Sunday, April 25, 2010

200 Situps

A key to success in training to run long distances is cross-training. Especially for someone like me who has no strength or tone to build from. To me, that means doing non-running exercise-ish things on days when I'm not running. In addition to my physical therapy exercises (which consist of a lot of ankle weights and some other random lower-body strengthening), I started the 200 Situps program last week.


The program is simply a structured training routine to build up to 200 situps in 6 weeks. It's really similar to Couch to 5k in that way, and like I mentioned in a recent post, that structure makes all the difference for me. I got the iPhone app, because I needed another green app to complete my app color-coding scheme (KIDDING! ...sorta), but it's not at all necessary. The whole plan is laid out on the website.

Today was Week 1 Day 2, and I'm loving it so far.

There's also a 100 pushups plan, 200 squats (WHAT??!?!), and 25 pullups. If this goes well, I'll try pushups next!

I know one bloggie friend is already on board (hi N!), doing both the situps and the pushups... who else is with us??

Friday, April 23, 2010

Climate Change

Hi from Palm Springs! I'm here visiting my dad. It is a stunningly gorgeous day. So I went out for my run this morning, and it pretty much knocked me flat on my ass. I know that the climate is dramatically different, so I've made sure to hydrate extra since I arrived yesterday, and took my jogging pace pretty easy. But ohh boy, is it dry here. The temperature is beautiful, but the sun was beating down on me, zapping my energy. I felt like it was following me around just to torture me. Just a complete 180 from the Oregon moisture that I'm used to.

I cut my 30 minutes a little short because I was feeling so dehydrated. But I still feel really good about going out today. It's hard to find motivation when I'm not in my normal routine, but I mustered enough to get my heart going today. Also? Running around my dad's neighborhood... not too shabby!

Today's Run

I'm curious what the climate will be in Orlando this fall. The race is at 10 pm, so hopefully any weirdness with humidity or possible high temperatures will be mitigated by the late start time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Course, Of Course!

I was just poking around the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon website, you know, because I'm not obsessing or anything... and saw that a detailed description of the course has been posted!

All I knew prior to today was that it was on the brand new half marathon course, being used for the first time at this race. I don't know the geography of the park at all (I'm much more familiar with Disneyland), but I hope that the course includes the Magic Kingdom, running down Main St. USA and through Cinderella's Castle. I'm a little worried that it doesn't, because wouldn't it say if it did? The website says the map will be posted at a later date. Either way, I'm totally stoked about this.

Here's what our friends at WDW have to say:

"Start at the newly re-imagined ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex running down Victory Way and then west on Osceola Parkway toward Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park. Make your way past the Tree of Life, Expedition Everest™, Dinosaur® and then race back to Osceola Parkway and head toward Disney's Hollywood Studios™. You will enter the park in the shadow of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, run down Sunset Boulevard through Pixar Place, past Toy Story Mania!, then through the Costuming Tunnel in the Backlot on your way to Lights Motor Action! for your big debut! Race through the Streets of America, past Star Tours and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular on your way to Epcot®! The course will wind through the idyllic village of Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and lead you through the international gateway entrance to Epcot®, where you will pass United Kingdom and Canada before finishing on World Showcase!"



For the last few weeks, since I finished Couch to 5k, I've been floundering a bit. I really liked having the structure of the training program, and without it I had a long series of crappy workouts where I felt like I regressed in my training a bit, or at least stopped making progress.

Although I really want/need to start looking to October now, I'm not advanced enough at this point to start most of the popular half marathon training programs. Many of them require that you're regularly running 3-5 miles several times a week before beginning. Which totally makes sense.

But there is one expert, Jeff Galloway, who has helped about a bazillion people run successful races from scratch with his quirky-ish method. I tried it out last night, and I haven't felt better in a long, long time. I was skeptical, but now, even after 1 workout, I am a complete believer.

More Than Just a Book

Galloway's "thing" is his run-walk-run method. Interval training. When I first was reading his claims that so much walking throughout a run, even for seasoned runners, results in faster times and stronger finishes, I was reminded of Professor Harold Hill's "Think Method." He's the main character in the musical The Music Man, who scams an entire town by selling them on his idea that kids can learn to play instruments just by thinking the notes.

So, like I said, I tried it out last night. For my pace, the recommended interval is run 2 minutes, walk 1, repeat. The results were incredible. I worked out for 30 minutes and walked for 10 of those (intermittently), and finished exactly 2 miles in the same amount of time (30 minutes) that it would have taken me had I been running the whole way. I felt myself able to push so much harder, knowing that I was only running for 2 minutes before I got a break. My increase in pace happened naturally, it wasn't a conscious effort, and it felt good. Really good.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this takes me. I have a feeling it's going to be my key to success in training for this giant race that's approaching more quickly than I care to think about.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Update: Bridgeway Run for Autism 5k Results

The official results are in! My time for 3.1 miles was 46:51 (minus about 5 seconds before I crossed the start line). I'm not a competitive person at all, but it's pretty cool to be 9/22 in my age group (female 25-29). Granted, it was a run/walk, so lots of people were walking behind me, but still. Pretty cool.

Back to my nap!

Bridgeway Run for Autism 5k

Today was the Bridgeway Run for Autism 5k. I'm so happy to share that I achieved my goal of beating my previous time and setting a personal record!! I'm still waiting for the official results to be posted, but my time was somewhere around 46:48, 2 minutes faster than my only other 5k time.

I've been consistently running around 15-16 minute miles (see? I told you I'm a slowpoke).. so considering that I've still never run a whole 5k without walking a bit in parts (and I took a few really short walk breaks today), I'm really proud of my time.

Bridgeway 5k

The morning could not have been more perfect for a race. Sun shining, temperature around 60 degrees, no wind. The course was familiar, since it was in a city park where every Eugenian has spent a lot of time, but it was fun seeing it through new "race" eyes. Crossing over the river and back on 2 different bridges was especially fun.

Time for a fun little story: the race was small enough that the announcer gave some people shout-outs (by looking up their bib #) as they crossed the finish line. As I came through, he said, "Here comes Amy Isaacson...with a HUGE smile on her face!" It took him pointing it out for me to actually notice how goofily I was grinning. How great is that?

Bridgeway 5k
Learning to multitask, taking iPhone pics as I jog along...

We're signed up to run another 5k on the same course about a month from now. Going to try for another PR. In the meantime, I'm going to start looking more seriously into Jeff Galloway's half marathon training program (originally recommended to me by another local running blogger, Kara!). He has a run/walk interval method that's similar to what I liked about Couch to 5k. I'm sure I'll be writing more about it here if/when I start the program.

Looking forward to spending the rest of the day napping, hot tubbing, cheering on Andy's ultimate frisbee team, and smushing my dog. Happy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another 5k, Please!

We just signed up for a race this weekend!

It's the Bridgeway Run for Autism. I'm running (er... "running"...) the 5k, and Andy signed up for the 8k (so thrilled for him!). It's at the same park, Alton Baker Park, where we ran our very first race ever, the Truffle Shuffle, back in February. It's also the site of Bark in the Park next month, the next race we're scheduled for. That one's a benefit for Greenhill Humane Society, where we got Ollie, and I'm giddy with excitement. He gets to run come with us for that one.

My goal for Sunday is to set a personal record (or as the fancy running people call it, PR). That means beating my only other 5k time of 48:53 (15:47 mile). Barring sudden illness or injury in the next 4 days, I'm feeling very confident about that goal. Even though I'm still struggling to run 2 miles consistently, I'm pretty sure race day adrenaline will help me through to at least get a speedier time, if not run the whole thing.

Sunday's race map: along the river!

I'm really glad we signed up for this. We won't be able to run the 5k I'd been really looking forward to, the one that's in conjunction with the Eugene Marathon in a few weeks (we'll be out of town for a wedding). So...yeah... bring it on! Can't wait to let you know how it went!
p.s. My back's doing a lot better. I've gone out to run twice since my little break, and the first run felt great. The second one, yesterday, was pretty miserable, but I think I just hadn't quite fueled myself properly and it was just one of those days. We all have those days, right?

An unintended [positive] consequence of running regularly is that I'm starting to pay attention to how my body feels at certain times of the day or when I'm feeling particularly stressed, relaxed, well-rested, or not. I'm even beginning to make conscious choices about what I eat in order to increase my chances of feeling good all the way through my evening runs. I've always had this psychological disconnect between my emotions and my body; it made me numb to the pain/guilt of the way I treated my body (eating poorly/not exercising). But now that I'm opening that door a tiny bit, there's a kind of exhilaration that's starting to emerge. It's coming really, really slowly, but I can feel it.

Whew. Heavy stuff.

Friday, April 9, 2010

...Not as Scared

So, a follow-up to my post yesterday where I talked about fear and my back and all that other fun stuff. Andy made a really good point last night that I hadn't thought of during my panicked hours yesterday, and it's helped to put this whole thing into perspective for me.

When I first injured my back, it's likely because there was no support. My infrastructure had no strength. I was an inactive lump whose body was especially prone to ridiculous ailments because of how poorly I treated it.

Now that I've been exponentially more active, there is physical support there. My muscles and joints are much stronger than they used to be. It's an old injury that will flare up from time to time, but I don't need to freak out that I'm going to make one wrong move and have to start my treatment from scratch (or need to think about surgery). I am definitely not as scared now. I'm pretty sure I'd be in the state mental hospital if my husband wasn't around to keep me calm and sane.

p.s. Thanks for the supportive comments yesterday, they mean the world to me, always! xo

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Since my last post was such a downer, I thought I'd share some happy news too!

We are officially registered for the race! Even if they have to pull me off the course (if your pace is slower than 16-minute miles, they literally pick you up and drive you to the finish line where you don't get a medal...ouch), I'm going!

The other fun race-related news is that we just passed the 6 months-to-go mark until the race. Wow, how that snuck up on us! This is interesting for more than just training-related reasons: 6 months is also the furthest in advance that parties are allowed to make reservations at WDW Resort restaurants. You can bet I took care of that quickly!

We have dinner reservations at 'Ohana and Boma, and for now are leaving the rest up in the air. Not quite willing to commit to what I'm going to feel like having for lunch 5 months and 27 days from now, you know?!



I'm an awful hypochondriac. Before I started running, any tiny little ailment was the first excuse I went to to get out of exercising. Usually it's a headache, but any tiny little ache, pain, or fatigue was the best way to avoid physical activity.

Now that exercise has become something I look forward to, my attitude is different. Feeling hurt or sick isn't a welcome excuse to stay inside on the couch, it's genuinely frustrating.

I'm bringing this up now because I'm scared. Terrified actually. If you know me in person, you know that I suffered a pretty [temporarily] debilitating herniated disc along with crippling nerve problems (no exaggerating hypochondriac there) in the fall of 2008. I chose not to have surgery and recovered to about 95% with the help of my great physical therapist. Of course, when I started running, my injury was on my mind. I knew that running isn't exactly the most low-impact activity, but I've generally felt fine. Until this week.

It's not bad at all, but I feel it. I'm definitely aware of new pain and tightness that I haven't felt in a year, and it scares the hell out of me. I'm doing everything I know how to do, practicing every trick in my arsenal, to try to nip this in the bud. But it's also in my nature to psych myself out, so I'm not only worrying about healing this, but my head also goes to the place of smushed dreams and questioning whether my body was genuinely cut out to do something so great as run 3 miles, let alone 13.1.

Of course I know that's just my insecurities talking, but that's what's on my mind today. Obviously, I'm skipping today's run, taking it easy, and trying like hell to channel my newfound strength to stay positive and calm about all of this.

[End minor freakout!]

Monday, April 5, 2010


I still have miles and miles and miles of work ahead of me (and just under 6 months to go!) before October, so my huge accomplishments so far now sort of feel like a tiny drop in the bucket. So, now that I've finished Couch to 5k, what's next?

My last workout was a struggle. I'm still calling it finished, but I was really dehydrated, feeling sluggish and icky, and stopped to walk 3 times for about a minute. So first, for my remaining workouts this week, I'm going to repeat my 30 minute run. Just to get the confidence I need to move on.

Then, starting next week, this is the plan:

Sunday: Running for distance: a long, slow run (add ~1/2 mile each week or 2)
Tuesday: Running for time: shorter, speedier run (i.e. trying to get further in 30 minutes each week)
Thursday: Recovery run: Not sure how I'm going to structure this one yet, but as of yet there won't be concrete goals involved.

My main goal now is to run a 5k. Not a race, just 3.1 miles on any given day. See, even though I finished the Couch to 5k program, the longest I've ever run so far is just over 2 miles. Couch to 5k should really be called Couch to 30 minutes... unless you can run 10 minute miles (no chance for me at the moment), you're not going to be running a 5k when you're done. I believe the assumption is that once you're able run 30 minutes, you can finish out a 5k on a race day with adrenaline, etc.

I'm still the tortoise, at about 2 miles in 30 minutes. Working on my endurance rather than my speed is definitely the priority at this point. When I think of how far 13.1 is, it freaks the s**t outta me. But I'm hoping that having that speedy run on Tuesdays will help with strengthening to build my endurance as well.

In other good news, I've been doing much better with my physical therapy exercises lately! I know that's key to staying strong on my feet. I can credit this improvement to Andy, who recently started seeing the PT I used to go to and now has similar exercises of his own to do! Doing it together and keeping each other accountable is huge. Works wonders, really.

I'm not sure how my relatively arbitrary training plan is going to work, so I'm definitely planning on flexibility and modifying it along the way. At some point I'm going to have to look at a calendar and see what I need to do over the coming months in order to be ready for October. Eek!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Done and Done

New running shoes: $100
Headphones & iPhone armband: $30
iPhone app: $2.99

Finishing Couch to 5k: Priceless!