Sunday, August 30, 2009

Magic pants!

Even though Alicia told me there'd be 150-200 people running with the group on Saturday, I could not have imagined the scene that unfolded on Saturday morning before 6AM. As I came down out of the mountains into Lakewood, there were loads of cars on the road. Strangely, they all seemed to be headed in the same direction I was. I turned into the parking lot in a steady stream of traffic. At 5:45AM. ALL of these people were running with the group.

Oh. Dear.

Luckily, I had run into the REI sale on Friday night, where I found two pairs of Nike running shorts and a new sports bra, all for a mere $40. And these were the super-cool track shorts that all the cool girls wear! The ones that were too small for me a couple of years ago. Needless to say, I had a little extra boost of confidence when I stepped out of the car on Saturday morning. But that wasn't all my new shorts had to offer... more on that in a bit.

I found the coach and introduced myself, then Alicia found me and we talked and stretched and then she introduced me to my pace group leader. Her name was Kari, and her friend was called Candy, and they were both really nice. The pace groups left one after the other, with ours being last. I was really nervous, naturally, but I joined in the group near the front. I figured if there was someone riding my heels, I might hang with the group a little longer.

It was chilly and my back and legs felt a little tight, and I was trying to get used to running without my iPod. But as we ran, I realized I was doing it: I was hanging with the group. We kept on running, and as we approached our first mile, I really felt like I was holding back to stay with the group. So, after the first mile, I just sort of left them behind.

Oh yes, you read that right. I left them behind.

Never in a million years would I have imagined it would go down this way. Now, there are a few facts I should bring up here... Many of these folks were going out for 16-22 miles on Saturday, whereas I was only doing 6 miles, so it's likely that they were intentionally holding back in the early miles to make sure they had enough gas in the tank to make it the full distance. Also, the pace group was running a little slower than the advertised pace (at least by my Garmin).

Anyway, here are my splits from Saturday:

Mile 1: 12:43
Mile 2: 12:24
Mile 3: 12:16
Mile 4: 12:30
Mile 5: 12:56
Mile 6: 12:29

I'd like to point out the lack of any 13's in that little segment.

This brings me back to my magic pants: I don't think I've ever done a 6 mile run without dipping into the 13's before. Therefore, the obvious explanation is that my brand new shorts make me run faster.

Because of this new revelation, and because Runner's Edge members got 20% off at Boulder Running Company after our group run, I bought 4 new pairs of really fast looking socks.

As I expected, the water/gatorade on the course made a huge difference for me. It was great to go out without anything to carry for a change (the coach even hangs onto everyone's car keys while we're out running!). They provided icy water and lemon/lime gatorade (which is quickly becoming my favorite during runs), potato chips and those gooey orange candy wedge things. Oh! And they had bagels and fruit and whatnot when we finished, too! It was fantastic. The course was laid out really well, with chalk marks on the road/sidewalk and bright yellow "turn here" signs that even I couldn't miss. Everyone seemed really friendly and supportive, and I really do believe that starting out with the group put me off on the right foot as far as pace went. If I'd been on my own, I probably would have started out at a slower pace, which would have made it more difficult to pick up the pace later. After talking it over with Miah, I've decided it's definitely worth the money spent to join this group... I have a lot to learn!

Hope everyone's long runs this weekend were as much fun as mine!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A little something new...

Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, there may be some changes on the horizon for my running.

So far this season, I haven't had any solid goals. The closest possible thing to a goal that I've had so far is this: I want to finish Denver without walking. That's right, it's exactly the same goal I had last year.

I was thinking about this a few days ago, and with anything you do, you have a choice: you can keep doing what you're doing, you can get worse, or you can get better. So far, with running, I've been content to just keep doing what I'm doing. I guess I'm getting marginally better, just simply due to the fact that I get out there often enough to see an improvement. No, not a consistent, daily improvement (I've never known a runner whose every run is better than the last; there always seem to be good days and bad days for everyone), but a general trend toward improvement.

Why is this, though? I'm starting to think it's fear. I'm a little afraid to see what I can do when I push myself. Because once you know what you're really capable of, it's not as easy to wuss out, is it? If you know you're capable of running 10 minute miles, all of a sudden running 11 minute miles starts to feel like you're taking the easy way out. So, the simple solution is to avoid really pushing yourself. In this way, you remain blissfully ignorant of your true potential, and you're able to keep on shuffling away, feeling proud of yourself for being out there at all.

But lately, I've been thinking more about goals. What do I really want from Denver? What do I want from Memphis?

When I picture myself finishing Denver, and I'm truly honest with myself, what I want is to finish a little faster than I did last year. When I picture myself finishing Memphis, I see an almost entirely different person. Not only do I see myself faster in Memphis (come on, sea level!), I also see myself finishing really strongly. Like a real runner. Like one of those runners who I watch and aspire to be. Typically, I can only admit this to myself in my deepest darkest moments of solitude because if I admit, out loud, that I aspire to be one of those real runners, I run the risk of being embarrassed due to the great divide between where I am now and where I want to be.

I think this is the first step in the right direction, though. My desire to get better, get stronger, is more important to me right now than my desire to stay un-embarrassed (if that's not a word, it ought to be).

And the thing is, I think I can get better... if I'm willing to push a little harder. But it's entirely up to me.

With all these thoughts tumbling around in my head over the last few days, my friend Alicia (you know, the totally hard-core one) mentioned her running group to me. It's a pretty big group, and all of the people in it are training for something half-marathon distance or longer. Several people from the group recently completed the Pikes Peak Ascent marathon: 26.2 miles of climbing 7000ft. A couple of others just finished the Leadville 100 (you know Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States? Elevation = 10,152ft?). Suffice it to say that I was more than intimidated just listening to her talk about it.

Alicia assured me that there would be a pace group to fit my needs, and it's a really supportive group, and soon I found myself actually considering going out for a group run with this bunch of athletes. At first I was hesitant. I've had my fair share (and several other folks' fair share) of huge embarrassing athletic failures, and I've no desire to subject myself to pointing and laughter and being the object of ridicule by the masses. But the more I thought about it, I began to realize what I mentioned earlier... my want to get better is bigger than my want to save face.

  • Will I get dropped from my pace group? Maybe... there's a good chance, in fact.
  • Will I be embarrassed? Maybe.
  • Will I be intimidated? Definitely.
  • Will I run faster than I think I can? Maybe... Alicia seems to think so, anyway! (Thanks for the vote of confidence, Alicia!)
  • Will I be grateful for the water provided on the group run course? DEFINITELY.
  • Will I come away learning something about running or about myself? Probably.
So, after weighing how much my pride is worth to me, I've decided to go out tomorrow and give it a try with this group: Runner's Edge of the Rockies. I figure if I hate it, I haven't lost anything. I was going to do a 6-miler tomorrow anyway, and this way I get to take advantage of their water/gatorade stops. If I love it, I can sign up for their program, which would get me all the extras: a running coach, a tailored training program specific to my races and my goals, a weekly group run with support, and maybe even a few new friends.

The thing is, I just have to push myself a little bit harder, and I'm hoping this running group will show me how to do that. If I cross the finish in Denver (or Memphis) feeling like I was holding something back in the interest of my own pride, I'm not sure it'll feel like a victory.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I hang my head in shame...

I skipped last night's training run. I was having bad stomach pain which I believe was a result of over-doing it on Tuesday night's run. But still, I feel terrible.

I'm back on today for another 4 miler.

And I do intend to blog that crazy run I did on Tuesday, as well as let you in on some new developments regarding my long run coming up on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One is the lonliest number....

I've been giving it some thought, and I've almost decided (I'm 73.249% sure) that I want to run not one, but two, half-marathons this fall/winter. They're 6 weeks apart so I feel confident that I would have plenty of time to recover between the two of them. And it would be awesome to have another goal hanging on my calendar after Denver. And the second one is especially meaningful because it's in Memphis, which means my family could come out to support me.

I just don't know. Last year in the hours following my half in Denver I felt like crap. But I felt pretty good the next day. I even went for a run a couple days after last year's race. Surely, with 6 weeks between the two, I could get a good rest and still have time to increase my mileage to the point that the race in Memphis would find me running strong all the way to the finish.

An extra bonus to consider: Memphis is at a whopping 200ft of elevation. Just sayin'.

I'm particularly driven by running events. When I have an event planned, I know I have to keep training and keep working hard because there will be lots of people on-hand to see me fail if I don't put in the miles. So, having something planned post-Denver is one way to ensure that I'll keep up with my running even as winter approaches. This is something I've struggled with in years past. I have to admit to being a seasonal runner. But I don't want to be anymore... I really want to be one of those really hard core people you see out running down snow-covered sidewalks/trails in 8 degree weather with mittens and yak-traks. Then I'd feel really tough!

Why am I struggling with this decision so much? Am I hesitant for a good reason, or am I just allowing my natural ability to doubt myself cloud what is otherwise a good plan?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Enough with the 90+ degree days, ok?

First of all... can I just say that Miah is officially the husband of the year? For about a month, I've been asking him to go camping on Labor Day weekend. He's kept saying no, it'll be too crowded or whatever. Recently, we learned that his dad might be coming down to visit on Labor Day weekend, and when I talked to my father-in-law, I told him we had no plans (aside from SoxFan's gruelling 36 mile - 6000 feet of climbing - mountain bike ride). Well, yesterday in the car, he explained to me that actually, he'd made plans for us to spend the night of 9/6 at the B&B where we got married. Why? Because it was our 3 month anniversary, but also because it's one year since the day we got engaged (9/7). He started making these plans about a month ago, apparently, and he'd reserved our honeymoon suite. Isn't he just the most adorable man you've ever heard of? I do think I love him.

OK, newlywed sappiness out of the way, on to the running stuff...

I'm happy to report that the Frankenstein boot is long gone, folks. I kicked that sucker off on Wednesday of last week and I haven't looked back since. I missed only one run last week (Tuesday's run) so I managed to get in 2 weekday runs and my long run on Saturday. Here's a quick recap...

Wednesday's 2 miler was done up in Indian Hills. It's no coincidence that it's called Indian HILLS either. It was a fairly painless 2 miler, though I did have to wrap up the last 7 tenths by running laps around a park (not so much fun).

Thursday's 3.5 miler was done down in town, from my office. Stupidly, I slept in on Thursday morning, which meant I had to run in the afternoon heat. ARGH. I know better than this, yet I still do it. I had to walk a bit on the hills, but otherwise I was pretty pleased with how it went. Maybe it's purely psychological, but it seems like the running gets noticeably easier when you're in the shade? There is one long stretch on my 3.5m route from the office that is completely shade-free and every time I'm running down that stretch, I start to feel like I'm carrying a toddler (or a 27 year old man) on my shoulders.

With those two runs behind me pain free, I was feeling pretty good about Saturday's long run. Not so good, of course, that I could manage to drag my butt out of bed as early as I should have to get the run done before it got hot out, but you know... The trail was really crowded at 8AM, and it wasn't a great run, but it wasn't terrible, either. It was another 5 miler that I did on the highline canal trail, running from Goodson rec center. I notice, especially while running on the highline (which, by the way, is one of my very favorite places to run in Denver) that all the other slow people on the trail always nod and smile at me as we pass. It's as if they're saying "Dude, it's so awesome that we're out here together, struggling and sweating like pigs, getting passed by folks all the time... I know what you're going through." This reminds me of this really hilarious Nike commercial that I must share, even if it is terribly old news...

I missed cross-training (for only the second time and the first time was due to injury!) on Friday because Miah and I were out looking at potential houses with our spankin' new realtor. It was the first time we've been out looking at houses and it was exhausting and somewhat depressing. We saw 12 houses, it took all day long, and in the end there were really only a couple that we were interested in. One, of course, was drastically out of our price range and the other was a fixer-upper, which immediately sent me into a frenzy, worrying about what color to paint the kitchen walls and what kind of carpet we should pick out. (Worrying is sort of a hobby for me, see? If it were an Olympic sport, I'd be an 8-time gold medalist.) Needless to say, I missed out on mountain biking and had dreams about houses on Friday night.

Whew... now that all that updating is done I can move onto something that I was thinking about today...

I was talking to my friend (Alicia) at work. Alicia is a super-athlete. She's run several marathons (including Boston), too many half-marathons to count, she plays soccer and all sorts of other sports... She's generally just really fit and badass. Today, she was talking about how she wants to do a Half-Ironman. She's fit enough that she could probably go out tomorrow and do a Half-Ironman without any additional training whatsoever. Alicia would really excel at triathlons, in general (she excels at everything else!), so I encouraged her to do it. And she mentioned that, out here in Denver, it seems like you're never doing enough. You could be training for a marathon and still feel like a giant wuss because the other folks in your running group are training for an ultra-marathon. Luckily, I realized this early and have steered clear of running groups entirely for this reason.

Still, she's right. Running a half-marathon doesn't feel like much because so many of the people I know have done it or could do it without much training. There are even people who (and these folks really just kill me) don't seem to do a lot of physical activity of any sort, but when you talk them into running a fun-run 5K with you, they smoke your ass.

I mentioned to Miah that I wished I knew more people like me (in person). People who are sort of just getting started with the whole running thing, who have to try really hard to stay in shape, who are always going to finish near the back of the pack. He pointed out that there aren't that many people like that, though. That most of the people we know who are runners have been runners for a while. The other (more couch potato-ish) people we know don't have any interest in running or they would have done so already. It's just not that common for a largely un-fit, sedentary person to decide they want to change into an active, fit person. He said that the best person I have to compare myself to is the me from about 3 years ago. He's right. I know that is definitely the best comparison I can make to see how far I've come. It's just really hard to get the me from 3 years ago to go out for a 5 miler so that we can race... she's a bit of a lazy ass.

Oh! I went to the chiropractor on Monday and it turns out I'm twisted up like a pretzel but the doc says she can put me straight again (I sound like Forrest Gump a bit, no?). We managed to get all the way through the visit without her making some new-age reference to cleansing my chakras or whatever by snapping my little elbow joint and I was tickled to find that she was very careful every time she approached my neck (probably due to the fact that I told her how terrified I was that she was going to snap my neck). I had to get some x-rays of my lower back (which didn't hurt at all on today's 4 miler) and I have another visit on Thursday afternoon. I'm going to try to better understand what all is wrong with me on this visit, I promise. I'm sure there's got to be a better explanation than the one I've currently got: my neck/back/ankles/knees/hips are all janked.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The thing about running is, you need feet...

I'll get to my latest training runs in a second, just after this short statement:

On Friday, for my cross-training exercise, SoxFan and I went mountain biking at Green Mountain. We had a great time, but rather than riding the trail back (like a champ) I decided to ride back to the truck on the sidewalk (like a loser). However, there was a small stretch of road where there was no sidewalk, so I had to ride it out in the road.

:::I am aware that this is the correct way to ride a bike, and that riding on the sidewalk is illegal and is most often the cause of cars hitting cyclists.:::

Apparently the jerk who pulled up behind me and insisted on laying on the horn and screaming at me for riding my bike in the road was unaware of this small detail, despite my efforts to educate him with various hand gestures and colorful language. I was in the left lane for a reason, you jackass, because I needed to turn left, just like a car would do! And, generally speaking, laying on the horn while yelling at me out of your window and trying to squeeze between me (rather pushing me onto the yellow line and very nearly into oncoming traffic) and the car in the right lane is not considered the correct way to treat a cyclist on the road and I hope you (and your god forsaken Honda Ridgeline*) get pulled over and ticketed next time for your ridiculous behavior. Jackass.

Whew... Now that that is out of my system...

The remainder of last week's training runs went fairly well. After the abysmal 2 miler that SoxFan and Ini ran with me, I had one more 3.5 miler on Thursday morning, then a 5 miler on Saturday by myself on the Highline Canal. I managed to run the entire 5m, but I was having pain in the left side of my lower back so I stopped several times to bend over and stretch a bit. It was a great day for a run, though, otherwise.

Regarding this back pain... I'm worried it might be connected to the pain I've also been having in my left hip joint, which I'm also worried might be connected to the pain I've been having in my left IT band. (The hip bone is connected to the leg bone and all that.) So, rather than see my McDoctor about it (thank you for the superb care, Kaiser Permanente), who would probably just dismiss me with something ingenius like "oh, if it hurts when you run, then you shouldn't run" I've decided to try a chiropractor.

I know, I know. I've always heard they're quacks, too. I'm very skeptical, but there are a couple of people at work who say they go regularly and it works. If they start saying things like "If you let me crack this bone here, it'll cure your allergy to cottonwood trees"...I'm totally out. That's just wacko crazy person stuff.

If you have any experience with chiropractors (good or bad), please let me know. I'm supposed to go in next Monday, and I'm not sure what to expect.

On Sunday (my rest day), SoxFan and I decided to head out to Eleven Mile Canyon to do a little fly-fishing. He and his dad had really great luck there this time last year, so I hoped this would be an out-of-the-ordinary fly-fishing trip for me and I'd actually catch a fish rather than just getting a lot of casting practice. Ah... a nice, graceful, relaxing day of fly-fishing... what could be better?

I was also very excited to try out my luck at wading. In the past I've always fished from the bank while SoxFan wades the river...which was kindof convenient for me because then I could blame my lack of catching fish on the fact that I had to remain stuck on the side of the river. I didn't have proper felt-soled wading boots, but I did have an awesome new pair of Keen sandals that we figured would work in a pinch.

He caught 2. I caught none, and I was well into my second half-hour of pouting over this fact when I stepped on a tippy rock and fell into the river, thereby slicing a great wound into the front of my right leg and "spraining" my right foot. I didn't realize anything was wrong with my foot until this morning, around 3AM, when I got up to get water and realized I could not put weight on my right foot nor could I wiggle my right toes.

I woke up the hubs, who recommended that I stop crying and instead take an ibuprofen and see my McDoctor in the morning. So, that's exactly what I did. The pain was not as bad when I re-woke at 7AM, but I hobbled my way into the McDoctor's office anyway and they shot a couple of pictures of the foot, declared that I'd broken nothing, thereby deduced that it must be a "sprain" (though, for the life of me I don't understand how you "sprain" a foot), put me in a huge ridiculous Frankenstein boot and sent me packing.

I'm trying to see this as the best possible outcome. At 3AM, I was convinced that I'd definitely broken a bone in my foot, and any chance of running Denver was out of reach. As it is, I'm just out of commission for a few days at most (OK, so the McDoctor said 7-10 days of no running, but I just told her to shut her McMouth 'cause I had a plan) and I'm back to 100% by Saturday's 5miler. I am trying to completely ignore the fact that, should I have to actually skip an entire week of training, there's a good chance that I won't make it to Denver anyway.

*My apologies to you if you happen to own a Honda Ridgeline. I think they are horrendous looking, but I'm sure yours is just lovely.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not every run can be a good one...

After Saturday's highly successful 4 miler, I thought for sure I was in for some great weekday runs this week. I headed off to the gym first thing Monday morning and swam a (fairly) quick 750m (I wasn't even the slowest person in the pool). But things came crashing down on Tuesday morning. Due to some after work obligations, and not wanting to leave poor Ini in the crate too long, I decided not to run before work on Tuesday in lieu of doing the run Tuesday after work instead. (As a side note, "crate" sounds like an awful word, doesn't it? Like we force him into a tiny shipping container with mere slits for him to see through? I assure you, he loves the kennel - just not for 15 hours a day - and we do not abuse our dog.) This was a bad idea for a few reasons:

  1. Things stink in the afternoon. There are more cars on the road, so instead of inhaling nice fresh morning air, I inhaled the toxins coming out of every SUV on the roads. And at 6PM, there were SUVs aplenty.
  2. The roads near my office building (the same stench-free roads where I did my weekday runs last week) are in the process of being repaved. So, in addition to the car exhaust, there was the lingering scent of freshly poured (is pour the right verb for asphalt?) asphalt. It stinks to high heaven, if you've never had the pleasure.
  3. It is HOT in the afternoon. Now, granted, Tuesday's run at 6PM was nowhere near the hellish experience I had on my first long run, sweating it out at 11AM-noon, but still... I was doing some serious sweating.
  4. I don't feel comfortable running with all my colleagues watching me. I realize this is a bit silly, but folks at work know me as the person who is organized, the person who can get things done, the person who keeps her desk insanely neat... I prefer to keep it that way, rather than have them start to recognize me as the person who shuffles more than she runs or the person who sweats like a pig. At 6PM, there are more of my colleagues on the road than I'd rather run past.
You get the point: Running works better for me if I just bite the bullet and get my lazy butt out of bed early to do it before work.

All that said, Tuesday's run was pretty fantastic. During the first mile, I kept noticing my pace and I knew that there was no way to keep it up (sounds vaguely like that PR I had in the HM relay earlier this year, no?), but it just felt so good to be running at that pace. It really felt right. Like that was the pace I was designed for (and we all know I'm not built for speed, per se). So, I kept it up and my first mile came in at slightly more than 12m/m. It felt good, so I kept going and mile 2 came in at about 12:30m/m. At this point, I had to turn into the sun and the blistering heat of the day was cooking my forehead as I ran uphill (both ways!). Eventually, around 2.3 miles, I had to stop and walk for a teensy bit, but I finished running and I felt really proud of myself.

Of course, with a run like that, you can imagine what today held. That's right folks, a blustery, miserable vomit-inducing death march that lasted a mere 2miles, during which I walked at least 3 times. It was miserable. It was one of those runs where you're asking yourself the entire time "Why the heck am I doing this? I could still be sleeping. Running is the devil!"

I don't know. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe my attitude was all wrong before I headed out. I often think my head gets in the way of my running, and this might just be one of those times. Oh well, they can't all be fabulous runs, can they?

In other news, a friend of mine at work pointed out this fantastic feature offered by Garmin. I'm sure most of you've already heard about it, but it's wicked cool and I thought I would provide a link, just in case you're behind the curve like me. It's called Garmin Connect, and it's similar to the Training Center software that comes with your Garmin device, except that it's way cooler (partially due to the implementation of Google maps), and it's web-based, so that you can share your running successes (er, in this case huge embarrassing failures) with your friends. If you haven't already, I encourage you all to check it out.

Not all of my runs are terrible. As an example from my own Garmin Connect account, I share with you the previously raved about PR from the HM relay in April. I'm still hiding today's huge embarrassment.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nearly a year?

So, it's been nearly a year since I wrote anything here, and quite a lot has happened. I'll start at the beginning...

SoxFan and I are married! Don't believe me? Here's some proof for you:

Though I wanted to train for a race in the spring, I knew it wouldn't be wise with all the wedding planning and whatnot we had going on. We signed up for a gym membership instead and I spent the winter/spring working out indoors on the dreaded elliptical machine, in group exercise classes, swimming in the pool, and now and again, even hitting the dreadmill. It was probably a good break for me, honestly, because my knees were pretty spent after the half marathon last fall.

I missed running, though, and when our friend asked us to participate in a half marathon relay with him, we jumped at the chance. The relay was set up as follows: Jeff=leg 1 (5 miles), SoxFan = leg 2 (5 miles) and me = leg 3 (5k). Jeff had been running consistently, and he's really fast, so he got us off to a great start. Then SoxFan ran way faster than I thought he could and finished his 5 miles just slightly slower than Jeff did. Then I somehow managed to run the fastest 5K of my life, finishing in 36:31 (an 11:41 pace)! Again, I have to re-iterate that I had done all my training indoors on the dreadmill, and it was freezing cold that day so I wore more clothes than I normally do while running. I thought for sure I'd be sick at the end, but it was worth it to surprise Jeff and SoxFan early at the finish.

I think I just started off way too fast... Because it's a relay, and because my teammates were both pretty fast, when they handed the baton off to me, I was still surrounded by loads of really fast people. So, I took off really fast, then glanced at my Garmin and immediately thought "whoa whoa whoa, there's no way I can keep this up." So, I reigned it back in a bit, and started to get used to the idea of being passed every few seconds. But eventually I settled into a pace that felt really good. It felt right. When I hit the first mile, the Garmin said 11:29. I couldn't believe it, but I felt like if I'd made it for a mile at that pace, there was a good chance I could keep it going. Curiousity really took over at that point. I just wanted to see how long I could maintain that type of pace. So, I kept pushing it and ended up with the following results:

Mile 1: 11:29
Mile 2: 11:45
Mile 3: 12:11
Last 0.12: 1:03 (---> This is an 8:34 pace... I could see the finish, and I just wondered if I had anything left at all, and I wondered how fast I could run if I just pushed it insanely for a little while... This probably was why I felt like chucking at the finish line.)


All that was back in April, and I still had the wedding in front of me, so I didn't run again until after we returned from the honeymoon in late June. And even then, my running was rather sporadic. It wasn't until last weekend that I decided that I wanted to get serious again. And by that, I mean that I decided that I was ready for a re-match with the Denver Half Marathon.

This time around, I'm going to do a few things differently in the hopes of making the re-match a little easier than round 1.

  1. I'm going to do more cross-training. I did exactly ZERO of this last year.\
  2. I'm also trying to do better nutrition-wise. More than just eating healthy stuff (which I do pretty typically anyway), I plan to scour the pages of Runner's World and eat all the stuff "runners" should eat.
  3. I'm going to do more stretching/foam roller/Stick. I've been pretty consistent with it so far this time around, and last year I hardly did this at all. This is probably why, at the end of the half last year, I thought my IT Bands might just spring free of my skin and keep on running without me.
Other than these small changes, I'm using the exact same training plan as last year, for the exact number of weeks.

I had serious thoughts of just shutting down the blog entirely, but a few people (especially recently) have sent me notes via facebook saying that they read my post-race report from last year's half and found it inspiring. (How flattering!) So, I figure I'll just pick up where I left off last year.

As for the training so far, I'll give you a quick re-cap:

  • Long run #1 (last Sunday): I shift the training schedule so that my long runs fall on Saturday rather than Sunday, but still... it was Sunday when I made the decision (in earnest) that I wanted to try the half again, so it was Sunday when I did my first long run. It was, in a word, disastrous. I talked SoxFan into going down to the Highline Canal Trail with me, and by the time we got there it was nearly 11AM (and probably 90+ degrees out). I had a really hard time, I walked a lot, but I tried not to beat myself up too much for it. Oh, this was only a 4 miler.
  • On Monday, the schedule calls for cross training, so I swam 750meters at the pool. It was great.
  • Weekly run (Tuesday): This was a 3 miler, which I ran before work. I've been trying to get into the habit of working out before going to work, and so far it's worked really great. I have to go to bed with the senior citizens at 8PM, but I love the feeling I get at the end of the day, when I know I can just go straight home without feeling guilty.
  • Weekly run (Wednesday): This was a 2 miler, also from work. I ran this one straight through, with a couple of pauses here and there to stretch/catch my breath. I didn't do any walking, though. This was a small victory by itself.
  • Weekly run (Thursday): This was another 3 miler, and I did much more running than I did walking. Another small victory.
  • On Friday, I did about 60 minutes of cross-training by going mountain biking with SoxFan at Mt. Falcon Park. It was great fun, though we should have started a little earlier in the day, I think. We were melting by the time it was over.
  • Long run #2 (Saturday): This was another 4 miler, which I ran yesterday at the Highline Canal. I learned two very important things on this run: 1.) Running at sunrise is MUCH easier than at 11AM, when the heat of mid-day is crushing your spirit, and 2.) I really do run much easier with an audiobook to enjoy. I knew this before, but I'd forgotten just how much easier it makes things.

So, there you have it. My first week of training for my re-match with the half. Thanks to everyone who's been in touch lately with words of thanks/encouragement regarding last year's post. I hope you keep reading!