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

Friday, May 28, 2010

my secret hope

I know that I'm a turtle trotter - and mostly, I am at peace with this. However, sometimes I get little whispers from some place deep within that thinks I could run faster if I really push myself.

Ever so often, I give in to that voice. Like last week. On Wednesday, while thinking about my usual 4 mile run that I do when Claire is at her enrichment class, that little voice whispered, "You can run this 4 miles in under 40 minutes". It probably wasn't too much of a stretch, since the last 2 times I ran that route I did it in 40:44 and then 40:11. So, I listened to that little voice. I took off feet flying, arms pumping, which I kept up for the first mile and half (a mile and half I shared with a manure truck that was spraying fertilizer as God intended it all over the field I was running through...if you've never run in the heat while aspirating manure, then you are a lucky person).

Then, I felt like I was going to puke. I've never run so fast that I've come to that point, though many runners have (especially at races when they push careful when you cross the finish line not to step in the fruits of their achievement). I ended up needing a 3 minute walk break, along with two other minute walk breaks...and my time was 41:something. Not too bad, really...but slower than I'd done that route and slower than I wanted. That little whispery voice drew me away from my relaxed running ways and nearly had me puking right next to the golf course.

Which brings me to My Secret Hope. I've nursed this secret desire way down inside of me that I would finish in the top 6 in my age group at the annual Memorial Day VA 5K Race here in Lebanon. For most races I've been in, I am to ridiculously slow to even contemplate an age group finish. But the VA race is local - and they give out not the usual three, but SIX, awards. Wow! I thought, this might be possible...To do so, I'd definitely need to finish in under 30 minutes, but six months ago, that seemed totally do-able. I'd have to run, train, even do a few speedwork sessions, but I planned to be in GREAT shape by the time May rolled around.

Well, the race is tomorrow and I am in pretty decent running shape. I've consistently brought my overall pace time down to nearly a 10 minute mile - woohoo! But, realistically, that's not going to bring me a Top 6 tomorrow morning. Sigh.

I guess I'll just have to keep nursing that secret hope. There's always next year!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A mile in her shoes

Yesterday, my running friend Anna accomplished something amazing: she ran 1 mile for every year of her life as a way to celebrate turning 30.

Being the fabulous person that she is, there were plenty of ladies who wanted to celebrate and support Anna on this journey, and I was honored to be a part of Anna's running 30 miles through New York City.

Anna's support team included 5 or 6 wonderful women who ran different legs of her 30 miles in a relay of love & support. Those of us who weren't running with her followed Anna in a car, weaving in and out of traffic, avoiding parades and closed streets, so that we could be both an oasis for rest and refreshment for the runners (water, gatorade, gu, and potato chips were well stocked in the back of the car) as well as a mobile cheering squad. I'm sure that there were plenty of New Yorkers who were wondering what the heck was going on when a car full of crazy ladies would slow down, honking and screaming at a few be-pinked women running near them.

I got to run miles 9.5 through 16 with Anna (and her constant coach Stephanie, who ran all 30 miles with Anna) through Riverside Park on the West Side of Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson River. This gave me a unique perspective of a part of the city that I have only ever viewed at 64 mph while I zoom down one of the Parkways on my way from Pennsylvania through to Massachusetts. Anna was running strong, but starting to feel all the miles, and I got to be my exuberant self, hopefully distracting her from thoughts of "What the heck was I thinking!!??"

When Team Anna met the birthday girl at mile 25, she was looking extremely tired and a wee bit grumpy...By the time I joined her again at mile 26.5 to finish the run with her, all Anna wanted to do was walk and get this over with. Her feet were KILLING her. So, I offered Anna my shoes. I run in ginormous Asics, and when Anna put them on, her feet just spread out. I put on Anna's smaller shoes and now my feet started to hurt (but I was willing to take one for Team Anna). A mile later of running in each other's shoes got us that much closer to our goal (beer at the finish line) and gave me a new appreciation of why I love my Asics and why Anna's feet must've hurt her...

We switched back for the last mile and Anna happily hobbled her way to the end. We wound up at the strangest bar ever (if a 9 year old could design a bar, it would've been this one that boasted a shelf of board games like Sorry and Operation and a menu with PB & J sandwiches) where we had a celebratory glass of Yuengling (yum!) and then went home for Indian take-out (yummer!).

And may I say, I am superdeeduper proud of my friend Anna! She totally rocked those 30 miles!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jill L. is a runner

Recently I followed my fellow running moms into joining a website called "dailymile." It's kind of like Facebook for people who want to track & post their workouts. It's a great site - easy to post, gives helpful feedback like how many calories I burned on a 5 mile run (585) or a 19 mile bike ride (1200-something). At the end of the week the site emails you a summary of what you did. Friends can comment on your workouts or send you motivation. I've linked dailymile to my blog, and so every time I post a new workout, a pretty orange (my favorite color!) box updates how many miles I ran.

But here's why I really love dailymile: when creating your profile you pick if you are a cyclist, runner, walker, swimmer, whatever. I picked runner. When I'm logged in to dailymile and on my profile page, here's what the tab reads:

Jill L. is a runner from Lebanon, PA

Sometimes I don't feel like much of a runner. Not the ATHLETE sort of runner. I've been at this activity for a few years now and I've gotten myself to the super-speedy mile pace of 10 minutes a mile, which I was reminded (inadvertently) by two people this weekend isn't really all that fast. When I'm running my 10 m/m, I am running with full-on effort. This is not a leisurely jog, this is me pushing pretty hard to maintain that pace and still breathe and not have my right arm go all tingly. I love to run, but some days I just don't feel like a "runner"; I'm just a mom who runs.

So, I've started to log-in to dailymile, just so I can glance at the tab.

Jill L. is a runner from Lebanon, PA

If it says so on the internet it must be true!

Monday, May 17, 2010

happy birthday to me!

Last Friday was my 35th birthday (how did I get to be THAT old? I swear I was just, like, 28 two years ago).

Friday didn't seem very birthday-y. That's one of the big differences of growing up - birthdays are just a blip of difference in the otherwise busy living of raising your family. Glenn and the kids wished me happy birthday in the morning, but we didn't really have much by way of plans since Sarah had a softball game that evening. After Sarah's game, we went out to a pizza place with the girls and another softball family. The waitstaff sang me "happy birthday" and put a candle in a piece of tiramisu. With all the rushing around, I didn't even open up my presents!

I'd told Glenn at some point that I really needed to get a run in on Saturday morning. I got into my running skirt right out of bed, but between my slow waking up, playing with Claire, drinking coffee...suddenly it was almost 9:30 and I hadn't yet run. Glenn had to leave to pick up Rachel from a sleepover, go to the supermarket, and we were having friends over at noon for a cookout. It seemed crazy for me to try and fit in a 5 mile run at my turtle trot pace, stretching, and a shower before the Pierces came over. I told him, I'd just go out of 4:00 but he was insistent that I run. So I did.

It was a great run. The weather was sunny but chilly, there was some wind but I chose a route with plenty of houses to block the gusts (originally I wanted to run through the farmlands, but that would've been tough). I can feel that I'm running better, more consistently, more strongly, and that's such a wonderfully alive feeling - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

As soon as I got home, Glenn was standing in the door. "Why don't you stretch outside?" he said. That seemed strange to me and I was a bit put off, but again he was insistent. So, there I was, trying to stretch on the sidewalk with Glenn standing on the steps in front of the door. He filled up my water bottle...and then I got it.

Oh, the girls were up to something, probably making birthday cards. Ok, I figured, I'd play along.

Glenn rushed me into the shower and when I was much less stinky, I came downstairs. The girls were hiding under blankets on the couches and yelled "Surprise!" Which was so cute! I opened my gifts from them - Sarah put a rubber chicken in a gift bag as a gag gift - and then noticed the cake Glenn got from the grocery store. It was HUGE. Way more cake than 4 adults and 4 kids could eat.

"What's up with the ridiculously large cake?" I asked...and Glenn said, "Surprise! We're having a party for you!"

The afternoon was spent with friends dropping by for burgers and hot dogs....and just after 2:00, my mother and niece showed up! They drove all the way from Massachusetts that morning to come to my party - how wicked awesome was that?

This was the best birthday I've had in YEARS, and I owe it all to my amazing husband. God certainly blessed me the day I met him.

And, since I'd had such a great 5 1/4 mile run that morning, I had a BIG piece of my ridiculously large cake!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

saturdays with my love

Every other Saturday, Glenn and I are blessed with a wonderful gift - no kids. Don't get me wrong - we love our children and are completely devoted to them. It's just nice to have a day that we can devote to grown-up things like applying for passports, paying bills, planning life events, mulching stuff and hauling our good-enough junk to the charity store.

The best part of our Saturdays: our bike ride. There's a great Rails for Trails that runs right through Lebanon Valley, and it is a wonderful place for a bike ride. There's shady spots and beautiful views of rolling Pennsylvania farmland, green hills and red barns.

On today's bike ride, my legs were tired pretty much from mile 2 on (and we rode 19 miles). My 6 mile run yesterday probably had a lot to do with that, as did the crazy wind, which was constant and gusts up to 40 mph. Talk about your resistance training! The bike ride made me feel both fit and unfit at the same, just to be outside working my muscles, enjoying my husband's company...unfit at the struggle it was to keep peddling at times.

My motivation: Paula (AdventureJunkieMom). Paula is training for an Ironman. An Ironman. I am exhausted just typing that word, never mind contemplating the 2 1/2 mile swim, 112 miles biked followed by running a marathon. Last weekend Paula ran a mock-half Ironman as part of her I was peddling my little (ok, big) butt off, I kept thinking of Paula, biking 56 miles and then thinking, "Oh, I'll now run 13..."

When I got home, I nearly fell going down the stairs, my muscles were that tired! But, tired in that great way that lets you know you are alive and using every muscle that God gave you, taking care of the gift of life given to you by your Creator.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

king of pain

I think being a runner means living in constant fear of WHAT WAS THAT TWINGE??

You are running along and are suddenly aware that your left hip is a bit tight....OMG is that my illiotal band tightening up?? You are getting out of bed in the morning and find that your right foot is aching in a particular spot...OMG is that plantar fasciitis? You are sitting at your desk at work for a few hours and discover, upon rising, a sharp pain localized at the top of your left shin...OMG is that a stress fracture?

That last little scenario was me on Tuesday. An off day for running, I was at work, arose from my desk, and had this strange, sharp pain. The spot was tender to touch. All day, into the evening, there this pain was, lurking. At first, I just thought it was, well, a little pain. Just an ache. Any one - runner or not - gets these from time to time, right? And then...the more It lingered, the more I thought. I thought about Tracey and her stress fracture and 6 weeks of no running. I thought, I've just come off of two weeks of rest. I thought about my running shoes that have about 235 miles on them and I'm not ready to fork over another $135 for a new pair.

I tried to ignore the hot spot, but something like this just looms large in your mind, like some huge lurking monster smirking in the corner. I went to bed, thinking, It will be gone in the morning. And when I awoke on Wednesday, THERE IT WAS! Horror! I got out of bed, worried.

I went about my morning routine - congratulating Claire on another night dry, making Glenn's lunch, eating my Kashi, getting breakfast for the girls. And then, I realized.

It was gone!

No more pain. Heck, the spot wasn't even tender.

So, what was this all about? Did I imagine it? Am I some kind of runner's version of a hypochondriac, only imagining worst case scenarios of the running kind? Or was this just what it appears, simply an ache, a pain that will occur from time to time because, let's face it, running does put more pounding stress on the body than just sitting in front of your TV for hours?

Whatever it is, I'll just keep running. Which I did later on Wednesday, running 4 miles in the hot sun, along the rolling farm roads, passing a group of cows who actually moo'ed at me, and seeing only one piece of roadkill.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

holy golf balls, batman!

I've read over & over in Runner's World that elites roll a golf ball under their foot to ease tension and take care of some foot issues with fancy sounding names...When I was dealing with the tight Achilles these past few weeks, I kept meaning to try this little trick. But, truthfully, the only thing thing I might be an "elite" at is in the WuzGunna department (as in "I wuzgunna try rolling a golf ball, but didn't").

Well, this morning, my feet felt tight and after I was done with my yoga, and had a few minutes while Claire was still taking her tubby, I thought, "Well, why not?" I figured, this would mean a life of freedom for at least one of the golf balls that have been languishing for almost 5 years in my unused golf bag. I went into the basement, found a nice, white Top Flight in my bag, and started to roll...DAMN! it felt AWESOME!

And my feet have felt great all day - kinda like a mini foot massage. I've also taken to really rubbing my calves and Achilles at the end of the day. I don't want them to get too tight now that I've ramped up my running again. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

being speedy

I know I'm not the fastest runner. I've made my peace with that...but there are times when I feel fast, even super-fast.

1. The wind rushing in my ears.

I love not running with an iPod. Sure, there are times when having some music would be helpful, especially on runs longer than 6 or 7 miles (there are only so many thoughts that can keep a girl occupied on a 75 minute run). And yesterday morning, an iPod would have been nice, because it would have gotten the song stuck in my head out of my head. Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me....only I changed the lyrics to "please don't shine on me" since that's what Mr. Sun was doing, in blazing awesomeness, much too hot at 9:00 in the morning.

However, without an iPod, when I run, I hear the wind. Not the wind made by the rotation of the earth...this is wind created by me. I run, and the air rustles past my ears, sometimes in very noisy fashion. I love it. I feel as if I'm running at the speed of wind, as if my feet have turned into wings and I'm soaring along the asphalt.

2. I startle small animals.

This is also one reason I love running outdoors, not on a dreadmill. If you are on a dreadmill, you will not see a groundhog, or a squirrel, or a bunny rabbit. Outside, I come across little critters often. A lot of time, I'm not even sure which of God's creatures I've disturbed with my fleet-footedness. I just hear this quaking in the underbrush along the roadside, see the yellow dandelions and purple wildflowers tremble in the wake of the fleeing critter. I love this because, if a car zooming by at 43 mph doesn't disturb the little guy, but me trotting by does, then I must be going really, really fast!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the gospel according to RW

Runner's World...that's like my Bible these days. If I had a dollar for every time I repeated to Glenn some little gem gleaned from those glossy pages (chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink), I'd be a much richer lady with no credit card debt and a closet full of Ann Taylor Loft clothes and a bureau full of cute running skirts.

My run Friday was all Runner's World, all the time. I read this article in the May RW about "mindfulness" while running - sort of running as meditation. Well, now, I like that. Once a upon a time, I used to meditate a lot - the sitting down in a candlelit comfy place breathing in, breathing out kind. I thought, I want to try this - being aware of every bit of the running experience (if only for a 1/4 mile).

So, I did. I focused on my breath - the sound of it, the feel of fullness in my lungs, the tickly way it exits my nose. I listened to the wind rushing in my ears, felt the air glide across my sweaty arms. I heard the crunch of my feet on the road grit along the shoulder of Walnut Street, the rooster crowing at 5:12 pm.

Then, I moved on. Meditation, check. Now, on to the RW Sock Review article. On Friday, I ran with new socks on, sent to me by my sock buddy Kerry Ann. So, in my head, I cataloged all the pros of the sock - it had pink on it, it had cushy parts, it was a woman's sock (my regular socks are gender neutral). At the end of my run, the sock as pretty dry. Cons - those cushy bits also rubbed a bit weird, and there was a big seam along the toe.

Then, there was the contemplation of speedwork. RW always has stuff about how speedwork will make you faster (because it will). Beginners should add fartleks once a week...I thought about doing that, picking up the pace for a bit. Then, I realized...I don't want to. This run was already hard enough (I only got about 3 hours of sleep the night before because of a sick Claire...and the temperature was hovering at 86 degrees).

Runner's World, thank you. For the distraction you provide me as I trot along. For the bathroom reading material, for being there while I sit in my car with a sleeping preschooler who refuses to nap anywhere except for her Britax marathon in the backseat.