motivation check

I’ve been resting on my laurels for a week and a half, and it’s definitely time to run again.  I’ve got goals, and I’m just so excited about the way hard work has been paying off for me lately.  In so many parts of life, hard work really does pay off – running, any kind of musical instrument, quilting, work, and so on.  The relationship between work and payoff is never linear or guaranteed, but obviously I love the way it’s been working out for me for the last six months.

Work has gotten more intense lately.  A LOT more intense.  I’m the lead of a group – a NEW group.  Basically, the group was formed a few weeks before I got the job.  We’re in what I’d describe as a resource and schedule crisis, and we have goals that I desperately want to mee.  I’m averaging maybe 7 hours of meetings a day, and I feel like I’m just not getting done what needs to get done.  So far there’s a clear line between work stress and the beast of anxiety.  The former is what I have dealt with all my life in preparing for tests and exams and deadlines at work, and it really doesn’t bother me.  As long as it stays that way and never crosses the line into irrational anxiety, it’s all good.  In any case, I’ve been having to get to work earlier, and if I want to meet my running goals, that means getting up earlier.  I am NOT in any way, shape, or form a morning person.  Ug.  But it has to be done.  I really need to get up by 5 or 5:30 consistently to get my runs in.  The question is, do I have the motivation to do it?   The weather’s good tomorrow, and there’s no time like the present to get out there.

on running and life and anxiety

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, friends.

H is out of town for the second week in a row.  The good news is that I felt zero stress last week and very little stress this week.  He normally goes out of town during the week, for work, but in March he gets together with his college friends for March madness, so he’s out of town for the weekend.  I was a bit worried about how to entertain the kids all day long on a weekend day.  Last week, his trip didn’t affect me in any way in terms of anxiety.  This week, I was feeling some stress from my new job, which in combination with his departure, was making me a bit anxious, but I never felt that panic attack sensation, or anything close to it.  Which is good, obviously.

This morning, I found out my sister is likely getting married on Harbour Island, the Bahamas.  I feel like I’ve mostly kicked the H is traveling so I’m going to freak out thing, but plane travel still makes me nervous.  The two things that triggered horrible, death-wish inducing panic attacks were H’s trips and plane travel.  I’ve had plenty of time to more or less get over the former, but I just haven’t had much need to travel by plane.  And going to foreign countries always stresses me out a bit.  Anyway, I was pretty upset because obviously I want to be at her wedding, but my preliminary servey of travel options indicated it would be AT LEAST a 14 hours journey with a red eye included.

Then, I headed out for a run.  Within half a mile, I was already feeling infinitely better and capable of handling what life throws at me.  It was incredible.  I haven’t been running all week as I wanted to give myself a break after the half marathon, but I didn’t feel like biking today (cold) and just felt like I needed to get out and do something.  It was like the best drug ever.  I was running along thinking of how we’d get to the Bahamas and just feeling fine and I realized how much better I felt and was kind of blown away.  And so I kept running.  4.5 miles at 9:30 or so pace, which in my neighborhood is a moderately hard run (due to hills).  I’m pretty sure it’s more effective than Xanax, for me, anyway.

I have never thrown my hands up at the end of a race before, but the woman who finished in front of me did, and I impulsively did the same.  (It seems the woman behind me also felt inspired by the two of us.)  This picture definitely reflects the way I was feeling – exhausted but victorious.  You can see the spare tire around my waist through my shirt, but that doesn’t actually bother me.  When I’m looking back on this day years in the future, I’d like to remember that I accomplished this time without being perfectly svelte.  I was so happy to finish in 1:43, and now I just want to run faster.

We may travel to NY in April.  Depending on schedule, I may compete in a duathlon that month as well as a 5K.  (The 5K also has a 12K option, so we’ll see.)  Then, in May, comes my next major goal race, the Snohomish Women’s Run.  It has a 10K and half marathon, and I’m planning to run the 10K.  My goal is sub-45.  I’ve never raced a 10K before, but I’m pretty sure it’s a tough race.  The 5K is brutally painful, but it’s over quick.  The half is long and agonizing, but the intensity isn’t the same.  It’s only the last couple miles that really kill you.  The 10K seems like the worst of all worlds, but it’s good to have goals, right?  I’ll start running easy next week, and I’ll start training in earnest the following week.

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

I ran my half marathon this morning.  I was in a bad place leading up to the race.  It just seemed like 13 miles at 8 minutes wasn’t something that I was capable of, and the prospect of running 13 miles is always intimidating no matter what the pace.  Leading up to a race, my mood generally descends until hits a nadir the morning of, when I’d rather get a root canal whether than run the race, at least in the case of long races.  This race was true-to-form.  I was not a happy camper when I got up this morning at 5:30 to get ready.

The weather was predicted to be mid-30s at the start and low to mid-40s at the end.  Fortunately, parking was easy, and so about 20 minutes before the start, I was pacing back and forth, trying to stay warm without actually expending energy (obviously impossible).  I had expected there to be a 1:45 pacer, and I’d been planning to tuck in behind them and ignore my watch.  However, at the start, I found out there would be a 1:35 pacer and a 1:50 pacer, and I was asking myself what to do.  Stick with the 1:50 pacer and just accept that a 1:45 wasn’t going to happen today?  Try to pace my own race by eyeballing my watch?  Starting at 1:35 pace would obviously be suicidal.  I decided to just try and run my own race.

Finally, we were off.  Things were quite crowded at the start, and I did a bit of weaving around, trying to settle in.  I wanted to go faster, but I couldn’t get around people without expending a ton of energy, and when the 1 mile marker came at 8:01, I was shocked and happy.  A 1:45 half marathon is exactly 8 mpm pace, so I was right on schedule.  I noticed, however, that the mile marker came a bit after my watch thought it should be – a significant bit.

Entering the second mile, I was glancing at my watch, but I don’t know if GPS coverage was bad or what, but my pace was all over the place.  I picked a couple women to follow, guessing that they were probably shooting for 1:45 if they’d gone through mile 1 at 8:00.  That was basically my strategy for the rest of the race – to try and pace off others who looked like they were running steadily.  Miles 2 and 3 came quickly, and I was delighted to continue to be on pace.

  • 1: 8:00
  • 2: 7:56
  • 3: 755

At this point, my effort level was very low.  I was feeling great.  I always find it amazing how big of a difference race-day adrenaline makes.  On a random day by myself, I would find it borderline torturous to attempt to run 3 miles at that pace, but during a race?  It felt easy.  Miles 4 and 5 took a bit longer to come, but I was still feeling good.

  • 4: 7:54
  • 5: 7:52

Before the race, I decided to break the distance mentally into three sections – the first five miles, the next four miles, and the final four miles.  I was determined if nothing else to run the first five miles at 8 minute pace.  Hitting mile 5, I was delighted to have met my goal and also to have a mere 8 miles left.

Meanwhile, the mile markers had “drifted” with respect to my watch.  By this point, they were about 0.3 miles off.  This is a huge differential, and it was the difference between being spot on for meeting by goal time and being 2 to 3 minutes over.  I was pretty demoralized, but hoped that perhaps the mile markers were off and/or I could make up the time.   I started picking up the pace a little, and at the same time, this thing started getting painful.  The mile markers took longer to come, and my pace stopped feeling comfortable and easy, and began to drift towards painful.

  • 6: 7:41
  • 7: 7:39
  • 8: 7:40

No doubt the reason things started getting uncomfortable had a lot to do with the fact that I’d sped up.  Despite speeding up, though, I was pretty sure the discrepancy between the mile markers and my watch would put me over my goal time.  Mile 9 took a while to come, and I was just telling myself to make it through the second section.

  • Mile 9: 7:54

Throughout the race, I was just trying to hang onto other runners around me.  I’d pick someone or a better yet, a couple of people, who looked like they were going well and just try to stick with them.  By mile 9, I stopped looking at my watch and stopped thinking about pace, and just tried to hang on.  I started really taking things one mile at a time.  At mile 9, I just kept thinking, get to mile 10!  Get to Mile 10!  Then you can slow down if you want.  Similarly with mile 11.  My pace slowed a little, which reflects how I was feeling.

  • 10: 7:53
  • 11: 7:52

The consistency of my splits overall kind of amazes me.  Anyway, miles 12 and 13 were, as expected, very tough.  During mile 12, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the now 0.35 mile discrepancy between my watch and the race and how I wouldn’t meet my goal time and, more importantly, how I really had an extra 0.35 miles to go beyond what I thought I did.  The thought of running that extra 0.35 miles was really disheartening.  Mile 12 came, and I focused on getting to Mile 12.5.  The course in general had little or no crowd support, but there were some people cheering about a mile from the end, and that definitely helped.  At mile 12.5 I could basically see the finish, and I started thinking maybe I wouldn’t have to run an extra 0.35 after all.  Mile 13 was only about 0.05 off my watch, and I finally ran through and it was over.

  • 12: 7:50
  • 13: 7:49
  • 0.14: 7:20 mpm

As I ran through the finish I saw the clock said 1:43 and change, and I knew I’d done it.  My chip time was 1:43:04, and I came in thirtieth in my age group and eighty-first woman.  Obviously, a lot of people show up at this race wanting to run fast times.

high heels

Fun with shoes.  I think the ones B is wearing look the most dramatic, but I can’t walk in them, so I’m leaning towards the ones L is wearing.  I’m not a huge fan of the slingbacks, though they, too, are a lot easier to walk in than the sky high heels.  I don’t understand how some women (lawyers) can walk in shoes like that day in and day out.  (Becca?)  I guess practice makes perfect.

All shoes are Sam Edelman and courtesy of Amazon’s Prime shipping and free returns.

a night on the town

There are two weeks until my half marathon.  I’m not really nervous yet.  Part of me thinks the idea of running 13 miles at 8 minute pace is ridiculous, and another, hopefully bigger, part of me realizes that it doesn’t really matter.  I can go out, and it’ll either go well, or it won’t.

H and I have a chance to really get dressed up this Friday to go to L’s school “gala.”  The theme is Night at the Oscars, and it seems a bit like prom for grownups.  I dug the one full-length formal dress I own out of the back of my closet.  I’ve been hanging onto it for years and years and thought of getting rid of it many times.  The last time I wore it was in undergrad!  However, I’m glad I didn’t, because it was a beautiful dress 18 years ago when I bought it, and it’s still beautiful.  The wearer has, ahem, faded a bit and is a little worse for the wear, but it still fits.  I even noticed that all the push-ups I did built a little muscle in my back, which you can kind of see.

However, since I never get out, I literally own one pair of earrings, no formal shoes of any kind whatsoever, and only one purse, which I wear to work every day.  I’m planning to wear the earrings, and hopefully I can find some ultra-cheap clutch on Amazon prime tomorrow, and I decided to splurge on a pair of black pumps, since I figure they’d probably come in handy.  Pictures to come!


running update

I’ve been dealing with knee pain (left) and foot pain (right).  Neither are severe, and I’ve been able to run through both without might trouble.  It’s only on my longest runs that it’s truly bothersome.  I did 14 miles in the snow on Sunday, and it really took something out of me, both physically and mentally.  Training is a balance between running and hard and needing to recover quickly.  If you run a half marathon at race pace, or at least if I do, it takes me a couple weeks easily to recover.  That obviously isn’t good in the middle of a training cycle.  My long runs, while they might be as long or longer than a race, are done at 9:00 to 9:15 pace, which in theory shouldn’t tax me too much; I should be able to recover in a day or two.  However, last week’s long run was problematic for a few reasons.  First, as a I mentioned, my knee and foot have been bothering me, and 14 miles put a lot of stress on them.  Second, that long run came at the end of a 42-mile week, a weekly distance record for me.  Finally, I’m pretty sure my body had been fighting off the cold both girls and H had come down with.  I started showing symptoms the next day, and I ended up taking Monday, Tuesday AND Wednesday off to let my body rest and to get over the cold.

After three days off, it wasn’t easy to get out this morning.  It was 26 degrees, and the roads were covered with snow and ice.  Thankfully, the sun was out, but still.  I would much rather have curled up in front of the fire.  Now that it’s over, of course, I feel much better, and I just wish I’d brought a camera, as the world was absolutely beautiful this morning, all covered in snow.  There’s no doubt that running around Newcastle in the mornings shows me scenes of beauty on quiet back roads that I’d otherwise never see.  I think it’s calming to my soul to see these things, all alone in the quiet.  (I see maybe one car every 10 minutes, typically, on my runs, except when I cross a parkway midway through my run.)

I’m taking today off as we’re heading on a minivay this afternoon, and there’s something wonderful about reclining on the couch with the fire on gazing out the window at our snowy and (amazingly) sunny backyard while the kids play.