Tag Archives: gofurther

Getting Started

I feel badly that the way I’ve dealt with this 30 day blogging challenge of mine is to write about my workouts almost entirely, but my work is too depressing to write about and I know it bums people out.  However, I know that hearing about my exercise plan, etc. is also not terribly interesting.  I’ve gotten a few comments from people who talk about wishing they were as active as I am (which, really, is not that active).  So I thought I’d talk a little bit about getting started with triathlon.  A lot of people find it pretty intimidating, and I didn’t realize how wrong I had been about how “scary” tris were until I crossed the finish line of my first race a full forty minutes before I expected to. (They had accidentally shortened the run and bike courses, which explained some of it.)

I think for most triathletes, the process starts with running.  Running is the hardest part of a tri, because it comes at the end and it is what is between you and a big slice of pizza and a long nap.  And I would guess that for a lot of us, the first kernels of wanting to do a tri start when we inevitably get injured a year or two into running.  For me, a foot injury that meant I could do no weight bearing exercise meant that I turned to swimming and cycling.  Which meant that, just like that, by the time I was recovered, I could actually do all three elements of a sprint tri.

The next summer, I still felt intimidated, so I bought the book Slow Fat Triathlete.  I love this book.  It’s really helpful for anyone who is at any stage of fitness – I was in really good shape when I bought it, but it still made me feel better about things like needing to take swim lessons and feeling insecure on my bicycle.  She also really dumbs it down for you and tells you what to pack and how to set up your stuff.  I felt like I got all my stupid questions answered and understood how to have a good race.

I also signed up to volunteer at a local triathlon.  I helped with a portion of the bike turnaround course, and it was a small local race on a Wednesday night (to this day, my biggest racing regret is not doing this race and instead chickening out and volunteering, because I could have done it.)  Getting to watch what everyone wore and how they set up and how they did all of the racing stuff also helped me feel more comfortable before I started racing.

I’ve had a couple people tell me that they have felt inspired by me to do a triathlon, and I think that’s awesome.  First of all, because I feel like they recognize I am not a superhuman athlete – I’m actually, seriously, just a normal person.  Normal is the wrong word, but I’m slow, I’m on the heavier end of my BMI range, and I’m almost entirely motivated to exercise by my desire to sleep through the night, and maybe like, 20% my desire to eat cookies and still fit in my pants.  Second, because I genuinely enjoy tri training – it’s hugely challenging for me to push myself to do these new things, and I feel like all the cross training that comes with tri training is really good for me overall and keeps me at my fittest.  I feel like I’m in my best shape when I’m tri training.  So getting to encourage other people to find the joy that I find in it is awesome.

If you are thinking about doing a tri this summer, I can’t recommend enough just getting out and trying to run, bike, and swim each week.  If you find you actually enjoy it, then you might just be cut out for tris.

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Getting Faster

While we were marathon training, my friend and I discussed that we wanted to finish the marathon, but after that, we wanted to focus on our other running goal – running faster.  We’ve often dreamed of a sub-2-hour half-marathon finish, I have been hoping to run a 5k in under 27 minutes, and I really want to beat a 1:30 ten miler time.  I also dream of being able to run with my speedy husband, or my speedy sister.

I’m signed up for two more half-marathons this year, and I’m running both of them alone-ish.  My husband is running one with me (along with a few friends), but mostly, I’m not running them with any of my runner friends.  We are talking about having children eventually, and I don’t know how many more opportunities I will have to run half-marathons, especially considering the chances that I have a bad race are pretty high, since I’ve had a lot of not-great races lately.

I’ve been saying for years that I want to get faster, but I’ve never actually wanted to put in the work.  Last summer I went to local track workouts during the summer a couple of times, and I think it would be helpful to go to those again this year, but it kept being REALLY hot (like, 105 degrees), and I don’t do well in heat.  So this year, I decided to use the best tool I have for speed training at my disposal – my treadmill.

I have a love-hate relationship with my treadmill.  The treadmill was great when I didn’t belong to a gym, but I mostly would just load up last night’s daily show, walk on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes, and then call it a morning.  I hate-hate-hate-hate running on the treadmill.  It is sooooo boring.  I know I’m not the only one that complains about this.

So I rolled out of bed the week after the week after the marathon, and I started interval training.  In track workouts, we had started by simply running one track loop really fast, and then recovering for about 2 minutes, then running another loop fast, then recovering.  I decided to adopt this model, sort of, and so I ran .25 mile sprints, and then recovered for about .125 miles.  On my treadmill, this is manifested by a loop graphic that shows where I am on some imaginary “track”, so I run a full one of those, then I recover for half of one of those.  My first few training runs were done at a level 7 or 7.5 pace, with recovery walking at a level 3.5 or 4 pace.  I’ve now stepped it up to intervals at a level 8 pace, with slow jog recovery at a level 5 pace.  My regular running pace on the treadmill is between a 6 and a 6.5, to give you an idea.

I’m not sure yet what the long-term effects will be of this training – I’m hoping both my ability to breathe and to process lactic acid will improve, but I’m not sure yet.  I’m encouraged that last week I managed to run about 2 miles straight at an 8:30 pace, but my long run over the weekend had me running at more than 10-minute-miles.  I need to be doing more long runs with my super-speedy friend E., or perhaps with my watch so I can keep an eye on my pacing.  I will say, absolutely, that interval training has improved my relationship with my treadmill.  I no longer hate it.  I love it for making me push myself so hard, and the intervals make my workouts much more interesting.  I’ll be putting together a speed-running playlist soon, which I will share here (suggestions welcome).

Does anyone have any suggestions for other interval workouts I should be trying?  I think longer sprints are in my future.

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Race Report: Shamrock Marathon Virginia Beach

We picked the Shamrock Marathon for a couple of reasons:

1) It was in March.  We wanted to train in the winter and run a springtime race because it wouldn’t be so hot to train for or run.
2) It is a pretty big race. We wanted a good crowd of people to keep us going.
3) It was flat.

I’m really really happy we picked Shamrock.  Mostly because of reason number 3, because reasons 1 and 2 turned out to not be so true.   I’ll start at the beginning.

When we woke up, it was pretty mild out.  We got dressed in shorts and t-shirts for the most part, because it was warmer than even the weather report had called for.  We made our way to the start line, which was pretty well organized and had pacers marking every 30 minute interval.  Two of us lined up with the 3:25 group and three of us lined up with the 4:30 group.  There were four starting corrals, but it was unclear what it meant or how they grouped us into them, but it helped keep stuff relatively organized.

We had agreed to start at a 10 minute pace, and we did.  We chugged along nicely behind the 4:30 group and skipped the first water stop (it was on the left, we were on the right, and we didn’t notice it.)  Somewhere around Mile 2 or 3 was the Bridge.  The bridge was the only real hill we encountered on the run.  We were told in advance to not be the sissies that walked over the Bridge, but after running Uwharrie, that bridge was a piece of cake both times we ran it.  After the bridge, we got to the next water stop, where we stopped and noticed that we were already sweating.  There were water stops every mile and a half, which seemed excessive when we first read through the book, but on race day, they were necessary.  The first ten miles took us south of VA beach, through one of the military bases that was there.  This was one of the coolest parts of the race – we got to run past crazy helicopters and all of the enlisted men came out to cheer us on and give us high-fives.  They were fantastic and totally made my day – I always consider military folk to be absolutely the most hardcore, badass people I’ve ever met, and here they were acting like we were awesome.

Around 9.5 miles, we hit the bridge again.  My friend J. fell down and S. stayed with her while I stayed with our pace group (I was too in the zone to see J. fall and we had agreed we would stay with the 4:30 runners and catch up to it if any of us fell behind at a water stop, etc.).  I was still feeling really good at this point.  We ran through downtown Virginia Beach again, through the boardwalk and then out onto Atlantic Avenue and hit the 13 mile mark.  Shortly after that was the 13.1 mark, and we started looking for S’s parents, who were cheering from the sidelines and waving giddily at us.  S’s mom joined us for a few short moments and checked in on how we were all doing.  Once we left them, we started looking for my sister, who I knew was going to camp out around Mile 14.  At Mile 14, there she was, with my husband and my brother-in-law.  I grabbed a handful of gummi bears from them, because my husband was on the other side of the course with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I was able to hang-ish with J. and S. for another two miles, but around Mile 16, J. and I went to the bathroom.  I could feel myself falling back, and I knew I was through the toughest part of the race and it was downhill from there, and I could do it on my own, so I told J. to go ahead and that I’d see them at the finish.  As I powered through Mile 16, I thought about my iPod Shuffle which was in my SpiBelt.  I had put together a playlist for the race, since I knew I would be running at least a portion of it on my own.  I decided that I would break out my shuffle at the next water stop if I really needed to, so I ran for the next mile, enjoying the cheesy shamrock and leprechaun jokes that were on the sides of the race course and enjoying the company of the crowd.  At mile 17, I had a bite of my cliff bar, but couldn’t even get it down because my mouth was so dry and I didn’t have enough water yet.  Around here, I passed the Lululemon race station, which was awesome and they were blasting music and waving signs and cheering everybody on, and we all picked up the pace for a bit at that.  At this point, I settled into a groove, but it was hard to ignore how much I was hurting.

Thanks to an utterly fantastic tape job on my knee by E’s husband, my right knee, which would usually be bothering me by now, wasn’t at all, but everything was just starting to hurt.  I was pleased to notice that my toenails weren’t hurting yet, which was good.  At mile 18, I thought with relief, “ah, only 6 more miles” and then realized that I cannot do math.  Around here, we went through Ft. Story, which my friend warned me was really boring.  It was true.  There was virtually no-one here, and we were all low on energy and just trying to get through to the end.  And it was HOT.  It was really hot out.  It was whatever my temperature threshold where I have to run slower because I get sick running fast in the heat.  One rest stop around Mile 20 had a table of food, including bananas, which I snagged, and jelly beans, which I tried to eat but instead got rid of.  I started walking at the water stops plus a bit at this point, because I was just feeling so leaden, but I realized pretty quickly that my body hurt more if I tried to walk than running, but my lungs hurt more if I ran.  So I kept running.  And I ran most of the way until Mile 23, which I knew would put us back on the crowd-heavy part of the course.

Around Mile 22-23 we came out of Ft. Story and back into the residential part, which wasn’t nearly as crowded as earlier – because a lot of people had finished, and even more people had gone to watch their racers cross the finish line, but I knew that my team was still going to be at Mile 25, so I kept going.  I wanted to look strong for them, and I felt like it was very important that I not let them down by walking the last three miles.  I felt my toenails and my feet felt so swollen.  My back had started to hurt, and my calves and hamstrings were incredibly tight.  I was running at the same pace that several people around me were walking at.

At Mile 25, I was relieved to see that my sister was dressed in her running capris and her green t-shirt from our wedding weekend 5k.  She had told me she was bringing running clothes in case I needed a pacer, but I wasn’t sure she’d be ready.  I’ve never been so happy to see her, and as I passed them, I said, “are you coming?” and she jumped out to join me.  She gossiped with me, let me complain about my back, ankles, feet, legs, everything else, and got me through the last mile.  As we tore towards the finish line, she hopped off to the fenced in spectator areas and I crossed at 4:55 clock time (4:48 chip time) and hobbled to pick up my medal, hat, sweatshirt, and then got handed water, gatorade, a banana, and a shamrock shaped cookie.

I expected to feel something huge and powerful after finishing.  I expected it to feel as emotional as finishing Uwharrie.  I expected to let an incredible sense of accomplishment wash over me.  Instead, I just felt tired, and I felt a desperate need to put on the crocs I knew were in my dry bag.  My sister met up with me and got me my crocs and then we walked over to the beer tent and met up with everybody else.  Team in Training was selling cokes and I bought one and downed it, and after that I started to feel better.  We all hung out at the tent for a bit and then hobbled back to our hotel (Holiday Inn Express – can’t recommend it enough – clean, reasonably priced, nice showers, comfortable beds) where three of us made quick work of a bag of potato chips (my favorite post-race food, and especially important for our gluten-free friend.)  We also realized that we were all sunburned and chafed (I will write more about what to pack in your marathon race bag later.)

So that’s that.  I get to check it off my 30×30 list, and make a nifty race-medal/bib shadowbox, and put a sticker on my car, and all of those other annoying marathon-y things that people do.  And I think, much like being married and being a lawyer and being 26, being a marathon runner is something that I have to settle into a bit, because it is kind of huge.



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Go Further: January

I ran 14 miles on Monday this week, and have generally taken off otherwise. I made it to yoga on Wednesday and the gym this morning. Yesterday I tested out my new Salomon trail runners, which are pretty good but not totally perfect so I’m going to test one more pair and then decide and break in a new pair of shoes in 2 weeks. This isn’t smart. Don’t do this.

We have a 16 mile run on the calendar for this weekend, but it’s supposed to freezing rain tomorrow and then Sunday I have to decide if I want to play hockey after running 16 miles. A big part of me thinks I can do it. The rational part of me knows I will be exhausted and useless. But I’ve played games exhausted and useless. So I’m torn. I think I’m going to wait until tomorrow and see how bad the rain is and then make a decision. But this seems like a great time to test my fancy new running/cycling raincoat.
How is everyone else doing?

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Go Further: December Challenge

Boy was I glad for the challenge this week!  If I hadn’t had it, I would have slacked off and not exercised at least four days.  One or two days is okay, but if I go four days without working out, I start sleeping poorly and get crabby.  I did Ripped in 30 on Monday and it wasn’t even as annoying this time.  On Tuesday, I slept in and only did a 10-minute yoga video, and on Wednesday I finally got myself to the yoga class I desperately needed (14 mile runs are killer).  Thursday I went running and today I walked on the Treadmill.  I missed my run goal, but met my workout goal, so I’m pretty pleased.  Here’s hoping I can keep it up through the weekend.  The holidays are tough.

How is everybody else doing?  Are you also overindulging in the office tootsie roll bin?  (Seriously, the diet starts next week.  I’m planning to dramatically decrease my sugar intake so that I can finally get some energy and focus back.  I’ll probably talk about it here.)

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Go Further: December Challenge

Have you done something active today?  Because if you haven’t, or you’re having trouble getting motivated, check out this video.

The statement he makes that I love, love, love, is that if you are obese but still active, you can dramatically reduce your health problems.  I find this incredibly encouraging for overweight people that have trouble losing weight, but are active, and it also goes to show what the HAES movement has been talking about for years, which is that being fat doesn’t necessarily equal being unhealthy.  I’m not saying that everybody should go ahead and be overweight as long as they are active, but I am saying equating healthy with thin bothers me.

So maybe, we should instead look to equate being active with being healthy, which is part of what I’m trying to do with my own life.  This morning, I got up, put in 25 minutes of walking on the treadmill, and this evening, I’m going on a group bike ride. In which we put Christmas lights on our bikes.  Yeah, you wish you were coming.

How am I doing on my goals?

-I ran on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday this week.  Goal met.

-I exercised every day.  I did yoga twice, ran thrice, and today I walked on the treadmill.

-Have not done Ripped in 30 yet. Maybe next week.

How are you doing on yours? If you haven’t set a goal, just comment and say how you are going to be more active, or tell me why you don’t find all the fancypants numbers the video throws out compelling.


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