Sunday, December 19, 2010

Goals for 2011...

When I look back over the past year I'm really happy at how I've done:). My running goals for 2010 were...

* Finish a 5K in under 30 mins
* Do a 10K
* Exercise at least three times a week and add some variety

I did manage a couple of 5Ks in under 30 minutes but only on the treadmill and I never managed to pull it off under race conditions. That will be my goal for this year. I'm most proud of my first 10K which I did on December 17th! This was the very last race of the year so I'm going to try and get this year's goals done a bit sooner so that I don't feel quite so much pressure:). My last goal to establish a regular workout regimen went very well. I'm now safely in 'the groove' and have changed my lifestyle accordingly. I ran about 300 miles this year in total and participated in 10 races for some amazing charities. I have also connected with some of the nicest people that I am really happy to have as my 'running buddies.' I definitely have better energy levels and feel much stronger than ever before. I also have a deeper appreciation for people with disabilities or injuries and recognize that running in particular is such a privilege. I feel so lucky that I can (albeit slowly :)).

So for 2011, here are my new goals:

* Run over 350 miles
* Do at least 6 fitness events
* Complete a 15K or a Sprint Triathlon
* Finish a 5K race in under 30 mins

Yikes! These feel very ambitious...gulp...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Our first 10K!

I can't quite believe that I actually managed to complete a 10K!!! I was really nervous the night before and only got about 3 hours of sleep but on the plus side it was a nice cool, rainy morning :). We went over to Clearwater with the lovely Catherine at the crack of dawn and met up with Kathleen, Emily, Darren, Nikisha and Joe over there. Everyone was in really good spirits and I felt encouraged and motivated. The bridge was tough on the way back but apart from the couple of hills, I just kept running and stayed at a really slow and steady pace. Mike was a complete treasure and stayed with me the whole time and it was really special coming over the line holding hands!

The results came in later and I was just under 71 minutes which I was thrilled with until I realized that I was 39th out of 46 in my age category! I can't believe how fast 30-something chicks can run! The good news is that next year I will be in the next age category so it's not that I have to run faster, just get older...that I can do :).

Me, Mike and Catherine just after we arrived...

We ran over that bridge!!

This race is notorious for the fabulous after-run pancakes!

We're home and it's time for some relaxation!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Training for the 10K

OK so it's the first week in November and I'm planning on doing a 10K on December 18th and frankly I'm terrified. So scared in fact that I don't plan on publishing this post until I can be sure that I'll actually be able to do it. The plan to get "10K ready" in 6 weeks is very simple: run 3 times per week: one long run (adding a half mile each time), one maintenance run (3-4 miles) and once short 1.5-2 mile run with 4/2 minute splits to build speed. Wish me luck...!

Week 1: Managed to do the dreaded long run (4.5 miles without stopping !) and a 4.2 mile maintenance run this week. The long run was incredibly tough and my legs hurt a fair bit afterwards but basically I'm fine and there's no reason why I can't do this if I can keep my head together...

Oprah Winfrey ran a marathon in four and a half hours...that's under a 32 minute 5K pace and over 8 times further!

Week 2: I never did get that last run in last week. Good week with a Monday splits run, 5.1 mile long run in 56:30 and 3.5 miles with Sharon on Friday.

The average distance that women in developing countries walk to collect water per day is four miles and the average weight that women carry on their heads is approximately 44 pounds. (WSSCC, 2004)

Week 3: Good week last week and the legs aren't too sore and the world's biggest blister seems to have calmed down a bit. Did a PR at the Turkey Trot 5K on Thursday morning and a 5.5 mile long run in 1:02:45, slow but actually really enjoyable. I felt like I could even have gone further but didn't want to push it! I'm really starting to feel like I may have had a break through and this may be possible. I'm even starting to fantasize about doing a 15K for Gasparilla at this rate! Good stuff...

Not only can Oprah do it but so can I. I ran a 10K distance twice in January of this year on the treadmill (which I had conveniently forgotton about).

Week 5: So now it's two weeks later and I haven't blogged or kept up with the program:(. Bloody rubbish and fairly typical of what seems to happen each time I try and push myself. After the success of the longest run ever and my fastest 5K to date I have barely managed two runs a week for the past two weeks and not had a successful long run since. The 10K is next Saturday and I haven't even registered since I don't have the confidence that I can do it. There's only one way to turn this sucker around and that's to get my arse in gear and run a 10K tomorrow to prove to myself it can be done. Then I need to show up on Saturday and walk (or crawl if need be) to get this thing done.

You are not a wimp. You are quite capable of setting a goal and doing it. Like quitting smoking for example which you managed to take care of over 3 years ago. Get a grip and stop doubting yourself - it's a 10K not a freakin' marathon!

The next morning...woke up feeling determined to do a 10K to prove to myself that I can. Mike ran all the way with me and Maddy rode her bike alongside me to show their support. How cool is that?!

Anyway, 66 and a half minutes later and we were all done. No stopping and I didn't feel too bad at all. So now I'm registered...OMG...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fishhawk Turkey Trot 5K

We picked up Rich's sister Sara, bright and early at 6:30 a.m. to join us for our first Thanksgiving 5K! It was suprisingly hot and the trails at Fishhawk were difficult and cramped in some spots but overall it was a nice route, well organized and with a good turnout of over 1,200 people. We really liked the race shirts too and Mike wore his all day! I pushed myself during the race so it wasn't exactly fun but I did manage to shave 30 seconds off my best time and got a new PR of 30:36 which I was really pleased with. It's always great to run with Emily and Mike really enjoyed having Sara there to run with the whole time. They came in within 8 seconds of each other and Sara came 2nd in her age group! We all were very proud of ourselves afterwards and were able to start out our Thanksgiving having had a really nice time, supporting a great cause (feeding the hungry of Tampa Bay) and having burned off some calories in anticipation of our big Thanskgiving Dinner!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Richards Run for Life 5K

We had a really great time at the Richard's Run for Life 5K in Ybor last night and both got new PRs - 23:13 for Mike and 31:06 for me! It was our first night race and about 10 degrees cooler than just last week. Perfect running conditions, great friends, beer and food and a fab after race party! My fave race so far!

Here's Catherine, Aleisha, me and Mike. It was Aleisha's first 5K and she made it look so easy! Catherine ran like the wind - the times aren't in yet but she looked so fast!! Go girls!

David, Mike, Darren, Emily and Ermie!

 Ermie's cousin and his friend are marathoners. I felt cool just taking a photo of them:)

Me, Mike and Ems with a post-race beer (it's very important from a health perpective to replenish your electrolytes after a run...or something like that...)

Darren, me, Ems and Ermie - the 'Grow' team...

Rafe - also part of the 'Grow' team and not in the group shot due to speculation about what may or may not be under the kilt. 'Is it safe Rafe?'

The massive beer line...

 Ermie joined in on the post-race dancing...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tampa Police Department Memorial 5K

Today was extra special since it was my one year anniversary and 8th 5K! I didn't have a camera in the end so I was particularly happy that I managed to get in on the picture in the Tampa Tribune online (3rd picture - I'm the pink one on the right:))  TBO News Article

This 5K raises money for the families of TPD officers killed in the line of duty. There have been 31 such tragedies to date including officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis (below) who were shot and killed just last year while trying to apprehend some local lowlife scumbag. Both officers were just 31 at the time...

The race took place in downtown Tampa and much of the route was along Bayshore Bvd. which was thankfully a lot cooler than during last year's race. There were over 2,600 runners too (including nearly 200 law enforcement officers) - 3 times as many as last year!

One of my favorite things about this race is during the national anthem when the guys scale down the TPD building downtown and release an American flag...

I also really enjoyed running with the recruits and listening to their chanting - 'Officer and a Gentleman' style :). 

This whole event for me is such a stark reminder of how different England and America really are. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look at an American cop without thinking he's about to turn into liquid metal...

Although I'm pretty sure that English policemen don't really look like this any more and that's just the way I prefer to remember them :)

Anyway, I didn't dry heave over the line like last year and came in over 8 and a half minutes faster at 31:16 - my fastest race to date!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lowry Park Zoo Run Run 5K

Today I completed my seventh 5K! Despite the fact that it was really packed which I always like (there were over 860 finishers and a fairly big crowd), and it was cooler than it has been lately, and I was running among wild animals, and I was with Emily, my mental game was pretty hopeless for some reason. I just couldn't wait for it to finish and even walked the final hill after mile 3. My time was 31:42 and we lost time at the beginning so I could have had a great time if I'd only gotten my head in the game! Not too sure what happened to be honest...I need some inspiration or maybe some new tunes on the ipod will do it!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Puzzle Run for Autism 5K

While we were in Orlando for Labor Day weekend, we decided at last minute to go to Oakland for their annual Puzzle Run 5K for autism. It was our first off-road experience through a variety of terrains including sandy roads, orange groves and some gravel trails through a really pretty park and neighborhood.

It was still dark when we arrived and I was really proud that we had managed to motivate ourselves to get out of our gorgeous, comfy Hilton bed!

After he crossed the line, Mike still had time to go back to the car and grab the camera to catch me coming in. Oh well, on the upside I guess I'm getting a longer workout than he is...;) 

Mike said the Vibrams weren't ideal for some of the rocky areas but he enjoyed the 'barefoot' experience overall. There was only one other Vibram runner there and loads of people came to ask him about making the switch.

I didn't feel like a complete dork in my compression sleeves - there were about 20 people wearing them!

I love this picture of us - you can't beat the feeling when it's over!

There were about 400 runners overall, Mike finished 2nd out of his age group (25:21) and I was 8th in mine (31:57) which we were both really happy with. Here's Mike getting his award...

During the speeches they told us that 1 in 100 children are affected by autism and 1 in 58 boys and there is no cure. Great cause, pretty race route, and really nice people - what a great start to Labor Day weekend and 5K season!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sole Searching...

I went to the running store and asked them to recommend a shoe to prevent injuries. I explained that I am trying to avoid heel-striking and about the shin splints and he recommeded I try these Newton shoes (my new shoes). Basically, they have a reduced heel and built up mid-sole with extra cushioning. They push you forward when you run so they are great for keeping you off your heels altogether but still give you protection on hard surfaces.

This is the company’s explanation of the technology:
“Newton Active Membrane Technology allows you to land on your forefoot safely. Few shoes can come close to Newton’s impact rating in the forefoot. When your forefoot impacts first your foot has less of an opportunity to pronate or supinate as it would if you were heel striking, minimizing injuries. After the forefoot makes impact and the actuators are driven fully into their corresponding chambers (the action), then levering and propulsion come into play. As you push off and drive forward the lugs are released (the reaction) providing energy return that in comparison to traditional foam shoes feels alive and fast.”

Anyway, however they work, I really love them! I'm not sure if it's the new shoes, wearing compression sleeves during runs, the icing, leg raise exercises or some of the Chi Running and Pose techiniques I've been trying, but I haven't had shin spints at all and have been running exclusively outside 3 times a week for a couple of weeks now. I'm so excited! I should be ready for a 5K soon!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Running Gadgets

I have been following another blog written by a lady who is doing the fabulous Couch to 5K ( program. Apparently there is an iphone app now and she loves it! Here are some of the things that she said on her blog:

The Couch to 5k (aka: c25k) app will ease you into running a 5k in 9 weeks! It is designed to be 3, 30 minute workouts a week, so it is easy to fit into your busy schedules. It’s a really easy app to use too. It integrates with the music you already have on your iPhone, iTouch, or Droid, so you can listen to it as you workout. It tells you when to start walking, running, and when to turnaround at your half way point too. All you have to do is get off the couch and get moving!

Each workout is timed, and it will alert you when you are at your halfway point. It gives you a warm up period and a cool down time too. You can record your workout history and update your results to Facebook (if you want it too).

I don't have an iphone but I thought this was a genius gadget. Two of my friends have bought the Garmin Forerunner GPS watches too and both love them. Think I'll treat myself to something when I've made some more progress - a nice little reward for myself to look forward to :).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting back into the running groove

Everything has gone a bit pear-shaped (including me) on the exercise front lately so I've decided that today is the day to refocus, reflect and set a new goal. I've realized that in just six weeks it will be a whole year since I did my first 5K, the Tampa Police Memorial 5K on Bayshore, so I definately need to do that one again and hopefully celebrate how far I've come:).

To get back on track I'm going to try running outside first thing in the morning when it's not too hot. I ran at 5:45 a.m. for the first time ever this week and followed the advice of a friend and ran laps instead of a run out and run back. It made a huge difference mentally since I wasn't constantly worried about getting further and further away from my house and not having the energy or desire to run all the way back in time to get ready for work!

Last October I was in a world of hurt when I threw up as I crossed that finish line...

Check out my face in the photo and the face of the lady at the front on the right hand side a little closer. Yep - I'm in trouble and she knows it...:)

Let's see if we can achieve a prettier 'over the line' picture this year shall we? 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hiking out west

Despite the fact that I didn't see the inside of a gym or put on my running shorts for a week, we did manage to stay pretty active on our vacation out west. We got up early, went to bed early and hiked almost every day. Hiking is much more challenging than I thought at high elevations with that thin mountain air. The Navajo trail at Bryce Canyon was probably the most difficult - Maddy loved the trip down but was miserable on the way back up :(. After about a half an hour, she admitted that she was glad she'd done it though:)

I also managed to take 'that damn bike' out a couple of times before the trip and felt a bit better about the whole thing:). My goal for the month is to get to the point where I can do 10 miles on the new bike relatively comfortably.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Like riding a bike? I think not...

It's been a really wierd week. At some point at the end of last week (ironically after a really good monster run), I just lost interest in the whole triathlon thing and my confidence seemed to disappear too. I don't really know what happened to be honest. On Sunday, I just sat around in my running shorts all day and when I finally forced myself to get out there I simply couldn't be bothered and gave up halfway and walked home. I just wasn't having fun. To try and get re-energized we got on Craig's list in the evening and found a perfect road bike for me! I was so excited - we rushed out right away, and brought home a shiny, barely-used Schwinn on Sunday night!

Now...the dictionary says:

like riding a bike
(simile) Said of skill that, once learned, is never forgotten.
It doesn't mention anything about road bikes vs. mountain bikes..or fat vs. thin tires...or curly bars. No, the inference of this expression is that biking (in general) is easy, so long as you've done it at some point before. So easy, in fact, that the expression is actually named after it. Anyway, it's a stupid expression. After about a half an hour of wobbling around, nearly falling off and hurting everywhere to get into that uncomfortable, low, crazy-looking position I was so fed up I gave up. I didn't even do 4 miles - it was pathetic. And the pain, oh my God the pain, my hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders - everything just hurt so badly. And the realization after about 5 minutes that I am so far from "tri-ready" just added insult to injury.
Here I was, less than two weeks ago, with my mountain bike and hopes and dreams intact...

And here is the pesky, bastard bike that is currently my arch enemy...

So what now? Well - I'm going to have to learn how to ride it. Apart from the fact that I'm cheap - I'm not ready to abandon the goal just yet. And as my work colleague rightly pointed out I also really hated running when I started this quest to get more active. In fact if I recall I actually hated it more! The triathlon training program (that I have just wasted 7 weeks of my life on) states that it is designed for people who can run 20 minutes, swim 30 mins and bike 30 mins. If that's true - I should be able to start the program again when I can ride my new bike for a half an hour straight without wanting to kill myself. Since I'm on vacation next week anyway (out west so I'll be hiking every day at least), this will be a great opportunity for a nice break from the gym and to refocus on my new objective to conquer the pesky bastard bike when I get back.

Did I really say at the end of my last post "One thing's for sure - if I finish the swim on the day, I'm not going to let a silly bike or run stand between me and the finish line ;)"? How could I have gotten it so wrong? Oh well, I guess life's a journey and all that - I just wish the mode of transportation didn't hurt your crotch quite so much :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Braving the outdoors...

So far I'm managing to keep up with the triathlon training plan which is very exciting! Earlier this week I completed almost 5 hours of training including some things I've never done before such as: a spinning class (which I didn't fall in love with) and biking the 11 mile, beautiful, award-winning Flatwoods trail that I've managed to avoid for the 12 years that I've lived just down the street. Maddy rode the full trail too which totally blew me away! I am actually quite enjoying my bike now that I am not so scared of falling off it and think I may even upgrade to a proper road bike in time for the big day.

I am trying to finish the training plan slightly ahead of schedule so that I can "face my demons" sooner than planned, so this was also the week with the first dreaded 20 minute open water swim. The swim is consistently one of the top reasons that people don't want to do a triathlon, yet it's only about 10-15 minutes long for most first-timers. Apparently swimming in open water is very different than in the comfort and safety of a pool, so we headed out to Fort de Soto this morning so that I could find out for myself.

Lessons learned:

1. It takes a will of steel not to think about what might be underneath you when you are swimming in the ocean...or what happened to that poor Steve Irwin.

2. Warm salty water tastes disgusting and it's hard to breathe when you get hit with a new mouthful every time you make a stroke. Imagine someone throwing a bucketful of miso soup at your face every few seconds.

3. Seawater is full of random, sticky, nasty seaweed - much like miso soup actually.

4. The current is strong, even in calm waters, and it's very difficult to swim against. This becomes more of a problem when combined with #5....

5. My goggles were rubbish and fogged up within seconds so I couldn't actually see anything once I was out in the water. When I finally got them off my head and was able to focus, I'd been swept away quite a bit so it looked like I was miles away from dry land all of a sudden. Like that awful moment in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...

5. The very last of my problems is whether or not I am able to swim freestyle on the day. There's no shame in being a "breaststroker" - anyone who completes the swim, particularly with 100 or so other people flapping around them, has perfomed a feat worthy of a medal in my opinion.

Dori had it right when she said "just keep swimming, just keep swimming." After about 5-10 minutes I managed to calm down a bit but I was still so grateful when my 20 minutes was up and spent the next hour blowing salty water out of my nose. One thing's for sure - if I finish the swim on the day, I'm not going to let a silly bike or run stand between me and the finish line ;)