Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Next up - Miami!

This Sunday morning I will spend a little quality time on Miami Beach with about 18000 of my closest friends. The Miami marathon is the "big" event around these parts - just about everyone I know runs it.

It's become a destination marathon for many with participants from all over the place. And why not? It starts in downtown Miami, crosses the causeway to Miami Beach (passing a beautiful view of cruise ships at port), along South Beach hot spots, over another causeway (ocean views, Miami skyline) back to downtown - and that's just for the half! The full marathon continues south to Coconut Grove, through historic Miami (architecture and gorgeous landscape) and back. It's scenic, flat, and the weather is usually quite lovely. No wonder it's grown so in popularity since it's inception in 2003.

Most of my friends are running the half (as am I) with a few doing the full. Usually I go solo, but this year am planning to carpool down and hang out with the gang afterward for brunch. Yes, I'm am playing hooky from church this week ... they can get along without me!

Palm trees, sunshine, ocean breezes, a scenic run with great friends followed by pancakes -- it just doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm committed now!

Or maybe - I should be committed. I took the plunge this morning and registered for the 2011 Goofy "race and a half" challenge. 39.3 miles in two days.

Am I nuts? Or just -- Goofy?

Happy running!

Another weekend - another 10K

What a difference a week makes, indeed! Last Saturday, I ran a 10K in weather that was 40-something and rainy. For this Saturday's 10K it was mid-70's and sunny. And I thought Indiana weather was changeable. It was almost ... dare I say ... too warm? Nope, not going to say that!! I'll take hot over freezing ANY day!

I've run the Miramar 10K several times before. It's a small-ish neighborhood race, just 15 minutes west of our home. It was the first 10K I ever ran, back in 2001. I had been running for just a few months and it was my longest race to date. I remember the effort it demanded, and how delighted I was to NOT be last (there was one person behind me!). I placed second in my age group because, well, there were only two IN my age group. I finished in around 1:12, thrilled to make a 12 min per mile pace, and only dreaming of some day achieving a blazing speed of, maybe, 10 minute miles. Breaking one hour in a 10K was my ultimate goal. Good times.

Fast forward to 2010. After many more years of running and thousands of miles under my belt, er, feet, I am now reasonably confident that I won't finish last. The race has grown somewhat, but it still is relatively small. I had a great run, pushed at the end, and finished with a new 10K PR at 55:26! And it was good enough for first in my age group! (and yes, there was more than one in my age group) :-)

Two weeks, two 10Ks, two first place age group finishes. Hmm, I could get used to this! Call me shallow, but I really do like getting those shiny medals and trophies. I just hit a new age group in September, and I'm likin' it! You don't have to get faster necessarily, you just have to out-last everyone else .....

Our peak running season continues. Miami is in two weeks, a 5 K right after that, then another half in mid-February.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

From Butterflies to Snow Geese

What a difference a week makes. Last week I ran on the trails in Maui, surrounded by hundreds of butterflies. This week it's back to the roads in Northwest Montana, trying to find ice-free running. We're running along Lower Valley Road --- and my friend, Deb says, "Look up. Snow geese." A group of sleek white bodies glide through the winter sky. This is warm country for them. I guess it's all relative.

Happy (ice-free) running!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Should I ... or not?

Peer pressure. That's what it is.

Several of my running friends haven't even recovered from the brutal Disney conditions (freezing temps, gusty winds, and sleet - in Florida!!), but they are already talking about registering for the Jan 2011 Goofy. Dear hubby Jeff absolutely thinks I should go for it - he wants those medals! (My usual reply: then YOU run it! - spoken lovingly, of course)

But ... after having trained similarly to my friends this year, just not quite as long, I think I COULD do it, if I wanted to. The question is, how bad do I want to? Running the Salmon marathon in September would set me up nicely to continue Goofy training for January. Yet - I bailed out of my Sunday 14 miler half way because it was 45 degrees and gusty-windy COLD. Wimp. Should I commit to 39.3 miles?

I'll let you know!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

For die-hards only ....

I decided to run a 10K this morning. Although many don't, I happen to like the 10K race distance. It makes a nice tempo run and I think it's great speed training for half marathons. It also is a decent substitute for my regular Saturday morning run - a 5K just doesn't seem long enough. The proceeds for this particular 5K/10K race was going to FLIPANY, an organization that promotes good nutrition and exercise for youth. The race was going to be held along Hollywood beach, our normal Sunday long-run stomping ground. All good reasons to do the run, right? There was just one little thing -- the weather was forecast to be COLD and rainy.

As I arrived at the North beach park around 6 am, it was 52 degrees and drizzling rain. Since I hadn't pre-registered, I had every opportunity to turn the car around, drive back home, and go back to bed like any sane person. But, I thought of my friends at Disney at that very moment, facing 32 degrees and sleet, and decided I couldn't be a wimp. So, I queued up with a few other shivering but undaunted runners to register and wait for the race start.

I huddled in my car until shortly before the 5K start, then sought refuge in the park restroom until the 10K start, 15 minutes later. You know it's a small race, when there is no line for the restroom facilities!! Around 55 crazy, er, dedicated runners ducked outside for the 10K start (warming up was fruitless) and were off! For the first time ever, I didn't bother to start my watch. I didn't know what my time was, and frankly, I didn't care. I figured I'd start when they said go, and keep running until they said I could stop. Time wasn't important - survival was.

Once I got going, it wasn't so bad. I got warmed up after about a mile and found my stride. The rain stayed relatively light, although there was a wicked north headwind on part of the course. I was running on familiar ground and knew every turn and dip. I had absolutely no idea of pace, I just kept running. I just knew if I ran faster, I'd get done sooner ..... The really dedicated folks were the volunteers that manned the course and the water stops who helped us and cheered us on. At least we could run to keep warm. I tried to make a point to thank them; we wouldn't have races without those volunteers!

Finally, the finish line was in view and I kicked it on in. I finished in 55:51, less than 10 seconds off of my PR and good enough for first in my age group! (And yes, there was more than one person in my age group!!) The post-race area had hot coffee and at that moment, getting my hands wrapped around a steaming hot beverage was the best thing ever. The race officials didn't make us wait around for a long drawn-out awards affair either, they started handing out the medals pretty much as people came in. Less than 15 minutes after I finished, I had my age group medal in hand and was headed for the car. By that time it was 44 degrees, still raining, and the temperature still dropping. Then I went home to a long hot shower and THAT was the best thing ever!

Ah yes, another day, another running adventure ..... but it was fun! :-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Role reversal!

Now that's a switch -- it's January, Ruth is running in heat/humidity and it is 38 degrees here! I elected NOT to run this morning, although it is my usual running day. I am fighting a cold (picked up during my holiday travel no doubt) and chose to sleep in a little rather than brave our unusually cold temperatures. Running in freezing weather with a cold = not fun, in my book.

I'm watching the weekend weather forecast for my Disney-running friends, and it's looking to be downright frigid for the races. Stay warm, my friends!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Running in Maui

Morning run -- on the beach in Kapalua Bay, Maui. Hard to believe that I was running on ice less than 48 hrs ago.

Beautiful sunrise, whales breaching in the bay, hibiscus blooming and tropical breezes. I'm not used to running in 70 degrees with 80% humidity --- but I'm adjusting fast!

There's over 100 miles of hiking and running trails in this area. I could stay here quite a while.....

Happy running.

You know it's cold when ...

iguanas start dropping out of trees.

Our unusually-cold snap continues here in South Florida. We're accustomed to the cold fronts that blow in and out in a couple of days, quickly bouncing back to the seasonal average highs in the upper 70's. We're experiencing days of lows in the 40's (even 30's!) and highs in the 50's. While certainly nicer than the deep freeze in most of the rest of the country, it's pretty doggone chilly for us.

There is one bright spot though - it may decrease the local iguana population. The large iguanas are not native to our area, they were brought here from Central America (usually as pets) and they have greatly multiplied and prospered, to the point of becoming pests in many places. When the temps drop into the 40's, iguanas become immobilized, to the point of losing their grip and falling off their perches, out of trees, etc. Perhaps we need a new weather service alert type?[Freeze watch! Fire watch! Falling iguana Warning!] If the temps stay low enough, long enough, they can actually die. Considering it would cost millions of dollars to pay hunters to rid cities of the nuisance, maybe that's not so bad ... I like the little buggars, but don't like them pooping everywhere and eating my decorative foliage.

Oh yeah this is a running blog. No running today -- cross training! Weights and Pilates.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why run a marathon?

I was firmly convinced I would never do another full marathon. My first experience was, let's just say, something less than positive.

It's actually Ruth's fault that I'm a runner at all. I arrived late to the party, not having started running until I was over 40. After making a few forays into running short distances, she suggested we train and run a half marathon together. In a slightly irrational moment, I agreed, and trained, and some months later we did run a half marathon together in San Diego. I was totally pumped after that and continued to train and ran several more half marathons. So, a full marathon was the next logical step, right? I set my sights on the Jan 2004 Miami marathon.

I trained on my own - and found that I am simply not interesting enough to entertain myself for 20+ mile training runs. I was very slow then, running 12-13 min miles, and those long runs were tortuous. They took forever and and I would struggle mightily for the last few miles and finish completely exhausted. Crosstraining was greatly reduced in my need to recover from the long runs. In retrospect I can see that I was simply not ready, I didn't have sufficient running base established. But, in my single-minded way, I pushed on and ran that Miami marathon - alone. I struggled through those last few miles, knees hurting, walking half of the time, just trying to finish. When I finally crossed that finish line after five and a half hours, I tried to feel that race exhiliration, but all I felt was relief that I could finally stop. I was glad that I finished, but had NO desire whatsoever to do it again.

I ran a few more shorter races after that, but the joy in running had somehow slipped away. Then came several devastating hurricane seasons, new job responsibilities with lots of travel, and busy life in general. I stopped running altogether, got out of the workout habit, ate way too much, and of course, the pounds crept on. I woke up in January of 2007 realizing that I was completely out of shape and weighed more than I did when I was 9 months pregnant! So I made the decision to get in shape and lose weight, this time for good. I started walking, then walk/jogging, and finally running. I went to the gym faithfully and watched my diet, and by the end of 2007 had lost 40 pounds and was in training for another half marathon in Ft. Lauderdale. I lucked into a wonderful small, informal running group and continued training and racing in earnest. And somewhere in there, I rediscovered the joy in running. I was content.

It's now two years and more than a half dozen half marathons later. I have friends training for marathons all around me. Although vocal in my intent never to run a FULL marathon again, I began to privately wonder - could I do it? As my friends have ramped up their long run mileage in preparation for the Disney weekend, I ramped mine up too, just to see how it felt. 16 miles, 18 miles, then 20 miles. Suprisingly, I felt - pretty darned good. Yes, the long runs are tiring, yes my legs were a little sore, but I wasn't exhausted. I'm just stronger now. So, maybe, just maybe, this full marathon thing isn't as much of stretch anymore.

So here we are, training and blogging. This year I want to stay strong, continue pushing my limits, and keep it fun. And fitting into those skinny jeans doesn't suck either ....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I thought Florida was warm!

I've never posted in a blog before. I have to admit, this is a very cool idea, and an awesome way to stay updated on our mutual running progress! Even if she IS my big sister, I have to give Ruth credit for the idea! :-)

I kept a running log in 2009. I actually kept track of all my running mileage in a nice little Excel spreadsheet, along with my race times. A little OCD, you might think? Pshaw, I can stop any time I want to. I just don't want to .... In any case, I logged a grand total of 1257 miles in 2009. Wow. That's going to be challenging to beat this year! But, then, I do love a challenge ....

I've been trying to make up for lost mileage since returning from Indiana on Thursday. I had an easy (warm) 5 mile run on Friday morning, a chilly 5 miler on Saturday morning, and a downright cold 12 mile long run by Hollywood beach early this morning. 48 degrees just ain't normal for South Florida! The sunrise over the ocean was very beautiful though, and makes the half hour ride to the beach totally worthwhile every Sunday morning.

My running buddies are all on different race schedules. Some are training for Miami at the end of January, and several of our group is doing the Goofy next weekend. That is the Disney half marathon on Saturday followed by the Disney full marathon on Sunday. That's a marathon and a half in two days -- which sounds pretty Goofy to me! My next race is a 10K in a couple of weeks, followed by the Miami half marathon on Jan 31. Our race season here is in full swing!

Happy running ....

Sunday Run (or Slog)

Wow....had the Sunday run with the GGRR (Glacier Grizzly Road Runners) running group. We had our usual assortment of humans and canine companions. (Humans - 6; Dogs - 4).

Distance: 4 miles Time: 58 min (!)
Conditions: Temp around 36 degrees. Melting snow covered with icy slush.

Slowest and shortest run of the year. I didn't know whether I was running, or ice skating, or just slogging along....

But, the usual fun recounting our Christmas adventures, discussing the latest books (Guilty pleasures --- reading the "Twilight" series), and planning upcoming runs.

Good news: tomorrow my husband and I leave for a week in Hawaii. A week of running in shorts! No ice!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Running for fun 2010

My sister, MB, and I, had a great run this past week. Normally, our runs are separated by thousands of miles ---- she lives in Florida and I live in Montana. But, this run took place in Indiana, our birthplace, and the spot where our family converges for the holidays.

Like most runners, we started talking about races we've done, races we'd like to do, and plans for the upcoming year. And soon the conversation turned to marathon training. At one point, MB asked, "Are you going to do the Salmon marathon this year? If you are, I might do it, too."

So, we immediately start talking logistics --- training plans, travel, how to cope with Florida heat, hill training........ The birth of an idea.

And, what better way to keep us going than to do a mutual blog about our training this year. The marathon isn't until September, and we've got lots of miles to cover between now and then. So, without consulting MB, I've created this blog and thought I'd send it out to see what she'd like to contribute.

Mostly though, we're running for fun (and also the goal of fitting into our skinny jeans....)