Michael’s Run 5k Done!

michaels run courseIn 2009 a neighbor said we should sign up for the Michael’s Run 5k. It is right in town. The course goes right past our neighborhood. And it is a good cause. I should have known this was a bad idea when the promotion for the race talked about how the challenge of an uphill course mirrors the challenges of those with disabilities and the people that love and care for them. True to form, I spent more time walking than running and finished the race in about 45 minutes.

Fast forward to today. I’d been seeing signs up all around my town for weeks. I knew I could run it this time, even if slow. I just had bad memories of the first time when I had no business running that course. But, it was Saturday and unless I wanted to get up really early for my run to avoid the race, I might as well join in. So, I rolled out of bed, threw on my running gear, popped a piece of toast in my mouth and walked up with Tom to the town commons to register and race.

micheals run setting watch 2017Tom had no desire to run this race. Just going up out of our neighborhood is enough for him. Honestly, it is all mental, he could have done this. But, having him sit this one out and cheer me on was nice. Camera in hand and words of encouragement, it kept me in the game to do my best.

I won’t go through the play-by-play, but I knew I was doing pretty well. A little tightness at the beginning and then it was a lot easier to get in the zone. I had my pace people, I knew the course as I run it in sections one direction or another depending on the day, and the day was gorgeous. Checking my watch a few times I could see I was in my speedier zone which just added fuel to my run.

Well, for an old lady, I did pretty well. I surprised myself a bit in the fact that it was still one of my harder runs because of the hill and I was feeling pretty good except for a small section at 5% grade toward the end. Tom has a picture of this (I waved as I passed by) but he hasn’t shown me. I must look pretty bad! Anyway, here are my results:michaels run finish line 2017

  • I ran the 5K in under 30 minutes – 29:25, so I’m officially in the club for over 40.
  • Average pace 9:28 – PB for a 5 K and still pretty close to my overall PB of 9:21 on a less challenging course.
  • My watch shows that even in the evil uphill I paced at 9:41 – 20 seconds under what I normally do heading out of my neighborhood.
  • The best part? I made top 10 for my age group at number 6!!!!!

Top 10 Age Michaels Run

The end to the story is that I celebrated at Bittersweet with a hot cider and quiche. I think this is becoming my thing!

after race

(a bit of a sourpuss face as I was done with Tom taking pictures and I was really in need of food!)

 

 

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Running Journal – Some weeks you just surprise yourself

Last weekend’s mountain haul put a cramp in my running game this week along with travel. Tight legs and tight schedules left me with only two days of running on a treadmill for 1/2 hour each. The other downer is that I am always deathly afraid I’m going to fall off the treadmill so I run really slow, 5 mph. Yes, that’s right, 12 minute mile.

Anyway, it was a no excuses morning today. My kitties woke me up trying to burrow under the covers, get either me or my husband to play with them, or just kept flopping on my legs trying to get comfortable. This went on for about an hour starting at 6:30a. So, at 7:30a I just got up and threw on my running stuff.

Elsa got me going with Let it Go – don’t judge, it gets me to run up a 200 ft elevation in 1/2 mile out of my neighborhood. Except this morning I was having wardrobe malfunctions. The new running/yoga pants I bought seemed to want to slide down my butt rather than come along for the ride. I almost stopped and turned around after only about 100 feet and then thought better of it. If I did that there was no telling if I would actually go back out again. Pulling them hard up to my chest and yanking them further up to my knees and thighs, I just opened up my stride and kept going.

About every quarter mile I could feel them slipping down and would grab ahold and lift them again. Thank god I was wearing one of my chubby girl shirts that hung down halfway on my thighs. No one was going to get a glimpse of my lacies or butt crack.

Despite the pants slide, I was hauling. I could feel it. Longer stride, faster steps, muscles activated. The hills weren’t challenging me in the same way they normally do this morning and the flats and down-hills were exhilarating as I felt like I was flying through my town. Lights and traffic also seemed to be in my favor as I easily crossed streets and intersections without having to stop.

I was able to get in a bit of a trail run as my playlist launched into Miranda Lambert’s Little Red Wagon and I ran-danced to her declaration of loving her apron but not wanting to be your momma. I think I might even have been singing a bit, so gladly I didn’t run into anyone along the way.

Anyway, hitting the center of town I hit my next big hill which slowed me down a bit even as I tried to keep my pace and open my stride more to leap up instead of using my lazy short step move. But, it is a short hill and getting up to the commons I was able to once again pick up steam and head back home.

Stopping my tracker and pulling up my pants once again, I felt good. My runner’s high was in full gear. The sweat was starting to pour out. And amazingly enough, this was the first time I finished without the tinge in my hips or tightness in my legs. Something was definitely different today.

921That difference turned into a personal best – 3.85 miles at 9:21 minute mile. I shaved off 23 seconds from my last PB during a 5k and more than 30 seconds off to my typical outdoor pace. Need to work on my hill – having a hard time cracking 10:00 min mile but this is still 15 seconds faster for my first mile out. If I can shave off another 30 seconds overall, then Tom and I can run together – if he slows down abut 30 seconds.

So, what I think happened is that the mountain hike strengthened my legs and I took it slow and easy during the week. My body was able to recover and gave me a bonus/thank you gift for treating it well.

Note to self:

  1. Switch up my intensity to get gains.
  2. Wear running pants with a drawstring so they don’t fall down.

Off Plane – Must Run!

Made it into San Francisco this afternoon and needed to shake off my flight. I got lucky with flatbed seats and took advantage of them. But, the poor lady next to me must have thought I was a head case.  After the first hour of a nap I woke myself up from my snoring. Then I fell back asleep again and immediately went into some crazy bad dreams where I was calling out, “Help me!” and realized that I was whimpering when I woke up. Completely embarrassed.

Anyway, after slamming through my email between the runway and taxi ride into the city, I needed to pull myself together. Even though I did mobile check-in my room wasn’t ready yet. So, I asked for a key to the gym, changed into my running gear in the locker room, and handed my bags to the bell hop.

San Francisco is gorgeous today. 75 degrees, sunny, and awesome breeze (wind). Playlist on and my watch counting down to go, I started my run down to Market St, opening up my stride wider with each step/leap.

I side stepped people and construction feeling like I was on an agility course and picked up my pace doing a cool 9:30 min/mile (fast for me). Heading down Market St. I people watched, dodged a crazy guy, checked out the trolley, tried to keep up with another runner, and overall felt my plane ride slip away.

The Embarcadero gave me more than two miles of less congested walkway, but there were still plenty of people and rickshaws to go around. The wind was pushing against me keeping me cool and adding resistance that I pushed back into. As I got closer to the Alcatraz ferry then into Fisherman’s Warf there were more and more people making it difficult to keep moving, so I turned around and headed back.

Market St felt shorter and I was paying more attention to find the street to turn back on and get to the hotel. I had more lights against me, but instead of slowing me down, I got my wind back which allowed me to sprint back up to speed. Finding my street, I headed up and put my legs into the hill for my last push. Then I turned into the hotel entryway and was greeted with a big smile and, “Welcome Back!” from the bellhop.

A quick shower topped off my run and a text on my phone let me know my room was ready. Which is where I sit now still basking in my runners glow.

Can Exercise be Fun?

I stalk the MyFitnessPal site to get ideas about food, nutrition and work-outs. They had a blog recently about recess inspired workouts.  I also saw a blog from a MFP member that is just struggling to get 10 minutes on the treadmill and hates to workout. It reminded me of another blog (for the life of me I can now not find) where a woman talked about taking dance classes for exercise because she loved to dance.

I’m learning something on this journey that should have been completely obvious but wasn’t. Exercise is a euphemism for being active. We exercise and work out today because we no longer hunt, gather or farm our fields to survive. Most of us sit at a desk for eight hours, sit in a car for two hours, and lounge on the sofa a couple hours. Then we sleep. Millions of years of evolution to be in constant active survival mode and self reliance can’t be turned off in 150 years by our industrial revolution. So now we exercise and work out.

Doesn’t that just feel like another job? While we might love to run, cycle, and do boot camp classes or crossfit (no I don’t do crossfit – but that is another blog), if we had the chance we might do something fun instead. We would play on a jungle gym, ski, back pack, play tennis, or join the kickball league.  Those activities are somehow different. They are all about fun.

My epiphany recently is that I need to think about how exercise can’t only be about a workout for losing and maintaining weight and health but also has to be about having fun. I found that by changing from running on the treadmill and road is more fun when I’m crashing through trails like a kid is awesome. I found that being on a SUP gave me hidden activity but a connection to the outdoors which I love. I used to play tennis and loved being with my friends and playing in leagues together, why not do that again?

So, go ahead and keep up the cardio and gym routines. We after all are still more sedentary than our ancestors. But, don’t forget to have fun!

 

 

 

Surviving a Weekend of Gluttony

This weekend we traveled down to Nashville for my son’s graduation. After 13 months in an intensive master program at Vanderbilt’s Owens School, we celebrated his degree in healthcare administration. I don’t know who was more proud, us or him. But it really doesn’t matter. The thing is he did it!

As celebrations go, this was fraught with food and drink gauntlets and time constraints on exercise. A crazy frantic rebooking of our flight at the last minute due to weather issues meant getting to the hotel at 1:30a. We then had to scramble in the morning on less than 5 hours of sleep to get over to the ceremony. No time for breakfast at the hotel, we instead relied on the helpful description of the graduation that light fare would be served before and after.

When we arrived, light fare consisted of coffee and donuts. Coffee, I can do. Donuts? Oh well. I pulled a glazed donut off a peg and took a bit of the sweetest pastry I have had in months. The sugar from the first bite almost gave me a head rush. I could immediately see why I loved these things before. The problem is that eating just the one, even with the coffee, made me hungrier. So, I pulled everyone to the other side of the room so as not to see and smell those treacherous things.

The ceremony was perfect, a tight hour and a half and I got to see my son give a quick speech and thank yous. It was then back to the entry hall for food and drinks.  Mimosas, champagne, beer, and wine were all out. The tables were laid out with ham and cheese finger sandwiches, fresh fruit and grilled asparagus, portabella mushrooms and peppers. I think there was something in a chafing dish, but honestly don’t remember what was in there. I loaded my plate with the grilled vegetables and grabbed a fruit cup along with a glass of wine. So proud of myself!

That is where the rest of good eating ended. Lunch took us to Hattie B’s, one of Nashville’s hot chicken institutions. Mild, medium, hot and shut the cluck up are your choices for spicy level. Then you have the choice of chicken meat and tenders. Oh, and don’t forget the sides, you get two of those. I opted for a mild wing and chicken tender along with 2 sides of coleslaw. I avoided the bacon cooked collards, French fries, macaroni and cheese and the other assorted but yummy sides looking more for a pallet cleanser as a way to feel better about my meal. Riiight! I scarfed the chicken down along with half the slice of toasted buttered bread it sat on in my basket. Then ate three bitefuls of slaw. Oh my, it was so good.

We had a few hours between lunch and dinner so we headed back to the hotel to laze in the pool with cocktails. Yes, we could have walked Broadway or other Nashville thing. But, we’ve been there several times and didn’t really have enough time to do it justice. With the day at 85 degrees and a bit humid, the idea of the pool and cocktails was too much of a pull.

Dinner, that was heaven. Butcher & Bee is this great place in East Nashville. The food is so fresh, tapas like and perfect to share over conversation and drinks. Just what you want to do when getting together with family and friends to celebrate. Braised lamb, couscous, sweet roasted carrots, fried smoked okra, homemade hummus with fried chickpeas, pan fried fish, potato salad all washed down with this mucha muchacha cocktail (2) had me turning to Tom with a tight belly (food coma) and numb cheeks (liquor induced) to seek his driving abilities. Good thing he was fine.

Back at the hotel, we gathered at the hotel bar for a whiskey and brownie sundaes. While I didn’t eat all of the two scoops of ice cream, two brownies, bananas and glazed walnuts drizzled in fudge and I think carmel too, I did give it a nice dent.

The carnage hit me in the morning as my stomach rebelled from all the grease, fat and sugar. I’m sure my cocktails had something to do with it as well. No, I didn’t throw it up, but I was queen of the throne. So much so that even through I’d set my alarm for 6:30a so I could head out for a guilt laden run to work off my gluttony, I stayed on the throne too long and missed my window.

We got ourselves together as best we could to meet my son and girlfriend for breakfast at Noshville. A NY style breakfast/deli joint with the right amount of Jewish delights brought me back to my childhood. I ordered a plate of matzo brei and fresh fruit with coffee. For those of you that don’t know what matzo brei is, it’s matzo which is a really big water cracker broken up into pieces, quickly soaked in water, drained then mixed with eggs and fried/scrambled. A Passover staple, it is so good that it has made its way into a year round breakfast. After the day before, some of my control was gone. So I also took a bite of Tom’s potato pancake and a large bite of my son’s bigger than Texas toast French toast.

The rest of the day home I was good with only a cup of soup and carrots for lunch, small bag of chips on the plane, and tuna on a sandwich thin for dinner. Guilty for missing my morning run and too wound up after sitting on a plane most of the day, I ran on the treadmill immediately when we got home (we have a heat wave in New England and I was not going to sweat my oldie self to death outside).

This morning I needed to come to terms with anything I did over the weekend. You can’t stay on the wagon if you aren’t honest with yourself. If the scale goes up, that is the incentive to work hard to bring it back down. If it doesn’t, then it means to keep to my steady state plan.

Friday weigh in: 110.8 lbs
Monday weigh in: 110.9 lbs

I have no idea how I did it. I am only going to thank my lucky stars that all is normal and well. The guilt I have over my gluttony is still with me and paranoia over pound creeping is still very much there. I feel like I amazingly dodged the bullet.

This morning I had my veggie pancakes with applesauce and German rye for breakfast (293 calories). The plan, I’ll stay with a vegetarian diet for a couple days just to cleanse my system of the weekend lapse.

*Sigh*

 

Where and When To Fit In Exercise?

Last week I was back on the road for work after 6 weeks and had to relearn my travel tricks. The difference is that I’m in maintenance mode. You’d think this could be easier as I don’t have as much to worry about with counting those calories and keeping to my macros. And you would be right. I just go vegan or add some lean protein and keep portions in control. Its the exercise that’s the killer.

The trade off is always, do you stay where it is easy to go for a run outside but is far from where you need to be each day, or do you stay somewhere that is close and rely on the hotel gym? I had one of those weeks.

You would think that staying in the Bay Area would be perfect. If I am downtown, super simple. Head out to the Embarcadero. But, in San Mateo you are in an industrial zone. It may not be shady (Trader Joes was right around the corner), but it is industrial and shady enough that this little girl was not going to run through the streets alone. Call me crazy, or recognize that I probably have too much of an exurb mindset from living in New England hamlets.

In the end, the Marriot gym and I got to know each other pretty well. I checked into the hotel and immediately threw on my workout clothes, pulled back my hair, and grabbed my headphones and iPad then headed to the gym.  40 minutes later, my treadmill run was done. The next day, I got back from my client meeting and again, without so much as a thought, got my act together and met up with my treadmill from the day before for another 40 minutes run. The trick, just do it. Don’t think about it or you’ll only find an excuse.  Mine was all too easy, I hate treadmills.

That’s the travel side of things, but I am also realizing that as the summer turns to fall, and Jose is kissing our New England shores, the weather and length of day is no longer my friend. I can’t get out for a run anytime I want. And with the water getting colder, so my SUP will see more time in my garage than the lake and river. Outdoor stuff is still possible, just a bit more challenging or I can’t do yet because snow has not yet arrived (need to ski! need to snow shoe!).

What’s a girl to do? Use my work at home days to my advantage! I had a 50 minute call with my team today where nothing was to be presented and all we were doing was grocking on a strategy to cover an evolving technology space. I could either sit at my desk with my phone in my ear, or I could get off my lazy a$$. I chose the latter. With 7 minutes to spare before my call, I threw on my workout clothes, grabbed the phone, and headed to my elliptical.

The call was interactive, engaging and actually fun. I went back and forth muting and unmuting my phone as I would jump in to contribute so as not to distract the conversation with the sound of my machine. I also did what I thought was a decent job of speaking and sharing, although a bit breathy.  Alas, it didn’t go completely unnoticed. Back at my desk my colleague Cinny had shot me an email…”Are you running or biking during our call? love it! <end>”

exercising

I have to say though, it was a great workout, one of my better elliptical workouts. I upped my calorie burn by about 50 calories for the same amount of time and got my heart rate up to 134 when I’m typically in the low 120s. Maybe I should do this more often! Those meetings must get me riled up.

Machines aren’t my favorite workout mode, but when all else fails I need to not think about how I’m getting exercise time it and just work on making it happen. It really is a lifestyle change that thankfully isn’t as hard to do anymore. I feel good after my workouts just as I do when I run, SUP, hike, and bike. I also get the benefit of keeping my weight off. Over the past month I hold pretty steady at 111 – 112, and that is with the Five Guys burger a week ago and the over indulgence on pigs in a blanket and Guinness this past Saturday night at a hockey party.

Life is good.

 

5k Personal Best – Woo Hoo!

Today was race day. And, it was for a great cause. Live 4 Evan is a foundation that helps out families and children with congenital heart disease. Each year they have a 5k run and fun festival to raise awareness and funds.

Tom woke me up at 7:15a by patting my face with our cat’s paw. Not a bad way to rise if you ask me. But, I am still not much of a morning person and went into robot mode of getting myself together and slowly becoming human. When we left the house to make it over to registration for 8:30a, I was just starting to feel like myself and the race jitters started to kick in.

As Tom and I walked toward the starting line area and then hung out stretching (Tom) and people watching (me), the jitters kicked in. What if I hit the wall on the hill at 2 miles? What if I pace myself to faster runners? What if my knee decides to tinge? What if….

At some point it didn’t matter anymore. Everyone lined up at their designated signs.  Tom stepped up to the 8 min mile section while I hung towards the back of the 9 min mile group and closer to the walker group. I popped in my headphones, set my music to play, and readied my watch to track my run. The horn blew and the pack began to move, slowly at first, and then faster as we all started to cross the starting line.

It was a brief uphill from the park where we started to the main road. I felt strong and confident moving to the outside and easily passing some of the other runners in my group without over exerting myself. The first mile was a gradual downhill and I opened my stride and used the time to my advantage knowing mile two was going to s**k. I continued to move past more and more runners building my confidence even as other faster runners were also moving past me. Pace from my Apple Watch: 9:20

Mile two was the killer as I thought. The first part heading in was actually not too bad. I continued to move past a few other runners and saw some runners that over did it in mile 1 start to slow or walk. I found a couple women that seemed to be similar in pace to me and used them to push myself. But, it was a half mile into that stretch that the uphill started to kick in. My calves from my big run a couple days before began to remember that uphill isn’t always fun. I could feel myself starting to shorten my stride as my internal coach kept encouraging me to keep on running, keep on running, keep on running in Dorie’s (Ellen’s) voice. When I made it to the end, I could feel my legs get happy again and my heart and breath began to even out. Pace on my Apple Watch: 9:44

Pushing into mile 3 I felt like a runner again but clearly feeling a bit more sluggish after the uphill.  I worked to open up my stride but my calves were tight. Even on a short downhill I couldn’t launch the way I had at the beginning of the race.  I watched as two of the women I was running with through mile 2 moved ahead of me by about 20 feet and I ultimately tried to hold that distance to keep me going. Heading past a cross point, I caught sight of Tom with his red baseball cap which gave me a little more momentum. Pace from my Apple Watch: 9:48

Seeing the 3 mile marker was awesome. Coming around the bend and catching sight of the clock was even better. I was floored when I saw the number. There was no way it could be correct. I picked up my pace a bit and dashed through the finish line without slowing down.

Live4Evan 5k Finish Line

I couldn’t be sure of my time. Was it really true? Rather than think about it I took a water, spotted Tom and we compared notes.

Finally, the waiting was over. Sitting in the local espresso bar having our coffee and breakfast, my phone had already notified me of our results.

I almost screamed.  A personal best!

Overall time: 30:15
Pace: 9:44
Female: 69/138
Female 40 – 49: 19/28

I shaved off 13 seconds on my pace and I’m pretty pleased that I’m in the middle of the pack overall, even if a bit slow for my age bracket. My other awesome sauce is that each mile, even during my awful uphill, was under a 10 min pace (although I can see my watch is a bit off). I’ve never done that before. I always creep back up to about 10:20 on the uphills.

Anyway, its 2 1/2 hours since the end of my race and I still have runners high. Maybe it is the results. Or, maybe it is the large iced Americano. Either way, I’m looking forward to the Wicked 5k on October 29. I just need to figure out what my costume will be…

Big shout out to my hubby, he had a personal best as well. At some point maybe I’ll catch up to him and we can run together. Here is his stats:

Overall time: 25:38
Pace: 8:11
Male: 60/136
Male 40 – 49: 6/18

Tom and I basking in the glow of the after run:

Live 4 Evan 5k 2017  Live 4 Evan 5k 2017