Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back in Action!

I had the best workout of my life last night. I know I'm prone to hyperbole, but I'm serious.

Even though I finished a 5k last weekend, I'm still working on finishing out the Couch to 5k program, which has been lengthened quite a bit because of sickness, injury, and life. Last night was Week 8, Day 2: a 28-minute run. I had had a crummy day. Nothing awful, just busy at work, feeling tension in my neck, back, and shoulders, exhausted from thinking about big life plans, and starting to develop my like-clockwork monthly migraine a little on the early side.

As soon as I started jogging, though, everything went away. The part that was new for me was that it wasn't a struggle in the slightest. It wasn't terribly easy, but for the first time it truly felt great to run. Almost like I was floating. Weird. The stars must have been aligned... it was a cool-ish, dry evening, the music that came through on my shuffle was the best, and most importantly, my body and mind were finally ready to conquer that 28 minutes. I even did an all-out sprint (instead of just mildly picking up the pace) for the last minute.

I've had big lapses of confidence recently around worrying whether I can actually continue to make progress after making so much already, and my ability to push through to run longer and someday maybe even faster. But last night proved to me that it's possible. Because if that felt so great, there's no doubt I can push a little further and a little further after that until someday this Fall I reach 13.1.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lucky Clover 5k, 3.20.10

I did it! I finished my first 5k.


The day could not have been more beautiful, and the challenge could not have been more great (okay maybe that's an exaggeration), but despite feeling really sick this morning (sore throat, coughing, even a little wheezing), I went out there and conquered it.

(first time using one of these doodads)

My goal time that I had set for slowwww-running self when I was feeling perfectly healthy was 45 minutes. This morning I set a new sicky goal: I'd be happy with an hour but would be thrilled with 55.

My time, and official 5k PR (ha!): 48:53!
Screen shot 2010-03-20 at 5.28.27 PM

The course was absolutely stunning. Through forests and hazelnut groves, along the river, sun shining, blue skies. It was a perfect day for a race, and I had the best time. Because I'm Amy, I'm now completely laid up on the couch with miscellaneous injuries and aches, but I'm planning on continuing my training next week as scheduled.

Andy with bagpiper dude. This was the Lucky Clover race, after all.

SO thrilled to have made it past this milestone, and genuinely looking forward to the next one.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Couch. To 5k.

I haven't been making a big deal out of this the last couple days. Didn't tweet about it, or even remind my friends or family, which is ridiculously unlike me.

Our first 5k is in the morning.

A little anticlimactic since I'm still feeling under the weather and it would be silly to try to run the whole thing. But I'm going out there and I'm going to finish, even if it takes an hour. And it's the first 5k of many, many, many. Talk to you after, little bloggie!

My Home Away From Home

Since I so often rave about the running trail where I've been spending a lot of my time, I thought I'd post a little iPhone photo tour here.

The trail is a less than 5-minute walk from our house. Not only is it incredibly convenient, it's also worked out really well for the Couch to 5k workouts that always start with a 5-minute walk. It's a mile loop, and the path breaks up in a few places so there are 2 different ways you can do a mile and a couple of shorter and longer distances too.

I didn't get any pictures of this, but one of my favorite things about the trail is the little ponds and streams where you can see crystal clear reflections of the trees and sky when it's not raining. Oh and the chirping birds and ribbiting frogs. Makes me want to sing zippity doo dah!

Where I Run

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Oh hello little running blog, I didn't see you there!

I've certainly let our time together slip, haven't I? Let me assure you it's not because I've fallen off the running wagon. Things haven't exactly been going at a regular pace, but I'm still very much in the game.

First, the biggest and best news: last week we made hotel reservations for Disneyworld! They finally announced the special race deals/travel packages and I called and booked almost immediately. It's still really far ahead of time, and we don't even know where we'll be traveling from at this point, but we're going, no matter what. If one of us isn't up to running for whatever reason, we'll walk til they pull us off the course. But WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!

In other news, the training has been coming really slowly. In one of my last posts, I wrote about how my body was having a hard time absorbing all the shock I was giving it for the first time ever. On my next run after I wrote that (inside on the treadmill, it was pouring, ick), I couldn't finish the workout. I fought and tried (stopped and walked a few times, etc.) but my legs just wouldn't go. I felt defeated but also knew unequivocally then that I needed to take a little break to give my legs time to heal. So on my next running day, I walked. I rested a total of 5 days I think, and then last weekend picked it back up again, starting with 8.1.

In preparation for our first 5k this weekend (eep!), we headed out to the race course to get to know it a bit. It was a challenge, but I did my 28 minutes and just over 2 miles. The race is in such a gorgeous spot and I'm really looking forward to it.

In other bumming news, though, I got sick this week so that threw off my training again. I'm planning on going out tonight even though I'm not completely better. Last chance before Saturday's race!

I'm feeling okay about the fact that there's a really good chance I won't be able to run the full 5k, seeing as though I've never even tried to run much more than 2 miles. But my friend (coach?!) Anne said that when she's raced in the past she's gone much farther than ever, so that gives me hope and inspiration. Regardless, just going out there and finishing, regardless of the time, will be a huge milestone and I'm really looking forward to it. And I'll set a really slow personal record for the next time I can actually run a 5k!

So, good things are happening, they're just happening slowly. Yay for staying positive and sticking with it, especially when it feels like it would be much easier to just not.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

When You Feel Like Quitting...

When I first started running, Andy taught me a trick that has been so, so helpful. I used it at least 10 times tonight, and it kept me going the whole way. It sounds really obvious, but I wouldn't have ever thought of it on my own.

When you feel like stopping, quitting, walking, going home, just wait. Wait 10 seconds or 30, or wait until you pass that next tree or telephone pole. Re-evaluate. This surprised me a lot at first, but I almost never still feel like quitting by the time I hit that milestone.

Of course, sometimes (like tonight), I have to keep repeating the process, but still. It keeps me going. Maybe it'll keep you going too?

Onwards and Upwards

First, the good news! I finished Week 7 today. Just 2 more weeks to go. Coincidentally, I'm finishing the program on the day of my first 5k. Couldn't have timed it better!

Now, the not-so-great news. Today was the fourth time in a row that I ran for 25 minutes. So you think it'd be easier (or at least I did. Or hoped it would be). Not so much. For the past week or two, my legs have been taking a beating, and they've been getting progressively more tired and achy with each run.

I've been confused about how to handle this. My first instinct is that I need more rest than I'm currently allowed/giving myself on the Couch to 5k plan. But then my brain kicks in and I remember that I'm still slacking on my PT exercises, and that if I do them, my muscles will be strengthened and supported and that also sounds like just what I need.

So instead of resting or strength training, I'm reverting to my old bad habits and doing nothing. Not good Amy, not good.

Here's what I'm sure the issue is: before I started running, it was an incredible mental struggle for me to exercise even once a week for 15 minutes (in my living room, using video games). Now, I'm going out consistently 3 times a week. I'm so thrilled that I've been able to do that regularly, but that might be my max at this point. Having to do strength training on my non-running days means some kind of exercise 6 days a week, and that is a huge leap for me at this point.

When I shared this with my PT a while back, she suggested that I do my strength training on my run days (right after my runs). Until now, I've been too zonked to do it, or promise myself that I'll do it the next day, but that hasn't happened. So tonight, after I got home from my painful, painful run where all I wanted to do the whole time was quit, I got out the ankle weights and did my little routine, including my core exercises.

I'm going to try this for the next week or so and see how my legs feel.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I have a few short and random running related thoughts "running" through my head, so this post will be bulleted (asterisked?) for easy reading.

*First and most importantly, Andy completed Couch to 5k tonight! He was a few weeks ahead of me because he kept going when I hurt my knee. I am so, so, so thrilled for and proud of him.

*After literally months of searching, I finally got a new jacket that I've specifically dedicated to running outside. It meets all of my criteria (lightweight, fits my hard-to-fit body, well-plaed pockets, no hood, waterproof, affordable, designed for exercise), and I used it for the first time tonight with great joy.


*My run tonight was Week 7, Day 1. It was the 2nd of 4 25-minute runs in a row, and it was leaps and bounds easier than Sunday's. It was still a challenge, and there were about a dozen times when I wanted to just stop and go home (that's normal, right?), but I can feel myself improving, and I enjoyed my time on the trail tonight. And as a follow-up to my last post, I was able to push hard, my slow Amy version of sprinting, for the last minute, and I felt great afterwards.

*I bought one of those armband thingies for my iPhone, it should be here in a week or so. Curious to see how it works out. Besides my new jacket, really none of my workout clothes have pockets, so I've been holding my phone as I run, which is obviously not ideal.

That's all for now. Happy to be making progress. Slow and steady!

Monday, March 1, 2010


I wasn't sure I was going to tell this story here, because it makes me feel really vulnerable. But this is my running journal, and you're probably reading this because we're friends and/or you have at least a shred of interest in how my training is going, so here goes...

Yesterday I finished Week 6 of Couch to 5k. It was the most gorgeous day, we went out at dusk, I felt great starting out. It was a huge challenge to run 25 minutes for the first time (the longest I had run previously was 20 minutes 2 weeks ago), but I was determined to finish and I did! I was so excited for the feeling of accomplishment that was going to come along with finishing my workout. But then I let that pesky head of mine get in the way and ruin everything.

Andy stayed with me the whole time yesterday. He's on the final week of the program and usually runs much faster than I do, but he had spent the whole morning working out so he chose to take it easy. He and I have started a routine where, for the last minute of our run, we push to go as hard and fast as we can. I was planning on skipping that yesterday, because it's been a pretty informal effort so far and just finishing 25 minutes was going to be a huge enough goal for myself.

So the last minute came up, and he picked up the pace, and asked me to as well. I tried it for about 10 seconds and just could not do it. So I told him that, and he urged me to try again, because he's really good about pushing my boundaries and limits in a safe and only slightly uncomfortable way. But I didn't feel like I could do it, and I was focused on finishing out that last minute strongly, so I said those evil words: "I can't."

He went ahead and finished up his run (he had 5 extra minutes), and I fell apart. Instead of feeling that endorphin high that I love so much, I felt crushed. I felt like I had completely let myself down. I knew it wasn't a big deal, and especially now the next day feel almost silly about it, but in the moment it was real. I'm disappointed that I couldn't feel joy in the fact that I had accomplished something so huge (by far the biggest physical challenge so far in my life), and yet all I could think about was those stinging words. I was crushed.

Andy had no idea that I was upset until I finally was able to muster up the words to tell him, in between my hyperventilating sobs (sorry for the dramatic flair, but it's a true story). In his infinite insightfulness, he right away pointed out the crux of why I was so upset. Those words are so tied to my lifetime of deep, deep pain around my health and taking care of myself and exercise (or lack thereof) and beating myself up for being a failure at all of those things, until now. I am making progress by leaps and bounds, but the emotional healing part of this is going to take a long time, possibly even longer than the physical conditioning that it's going to take to run a half marathon.

But that's okay with me, because now I know that I can.