just myself! Good to see that they still offered lots of food, and continued on with the raffle prizes.
I like this race because there’s both a 6K and a 5 Mile race. They start together and end together. It’s exciting for me because the leaders of the 5 mile race end up passing people like me in the 6K at the 2 mileish mark. I must have been going faster than last year, because last year, they passed me around the 1.75 mile point. I yelled out something dorky like “you guys are awesome!” I think they were pretty much in the zone, though, because they didn’t respond back. (Just what local guy runners need, right? Some local groupie yelling out random encouragement. LOL.)
The course is challenging. You’re climbing a lot until you reach about 2.2 miles. The elevation chart shows a total climb of 155 feet with a total elevation change of 304 feet. You could see that a lot of people were unprepared to run hills like that, but having run the course before, they didn’t bother me too much. The middle part of the race is made of flat areas interspersed with rolling hills, I’d say. You end on a wicked downhill, great for kickers like me. NICE!
The only thing I think I’d change is to have an actual timing mat at the beginning. They give you the D-tags for timing chips, but with no starting mat, you don’t get a true time unless you’re on the starting line, and I never line up there. Here are few photos of me at the start line, and in case you’re wondering, yes, it was pretty friggin’ cold at 10 a.m. I’ve got a hat on, and headband under the dorky hood. I took the hood off, oh, about 15 seconds into the race.
Dorky close-up. Can't believe I'm putting it on the blog, I look so silly.
I made a strong mental note to have fun on this race, for myself and for my friend, Lis, who’s a CPA and therefore works 6 days a week for most of the year between January and April. I thought of her, stuck in her office, wishing she could be out running with me. I made sure to thank volunteers (they always get big smiles on their face in return) – I’m sure their jobs can be somewhat boring at times.
After about the first mile, much of which was uphill, I saw a girl walking and I told her to keep it up, that she was doing well, and she started right up again. She ran next to me for a while. (I have to admit, I never know if I should say something encouraging to people – I’m always worried it’ll come out like I’m condescending to them, which I’m definitely not.)
Thankfully, taken farther away. Still lookin' stylish.
There was only one water stop, but I’ve begun to walk through them to make sure I get water in me, not on me. That accounted for my second mile being much slower than the rest, I think. Anyway, I’m happy with my overall time, especially considering that two weeks ago, I didn’t run for about 5 days straight. I’m happy to say that the miles I did under 9 minutes didn’t feel too painful, though. I really think my track workouts with the group (and yes, even those on the treadmill around the crack of dawn) are helping my speed increase a lot. I think I’m going to sign up for the spring season also.
Here are my overall stats:
- Official overall time; 31:50 (Garmin time was 31:41, but I forgot to stop it immediately)
- 77/280 overall; 38/165 Women; 12/42 Women 30-39
- Mile splits (per Garmin): 8:39; 9:17;8:41, last .65 of 7:46 (yep, I did well at running tangents!)
Love the "bride" outfit!
Since this is a Valentine’s Day race, they have team contests too- father/daughter; husband/wife; partners (remember, I live in MA!), etc. With the teams, one person has to run the 6K, and the other has to run the 5 mile race. Some people wore cute costumes, like the woman all in white, wearing a tutu, below (look to the right of the guy in red.)
Oh, and here’s an action shot of me at the end – for once, I actually look like I’m running in a photo! That morning, I’d told my husband I hoped to finish anywhere between 31 and 33 minutes. Because, in his mind, the race is “all about the spectator,” he snarked back, “do you think you could be a little bit more accurate, so I don’t have to waste an extra minute out there?!” He was just on time – he came outside at about 31 minutes and said he only had to wait about 30 seconds before he saw me running down the hill. 🙂
Now, in case you’re wondering about the bulge in my jacket that Lindsay of the Chasing the Kenyans blog jokingly commented on, on Twitter, NO, I’M NOT PREGNANT! Those are GLOVES SHOVED IN MY POCKETS!!! Really!! 🙂
I am really psyched to start racing again this spring!
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