Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring has sprung!

The weather could not have been more beautiful for the first week in spring. The last few days have had highs in the upper 70s/lower 80s, and we have been eating lunch outside, spending a little more time walking between buildings, and making conversations last longer when enjoying the great outdoors. In addition, I went on my very first lunchtime ride with my co workers today, and it was AMAZING. I haven't actually gotten my bike tuned up or really had anyone look at it after Austin, when I put it back together all by myself, but it seemed ok and I survived the bike ride. I pumped up my tires last night (which were VERY low) and got everything ready as I haven't done in months! I met the co workers outside just before noon, and we took off for our short lunchtime loop.
I tentatively started off, trying to remember how to clip in and out at our first stoplight, and heading up our first hill. Though I had been riding on the trainer with various resistances, it's still not the same as actual riding on hills. It was great to be out there though, enjoying the weather, going up and down the rollers, remembering how to adjust the gears accordingly, and just all around having a good time. Some of the roads were new to me, and some were familiar from my fall training rides. I was glad I remembered how to ride, and I felt cool and confident, staying near the front of the group, keeping up with the guys and even beating them up some hills. We finished our 16.4 mile ride in a little over an hour (my garmin said 1:08, but there was stoplight time, waiting for people to catch up time, and forgot to turn it off when we were done time factored in there!).
I'm normally not a fan of lunchtime rides (including getting ready and showering and finally eating, this was about a 2 hour lunch!) but it was so worth it to get out there and enjoy the weather in a group. I think I will try to make this a regular occurrence whenever my work schedule permits this spring/summer/fall. I remembered that I really do enjoy going for a fun ride outside and look forward to many more to come this year!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Longest run EVER!

Ok, that line is never going to get old! So, after being basically off running for the last 2 weeks, and getting new shoes with a new loose method of tying the laces, I was back in business with a 3.5 hour run to complete. I had to mentally prepare myself for this because my last few long runs had been on the treadmill (with no worry of where can i get more water, where can i go to the bathroom) or races, so it had been a while since I'd done anything outside for real. I packed several bottles of water, a few gus and some shot blocks, and drove over to a local rail trail that I had found while biking one day last fall, and figured would at least have a bathroom at the rite aid in the parking lot. So, I let myself sleep in and get ready when I was ready, and I ended up arriving around 8 AM. I had been wondering if I was going to be all alone on this path this morning, but I was pleasantly surprised to see about 20 runners dressed up for st patrick's day just about to start a run! They were from a local running group that I had never heard of, and they were doing a 10k run. I excitedly decided to join them for the first hour of my 3.5 hour trek, and it was wonderful. I ran at a comfortable pace in the back of the clump (I definitely didn't want to be swayed by faster runners as I knew that when they stopped I had at least 2.5 more hours to go...) and ended up chatting with a couple people. One of the girls has done a lot of marathons, and a half ironman, so we had a lot to talk about! The first hour of the run went really fast, and I said goodbye to them and continued on my way.

The nice things about paved trails are that, to me, they make you sort of forget where you are- in fact, at both ends of the trail, I honestly had no clue where I was, or how I would get there by car. They also had every half mile marked, which was how I remembered to drink. I nursed a gu for about 40 minutes after the first hour, and made my way through the path. I passed a lot of walkers, joggers, runners, and bikers, and it was nice to see people out and about, even on an overcast wintery day (which admittedly was great running weather- in the mid 40s and overcast). When I got back to my car, I shed my jacket, used the restroom, and continued on.

The last half hour was pretty tough. While my mini-injury-ankle wasn't hurting (thankfully!) I was getting regularly expected soreness in my knees and feet, which I am sure have to do with increasing my distance (my last run was only 2:50, and on the softer treadmill). The last leg towards my car was a slight, but long, uphill, so I told myself, just take your time! I eventually made it to my car, with 10 minutes to go. These last 10 minutes were pretty rough. I felt like I was barely moving, and I had to work really hard to keep going. I told myself, "You are so close, there's no quitting now!" I finally turned around and counted down the last couple of minutes until I hit 3:30, going 22.22 miles! I am so proud of my first > 20 miler!

I cooled down walking back towards the rite aid, and everything hurt. I got back in my car and headed home, showered, and iced my feet and knees. I'm exhausted. A friend of mine told me through her marathon training journeys that she just felt useless after these long runs and always needed a nap. So far, I couldn't say that I was that badly affected by them, but today, I just don't want to move off the couch! So here's to a relaxing day after a great new time/distance reached. I'm happy to be back in the running game!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A couple of races and another mini-injury

The last couple of weeks have been really busy with work and other things, including 2 races. I did a half marathon 2 weeks ago and a 5k this past weekend.

The half marathon was a great race. It was chilly and windy (up to 25 mph winds!) but it warmed up while we were running. It was a beautiful course on cape cod, near the water. Very scenic and not too hilly. We started off in a clump and I paved a pathway on the left side to dodge around slower people and settled into a very comfortable pace. I often surprise myself in races as far as what feels "comfortable" and this time was no different. I hadn't done a half marathon since September, so I really wasn't sure how I would do, but I was pleasantly surprised to see my splits for the first few miles and hoped I could keep it up for the remainder of the race. Around mile 4 I caught up to my marathon buddy friend who has a tendency to run like a speed demon the first few miles and then slow down, so we chatted for a few seconds before parting ways.

At mile 8 there was a fairly big hill, and my split from that and the next mile showed that. Around mile 10, I was wondering if I was going to make it till the end. I was running with a woman who had her iphone running app telling her every half mile how far into the race she was, the total time, and her average pace. She was, like me, fairly consistent, so I was glad to be maintaining her speed and sticking with her, which definitely helped with motivation at this point in the race. We chatted for a little bit too, and she's running Boston!

Miles 11-12 became a lot easier- suddenly I felt great, like I could run forever. I kept going and gave it my best push at the very end, coming in only 1 second slower than my previous half (my PR)! I was super excited about that, especially since I had felt like this course was harder than my previous half (discussion on terrain and feel to come). Overall, it was a good race, and I had a great time. I would consider doing it again next year as long as we don't have snow!

The one downfall of the race, however, was that I think I tied my shoelaces too tightly during the race...I noticed some pressure during the race, but I figured I'd plow through and the pain would be relieved as soon as I untied them at the finish line. Turns out I was wrong- I sort of injured myself in the lamest of ways- with too tight shoes! For the next few days it hurt every time I had shoes with laces rubbing against the crick of my ankle in the front. I ran a couple of times (admittedly probably not the wisest decision) through the pain before realizing it was probably a bad idea, and taking off the next week from running.  I spent a lot of time icing, used my old anti-inflammatory patches from my Achilles' tendinitis last year, and visited my chiropractor. It started to feel fine when I was running around my apartment barefoot, but as soon as I put on shoes with laces, it hurt.

I ran a 5k this past weekend (slower than I would normally have) and for the first mile, I had the shoes really loose-figuring that may work, because barefoot was fine, and there was no pain! They gradually came untied, though, and when I tightened them a bit I definitely noticed the pain. I started to think of how I could remedy this, and figured I should try out some new shoes.

I went to a different running store this time (my friend and I think the most local running store has kind of jerky salespeople) and explained my situation. The really nice sales rep tied my ravennas in a different way that didn't hurt, and also sold me a pair of asics that are supposedly really similar, and tied them loosely as well. I went out for a short run after work today (spring seems to have sprung- it was about 70 and sunny at 6 PM!) and am happy to report that I only felt a small amount of pain. I am hopefully well on my way to being fully recovered, and am looking forward to tackling my 3.5 hour run this Saturday in the new loosely tied shoes!