DNS Santa Runs Tacoma 5k

I DNS’d one of my favorite races today. I’m feeling a little bummed now that my friends’ pictures are popping up on Facebook and I’m seeing that I missed out on having fun with them, but I know I made the best decision.

In light of the tragedy that happened on Friday, I was feeling very, very clingy. I didn’t want to leave my 4-year-old son. At. All. I know what happened Friday is, technically, rare (although it doesn’t feel like it with all the media coverage of these sorts of awful things), but I couldn’t help it. I just wanted to be with my son.

Add to that, he was supposed to get a flu shot this morning, and I wanted to be there for him. The thought of him getting a shot and crying, and me not being there to comfort him, was tearing me up. My own fault for scheduling it at the same time as the race.

And on top of that, I got another cold on Tuesday and I was still stuffed up on Friday night. The race…well, all signs were leading to “not go.”

This morning, I got up. I was still stuffy, but I could’ve suffered through a 5k, really. But then my son climbed into my bed and we watched Clifford’s Big Movie and there was no way I was going to the race after that. We snuggled, then came downstairs and had pumpkin muffins, as it snowed lightly outside.

At the flu shot appointment, we learned there was, in fact, no shot–just a little snort of flu vaccine up the nose. Well, I feel silly. Anyway, we’d already promised lunch and Wreck-It Ralph for being brave, so off we went.

It was a wonderful family day. I’ll have to do friend day at a later date.

Why You Are Slow

You are slow because you are weak.

That’s just one of the things I learned from this super-awesome podcast I was listening to on Wednesday called Runner Academy with Matt Johnson. I have a feeling this is going to be my new favorite podcast. Okay, my favorite one for running.

(My favorite overall health and fitness podcast is Jillian Michaels’s. I particularly enjoy the chemistry between her and her funny producer Janice.)

Matt had an excellent interview with Owen Anderson, Ph.D., an exercise scientist, running coach, race director and writer. He has studied runners in Kenya, and recruited and coached elites from that country.

Matt and Owen were talking about ways for the marathoner to get faster, and Owen said one of the best things for a runner to do is get stronger by doing running-specific strength routines focusing a lot on leg strength. This will help with your endurance, your ability to hold faster pace for a longer amount of time, and will keep you from getting injured when you add mileage in your training. This thinking doesn’t just apply to a marathoner. Strength will help with speed at any distance.

Strength work, he said, is particularly important for new runners. Whether you’re training for your first 5k or your fifth marathon, do. your. strength. work.

I’ve sort of discovered the benefits of strength work recently on accident. I have been running a lot less—like less than 10 miles per week, but doing a lot more strength (I certainly don’t condone running this little; it just happened). BUT I aim to do 5-6 strength workouts per week. I aim for them to be circuit-type workouts and I aim for them to last about 30 minutes. I would say I get them done most days. But I have to admit that the last couple of weeks they’ve only been 15-20 minutes long due to illness, work and Christmas cookies.

With less running and more strength, however, I’ve noticed I’ve actually become more comfortable at a sub-8 pace (even though I’m 5+ pounds over my optimal weight!).

So how do you come up with a good strength routine?

Well, obviously, you could do a search online for one? Or you could pop in a Jillian Michaels DVD (which I used to do a lot, but sort of got burnt out on). Or you could go to the gym. My favorite strength routines, right now, are from the Jillian Michaels Hot Bod in a Box cards.

The cards explain how to split the workouts up so you effectively work one side of the body at a time: pushing muscles and pulling muscles. Jillian also stresses doing leg and core work with every workout. With the cards, I can create my own workouts. She also includes a bunch of pre-made interval workout cards in the box, and boy, those are tough! Those pre-made cards are workouts that are very similar to her videos.

The routines I have been creating work one side of the body (pushing or pulling), and I incorporate some type of squats and a couple types of core: planks, sit-ups, pelvic thrusts.

After listening to the Runner Academy podcast and Owen’s advice, however, I am going to tailor my strength workouts toward my running with one-legged squats and moves more specific to my sport.

Anyway. I’m not the expert here. Don’t take it from me. Find out why you’re slow by listening to the podcast for yourself. You NEED to listen to it if you are at all interested in becoming a better runner. It’s number RA013 of the Runner Academy titled “Challenge Your Thinking About Running: Coach Owen Anderson, Ph.D.” You’re welcome.

2012 Christmas Rush 5K Recap

I am becoming someone who signs up for races if I think I might place. I am also someone who is becoming a person who likes to create costumes for races. I don’t see how either of these can last, but for now, I’ll go with it.

I put together this Christmas running costume on Friday (the day before the Christmas Rush 5k), and I painted my nails with sparkles. When I woke up the morning of the race and it was 37 degrees, I decided to wear gloves. They were dark blue, but whatever.

For this 5k, I stuck with my little-to-no-running training plan, since it worked well for the half in November. I ran twice between the half on November 25 and the race on December 8. My last run was on December 1 and it was less than 3 miles. I did walk, ride the trainer and do some very light strength work, though. Then I got a cold, which turned into a horrible hacking, phlegmy cough the week before the race. Plus, my husband got this idea that he wanted to make 25 days of Christmas cookies. I gained two pounds last week. All of that stuff together sucked ’cause I had plans for the race.

I signed up for Christmas Rush 5k a few weeks ago when Nicole of Ricole Runs mentioned it. Only $10 if you didn’t want to get a shirt. Nicole said it was a small race, so I looked at last year’s results. The woman in my age group that placed first, did so with a time of 24:39. It was a no-brainer, I registered. Also, I knew the race location is only 25 minutes from my house, and I knew the area was fairly flat. I might have a chance to win my age group!

Nicole and Erika (This Spartan Will) both signed up for the 10k, and Jennifer (Runner Maybe) also signed up for the 5k. Always fun to have friends to see at a race!

The race didn’t start till 10 a.m., so I got to wake up at a normal time on Saturday. I’d given myself just enough time to get ready, but I’d forgotten that my son would probably be up. Normally, not a big deal, but my husband is on call for his job, and I wanted to let him sleep as much as possible. So, I had to make my son breakfast and stuff. No biggie, I just hadn’t factored it into my time. Luckily, I only left a few minutes later than I had planned, and I’d scheduled myself to arrive at 9, so I still had plenty of time to pick up my bib, go potty, etc.

I found a parking space pretty easily in a nearby parking lot. I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to park there, but I just lemminged it when I saw other runners parked there. Easy to pick out runner cars, BTW, because we have distances stickered all over the back of them. I texted my friends to see if they’d picked up their bibs, etc., then jogged the half mile or so to get mine. There were about 6 Honey Buckets near the start and there was a long line for them. There were about six more near bib pick-up and there was no line. Hooray!

I knew this year’s event was going to be bigger than last year’s, since the race organizers had sent out a message that about 800 people had picked up their bibs at the early time on Wednesday. (Actually, it wasn’t bigger.) My confidence about winning my age group sagged a little, but I still wanted to see what I could do.

There were kids everywhere! Kids under the age of 13 could run for free, so I think that’s why. It was great. I loved seeing all the kids. There were also a lot of fast-looking high school cross country runners warming up.

After I got my bib, I found Erika and we hung out in her car before the start. She was running the 10k, which started at 9:50. She was parked right next to the start line, so we got out a few minutes before her race, walked over, got a picture and then she was off!

Christmas Rush
Erika and me pre-race. We did not coordinate, but it looks like we did!

I’d briefly seen Nicole, her friend and Jennifer after I got my bib. After the 10k, I found Jennifer again! And met her friend JH. JH was there with her kiddos, who were running, too. We got a picture and then, with less than 10 minutes to go, I left to do a short warm up. Glad I did because my right shoe was too loose and it would’ve driven me crazy!

Christmas Rush trio
JH, Jennifer and me pre-race. Also slightly color coordinated!

The start would be a mass start, but they at least had sections where you could begin next to people who matched your pace. Unfortunately, I don’t know that a lot of people went by that guideline. With about 2-3 minutes to go, I wiggled into a spot marked 8-minute milers. There was a girl with a fun tutu next to me. I was in my Team Sparkle skirt, and chatted about sparkle skirts for a bit since she asked where I got it.

Then we were moving! What?! I hadn’t started my music or anything. There was no countdown! I ripped a glove off and plugged my earbud into my head, and pushed start on my Garmin as I was running over the mat. I felt all discombobulated. I quickly got my glove back on, though. I didn’t even really want the stupid gloves because I knew my hands would warm up quickly–they always do, but I didn’t want to leave them either. They were freebies, too. I just didn’t want to litter.

The start was thick and I did a lot of weaving for the first 200 meters or so. I got into a groove after that and felt very relaxed, although my feet hurt a bit since they were cold and slamming into the ground. That cleared up by a half mile.

For the first mile, I kept looking down at my Garmin thinking that my pace would be in the high 8’s because I felt so comfortable. I was running at a just under a sub-8 pace comfortably. And I was shocked. I tried not to look at my watch too much after that and just aimed to keep that comfortable feeling.

The first mile of the course left town via a pretty bridge over the Green River, then turned onto the Green River trail, which has been off-limits for several years due to flooding worries. It is finally open again, and it is a lovely trail near a golf course. The drawback, however, is that the trail is narrow and there were some slower people that were difficult to pass. Like I expected, it was flat.

Mile 1: 7:53 pace

There was a wide variety of people in this race. It was great to see them all! The kids running were especially interesting because they would go at a full-out sprint and then walk, and then full-out sprint and then walk. Repeat. Seemed to work for some of them!

Runners stayed to the left side of the trail, then turned at the halfway mark and came back on the right. The way back felt a little harder and I suspected it might be slightly uphill. Just slightly, though. On the way back, I saw this dude running in a giant candy cane. I’d seen the candy cane at the start, but I had thought it was part of the start line!

Christmas Rush Candy Cane Costume
Candy Cane sprint to the finish!

Before we got back to the road where we’d originally met the trail, runners turned and instead went over a large footbridge. The bridge took us to a trail on the east bank, so that the river was on our left and the golf course was on our right. I passed a man on the bridge  that sounded like he was going to die. He was breathing so hard, I was really worried about him. He hung with me a bit, which made me tense up. It made my breathing feel labored. That was at about Mile 2. My sub-8’s were feeling a little tougher. I sped up to lose the man, and his noise, and I was able to relax again while watching golfers tee off.

Mile 2: 7:48 pace

At about 2.5 miles, my chest felt like it filled up with phlegm. I had about six frogs in it, and I spent about a half-mile clearing it. I bet people loved that. At this point, I became increasingly annoyed by my hat. I was way too hot! I’d been holding my gloves since the first mile, and didn’t want to have to hold my hat, too. Plus, I had a cute snowflake on it.

Soon, we were rounding a corner onto the road to the finish line, which is next to where the packet pick-up was. I couldn’t believe it was already over! It was the easiest 5k I’ve run. Seriously. It went by in a flash, and I never felt like I was going to pass out or anything. Admittedly, Mile 3 was my hardest, though. I tried to guess the ages of any women in front of me, and of any women I passed.

Mile 3: 7:53 pace

I tried to pick up the pace and run as fast as I could at the end. Out of nowhere this high school kid in khaki shorts came barreling through the finish chute almost knocking people over since he was running so fast and out of control. Not cool, dude. You didn’t even look cool.

Last .1: 6:35 pace

There were quite a few people cheering at the finish, which was nice. I crossed the mat, then checked my watch. I couldn’t remember what my PR was. But I thought I might be close.

I knew Erika, Nicole and her friend, and Jennifer and JH would be coming through soon, but I had a little time. They had some 5k results up, so I checked and I had placed 3rd in my age group (35-39) with a 24:19! Not a PR for me, but still pretty good for not training. I would’ve won last year–shucks! There were 1,881 people in the 5k (I placed 43rd overall). Oh well! I was still excited about 3rd. I’ve only placed at one other race, and that was back in March at the dreary St. Paddy’s Day Run, where I suprrised myself by getting 2nd in my age group (30-34).

Christmas Rush 5K 3rd Place Ribbon
I’d split off from my friends, but found some ladies to take my picture who gushed about my ribbon and made me feel like a rock star. Thanks ladies!

After the finish, I got a water and a goody bag so I could put my hat and gloves in there. I was overheated! Then I staked out a spot. I expected Erika to come in quickly, and for a few minutes, I’d worried I’d missed her. But I didn’t, and I got to see almost everyone finish their race. I’ll let them tell you how they did.

Afterward, my friends urged me to go wait for my ribbon–the organizers called out the top 5 finishers in each age group and then gave them their ribbons. It was nice, and I felt special if not a tiny embarrassed about how excited I was to get a ribbon and to have my name called out. I like to win things!

The weather was perfect on Saturday–even sunny at the end. Overall, this was a very well organized, fun race for a very reasonable price. I’ll be back in 2013 to get my blue ribbon.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas Running Costume

Um. I spent more time on my running costume this week than I did actual running. I really wanted white capris, but couldn’t find ’em. Huh? Weird. Anyway, tomorrow’s Christmas Rush 5K should be an adventure.

Hind White Half-Zip (Marshall’s)
C9 by Champion Knit Hat (Target)
C9 by Champion Capri (Target)
Silver Team Sparkle Skirt
Sof Sole socks (my favorite running socks ever!)
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12
Sparkly and felt snowflakes (Target)

Know What I Wish?

I know people who are unhappy. I know people who don’t feel good about their bodies. I know people who don’t feel like working out is worth it–like they’re not worth it. I know people who are disappointed in themselves.

I know these people pretty well. Because I used to be one of them.

I rediscovered my love of running in 2009. And it took a little work, but I feel happy and hopeful about life. I feel good (most days) about my body. I know exercising is worth it because I think long-term. I am proud of myself and my accomplishments.

I wish I could just help everyone figure these things out! I want everyone to be happy and healthy. This is my Christmas wish!

Unfortunately, everyone has to figure it out for themselves. Something has to light a fire in them. For me, it was an injury and a simple comment about my weight. You have to keep adding fuel to the fire, though, so it will grow. My reasons for leading a healthy lifestyle have changed over the past three years. I think this is how I keep myself going.

It isn’t hard to exercise and make healthy eating choices after you get used to it. It becomes a habit after just a few weeks! Sure, some days you fall off the wagon; but the next day, you jump back on. Is any of this making sense?

YOU are worth it. YOU are worth little extra money it costs for nutritious foods. YOU are worth the time it takes to walk, run, swim or do a Jillian Michaels DVD.

I wish I could shout that from the rooftops to everyone who doubts their ability or doesn’t have the desire or drive to make a lifestyle change. But I know, they’ve got to want it. So, everybody: Want it! Okay?

Well, this isn’t Going to Help Me

I specifically signed up for a race this Saturday in the hopes of placing in my age group or maybe even PRing (even though I haven’t done any speed training). It’s a small race and even if I don’t PR, based on the results from last year, I may be able to finish toward the top of the 35-39ers.

This is most definitely the wrong reason to sign up for a race. And I think nature is trying to teach me lesson.

Last week, I got a sore throat. It wasn’t horrible, and I continued to run and go to work, etc. I didn’t feel bad, I just couldn’t swallow normally. It lasted several days. Then on Sunday night, I coughed all night long, and continued to hack up a lung on Monday. Last night was a cough-fest, too, and today I just feel plain sick. Like with congestion, tight lungs, ear aches, dizziness.

I haven’t run since last week sometime. I don’t know if I’m going to feel well enough to run the rest of this week. I’ll be going to the race on Saturday, but not knowing how I will feel a few days from now, I’m pretty sure there won’t be any PRs or winning going on. I’ll have another chance next Saturday, but that’s a bigger race, so I doubt I can place.

Also I’m pretty sure I’m gaining weight due to my inability to resist Christmas cookies. So that’s also not helping.

I stayed home from work today because I didn’t want to be coughing all over everyone. I hate it when people go in to work all sick. Ew. Anyway, Karsen told me he would “take super good care” of me, but so far I’ve had console him twice after he hurt himself roughhousing with the dogs.

And that’s not helping.

Must Do December Challenges

So at my house, the hubs and the 4YO have decided to do “25 Days of Christmas Cookies.”

I know! What happened to our low-sugar lifestyle? I guess it’s on hold this month.

Luckily, there are a couple great challenges happening in the blogosphere in December. One is hosted by my friend Ricole at Ricole Runs. The first rule of her Runcember Challenge is that we don’t talk about Runcember, but this is writing. So, technically, I’m am writing about it and you are reading about it. No talking at all, see?

The challenge is to run or walk every day in December. I can’t run every day, but I can walk on the days I don’t run. Check it out.

The other one going around on the Internets is this Holiday Squatathon.

Thank goodness I also have two 5Ks this month!

I’m an overachiever today because I walked 1.77 miles today on the t-mill, then took advantage of SUN with a couple miles (in a tank top and shorts in Seatte-what?!) for a total of 4.1. Afterward, I did 3x 10 pushups, 10 squats and 15 (ea. side) bicycle crunches.

Listen, people. There are S’mores Cookies downstairs. This is serious.