Friday, August 29, 2008

Brrr, that's Colorado fall on the way.

For the first time this season, on Thursday's run I wished I had my swift Under Armor long sleeve running shirt with thumb holes. And maybe even my running tights. It was for reals cold, y'all!

I hit the Silence of the Lambs trail again on Thursday evening, this time without Ini the dogbeast. Turns out I actually prefer that particular trail when he's with me. I only made through the woods part twice (once on the way out, once on the way back). After that, my fear was bigger than my desire to keep on running, even though I was putting together a pretty fabulous run. I ended up doing 3 miles, and my training schedule only called for 4, so I call it a success!

This run was also my second attempt with PodRunner, and I didn't have very much better luck this time around than I did last Sunday. It seems that I underestimate my cadence. I've downloaded two new episodes for Sunday's 6 miler, one at 144BPM and one at 150BPM. I am determined to run to house music. Oh yes. I will do it. I don't even like house music, but if it's the thing that allows me to turn off that one song... I will embrace the techno. I may even run with glow sticks.

In other news, I am very very excited because NewMama and her hubby, DigitalBoy, are coming to visit me in Colorado! I love it when people come to visit. I've got some fun things planned for us, but mostly it'll just be fun to just laze around and laugh. That's what we do best when we get together. We laugh 'til we pee.

And, in some sort of random (and WAYYYY late) news, I read an article on a few days ago that discussed the men's Olympic Marathon. Now, I watched the women's marathon. Nearly the entire thing, in fact. I believe I picked it up around mile 3, shortly after Deena Kastor dropped out, I understand. And while it was amazing to watch these women--they are strong like Hercules-- it got a little tedious near the end when the lead woman sort of broke away. It sounds like the men's marathon was infinitely more exciting, and the winner (a Kenyan) ran it in 2:06. That's less than 5 minutes per mile for 26.2 miles, folks. Clearly he isn't human. It's just not possible.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It puts the lotion in the basket...

So much for well-laid plans, I guess. A mere 6 days into my shiny Hal Higdon's Half Marathon (for Novice runners) Training Schedule, I missed a run. Soxfan and I had the best of intentions, but we just ran out of time. I tried to make it up the next day by tagging it onto the already scheduled run, but I didn't quite make it.

Oh well. I can't beat myself up over it too much, I suppose.

For last week's long run (5m) on Sunday, I decided to try running along the South Platte River. I figured I could run while SoxFan caught us a delicious trout dinner. The road is hard packed gravel and doesn't climb terribly, and is at a mere 6100ft. And you definitely can't top the scenery. It's beautiful. One of these days I'm going to take my camera along and get some pictures of the places I get to run on a regular basis. All non-Coloradans will be green with envy.

Anyway, because the previous weekend's 5 miler on the High Line Canal turned into such a death march, I thought it'd be prudent to carry along a little gatorade at least. I was feeling really good before the run. I felt confident... I had my gatorade. I had a freshly downloaded Podrunner episode. I had my sunglasses. I had a fully charged Garmin with a strong signal. I felt like it was going to be a "great run." What I didn't have? A properly hydrated body.

Now, I know you've all heard (many times) about the importance of drinking plenty of water, etc. And I know you're all tempted to roll your eyes and say "yeah yeah, we get it. Drink the water." But seriously. Drink the water. Oh, and don't run with no shade in an arid environment at mid-day. You'll thank me for this.

Around 4 miles into my 5 miler, I realized that I was no longer sweating. Hmmmm, that's odd. I decided to take a "walk break." ***As an aside, it's been a long time since I had to take a walk break... I may not be able to decide how FAST I'm going to run a particular distance before I head out, but generally I can decide how FAR I'm going to run before I head out. Thus, this "walk break" is synonymous with "heart break."***

I realized: I'm freaking thirsty! My gatorade was long gone, and I was seriously considering plunging my face into the South Platte River and starting to chug. Then, I noticed that I had chill bumps. It was a whole 85-90 degrees outside. Hmm...that's odd.

After about a tenth of a mile, I thought I'd try running again. But my legs felt like jello, and it was clear that I shouldn't try to run, slowly or otherwise, anymore for the day. I dragged my defeated butt back to SoxFan's truck. He gave me a huge smile and asked "How was it?" (as if my tear stained face and slumping shoulders weren't evidence enough).... I just said "Water." Then I chugged so much of it I nearly puked.

Afterwards, I had an excellent self-loathing session during which I tried to determine the source of my running suckiness. Was it possible that I was in worse shape than I was the week before? Did I not get enough sleep? Was it too hot? Did I not get the proper nutrition? Was I simply too much of a wuss? Eventually I narrowed in on the whole water thing. And it helped ease the pain that I wasn't the only complete and utter failure that day: SoxFan didn't bring us even one trout home to share.

Since then, I've been chugging water like Escalades suck gas. And it's made a marked improvement in my running!

Last night I went for a run in a park pretty close to my house with Ini the dogbeast. He was a complete psycho for the first mile, but after that we settled into a nice rhythm and had a perfectly happy little 4 miler together. However, you know that scene from Silence of the Lambs, where Clarice is sort of trail running through the woods? Well, when you're a lone girl running (with a dog, fine, but seriously, Ini would just want to play with any attacker, wouldn't he?) at sunset (and slightly after), the last words you want running through your head are "wow, this is just like that scene from Silence of the Lambs."

Today I'm babysitting for a couple of friends of mine, so I woke up before dawn (no exaggeration, folks) and hauled my sleepy, stinky butt into work early so I could run on the dreadmill. I got 2 miles in this morning, and they went pretty well for dreadmill miles. The only drawback is now, it's only 12:19PM, but it feels like it should be 3:19PM.

See? I've been doing loads of running! Don't go all pessimistic on me and assume that my silence = my laziness!

Oh, and I mentioned this earlier, but do check out PodRunner. It's free, and it's organized by Beats Per Minute (BPM), so you can find an hour or so of music (well, technically it is music) with a perfect beat for you to run to. Before this, I'd only found one song with a perfect tempo for my running speed, and quite frankly, I was getting sick of listening to it over and over again. One of these days that song will shuffle up on my iPod while I'm at work and due to my conditioned response, I'll instantly break out in sweat and start breathing hard.

Oh, in other good news, I've lost 50lbs! I should post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Run from the lightning!

For the novice trail runner, it would behoove you to steer clear of open meadow runs (I realize that sounds like a scene from The Sound of Music) when dark booming clouds are looming in the distance. Being, myself, a novice trail runner, no one alerted me to such common sense lessons. So, last Thursday, as SoxFan and I headed out for a comfortable 3.5 mile run in Elk Meadow Park, our only thought of the clouds was "wow, isn't that pretty?"

Elk Meadow Park is in Evergreen, a town about 20 minutes away. We chose to drive all the way to Evergreen because we have yet to find a reasonable place in our own town of Conifer to run. That, and Evergreen is a bit lower in elevation, taking us all the way down to a meager 7500ft. We chose a trail that we'd spotted from the road, and we thought it looked "not too bad". It seemed to follow alongside the road through a "rolling meadow" with scenic mountain views to the west and peaceful CO-73 on the right... Or at least that's how it was advertised through Jefferson County Open Space.

So, we took off from the trailhead, carefully dodging large rocks and logs and other obstacles determined to break my ankles, and things were going quite well until we met our first hill. Hills and I. We're just not the best of friends yet. I huffed and puffed to the top and finally surrendered to the inevitable- I stopped and bent halfway over to catch my breath. Why I do this is completely beyond me. Do I somehow breathe easier when bent double? Are my lungs operating at higher capacity only when my head is between my knees? Your guess is as good as mine.

We pushed forward, and it seemed like things got a little easier. At the turnaround point, those clouds were looking much more ominous. And only about a half mile into the second half, the bottom fell out of it completely. Huge rain and lightning in every direction, and here we are, running through a wide open field. Smart. I know.

The benefit of running, literally, for your life, is that you can produce some pretty fantastic splits. I maintained 11 minute miles for over a mile, folks. I do not lie. And now I know the difference between running and jogging (at least for me). Running for your life gets you negative splits, jogging gets you positive splits.

So, given my recent dreadmill-only runs, perhaps an explanation of why-the-heck I was out there at all is due. Well, I've signed up for the Denver Half Marathon, folks. And it's coming up on October 19th and I will not, repeat WILL NOT, do all of my training runs on the dreadmill. It's simply too much more fun (and life-threatening) to run outside.

So, I've chosen an actual "Training Plan", hereafter known as the TP, and so far I've done all of 2 training runs. The aforementioned near-death experience and the "Long Run" on Sunday at the High Line Canal in Denver (a mere 5280ft, pft!). Now I didn't break any speed records on Sunday's run, but it was a success nonetheless. SoxFan, Ini and I did 5 miles faster than I did in NYC just a month or so ago.

Unfortunately, I donated blood yesterday (YAY!) and I could barely eek out 2 miles on the dreadmill this evening. To say it was pathetic wouldn't quite do it justice. Tomorrow I'm on for 3.5 miles. Looks like I'll need extra luck to make up for the lack of red blood cells.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Yawn. I live a boring life.

Where the heck have I been? Normally when I avoid posting, it's because I've been avoiding running. But that isn't the case this time. I've been running. In fact, I ran HILLS one day (way up here at 8000ft)... maybe that was it? I was demoralized from running hills and couldn't bear to try to talk about it?

Whatever the case, I've been running on the dreadmill after work pretty regularly, but I still haven't found a good place to get long runs in here in Conifer. Unless I want to run the hill route again. And can I just say---yikes. My dreadmill runs are averaging 3 miles, I suppose, but I've been trying to run a little faster, too. All in all, I guess it isn't so bad. Unfortunately, my inability to find a consistent place to run in Conifer is making me doubt that I'll be able to run the half marathon in Denver in October. There's just no way that I can train for the HM entirely on a dreadmill and actually be successful. I don't think, anyway... Maybe this is possible but I certainly don't want to do it. I desperately need to find a place to run up here.

This week SoxFan was out of town for work, so I was left to our house in the mountains all by myself. I managed to avoid being eaten by bears or mountain lions or boogeymen, so I guess I did all right. It's been a really taxing couple of weeks, though, with my mom having surgery and sick pets and runaway dogs and lots and lots of driving. I'm glad to say it's behind me.