Monday, October 29, 2012

Last call for Team Tough Chik!

Today is the LAST DAY to join Team Tough Chik! Sign up by midnight tonight to be a part of the 2013 team with me!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Race Report: Running Scared 13K

I had SUCH an amazing time at the race tonight! I am probably going to forget something in all of the excitement, but here is my best attempt.

I wore my new SparkleTech skirt from and it looked absolutely adorable and, of course, comfortable. And let me tell you... I just got this skirt and wore it tonight without having done a test run. That's how confident I am in these skirts!

I was mulling around in the parking lot and there weren't very many people. I stopped the race director and asked him if the course was well-marked and he said yes (HA! LOL) and then I asked how many people signed up and he said 40ish (HA! LOL). I made friends with a lady who was also running and we hung out together a bit.

Finally they called the 13K runners to the start line and there were a whopping TWELVE of us! LOL I was really nervous and quickly came to terms with coming in last. I knew that it wasn't the end of the world, but I was still nervous. The horn sounded for the start and we took off - all together for almost 3/10 of a mile. Then everyone started spacing out and it was time for my first walk break. And that's how I ended up last. And that's how I stayed for about 2.5 miles! LOL

That also happens to be where we went up the big, nasty hill. I was walking it and passed one lady. I made it to the top of that nasty hill to find that there were more relatively annoying hills to come - and we had to do them all twice! It was dreadful!

Around mile 6, I passed the group of ladies (including my new friend) but assumed they would pass me back when I hit my next walk break. But they didn't. And not on the next walk break, either. In fact, they never passed me again!

Finally it was time to go back down the big, nasty hill and I let myself sort of fly down it, mostly trying not to fall. I was looking forward to a nice drink of water at the water station where we were to rejoin the 5K, but they had already taken it down. BOO! No more water for the rest of the course, and there was still 1.5 miles to go!

I was back on the part of the path that I run regularly, which was good. The familiarity was very helpful. My legs were getting really, really tired, though. Probably from all the hills - and I was running faster than I usually do. But I'm not really used to that "tired legs" feeling and I don't especially enjoy it. I prefer to run a little more slowly so I can feel strong through the end of the race! I didn't get to do that, today! LOL

Around mile 7.5, I decided that I was done with this run! This is when familiarity with the course is really helpful because I knew I didn't have THAT much further to go! But it would figure that there were several more uphills to conquer. I am not sure I have ever been so happy to cross a finish line!

I stuck around for the awards, figuring that with only 12 of us, we were all very likely to win something! It was so neat as all of the 13K folks stood together and cheered the remaining ones as they came in! We all talked about how nasty the hills were! I think the overall winner finished only 20 minutes or so faster than I did!

I did end up winning 1st place in my AG - there weren't any other runners in that AG. I'm really OK with that because it's not my fault that nobody else my age signed up! Their loss! :) I received a gold medal and it is so cute!

 My legs were shaking after I finished and shook for a good 30 minutes! I came home and rolled and stretched and hopefully I will be able to walk tomorrow! :) But if I can't, I certainly earned the right to hobble a bit! :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

So, you think you're a Tough Chik?

Well, guess what! You'd be right!!

"Our mission is to encourage each other to get out there and have fun!  We see all team members as contributing members, whether you podium or persevere, all that matters is that you are out there doing what YOU love to do.

A lot of teams out there focus their attention on attracting only elite athletes, but that’s just not what Tough Chik exclusively represents.  So we threw out the “rules” and decided to design a team for everyone."

Wanna make it official and join me on Team Tough Chik? If so, you need to hurry! Registration will be closing on Monday, October 29th! There are plenty of options to choose from - running kits, triathlon kits, cycling kits, and combination kits as well! But don't delay... you don't want to miss out on this chance to show the world "What Tough Looks Like"! :D

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Maybe less is more?

Last week I decided to less stretching and rolling.

That might sound counter-intuitive since I am actively trying to recover from injury. But  realized that I have spent the last year rolling and stretching each day for HOURS. No exaggeration. 2 hours per day at LEAST. This does include my workout (swim, bike, run, yoga, etc). Or my strength training. Because I work from home (teaching my kids) I have the unique ability to roll and stretch when I need/want to. But two hours a day?? Every day?? For a year??

Yeah, I'm over it.

So now I am only rolling before and after a run or bike. And I do my Body Looseners before a workout and a yoga miniworkout afterward. And then I do my really good stretch routine before bed. If I'm feeling particularly stiff, I may stretch again during our rest time in the afternoon. But that's it.

And you know what? I still seem to be improving with how I feel during my workouts. (I'm going to be really aggravated if I hurt during my run tomorrow morning now that I've said this! LOL)

Maybe rolling and stretching less is better for my body?! I wonder if it's possible to actually overdo it with the stretching? Hmmm...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

At least I got that out of the way...

I forgot to mention that on Sunday afternoon (my Runniversary) I took my youngest to the park to ride her bike. She asked me to bring my bike along as well so we could ride together. It had been awhile since she's ridden, plus she gets a little distracted by the sights around her. So it was a nice, slow ride on a beautiful day.

We were back in the wooded part of the trail, and I was following behind my little bundle of sunshine when all of a sudden she exclaimed, "Look, Mama! A squirrel!" and came to a sudden and complete stop.

In my attempt not to run my precious angel over, I gently applied the brakes and attempted to go around her. Unsuccessfully. Well, I did the important part and missed hitting my child, or her stopped bike.

Thus I have now gotten my first "bike crash" out of the way. Luckily the only injuries were some scrapes and soreness to the left hand that took the brunt of the fall - and my pride.

And thereafter, as we passed by the spot several more times on our bike ride, it became known as, "Mama, that's the place where you crashed!" :D

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy 4th Runniversary to me!

4 years ago today, I began the Couch to 5K program! In some ways it doesn't feel like a very long time, but my youngest who is 10 said that she doesn't remember that I ever "didn't run"!

I have been waxing nostalgic today - this has been a really rough year for me with running. I'm not sure I would have purposely signed up for all of what the last year has held for me, but I am starting to really think that it has made me a better person/athlete.

This morning, the 10 year old surprised me with a Runniversary celebration:

Isn't she the sweetest kid ever? I was so touched by her thoughtfulness! It has been especially touching because less than a year ago, the kids were complaining very openly about how all I cared about was running and I was gone every single holiday instead of spending time with them. It made me really sad. I took their complaints to heart and promised not to run a single holiday race this year, nor did I do any travel races. I wanted to show them that while running is important to me, it's not more important than my family. I hope that this celebration from my daughter is evidence that she sees that.

Tomorrow I begin my 5th year of running. I am really excited about it! There are a couple of races that I will be participating in for the 5th time - Jingle Jog for Autism and Fallen Heroes of GA! I will get to run in the 5th anniversary Princess Half Marathon and even though it will only be my 3rd time to do it, I think it's cool that the medal will have a 5 in in during my 5th year of running!

I wonder if me four years ago would have believed all that I have accomplished in the last 4 years? When I took off on that first day of Couch to 5K in 2008, did I ever expect that by October 21, 2012 I would have completed

14 5Ks
10 10Ks
6 Half-Marathons
1 Full Marathon
1 Warrior Dash
2 Sprint Triathlons
1 Goofy Challenge

That makes me really, really tired reading all that! LOL But I also have a great sense of accomplishment! I could linger on the fact that the numbers would have been higher had I not gotten injured last year, but I am not going to do that. Maybe I should focus on the fact that I did all of those things in 4 years and ONLY suffered one serious injury!  LOL

Tomorrow I will run the first run of my 5th year of running... and I will do my very best to appreciate it and ever run, swim, bike ride, and yoga pose for the next year!

In the words of the world-famous Swim Bike Mom: Keep Moving Forward!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

8 miles - it's very nice to see you again!

I did my 8 miler this morning. It was a beautiful fall day out there. Not a cloud in the sky and the temps were in the low to mid 40s. Since I hadn't run much last fall and winter, I was unsure what I should wear. I went with capris and a skirt, and a long sleeve shirt, and mittens. That was just about perfect. I probably could have gone with just the skirt, but I am so cold-natured.

I went with the 4/1 intervals, which is new. The last two times I have done 8 miles (post injury) I did it with 3/2 intervals. But I wanted to see how it would go. Physically I was all over the place. The first couple of miles felt awkward, which is typical. My shin was a little cranky, but not painful. Then around the 4th mile my right ITB started to make its presence known. I stretched at the top of the hill during my water break and that seemed to help. I think the cold weather was either making my muscles tighter, or was making me clench up and tighten them. Either way, I re-focused on relaxation and form. Miles 5-7 went beautifully! And then I started to get tired and my form started to suffer. Aches popped up in all sorts of places and it got harder mentally as well. It didn't feel awful, just harder than it probably should have been.

But before long, the Garmin read 8.00 miles and it was time to stop (well, to do a 10 minute cool-down walk anyway! LOL). I did the cool-down, stretched, drove home and rolled and did some yoga. And then took a nice warm shower. I know that cold/ice is supposed to be a runner's friend but in my case, the heat relaxes my muscles and makes me feel much better. I put on the compression socks and took my older daughter shopping all afternoon - the walking around being very good for the legs!

Legs are feeling pretty good... there is the usual tightness in the left shin but the hip/ITB is feeling just fine. My time was a little less than an hour and a half which is good. This race next week has a 1:45 cut-off. There is a really big steep hill about 7/10 of a mile long that I will have to walk up (I've run it before and it was B-A-D! LOL) and I wanted to make sure I can do that and still finish in time, and I think I can. I am waiting to see how my legs feel in the next day or two before I decide if I need to drop down to the 5K. So far, I think it will be fine! I'm not too terribly concerned about finishing "in time" because I know I will be pretty close, and if they close it down before I get there it won't bug me! This race is at the park where I do most of my long runs so it's not like I will be out on the roads somewhere without direction or support. I'm mostly doing this race so I can wear my new Sparkle Skirt and get a cute Halloween long sleeve shirt to wear! Yes, I have my priorities! ;)

Enjoy your workouts, friends! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On the Road Again...

Sorry for the delay in posting... this has been a crazy sort of week where I spent most of my days taking children to the doctor. The littlest one for a checkup and the middle one to see about a dance injury (achilles tendonitis and she's all booted up for 3 weeks. You know what's as sad to see as a runner who can't run? A dancer who can't dance. Poor girl!). Around those events, we have managed to get our school work in, and then I feed the crew, try to keep up with the house, and collapse on the bed at night and think, "Wow, I really should blog about my workouts!" LOL

I ran Monday and it was good! My shin bothered me just a little bit, but I focused on relaxing the muscles and releasing them. I still believe that the shin problem is related to a tightness in the calf or hamstring (or both). I'm hoping that watching my form, making sure to slow down in my run intervals, and releasing muscle tightness while I run will help remedy the issue. I ran for 30 minutes, 4/1 intervals.

Tuesday's swim was nothing short of awesome! I stuck to my regular 2 sets of 500 meters and I felt relaxed and strong. I also worked on form and relaxation during my swim. I'm going to stick to these same two sets for around a month before I slowly work to combine them into one 1000 meter set.

Wednesday was a rest day. Going to be taking two of these most days during the off-season. Wednesday and Sunday. If the weather is particularly nice, I may take the bike out on Sunday afternoon for a ride, but other than that, I am going to rest a bit more over the fall and winter.

Today had "RUN" penciled in on the calendar and the weatherman penciled in "RAIN" over the top of it. I waited and waited for the rain to go away - it was a hard and fairly chilly rain or else I would have toughed it out. indicated rain until 10AM so I grabbed the mp3 player and hit the gym. I really didn't want to do it because it would add 30 minutes to my morning for travel time, which would mean a rushed morning of lessons. I'm also not too fond of the treadmill. But I didn't want to miss my workout, ether. So I sucked it up. Of course, right as I was pulling into the parking lot, the rain stopped. Figures.

The treadmill does have a couple of benefits - no hills and no banked roads to annoy my legs. Also, I am forced to maintain a steady pace which helps me avoid running too fast on my run intervals. But it's just so boring. Who would have thought that I would one day prefer to be in the outdoors than indoors for exercise? Crazy!

I had planned 45 minutes for my run today. I am trying to pick up where I left off with the triathlon training. I had been doing a 2 mile run after a brick, and then a 45 minute run, and a 6 mile run. I am going to start with a 30 minute run, a 45 minute run, and an 8 mile long run on the weekend, plus a day of swimming and a short day of cycling on the stationary bike, and finally, the two rest days. I feel going up to the 8 mile run won't be a problem because the intensity and duration of the other workouts is so much less. I plan to add time to the weekday runs little by little until I'm running an hour each weekday, and I want to build up to 10 miles on the weekend run. That's my ultimate goal for the winter and really I don't need to run any more than that to fulfill my training goals. That amount of running would have me ready for any half-marathon, and it would also give me a good base if I want to tackle an Olympic distance triathlon next summer/fall.  I will be doing one cut-back week once a month to give my body a break.

In keeping with my "no pressure running" mantra, though, I am not writing any of these time or distance goals in my training calendar. I'm going to be going very much on how I feel. If I wake up one morning and I don't want to run very long, then I won't. If I can make those goals by the end of the winter that would be great, but it won't destroy me, either. I just want to stay healthy and enjoy my running (and swimming and biking) again!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

One More Day

My rest week is drawing to a close and I think I have 'run' (get it? run?? har har) the gamut of emotions as the week has passed. First I started off feeling great and enthusiastic, and somewhat antsy. Then I was tired and frustrated. Then I questioned if I ever really wanted to run again.

Yeah, that was in a period of 7 days. Can you say "roller coaster"?!? LOL 

Then I woke up this morning feeling much more centered. And I really feel like God spoke to me either last night or this morning. I have been trying much better recently to listen (but that's a post for another day, maybe tomorrow?) - and I'm so glad I did because I'm not sure I would have heard this in the busy-ness of my own mind.

You see, I've been questioning why I am doing this. By "this" I mean running, swimming, biking, racing. If you've kept up with my blog lately, you know this. I have had this persistent feeling over the last few months that "this" is no longer enjoyable, and that what I start out doing for stress relief was actually causing me more stress. And since my overall stress level has increased in recent years (homeschooling high schooler[s], recurrence of seizures in my son, adolescence ramping up among my teen/tween daughters), the last thing I need is MORE STRESS.

But this morning I woke up thinking, "You have to MAKE it enjoyable again." I thought and prayed about that for a long time. What does that mean? How would that happen? And it became quite clear: I have to drop it back to the place where it's fun again. Where is that point? I'm not exactly sure.Is it 30 minute runs, 3 times a week? 5 miles a couple of times a week? No clue? But there is a point out there where it is enjoyable and fun, and I have to find that place.

Now you may be thinking, "Well, DUH, Niffercoo!" but this is a tricky concept for me. I am by nature a pessimistic person and I'm also a black/white all-or-nothing thinker. So if something is causing me stress then that must mean it has to go. Period. End of discussion.

But this morning I learned that it doesn't have to be that way. I just have to go back to the place where it's fun. And hang out there for awhile and enjoy myself. And then, later on, if I decide to build it back up again then that's good.

Now that doesn't mean I'm not doing the Princess Half in 2013. Of course, I am! I am committing to raising money for our local autism support group. But that is a low-pressure race because of the generous time limit that Disney allows.

What is does mean is that I'm not going to push towards an Olympic distance triathlon in 2013. Or a bunch of half marathons. I will stick with sprint tris, and probably just one or two (thinking IronGirl in the spring and Lake Lanier Islands again in the fall, or maybe the Acworth Women's triathlon in August). And I may do a local half marathon next fall if I'm feeling good. Or I may just stick to 5Ks and 10Ks next year. And this is OK.

I think part of my problem is that I have developed a screwed-up sense of what running is all about. I am surrounded by people who run Half Marathons and Full Marathons every single weekend. This makes it seem "normal" to me and anything less is just not worth it. I realized this last weekend when my friend Lisa commented that I hadn't told her I had a race that weekend. I remarked, "Well, it was only a 10K, nothing very important." and she responded that my perceptions are all off! I did laugh, but then I started thinking about that and realized she is right. Five years ago, if you had told me I would run a 10K race, I would have laughed. If you had told me I would have placed in my age group I would have thought you were insane. (And even here I stopped myself from going back and typing that I was really slow and just got lucky, but there go the perceptions again - it doesn't matter if I was slow. I was still 3rd fastest of the women who showed up that day that are in my age group! LOL).

So what I really need to do is stop focusing on what everyone else is doing, and just get back to how it was when I first started. When there wasn't anyone to compare myself to except for me. When I was excited just getting out there and doing my best and having a good time. I do have to start training next month for Princess, but until then, I am going to do my best to find that place where I am enjoying myself again and where I'm not putting pressure on myself. I do have that 13K race in 2 weeks but I'm going to use that as my first test of my new "no pressure" philosophy. I think I need to come up with a word or 'key phrase' to remind myself of this philosophy when I start to get carried away.

And on that note, tomorrow I will run again for the first time in more than a week. My shin goes back and forth between feeling fine and acting up. I am going to run without compression tomorrow and see how it goes.  I'm also going to focus on keeping my run interval and a nice and easy pace and see if that helps. Wish me luck! :D

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rest Week

I am half way through my (annual? semi-annual?) rest week. So far, so good, I suppose. I am still much achier than I would expect for not having done anything except stretching for the last 4 days.

My mom asked me yesterday if I am going crazy yet from a lack of swim-bike-run and I had to admit that I'm not. That's such a bummer. But maybe that just emphasizes how much I needed to take a break. The stress of constantly dealing with one injury or setback or whatever you want to call it has really taken its toll. It's hard to enjoy my workouts when they are a source of anxiety and stress, instead of a relief for it.

Oh, and on that note... I think I hyper-extended  my right elbow while using the foam roller. Yeah, seriously. My elbow. Shake your head right along with me. So I'm taking a few days of not rolling to let it heal up. @@

Would anyone like to take bets as to which body part will start hurting next? ;)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lesson of the Day: Always stay for the awards ceremony

Or at least remember to check the results before you leave! LOL

I had no expectations of placing yesterday, so I didn't bother to stick around for the awards ceremony. Imagine my surprise when I found out today that I won 3rd place in my age group! LOL Luckily I know the race director, so I went over to her house today to pick up my swag! This REALLY made my day! :D

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Race Report: Georgia Race for Autism 10K

Considering how relaxed I was in the days leading up to the triathlon, it surprised me how nervous I was about today's 10K. The shin issue has been worrying me, as well as the extreme fatigue I'd been feeling since the tri, but I seriously didn't sleep a wink last night! I tossed and turned and tossed and turned. Finally I gave up and got out of bed. Did my rolling and stretching and ate a half a granola bar, then got dressed. I do have to admit that it's nice to local races for a change. The race started at 8:00 and I left my house at 7:00. I could have left at 7:30 and still made it in plenty of time, though.

This was the first year in awhile that I haven't volunteered on the Friday evening before the race. So I had to do packet pick-up, which was actually a breeze. The color of the shirt this year is very nice. We also got a drawstring backpack that contained our goodies, including a water bottle.

I had a lot of time to kill since I'd already done my body looseners at home - and if you've ever read Chi Running or seen the body looseners done, you understand why! LOL I went to the bathroom - no line! And then I did my 5 minute warm-up walk. It seemed to me that there weren't as many participants this year, and judging by the final results, I was right. Not sure why that is. Maybe because there is a half-marathon in Atlanta tomorrow?

I tried to get a self-portrait of my flower from Fellow Flowers but it didn't work very well. My friend, Jill, sent me this flower and suggested that I wear it today, so I did. My pink flower represents "This is so much bigger than me." - which it is. And which is really the only reason I got out of bed this morning to go to the race while I was still so nervous. Today I was wearing my Puzzle Piece SparkleSkirt and my Pink flower while I run for kids, like mine, with autism.
The race itself went pretty well. I did 4/1 intervals and went out much faster than I had wanted. I was able to reign it in, though, and ended up finishing at a nice pace. I also followed my intervals much better than I have done in previous races. My shin only twinged now and then. My right hip was feeling very tight but it felt better after I did some stretching.

My favorite part of the race was the water stop around mile 4.5. A young man with autism was handing out water. He would get so excited after you took the water from him! It made me so happy to see him actively participating in a real and meaningful way in the community! The fact that he got such joy from this was even better

I enjoyed the last part of the race better than the first part, probably because the nerves were gone and I was confident that I was going to be able to finish. I crossed the finish line, took a banana and a bottled water, and did my cool-down walk.

Here is what has become my traditional post-race self-portrait! I'm getting much better at these! I was so pleased to have completed my first 10K race of 2012! :) 

And here is the traditional race shirt picture! :) I know you've been waiting all day to see it! LOL 
Since I felt so good during the race, when I came home, I promptly registered for a 13K race on the weekend before Halloween! :D I am a little nervous about the time limit (12:30) because there is a supermassive hill that I can't run up or down (I know because this is at the park where I have done my long runs for YEARS and I've tried that hill before and it was a big mistake LOL). But I figure if I don't make the cut-off, it's not the end of the world. I'll just keep going... I'm at the park so it's not like they can pick me up in bus or something, or deny me a finishers' medal (since there isn't one). I think it will be fun, and I've been planning to go up to 8 miles for November anyway. :D

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Holy Fatigue, Batman!

I felt great Sunday after the triathlon! My mom and I even did a little shopping!

I felt pretty good on Monday, too! I woke up and did a 60 minute Yoga Conditioning for Athletes DVD.

I woke up Tuesday feeling a little stiff. But I had gone to a rock concert the night before and jumped and danced around, and I got home after midnight. I went to the pool and did some nice and easy laps. That felt good!

Then... something happened after lunch.

It was like the bottom fell out. My body ached all over! I was simply exhausted! I tried to have some caffeine to see if that would help and it didn't. I tried some chocolate and that didn't help!  I was simply exhausted! :)

I'm not sure what happened, but man it was BAD! It has made me rethink my plans to do 4 triathlons in 2013 (including an Olympic distance)! LOL I don't remember being this tired last time... in fact, I went straight from the tri on Saturday to marathon training on Monday! How on earth did I do it?!?

I am feeling a little less physically fatigued today, though still quite tired. Tomorrow I am planning to go to the gym and do a gentle workout on the stationary bike (I would do the regular bike but the sun won't be up early enough for me to get it done and get back in time to teach my kids). I am wanting to keep my legs loose for the 10K on Saturday. It's the Georgia Race for Autism... not one I want to race, but one I want to enjoy! And hopefully my shin will behave itself! :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September 2012 - By the Numbers

Swim = 4000 m (2.49 miles)
Bike = 85.31 miles
Run/Walk = 52..48 miles

Yoga = 374 minutes (6 hours, 17 minutes)

Monday, October 1, 2012

7 Years Ago...

7 years ago yesterday (September 30, 2005), the word autism joined our family's vocabulary. In honor of this milestone, I'd like to announce that I will be running the Princess Half Marathon in 2013 with Train 4 Autism. This organization will help me raise money for Spectrum, our local autism support group that helped me so much when our kids were first diagnosed. I am hoping to raise $500 to help two children with autism attend a week of summer camp next year!
 Here is the link to my fundraising page:  Jennifer's Train for Autism page 
I thank you in advance for any donations! No amount is too small! :)