Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Just Realized....

I logged 75 miles this month.

Mind. Blown.

My Mind is Tired!

Coming off of yesterday's awesome run I was excited to crank out some more miles today.  I was a little nervous since my legs were feeling tired and I had 5 miles on the schedule.  But I was excited to have my running buddy back since we haven't ran together in a week!

so legit.

Quick tangent: Emily and I have been running together since November when I started this whole running kick.  One of the nice little perks of actually being active for a consistent period of time is that your body appreciates it and thanks you by shedding some of those extra pounds you didn't want to admit you had.  Here is a picture of me and Em from the middle of November; it's crazy to compare that one to the picture above:

pretty face, em!

One of the perks of being really self-centered and taking pics of yourself all the time is that you have a steady stream of pictures over time that you can look back at.  Serves as a cool way to see the progress that you're making!  I remember I almost ripped that jacket trying to get it zipped.  Oops.  Embarrassing.  Now I can actually wear it like a normal person.  Kudos, Em...we look a heck of a lot better than we did 4 months ago!

Anyways, back to the point of my post (do I ever really have a point?)  Remember how yesterday I did a really good job setting a goal, focusing and pushing myself and accomplishing it?  Well today I intended on doing the same thing.  And then I threw my plan out the window at about mile 1.2.  When I looked down at my watch I would have bet money that my pace was a whole minute faster than what my watch was telling me.  Oy.

I then spend the next 4 miles mentally battling myself on the decision to run super easy today.  Part of me was all, you ran four miles yesterday at a great pace your legs are tired today slow down and don't feel bad.  And the other part of me was like, push yourself you ween you ran sub-12 minute miles yesterday why the eff can't you even get near that today?!

The mind is a crazy thing I tell you.  Thankfully Emily and I were chatting the whole run so we talked part gossip part pseudo therapy session.  All in all I'd rate today's effort 50% mental 50% physical.  I'm still amazed by the fact that a run can be just as challenging mentally (sometimes more!) than physically.

We did a real great job getting slower and slower each mile (oops), but I finished the run with most of my sanity still in tact.

Definitely not the fastest run, but certainly not the slowest.  Considering the lightening speed my mind was running at, I'll cut my legs some slack on their pace. 

Tomorrow is Tempo Thursday and it's been a few weeks (with the exception of last week's time trial) since I've joined the group for the workout.  Back to pushing myself tomorrow!  Maybe. ;)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Setting Goals & Achieving Them: I Can Do That??!

After being a lazy bum the rest of Sunday and yesterday after work, I was more than ready for today's run. The extent of my activeness yesterday consisted of 35 minutes of "Yoga for Stress Relief."  Yoga for stress relief really just = stretching and laying on the mat.  And lots of breathing with your eyes closed.  Don't get me wrong I love me some yoga every now and then, but doing yoga in the middle of my bedroom floor just doesn't get me excited like a good run does.

Ready to run!

Today was one of those runs where everything just clicked and the miles flew by.  It was SO nice out when I got home from work (30 degrees...I'll take what I can get these days) and I still had about 1.5 hours of sunshine left.  That meant I started AND ended my run in sunshine.  As much as I love my reflective gear, we were definitely due for a little time off from each other.  

The END of my run - hello daylight!

Four miles were on the schedule for today so I decided to run my fave 4 mile loop (again).  Thankfully I haven't worn that route out yet!  Today I was one of those runners that looks at their garmin every 33 seconds.  I wanted to keep my average pace right around 12 minutes and more importantly I wanted to pace myself so my splits weren't all over the place.

As you've probably noticed, I'm REALLY bad at pacing myself or even keeping any sort of consistent pace for that matter.  I'll clock one mile in at 11:20 and the next at 12:40 and the next at 12:00.  My legs have no rhyme to their reason and I usually just go with it.

Welllll since I didn't have Emily with me today to push my pace, I decided to try and keep my miles as consistent as I could and to negative split each mile.  That meant a LOT of glances at garmin and a lot of "wow, this pace is faster than I thought and feels awesome!" and "holy sh!t i'm going this slow?! But it feels so fast!"  

Since I'm so NOT a Type A kinda runner, it was a pretty cool and a welcome change to be so aware of my pace and to adjust accordingly so it was where I needed it to be.  Obviously I liked when it was fast and I had to pump the brakes.  Not so much when I was hovering over 12 and needed to speed up.  Overall, mission sub-12 minute miles was accomplished:

Average pace 11:30 - win!

Not only did I succeed at keeping my pace under 12 minutes, but I had negative splits for all but my first mile.  I blame my music playlist for not letting my legs go slower during mile one... what are the odds that your most favorite pump up songs will all play right in a row during your first mile??

Avg Pace

Two goals achieved in one run??  Who the heck am I?!  I don't do goals, I don't do tough runs.  I don't like to push myself.  Turns out doing those things is more fun and rewarding than I gave them credit for.  Who knew.  Don't worry, I'm not gonna go all crazy Type A runner, but it's a nice switch up from my normal Phoebe philosophy on running (please tell me you've seen that episode of Friends when Phoebe runs...if not you should probably to go youtube it right now).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Sunday

Well it's safe to say that today's recovery run was hands down a better experience than yesterday.  To start, mother nature went bipolar and decided to do a complete 180 from yesterday:

It was real chilly when I walked outside and then I reminded myself what it felt like yesterday.  After that thought it was pretty easy for me to suck it up this morning.  I had zero goals or expectations for today's run -- exactly how I like it.  

My legs were more tired than they usually are on Sunday runs and I was a-okay with the slow pace I was going.  Not only did I keep it slow, but I kept it flat too (surprise surprise).  To compare, yesterday's total elevation gain = 319 feet.  Today's total elevation gain, 39 feet.  Good weather, slow pace and flat route makes for one great recovery run.

Definitely looking forward to relaxing today and to have a rest day tomorrow.  Our week-day mileage is increasing this week so I need to make sure I've got fresh legs to tackle those miles.  Perfect excuse for a lazy Sunday :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

Today was SO. HARD.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  Man, I don't even know where to begin!

The past three Saturday's my comment after each run has been "well, at least the weather won't get any worse than this!"  And each time... I've been 100% wrong.  The weather each Saturday morning has been progressively worse each week and this week was no exception.

Driving to the park, 7:30am

Our meeting point this morning was at a park pretty close to the middle of nowhere.  I suppose middle of nowhere is a relative term, but when I start seeing horses and more land than houses...we're officially in the country. 

The park we were meeting at serves as the location for a 15k race that we will be running at the beginning of April.  So, today was a field trip to run some of the 15k course.  "Rolling hills" would be an understatement in describing this route.  Even the race website describes the course as "challenging" and "hilly."  See, I'm not just being a drama queen or a baby about hills today.  This was the real deal!

Elevation map from the race website

Before I had time to really freak out about the weather and the roller coaster route that was ahead, our pace group was off and running.  Naturally, we started our run with the wind coming at us.  And it was FREEZING.  Like icy snowy wind blowing snow right in your face.  Little did I know that this would be the "easy" part of the morning.

By about the third or fourth mile, it turned into a blizzard (not even a dramatization).  

This picture doesn't even do the conditions justice!

Blizzard quickly turned into full on white out.  The footprints of the runners ahead of me were completely covered, that's how much snow was coming down!  Running up the hills was awful -- I could not keep my head up because the snow and wind was just flying directly into your face.  And it was SO cold; I'm 99% sure frostbite was happening on my face.  

See, I'm not being dramatic!
(ps this is another runner's picture I borrowed from fbook...oops i'm a creeper)

By mile five, I had a complete breakdown.  I had fallen way behind my pace group and with the white-out I couldn't even see them anymore.  I looked behind me and couldn't even see the 13 minute pace group either.  I was completely alone.  One of the biggest hills was right ahead of me, and I couldn't even feel my legs to make them move.  I started walking...and then I started crying. 

The snow on my entire body had frozen (I think my tears were even turning to ice) and I couldn't feel my legs or my face.  The snow was coming down harder and I couldn't see five feet in front of me.  I lost my footing at one point and fell.  I was honestly wondering how the heck I was going to finish.  

At mile six I saw some people standing about a quarter mile ahead of me (there were actually about 5 different times that I thought I saw people, but they turned out to be mailboxes).  Three girls from the 11 minute pace group had stopped and were waiting for a ride back to the park.  They asked me if I wanted to go back with them and by that point, I was legitimately concerned about my own well-being and didn't hesitate about cutting my run short to go back with them.

While I was really discouraged and disappointed about not completing the 8+ miles on the schedule for today, a phone call to my sissy and reading some of the posts in the Fleet Feet Facebook group helped me to realize that I should be okay with how the ball rolled today.

Five months ago I wouldn't have even gotten out of bed given the weather conditions this morning.  The fact that I not only got out of bed, but ran 5 miles (and ran/walked/cried through a 6th) of icy, snowy, windy hills, is a huge win for me.  There were a few times during the first five miles that I wanted to give up, but I didn't.  I'm proud of myself for getting those miles in even though they're not as many as I had hoped for.

Not only did I forget to take a picture of my watch at the end, I only managed one picture of myself (this should tell you how flustered and mentally/physically drained I was!)  I think it's clear how much I enjoy photo-documenting my own face.

This doesn't really do the conditions any justice since I was a little thawed out at this point.  But please note the remnants of ice in my hair and eyebrows, my rudolph/frostbitten nose and the snow thawing down my face.

I can honestly say that this was the most taxing mental and physical run that I've ever done.  I know I've probably said that before, but let's be honest....I think anyone would agree with me that today takes the cake.  Pretty sure the next time I run this 15k course I'll not only 1. complete the whole thing but 2. it will feel like a breeze compared to today!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Short and Sweet

Keeping things short and sweet today because work + running is kicking my butt this week and it's currently about 37 minutes past my 8 o'clock bedtime.  

Yesterday was another 4 mile day and Emily and I hit the (rainy) roads.  It was drizzly and chilly and a little hilly but I didn't even complain until about mile 3.5.  Overall a win I'd say.

After that it was time to refuel.  Our fuel of choice:

Best post-run meal ever.

That brings us to today.  The usual Tempo Thursday.  We got an email yesterday saying that tonight would be another 2 mile time trial, so we can see how we've improved these past few weeks.

I was actually really excited and was ready to run my little heart out tonight.

Gettin' tough for the time trial

When we ran the time trial for the first time my time was 24:06.  They reminded us of our original time so we could compare.  Good thing, because apparently I accidentally shaved 30 seconds off that time when I wrote my post about that run on Jan. 19.  Whoopsie. 

My only real goal was to just be faster than the 24:06 I ran four weeks ago.  My secret goal that I wasn't going to admit unless I achieved it, was to finish in under 22 minutes.  Well...

Mission accomplished!

Just barely, but I did it!  So I ended up cutting just over two minutes off my time which I'm really happy about!  My splits are pretty atrocious: mile one = 10:20 and mile two = 11:36.  Apparently I still don't know how to pace myself very well.

But hey, it's cool to see progress from four weeks ago to now.  Guess those tempo runs and "run with fast friends aka Emily" runs are starting to pay off!  

Achieving a goal on a run and doing better than my brain tells me I can gets me pretty pumped.  So with that, I leave you with this:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sh!t's About to Get Serious

Before I go all serious on you guys, here's some updates:

1. All the get-well ammo I threw at my immune system this weekend failed.  I sucked it up and went to the doc yesterday and sure enough...

Oh, bronchitis.  That's cool.

2. The cough meds and antibiotics are kickin' in and I'm feeling much better today.  Especially because at 5:45pm it was still light out.  Starting a run before it's dark?  Makes me a happy girl.

3. Running with fast friends really does pay off.  Emily and I ran my fave 4 mile loop tonight and we averaged an 11:24 pace.  A solid 30+ seconds faster than my usual pace.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to maintain that pace for 4 miles!  It was definitely not a very conversational pace but I was able to stammer out a few sentences here and there.  I'll take it!

Alright.  Things are about to get serious over here.  As you all know, Molly in real life is about 4% serious and 96% sarcastic.  Serious just isn't my thing.  So I'll chalk the following paragraphs up to the minuscule part of me that sometimes has some serious stuff to say.

Running changes everything.  

Those three words are plastered across a handful of Fleet Feet shirts that I've seen on previous training class participants.  It sounds so cheesy and if someone were to say those words to me five months ago I would have laughed and responded somewhere along the lines of "yeah right" or "that's funny."  

But now....that's probably the simplest way to sum up how I feel about running.  I'm amazed by how much I've grown as a person over the past few months and can honestly say that I have running to thank for this progress.

It keeps me sane when I feel like going crazy.  It calms me down when I'm stressed out.  It helps me to put things into perspective.  Life has thrown some crazy curveballs my way these past few months and running has been my therapist, my anti-depressant, my constant.

Some days I run with my music loud and turn my brain off.  Some days I run in silence and let my brain go.  Sometimes I can't remember a thing that went through my head during my run, and sometimes I finish my run with 97 thoughts swarming around.  Regardless of where my brain goes that day, it's always where I need it to be by the end of the run.

I feel like I have a new, positive perspective and outlook on life in general and am genuinely happy.  Running has given me more than a healthy heart and strong legs.  It has given me a positive energy that keeps my attitude optimistic and my mind healthy and strong.  

So, I guess Fleet Feet wins again.  Running truly does have the ability to change everything.  And while my life is far from perfect, and I am far from a "real" runner, the runner that I am and the life that I live will continue to grow and flourish and I couldn't be more excited to continue this crazy journey.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dear Immune System...

...Please get back in working order, stat.

I think I jinxed myself or something because I woke up this morning with my full-blown cold back in action.  Ugh.  Coughing, sniffling, sore throat... doesn't make for a very excited Molly.  I did get my recovery miles in though -- nice and slow and flat.  Exactly why I love recovery runs :)

Today marked the completion of my fourth week of training; ten more weeks to go!  These weeks are flying by, I can't believe that we're almost done with February!

Game plan for the rest of today: fix my immune system and kick this cold out of my life for good.  I'm prepared with all the ammo I can think of:

Time to relax and coerce this cold out of my body.  Tomorrow is a rest day, so I've got until Tuesday to be back to normal.  Ready, go!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Endorphins Make Me Happy

Happy Saturday!  Considering what Mother Nature and my sick body has thrown at me the past two days... this morning's run was awesome!

I'm really glad I ended up getting my run in on Wednesday because Thursday turned into a sick day and I felt much worse than I did on Wednesday.  I stayed home from work and slept and was on the couch all day.  I felt like a sad little kid when I called my mom and she told me that if I was too sick to go to work, I was too sick to run.  I missed Tempo Thursday and got an impromptu rest day.  And then cried myself to sleep because of it.

I went to bed outrageously early last night and woke up before my alarm this morning with more energy than I knew what to do with.  My brain and my legs were ready to go 7 miles this morning!

So much energy I can't even take a clear picture

Naturally, it was great weather yesterday and today not so much.  When I walked out my front door this is what it looked like:

I was hoping that maybe just my apartment complex hadn't shoveled/plowed yet (completely normal.. because they rarely actually do that) and that the roads would be gloriously clear.  Sadly I was wrong.  This is what the expressway looked like:

Aren't they supposed to be the first streets plowed??

Don't worry, I didn't let 8 inches of snow/slush/ice deter my awesome energy.  I set out with the 12 minute pace group again and after about a mile became my own 12:30 pace group.  Which progressively became slower and slower as the miles ticked on by.  Thank you, Town of Brighton, for letting the plowmen sleep in today.... I enjoyed expanding the extra energy to run through snow and slush.

The route was hilly and running in the snow was really tough.  After the first mile (literally) my only goal was to complete the run without walking.  I stopped looking at my pace and just focused on shuffling along.  As tough as it was, I actually really enjoyed this morning's run.  There's something about the physical and mental challenge of running that is fun, and the feeling after you make it through is so addicting.

I finished all 7 miles and ran (albeit slowly) the whole time.

The best part about today's run: it was officially the furthest distance I have ever run!  It's so crazy to think that 5 months ago I literally couldn't run 60 seconds with stopping... and now I'm cranking out 7 miles like it's nothing but a thing (ok not really 'nothing but a thing'.. but you get the idea).  I was really pumped:

Freezing cold, super sweaty...and way too excited

I feel really good post-run and spent some extra QT with the foam roller.  That thing hurts so. good.  There are also a couple bags of frozen corn strategically placed on my body right now.  Because my body is super injury prone (thanks mom and dad), I literally have been taking every precaution and step for injury prevention there is.  Case and point #1 my knee tape that I started using a few weeks ago.  Case and point #2:


Compression shorts and calf sleeves.  I kind of swear by them now - I dress like a stuffed sausage for a few hours after a run and my legs are never sore, painful or tired.  I think I enjoy wearing them a little too much and clearly have no shame in doing so or in showing the entire world.

I am looking forward to every Saturday from here on out, since every week will now be my new farthest distance that I've ran!  I'm also looking forward to tomorrow's recovery miles....mainly so I can (unnecessarily) wear my hot pink calf sleeves again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Brain is Mushy

I'm sick and my head is cloudy.  I'm not sure if I am forming sensible and coherent sentences.  Bear with me as my mushy brain tries to find some sense and wit.

I woke up this morning with that feeling that you get in your throat when you know a cold is in your near future.  I felt progressively worse as the day went on and debated skipping today's run.  Going to bed at 5:30pm sounded like a really good trade off to me.

Unfortunately luckily running buddies are great accountability even when you feel like poop.  Emily convinced me to get today's run in and now, after the fact, I'm glad she did.  It was a decent run overall, considering my head felt like a bowling ball and I was hawking loogies and snot-rocketing every five strides. (Such a lady.....maybe this is why I'm still single)

I don't feel any better, but I don't feel any worse so I guess that's a plus.  I'm hoping to kick this cold before it turns in to anything worse.  The rest of my evening will be looking like this:

Couch, hot tea, warm blanket and my Macbook.  Most likely bed within the hour.  I'll be damned if I'm sick for Tempo Thursday!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nothing Kills a Runner's High Quite Like...

...Getting in a "fender bender" in the parking lot of your apartment.  I use the term fender bender loosely, as that implies that both cars were actually moving.  I was not moving.  I was stopped.  Honking my horn, watching this idiot driving towards me.  And boom.  Hello America's worst driver, thanks for hitting my car.  I hope whatever distracted you and caused your stupidity was worth the nuisance of insurance companies and repair shops that I will now be dealing with this week. SO ANNOYING **#($^&(@&@*

Now that I got that out, let's rewind and focus on the non-buzzkilling portion of my day.  I was rested up from yesterday and my legs were antsy all day in anticipation of my run this afternoon.  Since it was gloomy, I decided to go with safety first and wear my reflective gear:

Can't miss me!

I was really excited to be back outside and leave the treadmill behind me forever.

A hot pink thumbs up

Four miles were on the books today and I did my new favorite 4 mile loop.  Yes, this is the same loop that I inadvertently almost ended up running on the expressway off-ramp.  Don't worry I figured out my mistake.  Turns out it wasn't's fault -- I'm just a really bad navigator/direction follower.  I successfully avoided the expressway this time and officially have a new favorite running route.  Four miles flew by and I felt pretty darn good the whole time.

I think I may be on the borderline of officially graduating to the 12 minute mile club?!  Garmin tells me my average pace was 11:54 and I felt pretty comfortable to whole time.  Definitely comfortably uncomfortable at some points more than others, but overall I felt really good.

Got the same 4 miles on the agenda tomorrow.... along with car insurance and repair shop phone calls.  Ya win some, ya lose some I guess!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some Random Happenings

Brace yourself for the roller coaster of randomness that is about to follow...

First of all there are two additions that I felt necessary to add to my list of "You know you're (becoming) a runner when..."

Exhibit 1:

Your laundry pile becomes 99.9% running clothes.  And when you are low on quarters for laundry and can only do one load, the need for clean running clothes outweighs the need for clean work clothes.

Exhibit 2:

Your training schedule automatically trumps all other topics of daily conversation.  Even when you don't even realize it.

Secondly, yesterday I was reminded just how awfully boring running on a tread dreadmill is.  By the time I pulled myself together for the day, this was the forecast I was slapped in the face with:

While those numbers were only a slight deterrent to running outside, the fact that NOTHING was shoveled/plowed/visible under inches and inches of snow and ice was the gauntlet in my decision between outside and treadmill.

Not conducive to a productive run

I did two miles on the treadmill and it seemed like I was on there for two hours. SO. BORING.  I don't know how people do it.  I ran 1.5 miles, almost died of boredom, hopped off and stretched, then hopped back on and finished with another half mile.  I had my Nicki Minaj Pandora station and Teen Mom 2 keeping me company, but NOTHING is entertaining when you are running in place. 

I'm putting a self-imposed ban on treadmill running for the rest of my training.  As much as I complain about running in the cold and wind and snow, I'm usually exaggerating by about 142%.  It's really not that bad and I actually enjoy it most days.  My complaints regarding the treadmill on the other hand -- 110% not exaggerated.  Treadmill = slow death.

Last but not least, today was a pretty great rest day thanks to three things:

Numero Uno:

Baking (and Blue Moon)

Numero Dos:

Cupcake order = I get to eat the extra frosting for dinner

Numero Tres:

A (heart attack inducing) W for the Cuse = Daily dose of adrenaline

My phone is telling me that it will be 37 degrees tomorrow.  Welcome back to my life, open roads.  Even though I only cheated on you once, I'm 112% sure it will never happen again.  See ya tomorrow, East Ave.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Long Run and More Lessons Learned

Lesson number two I learned this week: Don't nap on your rest day.  Otherwise you will be awake way past your night-before-a-long-run bedtime.  A two hour nap at 4pm leads to a way late bedtime and an overly obnoxious amount of alarms being set to ensure that I wake up on time in the morning:

Funny thing is, I slept through ALL OF THEM.  When I woke up to pee, thinking it was 5am or something, I looked at my phone it was 7:35.  Good thing that 1. I was too tired to freak the eff out, 2. my internal alarm clock knew it was long run Saturday and 3. I live 2.7 minutes away from Fleet Feet.  I've never gotten ready and out the door so fast in my life.  When I got outside this is the lovely scene that greeted me:

Seriously?  Two days ago I was running in capris and today it's a tundra.  Go figure.

By the time I got to Fleet Feet I was 101% sure that I was going to run with the 13 minute pace group.  Between the snow and the hilly route that was planned, there was no way I was about to attempt to keep up with the 12 minute group today. 

Well, the 12 minute pace leader convinced challenged me that I should run with them.  It's a good thing that I really like the 12 minute pace leader and that I make rash decisions at 8am because I ended up going with the 12 minute group.  And surprisingly kept up for the majority of the run!

Lesson number three of the week:  Your pace leader probably knows you better than you know yourself and will force you to push yourself when you don't want to.  Listen to your pace leader even when you feel like throwing your water bottle at her.

12:30 pace, I'll take it!

Miles 3ish through 5ish of the run were a pretty steady incline that seemed to last forever and got harder with each step.  I had to bribe myself to not only keep going, but to keep a decent pace.  I told myself that if I kept going and pushed myself that I would stop at Dunkin on the way home.  Obviously that's all I needed to power through the rest of the run.

Worth it.

Overall today's run was pretty good.  I'm glad I stuck with the 12 minute pace group and I'm feeling awesome right now.  There really is no better way to start a Saturday than an early morning run.  And yes, I'm still just as shocked as you probably are that those words just came out of my mouth.  Final lesson of the week: running changes everything! :)