Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Shoes

Opening a kennel and training for a marathon at the same time is really hard work.  While every publication and training journal says I should be getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night, the kennel often dictates that I only get 4 (and I generally prefer 8-9).  While the kennel requires long hours and hard work, training sometimes means that I have to arrive later than I'd like or that I'm too tired to move at the pace I'd like.  Somehow, I'm making all this work (I like to say it's because I'm full of awesomesauce), mostly because I have awesome people helping me out.

Still, though, some things suffer.  For instance, a few weeks ago I gave up my Tuesday training runs.  I needed to spend a little more time at the kennel, Tuesdays are always the shortest runs, and I just had to miss them.  Luckily, I didn't feel this affected my overall training too much.  I was still able to complete the distances, and I felt OK.  What did suffer, though, was my mental stability.  Wednesday-Sunday was fine because of my runs on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but by Monday I was craving a run.  Tuesday usually found me anxious and cranky; unable to think straight.  I was always in a panic on Tuesdays, and I knew it was because I had not run (or gotten any real form of exercise for that matter).  Do you know the best thing to motivate me to run?  New shoes!

After my half marathon (can you believe I just wrote that?) on Saturday, I decided to reward myself by heading off to Charlottesville and getting some new running shoes from a store I wanted to check out.  I tried on about ten different pair and I finally chose a pair that were completely different from what I had been wearing.  I could hardly wait to put them on.

My lovely new shoes

By yesterday afternoon the majority of my Saturday soreness had worn off, and I was ready to run again.  I couldn't bear the thought of waiting until Wednesday to run again, so I decided I would fit in a run this morning.  The best route?  While a little longer than I'd prefer, from the house to the kennel would make a perfect early-morning run.

First of all, Holy New Shoes, Batman!  These things definitely felt different, and they took some getting used to.  Second of all, water-retention is a terrible thing.  While I've made a concerted effort to stay well-hydrated, and while I felt great after my half marathon (I said it again!), this run was far from easy.  I was stiff and sore.  My new shoes are heavier than my old ones, and my feet felt like they were encased in lead.  I was tired.  I'd set out with the thought of running 7+ miles just because I could, but I quickly found that, today, I couldn't.  I made it to 3 miles and stopped to walk.  I loosened my shoes and tried to find the right fitting, and then I started jogging.  Finally, FINALLY I found my groove somewhere around mile 4.5, but I was pretty worn out by then.  I cut out all my extra loops, and I made it back to the kennel in 5.5 miles.  Then it was a quick trip to the gym for a very brief weight routine and a shower (luckily the gym is only .5 miles from the kennel).

While this run may not have been my best ever (far from it), I'm still glad I did it.  Buying new shoes made me want to get out there and run instead of becoming complacent and figuring I'd already done enough.  Plus, I never would have done that weight routine if I hadn't gone for a run.  So, new shoes=run=weights=healthy day.  Hurray for new shoes!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My First Half Marathon

Yesterday was a day I'd had on my calendar for weeks.  It was a day I'd dreamed of for years.  When the time came to register for this race, I didn't even have to think about it.  Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon...13.1 miles...21 kilometers.

For my first half, I chose to run the Patrick Henry Half Marathon.  This race runs through my home town, and I had dreamed of running it for quite some time.  I wanted to experience the beauty of my home on foot, and I wanted the familiarity of home for this first race.  I chose well.  Most of my fears and anxiety were minimal because I knew exactly where I was the entire time.  Even fears of parking issues were minor because I knew I'd find a place to go...even if that meant parking in a friend's driveway.

One thing I was worried about, though, was heat.  August is traditionally the hottest month of the year in VA, and things could have been rough.  I was pleased to see that the forecast called for clouds and highs in the low 80s.  I was only a little surprised to wake up and find that it was raining!  I guess it just wouldn't be a race if it wasn't raining.  So far, of the 4 races I've run, it's rained during every single one!  I told the other runners they could blame the rain on me.  Personally, I love running in the rain.  It keeps me cool and it's often refreshing.  I was quite thankful for the summer showers.

When I got to the race, I had about 20 minutes to kill, so I decided to use the restroom.  If I'd been thinking, I would have gone to the nearby Hardee's, but instead I decided to wait for a port-o-john.  The wait was long!!  It took much longer for me to get through the line than I'd expected, and at 5 minutes before starting I still wasn't close to my turn.  Unfortunately, by this point I also actually needed to use the restroom, so I didn't want to get out of line.  I came out of the restroom just in time to hear the train whistle start the race (it starts and ends along the train tracks).  I would have been super disappointed, but two things made it better.  1) There were still tons of people waiting, so I wasn't alone.  2) As I came out, I heard someone call my name.  When I turned around, I saw my two running buddies!  I was so relieved!!!  I knew they'd be there, and I'd planned on running with them, but I hadn't even thought about figuring out a way to actually meet up.  Luckily we all have small bladders.  :)

We took off together, and joked about how disheartening it was to start as the very last people in a race.  Seriously, we could see the entire pack ahead of us, and we were so far back.  We knew we'd catch up eventually, though, so we just kept pace together.

The first 3 miles were brutally painful.  I kept looking at my watch, wondering when we'd be done.  I hadn't found my flow yet, and I seriously wondered if I'd be able to finish.  My legs hurt, my back hurt, and my feet hurt.  I was wondering if I'd reach my goal if I walked.  Thank God I'm stubborn.  I wanted to run the whole thing, so I kept plodding along.

Somewhere around mile 4 the rain picked up.  It fluctuated between heavy mist and steady rhythm.  Somehow, this set me at easy.  It gave me something else to think about, and I just tried to keep water out of my eyes.  At the half way mark, I saw my mom waiting to cheer me on.  I stopped for a moment to say, "Hi!" and give her dogs a greeting.  Then I continued on my way.

When the rain stopped, things immediately felt warmer.  Oh, and my feet immediately felt like they were going to blister.  Each step I took was accompanied by a nice "Squish" sound.  It drove me nuts!  The change in temperature through me off, and I had to slow down briefly.  Eventually, though, I fell back into a rhythm. 

At mile 7, I saw Hans waiting with Cody to cheer me on.  He had chocolate-covered blueberries waiting for me, and I appreciated the sugary pick me up.  This, however, also slowed me down, and I had to pick up the pace to catch up with my running buddies.  No worries!  I hadn't paused for too long.

The next 3-4 miles felt great.  I was taking things faster than I had in the first half of the race, and the faster pace felt good.  I was happy to continue on this way.  This, however, is also where my running buddies experienced some of their own troubles.  The rain, the pace, and the excitement had taken its toll, and they each had to slow down a bit.  The nice thing about the hard part being in the beginning is that it's easier to overcome.  At the end, you're too tired!  Since I was doing well, though, I decided keep the faster pace, and I hoped by friends would catch up to me soon.

The last 2.5 miles were run on my own.  As much as I missed my buddies, I very much enjoyed the silent time to focus and think on this accomplishment.  As I ran, I saw other runners in various states.  Some were doing great.  Some where obviously in pain.  Some had nothing left in them.  One runner was even sitting on the side of the road.  Obviously in pain and upset, she was with another runner and an officer, who I'm pretty sure took her to the finish.

At mile 12, I felt the fatigue.  I was tired, and I was ready for the race to be done.  I just wanted to see the finish line, and I would sprint until the end.  Instead I just ran along the streets that I'd biked along, remembering times with Hans and Cody, and even thinking of the house I would have liked to have bought.  Finally, I turned a corner.

At mile 13, the route turned a corner.  There was only .1 mile left and I could see the finish line!  I can't say that what I did could be considered a sprint, but I did pick up the pace.  I was almost done!!

Finally, FINALLY, I crossed the finish line.  I ran through smiling from ear to ear.  Right after the finish, they handed out medals, and I could not have been happier to have received mine.  For the first time ever after a race, I was so tired and so full of emotion I almost cried.  I saw Hans and I rushed over to him so I could cry on his shoulder.

By the time I got to Hans, the tears had passed and I merely embraced Cody in a hug.  I followed this with a hug and kiss from Hans, and then I headed back towards the port-o-johns (again, I have a small bladder).  After that, I reunited with my running buddies, and I got some food (which Cody was more than happy to share).

My goal was to finish in under 2:30:00.  My final time was 2:22:21.  So, I guess I actually achieved two goals.  First, I finished a half marathon (without walking).  Second, I finished it in my desired time.  I could not be happier.

Running past the train depot
Around 7 miles
At the finish

Three lovely ladies...all half-marathoners. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

MTT Week 12- Ten Miles and a Big Event!

This week was fairly decent.  I had one major hiccup though; I had to pee!  OK, I know that's a bit of an over share, but it is fairly important in regards to the run.  You see, I had made certain to use the restroom before I left for my run, but I also made sure I had a couple of glasses of water.  So, by mile 3 my bladder was alerting me that it could use a pit stop.  Too bad a pit stop wasn't available for another 7 miles!  So, I was left with quite a dilemma.  Should I drink the Gatorade in my fuel belt and stay hydrated but also risk a major accident, or should I hold off and keep my bladder in a less-full state.  Of course, running didn't seem to help my urge to use a bush.  :(

In the end, I ended up somewhere in between my two options.  I drank a little Gatorade, but not nearly enough.  Thankfully it was a cooler day with cloud coverage, because otherwise I may have been in trouble.  As it was, my body definitely felt the effects of having less fuel.  The run wasn't necessarily bad, but it wasn't great either.  By the end, I was definitely tired and my legs just felt weak.  Still, though, I finished it.  My time was a solid 10:45 (again, not great, but not terrible).  I think next time, though, I will make sure I've sufficiently pottied before I head out.

After the run, I would have loved to have taken some time to rest and rehydrate, but such luxuries were not afforded to me.  Instead, Mom picked me up (Hans had the car), I went home, showered, ate a quick bowl of cereal, and headed out to the kennel where we had our GRAND OPENING!  We teamed up with Henrico Humane Society and hosted Woof, Romp, & Roll: A Grand Opening Event.

The event could not have turned out better.  I was worried that no one would show up, but we ended up with around 100 people (pretty much our goal).  I was worried that it would rain since the weather was calling for storms all day, but the skies stayed clear.  I was worried that if it didn't rain it would be too hot, but the weather stayed cool.  Seriously, it was PERFECT.  I've already gotten a call from someone who heard about the grand opening and wants to put her dogs in day care.  Hurray!!!!  I think we're going to do great.  In addition, tomorrow we have an ad coming out, so we'll see how that goes.

All in all, this is going to be a busy week.  On Saturday, I will run my first half marathon!  This will be followed by a day off (something that hasn't happened in almost two months).  I know Hans and I will enjoy it.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

MTT Week 11- Twelve Miles

If ever I needed a long run, today was the day.  This week has been particularly long and stressful, and I really needed some time to run things out and make myself feel good.  I was excited for the run.  However, I was also very anxious.  Earlier in the week I had taken the time to map out the run.  Even though the route was very similar to our 9 mile run, those extra 3 miles just seem to add SO MUCH.  For the first time since I started training I thought I might not be able to achieve the mileage.  Ten miles had been fairly difficult.  How would I survive 12?  If I couldn't do 12, could I manage the 13.1 scheduled in another two weeks?  I knew I had to squash those negative thoughts, so I just kept telling myself I could make it.  I'd run 10, what's another 2 miles?  Last night, I felt prepared.

This morning I woke up, and I was tired.  The alarm came too early, and I wanted to go back to bed.  Lollie and Cody were warm and snuggly, and I wanted to enjoy the time with them.  However, I quickly remembered why I was waking up so early, and I pulled myself out of bed.  I had to get dressed, grab a bite to eat, take Hans to work, and meet my team for my run.  That's when I heard the thunder.  My first thought was, "I hope the run isn't cancelled!"  My second thought was, "You must really be enjoying this because you're hoping the storm leaves so you can run 12 miles."  Yep, I am enjoying this!

Luckily the storm moved through quickly, so by the time I met my team there were only clouds in the sky.  I hoped things would stay cool, and I said a little prayer that I'd be able to finish.  Then, I met up with my running buddies, and in no time we were off.

I'd like to say the run had a lot of eventful things happen.  I'd like to tell you some wicked-awesome story.  Really, though, the run was uneventful.  SAGs were placed perfectly, I'd filled my water bottles with just the right mixture of Gatorade, and I was surprised at how good I felt.  The hills didn't seem as hard as usual, and the points where I normally would have wanted to walk I was able to carry on.  Sure, I enjoyed the rest when we got caught at a red light, but I was happy to be running too.

About two miles from the end, though, I had to stop.  My shoe laces were loose, and I needed to tighten them.  I'm not sure if it was the tighter shoes, or if it was the fact that we were only 2 miles from finishing, but I wanted to GO.  Both of my buddies had taken sports gels, but they were tired.  I felt great.  I told them I'd see them at the end, and I pulled ahead.  Somehow, after just having run 10 miles, I ran the last 2 at 9:00min/mi pace.  I thought I'd tire out.  I thought the last big hill would get me, and I'd have to walk.  No.  I finished strong.  I finished 12 miles!  Not only that, but I felt better after the 12 miles than I did after the 10, and the 10 miles was an easier route.

You know, I really think I'm starting to enjoy this running thing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

MTT Week 10- Seven Miles

Do you know how weird it is to say, "Oh, this is a short week.  We're ONLY running seven miles"?  A year ago, heck, just a few months ago I was in awe of anyone who could run over three miles.  Yet, that's what happened to me today.  Today, my run was ONLY seven miles.  I wasn't stressed going into it.  I didn't have any fears about not being able to finish.  I felt good going in, and I knew I'd be good coming out.

It is amazing to me.  It was just a little less than a year ago that I was wondering if I'd be able to run a 5k without walking (August 13th marks the 1 year anniversary).  I was so proud of myself for being able to finish 3.1 miles, and I was thrilled that I'd done it in under 35 minutes.  Today, I ran a "short" run of 7 miles.  I stopped once at the designated SAG stop, and then I continued on.  After my run, I then biked home, showered, had breakfast, and biked 5 miles to work.  Where did this person come from?  I like this person, though, so I think I'll let her stay around.

In other big news, I've officially registered for my first half marathon.  I'll be running 13.1 miles on August 25, 2012.  I'm sure it will be HOT, and that scares me more than anything else.  Oh well!  It wasn't long ago that I was scared of running seven miles, yet I'm now quite comfortable with that.  I'm sure 13.1 will be fine.