Monday, July 25, 2011

Suzanne: 1st Anniversy of Running 1st Half Marathon

So sorry that I haven't posted in awhile! All I can say is that life has been busy. Between school ending for the girls, summer schedules starting, vacations and life...I've let my blogging slip. My bad!

The anniversary of my first half marathon is coming up this weekend,
when I completed the SF half marathon.

Thought I'd recap what I've accomplished since then:
- Including the SF half, I've completed 8 races: 7 half marathons and a 10-k
- 3 more half marathons are on the 2011 calendar, which will bring my 2011 total up to 9 half marathons for the year
- To date, 515 miles ran in 2011. I'm not sure what was total was in 2010 but it was not that high!
- Improved my half PR by 30 minutes
- Completed 2 Fleet Feet half marathon trainings and now on my third

I've very proud of my running accomplishments in the past year and am so grateful that I'm a runner (sometimes I still don't feel like I'm a "runner" but that's another blog posting). Running has really helped me in so many ways. It's my stress reliever - however that doesn't mean that it doesn't stress me out sometimes to get my runs in - and has helped me mentally and physically. I feel good when I'm running and I enjoy training/planning for upcoming races and trying to improve my times/fitness level/speed. This blog has also allowed me to document my first year of running and I appreciate all the support, inspiration and encouragement you all have given me.

The original plan was to document Jenn and my marathon training (which for me turned into a half marathon due to injury) and our blogging has continued for over a year. Honestly, I feel like at this point I'm more in "maintenance mode" now and there's not a lot of interesting things/firsts to share with you all, so I'm going to think about it for awhile to see if I can continue to blog and let you know. It's been a great experience and in a way my personal running journal, but to do it right I need to regularly post. So, we'll see.

Quick recap on running:
(1) Recently completed the 10k Davis race with Judy. Originally the plan was to run the half as a training run but last minute - meaning during the first few miles of the race - we changed to the 10k. Very smart decision but bad news was we didn't get the glow in the dark medals (only half marathoners received them) and the course ended up being 12.2 miles (why does that never happen to me except when I don't run it?). Was very pleased that I was able to complete the 10k in under an hour...a first for me and I'll continue to try to break that PR going forward. It also reminded me that there are other distances than 13.1 miles. I really enjoyed racing the 10k and will definitely add more to my schedule in the future.

(2) Nike Women's Marathon training is underway at Fleet Feet (I'm running the 1/2). It's a longer training schedule so starts with lower mileage with our long runs are at 6 miles now. I'm psyched to get to run this race and looking forward to race weekend with Judy and Morgan!

Running is going well. Really trying to focus on running faster and doing hill/speed work. For me, it's been good to have goals to work towards.

Happy Running,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Suzanne is Half Fanatic #1138!

Submitted to the Half Fanatics after my last race and found out yesterday that I qualified!

I qualified for the Neptune level since I had run 3 half marathons in the last 37 days. Crazy because the Neptune level is the first level and it gets increasing more difficult as you move up. I can't even imagine those that qualify for the higher!

In any case, I'm pretty psyched and happy to be part of the Half Fanatics as I've always wanted to qualify since I heard about the group. Who knew when I started training for my first half marathon last year that I'd end up running so many halfs? Crazy!

Happy Running,

Monday, June 6, 2011

Suzanne: In a Running Funk and Race Recap

I've been in a running funk since my last half marathon (5/21). I don't know why but I have not felt like running and up until my race yesterday I ran a total of 10 miles in those two weeks. I didn't stop working out - I did my core fitness workouts 2x a week - but I didn't run or feel like it. The timing surprised me as I had such a good race on 5/21 and didn't anticipate the "running-like blues" that followed. Every time I tried to go run I'd find an excuse not to.

So, naturally I was scared to death about running yesterday's half marathon. I had never not properly trained the weeks up to a race. Even though I knew that I had the endurance and training to run 13.1 (I had ran 13.1 in 3 of the last 6 weeks) I was pretty freaked out to say the least. The weather here has been really bad - lots of rain and cold - which is unusual for this time of year as usually we're worried about 100 degree temperatures.

Well, it was predicted to rain on race day. Of course, I wanted to find a way out of doing this race and thought maybe weather would be it. I also considered reducing from the half to do the 10k (sometimes thinking maybe 5k would be enough). In the end, I decided I would run in the rain - something I have never done - and try for the half. I'm lucky to have my running partner Judy who kept encouraging me and didn't let me get out of running. She said let's just treat this as a training run.

Come race day, it was pouring when I woke up. But I got dressed and met Judy at the starting area. We both knew this was going to be interesting and little did we know that this was much more of a trail race than we thought. Note that I have never done a trail race of any kind and never planned to.

So we started the race and I was OK. One thing I didn't expect was that I was going to get hot so quickly. Had to take off the jacket after a mile. It had stopped raining by that point as well. Mile 3 was when we hit the trails. Oh the muddy, yucky trails. They were a mess and you should know that I'm a little OCD about being dirty and messy things in general. My kids have to dye eggs at my mother's house because I can't bear the thought of the mess they will make (I realize that makes me look a little crazy).

Running through that mud was definitely a challenge. You had to really concentrate and it seemed to take a lot of energy as you had to think through each step. The mud was building up around my shoes and I felt like I was carrying 10 pounds on my feet as I lifted them up. I was scared to death of the possibility of slipping and falling and getting even more mud all over me. And then I started to feel and hear the squish of water in my socks (uggh!!). I called my mom and dad - while still running - during this part to complain how disgusting this was...I had to vent to someone as I was definitely outside my comfort zone in more ways than one. And I knew that I'd have to go through this muddy trail again as the course was two loops for the half.

During the trail was when I felt like the possibility of completing 13.1 may not be in the cards for me today. I was pretty close to convincing myself to just get to 6.2 and call it a day. It wasn't until mile 6 that I actually felt good - go figure it would take that long. I was comfortable and started to feel like completing the half might actually happen.

Judy and I kept checking in with one another and ultimately we kept going. It was just a crazy adventure really. There was also a lot of confusion for the runners on the course as many of us didn't know where the routes were (the maps were impossible to read the night before) and the race support people on the track didn't know as well. And, I was disappointed that none of the water stations had Gatorade or Cytomax as promised (and any other race I've gone to so far has had). I carry water and then drink the energy drink at the water stations to refuel. So that messed with my plan.

So in the end we finished...after my running funk, trying to get out of running the race and my freaking out. Without Judy's support and encouragement that probably wouldn't have been possible. I'm so proud of the fact that we finished and we did a trail race. Not sure if I'll do one again but we'll see. And I feel good today...expected some soreness.

My next race is mid-July. I'm hoping my running funk is over so I can continue running and start working on speed work. I want to try to work on my mile time to speed it up so I can reach my goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon time.

Photo #1 - Judy and my shoes after the they look pretty much sums up the race for me.

Photo #2 - Almost there....

Photo #3 - My husband and I (in the pouring rain if you can't tell) after the race

Happy Running,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Suzanne's Race Recap: Fiesta Days Half Marathon (5/21/11)

Life has been busy so sorry for the delayed race recap. Here we go...Saturday was a beautiful day to run. No wind, not too hot and the sun was out. I felt ready to go yet at the same time had the usual nervousness and anxiety of "what the heck are you doing?!"

The race started and as I already knew from our training run the first hill is the worst. I was a little worried about whether running the course was a good or bad thing but I now understand why we did it...because I basically went on autopilot (my legs that is). My only battle really was stay focused, strong and tough.

I really surprised myself as usually hills are my nemesis, however I ran strong and attacked the hills and they really weren't a problem. I ran up every hill with the exception of .2 miles of the last hill. It felt great to race past people as I ran up the hills...some people even stopped at the bottom of inclines to walk up and that made me run even faster.

This race I really pushed myself more than I've ever done before. I have always been scared to go all out - fearing that I'd run out of gas and not be able to finish. But I decided that this time I was going to go for it and see what happens. I only walked one time (the .2 miles up the last hill) - note that I do allow myself to walk when I drink my Gatorade at the water stations to the garbage can.

Overall, I felt good. I definitely was more winded than normal the last 2 miles and was breathing hard. And once I entered the stadium I was determined to sprint to the finish line. I was exhausted when I finished, but a good exhausted. It also was special to have my family there cheering me on - thanks guys...I love you!

I was very pleased with my 2:10:47 time...especially since it was a warm day and because it was a hilly course. That made me think that my sub-2 hour half marathon goal may be possible after all one day - on a flat course of course! We'll see.

As for what's next....the plan was to do the half marathon on June 5th (in less than 2 weeks). Right now I'm thinking about changing up to the 10k. My focus this summer is going to be on speed. I want to run faster and train with that in mind. So my thinking is to focus on racing the 10k on June 5th as fast as I can. I'll let you know what I decide.

Here are some race photos:

Photo #1 - I'm surprised to see my family meet me around mile 11....I didn't expect to see them until the finish line. Good thing I was running and not walking, right? :-)

Photo #2 - Sprinting to the finish line...that was a long lap around that track!

Photo #3: After catching my breath, I managed to smile with my medal!

Photo #4: My family (minus my dad who was taking the photo) that came out to support me! My sister-in-law, mother, brother, nephew, niece and two daughters (one daughter is hiding her face with the sign)!

Happy Running,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Suzanne: Back to Back 13 mile long runs!

This past Saturday, our long run was 13 miles. This marked the first time I have run 13 miles two weeks in a row. This Saturday we will run 9 miles before the half marathon on the 21st....meaning I will run 13 miles 3 out of 4 weeks. Never would have thought that would happen when I started training almost a year ago?!

Running 13 miles this past weekend was daunting. Plain and simple - I didn't want to do it. But I got up and went to Fleet Feet. It was different this week because we actually ran the course for the Fiesta Days half marathon, so we all carpooled to drive to the start. Let's just say that for me it was not good to see how far I was going to have to run. The run starts out in the country on a 2-lane road so it felt like we were driving for a long, long time. This just added to my running anxiety.

Then we started running. The course is hilly and the first hill is the worst and it's at the very beginning of the race. Fantastic! Once my legs stopped burning from running the hill I tried to not think about how much further I had to go. I think I played every mind game I could to take my mind off of what I was doing. What also helped was trying not to get hit by cars. It's a 2 lane road with hardly any room to run...if you did have any path it was 12-36 inches wide. There were lots of curves and turns and cars go pretty fast. So the stress of trying not to get killed kept me on my toes.

At the beginning I allowed myself to walk around mile 4. I wasn't really tired physically...I was just mentally exhausted. To my surprise...I never walked again. I usually don't allow myself walking breaks because for me that always leads to another walking break...and then another. It's a slippery slope, so I fight it as much as I can.

Of course at the end, I was very proud of myself for finishing and I felt great about completing the run. On Sunday I went to hot yoga and all my little aches and pains disappeared. Hot yoga is definitely hard but for me it really offsets the wear and tear of running.

This week's training schedule:
Monday rest
Tuesday rest
Wednesday 5 miles
Thursday 5 miles
Friday rest
Saturday 9 miles
Sunday hot yoga

Happy Running,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Suzanne's Race Recap: American Parkway Half (4/30/11)

The American Parkway Half marathon was a great race. It was well organized, featured a beautiful scenic flat course (with lots of trees to provide shade) and had really good weather (sunny but not too hot). Definitely will run this again next year.

The goal for this race was to finish under 2:15 and my time was 2:13:52, so mission accomplished. As you know, I had a horrible long run last week so I wasn't sure what to expect. Of course, I had the normal nervousness and stress that accompanies any race for me. I'm never able to really get a good night's sleep before a race - since I'm constantly worried the alarm clock won't go off - so I woke up that morning thinking "why am I doing this?!"

Then during the race I'm constantly thinking "Am I crazy...13.1 miles...why do you do this to could be this worth it?" Every race I have this mental running battle, questioning whether I can do this, fighting off the urge to walk/quit, wondering whether I have what it takes to finish. But in the end, I love it and this is why I run.

I run because it is hard (it's not for the weak) and it continues to challenge me everyday. For me, running never gets easy and no two runs are ever alike. One day I feel like I can run forever and the next I will struggle to get through 2 miles. Ultimately, running is a game for me - pushing me outside my comfort zone and providing me with the opportunity to compete with myself.

Running is also my "me time." Being a full-time working mom, I don't get a lot of time to myself. Running is my only "quiet time" where I can think through whatever is going on, organize what needs to be done, figure out a problem, or just space out and think of nothing. Running helps me be sane and I'm a better person for it.

My next half marathon is in 3 weeks, so this week our long run is 13 miles! That means I'm running back to back 13 milers and then 13 miles 3x in 4 weeks. I'm trying not to think about it as I don't think my brain can process that fact!

So I'm taking it relatively easy this week to give my legs some time to recover. I ran 3 miles on Monday and hoping to run 3-5 miles on Wednesday and Thursday. I will skip speed training this week.

Here are some photos from the race:

Happy Running,