Sunday, September 27, 2009

Be an Eagle, GET OVER IT!

Every plant knows this: It’s only when you get crap thrown on you that you really start to grow. ** Scott Sorrell**

It has been a very long and stressful week since my 5K PR. The 9 miles on Sunday went okay, but I was pretty worn out from the race. The rest of the week went pretty much downhill from there. I think I am more stressed about Rusty leaving than I have let myself feel. Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis is very sensitive to stress and I have been getting little red flags all week. Saturday, I worked two back to back races, 5K and half marathon, and several hours of standing followed by a 5 mile run was too much for my feet. Saturday night they swelled up like balloons.

I was so upset that I let myself go on a major pity party this morning. I typed a long whiny blog about the details of each crummy run and all the things I hate about arthritis. Then I decided to get the heck over it. I put on my Brooks running shoes and wore them around the house for a while to see how my feet felt with some padding and then decided to hit the road.

I took it very easy and walked a tenth of each mile, but I felt good and got slightly faster as the miles went by. Now I’m tired, but it is a good tired, not the sick tired that I was afraid I would be. I’m still a bit tender from the RA, but my mind feels better and I’ve gained a lot of confidence knowing that if I had run my half marathon today, even being under the weather, I could have finished and probably even improved my time. Running in shoes was the pits, but worth the price to be able to run. Hopefully by my next run on Tuesday I will be back to bare, but if not, that is okay too, as long as I can run.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

26:09!! CNU Race Report

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb." **Sir Winston Churchill***

It has been a crazy couple of weeks since I last posted! We had a wonderful time at Disney World and I took the whole week off from running. At the beginning of the week I kind of felt like I was fighting a cold so with all the running around the parks, I decided I’d be better off getting all the rest I could and not pushing with morning runs.

My first run after vacation was rough though. My feet were sensitive from being in sandals all week and I felt rusty from not running. It was tough to talk myself into getting out there and doing it, but once the 4.5 mile run was behind me I felt much better. The next day was speed work with a mile and a half warm up and 4 Yasso 800’s. The Yassos went really well, between 4 and 4:15 with the last one just barely under 4! That last Yasso was amazing because for the first time I got that flying feeling I have heard runners talk about. I felt like I was just gliding over the surface and could go on forever.

The following day, Thursday, was an easy 3 mile recovery run. I should have lifted weights afterwards, but decided to skip it so I wouldn’t be sore for my 5K today. Friday was a rest day, but we decided at the last minute to go for one more theme park day while Rusty had time off and went to Buschgardens Williamsburg for the day. There was hardly anyone in the park and the weather was perfect so we rode roller coasters until we were sick and then watched shows. It wasn’t as long of a day as a day in Disney, but my legs and back were still pretty tired by the time we got home. I started rethinking my 5K, especially when I couldn’t find my race flyer with directions and times.

This morning, Rusty put his hand on my shoulder at 6:32 and asked what time I needed to be up for my run, ummm, 6:00! Not a good start. I threw down some coffee and a banana, grabbed my gear with a bottle of Gatorade and some sports beans. Without a clear idea of where I was going, I headed out the door for the 8am start hoping the start was where I thought it was. At least running late didn’t leave me time to contemplate throwing in the towel on this one. I didn’t feel rested after the long day yesterday and I REALLY wanted to go back to bed, but I was on a mission and didn’t have time to think.

I did find the registration table on time, after walking around for 10 minutes, handed in my check and started warming up. By 7:55 I was warmed up and ready to go when someone told me the kids run started at 8 and the 5K started at 8:30. Dang, all warmed up with nowhere to go. I wasn’t alone, there were a bunch of people griping about the unclear start time so we all stood around getting cold and then had to warm up again. Along the way, I had the usual bunch of funny looks when people realized my feet were bare, but no questions at this point. I guess they assumed I'd put them on for the race.

At 8:30 we were ready to roll so about 200 runners lined up for the start. I spotted a runner that I know is fast, but I know is also injured and thought maybe I could keep up with her today. This was my first 5K where I actually warmed up before the race so for once I was able to start off at speed and not crash a mile into the run.

At mile one I felt pretty good, but was questioning my sanity about keeping up such a hard pace. I was intentionally not looking at my Garmin and just going by feel with the occasional glance at my heart rate. Susan, the runner I was pacing off of, had realized I was on her heels and since she knows I’m slow decided to kick it up a notch to stay ahead of me. I stayed on her heels through the first and second mile, but by mile 3 she started pulling ahead.

As we hit the 2 mile mark, there was someone calling out times. I really didn’t want to know so I stuck my fingers in my ears and repeated, “I don’t want to know!” about three times. When I took my fingers out of my ears he was laughing at me, but didn’t call my split. Near the end of the third mile, I was in trouble. My breathing was getting tough, my legs were tired, and I was mentally not there. I could still see Susan, but I knew I’d never pass her in the final stretch. As we turned the last corner, I was able to pull a last bit from the tank and picked it up for the last 100 yards or so. I didn’t look at the clock because I didn’t want to know yet what my time was. I stopped my Garmin at the finish line and was aggravated by the stack up to turn in our tags. I don’t do well going from full speed to full stop and was worried that the drop in blood pressure would make me pass out in the chute! Fortunately I was able to keep the black spots at bay, turn in my tag, and walk my cool down. When I finally took a peak at my Garmin, it said my time was 26:07!!!! WHOOT!!

My mile splits were 8:16, 8:18, 8:30 with my final 1/10th mile sprint below an 8 minute mile, so although they weren’t negative splits, they weren’t terribly far off. I managed to pull of 2nd for my age group with a clock time of 26:09! That was way cool! I finally feel like part of the group now and can’t wait for my next 5K. If I’m more rested, have a calmer morning, and warm up right, there is a good chance I will improve on my time. The best part was all the questions about being barefoot. People take more notice when you are doing something different and finish with a good time!

Next hurdle? Tomorrow’s 9 mile long run!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

8 Barefoot Miles

"There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but only one view." **Harry Millner**

I've been a really lazy blogger lately, mostly because I haven't had all the much to post about. I just finished week 5 of my half marathon training plan and am feeling really good about how it is going. I've done nearly all my training barefoot, the only shod running being when I wear my VFFs for group runs on really rocky trails.

My times are improving nicely and giving me hope of actually running at respectable speeds one day, LOL. I've been posting to Hal Higdon's forums to get better coaching on my training plan (what better than to go to the source!) I've picked up a lot of good info there and had many questions answered by Hal Higdon himself. For interval training I have been doing Yasso 800's under 4.5 minutes for 4 repeats. I'll test this new pace in a 5K on Sep. 19th and see if I can sustain it for 3.1 miles straight. To curb the incessant hunger that has been waking me up an hour early, I have added a bedtime shot of protein powder. It seems to be working nicely and I'm continuing to see a downward trend on the scale. Ideally I'd like be to down about 10 pounds by November, which should be totally doable if I don't get too out of control on vacation next week.

Today was my longest barefoot run ever! Saturday was a 3 mile pace run so I ran a little over a mile to warm up and then ran 3 miles at %80 HRR (heart rate reserve.) I don't know if I could actually keep that pace up for an entire half marathon, but that is the target zone for an HM race so I thought I would give it a try and just go by heart rate without looking at my pace. It turned out that I had 2 miles at about 9:30 and one at 8:58. I was totally stunned! Needless to say, I was tired after that run. My feet were tender, although undamaged, and after my run I went to a race expo to pick up some needed gear and decided to do that all barefoot too.

Anyway, on to my point, by Saturday evening my feet were sore for the first time since I started running barefoot. I don't mean tender as in hot spots, blisters, or damaged skin, but a deep in the tissues tired like they had had a very good workout. Apparently this is a pretty common feeling for most beginner barefooters, but owing to my barefoot youth and my propensity to go barefoot in my house, my feet have been fine with my only limiting factor being the skin on the bottoms. I was a little worried about running 8 miles on sore feet, but decided they weren't too bad off.

I really didn't want to run today and nearly talked myself out of it. I was really tired from the pace run, but that is the point behind running hard the day before your long run, it teaches your body to keep going when it is tired. It was hot out, I was tired, I was hungry, I had a lot to do, we had company coming for dinner, my list of excuses was as long as my arm, but I kept moving forward, headed for the door. It was definitely one of those less fun runs. Every mile felt like slogging through molasses and I never did get my second wind. Usually by the time I pass the 3 mile mark I perk up for a couple of miles, but not today. I kept going though, up and down dead end streets, with every return tempting me to short cut home. My feet were starting to sting so I concentrated on relaxing and keeping my form good while watching my heart rate to keep it at about %70.

About half way though the run I started taking walking breaks. I don't usually take walking breaks on long runs, but I was SO tired! My running pace was staying around an 11 minute per mile pace, but the walking breaks added up to bring the whole run to a 12:15 pace, which is still about a minute per mile faster than my long runs were back in January so it wasn't too disappointing. I finished my 8 miles without being too sore or damaging my feet and now I have it behind me. Week 5 is done and I have a new record distance for barefoot running. Next week is a fall back week and we are going to Disney World. So, although I will be on my feet plenty, I'll get in a tempo run before we fly out on Tuesday, and then probably let it go for the rest of the week. If I really feel like a run there is a 1.5 mile track at the hotel, but I'm guessing several days on my feet will be enough stress for my body :-)