Friday, June 26, 2015

Pushing Things (Just a Little)

Monday morning was steamy and dark and I was tired, despite Sunday having been my "rest day". And not very excited by the prospect of six miles before breakfast. So I did what I do when I just have to get through some miles and it's a distance I can manage - I play. With speedwork. I figured it would make the time go faster along with the miles, and it would make me feel more confident about the start of proper speedwork next week. So I did five quarter-mile repeats, not trying for a certain pace but just to pick the things up a bit - get my legs and head used to the idea of working that way again (it's been about a month now since I did any).

It felt good - and it was fun - so much so that I decided to make my Thursday run a tempo run. Maintain marathon pace for 3 miles in the middle of a longer run into work. Not a lot compared to what I've done in the past or even what I'll have to do next week - but something to get myself used again to doing these more intense workouts. And again, it felt good, stretching and challenging myself and taking away some of the fear of what will come next. Because, you know, I start every speed or tempo run not knowing if I can do it, afraid that I can't.

I train to push my mind and my heart - my guts - as much as my body.

I've done a lot of comfortable running this past month - pushing myself with changes to my schedule and with increases in my total weekly mileage - but each of the individual runs have been easy. At a comfortable pace and with no real doubt that I would be able to do it, even if I was tired or if things got harder by the end. I am stubborn and determined and it's been a long time since I didn't finish a run. So just putting in miles doesn't scare me.

I am ready to be scared.


Bring it on.

~ Annie

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Two Weeks Now

Warning: Technical training stuff ahead.

On this new training plan (Hansons Marathon Method) I will eventually be training six days a week with three easy runs (still up to 8 miles, though) and three runs that they call "something of substance" (SOS): a long run, a tempo run, and a speed or strength run. Typically I've run 3-5 days in the week with only two "SOS" runs, for an average of 18-24 miles per week, so this is definitely a step up for me.

(I am used to working out 5-6 times a week, just not all running.)

The first week of the plan starts with only three days running for a total of 10 miles, increases mileage slowly over the first month, but then jumps from 21 to 39 miles within just two weeks. That seemed like a recipe for injury to me. Since I'd already been running more in preparation for my race, I decided to ramp up my schedule within the earlier weeks so Week 6 wouldn't be such a shock - to my routine, to my mind, to my iliotibial band.

(The plan does call for those who have already been doing higher mileage to start where one is and let the plan catch up - not exactly what I'm doing but in the same spirit.)

So over the last four weeks I've been adding in more runs in the week, keeping them short to start, and also doing as many early morning runs as possible, as that's been a huge mental shift to adjust to. I've also been scheduling my longer runs to mimic the schedule I'll have once the SOS runs start, also in Week 6. That way once Week 6 comes I'll already be familiar with as much as possible - the schedule, the time of day, the mileage - and all I'll have to adapt to will be the higher intensity of the SOS runs. As if that weren't quite enough of a shock.

I need to get serious about stretching too.

I've now finished the second week of six-run weeks, and while I'm tired, for sure, I can feel myself adapting. At first the early morning runs seemed hard and now they feel normal; at first the idea of running every day seemed impossible and now I look forward to it. So I'm excited to start the "real" training in a couple of weeks. It also helps that I'll be taking vacation right in the middle of that first week so I know my legs will catch a break between this initial phase and when things get really serious.

I'll start posting my training plan for the week once I get into the thick of it so you can see exactly what I am doing (or failing to do).


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Day After

We've had rain four days in a row (and will get more later this week) - with torrential rain yesterday, unbelievable amounts of rain, just sheets of water coming from the sky. I got soaked not once but twice and the boys too - the house smells like wet shoe.

But today the air is clear and the sun is out - this morning on my run the whole world felt fresh, with everything green and shimmering. And open: after days of heavy gray everything felt as if it were reaching out. The peach of the sunrise reflecting on a seagull's wings, as it soared above the trees that kept me from the seeing the sunrise itself. Sunlight sparkling on the puddles as I walked G to school. Our pumpkin plants, grown two inches in a night.

And oh yes, the red and black worn by our neighbors on the sidewalks, the bus, the train as people made their way to work without umbrellas or raincoats to cover them. Did I mention that the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup yesterday too? It's been fun seeing people wear their Blackhawks shirts all across the city.


Friday, June 12, 2015

And Now It's Gone

Twelve years ago, when I moved to the north side of Chicago, I walked one day into Fleet Feet in Lincoln Square and bought myself a sports watch, my first one, so I could time myself running. And since I am somewhat tech-phobic and also because I have a small wrist, I bought myself a kid's sport watch, a Timex Ironman Kids.

You should be able to see where this is going.
Eventually the band became stretched out and I couldn't wear it anymore. Some time before then it had also morphed into being my alarm clock and also a timer (for meditation and strength exercises), so it was still an essential part of my daily routines.

And now it's gone.

Three days ago I was using it as a timer for exercises and after the first round it just didn't turn on. (0:00:00). And then it went blank. And then, horribly, as I pressed different buttons to see if I could get it to work, it started beeping - and it hasn't stopped since. I have it wrapped up in a towel in the basement hoping that the battery will finally wear out - it has to, right? - we don't have a small enough screwdriver to remove the battery ourselves. The Dude has kindly offered to smash it for me but I just can't picture doing that to my running, my sleeping, my self-improvement buddy.

I'm going to miss this guy.

The Dude offered that now would be a good time to get an actual alarm clock. Yes... I suppose. But after a couple of days of looking around online I ended up ordering this instead:

Timex Kids' T78751 "Digital Flames" Watch with Black Cloth Band
I looked into getting another blue one 
but that just felt wrong.
It should arrive Monday.

And in the meantime I'm using my phone - not the most relaxing way to fall asleep or wake up (or check the time in the middle of the night).

Goodbye, old friend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Garden Runs Amok

Because, why not?
This summer it seems all our rain is falling on the weekends - exactly the days I have to work in the garden. So things are a little... chaotic back there right now.

However, I did go out in the rain to harvest cilantro and thyme for two different recipes. It's wonderful to be able to use herbs I grew, makes me very hungry for more.

I think zucchini plants are in my future. I felt very silly buying them in the store when I know I could have an abundance of them at home. (Yes, I realize I would still have to buy them most of the year, but still.)

And I just got this book from the library:

Nom, nom, nom.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

5 Miles

Up early today, to run five miles before the rest of the household awoke. Prior to today, all my early runs were along the lines of 2-3 miles, with a couple of four mile runs on weekends when I didn't have to be back quite so early. So this felt like a big deal. (I had to set my alarm for before 5:00 a.m. - which I've done in the past, but not to get up and go run, unless it was a race.)

I will have many more such runs - and for longer distances - in the weeks before the marathon. I will be setting my alarm to go off even earlier. But this first one felt like the beginning of something new.

One of the self improvement writers I follow wrote something like, your goal should frighten and excite you. Training for the marathon this year - training for a time, not only to finish - frightens and excites me. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

And I have a feeling that this will only be the first step...

Shivering with antici.....



Yes, that was a shout out to "Rocky Horror Picture Show", one of my favorite movies EVER.