My One Big Goal - 700 miles

My One Big Goal - 700 miles

Running from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Savannah, Georgia

Miles Run So Far: 63.7

Miles To Go: 636.3

Monday, February 7, 2011

criss-cross applesauce

I am new to cross-training.

Yes, I know that runners are supposed to do it (so says The Gospel According to Runner's World), but seriously who has the time? There are plenty of days that it's hard enough to fit running in, without my "off" days becoming "on" days.

Well, this year I decided I was going to do some kind of non-running activity twice a week - step class, Shred, yoga, whatever. And I've been good 5 weeks into the year - 3 runs a week, 2 other workouts. I'm finding ways to fit these into my week, thinking about my extra curriculars in the same way I plan out my runs: what am I going to do, when am I going to do it. It helps that Claire likes to at least start exercising with me at home, even if she doesn't do the whole 25 minutes of Jillian Michaels torturing me.

I've been feeling in great shape and yesterday proved it for me. I went for an 8 mile run, my longest in 4 months (my half marathon being that longest run). Eight miles was 2.5 miles longer than my recent long runs, and I know I'm not supposed to increase my mileage that much at a time, but I wanted to go long. The weather was almost spring-like and I had the time to do it.

And my legs feel awesome! They felt great an hour after running, my cranky right hip has stayed silent, and I woke up pain free this morning - no stiffness even. I can only attribute this miracle to the cross-training I've been doing. It's kept my cardio up during the winter and I'm using more muscles, better.

So, apparently, those in exercise science DO know what they are talking about!

Monday, January 31, 2011

hip hip hooray!


I set myself a goal for the month and I met it!

I've never, ever set myself an actual goal for my running (or for much of my life, really). I'm usually a very flexible, let's-see-where-this-takes-us kind of girl. Planning is not a great gift of mine. Sure, I can make lists and cross things off...but for the long-range sort of plans, my vision is normally blurry.

But this year I set myself a goal - to run 700 miles in 2011. Which means I'll have to be pretty dedicated to running each and every month, rather than my normal here-and-there approach to my running.

My goal for January was to run 50 miles; this was after running only 17 miles for the month of December. I ran on back-to-back days (something I don't normally do) and I ran in the snow several times. I carefully thought through my week - which days would I run? how would I fit it into those days? And, I stuck with it.

This month I ran 50.6 miles!

And I also did something else: I started cross-training at least 2 days a week. I'm feeling in the best shape ever!

My goal in February is to run another 50 miles. It's a shorter month and I have 2 weekend trips planned, so it's going to be tougher to do. But, tomorrow morning I plan on lacing up my shoes (in the snow, it seems) and start tackling my next 50.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

makin' trax

It finally snowed!! I've been waiting for 2 weeks for a storm to deliver enough snow that I could enjoy a run outside in a winter wonderland.

Yesterday evening, the snow began to gently fall right around 4:00, just as I pulled into a parking lot to run a few miles after work. By the time I was half a mile into the run, snow was falling steadily, with a light wind at my back. The cold air somehow made the smell of a dairy farm nearby seem sharper and the herd closer to the road than they were, but the hazy farm with warm cows standing strong in the snow was more of a peaceful sight than stinky distraction.

I don't usually run back to back days, but last night I decided that I was going to wake up and go for a run in the morning. I wanted to try out my new Yak Trax, a Christmas gift from Glenn. I thought I should familiarize myself with the contraption while still coherent, rather than struggling in the dark hours of almost sleep. A wise move, since the directions were foggy at best. After a few attempts I was able to get the Yak Trax on my shoes, and I was ready for the snow.

This morning, I awoke to a wintery display of soft cottony whiteness covering our cul de sac. I quickly got dressed in my winter gear, Glenn took one look at me and muttered something with the word "crazy" in it.

The Yak Trax worked beautifully. I thought I'd be able to feel the metal coils wound beneath the sole that provide the traction, but I couldn't. Those coils gripped into the wintery mixture on the ground and I was able to run more or less normally. My run was a short one - just under two miles - but it felt so invigorating to be out on the streets so early on a snowy morning. My neighbors gave me a few strange looks - one older gentleman even shook his head - and passing cars seemed a bit surprised and put out to have to contend with a crazy woman in neon green trotting through the slush.

I was quickly able to tell which kinds of snowy cover were easier to run through. Packed snow is certainly the easiest, while the thicker dirty slush was like slogging through knee deep oatmeal. My legs felt a bit slow during this run - I guess the resistance of the snow did slow me down a bit - but overall, it was a wonderful way to start my day.

Crazy as I am, I can't wait for another snow storm to bring us enough of that glorious white stuff so I can play with my new toy again!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I began running during the summer of 2006 when my daughter Claire was just a bitty baby. Once or twice a week, I'd get my mommy me-time and despite the heat of a July day, I'd be found running along a wooded trail, the shade from the trees only providing minimal protection from the noonday sun.

Four and a half years later, I am still running. During that time I've raced to half marathons and participated in the Disney Princess Half (which was more photoshoot than actual race). I've run in about ten 5Ks, getting my time under 30 minutes. I've logged 20 miles in a week (once, but still...something I'm proud of). I've run under the hot sun, I've run the day after a blizzard dumped 22 inches of snow on top of 19 inches of snow, I've run til I've chafed the soft parts of my thighs and a blister has formed on my pointer toe.

Despite these running achievements, I've been, at best, a haphazard runner. When I've plunked the money down on a race, I start running in earnest, heading out the door dutifully 3 times a week, noting my mileage and time. When there is no race on my calendar, there is little running in my week.

This year, this will change.

This year, I have goals.

Having goals makes me feel like a real real runner.

My One Big Goal for 2011 is to run 700 miles this year.

Some of you reading that will think - "Oh my goodness! That is a lot of miles! That's like running from Lebanon, PA [where I live] all the way to Savannah!" Which is true...but I have plenty of running friends who have run much farther in a year.

However, that is a lot of miles for me. This past year was the first time that I ever kept track of how many miles I ran - 547 miles. Looking back over the year, there were plenty of months that I logged few miles, weeks that I did not run a single step. I can do better.

Running 700 miles means that I will have to run an average of 2 miles a day...or 14 miles a week (with 2 weeks off)...or 13.5 miles a week for 52 weeks...or 58.3 miles a month (all this math, I did on my last run, heehee).

Is this a tough goal for me? Sure is. I didn't run 58 miles in a single month in 2010. But, that doesn't mean that I can't run that many miles in a month.

Just having my One Big Goal has already helped me in the first 11 days of 2011. I ran on New Year's Day (3.1 miles). On my first running journal week (Monday the 3rd through Sunday the 9th) I ran 13.5 miles. There were a few days that I didn't want to run - especially one cold, dark morning. But in order to make this goal, I have to run when I can, believing that later that day or the next day won't be a good time for me.

16.6 miles down...683.4 miles to go.

Savannah here I come!

Friday, December 3, 2010

jazz hands

Last night I did something I have never done before: I participated in a fitness class.

Claire attends a tap-ballet class at local studio that offers various exercise classes in addition to feeding the ballerina dreams of countless four year olds. The studio offers busy moms a deal: half off the fitness class that occurs when your prima ballerina is doing the spunky monkey.

Now that winter is here and dark nights are upon us, I thought, "Why the hell not?" After getting Claire to her class (late) and signing her in, paying for December, paying the deposit for her costume for the recital in June, and watching Claire learn a few more steps to the penguin cha cha, I got to the "Combo Aerobics" class 15 minutes late.

I walk in and there's the instructor and 3 older women all doing step-aerobics. Way back in ninth grade, my mom got herself a Step and a VHS tape, and I remember trying it out a couple of times. Twenty years ago.

Apparently, I'm in a time warp. But, I've paid my 2 bucks, so I set up a step and join in.

Holy goodness! The great thing about running is that anyone can do it and few people (Phoebe from Friends aside) look ridiculous attempting to run. The same can not be said of step-aerobics. This involves the need for coordination, something that the Good Lord forgot to give me my share of on the day He created me. I struggle along, just smiling to myself at how ridiculous I look in the wall of mirrors...and then...


I didn't know people still did that! But in this class, you do four minutes of step, then four minutes of jazzercize inspired "jogging". If the Good Lord forgot to give me coordination, He certainly forgot to give me any sense of timing, rhythm, or grace. After a minute, I gave up on the cute, jazzy kicky thing the 4 post-menopausal ladies were succeeding at (and looking good, too! I decided then & there, I want to be that fit when I'm their age). I just jogged in place, giving an occasional kick when I felt I could do so without falling over.

A few times I nearly tripped over my step. Most of the minutes I was doing the exact opposite of what the other four ladies were doing, all the while rocking out to "We Are Family" and "Mama Mia".

But, I did get my heart rate up and it was a good cardio workout in the bright safety of an exercise studio. I think I found a way to keep my fitness up during the long, dark winter.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

winter wishes

It's the most wonderful time of the year - when all our greedy desires no longer have to be hidden behind polite faces, but can be blazoned in lights bright enough to reach all the way to the North Pole so that the jolly old man up there can put all those goodies on his sleigh.

My two oldest daughters have crafted their Christmas Wish List. Rachel's been working on hers for at least 2 months now, the feature desire being some fancy cell phone with a touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard. Sarah is less thoughtful, drafting her list on scraps of paper or napkins (which get lost), and then asking me, "What is it I want again?" Claire mostly summarizes her list as "Santa will bring me LOTS of presents, I'll get more than anyone. And he can bring me whatever he thinks will make me happy."

So, it is in this holiday spirit that I offer up my Greedy Desires Wish List.

1. A really cute running skirt.
I saw the one I want, a cute orange paisley creation, at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Expo last March, but didn't fork over the $40 for it since I was spending all my money on my bitty Princess Claire. I can't find that skirt online, but I did find a funky green one and sent my Mr. Claus the link.

2. YakTrax.
Last winter we were hammered with 3 blizzards in 16 days while I was trying to train for the Disney Princess Half...unable to run outside, I took to walking the cul de sac in endless circles in all my snow gear, causing Glenn to wonder about my sanity (and his for marrying me). This winter, we might not get a flake of snow, but I want to be ready with these babies to strap on to my shoes and get some miles in.

3. A fitness membership.
Another option to the YakTrax would be the ability to go to a gym and run on their treadmill, free of snow, dark, danger, ice and distracted drivers. And, I could get some strength training in too, something I haven't really been able to do for a few years.

4. My very own treadmill.
Even better, would be my own dreadmill to jump on when the weather outside is frightful. Of course, there would still be the frightful children to deal with, which I wouldn't have to do at the gym...hhhmmmm...

5. An orange iPod shuffle.
Running on a dreadmill can be quite boring, so to pass the time, I'd love a little shuffle, one that clips on to my clothes while I run. Then I can listen to some tunes or some podcasts. When I run outside, I mostly run alongside roads, and it just isn't safe to block out reality with music...but there are those few times when I'm on a long trail and a little musical distraction would be lovely.

6. A bigger home, in which to place the new treadmill.
I have a very lovely, warm, safe, happy home...but there is just no extra space for a dreadmill. Santa would need to put a set of keys and a deed in my stocking, so that I could actually set up my dreadmill and run upon it. Thank you, Santa.

7. Entry into the Boston Marathon.
That is my biggest, greedy desire: a racing bib that allows me to run through my hometown State, chug up Heartbreak Hill, and throw my arms up in victory as I trot through Copley Square on my way to the finish line.

This is a "if money were no object" kind of list, though of course money is the very object I'd need for all of them...oh well. I'd be very happy to receive #1 and enjoy the happy squeals of my children as Rachel gets her phone (not a touch screen, though), Sarah gets clothes from Hollister and Justice, and Claire has the most presents under the tree because hers are the cheapest.

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

my Bunny

From a 4 year old's perspective, every game is about winning. When we play Candy Land or Go Fish or Scooby Doo Memory, I don't let Claire win every time, but I don't try that hard to win myself. If she wins she is thrilled and if I win she is, well, learning to be a gracious loser.

Which is why my races confuse Claire a bit. She knows - and loves - that I run. She'll make pictures or Cootie Bugs of runners because "mommy is a runner" (my heart expands each time she says it). On my thrice-weekly runs, I am a runner, and there is no one else out there with me, so I always win, and time means little to a 4 year old, so telling her I rocked out a 9:52 minute pace means even less.

However, Claire does love going to my races and cheering for me - she's a great cheerleader! This past weekend's race, Claire was going to be with her daddy all weekend and Claire was quite disappointed that she wasn't going to be there to yell, "Yay, Mommy!"

As soon as I picked her up on Tuesday, she asked me, "Did you win your race, Mommy?" I told her nope. "Well, did you come in second?" Nope again. "Well," she persisted, "what place did you come in?" And I told her, "I came in seven hundred and twelfth place."

And beaming at me from her car seat, my Bunny said, "Oh, Mommy, I am so proud of you! You did so well!"

That made me smile...but the thing is, Claire really means it. The next day I was on the phone with a friend who asked how I did in the race and I was describing the race, and Claire was behind me bouncing, "Tell her how well you did, Mommy, tell her what place you got!"

I am not a fast runner and I will never finish at the top of my age division, but in my Bunny's eyes I am the best - and that is the best!

at the end of the Disney Princess Half in March, me & the Bunny