Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Spring in my Step

I'm starting to ramp up mileage, slowly but surly, in prep for Doyles at the end of next month. I'm taking it slowly but surly so I don't end up injured again, which is perhaps my biggest fear right now. Every little twinge or flutter has me catching my breath and praying, "Not again....." When it's nothing, I breathe a sigh of relief and move on, the moment gone but not forgotten.

Today I went out for a 5k run with the goal of running more and walking less. A goal I reached with an easy surprise. I kept my pace a little slower than I normally push and managed to push past my initial markers. "I want to get as far as the end of the park..." turned into making past the corner and to the water fountain. From the top of the hill back to the turn turned into a block from the park that turned into all the way past the high school to the traffic lights for my cool down walk.

Even my walk picked up the pace. My legs have that wonderfully tingling, "Hey, that was a good run" feeling. :)

Spring is good, it's feeling like things are picking up. Riding my bike and running outside are signs of spring which is a time of hope. I'm starting to find myself thinking about a second run because one just didn't feel like enough so even if our weather goes back to more seasonal temps, it's OK. Spring is here and I'm ready to jump in, both feet first.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A week that was

I totally heart my bike! I ride it around town looking like a nerd with my upright position and old school handle bars, but it handles smoothly and is a sweet ride.

Since picking it up after its annual tuneup,I've been riding it all over the place. Mostly to school and back since it's a 2 mile round trip, but also on errands. Thursday I rode it to Zumba class and yesterday to the bike shop and hairdresser.

When I run, my calves feel strong. When I ride, my thighs feel strong. When all is said and done, I know my body IS growing stronger and that is the thing I like the best of all.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ras Na Heirann 5K (Race Report)

When you're part of the Running of the Irish (the literal translation of "Ras Na Heirann), the best thing to do is throw on some Celtic Punk music and let the drummer carry you through the mileage. I haven't done a lot of running outdoors over the months and I can't remember the last time I ran a race (last fall perhaps?), so all in all, this was going to just be a fun run for me. My fast goal was 40 minutes, my slow goal was 45 minutes. Over the years, as the race has grown, so have the costumes. It is no longer odd to see a guy run in a leprechaun suit, costumes are now the norm for this race unless you're one of the 5 minute miler guys in the front of the race.

So, having never run in a costume before, I figured I'd try making a running skirt. When I bought the fabric last week, the woman in line behind me did the squealie, "Who's going to be a fairy princess?" I was, "Um me." :) She gave me a withering look, but I went home and cut and hand sewed a running skirt for the day. Last night I realized it needed more and ran out to buy something for my hair and some fairy wings. I covered them with the fabric from the skirt and some bad-ass looking sprite wing-like things to wear.

At 10am, the streets were empty, all of a sudden, around 10:20, 4,000 runners came out of nowhere to start lining up. I dutifully lined up about halfway between the 14 minute/mile and walking gates and waited. Ran into folks I knew in the starting chutes and we got ready to run. I cued up the Nike+ and "Knuckles Up" by Flatfoot 56. It took about 6 minutes to cross the official start line from where I started, pushed the button on my watch and was off.

The first hill of the race is a 2-3% grade for about half a mile. I ran along, taking my headphones out to listen to the pipe band playing for the runners at the beginning of the race. Since I didn't have a firm plan, the rhythm I fell into was run for about 3-5 minutes (a song or two) and then walk for about 3 minutes and run some more. I cleared the first mile in 12 minutes. Feeling good and heading downhill, I figured I could ease up on the throttle a bit. Trotting along I walked slowly through the water stop and passed mile 2 at the 26:00 minute mark. I was feeling strong but certainly slowing down and walking a bit more and running a bit less than in the first mile. I was still the run a song/walk a song mode, but I wasn't pushing as hard as I had earlier. Facing the last hill, I was feeling a little worn out. It wasn't as drastic as the starting hill, but it was still enough to make me sigh. Then the song "The Long Road" came on:

It’s a long road, and you’re waiting at the gates for me for him I will run the race marked out before me

It was perfect and drove me up the hill in beat with the drummer as I pounded up the hill step by step to the top. With a smile, I started down the last stretch. I could see the finish arch in the distance and knew I was in the home stretch. As I reached the finish line, I could see Pi off to the side helping at the final gate. I made it across, my watch read 42:17 even though the clock read 48:17. It's OK, I suspect when times are finally posted that the gun/chip times will show 42 is closer to my real time. So I hit in between the two times I set for my goals, which works for me.

Right now, the next up is training for the Doyles 5 miler at the end of April.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Uphill - both ways

This is my uphill both ways route. I run uphill, dip a little and then back uphill again before the final downhill home.

It's a 2 mile route and this was a training run for Sunday. I know the race route has a big-ass hill, so I needed to do some serious hills. It was a good, slow run. I'm thinking it's time to start thinking about goals for the race. What do I want to do for a time? Is a 15 min mile of run/walk a good thing or do I push myself for a faster goal.

In the meantime, I feel pretty badass having run uphill both ways. :)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Exercise kicked my fat butt

Yesterday the morning dawned at 51*F, a radical change from Monday morning's 28*F start. I went out for a pleasant 2 miles focusing on a course that has some good hills to push myself a bit even though it was a short, short, run. Good thing it was a short run as I discovered my Superman tights are cut for a tall man. (The waist band was under my bra line!) Of course I want to find some liquid green glitter tights in my size (I've been finding them in smaller sizes) for the Ras, but may just settle on the UA black tights with green stitching and inset panels. So it goes.

It was a good run. I didn't push hard and was able to run much longer distances than I expected of myself.

So what's a girl to do to celebrate? Go to Zumba class after work. Zumba is a fitness program based on Latin rhythms that combines dance moves with fitness routines/steps to make you feel really, really, really uncoordinated. Apparently I mastered "the booty roll." I'm still unsure of some of the steps, but ti was my first class so maybe by the time I finish up the series just before my running club starts up again. The moves work with the rhythm of the music and and are easy to follow.

In the end, I came home and crashed on the couch around 8:30. This morning, my abs are feeling strong and I'll see how it works out after next Thursday's class.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Heading Outdoors again

With the Ras looming large, I realized it's time to get back outside so this morning I suited up and headed out the door. It was 28*F out there and I felt like I was crazy heading out the door, but I did it.

In a new pair of tights with visibility insets and my high-visibility jacket, I set out to get a 5k baseline for myself. Heading out the door I managed to run strong segments of my usual route. It didn't take long for my heart to get pumping and warm me up. While I was out there, I could see the folks getting their morning runs in. It's easy to tell who is marathon training and who is just out running on a morning like this.

Me, I'm out there doing my thing and feeling good that the spring is coming soon and I have a 5k run in books.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Does this jumprope work?

As the PE teacher again, I got to do the jumprope unit with the kids. Ever the entertainer, I had to develop a schtick to teach 1st and 2nd graders some key things, mostly what "aerobic" means and that we're helping them with activity for life.

Jump rope, how hard can it be? We have different lengths plus speed ropes as our regular ropes are encased in plastic tubes (the rope is protected when you're on a playground that way). Most of the kids in the 2nd grad and all the kids in the 1st grade use the small ropes, but kids are kids and you have to remind them that you have to step on the center of the rope and make sure the handles come to between your armpits and shoulders. So how do you tell them the obvious without talking down to them?

If you're me you run up to the rack and yell, "COOL! There's a red one here. I LOVE red!" as you grab the smallest jumprope you can. I let the kids giggle and yell things like "That's too small...." I looked at them puzzled and said, "No it's not! It's just fine, here I'll show you!" and then proceeded to jump having it get caught between my legs, nail me in the shins and calves.

Yes it was somewhat deliberate as well. ;)

I let the kids then instruct me how to pick a rope. Hanging the red one up the kids would yell things like, "Try a medium rope..." and then direct me to stand on it and measure the handles. I would then "try" it out to make sure it works. After jumping a few times, I would then go backwards and say, "Hey, it works in BOTH directions!" The kids would laugh and we could then pick our ropes from there.

For the finish up lesson, I had the kids put their hand on their bicep (after naming it) and try flexing back and forth to feel it. We did the same thing for the tricep and I then asked how do they know they're working their heart? The kids came up with things like: sweating, rosy cheeks, breathing hard/shorter breaths, taking their pulse. I then did something most of those kids don't think about, I told them I was a runner.

I had a kid read the sleeve of my hoodie and then loudly repeated the words, "I run like a girl." As they giggled I then said, "and I'm proud of it! When I run I wear a skirt, I wear cute tops and I am proud to say I run like a girl." In every class, at least one boy would find this amusing so I threw down a challenge: I challenged that kid to line up with me at the start of the Doyle's 5 miler in April and run the race with me.

Same result every time, they would gasp. I told them I'll be running the Ras Na Heirrann in a couple of weeks through the hills of Somerville and, even though I don't look like a runner, it's something I love to do. I don't have to win or run as fast as my son (who runs a 6:30 mile when he's not training), it's about going out and doing something that's good for my heart. I'm not embarrassed to be slow or not look the runners that win. I'm glad that I am out there running strong and my heart is glad I'm out there too.

I keep hoping that these kids, particularly the ones already casting themselves as "not good at...", take away that we can all be athletes because we line up at the starting line and give it our best. This morning I may need some ibuprofen for my shoulders after spending the better part of a day jump roping for the first time in years, but it was worth it. I hope to see some of the kids with the thicker glasses and rounder bodies to line up with me and, maybe, even beat me to the finish.