Monday, December 29, 2008


One of my former students is a lifeguard at the Blacksburg Aquatic Center and when I ran into her there the other day, she challenged me to reconsider my approach to swimming, which is pretty straight-forward and boring - to swim a mile (36 back-and-forth laps). Swimming is not a regular part of my routine, but I've gotten to the pool a few times lately in the hopes that it will give my sore foot a break.

She explained that there is a whole range of other swim-fitness possibilities out there! She participated in the Blacksburg's Aquatic Center's Master's Swimming program and highly recommended it, but I don't have the time or desire to add to an already full schedule! But, through a SparkPeople swimming group, I found a free website called that not only constructs swimming plans, it actually includes the instructions for what each exercise is - key for a novice such as me. You can select the strokes and equipment. I like free and breast. Never learned butterfly and hate how in backstroke you can't see where you are going or when you are about to hit the wall! It concocted a great plan. I printed it, encased it in a ziplock baggie, and off I went. It was a great program and having it there in black and white (rather than in my head) meant no cheating or slacking.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

20 x 200s

Today I ran 20 x 200m (1/2 a track lap) with 200m recoveries. I didn't realize until after I did some research that the 400m lane is typically the inner-most lane; I thought it would be the middle lane and I ran there with cones to help me consistently time things. Anyway, I wore my new Garmin watch which gave me average pace per interval. I wonder how accurate it is on those short distances? I forgot to wear the HR monitor and will do that next time. I posted this run online.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Garmin Forerunner 405 Review

Robert got me the Garmin Forerunner 405 running watch/GPS system that provides the ULTIMATE in logging, tracking, charting. This thing has more bells and whistles than I've had a chance to uncover.

Check out the stats from the family walk:

It took some time to get it up and running since the first thing I managed to do was to change the language setting to some kind of Slavic dialect which made it pretty challenging to follow the English directions to change it back! But now it's very cool. I'm using the most basic functions initially. I just press "training" then "start" and eventually "stop". When I get back to the computer, the watch communicates to the computer via a wireless USB stick. The info is downloaded to the resident application or you can chose to upload it to Garmin's site and make it public.

Things work in the other direction, too. I can program in a specific running workout on the computer, upload it to the watch, and go from there.

Now if I could just program it to deliver a small electric shock when I am about to reach for one of the many, MANY holiday distractions like cookies, cakes, muffins, cheesy things, fatty thing, alcoholic things, etc. Next week, back to logging food on Spark People. I'm ready for some needed discipline in the food department.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No running for five days

No running until Saturday. Ice, low impact XT, get over this inconvenience and move on.

I watched Without Limits today (thanks JRP) about Steve Prefontaine - a history-making distance runner who died tragically at age 24. Wow. It takes amazing focus, confidence, and pain tolerance to achieve what he did.

I also dabbled in a book about a guy who ran across the US. The scary thing is that I asked myself if, in my wildest dreams, I thought I could do that. My thought was yes.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I don't write much in here about tennis, primarily because it's not something that lends itself to being measured, counted, gauged, or tracked. But this blog has become my filing cabinet for organizing all things related to fitness and tennis is a big part of that.

I play on average 2x/week in the winter - doubles and a group clinic and/or private lesson. I started tennis in earnest almost two years ago. A year ago we got a great pro at Blacksburg Country Club, Bill Woods, who has elevated tennis for the whole BCC crew. He brings great energy and tremendous patience.

Take-aways from recent lessons:
  • slice: lead with butt of racket, finish short, karaoke step to get shoulder turned and low, moving forward through shot.
  • slice serve: toss to the right, hit on outside of ball, target more to middle since ball naturally goes left.
  • topspin serve: back of ball from 8 to 2 o'clock
  • serve: step forward into court, less rotation.
  • groundstrokes: spin (always), close racquet face some and sweep up over, finish the shot, don't get too close to ball, head stays down, hit deep
  • volleys - squeeze racket firmly, step into ball
  • small steps, on toes
  • overhead - turn, keep left hand up, don't get too far under the ball
  • drop shot


Today resulted in 6x800 @ 3:25 each with a walk break in between each interval. Tried to convince myself that this is my new "happy pace." It's certainly a bit easier than the last speed work quite a while ago when I finished topped out at a 3:35.

Foot continues to plague otherwise good runs. No patience for such annoyances.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New exercise

Today's workout included a "new exercise" - two words that, from past experience, invoke a mix of curiosity and fear, not necessarily in that order or in equal proportions.

This little gem involved the Smith machine (barbell on track constraining it to vertical axis only), two stacked steps (think aerobics) and a combination of a lunge and knee-to-the-groin motion. I bravely tried it - a definite quad-buster that left me breathless and sweating. Jake noted that he had no name for it, and after struggling mightily through three sets of ten PER leg, I suggested the moniker of "death". OK, maybe not. But quad-buster would be pretty descriptive. It seems to be pretty effective, I'll grant him that.

Apparently I must have looked like I was having so much fun doing the wall squats/quad-buster/lap of lunges on track/leg extensions/squats that it generated interest and a new client for Jake. Glad that so much good could come from my suffering! LOL!

My quads burn like no other muscle group on my body and I struggle to push through that. I'm reading Lance Armstrong's War by Daniel Coyle, and he writes of one of the riders:
Hamilton had a trick he did when he was at his limit, where he tipped his head back and relaxed into the pain. That was they key not to fight it but to let it become a part of him. Strange, how hardness and softness were so close.

I like it. I'm going to try that.

Residuals from long run; holiday fitness plans

It appears I may have paid a small price for the long run with some right foot issues. I just hate stuff like this and not knowing precisely what the issue is drives me crazy. I don't think I'm doing any damage by pushing forward. I swam on Monday and have not run since Saturday. Tomorrow will be my first outing.

Onto another subject...the holidays. While I am excited for the break, I'm not excited about the loss of structure and routine: food temptations; kids out of school that makes scheduling the gym and running harder; working out alone with no JRP PT for two weeks. My goals for the holidays are:
  • Get back to recording food and crawl into bed early with a good book to avoid evening munchies (graham crackers seem to be the thing and they are high in calories).
  • Drink more water
  • Do more stretching
  • Bump up core work
My weight was back up to 127 -- certainly not bad, but inching out of what feels good on me. I just need to keep things in check over the holidays because I want to be fairly lean heading into the marathon training program.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Now for some poetry....

I get these strange bursts of spontaneous literary inspiration from time to time (usually very early in the morning) causing me to write things like this!


Halfway there, five more, two more, last one, good work.
I’m ready for the trip, I say.
He scouts out destinations, and I hop on board for the ride.
It seems so far, but we don’t talk about that.
We mark time by programs, weeks, days, splits, exercises, sets, reps.
Then rest.

Never me, always we. I am glad for that.
I see limits, assumptions; he, only possibilities.
I coast on that quiet confidence and the milestones tick past.
The layers slowly release and change is revealed.
Architect, coach, counselor, and artist.
Now athlete.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The long run - 25 miles

Today was the day of the lonnnnggggg run. I ran a 5.7 mile loop and had planned to run four or five loops depending on how I felt. I took a 3-5 minute break between loops to refuel, rest up, change out clothing, etc.

Each lap was solid and pretty comfortable at about a 9 minutes/mile pace and I was sure I'd get all 5 laps in. As it was, I pulled out part way through the fifth lap when I detected something potentially slightly amiss in my left knee. I figured I had already pushed way beyond perhaps what I should have and I don't want to risk injury when this was just a trial run. I still logged just over 25 miles so I'm not disappointed, although 28 would have been even cooler.

The interesting thing is that the running itself was fine. However, I didn't realize that the STOPPING running part is the hard part. Once you stop, everything hits at once, and it all hurts - feet, ankles, hips. I feel fairly beat up now. Ibuprofen, ice, nap, stretching, arnica gel - hitting it from all angles.

I needed to do this run for me and no one else. I had to know if I had it in me and didn't want to wait until spring to find out. I suspected that I would hold up, that I could just keep on keeping on. Now I am sure and I know I can do that marathon. Plus the race course looks to be much flatter than what I run on around here.

Things that rattled around in my head:
  • Jake saying that most of running long distances is mental
  • Pam Reed writing that most people can run twice as far as what they think
  • Knowing that people with less conditioning than me can run marathons
  • Keep it steady, but don't use energy trying to go slower. Get in the groove and stay there.
  • Keep the focus straight ahead (I tend only to look about 10' in front of me and I kind of zone out on it.)
I was happy that I never had to have the mental debate about whether or not I should/could keep running. I just did. Much to my surprise, that part took care of itself.

I listened to an episode of Whad'ya Know (NPR) for a few laps, then switched to tunes. I listened to Laura Story's Great God Who Saves probably 20 times. It's so uplifiting and the perfect tempo for a long run:

When I stumble and my faith is small, I will call Your name, great God who saves. And I would have despaired if I had not believed that You would come to me, great God who saves. And in my darkest hour, Your mercy and Your power are reaching out to me, great God who saves.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I got this NOVA special from Netflix:

A baker's dozen of self-professed couch potatoes are put through the wringer to become long-distance runners -- and ultimately compete in the Boston Marathon -- in this thought-provoking "Nova" special that puts a fresh twist on reality television. In addition to tracking the would-be athletes' progress over the course of a nine-month training regimen, the program also educates viewers about what's going on inside their bodies.

It was interesting to note that the participants went through a nine-month training program yet it seemed that these runners did not have the comprehensive tailored program that they should have had. They did their weekly long run as a group and had some benchmark medical testing (I'd love to know my VO2 max), but there was no mention of nutrition education, resistance training, stretching, or injury prevention. There were many injuries - and most of the time the response was complete cessation of running. I wonder how necessary that was? And most of the women started the program technically obese, and most finished obese with no significant weight loss. To their credit, all 12 who started the marathon finished - but at what cost I wonder? Finishing times ranged from around 4:20 to 6+. Did they suffer injury or difficult recoveries? Their longest training run was a single 20-miler. Given a 9-month program, that seems like somewhat minimal preparation. It was an enjoyable little documentary though.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Work and life have taken on a volume, intensity, and urgency that I am not accustomed to coping with for such an extended period of time. I am so tired of saying "if I can just make it through this week" because the next one ends up being just the same if not more of a struggle. For instance, today, I ate ALL of my meals IN my car. I ate my oatmeal with berries this morning, then a peanut butter sandwich and apples, and a snack of pretzels, then dinner was a hastily made scrambled egg and cheese burrito in a tomato pesto wrap. All homemade and pretty healthy, but the car???

My running and gym time, although another demand on my time, are KEY to being able to deal. It gives me a structure, an opportunity to feel successful and positive, and the mental side of running has given me a different perspective on life's challenges. As with running, when things are tough, I remind myself that it will get better. The road will flatten or head downhill, the rain will stop, and my energy will be replenished. I'm still heading up that long grade but I'm sticking with it...relaxed and steady. Eventually I'll crest the hill and conditions will improve.

The gym has been a lot of fun lately, partly I guess because I don't have races disrupting things. I do think I am gaining strength and endurance. We are doing some high reps (28-36 on some things) and new exercises - particularly some non-machine things that appeal to the lifting purist in me :-)

I am taking the next two days off (except for a tennis lesson) and then Saturday I plan to do my longest run yet - something approaching marathon distance - to provide a baseline for the next few months. I am excited and of course, nervous because the unknown always makes me nervous. The next two days I need to focus on sleep and carbs. I'd better go work on the first of those two goals now!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I behaved

I did manage to skip the organized half-marathon run, but I happened to be driving by as some of the runners approached the finish. It did look like fun! Good for them!

I ran from Gateway Baptist to Food Time and back - exactly 8 miles - and with a 64 minute time, that was exactly an 8 min/mile pace. I was pleasantly surprised at my pace since I had planned to hang back a bit on this run. That speed seems to put me in my groove. However, my goal for Friday's long run is to run a steady 9 minute mile. I have a 5.7 mile route planned out so that's about 51 minutes per lap. And if I manage to do that four times, that's 22.8 miles. Physically, there is no reason why I can't gut that out and mentally, I refuse to back down. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, December 5, 2008


On facebook today I saw that the VT Tri team was putting on an informal half-marathon from the chapel to the end of the Huckleberry Trail and back. This year it's the Jordan Chang Half Marathon - the winner from the previous year has naming rights! So clever and so cool. It's free but they even offer water stops. I just love the whole idea of this relaxed gathering and would so love to do it. However, I have a big run planned for next Friday (~20 miles) AND I'm completely exhausted AND I did a workout at the gym that had a pretty heavy hamstring focus AND my left foot has been bothering me.

But I really, really want to do it (insert sound of whining adult-acting-like-child here). Jake talked me out of it (for the most part), calling it "ill-advised." I had to place an emergency call to an AA sponsor. Save me from myself. But I can't start deviating now. Plus, if I were him and I put thought into a plan and someone just did whatever they wanted I'd be annoyed.

On a more positive note, I did my sumo deadlifts today for the first time in...well...ages. I didn't do anything heavy, but I miss those lifts that require more in terms of style and technique. I really have to find a way to work those back into my regular routine. Can't say I miss squats too much, but DL and bench are keepers.

Kids are sleeping at Oma's. I have big plans to do ZERO work, watch a movie, and go to bed early to hopefully recharge my batteries.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trot!

The Pittsburgh Turkey Trot 5K was a blast! I expected to see lots of turkeys, but I was the only one in full dress (although there were a few hats). The costumed run was a whole new avenue of fun that I had not yet explored -- it added a whole new element of fun. Despite the extra drag, I posted a pretty good time of 22:12 for a 7:09 pace. I look forward to the day that I can do a race of any length at a sub-7:00 pace. I came in 4/89 in my age group and 170/1629 overall (see Results). As I crossed the finish line the announcer made a remark about me being the first turkey to finish the race. Unfortunately, there was no turkey category!

Warming up; coming into the finish.

One of the few other folks displaying true spirit!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Oh boy...lots of goodies around here. Cookies and ice cream and candy, oh MY! Note to self: nothing tastes as good as fit feels. And if I need further motivation, I have photos that provide it. While working on our yearly family photo album, I found several examples of the old me. It wasn't pretty.

I'm contemplating the Turkey Trot 5K in downtown Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving morning. I think it would be a lot of fun, not necessarily to set an PR or anything, but to get me moving and do something different and memorable. It said there were 1700 people in it last year! The turnaround is Heinz Field - the Steeler's Football Stadium.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Star City Half in 1:42:20

Praise to our God who is mighty to save
and gives me
strength to run and not grow weary.

Well, this is a fun report to write :-) I came in under my goal time by almost 8 minutes for a 1:42:21 time and a 7:49 pace which ended up being enough to win my age group. (Overall results, Age group results). (77/294) Most importantly though, I ran a smart race for my ability and finished strong - mentally and physically. I didn't have that beat up feeling of barely surviving like I did after Danville's race.

I owe many thanks to Jake. I'm amazed at what he has helped enable me to do. Just "me". Mom, teacher, wife, counting-impaired, short-attention-spanned, stressed-out ME. Who knew this kind of thing was even possible when he proposed his harebrained idea for me to work toward a half marathon back in early June. He is a gifted and talented trainer and even though I give him a hard time sometimes (!), I have great faith in his plans and decisions. There are tangible results from his methods, yet I never feel I am being pushed beyond what I can do. It's not easy, but I know if he has set out a goal for lifting or running, I know that it's doable if I follow the plan and put the time and energy in.

I deviated from my original plan (start at 8:30, drop 5 seconds per mile), but went with what felt right. I also spaced out (big surprise there) on some of the mileage markers and didn't get all my splits. I was actually glad I blew by mile marker 11 without seeing it, it put me that much closer! I took it mile by mile, stayed relaxed, kept a positive attitude, and maintained focus.

It was cold and people were dressed in everything from shorts and tshirts to many layers with scarves and hats. I was in good shape with a tank, long sleeves, and a windbreaker, but I tossed the windbreaker at mile 6 which was fortunately also the finish line. I ran alongside a 16 year old kid for the last mile and we really pushed one another so that was a good thing. My body feels great. I could honestly get out there and run again (but I won't).

windbreaker in hand - ready to chuck it on a tree
when I spotted Robert and ran toward him!

I am so glad my fabulous husband came along to support me. Thank you, Robert! It was motivating to see him at the halfway mark and again at the end (I appreciated the warm coat!!). We enjoyed a nice lunch out and returned for the awards ceremony.

What a rush...........I am hooked.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Contemplations of Race Eve

Tomorrow is the Roanoke half and we are expecting a HIGH of 16 degrees overnight so I doubt it will be much warmer at 9 am. Although I ran in 24 degree windy weather earlier in the week, it was just for about 35 minutes and even so my face got pretty cold. I am wondering how the temperatures might impact me and the rate at which my muscles will warm up and get into their groove. On the other hand, I realize the temps add to the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment I hope to gain!

This is my usual night-before-contemplative-posting. Seems to be part of my race ritual.

My plan is to start at an 8:30 mile and try to cut 5 seconds off each successive mile. I'm not sure how long I can keep it up, but I think it will be a good strategy and force me to start conservatively. I will modify as necessary. This is my race to run the way I need to run it and the way I've trained to run it. I won't worry about anyone else. I will think about the current mile and not the next one to come.

I was feeling kind of negative coming into this week but I think I've turned that around. I've been reading Pam Reed's book on The Extra Mile. She's an ultramarathoner who writes honestly and with great insight about being an athlete, mom, and wife. She talks about how she could never run these long distances without thinking of them in very small increments. So, I am going to just take it one mile at a time (or even smaller increments as needed) and do what I need to do. And when fear or doubt surface, my plan is to substitute in feelings of gratefulness, joy, grace, strength, and love. When I hit a rough patch, I have to remember that it generally passes within a minute or two and I will be OK again.

I will also think of this race as simply one more part of my training. It's like tennis...the drills are great, but there is no substitute for real match play. The races are important benchmarks. Even so, I am looking forward to a mid-December long run on my own...something longer than the 15 miles max I have done to date. It helps me to look beyond the race to the "next thing".

That's all the reflection and contemplation for now. All that's left is to just DO IT!

Do the work, leave the rest to God.

Monday, November 17, 2008

FIVE pull-ups

On 10/27 I set some goals for the next few months. One of those was to do five unassisted wide-grip pull-ups (in a row, of course). Today I surprised myself and made the goal. It helped that I did them early in my workout. At the end of my hour workout, I tried to do one more, and could not. I was spent.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In Defense of Food

I just finished reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I read Omnivore's Dilemma last year and found it convicting. I was terribly out of touch with the origins of my food and ignorant to the extent of influence of the industrial food processors. His latest book, In Defense, is a smaller book and quick read, but the message is terribly important. We've attempted to reduce food to it's consitutent parts believing that reductionist science can tell the whole story -- that nutrition is merely the sum of its parts. We're turning our backs on a solid history of diverse eating that has generally worked well for centuries.

One needs only to look at how a baby formula has never been created that is equal to breast milk. I marvel that man thinks he/she can know better than nature!

The bottom line is that it's not this nutrient, that fat, this amino acid, that mineral that is the culprit or savior and the science that would have us believe that is generally flawed. The general state of declining health should be sufficient to support that.

Pollan advises: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Eat food may seem strange, but little of what we find in the grocery store is food, but rather concoctions of chemicals created by food scientists to hold the greatest appeal.

My takeaway? As much as I can, I intend to:
  • buy food that will rot (e.g. no industrial breads)
  • purchase what I can locally knowing that the soil and feedstuffs that go into my food are a major determinant of its nutritional value
  • focus on quality of food, not quantity
  • eat foods with minimal ingredients
  • increase the variety of my foods including more plants (will need to learn to cook more)
  • join a CSA group (Seven Springs?) in the spring

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Final hard run before race

This was it! 6 miles @ race pace (8:23 goal for sub - 1:50 1/2M). But of course I had to try to beat that which didn't make for a very good race strategy. I finished in 46:27 for a 7:45 pace, but my second half was significantly slower than the first: 7:36, 7:33, 7:30, 8:02, 8:00, 7:43. So I have got to show some self-control at the race and keep the first few miles in the 8:20 - 8:30 range.

I am ready to take it easy this week!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today's speed workout - 1/2 m x 10!!

Today's workout was a tough one. I'm not exactly sure why it was so hard. I did a pretty speedy 7+ miles last week so I wasn't too worried about this workout. I walked about half a lap between so I was fairly well recovered. Those last two intervals were definitely a mental challenge as I was warned they would be.

Interval Workout, 13 days out

Warm-up: 5 minutes low I, walking followed by jogging at moderate I, 10 minutes

½ mile intervals

Interval/Pace (mins)
I 1 4:00
I 2 4:00
I 3 3:55
I 4 3:55
I 5 3:50
I 6 3:50
I 7 3:45
I 8 3:45
I 9 3:35
I 10 3:35

Cool-down: Jog slowly for 10 minutes after your last repetition, ease into a walk, 5 minutes
Light stretching: 5 minutes

Being able to control the pace of each rep will allow you to learn how to run at an even pace
Run each rep slightly faster than your goal pace
Walk between repetitions to recover

Saturday, November 8, 2008

14.4 mile training run report

My run today was three loops of the route below. I felt like I pushed and did my best. My intention, as Jake suggested, was to have each lap faster than the previous one but I screwed up by starting too fast overall and lap 2 ended up the fastest. Then I just went for steady on the first half of lap 3 just to be sure I'd have enough gas and not feel beat up mentally. Energy level was decent throughout and sustained through the end. I had two powergels along the way at the end of laps 1 and 2. (Breakfast was 1/2 c. (before cooked) oatmeal w/ strawberries).

The route was anything but "fast and flat" (see below) so I think the times were OK (not great) considering. However, this is the wake-up call that I will have to work pretty hard to meet my goal in Roanoke. It won't be a cakewalk.

Laps were 4.8 miles:
Lap 1 - 39:23 (8:12)
Lap 2 - 38:29 (8:01)
Lap 3 - 39.47 (8:13)

Monday, November 3, 2008

I am a runner

I know I am a runner because I ran this morning and then felt this sense of loss later in the day when I saw someone else running and realized my run for the day had come and gone!

I'm enjoying a somewhat higher volume of running AND running without any chronic pains at the moment. I realize that can and will change as it seems runners are either recovering from or between injuries at any given time. I've covered 38 miles in 10 days and am looking forward to running 14 on Saturday. I'm getting a bit speedier too. Today I ran 7.25 miles (7:47 pace) at about the pace of my last 5K (7:41) and I didn't really decide to push it until the halfway mark. Today's run gave me some confidence about completing a sub-1:50 half marathon (8:24 pace).

Just 2-1/2 weeks until the race!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bench benchmark

Today we kicked off training for a bench press competition at VT on February 28. My one rep max was pretty much right at 100 lbs; I was not unhappy with that as a starting point. Jake believes I can increase that to be able to bench my body weight (125ish) by the meet. So that would be a 25% increase over where I am now. YIKES!

In my competitive powerlifting days my best bench was 130 but that was with a bench shirt that ups your bench max by 10-15%. So all these years later, I'd be thrilled to achieve even a 115 bench (but I'd take more).

The plan seems to focus on triceps quite a bit, probably since that is my weak link. It was strange to handle some heavier stuff today after six months of light weight and high reps. Like anything, the mind plays a very big role (belief, visualization, no fear), as do breathing and form. A strong core is also important for a good bench.

Held strong through the party

I took my bag of healthy snacks and my water bottle and did manage to resist all sweets at the party. I had probably 6 single-bite appetizers there in all so I will call that a win! And the next day it paid off. I ran about 10 miles and felt pretty good. Considering it's been just a week since the 15 miles, I'd have to say my body seems to be finally adjusting a bit. Next Saturday I have a 14 mile run, then that's it for the long ones for a while. I'm thinking that in the "off season" I want to continue to do longer Saturday runs, maybe in some sort of shorter/medium/longer pattern like 8/10/12 or 6/9/12 depending on the weather and road conditions of course. I want to maintain what I have built up so when the training cycle starts I am mentally rested and physically ready to pick it up where I left off!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Entering the diet-threatening holiday season

Well, my eating has been quite unstructured and poor this week. I'm noticing a trend where that happens the week after a race, when I tend to lose my focus somewhat. And then to throw Halloween on top of that...ugh. My laptop is parked about 5' from the pantry so I will admit to having done a little quality control checking. Yes, those Snicker bars and M&Ms are still yummy. I've had enough.

Tomorrow night the neighborhood will trick-or-treat together then gather for a party. This is my vow: NO alcohol and NO candy on Friday night.

This is my plan: eat good stuff during the day and have a satisfying dinner. Then I will take a bag of apple slices and 1.5 oz of almonds to snack on. I'll bring my water bottle. With me nursing a cold and having a medium run scheduled for Saturday I can't take any chances.

I need to work this out since there will be parties, holidays, dinners, etc, and I need to stick to my guns. I refuse to gain back the weight I have lost.

I was just reading a little bit by Nancy Clark, RD, who describes how so many people "diet" for breakfast and lunch and then are starving and make bad choices at night. That's been me this week. So I need to eat better throughout the day. This weekend I will start logging food again too.

This cold has taken the wind out of my sails. I've kept up my fitness but need to get more sleep. In fact, I also vowed to be in bed by 9:15 so off I must go (this after a 3-1/2 hour nap today).

Monday, October 27, 2008

On to the next race

Three weeks and four days until the Roanoke half marathon! Time is just flying by. This semester has been really difficult and running provides a framework around which the insanity of my life can be semi-organized. I feel good...great in fact after the race. And much to my surprise there was a pretty rigorous leg workout awaiting me today. I'm sure I'll feel THAT tomorrow.

I hope to ride the confidence I got this weekend through the coming weeks, because the pressure is on to have another strong performance to produce the momentum I want to have to head into my spring goal, which I am announcing publicly. I will run in and complete the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3. It's my home town and my folks live about a 25 minute drive from the starting line at the convention center. The clincher was that it will be exactly 364 days from when I first set foot in the gym, and started working with Jake, having made the decision to get in shape. So we will (hopefully) be able to say I completed a marathon within a year of the start of my training.

I have been warned that the timing is not ideal and that a later race would be better because training for this one will have to start mid-January. December and early January will be "off season" with no structured running. The plus side of a May race is that it shouldn't be sweltering. The idea of a marathon in the heat of mid- or late-summer just does nothing for me!!

I want to join a pace group that runs for a particular goal time (time tbd) so I will have a group and some extra motivation. I'm so excited for this already!! Who knew???? I NEVER thought I would have the courage (insanity?) to commit to this kind of goal. But I know I can do it and enjoy it. I know it won't be easy, but it's doable.

On another topic, I've been eating too much junk since Friday. Today was OK but starting tomorrow I need to cut out the crap. And I will. Really.

Can I also add that I'm really glad we are no longer in sandal season. Had I been warned about the impact of running on my lovely painted toenails, I may have reconsidered. I'll spare you the details, but two of the ten are no longer available to receive nail polish!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What a great day!

This is the only picture I have from the race. This is Ling (I believe), who finished right ahead of me.

The other cool news from the day is that at the awards ceremony, I won the GRAND doorprize, which is a free pair of shoes from Runabout Sports! James (the store owner and race sponsor) gave out tons of merchandise. He is an amazing individual and great for the running community. We need to support his store and keep him around.

I won my age group too, but unfortunately I WAS the age group. I'll be curious to see the times. (The results are now posted HERE. I came in 46/56 but 5/10 women. My time was 2:26.50)

I am still amazed by how good I feel, how quickly those 2-1/2 hours passed, and how confident and strong I felt.

I'm enjoying the waning hours of my 24 hours of debauchery. I've had beer, cookies, a huge meal at Zeppoli's and I don't feel at all guilty! Tomorrow....back on the straight and narrow.

Brush Mountain Breakdown Report

I DID IT!!!!!! And I did it strong - mentally and physically - and did not hit that wall like I did in Danville. The race started about an hour late, in a light drizzle, and in a muddy field. Looking around I noticed mine was the lone "mom-van" among a fleet of trucks and SUVs! I met some cool folks and saw a few folks that I knew. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and a small pack of runners.

After the 5K runners were off, the 8 and 15 milers lined up. I ran with a vet student for a while. She was super steady and confident, if slow. But I knew it was best to start off slower than I wanted. After I few miles I felt like a racehorse ready to get in the starting gate and GO! So off I went until I caught up to the next person. She was a young environmental engineer. That was fun for a while while we made our way up and Up and UP Jacob's Ladder. (I passed one guy who I am convinced was hung over!) This part just made me think of all the squats and lunges I've done and I knew I had the power. Down the back side I flew and got about the biggest rush I've ever had while running. Miles 5-12 were on my own terms and just fabulous. I loved the extra challenge of controlling every footfall to minimize mud and wetness and avoid ankle-turning rocks.

The last few miles began with a sizable ascent. This was the first time I felt some burn and I did have to walk briefly a few times. I continued to pass folks (and was never myself passed) until I caught up with a sprightly 17-year-old girl. I knew it would take a Herculean effort to pass her and once I knew she was not in my age group, I didn't sweat it too much!

I finished in 2:27'ish and felt great about my time and the physical and mental race that I had just completed. This will give me a huge boost heading into the Roanoke half next month. AND I have the confidence to know that with some training adjustments, I should be ready to tackle a marathon in the spring.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the race came after the finish, when it took two attempts and six people to push my van out of the field. There was one way in, one way out...up a short but fairly steep hill between two narrowly spaced gates that left little margin for error.

I went to the car wash before even coming home. You should see my shoes!

So, I finished, in one piece, and feeling suprisingly fit and comfortable. I do not think I am completely ill-suited to this. I feel amazing right now!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Twas' the night before Brush Mountain Breakdown...

I'm anxious to get this underway, to know the outcome, to see what happens. The forecast seems to have moderated a bit and the chance of rain is less than 50% for morning. Hopefully I won't be drenched in a deluge. I'm packed up, clothes are out, iPod has all the upbeat stuff with good tempos, and food is planned. I hope like heck I will sleep.

How do other people manage the anticipation/excitement/anxiety? You'd think at this point in my life with so many competitions behind me of various sorts, that I'd have it all under control. I don't remember getting this keyed up for a horse show. In part I think that is because there was always so much to think about before setting foot in the ring - preparations, grooming, braiding, schooling, etc. With running, there is none of that intermediary activity. And it's so raw. You run or you don't. It's all you. No horse as partner. Random thoughts:
  • When I hit a tough time, remember it will pass. On a run things don't stay the same, so hang in there, it will improve around the corner.
  • Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Don't worry about time, just finish and focus on how great that sense of accomplishment will feel!
  • I know and believe I can do it, so I can!
  • To even think of doing a marathon, I need to show I can do this.
  • Think of it as just a training run for the Roanoke half marathon.
  • Do the work, leave the rest to God.
  • "I must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God" - Third Day
  • If ultramarathon man can do 200+ miles, I can certainly do 15!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ultramarathon Man

Two thumbs-up. Great book, honest and insightful, inspiring, well written.

The author quoting a volunteer at the Western States 100 mile race: "Pain is the body's way of ridding itself of weakness." Quoting his track coach, "If it feels good, you're doing something wrong. It's supposed to hurt like hell." (Karnazes, p. 129). The author describes how he relished the pain and celebrated it.

15 miles will be nothing compared to what this guy has done.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A trip to the bookstore

Jake informed me that he read that the race this weekend is actually closer to 16 miles. That just sounds so much bigger than 15 and I could feel myself getting nervous. I put it out of my mind and went about my business, which included stopping by the bookstore to stock up on material that might inspire me to turn in a little earlier and get the rest I know I will need. I suppose it's not coincidental that two of the books I walked out with are Ultramarathon Man (Karnazes) and Into the Wild (Krakauer). I suppose I am hoping that those two crazy adventures will put my little one into perspective. The first book is non-fiction - ultramarathons are, I believe, anything over 26.2 miles. I've heard of races as long as 50 and 100 miles. When I think of those in relation to a road trip, it boggles the mind.

Of course, now I want to read and not work, but I will restrain myself. I hope.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No predicting how a run will go

My legs have been very sore for the last two days following a Jake-led leg workout Wednesday. (addendum: I was informed that it was "good" I was sore and that I "needed" a good hard leg workout 7-10 days before the race. Live and learn.) Today when I woke up already tired, still sore, and hearing the rain beating on the windows, I really questioned the wisdom of a 6:30 am run. I wondered with the soreness how good of an idea it was to run. With no one to ask, and no legitimate way to back out, I went.

Surprisingly, I had a great run! The soreness did not impact my run in any appreciable way, my energy grew, and so did my focus. I usually see at least a handful of other runners and walkers out, but on this day, I saw no one. I was a bit proud of myself for getting out there to do the work.

there's only Grace

...that's from a song I heard this morning and sums up how I felt. Grace sustained me. Grace keeps things unpredictable and interesting. Grace moves me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I signed up!!

I did it. I signed up for the Brush Mountain Breakdown 15 miler on 10/25. After much debate between that and the 8, I decided that I really want to test my limits and see what I am made of! I gave Jake full veto power (well, OK, some veto power!!) and he did not exercise it so it's game on.

I have no goal time in mind, knowing that the trail course is hilly and not what I am used to. I just want to finish in reasonably good shape and in good cheer.

After talking it over, I realized that my fear surrounds the idea of running this alone. That's pretty irrational because there will be others out there (and I plan to take my phone). It's definitely a journey into the unknown. And I have a habit of putting boundaries around what I think I can do and stopping short of that. This time around I'm just saying, why not? Why not me??

I can't believe race week is approaching so quickly. I was reminded that it means dietary changes -- carb depleting for several days and carb loading for several more. Then ravenous for days afterward.

I have that great post-leg-workout soreness that tells you that you did something good and given rest, the muscles will grow. Today Jake introduced a new exercise - lunges up the sloped asphalt loading area behind the WC. It was a nice change. When he announces "new exercise," I know from experience to approach it with a combination of curiosity and trepidation!! He definitely keeps things fun and interesting, never stale.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I had a really good tennis lesson this evening - a welcome relief after a few weeks of struggles (it happens). My elbow is improving which I think had a lot to do with it. We worked on returning with a low passing shot, some volleys, and serves. In the serve, I need to remember to stay low a bit longer and wait on the toss, load the back shoulder more (sort of a pivot motion) and come forward through the serve (think serve-and-volley). We worked on placement - wide to forehand, wide to backhand, straight on, first and second serves. Fun! I play with my group Thursday night so it'll be fun to try some of this out there.

Moving along

Life is just crazy. Returned from a quick trip to DC with the kids and was hit with a swift but rather impressive bout of food poisoning that left me incapacitated from 3 pm Sunday until 6 am Monday. Then, as quickly as it hit, it was gone and I was fine. Fine other than feeling like I've been on the losing end of a boxing match with a bear. A small bear, but a bear nonetheless.

So, the blissful easy runs are not happening this week. But, I continue to "do the work". I knew I'd be lucky just to get today's run in so I took the dog for extra cheer. (And it's fun to tempt fate and see if this is THE run on which we'll suffer the ultimate tangle and finally take each other out.) It's always humbling to note how well she keeps slogging along, although she did require two long dunks in the creek and lots and lots of water (whereas I did not, but I did think about it). What's with this 84 degrees in mid-October stuff? It still isn't as bad as 84 in August, so I'll take it!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Running strong

I had another strong and exhilarating run this morning. I managed to get it in before the rain started up again. The running has ratcheted up a notch, definitely. It's so often that way with a sport - things are continually moving among plateauing, backsliding, and improving. So I'm enjoying the feeling of significant improvement while I have it! WOW!

Tomorrow I'll do 8 miles for the first time since the half. (That seems like it was ages ago.) When it's been a while since I've done any distance runs I start to get worried that I somehow won't be able to. My confidence is a pretty fleeting thing since I don't have much of a running history to draw upon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finally eating better

Two days with eating back on track. I feel better already and will be glad to feel less "puffy" but it might take a few weeks to undo what I did in a few weeks.

I ran early this morning -- I've not run early like that for a while. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy heading out first thing when it's still dark and my brain has not had time to fill with the petty details of life. The air is cool and still and it offers a degree of anonymity not permitted in the daytime. I felt strong and hyper-aware. It was one of those spiritual runs.

A funny thing happens about 20 minutes into each run. It's a sensation that brings to mind the notion that blood is being diverted from my brain to the muscles of my legs and body. My mind tunnels and the focus comes. (I just hope it's a positive focus, but that is not always the case.)

I missed out on hill work yesterday with that stupid sore quad muscle and am literally craving it now. I asked JRP about trying to still get it in but my request was declined for now.

There are natural ebbs and flows to anything we do....and right now I'm riding a nice running high and can't wait for the next race in 2-1/2 weeks.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I've been testing the whole calories in - calories burned thing to see if what I eat has that much bearing on my weight. Well, in fact, after two weeks of eating whatever and munching during my late-night work sessions, I am here to set the record straight. You can't eat whatever you want and not expect to pack it on. I'm up two pounds!

And was I any happier eating whatever? In fact, no! Oddly enough, as much as I would curse the feeling of being hungry, I kind of missed it (in a sick sort of way). When I would get hungry, I knew it was a good thing and that my body was burning fat. And that brief feeling of hunger a few times a day didn't impact my energy level or work output.

So, I'm back to logging food on Spark People. And back to better choices. More fruits. Less food. More water. No evening munching. It's that simple! (But I swear there is a huge PMS connection for me.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Homecoming 5K

Ran the Homecoming 5K in 23:52. Here are the full results of the Homecoming 5K

I came home and did the calculation...23:52 comes out to a 7:41 average mile -- exactly what i was shooting for if you look at Not bad considering I never saw any of the mileage markers and could not gauge my pace whatsoever! Seriously, the amazing-ness of getting EXACTLY the pace I wanted has not escaped my notice.

Call me strange, but I have to give some credit to an amazing and loving God. The song I listened to over and over while running was "Made to Worship" by Chris Tomlin. And I'm not implying that God is blessing me for my sake or my glory. He works through one to bless others -- likely in ways we're not even aware of. Prior to the race I wrote on my arm in permanent marker "Do the work" -- shorthand for "Do the work, leave the rest to God."

Incidentally, I won my age group but it looked like all the others in that group were walkers. The weird thing is they took our picture - the first and second place winners for the men and women in the 40-49 age group - and I have to say, I did not feel like I belonged in that photo with those other old looking people!! I have to assume they were all at the upper end of the age bracket!! LOL!!

It was fun to cruise by folks much younger than me. I like to think the result is a testament to what good training can do, and I have to of course give my kudos to Jake who is an amazingly skilled, knowledgeable, and gifted trainer. I don't think he quite realizes what he has to offer and how unique he is. He will go far and I will say "I knew him when...!"

No less impressive is the fact that my family all ran in the 1-mile fun run! Robert ran with Spencer, I ran with Grant. Grant took off at a frenetic pace, stabilized, and started to peter out at the end. It was fun to coach him through the end, knowing what spurs him on. "Grant, do you want that trophy?" "YES!!!" "Grant, do you see those kids behind you? They want it too!" "Just run to that next telephone pole. You can do it! The finish is in sight! Push hard!" And by golly, he did. He finished in about 9:30 and ran on all heart. Spencer came in afterward, with no less heart driving him. They had a good time. Grant won his age group! We enjoyed a nice pig-out at Boudreax's afterward. What a great day for all!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Running Route Mapper

I added a new tool to the right side of my blog. My friend Steve shared this running route map tool from USATF - I ran a new route today and had no idea how long it was but thanks to this tool I figured out it was 4.5 miles. You can also search on other folk's running routes for Blacksburg and I uncovered some new ones I will try. I expect I will use this quite a bit!

Today's run was a bit challenging and I'm thinking I did too much for the day before a race, even a short one. My IT issues have migrated from the right side to the left and now it's radiating up into my hip. I need to get on top of this and get it cleared up. I'm thinking I should put off Monday's hill work to Tuesday and give myself one day off post-5K. I worked hard this past week and I don't know that my legs have had sufficient recovery time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Yummy Eggplant Dip

I ran into one of my former ES students at the farmer's market and she told me about an eggplant dip she made that sounded great. I just happened to have some local eggplant in my fridge and needed to do something. So here is my twist on her recipe and it's fabulous!!!
  1. Chunk up eggplant, red onion, red pepper, and yellow pepper and distribute on baking sheet
  2. Add chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast.
  4. Blend up in food processor with two handfuls of tomatoes from garden. Add some garam masala (Indian spice mix).
  5. Eat with pita, baked tortilla chips, or spread on a tortilla.
  6. YUM!!!
I am so happy that it is Friday. This week ended up well and I had an enjoyable workout at the gym late today. Sweated like crazy on the bike for 30 minutes then did chest and back. I discovered that by wearing a tennis elbow band and by using my lifting straps from year ago, I could take the pressure off my elbow and get more done. It was very satisfying.

Off to the homecoming game tomorrow. Yeah! I am so excited!!


I have never been so glad for a Friday. It's a gorgeous day and I am happy that I was able to play tennis last night and have a lesson this morning without my tennis elbow interfering too much. The chiropractor strongly suggested a band for it and I will admit it helps. This issue demands much the same type of attention as the IT bands - stretching, massage, ice. I've been slacking on my stretching and when I saw the massage therapist Wednesday she said my left IT band was as bad as its been, so I have to get back on that. It's interesting but the speedwork on Monday definitely worked things differently. My shins were sore and IT bands took a good hit. This is all part of the learning process for me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What a day

This is not entirely related to unblobbing, but the day seems to warrant this kind of reflection.

The less fabulous parts of the day:
  • Witnessed a historic drop in the stock market. Ouch. But we are in for the long haul and not losing sleep over it.
  • Our bank was bought - annoying. Husband says we should invest in companies that make bank signs and letterhead. They will clearly profit.
  • Got a letter from the old bank saying our credit card info, along with a zillion others, may have been compromised so we will be getting new cards.
  • Said goodbye to Dumpling (horse) who went back home after living with us (well, across the street) for the past 18 months. She will be missed, but kids have moved on to other interests.
  • Returned overpriced vented rain jacket to running store and found out I could only get store credit. Oops.
  • Grading poor exams - lots of bad writing, weak arguments, lack of evidence. It's difficult to grade such lame efforts.
More fabulous parts of the day:
  • Gorgeous, sunny, temperate fall day.
  • Had fun doing speed work on the track followed by a comprehensive leg workout that left no doubt that I had worked hard!
  • Spent considerable time completing many work-related to-dos for all three of my jobs! Got a date for the conference. Scheduled Honor System speakers. Finished grading for SES. Etc, etc.
  • Hugs from our brilliant and amazing kids. Laughs from hardworking husband. Love from the fuzzy cats and dog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Training Notes

I did my 8 mile "rain run" on Saturday and enjoyed it quite a bit more than I expected to in the gentle rain and 60 degree temperatures. There were a number of stalwart runners out there! Felt sore and tired for the day only, but back in good working order today. Maybe I am recovering more quickly now?

Tomorrow is my first go at "speed work" which includes 2 min intervals of running at 5K race pace with 1 min recovery intervals. Because I don't have a good sense of pacing yet, I had to figure out how to convert that to something meaningful. And being an engineer, I can't resist looking at these numbers in a variety of units! My running book shows how pacing changes from one race length to another, so I worked backward from an estimated 1:49 half marathon pace to figure out I *should*, in theory, be able to do a 5K in just under 24 minutes. So it appears that I need to crank out quarter mile intervals in just under 2 minutes.

Weight is holding steady at just under 130 lbs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back to clean eating...tomorrow!

Been a slacker and tonight was an ES class reunion at my house with much yummy food. I ate WAY too much fun food. Was it worth it? No, not entirely! Back on the straight and narrow tomorrow. I've been heading toward overall slack-ness and I am not prepared to regain anything I've lost.

This weekend I am heading to a wedding. My goal is to drink a lot of water and eat only small amounts of things that are smart choices. I do not want to have to report back on gluttonous tonight!!

So weak minded!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do the work

"Do the work, Leave the rest to God."

I had a rough run today. I ran from Shultz parking lot, then followed essentially the 5K Homecoming course I am running on October 5 -- up the Huckleberry to Country Club, down Airport, over on Gracelyn and Eaken, up Preston, down Draper, and over on Clay. About two miles in I just felt sluggish and tired and walked briefly up Country Club. I think I started too fast and I started to turn negative. So I slowed it down and eventually was rewarded by the steady downhill of Draper. I got my 32 minutes in, but it was not light, free, nor joyful. I realized that I was thinking/worrying about the 5K - could I run it as a faster sprinty kind of race? Could I pace myself properly and have a strong showing? Could I top what I did in Danville?

I guess I am kind of competitive in what I thought was a hidden and covert way, but my mom laughed at me and told me I could not be more overtly competitive. OK, so maybe I am, but it's in a REALISTIC sort of way. I don't have delusions, or at least I don't think I do, about what is possible and what is hardly possible. I do recognize that I am not exactly teeming with athletic ability, but I do have a solid work ethic. I tend to put boundaries about what I think is possible for me. Who am I to do that?

So what to do with all these thoughts? While I was home to shower before returning to campus, I had the newest issue of Runner's World open to an article about a Christian marathon runner named Ryan Hall who came in 10th at the Olympics (also American record holder for the half - 59:43). It said that his dad used to tell him, "Do the work, Leave the rest to God." I ran that through my mind, over and over. I am in this for the long haul. The races just organize my running. If I do the work, the rest will just will be whatever it is meant to be. Only God knows what is possible and it's not for me to set boundaries.

So, I will do the work. I will do the work when it's light and easy. And I will do the work when it's hard and uncomfortable. Regardless of what I am dealt for the day's run, I will infuse it with positive joy knowing each run is exactly what it is meant to be.

I want my testimony to be my work, my diligence, and my attitude in times of reward and times of trial. The outcome is immaterial.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Very FUN day of workouts

Today was awesome - a beautiful, warm early fall day with a heavy fog this morning. Started off the day with a warmup run around the cross country course followed by my first "hill workout" - 8 times up and down a hill by the duckpond. I liked that it was totally different than anything I've done to this point and it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is something I need to do more of. Then this afternoon I had a good all-around leg workout that included a lap of lunges around the gym track. I warmed up and cooled down on the bike so I wonder if that will help keep me from getting too sore - maybe it'll flush the muscles??

(Duckpond...near the scene of the crime...err...I mean hill. Found this photo online...can only do so much text before I have need for an image!!)

It was such a great afternoon, I parked by Sharkey's, walked to Harding Ave Elementary to get the kids, then we all walked to the library and back to stock up on books. Next on the agenda: hamburgers on the grill!

Yeah! Good day. Wonder how the bod will feel tomorrow??!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


So Jake asked what I listened to on my iPod. It's hard to describe if you are not familiar with the genre, but it's contemporary Christian music -- it would not be entirely out of place on MTV if the subject matter was more mainstream I guess. And although I'm not currently a church-goer, and I'm not an outspoken Christian, I do put my faith and belief in Christ.

My runs are very spiritual and give me time in my crazy and hectic life to reflect on life and love, family, friends, balance, and what I am giving to others. How I am reaching out? I hope I am doing so in some small ways through my teaching, students, neighbors, friends, and community, but I definitely fail more than I succeed. I pick myself up, dust myself off, ask for mercy, and move forward.

Having had two children, loving and being loved, seeing the work of God's love in my own life and the lives of others, and witnessing the miracles of our natural world, it's hard not to believe in God. Here is a sampling of some of my favorite songs at the moment:

I'm off to run at Pandapas.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Lately it seems that each time I've been in the gym I've seen someone ON the treadmill and ON their cell phone. And I mean ON their cell phone for an absurdly long time. Clearly they are not just taking a quick call with a car repair estimate or to find out their kid just threw up at school. You just know it's a stupid call where neither participant is fully present or listening. How can you? So you are having a half-a$$ed conversation and a half-a$$ed workout. Have people lost their ability to be alone with their own thoughts?

This week I get to create my own lower and upper body workouts within the parameters of 8-10 exercises at 1-2 sets of 20-25 reps. I enjoyed picking and choosing what to do and in an order that seemed to make some kind of sense going from more compound-types to more isolated exercises. Here's what I came up with and did:
  • Wall squats with stability ball (1x50)
  • Hack squats (2x25)
  • Leg press (2x20 @ 70 lbs)
  • Lunges (2 @ 25 lbs total)
  • Prone leg curls (2x25)
  • Leg extensions (2x15)
  • Stiff legged deadlifts (2x20 @ 40lbs)
  • Back extensions (2x15)
Thursday I plan to do:
  • Smith Machine Bench
  • DB Bench
  • Fly (machine)
  • Upright row (cable)
  • Lateral raise (cable)
  • DB Arnolds
  • Rear delts (machine)
  • Assisted pull ups
  • DB Grass cutters
  • Hammer row
I'm excited to start working toward the Roanoke race. On Sunday Jake sent me a draft of a 10-week plan to get stronger and faster. It includes hill work and speed work - I can only guess what that will involve. It also includes a 5K and something on Brush Mountain. I'm ready to push it and see what might result. Even though I am happy with the outcome of the Danville race as a first effort, I know I was not as mentally or physically strong as I would like to be and hope to be (and expect to be!). The next 9-1/2 weeks should be pretty cool!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Yeah! I ran the 13.1 miles and it was harder than I thought, probably in part because of the pretty high temperatures for September (upper 80's/low 90's by noon). I finished in 1:54:20 to come in at 51 out of 141 (see results at which amazingly put me at the top of my age group.

Here's the blow-by-blow:

The half-M folks started the race with the 5K folks. As I watched a significant number of the 5K'ers slow or walk while I felt strong and unaffected, I must confess I thought I had this one in the bag. I felt pretty good for the first 6-7 miles. I tagged along behind a girl who seemed to be running at about my desired pace but I eventually discovered she was going perhaps more quickly than I was suited to and I hit the "wall"...something I had no experience with. And it brought with it negative mental head-games the likes of which I had not seen or dealt with. Meanwhile I'd been thinking for several miles that I really REALLY had to pee with no restrooms in sight. So I finally decided I had no choice and headed for the cover of trees to heed the call of nature. As I returned to the course, I hooked up with Mr. Police Officer from Richmond who had a pretty easy, relaxed pace and way of going. We struck up a conversation and my negative thoughts (like if I just sit down here and refuse to take another step, someone will eventually come and get me!!!) were soon squelched. He had some kind of cool GPS watch and he said he was shooting to come in sub-2 hours like I had hoped for. So I paced myself with Mr. Police Officer until mile marker 12 when I sent him on his way, cranked up the iPod again, and finished with what I had left. At that point I joined up with a girl in a running skirt (I have to try that) and we stayed together until the final stretch when she kicked on ahead of me. I was elated to finish below my goal time of 2:00, particularly given the hot and humid conditions. My legs were tired, but really the only big issue was that my stomach felt awful for hours -- probably because of the heat.

Although I have little to compare it to, this race seemed well-organized and well-done. I would definitely come back. It had great spirit and personality. At this point it's hard for me to imagine running one of those huge mega-races with thousands of people. I like these small and personable ones! Well done, Danville!

Robert and Spencer were there to cheer me on at the start, at the 3 mile marker, and at the end. Thanks guys! And of course, I owe a debt of gratitude to Jake, for the great training plan and preparation all the way around. My legs, arms and body never really got tired or crampy (just my brain!!). After I finished and I watched so many more people come through the finish area, I realized just how well he prepared me for this race in a pretty short span of time.

My goal for the next race (Roanoke on Nov 22) is simply to be mentally and physically stronger so it's not such a big deal and so I don't need others to help me turn my negative thoughts around. I want to be strong enough to do it on my own.

Now for the spiritual part of it. Call me a nut, but I really believe that on a daily basis, God puts people in our paths for deliberate reasons, just as he puts us in the path of others for important reasons. There are no accidents. I thank God for my well-timed pee break and for Mr. Police Officer and for Running Skirt Girl who I found in the final mile. Sounds weird, but they really helped get me to the finish. I hope and trust that I am in turn offering energy and encouragement to others in my own life. In the same way, I really believe He put Jake in my path on purpose too. I never would have dared to dream of running a half marathon on my own.

So tonight I am thankful and humbled, sore and tired, and at peace. I'm hoping to snooze past 3:30 am tonight and catch up on some much-needed sleep. After all, I'll be back at the gym at noon. No slacking for ME!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Runner Girl!

My friend Steve sent a nice encouraging note with this logo from a website I hadn't known about. I like the graphic!

I am excited to get this maiden voyage under my belt and see where I can go from here. Maybe that's why I'm not too worked up about it. I see it as a stepping stone and not an end unto itself...a good test!

I've been reading these philosophical books lately - the most recent is the Way of the Peaceful Warrior. The books focus a lot on the role of the mind and consciousness and gaining mastery and focus. I'm not very articulate here, but my goal for the race is less about time and more about keeping it together mentally - staying relaxed, attentive positive, joyful, and confident. And I want to find way to translate that to the rest of my life - establishing work/life boundaries and redirecting my energies to the family in a more balanced way. I guess in life I also want to be more relaxed, attentive, positive, joyful and confident.