Women of Wonder 5k – 9/8/13

I’m only a month late on posting this, but I ran this inaugural 5k  earlier this month with my friend Laura, who ran it as her first 5k ever. Yay Laura! This race was created as a replacement for the very girly, very newbie-friendly Iron Girl 5k that has since become a triathlon (and which I ran as my own first 5k back in 2010). So everyone got a medal (I think this is the only 5k around here that gives out medals), you got a free brownie right after finishing the race (YESSSS), there was a wine garden, and plenty of girly vendors and free samples. It’s honestly a pretty fun race to run and due to the high percentage of new runners the average finishing time was around 40 minutes (meaning I somehow placed 10th in my age group even though there were around 1500 participants).

Since it’s such a lady-oriented race I broke out the ol’ running skirt I haven’t worn in about a year and which I feel kind of dumb running around my neighborhood in, but which I feel a little more comfortable in at a race like this. I also wore compression socks (which I normally wouldn’t for a 5k) because I hadn’t shaved in…. a little too long. Laura and I took a photo at the WOW backdrop that had been setup:

I tried out the Wave Sayonaras for this race (which I've only worn on the dreadmill thus far)

I tried out the Wave Sayonaras for this race (which I’ve only worn on the dreadmill thus far). I think I also need to get another running tank in a different color since I wear this one at practically EVERY RACE

The race actually went pretty well – I decided to go for it, and after the first mile of weaving around a thick mob of other runners and walkers (I’d started the race with Laura at the back of the field) I was able to let my feet fly a bit. I have kind of a problem holding a steady effort over the course of a 5k – I don’t know if it’s my own unwillingness to feel uncomfortable or a lack of training, or lack of speedwork, or all of the above – though I’m pretty sure 5ks (if you’re trying to race them) aren’t supposed to feel good, but are supposed to feel like PAIN and MISERY. Regardless I was definitely feeling all of those things since I rarely ever hold an effort-pace longer than about a half mile, and I tried to keep it going all the way through the finish.

I hate this photographer's watermarks. Srsly, ugliest evar

The look of death. Also, I hate this photographer’s watermarks. Srsly, ugliest evar

I did end up running the fastest 3+ miles I’ve ever strung together in sequence, though it wasn’t a PR:

I need to work on speed, methinks

I need to work on speed, methinks

I want to get faster. It’s been 3 years since I started running, dangit – a 9 min mile should be my easy pace by now, right? (Maybe not if you’re a lazy bum like I am?) Guess I need to do a little research and maybe start running hills? (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)

One of the photographers hailed us right after the race, in our sweaty, red-faced glory:

once again with the crap-crap-crappy watermarks. They could at least make them a little more transparent

once again with the crap-crap-crappy watermarks. They could at least make them a little more transparent

Our friend Rachel caught up to us afterward (she’d come out to watch us run and juuuust caught sight us leaving the starting chute):

apparently when told to "make a face" I revert back to my days in Japan

apparently when told to be silly I revert back to my days in Japan

And of course, what better way to celebrate your first 5k than BOOZE:

NOT BEER.

NOT BEER.

Afterward we moseyed to a Starbucks across the street (fully packed with ladies in running gear) and went up to the roof to hang out for a bit, and upon which I actually got SUNBURNED from sitting with my back to the sun for about 15 min. Clearly I need to drag my pasty white self out into the elements more often.

Next up for me is the Victoria BC half marathon on Oct 13th – and while I’m definitely training better for this race than I did last year, I’m a little worried that the 2-month cough I endured this summer took more out of my fitness than I wanted it to (since I had to cut mileage down and couldn’t train as hard). I’m hitting 90% of my training at this point but I’m going to have to face some rain this weekend on my first 10-miler of this training cycle (NOT RAIN! I’m such a wuss)… which may be a good test for how the race may or may not go, if this current weather holds up… though the forecast is looking a little promising!

They say it (was) my birthday

Geez, I haven’t updated in about 10 years. But I’ve been doing things!

– I turned 34 in late August! (GAH! and aside from contemplating mortality and the thought of 40 looming in front of me, it was a pretty good day.) My best friends and I went to a newish restaurant in ye ole hometown and ordered a bottle of wine for the table, which was a first for me. We polished it off in no time…

My friends and I on my birthday (top) and 10 years ago in Japan.

My friends and I on my birthday (top) and 10 years ago in Japan, before I discovered the wonders of bangs. Now you know I color my hair.

– I went on a real vacation (for the first time in what feels like eons) with my best buddies in Ocean Shores. It was mostly overcast and 60 degrees and I skipped 5 days of workouts, but at least I got to ride horses on the beach. (Butt was SO SORE afterward)

My assigned horse was named Silver and liked to be on the outside of the group away from the others. Fine by me, I got to ride right by the surf!

My assigned horse was named Silver and liked to be on the outside of the group away from the others. Fine by me, I got to ride right by the surf!

Laurel and her horse Chester who was super competitive and wanted to pass the other horses.

Laurel and her horse Chester who was super competitive and wanted to pass all the other horses.

On the one sunny day we got, we did the obligatory beach shadows:

Hooo rahhh

Hooo rahhh! The creepy alien shadow to the right is my friend Maureen and her 1 year old.

– My friends and I met up with a girl we met in Japan almost 10 years ago on our missions trips – Chihiro, who happened to be in Seattle. It was so awesome to see her again. Amongst many other conversations we asked her what her least favorite food in America was and she said teriyaki, since we “make it so sweet!” Go figure!

the Japanese gardens are awesome!

the Japanese gardens in the arboretum are awesome!

– I saw Sir Paul McCartney in concert at Safeco Field!! I’m a huge Beatles fan so this was AWESOME. I’ve seen him a few times, and I swear he never seems to age… he has more energy than I do.

Sir Paul!!

Sir Paul!!

– I also picked up an annoying cough sometime shortly after the 4th of July that lasted for about 2 frakking months. (Can you tell I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica?) I’m even now just in the very final tiny throes of it, but for awhile I was like a phlegm machine and coughing up stuff out of my chest constantly. The weird thing was there was no pain or other symptoms associated with it, and when I ran (after the first few minutes clearing my lungs) I would feel great for a few hours afterward. Just when I was convinced I was DYING OF CANCER or something, it started to go away. I have no idea what caused it, but at least I’m getting over it!

During coughing-horrible-phlegm time, though, I ran the Lake Union 10k, and while I’d originally planned to try to PR in this race, the cough made that kind of impossible, and I ended up running my slowest 10k ever. Ah well, there’s always next year… though to be honest I kind of hate the course. (SO MANY HILLS) The Portage Bay Cafe catered breakfast afterward makes it worth it… almost.

I think I need to switch up my race outfits, I've worn kind of the same thing since NODM. heh

Oo, thigh muscle definition, that’s a first. Also, I think I need to switch up my race outfits, I’ve worn kind of the same thing since NODM. heh

Tomorrow I’m running the new Women of Wonder 5k (kind of a replacement for the Iron Girl 5k which is now a triathlon) and I think I’ll bust out the old Running Skirt to switch things up a bit. I don’t plan on wearing anything with pink in it, though :P (save my shoes, but that can’t really be helped). I was always that girl that avoided the flaming pink Barbie toy aisle like the plague and went for the Breyer model horses instead. It’s true, I have never owned a Barbie, and that’s alright with me!

Tapering and stupid decisions

It’s the final week of taper madness! I completed another 10-miler on Sunday, which was slightly faster than the previous week’s even though I tried throwing in one-min walk breaks every 2 miles (cause I know I’m gonna be walking the 2-3 steep steep steep hills at NODM – I’m not kidding, these suckers are creek beds and they are like mountain steep, even the official race guide says walk them, though I’m a wuss and probably would anyway) – I wanted to see how the walks might affect my overall pace. I once again wore the (ugly-arse) Newtons and they did fine, though I may play around with the tightness of the shoes for the race – I usually leave the top of the shoe basically loose and tie fairly tight at the ankle, but that strategy worked a lot better on my Asics… the Newtons get a little floppy after awhile (TWSS!).

A day later I was looking at old race pics and bemoaning my ridiculously wacky gumby-leg tendency…

looks like I'm gonna snap an ankle!

looks like I’m gonna snap an ankle!

…and then made the ill-advised decision during my dreadmill 3-miler that evening to try to straighten out my stride… yes, stride adjustments 5 days before a half marathon; I never said I thought these things through. Not only was the run totally awkward and unfulfilling, but needless to say I woke up the next morning with a grumpy left knee (the outside of it to be specific) that didn’t HURT per se, but was definitely achey (especially walking down hills) and letting me know about it. BRILLIANT!

So, I stretched, and foam rolled, and it’s a good thing it’s taper week ’cause I subbed in more Jillian Michaels DVDs in place of the 2-milers I was supposed to be doing. The knee merely twinged at me today so I’m hoping if I don’t run until the race on Sunday (and keep foam rolling like a baws) I’ll stave off some hilarious unfortunate IT Band or runner’s knee injury.

But lesson learned; don’t mess with what works until AFTER the big event, no matter how wobbly-legged you look when you run!

Oh, I learned another lesson this last weekend, and this is a totally TMI story so you can tune out now if you so desire! I found a recipe for roasting garlic and decided to give it a whirl, so I bought a fairly decent-sized head of garlic and followed the recipe as close as someone who never cooks anything can… at least I didn’t cut off a finger or anything while beheading the cloves, so I did something right. The apartment smelled amazing after an hour of baking. I tried the garlic and it was DELICIOUS. I think a serving size was something like 4 cloves but I ended up eating the ENTIRE HEAD.

Fast forward two hours and I was sitting in a neverending cloud of garlic farts. Memo to self, next time only eat SOME, not ALL, of the garlic…

Suddenly, speediness. Also, weight musings

Don’t laugh at what constitutes “speedy” for me, but I had a great run on Thursday evening:

Yeah, I know, nothing to write home about, but fast for me!

Yeah, I know, nothing to write home about, but fast for me! Mile 2 has a looong, gradual, 7-8-block stretch of hill, ugh

It was actually a pretty decent run for me on my old neighborhood loop – it was on the challenging/stiff side of comfortable and I somehow managed to go right about my 5k pace without feeling like death, or even that I was really pushing myself super hard…. which maybe means this isn’t my 5k pace anymore? (That or I just happened to have a really good day!) I even got stopped cold at one point by a car blindly racing through an intersection (with a crosswalk no less… at least I was paying attention!).

I focused a lot on posture and breathing from my stomach, which may have helped my overall sense of fatigue. I also broke out the PureFlow 2s again and I’m not sure I want to run my half in them – they’re lightweight (and speedy for me, clearly) but I think my feet aren’t quite used to the more minimalistic aspect… my ankles were aching a little the first two miles of this run (though they did settle down by the 3rd).

I’d also just like to say ARGH my body is so frustrating when it comes to weight loss. I have ONE cheaty meal and the scale immediately goes up 2-3 pounds, and then I have to  fight to get back down to where it was. I don’t know if my metabolism sucks or if I just can’t afford to eat the delicious things like pizza and ice cream, but it’s annoying to watch the numbers spike up and down. I’ve been floating in the mid-to-low 140’s for months now and I keep getting down to around 141-142 and sabotaging my efforts to break into the 130’s by enjoying a reward kind of meal.

blargh!

blargh! chart courtesy myfitnesspal

It’s extra frustrating because most of the time I don’t let my daily calories go above 1500-1600, and I shoot for 1300 on non-workout days. Do I need to cut back even more? EAT more? Cut out wheat/grain? I do eat fruit and veggies daily and not a whole lot of dairy. Maybe I need to incorporate a little HIIT into my workouts?

My weight likes to manifest itself in a highly obvious and unattractive belly lump that shows through all my shirts (one reason I never wear tight/clingy ones) and the dreaded thunder thigh chub rub. Last year, when I somehow managed to work my way down to 136-138, those symptoms had finally started to disappear… and I would love to get there again!

Either way, I’m still training much more consistently than I did last year, so I’m still hoping I can PR, even though I’m running 5-7 pounds heavier!

2 weeks till NODM!

Still sick! and musings on weight gain

Bah! Over a week later and I’m still fighting this thing. This almost seems worse than an injury because I can’t even cross-train – I can’t do anything cardio at all. That means I’m sitting around feeling weak and letting all my hard-earned fitness drain out of me like all the mucus fighting to get out of my face. TMI?

But truly, it sucks! I really hope I can pick the training plan back up again once i’ve slain this plague and not lose too much of the progress I made. I was really hoping to PR at NODM this year. As they say, if it’s not one thing, it’s another… Last year it was moving and relationship drama that derailed me; this year, my immune system decided to hide in a corner. Here’s hoping I can still pull off a miracle in the training time I have left!

I’ve also been experiencing (even more so as I’ve sat around sick the last week and a half unable to workout in any way, shape, or form) a creeping weight gain over the last few months. It was right around April last year that I cracked into the 130’s for the first time in around 10 years, but after my half season was over I inched back into the 140’s around October and have been steadily packing it on (in small increments, but still) ever since. I clocked in at 146.6 this morning and that’s a little too close to 150 for comfort, for me. I haven’t really changed my diet that much but I do think I allow myself a few too many cheater foods, more often than I should (as in, almost every day… dang Easter candy staring me in the face)

Weight is a weird thing to talk about when I “appear” to be at a good weight. A lot of people I know don’t understand the difference between “ok healthy weight” and “trim fightin’ shape” and tell me I don’t need to lose anything. They don’t know how great I feel around 139-138, how much lighter I feel when I run, and they also don’t see the flabby spare tire that coats itself around my midsection or the extra pooch to my thighs. I guess it’s the difference between “good enough” and “feeling awesome” – and not even for the physical appearance, but much more so how much better I feel. I would love to take off 7 pounds before June (NODM is June 2, incidentally) and I think I can do it, but it’s going to take getting over this nasty cough (and getting back on my 6-day-a week exercise schedule) and cutting out the dietary treats I allow myself a little too often.

I heard a lot of great things about MyFitnessPal from all kinds of sources and decided to give it a crack, and I can see why it’s so effective. I started tracking all my meals (and cheats, though those are painful to record sometimes) and hopefully this will help me stay accountable… you can see my food log here!

New Years… goals

I hate “resolutions,” though I guess goals are pretty much the same thing, just repackaged. Ah well, goals you will get!

I finished 2012 somewhat better than I started – I began the year around 163 pounds and am currently probably sitting somewhere around 145-148 (I haven’t weighed myself since I came back to my hometown for Christmas, which is probably a good thing considering all the food I’ve eaten and exercise I’ve avoided!). Around July I’d actually gotten myself down to 138 somehow (though that number has continued to slip out of my grasp like a little snake ever since then) and my first goal will be to get back down there and maintain it – so:

1. Get to my goal weight of 138, and maybe less if I can manage!

This will require a bit more adherence to training… I seriously slacked off this year on the running/exercising and I’d like to step it up and run three times a week, and cross train at least one other day, so

2. Run three times a week and exercise a total of 4 days a week at least!

I did somehow manage to PR in the half this year (2:17) even with my crappy training, which I can mostly thank my weight loss for, so hopefully a combination of losing weight again and training better will help me to:

3. PR in a half marathon this year – with a goal of 2:10, and maybe less if I can swing it!

I’d also like to eat better in general but I can lump that in with weight loss – they kind of go hand in hand, after all. Another thing I need to seriously work on, though, is:

4. Pay off some of my debt and manage my money better overall.

I’m still wallowing in a credit card I’ve never managed to pay off and I’d really like to make a dent in it this year instead of falling back on it when times get tight. Ideally, I wouldn’t let myself get into the state of needing to use it (or FEELING like I need to use it) anyway.

Anyway, that’s all I’m going to lump on myself. In any case I hope to run a lot more miles in 2013 and get a lot more disciplined in general! Time to (finally) get life in a bit more order and maaaaaybe find a Mr. Courtney as well ;) That remains to be seen….

I ate some pavement and then set a PR

I was back in my hometown last weekend and took my car to a shop about a mile from my folks’ house for an oil change, planning to run the short distance back to the house. On the way, as I was looking for a less hilly cross street to traverse, I caught a lip in the sidewalk I didn’t see and completely faceplanted, skidding to a stop on my palms and knees (I later discovered I somehow road rashed my left shoulder too). One car was driving by at the time but they just kind of stared as they went past me… fail. Words cannot describe how nasty my hands looked at that point (I have a horrifyingly gory photo but I’ll spare you) and as blood started to gush I didn’t have much choice but to pick myself up and keep running the .75 miles left to my parents’ house. I felt bizarre running down the street with blood dripping down my legs and hands but what could I do? My knees didn’t hurt too much but my hands were BURNING!

My mom’s an RN and she bandaged me up pretty good when I got back to the house, and I gimped around the rest of the day in a hodgepodge of gauze and bandages. I’ve never biffed it while running before but I guess it had to happen eventually!

weeee

sexy

I was already signed up to run the See Jane Run 5k on Sunday the 15th (thankfully I didn’t sign up for the half marathon this year) and wasn’t sure if I should try to run it with my plethora of flesh wounds. I went to packet pickup Saturday afternoon since I at least wanted the tshirt (and ended up buying a pair of Newton shoes to try – can’t wait to take a real spin in them! They are my first pair of colorful shoes too!).

My best work friend Garrett’s wedding was that Saturday evening and I showed up looking quite fashionable in my bandage ensemble. I managed to hide the knees a bit with ace bandagey wrap (though I still was asked quite a few times what I’d done to myself) but there was no hiding the gauze on my palms!

macho man

From the photobooth at Garrett’s wedding – If I ever get married I’m totally stealing this idea. Just ignore my poor bandaged knees

I decided to show up race day morning for the See Jane Run 5k and at least collect the freebies they give you (champagne glasses and chocolate), but put on my bib and chip in case I was feeling good and decided to just go for it. About 10 minutes before the start of the 5k I decided I would just run it easy and hope for the best – and I actually ended up setting another PR, clocking in at 28:48 (chip time) for 3.13 miles according to Henry the Garmin!

yay PR!

mile 3 was kind of an abrupt attack of the Tireds.

My poor beat up knees actually didn’t hurt at all during the race, though I did get pretty tired in the final mile – probably a combination of my low mileage catching up to me and my body working overtime on my many many flesh wounds. At this point I know with proper training I could probably get a sub-28 min 5k, and possibly even faster. The weather was nice too, overcast and breezy and around 58 degrees – perfect for a little run. I’ve had the bad habit lately though of wearing my longsleeved NODM pullover at the start of races with my bib pinned to the shirt underneath, which means I both get too warm and also have to hold up the overshirt whenever I see a photographer… which made for some kind of awkward photos.

wee!

I included this one cause I think it’s the skinniest my legs have ever looked in a race photo, haha.

chuuug

awkwardly holding up bib

huuuurf

awkward sprint through the finishing chuuuute

buttkick!

I seem to have developed a decent back kick (is that what you call it?)

derp

T-rex arms FINISH!

.

On goals, WoW, and frustration

Before I was a runner, I spent a LOT of time on my arse in front of my computer. Since November 2004, when World of Warcraft launched, I’d devoted nearly all of my free time to playing that game and improving myself in an alternate reality.

If I wasn’t goal-oriented and progress-driven already, the 6+ years I spent playing WoW served to completely solidify that bent in my personality. WoW is all about goals. Everything in the game is designed as a tantalizing carrot dangling above you, serving to keep you ever reaching, ever striving for that next achievement, the next piece of gear, the next level, the next title, the next boss killed. I spent those 6 years in the game literally logging in as soon as I got home from work and spending 4 or 5 hours in-game trying to be as good as I could possibly be. It wasn’t enough for me to just contribute; I wanted to be the best at whatever it was I was doing. Of course in WoW, a game with over 11 million players (at least at that time), it’s hard to be the best at anything, but success could be measured in smaller ways – best in my guild, best at my tradeskills, the most funny titles, the most pets, etc. etc.

I think this goal-driven mentality crossed over into my running when I basically quit WoW at the beginning of this year to train for my first half-marathon (after all, I could no longer devote all my free time to raiding and gearing up when I had scheduled runs to do!). I wanted to see progress,  I wanted to improve, I wanted to see some kind of return for my efforts. And I did complete 3 half-marathons this summer, not fast ones by any means, but I crossed those finish lines with a huge sense of accomplishment.

I finished the 3rd on on July 17th. In the weeks and months since then I’ve felt a pretty strong sense of frustration about my running progress, or the lack thereof. I haven’t really gotten faster, and in fact in recent months have been moving backward in that department. Compared to a year ago I’m probably only about 30-45 seconds per mile faster on my average easy runs (maybe about a 10:15 or 10:30 mile compared to an 11). I’ve watched friends at similar running levels go on to become super speedy and achieve PRs I could barely dream of. The lack of personal progress has me FRUSTRATED.

Maybe it’s that WoW goal-driven mentality cropping up again, but I want to see results for the work I put into running, and to see basically zero progression almost makes me want to give up on trying altogether. The lack of a concrete goal at this point (I’m basically just running for maintenance; I don’t have a race to point for or a training plan I’m following) is probably part of it, but I wonder too if I haven’t just lost my running mojo, so to speak. A lot of my runs are miserable – I feel like I’m just dragging arse and not enjoying it much at all. Again, this could also be because I’m not really following a plan and am only getting in around 10-14 miles per week, I don’t know.

It seems a lot of people really only pick up the LOVE for running once they get into the extra long distances – basically, marathon training. That seems like SUCH a chore to undertake… so many miles! So much time!… but maybe that’s what I need?

Ben Davis is planning to hit Seattle next year on his 52-in-52 marathon bonanza. (The marathon he’s planning to do here is the Seattle Marathon, which is hilltacular so I’ve heard, blehhh…) One little voice in the back of my head is telling me to sign up and go along on the marathon ride. I’m just not so sure I really want to do that to myself… but maybe that’s just what I need.

To go to bed late and get up early makes a man cross, mean, and surly

I’ve been thinking lately that maybe it’s time for me to switch to early morning running. As it is now I’m chasing the light to get my runs in before dark after I get home from work, and within a month or so they will ALL be dark after work. Running in the dark at night kind of freaks me out for a few reasons, but running in the MORNING darkness doesn’t sound as scary – the bad guy types probably aren’t early risers, after all. That, and it would be nice to get my run out of the way early and not have to worry about it for the rest of the day.

However, I’m also a night owl, totally not a morning person, and usually shower at night – so getting up early to run in the morning would completely throw off my existing lifestyle, if you can call it that.

The other option that I’m trying to avoid resigning myself to is running on gym treadmills all winter… but the mere thought of that is enough to turn me into Eeyore. (#firstworldproblems?)

Have you ever made the switch to morning running? What helped you pull it off – especially if you’re a night owl at heart?

Reality check

Soooo I’ve been a bit unhappy about the overall state of my body and eating habits lately, and decided to get a new scale to replace the crappy 70’s hand-me-down one I’ve been using. I know I’ve gained some weight since I was at my lowest point this year (153) but I wasn’t quite prepared for the cold hard truth:

I cropped most of my wonky-looking feet out for you. You're welcome.

No wonder I’ve been feeling a little sluggish and heavy on my runs!

To be fair, I weighed myself AFTER having completed Jillean Michaels’ 30 day shred level 2 this evening, but that can’t account for more than a pound or 2. No, the truth is I’ve gained about 10 pounds back of the 17 total I lost over the last year. Argh!

At least I didn’t gain it ALL back and go right up to 170, but it’s definitely time to hunker down and closely examine my food intake, and get my running back to a more consistent place. The idea weight for my height is 145 and I know I can get there with hard work… I just have to DO it.

Keeping myself accountable here will be a good first step… embarrassing as it may be.