Friday, November 30, 2007

Race number two

Tomorrow morning is the Santa Shuffle 5K. We've decided not to set an aggressive goal because we're just doing it for fun (wearing Santa and Elf hats, jingle bells and all!) and we're going to be running with two friends. Aiming for under 30 minutes, which is a piece of cake for hubby and pretty much average for me. Hoping for decent weather!

Big thank you to Mom, Dad, April, Grandma, Mum (Sykes), Dad (Sykes), Heather, Sarah & Colin and Dave for your pledges in support of the Salvation Army. I'll be running just for you! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

An "off" day

Sometimes you just have an off day. Yesterday, I was SO off. It was an extremely difficult 6 KM. I couldn't keep my breath, my legs (and everything) were killing me and I was low on energy. The first 2 KM's went okay but the rest were brutal. Didn't help that we were running into the wind for a good stretch and there were a lot of inclines. Not to mention very icy, snowy sidewalks. The worst part is, we were running in the subdivision where we live and I was so tempted to just hang a right and head home to the warmth and comfort of my couch! I dug deep, found some willpower and kept on going. Reluctantly, I took a brief walk break (<1 min.) to gather some strength to finish the run, which actually helped quite a bit.

At the end of the run there was a nice (read: nasty) hill leading back to the Running Room. My hubby could tell I had ZERO juice left so what does he do? He goes behind me and actually pushes me up the hill! I have the best husband in the world. I wonder if he would push me through an entire marathon?

I am taking tonight off (and maybe tomorrow too) for a few reasons. I'm still feeling pretty tired and sore so either yesterday really did me in or one day rest (Monday) was not enough. We have the Santa Shuffle on Saturday so I want to be feeling good for that and a 9K Sunday morning. Besides that, I have had a pretty bad week at work, I feel like I might be getting sick (hope not!) and I am PMS'ing. So yeah, I am taking a break. And that's that. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Run Colin Run!

Just a quickie to congratulate Colin on surviving the run yesterday. We did over 4K (close to 4.5, I think) and he did an awesome job, keeping up a good pace and running continuously all the way through!

Good job buddy!! We're proud of you!

I will post tomorrow about tonight's run, but right now I am too cold, pooped and sore to do anything but curl up on the couch with a glass of wine.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A friendly affair

Tonight is "Bring-a-Buddy" night at the clinic and one of our best friends is coming along to see what it's all about. He and his wife recently decided that they want to give running a shot (I really should convince them to turn around now! lol) and I give them big, huge kudos for that. It was around this time last year that I started running. On one hand, I am thinking "Has it been a year already?!" but at the same time, it feels like I have been running for decades. Weird. Anyway, if I can do it, these two can do it because I am talking about two motivated, ambitious, hard-working, dedicated and HARDCORE individuals.

Did I mention they have two very young (<1 yr.) children at home? But I have no doubt that if they put their minds to it, they can do it. I hope to see you guys at the Scotiabank Half next September. No, wait, I am COUNTING on it. :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

And on the seventh day

I have run every day for the last 6 for a total of 33 KM. Today is a much-needed and well-deserved day of rest!

Yesterday was LSD of 8 KM with our clinic. It was a beautiful morning, just slightly below zero and sunny. Only six of us came out. Ten showed up but four went with out another group (fine by us - two of them were the annoying whiners). We had a good run, but I could really tell that my body needed a rest by the time we finished.

Getting up when the alarm went off at 7:30 was much easier this week after our Lesson learned last week. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ode to winter

There's more to running in the winter than being prepared for the cold. This morning was my first run in the snow and let me tell you, it was an adventure.

The sidewalk conditions varied from ice to snow with the occasional clear patch. I had to keep my eyes on the ground and be constantly prepared for what lay ahead. My feet had to be planted ever so carefully because the slightest mis-step would have had my legs flying out from under me. It was extremely tiring and all the muscles in my legs are sore. I remember the first few times I ran outside, I felt soreness in muscles I didn't know existed. Well, here we go again!

I'm still mastering the art of dressing for the weather. I always seem to be too cold or too warm, usually the latter. I'll figure it out, eventually...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Handy dandy conversion chart

Useful conversions

Someone on WB was kind enough to post this über helpful link. It drives me crazy that the treadmills at the gym are in miles because I run in KM's and I am forever converting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

100 Days

Today is 100 days til our next race, the Chilly Half. I'm so excited about this one. Providing I don't get injured (knock on wood!) there should be no doubt in my mind on race day that I can complete it. None of the uncertainty that I felt leading up to the Toronto Waterfront Half. Hopefully no nerves. And hopefully no snow storm!

Tonight was an easy 5K on the treadmill, but no run on the treadmill is ever easy for me. The minutes drag and I always seem to get an ache of some kind and/or a cramp. Ugh. Speedwork tomorrow will be tough, but I'll get through it...looking forward to outdoor runs on the weekend.

Hubby and I have decided to plan a big reward for ourselves after our last race (The Toronto Waterfront, Sept. 28) next year. We're heading south on a luxurious, all-inclusive vacation at the Sandals Bahamian or Sandals Grande Antigua. It will be a combination of celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary, both of our Birthdays, lots of hard work and races throughout the year as well as a reward for achieving our goal of home ownership and (hopefully) surviving the first 8 months. :) We're hoping to leave a day or two after the race. How nice would that be to spend our recovery week laying on the beach drinking daiquiris?!

And we'll be home just in time to start training for China.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This is what we signed up for

That was wicked. Brutal. Ugly. Harsh. Miserable. It was a very cold, wet and painful run; painful because of the freezing rain pelting our faces like shards of glass! It was pretty tough to bundle up and hit the pavement in this weather, but that's the reason we signed get out butts out there when it's the last thing we want to do. So we did it! Only 4 people (out of about 20) from our group showed up. What a bunch of wimps. ;) Gold star for us!

I want it all!

Last night at our clinic we had a lesson on dressing appropriately. Well, I want every damn thing they showed us! Such pretty pants and tops, even undies! I can justify buying a few more versatile pieces for winter, but not nearly as much as I would like to buy. I definitely need a couple more long-sleeve tops as a 'base layer' and a warm jacket. Otherwise, I think I am good to go for the winter. The good thing is, they really seem to last. I have spoke to people are still wearing clothing they bought years ago.

Our run last night was 5K and went well. We started near the back but (as usual) caught up on a walk break. Ended up sticking with them when they started running again and they never caught up after their next walk break.

Tonight is 6K and a new route...hopefully the weather will improve a little over the next couple hours because it is miserable out there right now. Yuck!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lesson learned

Our LSD (long slow distance) this morning was another 7K. It was a particularly rough 7K for my husband who had a few too many drinks last night. He was in rough shape this morning and I could tell that he was secretly hoping I would tell him he didn't have to come. But he wasn't getting off the hook that easily, no siree! So I dragged him along and he actually thought he was going to die for the first 5 minutes. He was mostly okay for the rest of the run, except for Bexhill. (Yep, we had to face Bexhill again - my newest nemesis.) Serves him right! I'm not completely innocent either, and the few glasses of wine and late-night ice cream cake certainly didn't leave me in tip top running shape this morning.

We are going to have to take it easy on Saturday nights for the next 15 weeks. Running at 8:30 on a Sunday morning in the freezing cold is hard enough...doing it with a hangover?! That's just brutal. And it will be impossible once the distances really start getting up there.

I have to give the hubby some credit because he was run the last 6 days straight. I had planned to do the same myself but did something to my back (at the gym Thursday night, I think) and definitely had to rest Friday and yesterday. I'm going for 6 days straight this week. Wish me luck!

But for now, I'm going to veg on the couch for the rest of the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Killer Hiller

Our clinic run was 6K last night. The program calls for 3K on Wednesday and 3K on Thursday, but everyone in the group agreed to modify the program from 5 runs/week to 4, so two runs are combined. I'm not sure how we'll handle it once hill start on Wednesdays in a couple weeks, because we will not be able to take on KM's to hill training. Mark and I run at least once and sometimes twice in addition to our 3 clinic runs, so it doesn't really affect us anyway.

Anyway, the run was good. We encountered the brutal hill from Sunday again. It's on Bexhill Road - appropriately named! It got us talking about naming hills, particularly Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon and Giv'er Hill in the Blue Nose Marathon. We want to name one in particular in our area that I've mentioned before. It's a killer. Maybe I'll name her Killer Hiller.

We started out at the back of the pack (after Tuesday night, I wanted to start off slow!) but caught up around the half way point. Most of the group was doing 10&1's so we ended up passing them on a walk break, but they caught up again and we all finished together. It was pretty cool. We all gave each other high 5's when we finished. We have a good group and we're starting to get to know some people. It helps to have the extra encouragement, and just talking to a bunch of people with similar goals.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Getting caught up in it

Had our Tuesday night clinic session (shoe talk) and group run last night. There are a handful of people in the group who are constantly complaining that the program is too easy and too low on mileage in the first several weeks. They are even asking our instructor to modify the entire program! She explained that she could not do that because the clinic is desiigned this way for a reason - you need to gradually build a base for the high mileage that comes later. Not to mention, there are many people in the group who are not prepared to jump into 25K+/week. They just will not shut up about it, even after the instructor and director explained the reasoning. People, if you think you are too good for this clinic, why did you sign up for it?!

Anyway, the run was just a 4K but it was a challenging 4K. A group of runners took off pretty fast and I made the mistake of keeping up with them. We were running at <5:00/KM for a while and I didn't realize til a couple KM's into the run, when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was suddenly exhausted! I slowed it down to about 6:00 for the second half of the run and managed to finish, but I was huffing and puffing and dragging my legs along. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Note to self: start off slow and don't get too cocky too early. ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Next race: registration complete!

We have officially signed up for the Chilly Half on March 2nd. Looks fun! The weather could be anything from sunny and mild to winter blizzard...this one will be interesting.

Our clinic leads up to this race so at least we'll be prepared for the fun. And hey, we would have just run through January and February, so we should be prepared for the elements as well. We'll see!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Did I really sign up for this?!

What was I thinking? 8:30 AM running group on Sundays! My bed was so cozy and warm...

Sure am glad we went on that little shopping spree yesterday because it's -4C this morning!

Time to get bundled and head out to face the elements. I don't think I have ever run below zero and certainly not on a Sunday morning when it's so early that all the channels are still airing infomercials. :S

****************** 10:15AM update ******************

Not only did I survive, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Actually, it was great. Once I got out of bed, dressed and out the door, I was no longer dreading the cold, early morning run. And when we got to the Running Room to find the store packed full of eager runners, all smiling and dressed in colourful reflective jackets, I was actually excited. We found our bubbly instructor and other members of our group and headed out for our first LSD - 7 KM. Despite the cool temperature, it was nice and sunny and we were warmed up (even took off the new mittens!) after the first KM. We enjoyed the route, which included a few good hills. I am having much less trouble with hills these days and can often fully recover within seconds. I remember the days when I would run up one piddly little hill and I'd be toast for the rest of the run.

I found that my chin and neck were a little cold so I picked up a Dryline Gaitor to accompany my headband. So if you see something that looks like a cross between a gumball and a bank robber (or ninja - thanks R.) running down the street, don't be alarmed. It's only me. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's getting chilly

We took a trip to the Running Room this morning to pick out our Christmas gifts from my mother-in-law. I picked up the Windpro Headband and Windpro 3 Mittens - both noted for wind protection, water repellancy, breathability and warmth without weight.

I still need to get reflective winter pants but they didn't have my size. What I have now will keep me warm enough until the temperature really starts to drop.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Slight modification

I can admit it when it's just too much, and that was too much. The first two sets went well, but I was not able to complete the third. I felt like I was quite possibly going to fall off the treadmill and collapse in a heap. And I know it's time to ease up when I start to feel nauseous! I cut the third and fourth sets from 800 metres to 400 metres. I'll probably do the same next week and then try 800's again.

That was seriously tough and I am POOPED!

It's all about pushing as hard as you can, listening to the body, knowing when it's just too much and adapting!

Speed work

It's about time that I started including speed work in my weekly regime. It is (obviously) one of the most important aspects of my training to help decrease my half marathon time. I also want to complete the Santa Shuffle 5K under 26 minutes, so I really need to get busy.

My hubby was kind enough to write a program for me and it starts off like this:

4 x 800 - 5k pace - 400 rest

What the heck does that mean?!

I will run 800 metres at my 5K pace* (which is 5:12 min/km) followed by a 400 metre rest (slow jog) and repeat 4 times.

Next week will be 6 sets of 400 metres at 5 seconds faster than my 5K pace. It's complicated, but it's supposed to work. So we'll see how it goes!

*My 5K pace is the pace at which I want to (eventually) be running 5K in order to complete the half marathon in my goal time of <2:00:00.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Treadmill woes

Last night I ran 6 KM on the treadmill and came to the decision that from now on, all runs >5KM will be completed OUTSIDE. It is so freaking boring! And because there is so little distraction, I find myself concentrating on the tiniest cramps and pains, which I normally woulkd not even notice. And then there's the sweat factor! I sweat like a mofo on the treadmill and since there's no breeze to blow it off my face, I am absolutely dripping the entire time. Sometimes I feel like I'm wiping my face with the towel every 30 seconds. So I'll do my shorter runs and speedwork at the gym, but otherwise I will do them outside. Unless it's minus 30 degrees. Sometimes this may mean running outside AND going to the gym for weights in one night, but I will make it happen.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Clinic: Week One

Day One of the Half Marathon Clinic went great. The weather was a little disconcerting throughout the afternoon (cold rain and heavy wind are not my idea of nice running conditions!) but it improved a little just before our run and it turned out alright. I even managed to squeeze in some agility training whilst jumping over puddles that looked the size of Lake Superior.

Tonight consisted primarily of an introduction to the program and getting to know our instructor (she rocks!) and fellow runners. There is quite a variety of people in our group, mostly in their 30'a and 40's (we're the babies!) and many of whom have an equivalent level of experience to us. Some have never completed a half, some have completed multiple, one is actually training for a full. Some seem to have joined the clinic for the social aspect, some for motivation to continue running once Old Man Winter rears his ugly head (myself included on the latter).

The program starts off a little too easy and everyone agreed to have our instructor make some modifications. The original plan has us running 3 & 4 KM's quite regularly, but that is a warm-up run for most of us. We should get a copy of the new program at our next session on Sunday, but the basic idea is: LSD (long slow distance) on Sundays, educational session (different topic each week) on Tuesdays (plus easy run) and hill training (fartleks later in the program) on Wednesdays. We then run on our own one or two more times. I have to devise a new plan, balancing the group runs and gym nights (oh, and rest days... if there's time!) but it might look something like:

Monday: gym - weights only
Tuesday: group run (easy), then weights (gym)
Wednesday: group run (hills/fartleks)
Thursday: gym - treadmill + weights
Friday: gym - treadmill + weights
Saturday: REST!!
Sunday: group run - LSD

We'll have to play it by ear and make some adjustments if it's too much. The last thing I want is to burn myself out.

Anyway, tonight we just did a nice 4K around the block. It was easy and we finished at the front of the pack - not that it's a race.

We have one beef. Everyone in the group seems to like doing 10&1's (run 10 minutes, walk 1), which we do not. The instructor will probably accommodate the majority, but she encourages us to go ahead and run continuously if it suits us. She will give us a map of the route each day, so it's okay if we don't stay with the pack. A few people have asked me what I have against 10&1's or any kind of walk breaks. The thing is, if I start to walk, I have a really hard time getting back into the run groove and I would hate to be constantly waiting for that "beep beep" - know what I mean? When my body needs a rest, I just take it down to a slow and steady jog and so far, that works for me.

So it looks like we now have a good handful of races planned for next year:

March: Chilly Half in Burlington
May: Sporting Like 10K, Persechini 10K (hosted by our gym), Mississauga Half
August: Mid Summer Night's Run (15K)
September: Scotiabank Toronto Half

Not to mention that softball season starts up again in May and I could be playing on as many as three teams next year! I better be damn skinny after next summer. ;)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Change of plans

I love fall, but the weather can be so unpredictable! Saturday morning I was out running in a t-shirt and today it's cold, windy, rainy and miserable. Thankfully, tonight was a gym night.

Hopefully tomorrow will be much nicer because our Running Room clinic is starting! It wasn't scheduled to start until December 12th but apparently it had to be moved up. How nice of them to let us know... THE DAY BEFORE! Yeah, they just called. Argh. But it's not a huge problem for us and actually, I'm punped to get started! The goal race for this clinic is the Burlington Chilly Half Marathon on March 2nd...which we are now considering. What can I say? We seem to be addicts.

So our first session is tomorrow evening. Not sure what to expect but I'll be back with a full report.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Something fun to kick off the holidays

Today we signed up for the Santa Shuffle Fun Run(5K) which takes place on December 1st from our local Running Room store.

This merry event helps The Salvation Army to assist families and individuals in need during the Christmas season and throughout the year.

It looks like fun and supports a good cause. Those of you who know me IRL (in real life) may be hounded for pledges in the near future. :)