Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Official Announcement

I have officially signed up for my first half marathon!  On the 4th of July, I will be running the Foot Traffic Flat near Portland.  I've already started training, running seven miles last Sunday and increasing my long run each week.  With only another month to go, I am getting increasingly excited about running that 13.1-mile course.

This is quite a thing.... Less than a year ago, I couldn't run more than 60 steps without walking, and now I am running a half-marathon...


Monday, May 24, 2010

Running in Indiana

I attended an academic conference this week at Indiana University in Bloomington, but I made sure to make some time for myself.  I explored the town during a rainstorm, ate Momo at a Tibetan restaurant (a former professor of IU is the older brother of the Dalai Lama), and, of course, I went running.

I ran through campus and enjoyed this little creek and old cemetery.

 I went into an old church and said a little prayer.
 I snapped a picture of this guitar (which I later learned was made out of license plates, street signs, and hubcaps).
 I ran through Dunn's Woods.

And I ran the first annual Firefighter's 5K.  Here are the highlights:
  • I walked to the race, which was only a few blocks from my hotel.  After getting my race number and taking a few pictures, a fire fighter got us all to line up.
  • The race started promptly at 8:00, and while my legs felt good, I realized immediately that I should have run my race in other clothes.  (I have read lots of advice about not trying anything new on race-day clothing- or diet-wise, but my cute, new Brooks Podium Boy Shorts were calling my name.)  Within a few steps, those cute new sorts made their way up (way up) my thighs.  Not to get too graphic here, but I basically ran in underwear for 3.1 miles.  (I think I am about ten pounds away from being able to wear these shorts and keep them where they are supposed to be.)  While I could have been embarrassed, I decided that that wouldn't serve me well in the race.  So, instead of trying to pull the shorts down every few steps, I just decided to let them be and just run the best race that I could.
  • I decided to run without my Garmin, and that was an interesting experience.  On one hand, it was liberating - I didn't have the urge to look down at my wrist every quarter mile to check and double-check my pace.  On the other hand, I had no idea how far I had run (and there were no mile markers on the course).  It wasn't until I got to the turnaround point that I knew I had completed half of the race.  
  • My legs and body felt neither energized nor sluggish.  I ran a steady pace and didn't worry about "beating" any other racers.  I just ran for myself and enjoyed the feel of my body running.
  • When I saw the finish line, I expected to feel an extra surge that I usually feel at the end of runs/races; I expected to sprint toward the clapping crowd.  But, to my surprise, there was nothing left in my legs, and I just ran it in at the same pace that I ran the rest of my race in.  I crossed the line at 34:14, which averages just over an 11-minute mile.  I didn't get a p.r., but it was my second fastest 5K to date.
  • Overall, it was a fun race and a good workout.  I am so glad that I ran a race in Indiana!  This is a picture of me after the race, right before I sat down to breakfast; it was so humid that the sweaty clothes didn't dry by the time I left the conference that evening.  (Nice!)


    Tuesday, May 4, 2010


    On Sunday I ran Bloomsday, and I have never felt better at the end of a race.

    I was told that there would be a lot of people at Bloomsday, but even so, there was no way for me to know what it would look like, or perhaps more important, feel like to run with 50,000 other runners.  Before the race even began, I tried to get into the "orange group" (the folks who thought they would run a 12-minute pace), and I could barely squeeze in.  Riverside Avenue was absolutely packed with runners.

    Once I ducked under people's arms and slipped into tiny spaces between people, I waited patiently for my turn to start the race.  I could feel the excitement all around me; it was almost like there was electricity in the air.  People were talking, laughing, attempting to stretch, throwing their extra clothes into the trees, and (already) building up hype about the dreaded Doomsday Hill.  I couldn't help but smile. 

    At 9:27, I crossed the starting line, and the first two miles were like none I have ever experienced.  I was completely boxed in.  I could not run at my own pace, nor could I find any space of my own.  I was in the middle of thousands of people running on a single street in Spokane, Washington; they determined my pace.  My feelings were mixed.  On one hand, it was exciting being a part of something so big.  It was also nice that the group kept my feet moving; there was no way that I was going to start walking when the pressure and force of the group around me wanted me to keep moving.  On the other hand, I craved a space of my own (I am used to running with one other person and having nature all around me, so it did make me a little nervous to have so many people so close to me at all times).  I wanted to run a little bit faster, but the pack wouldn't let me.

    At the first hill, the crowd starting thinning out (a little).  Even though there were still a ton of people, I could no longer hear the collective breath of the pack.  (This is real, by the way.  At one point I remember listening to the sound of thousands of people all breathing.)  I made a conscious effort to find a group of people who seemed to be running at my desired pace, and we climbed the first hill with no problems. 

    The rest of the race followed suit.  I was basically able to run at my desired pace from that point on, alongside hundreds of other people doing the same thing.  The walkers either stayed to the right, or they were easy to pass.  I found that I had a lot more energy than I thought that I would (perhaps because of the sheer number of people or because of my Revive Mint and my 5-Hour Energy combo).  I ran all the way to Doomsday Hill (and in the whole race, the only time I walked was in the second half of the hill), smiled for the cameras, high-fived kids on the sidelines and the Doomsday vulture, and even clapped for the 29 bands performing on the streets of Bloomsday.

    At around the four-mile mark, I felt my energy level spike.  Something happened to me, and I don't know what it was - a second wind, or a mini runner's high.  Regardless, I felt a smile spread across my face, and I felt my legs lighten and energize.  I picked up my pace, and passed some of the folks that I had been following: the ladies with matching shirts that said, "Doomsday doesn't scare me; I work at a junior high school!" and a gal whose shirt announced that this was her 31st Bloomsday. 

    Admittedly, the last couple of miles were tough.  I didn't have a side ache and my legs weren't tired, but for some reason, one part of my mind wanted me to walk.  Thankfully, though, another part of my mind was more determined, and it kept my legs moving at about an 11:30 pace.  I kept it up until the final corner before the finish line.

    That final corner, well, it was just spectacular.  As I turned the corner, I could see the final downhill stretch, the purple balloons, and the finish line.  And from this image came an energy that I didn't even know I had in me.  I started running as fast I could toward those balloons, and along the way I watched the sidelines as people cheered.  I felt myself smile so big that it probably looked like I was laughing for a full two blocks before the finish line.  I ran like a person who had not just completed one of the longest runs of her life.   

    I crossed the line, clicked the "stop" button on my Garmin, and checked out my results:

    Garmin Data: (Mile/Pace)
    Mile 1: 11:22
    Mile 2: 11:17
    Mile 3: 11:47
    Mile 4: 11:25
    Mile 5: 11:19
    Mile 6: 11:48
    Mile 7: 11:28
    Mile 8: 10:11 (.56 miles)

    Total Distance: 7.56 miles
    Total Time: 11:26:08
    Average Pace: 11:24

    I was super-happy with my consistent pace, the fact that I ran so far with so little walking, and the fact that I had just run my very first 12K!  And as a bonus, my body felt great - no shooting pain in my knee, no side aches, and no exhaustion.  I was tired, but I was happy.


    Bloomsday Official Data:
    Total Distance: 7.46 miles
    Total Time: 11:26:06
    Average Pace: 11:32