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,
Suzanne

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 levels...wow!

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,
Suzanne

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 race...how 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,
Suzanne

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 mental....to 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,
Suzanne

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,
Suzanne

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 yourself...you could be sleeping....is 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,
Suzanne

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Suzanne: Vacation is Over, Had a Lousy Long Run and Next Saturday is the Parkway Half

Our vacation to San Diego is over! It was beautiful, we had a great time and I was even able to get a 5.15 mile run while on vacation which made me happy. It was one of those runs that I could have kept going for a long time as I was so distracted by the gorgeous beaches. I was worried about whether I was going to be able to fit in a run (yes, running has turned me into a crazy person) so I was proud that I did. The day before we left I was really grumpy as I was NOT able to squeeze a run in that day (I've also become the person that is moody when I don't get my runs in - anyone else the same way?) but was able to get a run in the morning before we left and I was relieved.

We returned yesterday and I needed to do my long run today. The goal was to run 10 miles. Let's just say it was a lousy run...it's been awhile since I've had such a horrible run. Not sure if it's because I did the long run by myself or if I was in a bad mood or what...but the run seemed to take forever. Just mentally was not able to get it together. I felt like I walked most of the run but in the end my time wasn't as horrible as I had thought. It seemed the more I stopped to walk for a little bit the more I kept stopping. When I finally made it to the 6 mile mark I knew 10 miles was just not in the cards for me, so I decided if I made it to 8.5 miles I could stop. And that I did.

I also promised myself that I was NOT going to beat myself up about my lovely long run. I'm trying my best but let's just say that this has made me a little nervous about this week's half marathon. Am I going to be able to run 13.1 miles after barely being able to make it to 8.5? I guess we'll see but I keep telling myself that there's nothing else I can do now.

Here is this week's training schedule:
Monday: 3.5 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: cross-training
Thursday: 3.5 miles
Friday: REST
Saturday: 13.1 miles
Sunday: hot yoga

I'm actually looking forward to a race being on a Saturday. All of my half marathons to date have been on Sundays. It will be nice to get it over on Saturday rather than worry all day Saturday about running the race on Sunday. Yes, I'm a worrier and control freak....can I do 13.1 miles, am I ready, do I have everything taken care of, is my alarm set to the right time, am I eating/hydrating correctly, how will I run, etc. But once the race starts I have a singular focus and just run.

In the past, tapering has not been my strength. For some reason it should be easy to do but I always "feel" like I should be doing more. I'm getting better at it.

Oh and guess what? Next week - when I'm back to the Fleet Feet training group schedule for the Fiesta Days half marathon on 5/21 - our long run is 13 miles. So that means I'm running 13 miles two weeks in a row. I'm trying to not even think about that!

Hope everyone else had a good week and I'll be sure to post a race recap next weekend.

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jenn: Shamrock Shuffle Race Report

Before I get into the Race Report, let's give Suzanne a minute to gather herself. I wouldn't be surprised if she just took a peek out the window to make sure pigs aren't flying overhead since I'm finally back to blogging like a good blog partner should :)

This weekend was Chicago's Shamrock Shuffle, the annual start to the Chicagoland racing season. Or as I like to call it, an annual reminder of how much out of shape I truly am.

I wish that was a joke.

Mike and I have done this race for three years in a row, and it's a lot of fun. It's a big race - - they bill it as the "World's Largest 8k" -- and the atmosphere is great. The organizers were well-prepared for 30-some thousand runners. Historically the weather has sucked; maybe that's why it was moved to April this year instead of late March. How much has the weather sucked? Allow me to present Exhibit A:




This was 2009 and what I remember most about that Shuffle was getting pelted with sleet in the face and not being able to feel my toes because we were standing in slush for 40 minutes waiting to start. Last year's race was just downright cold.

This year, we had better weather - - but too hot, an 83 degree day. I think it was in the high 70s when the race started but it was humid. I don't run well in hot and humid. We were hoping for grey skies, cool breeze, 55 - 60 temp. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. We didn't get that this year; maybe next year.

Waiting in the Start Corrals. If you look really close you should be able to see the red START banner up there.


Misting fans at the Finish:

I'm a turtle to begin with but add on the heat and humidity and my chances of finishing under an hour were slim to none. Throw in somewhat inconsistent treadmill training with no outside runs (ankles ow!) and my chances of beating my best time (1:00:06) were zip. Instead, I finished with my worst time, (1:04:something something). Egads. I have a lot to do before Suzanne and I run together.

That said, I still enjoy this race immensely. It's a good chance to catch up with friends, and a hotel stay downtown sans kids and dogs provided for a very relaxing race morning.

Me, Mike and my cousin Kim before the race:


View of Chicago's famous Water Tower from our hotel room:



I am grateful for two positive things coming out of this race:

1) I've been bit by the running bug again. Finally! One reason I haven't blogged in months is because it's kind of hard to blog when you hate running. I can't point to anything specific but I was in a real running funk. I did run some here and there, but nothing that helped me get excited for races coming up.

2) The pre-race photo was another wake-up call for me (actually it was a "holy shit who the hell is that" slap in the face) to get my ass in gear and get focused on losing weight. I am an expert in losing and gaining the same 5 - 6 pounds. Over and over again. I'm sick of running these races carrying the extra weight and quite frankly, I'm sick of lining up to pick up the running shirts in the "women's large" line. Someone (Oprah?) once said that you need to fail 1,000 times before you stick with healthy eating/exercise habits. Don't know if that's true or someone's excuse but I've failed about 1,186 times and I'm done. As luck would have it, my gym just started their 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge. I signed up, got my "before" picture taken today with a goal of losing 24 pounds (or two pounds per week) by July 9. The gym has several events and activities for partipants so the first one is a 5k (outside) tomorrow morning, 6 a.m.

So another race report will be coming this week or, as Suzanne might be thinking, pigs fly and hell froze over in the same week :)

Are you on Twitter? Follow me @jennrunschi.

Jenn

Suzanne: Three Weeks Until Parkway Half

Three weeks to go! Wow...seems like it's coming up fast. These next two weeks I need to really make sure I continue to get my miles in and increase my long runs. The goal is to try to run 11-12 miles this weekend so I almost get a 13 miler in two weeks before the big day.

On Saturday our group ran 9 miles. We did the same course as last week with lots of hill and while it certainly wasn't easy it was a much better run for me. Felt good and pretty strong throughout. The plan was to possibly extend the run to 10 miles but I had the pain again on the right side of my knee (I think IT band related)at the exact same spot - 7 mile mark - as last week, so I didn't want to aggravate it any further. I was able to run through it to finish and the pain was not as bad as last week. It's a little concerning but I'm trying not to freak out about it. When I got home I iced it and had no further pain the rest of the day walking around. When running flat routes, I don't experience this at all so I'm not sure if the hills play any factor?

Here's my training schedule this week:
Monday 5 miles
Tuesday 4-6 miles speed training (warm-up, 6x-400m, cool-down)
Wednesday cross training
Thursday 4-5 miles
Friday rest or maybe hot yoga if I'm feeling up to it
Saturday 10-12 miles (training group is scheduled to run 9 miles again)
Sunday hot yoga

Congrats to Jenn on running and finishing the Shamrock 8k on Sunday! She promises a race recap soon.

Next week will be interesting to schedule my running as we'll be on spring break. My plan is to try to get as much in before we leave and just "plan" the rest and stick to it. Hopefully it will all work out.

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Suzanne: Getting Back into Training Mode

Finally starting to feel like I'm starting to get back to the running shape I was in before I got sick. It's really tough - mentally and physically - to get back into the grind but I've had a good week so far. In 4 days (Saturday-Tuesday), I've managed to run almost 22 miles.

Saturday's group training run was 8 miles. Unfortunately for me, it was a hilly run. We started with hills right off the bat and they kept coming. Oh, and we ended with a hill as well just to top it off. It was a tough run but I was glad to have finished it. Supposedly we're running a similar course this Saturday so wish me luck!

The half marathon (Fiesta Days 5/21) that the Fleet Feet group is training for will have hills, so I've heard that the training will over prepare you for that. It actually is a good thing as it definitely will be a change up from my Shamrock half marathon training which was relatively flat (my preference). So at least I know this will take my training up another notch.

Here's my training schedule this week:
Sunday: 4 miles (done)
Monday: 4.25 miles (done)
Tuesday: 5.6 miles - speed training with hill intervals (done)
Wednesday: cross-training
Thursday: 4.5 miles
Friday: cross-training
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: hot yoga

In the next few weeks, I'm planning to increase my Saturday runs so I can get a 12 or 13 miler in prior to the half marathon on April 30th. Then I'll resume the Fleet Feet training schedule for the Fiesta Days half marathon on May 21st.

Last week, I had a little pain in my right knee. It was a first for me but it was the side - most likely IT band related from what I've read and can tell. It happened again at mile 7 on Saturday but I was still able to finish the run after stopping briefly to just stretch. I haven't experienced it again but I'm hoping it isn't something that will be occurring on a regular basis.

On the music front - Jenn has introduced me to My Chemical Romance. Here are my favorite songs to run to (in order): Sing, Na Na Na Na, Welcome to the Black Parade, Teenagers, and Famous Last Words. Jenn pointed out to me that in the song Sing - he says "keep running" at one point which is really cool.

The other singer that I have just found and absolutely LOVE is Adele. Beautiful voice and I really enjoy running to: Rolling in the Deep, Rumour Has It and Set Fire to the Rain.

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Monday, March 28, 2011

Suzanne: Feeling Better and 5 Weeks Until the Next Half Marathon

Happy to report that I'm finally feeling better! I was bummed on Sunday that I missed running the Oakland half but I know I made the right decision (thanks to those that sent messages of support). Yesterday, I was finally able to get my first run in after being sick all week. I kept procrastinating all weekend long about running - finding any excuse (even doing house chores) to not run. I think I was scared that being off a week meant I lost all my training that I'd worked so hard to build up? I've decided that running and training can make a person crazy - ha!

Well, the good news is that the run went well and 4.5 miles later I felt great. I decided to stop at 4.5 miles as I didn't want to overdo it (something I naturally will do if I let myself). Still coughed here and there but my lungs and legs felt strong which was encouraging. Oh, and I'll admit...when I'm really dreading a run the one person that makes a run enjoyable for me is....yes, Britney Spears! Her music is great to workout to.

This week marks 5 weeks out from the Parkway Half Marathon on Saturday, April 30th. The countdown begins!

Here's my training plan this week:
Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: cross-training
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: speed training (4-6 miles)
Friday: cross-training
Saturday: 8-10 miles (long run)
Sunday: rest or hot yoga

Signed up to continue training with the Fleet Feet running group as the Saturday long runs were great - gets the run out of the way early and makes you accountable.

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Suzanne is Sick, Sick, Sick and the Oakland Half is Off

Let me start by saying that I don't usually get sick....I was one week away from running the Oakland Half Marathon and then I knew something was wrong Saturday afternoon. Whatever I got (the flu I think) came on quickly and I was down for the count that night with aches and pains, shivering one minute, burning up the next. I'll spare everyone the rest of the details, but let's just say it was AWFUL!

Four days later and I'm just starting to feel human again - I can't remember a time that I was sick for this long. It's now evolved into a head cold with stuffiness and congestion. It's no wonder I got sick as my daughter has been ill - strep throat and then caught another virus afterwards - for two weeks now. I'm hoping we're both on the path to recovery.

Unfortunately though that means the Oakland Half Marathon I was supposed to run this Sunday is officially OFF. At first, I thought "OK if I feel okay by Monday I can squeeze in a semi-long run and then taper the rest of the week." Then on Tuesday morning it was "No biggie that I don't get a long run in as I can just run a few 3 milers that week and still run the half." But by Tuesday afternoon I knew better...there was no way I was going to be able to run this week, especially not 13.1 miles. And who was I kidding...I can barely breathe today as I'm still stuffed up. Can't blame me for dreaming I guess?

The plan now is to continue to rest, get better and then ease back into running. Of course I've been worrying about how this will impact all the training I've done so far...is it all down the toilet now that I've been out of commission for a week? I really hope not as I've worked really hard to get in the running shape I'm in (or was last week).

Hoping to run sometime this weekend and I'm curious to see how I'll feel. Maybe this break was a good thing for my body? I have no idea but a girl can hope.

Once I'm healthy again I'll begin my training schedule for the next half marathon on 4/30. Hope everyone is having better luck than me in staying healthy!

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Friday, March 18, 2011

Suzanne's Shamrock Finish Line Photos

Thought I'd share the finish line photos from the Shamrock half marathon...my favorite is the first one.







Sunday, March 13, 2011

Suzanne: Shamrock Half Marathon Race Recap


WOW! If I had to summarize my race recap in one word that is what it would be. I shocked even myself to run a new personal best of 2:08:42, besting my previous PR by 15 minutes!

I've officially surpassed one of my 2011 running goals to improve my PR by 15 minutes. Guess I should set a new one?

As we all know, 13.1 miles is never easy...no matter how many times we've run it and how long we've trained for it. To me, it's always intimidating, daunting and scary to think I have to run that far. Last night was no different. I never sleep well before a race or when I'm going to travel. Always waking up looking at the alarm clock to make sure I haven't overslept. It didn't really matter that we were "springing forward" an hour as I wasn't going to get a good night's sleep anyways.

My strategy today was to go out fast and see what happens and for how long I could go. It was hard at first as there were a lot of runners and it was crowded. I felt like I was zig zagging for the first 5-6 miles which was frustrating. The paths were narrow and I probably irritated a few runners by jumping in front of them here and there. What's funny is I used to be the runner that was annoyed by people doing what I was doing today but now I understand why - you're just trying to run fast and you're trying to get into some open space so you can breath and run.

I basically managed to keep a 9:15-9:30 mile pace for the first 6 miles. I've never gotten to that half way point and was under an hour. I was psyched when that happened. I was also pumped when I passed first the 2:20 pacer and then the 2:10 pacer. That is when I knew I could potentially have a great running day.

The first 8 miles went well and way better than I had planned. I was feeling really good, strong and had at that point shown no signs of fatigue. Miles 9-11 were a mental fight. I started drinking more gatorade at the water stations (I only carried water myself) and I took my jelly beans at mile 9. Thinking back I should have taken them earlier and I'll make that adjustment in future races.

Mentally, I just kept talking to myself and my fight was to NOT allow the 2:10 pacer group to get near me. I was going to do whatever it took to stay in front of them. I also would not allow myself to walk for fear that I'd never start up again. So yes, it was a mental fight to the finish. I kept telling myself that I was going to regret not giving it my all if I didn't capitalize on this opportunity to finish under 2:10 for the first time.

The last 2.1 miles weren't easy but I'm so proud of myself for pushing through it all. I have to credit the Fleet Feet half marathon training, speedwork and my training sessions (to strengthen core and overall strength) for putting me in the best position to succeed. It's truly made a difference.

Once the finish line was in sight, I didn't hurt anymore. I managed to sprint out the last part of the run and was so proud. I didn't expect to run this time - was hoping for 2:15 for this race - and really surprised myself.


This marks my fourth half marathon since last July. Who knew I would get the half marathon bug?

What's next? Well, I've decided to run the Oakland Running Festival half marathon in two weeks. It counts toward the Nor-Cal Half Marathon Series (you have to run 4 in 2011 to receive a special medal) which would put me at two completed so far. I felt good the second week after the Davis half marathon - when we ran 12 miles - so I'm hoping that will happen again.

This race also taught me that I can and should continue to push myself to run faster. My biggest fear has always been that I'll run out of gas towards then end but this race taught me that I can do it. So now I need to continue to train faster to build endurance and confidence. Wish me luck!

This week, I will plan on rewinding my training plan two weeks back and run the following:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest (cross-train?)
Saturday: 9-10 miles
Sunday: Hot yoga


And congrats to my "sisters" Judy and Morgan on completing the Shamrock half! Judy ran a fast time as well and Morgan amazingly ran on her knee that had her out from running for the last two weeks. So proud of both of them!

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy 1st Anniversary to our Blog!

Is there such a thing? Well, we're celebrating the first anniversary of our blog!

A year ago, Jenn convinced me to do a blog together once I shared with her that I was training for a marathon. The blog would help hold ourselves accountable and share our marathon training experiences as two full-time working moms. Naturally I was a bit hesitant but then decided oh what the heck - plus Jenn is very persuasive (anyone who knows her can attest to that).

It started out as "Jenn and Suzanne's Excellent Marathon Adventures" and has been revised to "Jenn and Suzanne's Excellent Half Marathon Adventures" as what started as a marathon dream turned into a half marathon for me when I injured my hip in May. I have to admit that the injury may have been a good thing because I ended up LOVING half marathons! Who knows if I had actually finished the marathon that I would have ever run again? I still wonder sometimes if I'll ever do a marathon...but that's a blog topic for another time.

Since we started this blog, Jenn and I have successfully run half marathons, 10ks and 5ks. And this year, we're planning even more - yeah!

We want to thank everyone who has supported us - friends, family and our blog followers - along the way! It has meant a lot as we continue our running adventures.

And a special thanks to my partner in crime and bestie Jenn for (1) encouraging me to do the blog as it's actually been fun and a great way to chronicle our running adventures and (2) for all the encouragement and support you provide even though we're 2,000 miles apart!

Who knows what we have in store this year for the blog....hopefully a lot of happy race recaps?!

Happy running everyone!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Suzanne: It's Shamrock Half Marathon Time, Baby!

One week until the Shamrock half marathon! Woo hoo!

On Saturday, we ran our last long run of 9 miles. My first non-double digit run in over 5 weeks. Even though I didn't really feel up to running, Judy and I talked the entire time and got through it just fine. Running buddies make such a difference!

After the run, I decided to take a dip in my pool as my "ice bath."
This was a first but I wanted to try it as my body was a little beat up. I put my ankles in first - I had done this a lot in high school and college for basketball so that wasn't too bad. But then decided to just go in and sit. Let's just say I couldn't say what I really wanted to because my two girls were watching me. So instead I hugged my towel as hard as I could as my body was submerged from my hips down in 53 degree water. The first 5 minutes were the worst but I managed to stay in there for 24 minutes.

Felt much better afterwards, although walking after getting out was a challenge - felt like a robot. My right hip has been a little tight so I will continue to ice, stretch and use the foam roller. No pain, just a little tender.

This week training was good. For speed training, Judy and I did a little over 7 miles and ran hard. We were supposed to run 1 miles (2x) faster than our normal mile speed. Let's just say we did it pretty fast but I really surprised myself that I could run those times. Thanks to Judy because I never would have gone that fast on my own - I was just trying to stay near her. :-)

I'm also on the lookout this week as twice this week I've almost been taken out two times...once by a little dog who decided to jump right in front of me while I was running and the second time by a 15 pound weight sitting in the middle of my brother's floor that my big toe ran right into. So now I'm paranoid that I'm going to do something stupid like that and not be able to run! I will also try to enjoy tapering off this week.

Here is this week's training schedule:
Monday 4 miles
Tuesday 3-5 miles (speed training)
Wednesday trainer workout
Thursday 3 miles
Friday rest
Saturday rest (maybe hot yoga?)and pick up race packet
Sunday 13.1 miles!!!

As for what's next...I will see how I feel and make a last minute decision whether I will run the Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon on March 27th. This qualifies for the 2011 Nor-Cal Half Marathon Series I'm participating in (you have to run 4 half marathons they offer). I felt good two weeks after the Davis half marathon so as long as I experience the same, I'll plan on running this at the end of the month. Will keep you updated and will post a race recap next Sunday!

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Suzanne: My 1st 30 mile Week!

This week I ran 30 miles, marking my first 30 mile week! Woo hoo! I've certainly been close to 30 miles since I've started training but never quite made it. Our long run was 13 miles this week (13.13 to be exact). It's important to note that I've never run 13 miles except for the three half marathons I've run in the past year.

Saturday's long run went fine. Not as great as my 12 mile run last week but I felt good. I was able to run the last 2 miles at a good clip. I'm very curious to see how I perform at the Shamrock Half Marathon because I normally feel pretty beat by mile 10-11...but the last few long runs I have felt strong and not the usual energy dip at the end. I'm also not sore afterwards either which I'm taking as a sign that my body is adapting and getting used to the running. Obviously the increased mileage, longer runs and speed training has definitely worked.

I was proud that I was able to get all my mileage in this past week as I was travelling for the majority of the week. It meant me getting up early and running on the treadmill. So that makes my 30 mile week even more special that I was able to achieve it.

This also marked my fourth straight week of having a double-digit long run - another first for me.

Two weeks until the Shamrock Half Marathon!

Here is the workout plan this week:
Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 6 miles - speed training
Wednesday: trainer
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 9 miles (no double-digit run for the first time in 5 weeks)
Sunday: cross-train (hot yoga)

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Suzanne: Three Weeks Until Shamrock Half Marathon

Three weeks from today is the Shamrock Half Marathon!

On Saturday, our long run was 12 miles. I was not looking forward to this run as I had a lousy 10 mile run last week. Took all the necessary precautions...carbo loaded Friday night and did eat a wheat bagel for breakfast (I ususally don't eat before most long runs...I know...not that smart). It ended up being my best long run to date.

Not only did I run 12.25 miles in record time - I would have set a new PR had I continued on that pace for 13.1 - but I successfully ran (and somehow enjoyed) running the hills on our route and ran the entire time. Hill training is obviously paying off. In addition, the rain held off until after our run was complete...whew!

So I felt great after that run - mentally and physically - and was on what I think you'd call a "runner's high." I just felt good throughout the entire run and while I kept waiting for my energy to drop it never did. It felt like I got stronger as the run went on. I only wish that I can experience this kind of run during a race! That would be cruel if my best long run is on a training run.

This week will be a challenge to get all my training in as I'm travelling for the majority of the week on business. So it will be me and the dreaded treadmill...let's hope the treadmill and I can get along.

This week's training is:
Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: cross-train
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: speed training (4-6 miles)
Friday: cross-train
Saturday: 13 miles
Sunday: hot yoga

This is also marks the first time I've done three double-digit mile runs in a row. This week's 13 will mark my 4th in a row. Next week we taper to 9 miles before 13.1 on raceday March 13th.

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Suzanne: Running Sometimes Sucks

Well that kinds of sums up my week. Yes, running sometimes sucks. Sometimes runs do not go as planned. Some days you feel like you can keep running forever and then the very next day you can barely run a mile...or in my case two.

Last week was fine until our long run on Saturday. We were scheduled to run 10 but ended up running 10.85 miles. So that kinda sucked (that it was longer than it needed to be) and the run did not go well. Thank goodness I had Morgan running with me or I would have been really tempted to just quit and call it a day. But the good news is that we finished...but we walked once we hit 10 miles because I refused to run any further than absolutely necessary that day!

Honestly we should have probably cut ourselves some slack as we did run a half marathon the weekend before. This marked the first time that I have continued to run and train after completing a half marathon! The Shamrock half is in 4 weeks from this Sunday. So that probably added to my bad run. It also was my outlook...I kept telling myself that 10 miles should be nothing as we just did 13.1 last Sunday.

Yeah, the funny thing about running is no matter how much mileage you run...never take any run - no matter how little you may need to run - for granted. When you start thinking 5 miles is nothing is when you're about to have the longest 5 mile run of your life. That leads me to my horrible run on Monday.

As you know, the treadmill and I have not been getting along lately. Well, the treadmill kicked my ass on Monday. The plan was to run 5 miles. I allowed myself to walk the first .25 miles to warm up. Then I started to run. Started off normal...not feeling great as the first mile is never usually fun for me. But then I get to 1.25 miles and I think "okay...let's go." I swear I felt like I ran for 2 miles more...I look down at the treadmill and it says 1.75 miles...I swear! I ran for .25 more and just stopped at 2 miles. There was no way that 5 miles was not going to happen and I figured why fight it.

But, the good news is that I redeemed myself today. Ran with Judy and Morgan and we did 6.35 miles, including 4x hill intervals. I felt great and I'm back on track. The bad part is it's supposed to keep raining so I may have to get on a treadmill again....let's hope not!

Here's my training schedule this week:
Monday: 2 miles (not the plan)
Tuesday: 6.35 miles (speed training with 4x hill intervals)
Wednesday: 3-4 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: workout with trainer
Saturday: 12 miles (long run)
Sunday: hot yoga (90 minutes)

And, I finally went back to hot yoga last Sunday. It was good and I feel great afterwards. Will continue to do that on Sundays after my long runs. Eventually, I'd like to try to do it 2x a week.

Hope everyone is having a better training week than me!

Happy Running,
Suzanne

PS - here are some more photos from the Davis Stampede half marathon:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Suzanne's Race Recap: Davis Stampede Half Marathon



The course was not as flat as I thought, it was hot and windy, and I was just happy to finish. That about wraps up my Davis Stampede Half Marathon today.

This race was supposed to be a nice flat run and a good warm-up for the Shamrock half on March 13th - which is what I'm training for. And I suppose the one good thing is that we're now ahead in our training. The long run this week was supposed to be 9 (the same as last week).



It started out chilly this morning, but it heated up fast. It was in the low 70s but the sun felt intense. The flat course was not all that flat...it had a lot of tunnels and overpasses that went down and the inevitably up. The overpass was like a triangle...going straight up and then down. Definitely was not expecting the inclines but managed to run all of them.



Glad I brought my own water bottle as they ran out of cups at many of the water stations. At one they were saying "used water cups" - ahh, no thank you! I just would refill my water bottle directly from the water jugs. Overall, wasn't impressed with how the race was run by organizers because at registration the day before I had to stand in line - with my 4 year old - for an hour.

Definitely was able to get through the run with the help and encouragement of Judy and Morgan - my running buddies and support group! Morgan and I definitely tried to keep talking about anything to get us through the last 3 miles...which seemed to take forever and yes I complained a lot.

I love the photo when we're both smiling because we are so excited to be so close to the finish line and saw our Dads! And I'm proud of how we were able to pick up the pace to the finish line.



Overall, I'm feeling good tonight - definitely not as sore as my previous two halfs at all. I'm proud that I finished as it was a mentally tough run and am curious how this will help and/or prepare me for my next half marathon in 5 weeks. This will also be the first time that I continue to train after completing a half marathon as I took breaks from running after my other two.

Planning to take tomorrow off as a rest day and here's my training for the rest of the week:
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Cross-train
Wednesday: 4.5 miles
Thursday: Speed training (4-6 miles)
Friday: 4.5 miles
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: hot yoga

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Suzanne: Davis Stampede 1/2 Marathon is Sunday!



The Davis Stampede Half Marathon is this Sunday...yes Superbowl Sunday! At least I can eat my pizza and breadsticks guilt free after running a half marathon that morning. That is why everyone runs right? To eat...well that's why I workout anyways.

I'm excited for the run and looking forward to doing it with my running buddies Morgan and Judy. Our long run was 9 miles last week (this is for the training for the Shamrock half marathon in March) but I'm not as worried as my longest run before my last two halfs were 9 (when I was injured during training for SF race) and 10 (for my last one in October). This half is basically a tune-up for the Shamrock and I couldn't pass it up since it's so close (and a flat course!).

Training has been on schedule and going well. Oh, I finally tried hot yoga on Sunday - the day after my long run. It was no joke. It actually felt really good afterwards and it's definitely a challenge to endure the heat and hold those poses. There was another newbie there in my class and she nearly passed out so I felt good that I made it through the class. Definitely will continue to try to incorporate it as I think it will be great balance to the wear and tear running does to the body.

Here was the training this week:
Sunday: cross-train (hot yoga)
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: cross-train (core) and speed training (4.2 miles total - 3x800s)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: cross-train
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 13.1 miles baby!

Will definitely post pics and a recap! And, my shoes are awesome...so comfy and great to run in.

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Suzanne is Cranky But Has a New Pair of Running Shoes!

I will admit I'm cranky. Why? Well probably because I don't get enough sleep (what mom does?) but it's primarily because I didn't get my 4-mile run in today. Yes, it's come to that. I used to be the girl that didn't really worry about my missed workouts but now it makes me cranky and irritated! Not sure if that's a good or bad thing? Thoughts?

Good news though..I did buy a new pair of shoes. And I found pink ones or actually ones that have pink in it...aren't they pretty? Bad news is that I haven't run in them yet. Today was supposed to be my first day, so until tomorrow....



Training went well last week! Successfully got all my miles in and I'm really starting to enjoy speed training. It's just nice having a different kind of running to do and I'm really liking it. Our long run last week was 8 miles....my running buddies Judy and Morgan make the time go by!

Oh and I finally had a great treadmill run - I was definitely overdue for that. It was last Wednesday night when I needed to get my run in. Started running on the treadmill and it was one of those rare times when it was just easy and felt like I could run forever! I would have kept running but it was a school night and had to get the girls home and ready to go to bed. But I was so happy to finally have a good treadmill run after my last few have not gone so well.

This week's training schedule:
Monday: 4 miles (done!)
Tuesday: cross-train (done!)
Wednesday: 4 miles (need to make-up)
Thursday: speed-training: hills (4-6 miles)
Friday: rest (have personal training session scheduled)
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: cross-train (maybe try hot yoga?)

Overall, I'm in the best running shape I've ever been in. I feel strong and starting to feel like a "real runner" if that makes any sense?

Music - I have two new songs that I'm really enjoying running to:
(1) F*&K You by Cee Lo Green (there's also a clean version Forget You available)
(2) Animal by Neon Trees (this song rocks!)

That's it for this week. The Davis Stampede half marathon is a week from this Sunday!

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Monday, January 17, 2011

Suzanne: Week 2 of Half Marathon Training

Officially completed week 1 of Fleet Feet's half marathon training!

Speed training on Thursday evening was a first for me. We did a 15 minute warm-up and then did fartleks - a 2 minute fast run, followed by a 2 minute slow run. It actually felt good to run hard knowing I was going to be able to rest a little after it but 2 minutes is no joke and a long time. We ended the workout with a 15 minute run back to the store. Felt good after the workout but was sore that night. Surprisingly woke up fine on Friday with no soreness. Very curious to see how speed training workouts will impact my running - we'll see.

Enjoyed my rest day on Friday and felt like I earned it. Saturday's long run was 7 miles. Again we started out in the dark but this time it was also foggy - fantastic. Got through the run fine but definitely need to start eating prior to my long runs as I kinda pushed myself to the limit on this one and was starving afterwards and at lunch. Felt fine last week when I didn't eat anything for 6 miles, but was a little drained after 7 miles this week. Was just too lazy to get up earlier to eat something - it's a bad habit of mine.

Here's the training program for this week:
Monday: 3.5 miles
Tuesday: cross-train
Wednesday: 3.5 miles
Thursday: speed workout
Friday: rest
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: cross-train

This week I also need to buy some new running shoes - I'm thinking something pink or purple.

Countdown - 3 weeks until the Davis Stampede half marathon and 8 weeks until the Shamrock half!

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Suzanne: Week 1 of Half Marathon Training Program

On Saturday, I officially started my half marathon training program with my local Fleet Feet. At 6:30 am I started on my long run with the training group. It was cold - cold for a California girl that is - and dark but I successfully completed a 6 mile run. Felt good, had a great run with Judy and Morgan and then had the rest of my day in front of me. Definitely makes a difference to run with people as I always run faster. It was a good start and we'll see how the rest of the training goes and what difference it makes.

Here's the training program for this week:
Monday: 3 miles (completed)
Tuesday: cross-train (completed)
Wednesday: 3 miles
Thursday: speed workout
Friday: rest
Saturday: 7 miles
Sunday: cross-train

Every Thursday will be the speed workout in the evenings. Curious to see how these go but evidently we're doing 4-6 miles of speed work - that should be interesting.

Also, I think my days of running on the treadmill are numbered. I used to LOVE running on the treadmill and actually preferred it to running outside. However, since I've been training I now prefer running outside. My last few treadmill runs have been HORRIBLE! They seemed to last forever and I just wanted to stop. Just dreadful!

This training is preparing me for the Shamrock half marathon on March 13th with our longest run being 13 miles - more than I've trained for in the past. However, I'm also scheduled to do a half marathon on February 6th - my training will be up to 10 miles prior to that race (what I normally trained up to for my past 2 half marathons).

That's it for now!

Happy Running,
Suzanne

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Suzanne: I Skipped My 5k!

Yes, I skipped my 5k this past Sunday. Was gung ho about running in the rain until I woke up early on Sunday to check out the weather and it was raining heavily, windy and cold. I should clarify that it was cold for this California girl - not for anyone who lives in the Northeast or Midwest. Ha! So I decided to NOT go and went back to bed. You'll be happy to know that I did run a 5k but in the comfort of the gym. In checking out the results of the race and it did seem that there was a fair number of runners that made the same decision as me.

So far this week my training is going to plan. Ran 4 miles on Monday on the treadmill at work, rested today, and plan to run 5 miles on Wednesday, 3 miles on Thursday, cross train on Friday and run 6 miles on Saturday morning with the Fleet Feet half marathon training group. Did I mention the training group runs at 6:30 am in the morning? Oh my! Well at least I'll get it done first thing in the morning and check it off my list.

Happy new year everyone! I hope everyone is off to a great start and making progress on their resolutions. On that note, I figured I'd share my 2011 running/exercise goals.

- Run 4 half marathons (doubling my 2010 total)
- Improve half marathon PR by 15 minutes
- Join half marathon training group
- Try Bikram Yoga
- Continue to strengthen core through personal training workouts and/or classes
- Consistently workout 5 days a week
- Lose 5 lbs (stretch goal: lose 10 lbs)
- Eat better by reducing portion size and limiting consumption of ice cream, pizza, and bread

It's always good to have goals to shoot for so I'm excited to work towards achieving mine.

Happy Running,
Suzanne