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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

kicking and screaming

Even though I packed my running clothes and THOUGHT about running while on vacation, somehow, vacation had other plans.

Wednesday, the fam and I toured the Freedom Trail in Beantown, walked a few miles...after a delicious dinner, Claire and I fell asleep about 8:30, and I forgot to lay out my running clothes. Early the next morning, I was awake in the hotel room, wanting to go downstairs to the fitness center, but I couldn't. Trying to find my clothes would've disturbed everyone - including a 4 year old who was all ready wiggling awake.

Thursday and Friday were busts too - too much good times with my girls and Glenn, too much beach fun and lobster, pools and swimming. Saturday morning was my best time for a run and I DIDN"T WANT TO GO! My parents took the girls out for breakfast, so I had a perfect morning to run, but I lay around on the couch in my jammies until well past 10. I knew I should run, I knew I wanted to run, but I just didn't feel like I had the energy to run.

But, I went out and brought Glenn with me. I went out because I said I would - I wanted to run to celebrate my friend Kari being a year cancer free; I wanted to run because my friend Paula is racing her first Ironman this weekend; I wanted to run because I knew how much I'd love it when I got back.

But the first mile was hell. I was kicking and screaming inside the whole time. I didn't want to run...booooooooo....My poor husband, who I dragged along with me, I brought him into this too. Mean jill.

And then that perfect moment happened - it was very brief, just a few minutes of running where my stride felt good and my breathing was good. This was followed by another 15 minutes of wondering why I was out running when I could've been sitting on a couch drinking iced coffee and not sweating my arse off.

When Glenn and I were done with the run, we were both happy - happy for the run to be done, but happy too that we went out, made ourselves do it, kicking and screaming the whole way. Sometimes, a run is just like that. The next one will be that much more enjoyable, and that's what keeps me going.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I'm heading up to Massachusetts with the family for almost a week of vacation. Last night, as I was setting out my week of clothing - shorts, tanks, sweatshirt for the cold nights - I had this separate pile of clothes.

Sarah asked, "What's that for?" pointing at the black pile.

"Oh," I said, "that's all my running stuff." Yeah, the majority of my running clothes are black.

"You're going to run?" then after a pause, "will you run up the sand banks?"

Near my sister's home are these HUGE sand banks left over from decades of quarrying. Huh, I thought, now THAT would be a great hill work out!

"Maybe I will. We can all go for a walk and I'll run up and down those hills." Sarah just smiled, like I was a little crazy.

Which I am...only crazy people lay out their running clothes FIRST when they are packing for a trip. Only crazy people hone in on the words "jogging path" when they are reviewing the deck layouts of the cruise ship they will be on for their honeymoon. Only crazy people get excited when they know there'll be a fitness center at the hotel they are staying at because it will mean fitting in runs will be a bit easier in the family vacation.

Guess you just gotta love me!

Friday, June 18, 2010

REAL runners milestone

Yesterday I went out for a perfectly lovely 7 1/2 mile run. The weather was made for a nice long run - warmish and sunny, but not humid and there was a slight breeze. I put on my running skirt and a pink striped tank top, filled up my water bottle, and drove to one of my favorite places to run, the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails.

The running skirt I have is a Kohl's brand - so it's kind of a knock-off from the "real" sports wear like Adidas or Nike. Last year, when I bought the skirt, I loved running in it. Gosh, I felt all cute and feminine.

This year, once it was warm enough to go for a run in my skirt, I discovered something - or several somethings. Those seven pounds I wrote about in my last blog, they made my running skirt (the inner shorts part) rather tight around my now bigger thighs. And not just tight...but the squeezed out flesh now rubbed together. Niiiiice.

But, still I pressed on, wearing my skirt on hot days because, well, I don't have the running wardrobe I dream about. For warm days I have 1 skirt and 1 pair of running shorts and 1 pair of cotton bike shorts. Slim pickins.

So, yesterday, as I was saying, I wore my running skirt for my run...and yes, I did feel my thighs compressed in the undershorts squeezing out like puffy sausage. I also felt those inner thighs rubbing together but I was able to ignore that dreadful sensation.

Overall, the run felt great - a picture perfect summer day. I saw 8 bright red cardinals on my run and countless other birds that I have absolutely no idea of their names. The trees danced in the wind, I gazelle-jumped over a decapitated mouse, and the only music I listened to was of birdsong.

Back at home, I took a much needed shower. Boy, did that water feel awesome as it rinsed off all the sweat and dead bugs stuck to my happened. The water reached enough of my thighs and I SCREAMED! Ow ow ouch!

CHAFING. Real, honest to God chafing, something that in my four years of running I had never experienced before. And I have to say, I do hope I don't experience that again.

However, I do feel like I've achieved some great and necessary milestone, and I feel all the same kind of pride I did when I would receive my latest Girl Scout Merit Badge. Because I earned it. Yes, I did.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seven pounds

I am ignoring you, delicious looking chocolate cake. Yes, I know you are less than 15 feet away, so close my left arm tingles with the held-back energy as I resist reaching out for you. My eyes are focused on the convener of the meeting, but ever so often, I find that suddenly, there you are, floating tantalizingly before me. I stick a piece of sugar-free (but sweet) bubble gum in my mouth, which is supposed to help me ignore you, but it doesn't. I still want you, chocolate cake.

Why do I struggle to resist your charms, you ask? Because of 7 pounds.

Seven pounds I wish would disappear. Seven pounds that are welded on to my bellyhipsthighsbutt. That's not a huge amount of weight, I know.

Five years ago, when I started this "healthy living", when the number on the scale screamed out OVERWEIGHT and I battled to make exercising and eating better my new normal, I had a number in mind.


That's the weight I want to be. I've been there - actually, for two years I was way below that number (but that was too thin) - but slowly in the past year and half, I've crept upward.

My one saving grace is running. Without running, my love for chocolate cake - and food in general - would have me well past 160 pounds, as I was 5 years ago. Running - and the occasional salad and missed cookie - keeps me at the curvaceous weight of 132. On the days I run, it is much easier to ignore the ridonkulously delicious peanut-butter-and-chocolate donuts from our local bakery (or, at least, only have 1 instead of 3 or 4).

Now, I know these 7 pounds aren't horrible. Glenn likes my curviness. And with these extra few pounds, I can once again wear my favoritest skirt ever, the greeny one with the cool flower appliques.

Since I can't seem to get rid of my love for beer & buffalo wings, chocolate and strawberry pie, and second helpings, I'm trying to make peace with 7 pounds. But ONLY seven pounds...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

tempo runs

Speedwork has always been a mystery to me. When I started running a few years ago, I checked a few books out of the library to learn more about proper mechanics, nutrition, whatever about my new passion. The section on Speed Work was filled with strange terms that I only vaguely understood. Fartleks, yassos, strides, tempo runs. So, I ignored the chapter. I figured, mostly, I just want to get out there and run, I'm not going to be fast, I'm not trying to win any races.

When I was running my first half marathon, I used Runner's World's "SmartCoach" to create a training plan. I entered my race day, how many miles I currently ran, and my one 5K time from six months before, and SmartCoach spit out a calender for me. Each day an activity was listed: run so many miles on Tuesday and Thursdays, crosstrain on Wednesdays, rest on Mondays. Made sense, more or less. But beneath the "Run 5 miles" there would be strange numbers listed. Pace 11:52 I would be directed. 4X400 repeats would be listed. Tempo run. I didn't know what it meant - I mean, I read the definitions, but I didn't know what running a tempo run - or yasso or fartlek - felt like.

Three years later, I'm still not trying to win any races, or even get too much speedier. But, I've finally stumbled across what a tempo run feels like and how to fit one in periodically.

A tempo run feels uncomfortably fast - running faster than I'm used to, but not an all out sprint. And a tempo run is a pace I should be able to maintain for a mile or two before I'm sucking wind so badly I need to stop the pace and bring it down to my turtle trot.

I discovered this by pure accident. One afternoon, I knew I should run, but I was feeling a bit scraped thin. Claire was demanding a huge amount of attention I didn't have and a level of patience that was completely lacking. Mercifully, the time came when I was to bring her to the Enrichment Class at a local preschool, giving me a blessed hour to myself. This is normally the hour I run, and I usually run 3-4 miles during this time. Well, I had a case of the dontwannas. So I sat in the sun and read my Runner's World magazine for about 20 minutes. I then proceeded on my run, but when I looked at my watch, I thought, holy crap there is no way I'm going to run these 2 miles and get back in time.

So, I pushed it, fast. I ran 2 miles in 19:11, which is like lightening fast for me. Or, as I later discovered, my tempo run pace.

Speedwork is an idea that I continue to flirt with. I don't do tempo runs all that often, or intervals, or fartleks, though once or twice a month I do think about doing something like that. I wonder if just thinking about trying to be faster will make me faster...probably not. So, I'll just keep trottin' on!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

memorial day 5K

On the Saturday of a weekend that kicks off summer, while others were traveling or getting ready for a day at the beach or preparing for some yard work, Glenn and I woke our girls early and brought them to the Lebanon VA Hospital Campus, the site of the 23rd Annual Memorial Weekend 5K Race.

We got to the campus just about 8:30 - meaning on time, meaning with plenty of time before the 9 o'clock start time. The morning was overcast but much warmer than had lead me to believe it would be. Rather than a nice, cool 58* at 8:30, it was closer to 68* - I hoped that it wouldn't warm up too much for the race. The girls were a bit Sleepy and Grumpy (2 of the 7 dwarves) but held it together while Glenn and I got our race packets and looked for our friend, Trevor, who was going to keep an eye on Rachel, Sarah, and Claire while we ran, giving up a kid-free Saturday to watch our kids (Thanks, Trevor!).

The crowd for this race was HUGE! So much larger than last year (the first year I ran this 5K). In fact there were over 500 runners half of whom, it turns out, fall into the "serious/competitive" category (and there went my secret hope of achieving an age group place). Just looking around at the other runners, I knew that there was no way I'd place, which was a long shot any how. Glenn works for the VA, so he said hello to some co-workers, introduced Our Family - Claire soaked up all the attention, Rachel gave a grimace (still too early).

Finally, it was time to move towards the starting area. This race always begins with both Christian and Patriotic elements, which I find both startling and interesting...So, someone lead us in praying the Our Father, someone else lead us in the Pledge of the Allegiance (which I haven't said for several decades and faltered over a few words). A veteran sang the National Anthem, which brought tears to my eyes, not for the quality but for the significance of someone who actively served our country, standing up for the very freedom F. Scott Key described, singing that tune.

Glenn and I took our position in the middle of the pack...and we were off! The first mile loops around the hospital campus, and the crowd was pretty thick since there were over 500 of us. We kept coming up on people Glenn knew, trying to carefully pass some of the slower runners and the walkers. We came up on our first mile so fast and checked our watches - 9:26! Wow! I laughed - I'd never run a mile that fast before! Glenn, who hadn't run a step in 4 weeks due to a calf muscle pull, was doing awesome - all those long bike rides were paying off for the CV activity. And, thankfully, his calf muscle kept quiet. [We'd discussed ahead of time what to do if it screamed at him...when to call it quits, should he finish, walk, whatever.]

We ran for a bit just ahead of or just behind this guy Glenn works with who was running with his 8 year old son (super cute little guy!). It was the son's first 5K, and he had all that youthful bounding enthusiasm and perfect running form, which was a wonder to see, though at about the half way point we didn't see that any more, since the 8 year old way outpaced us.

The second mile is through a beautiful town park called South Hills that Claire & I love to go to for its great playground and huge sandbox. Here's where the moment of reality hits you: those at the front of the pack are already passing you by on their way to the finish line...that can feel a bit discouraging if you think about it too much (which I don't). There's a bit of a hill through the park that slowed us a bit (and I pulled back my pace, since I didn't want to wear out). Our second mile was run in 9:40, a bit slower, but still quite fast (for me).

That was when it hit me: I had the best shot ever in my running to come in well under 31 minutes (my fastest 5K run before being about 31:15, a training run...last year's time on this same course was 32:33). I was going to finish, and look at my watch and the first numbers would be a 3 and 0. How awesome was that!?

Then, there's a long flat stretch followed by a nice long hill...My legs started to feel very tired on that flat stretch and all I could think about was that long hill and how I'd have nothing left. I tried to do the math in my head - my last mile needed to be 11 minutes to finish at 30-something. I could slow way down, I figured. I could stop and walk...The finish felt so far away and I was beating myself up for going out too fast.

Glenn must have realized I was silently struggling (and obviously slowing down), because he kept up a steady chatter for a couple minutes - "you can do this, baby, we're almost done, you can see the finish line, keep going" - and in those moments, he was my savior. I would have done a nice long walk break without his being at my side (oh, then the most discouraging sight: those who already finished, walked all the way back the final 1/2 mile to chat with some of the police out on the and calm and chatting away, that's just not right!).

I ran up the hill pretty well and glanced down at my watch. 29:10. Holy crap! I glanced again just to be sure, but yes, there it was, a twenty-nine. And, as tired as I was I thought, "I could actually run this in UNDER 30 MINUTES!" which was beyond any dream I thought possible. I had a tenth to go and Glenn said, "Got anything left in your tanks?" and I took off in a (for me) fast sprint. Arms pumping, head held high, I just focused on that finisher's chute (couldn't see Trevor & the girls...wondered where they were). I crossed the finish line and tore off the little strip at the bottom of my bib (if the field keeps growing, they race will have to go official and get timing chips) and handed it to a volunteer which is how they figure out your final time.

I came to a stumbling walk, heaving, and looked back for Glenn (just behind me) and then realized that there the girls and Trevor were, sitting on the curb just after the finish line. As soon as Claire saw me, she started wailing (she'd tripped over the curb and got a booboo; the sight of her own blood keeps her in hysterics). Claire wanted me to carry her and I was just trying not to collapse or black out...within a minute I was fine, but that last push really took it all out of me.

All the girls wanted pizza, which is what the racers get at the end...I held them back, saying the pizza was for those who ran, not for spectators and they were not pleased with me. It didn't help that another runner let his kids get pizza and they were right next to us. I said they needed to wait, let runners get first dibs, that this was race etiquette...boy, were they grumpy about that. We did let them have some of the fruit & pretzels and Hershey's Kisses, since there was a TON of that.

Claire finally realized she was not mortally wounded by the Incident with the Curb and after chocolate and band-aids, decided that she was going to run in the Kids Race. Rachel and Sarah ran with her. It was a 1/4 mile run and I so wished I brought my camera. Claire had dressed in her running skirt & shirt she wore for her Disney Race, and Rachel held her hand the whole way (Sarah decided she wanted to run fast...). They all got purple race ribbons they were psyched about, even Rachel who sometimes tries to be too big about things.

Then Claire wanted to run in the Mile Race, but we missed the start trying to figure out if Rachel was going to go with her. So, Claire and I tried to catch up with the Milers, but that didn't happen. A full mile is a long way for a four year old, especially without seeing the other runners. She kept stopping to pick flowers for me. Glenn got the volunteers to wait for us, though, so Claire got another ribbon and a prize (Sarah, too, because she ran the last tenth with us).

It was a great day, really. I was flying high about my finishing time (Glenn finished in the same time too, but he has faster finishing times...he was just glad to finish under 30 and without reinjuring his calf muscle). Next year, it would be great to have Rachel and Sarah run the 5K with us...definitely want them do the mile, which they probably would have done if we had talked it up more ahead of time.