Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Race for the Cure

One of the cool things about running races is that quite often they're put on to raise money for a specific cause. So not only is the race a goal that I can use to help keep myself in line with an exercise and training program, but it's something that I feel worthwhile supporting.

In the past few years, my entry fees have gone to support urban forestry/tree planting in Missoula (Run for the Trees), women's health issues (Blue Mountain Women's Run), and Missoula youth programs (Rattlesnake 5k).

I recently found out about a run taking place in Helena, MT, that's a fundraiser for Komen Montana, a branch of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a global catalyst in the fight against breast cancer. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has a nearly 25-year history of patient advocacy, building awareness and raising funds for research and community outreach programs.

Amy had mentioned this run to me back in the winter, and when I checked out the website a month or so ago, I saw that they were encouraging folks to put together teams to run the race and raise money through sponsorships. So I decided to try to organize a team of gals to run the race together. What better way to spend a Saturday with friends, to help with fundraising for a local non-profit, and to encourage other women I know to get out there and run.

So I started recruiting friends. So far our team consists of 9 gals from the Missoula area who all work in the natural resources/outdoors realm or are big fans of the woods... so we named our team the "Wild and Woodsy Women." We initially set our fundraising goal at $500-- or about $50 per person. But we soon realized that we could do much more! As of today we're up to $914 in donations... and there are still three weeks to go! Maybe we should bump up our fundraising goal to $1500 :)

Would you be interested in joining us? You can pitch in by joining the team and running with us on May 17 (you don't have to be a woman!). Or you can donate to the cause. Don't have much to give? That's okay. Try just $5. Any little bit will be appreciated by someone affected by breast cancer... and there are many of us who have been or will be.

Statistics show that approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. Statisically that's at least one of us from our team. And many more of us will be secondarily affected-- as partners, friends, daughters, mothers, or co-workers of someone with breast cancer. So our participation in this race is a small step that we can take towards supporting this organization that seeks to: save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all, and energizing science to find the cures.

Thanks for your support. And don't forget to do your monthly breast exam!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Have your cake and eat it, too

Yesterday was Jim's birthday, so on Saturday evening we hosted a little dinner get-together at our house to celebrate. I made bbq sandwiches with coleslaw, sweet tea, and a German chocolate cake. Other friends rounded out the feast by bringing baked beans, potato salad, fruit salad, and of course some beer. It was a nice evening, made nicer by the fact that we were able to sit out on the porch and have apples & brie appetizers and drink a few beers before the lack of sunlight drove us inside. It's been a long time since it's been warm enough to hang out on the porch like that. And even though it wasn't quite really warm enough, we all threw on extra sweatshirts and sat there, anyway, because it was warmer than it has been!

Anyhow, I took some measures to cut calories and fat from all of the dishes I made, and used my friends as guinea pigs. No one seemed to notice at all! I took the fact that there were very few leftovers to indicate the taste wasn't sacrificed with the spare calories. So here's what I did:

BBQ Sandwiches:
I used venison (deer meat) instead of pork or beef. I filled my crock-pot 3/4 full with the meat early in the morning, and slow cooked it all day. About an hour before dinner I took it out and shredded/chopped it, added a half a bottle of bbq sauce, and put it back in to warm. The venison is a much leaner cut of meat than pork or beef. For example, 1 oz (raw weight) of each type of meat equals:
Calories Fat (g) Carbs (g) Protein (g)
Venison 36 1 0 7
Pork (shoulder) 61 4 0 5
Beef (roast) 58 4 0 6

I also served whole wheat buns, which at least add some more fiber and vitamins than the regular white buns.

Instead of using lots of regular mayonnaise for the dressing, I used a mix of reduced-fat mayo and fat-free yogurt. This cut lots of fat and calories. The approximate recipe would be: 1/4 c each reduced-fat mayo & fat free plain yogurt, 1 Tbs cider vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1 splash milk, 1 Tbs dill, salt & pepper. Mix all and add to 1/2 large head of cabbage, sliced thin, and 1 shredded carrot. Mix well, refridgerate several hours, serve cold.

German Chocolate Cake:
I got this tip from my friend Amy. When making a cake out of a mix, instead of adding all the things the box tells you to add (eggs, oil, water), simply add 1 can of Diet Coke or Diet 7Up (depending on the color of cake you're making... use 7Up for lighter colored cakes). Stir as directed, then bake as directed. This saves 100 calories per slice (all from eggs & oil), assuming you cut your cake into 12 pieces. The cake turned out nice & fluffy and flavorful... no one knew the difference!

Sweet Tea:
Since I'm sensitive to caffeine, I brewed some decaf tea bags. Then I sweetened with Splenda. Result= no calories, no caffeine, no guilt about drinking several glasses of the stuff!

It's fun to find little ways to make your favorite foods a little less terrible for you! Of course, it better taste good!

Enjoy some of these recipes, or share your own.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." -John Bingham, running speaker and writer
A few reflections from my experience as a 5k race volunteer this past Sunday:
* Volunteering for a 5k takes a lot longer than running a 5k!
* Watching the front-of-the-packers was cool-- I never get to see those folks run 'cause they're way out in front of me! Folks were covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time-- big strides, fast turnover
* The perceptible effort from the front-runners versus some of the mid-pack runners wasn't all that different-- folks who were there to run were obviously working hard
* It was obvious amongst the runners who was there to compete (whether against others or against themselves) versus those who were there to complete
* For some folks, walking a full 3.1 miles was a big accomplishment, and one they were just as proud of as those who were setting PR's with faster times; for all, it took courage to make it to the starting line, and I was proud of all of them (even though most were complete strangers!)
* I especially enjoyed seeing families doing the event together; what a great thing to do together-- so much healthier and more fulfilling than going to a movie on a Sunday afternoon
* 5k's are do-able for nearly anyone, regardless of age, gender, fitness level, etc. There were a few kids running who couldn't have been more than 5 years old and also some folks pushing 70 years old. There were uber-fit-looking folks who didn't jiggle in their spandex, and there were folks who could jiggle in anything. All were out there covering the miles to their ability, and it was inspiring to see
* My encouraging phrases changed throughout the race, as folks of different abilities passed me. To the front-runners I shouted: "2 mile mark coming up," "Don't forget to breathe!," "Nice stride-- keep it up!" I didn't get much reaction from these folks-- they just flew on by
* Towards the middle of the pack I had a little more time to interact. Folks would ask me "how much farther?" and I'd reply "just a measley mile or so! or "you're over half-way." I also liked reminding people "Smile-- this is fun!" or "Run faster-- say warmer"
* With the back-of-packers I got to hold short conversations as they approached and passed. To these folks I applauded their efforts to come brave the cold and Walk the Walk. And I told them "Your heart loves you for doing this!" After nearly 600 people had passed, a lady came along and told me that she was last, with a twinge of shame. "That's okay," I said, "You're the first one who could've stayed home watching tv all day but decided to come out and do this instead. So really you're a winner!" She smiled, and kept on trucking
* Watching other people run made me want to join them!
* The only negative thought I had was when an overweight lady in her SUV gave me and the runners dirty scowls when she had to slow down and wait while runners crossed the road in front of her. I wanted to drag her out of her comfy seat and show her what it felt like to .... oh, never mind. I'll stay positive ;)
All in all, it was well worth 3 hours of my time to go out and stand in the cold on a Sunday afternoon. It was inspiring to see so many people out being healthy, and it felt good to cheer them on.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

2200 and Counting

Yesterday afternoon I left work, ran by the grocery store to buy food for the weekend (including a thin crust tomato/basil frozen pizza for myself for dinner that night-- a treat!), and then returned to the gym for the second time that day (I did an hour-long Power Pump weight lifting class in the morning).

On Fridays at 5:30 there's a class called SwimFit, taught by the same lady that's now teaching the swim part of my triathlon training class. I've gone a few times in the past few months, but it's kind of at an inconvenient time if I'm driving to Missoula on Fridays. But since I was staying here in Kalispell for the weekend, and I didn't really have anything else to do on a Friday evening (yes, I'm a border-line loser!), going to an hour-long swim class seemed perfect.

The class is pretty similar to a Master's Swim. It's less class-like and more of a guided workout. The instructor posts the workout on a board at the end of each lane, then folks separate themselves in lanes according to relative speed. The posted workout is designed for the most experienced/fit swimmers, and the rest of us modify it as needed (e.g. do fewer reps, or just realize that we won't make it all the way through the workout). The instructor watches from the pool deck and gives tips & encouragement. But pretty much you're on your own to do the workout. Here's what last night's posting looked like (with lay-person translations in blue):

150 Warm-up slow-pace, any style stroke, get the blood flowing
2x200 Free, 20 sec interval swim 200 yards freestyle twice w/ a 20 sec break between reps
10x50 Odds free, Evens choice swim 50 yards (down & back) 10 times; do freestyle stroke on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc, and any other stroke you want (I alternated backstroke and breaststroke) on the 2nd, 4th, etc
4x150 kick w/fins 1&3 kickboard, 2&4 streamline with fins on your feet, do 150 yards of kicking while holding onto a foam board to help keep your upper body out of the water; then do another 150 yards while in a Superman position-- arms stretched out front and clasped; repeat the whole process once
2x75 pull freestyle stick a little dogbone-shaped foam thingy between your legs to help them float and swim 75 yards using just your arms (no kicking)
6x100 Sprint free, 20 sec recovery swim 100 yards at a fast pace 6 times w/ 20 sec breaks in between
8x50 SPRINT FASTER, 15 sec recovery swim really fast for 50 yards, then catch your breath for 15 seconds; repeat 8 times
4x100 choice, 15 sec recovery swim 100 yards any stroke, repeat 4 times
200 warm-down swim nice and slow, stretching out and letting your heart rate come down, your muscles relax; use whatever stroke you want, or even just play around swimming on the bottom, float on your back-- whatever helps you relax
Total workout= 3,400 yards

I was swimming in a lane with just one other lady, and she and I were just about at the same pace for everything, which was a first for me. It was really nice to have a good lane partner. She would take off for a rep, and I'd take off about 10 seconds behind her. We never bumped into each other or had to swim around or wait at the end of a lane-- all of which are common if you're sharing with folks of different speeds/skill levels. It made it a great workout-- I pushed myself a little harder than normal to keep up with her, especially in terms of only taking the allotted time for rest breaks (often I'll stretch20 seconds into 30...).

We would stop and regroup at the end of each set and talk for a second or two about how things were going (e.g. "whew, my arms are getting Tiii-errrred!", "yeah, mine too!"). We got all the way to the 100 sprints, then noticed that there were only 10 minutes left, so we decided we'd do four 50 yard sprints and then do the warm-down. So the total workout for us was 2200 yards.

2200 yards?! HOLY COW! That's the farthest I've ever swum in a workout!!! It was great to have a good lane-mate to push me along (and to chat with in the hot tub once we finished our workout-- I learned that she did her first Tri last fall and is doing 3 this year, with an Olympic Distance planned in early Sept).

It feels great to have come this far with my swimming in such a short amount of time. Back in November when I first started hitting the pool, a 500 yard workout would take over half an hour and leave me wiped out. Here's an excerpt from an email I wrote to Robyn on Dec 6-- just a few weeks after I started swimming:

Just used my lunch break to go to the pool. I was in meetings all day the past two days, sitting, sitting, sitting, and didn’t get a workout in at all yesterday, so I had major ants in my pants.

Anyhow, I had a bit of a break-through a few nights ago. I was sharing a lane with a guy who was swimming lap-after-lap (as opposed to stopping to catch his breath, like I do, at the end of each pool length). At one point I started off just as he did, and realized that I was swimming faster than he was. Now, here’s a guy who obviously swims enough at least to have good endurance… and I’m a newbie swimming faster than he. No freakin’ wonder I can’t swim more than 50 yards at a time without totally dying!!!

So… today’s focus was going slow, keeping calm, slowing down more… and I managed to the previously-daunting-looking Endurance Workout on my baby-swim plan:
4x25 warmup (with 10-20 seconds in between to catch breath), then a “ladder” of 25, 50, 75, 75, 50, 25; finally, I did 4x25 drills (bouy in legs, working on arms), then 4x25 cooldown. The total: 700 yards!!! And it only took 30 minutes (ha!) But at least I learned the trick of slowing myself down to have some hope of endurance.

Funny, it’s just like when I started running… too much, too fast = discouraged. The difference now, though, is that a. I’m not afraid of an elevated heart rate, and b. I know that my body can do this, I just have to figure out how.

Could I have made such leaps in progress a few years ago? Perhaps, but I doubt it. I attribute most of my training success to learning to run. Running has given me physical strength and endurance that I've never had before. But more importantly it's given me a confidence to know that even this short, squatty, formerly-unathletic body can do some pretty athletic things. I know that if I work hard and train smart, results will happen. In whatever sport I choose (except maybe those that require hand-eye coordination....)

Oh yeah, and it makes that frozen pizza taste all that much better :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

This Weekend's Race

Race? What race? I've made no mention of another race this weekend.

Yeah, I'm pulling your chain just a little. I'm not running a race this weekend. But I'm participating in one!

A little background: I have to stay in Kalispell to work a little bit this weekend, plus I'm workign in Missoula next Wed-Fri, so I might as well save the gas money and stay here a few extra days. Anyhow, my gym is hosting a 5k run/walk this weekend, and several folks have asked me recently if I'm going to do it. No, I would reply, I just ran a race a few weekends ago, so I don't really need another one right now, and also I've already spent my monthly allowance (plus some!) for sports-related activities (including getting new tires and a tune-up for my bike and registering for two different races). So, no, I won't be doing the Summit 5k.

But yesterday as I was riding said bike to the gym after work, I had a brilliant idea. I could VOLUNTEER for the race! That way I could still be involved, and hopefully have a chance to pay-back some of the awesome volunteers that have donated their efforts to races that I've run. I got to the gym and signed up, and talked briefly with the race director. She was glad to have me. I told her that I wanted to be on the Route Crew-- i.e. one of the people who stands at a crucial turn along the race course and directs the runners which way to go. I've seen some volunteers in those positions just stand there and flatly say "Good job... Turn here." But others have cheered wildly or made encouraging comments to the runners, in addition to telling them to turn.

So my intention for this weekend's race is to be the most encouraging, supportive, enthusiastic race course volunteer I can be. The route is a tough, hilly one, and the weather's supposed to be cruddy. So I'll try to pour out a little sunshine for the runners. I'm psyched!

Any suggestions for encouraging phrases I can use? Any comments that volunteers or other racers have shouted to you in the past that have helped you find another gear, or simply to keep going and not give up? If so, post a comment, and I'll pass along the love.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The In's and Out's

Yesterday’s output (calories in parentheses):
45 workout in which I alternated running on the treadmill for 5 min at an easy pace, then running up and down stairs for 2 min (314)
50 minute swim workout (344)
Total output from exercise= 678
Estimated burn for the day= 2360 calories

Yesterday’s intake (calories in parentheses):
Breakfast: 1 cup cooked brown rice (172) with 1 scoop protein powder (158) and ½ banana (54)
Snack: apple (81) with 1 Tbs peanut butter (98)
Lunch: mixed greens salad with ½ tsp olive oil and 1 oz gorgonzola cheese (100) and 1 can Progresso Light vegetable soup (120)
Snack: 1 cup dry cereal (140)
Total for the day so far: 923 calories

Planned dinner:
1 cup brown rice (172) with 1 cup red beans (218) and 3 oz turkey kielbasa (167) with cajun seasoning; 1/2 dark chocolate bar (150)
Total dinner & dessert= 707 calories

Actual dinner:
10 buffalo-style chicken wings (510) and 1 pint Sam Adams (227) at Famous Dave’s with two of my co-workers (we’re working on a big project that’s due Monday-- they were still here at 8pm when I got done with my workout… so I stopped and made them walk next door for a beer and snack)
Total dinner= 737 calories

Total intake for the day= 1660 calories

Between my actual dinner and my planned dinner, there wasn’t much of a difference in total calories consumed. And I still came in well under my output for the day, which was the goal. The only problem? The calories in the actual dinner were full of alcohol and fat. Not exactly filling. So although I was satisfied and went to bed feeling fine last night, today I’ve been verrrry hungry as a result of my poor nutrition last night. Hence, I want to eat more, more, more! today, because I didn’t eat well last night. Lesson: Not all calories are created equal!

Monday, April 14, 2008


After a pretty grumpy, tired early part of last week, I figured it was probably time to take a little bit of a rest break. I was exhausted all day on Thursday. So instead of going to my triathlon class, I went home after work and took a bath, read my book, made dinner, and went to bed early. Even after that little break I felt a lot better on Friday. I awakened a little before my alarm, and was actaully ready to get up (as opposed to all the other days that week when I was having such a hard time getting out of bed). I hopped into my workout clothes and made it to the gym in time to run a mile before my Power Pump class. After lifting weights for an hour, I ran by the office to grab my gear, then headed out to meet up with two foresters for a field tour on the Coal Creek State Forest, which is located up the North Fork of the Flathead River, right across from Polebridge and Glacier Park. It was a gorgeous day-- sunny, 50 degrees. We saw about 40 elk, a golden eagle, a bunch of moose sign, and fresh big grizzly tracks. Way cool. The combination of sleep and sun and wild critters helped my mood and energy levels immensely!

The nice weather continued all weekend, as did the good mood. I continued to take it a little easy on Saturday, spending most of the day hanging out with Jim and our neighbor Kenny who turned 4 years old on Saturday. He rode around with us to doctor calves, feed the cows, and fuel up the tractors. Then while Jim went and worked on a tractor-repair project, Kenny and I caught my horse Monster and went for a ride. It was fun to spend time with a little one! I only had one YIKES moment, when Jim and Kenny and I all walked in to the gas station together to get a snack. It was like de-ja-vu in reverse.

Sunday morning Craig and Amy came out and we did a 16.5 mile bike ride that looped around Frenchtown. It was again warm and sunny, which was terrific. We enjoyed lunch on our back porch after the ride, and then I had them drop me off in one of the hay fields where Jim was doing some prescribed burning. I helped burn the weeds and extra grass out of ditches until around 6pm. We got done, went home and cooked a couple of burgers on the grill and ate them on the back porch. It was sooooo nice to be warm and to get some sun on my pasty skin.

Now I'm all rested up, I've had a taste of sun (though it's supposed to get cooler and rainy for the majority of the week to come), and I'm ready to hit some hard workouts again. The rest did me good. To read more about rest-- the necessity, the benefits, how to incorporate it into your training-- check out these articles:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Warning: Here comes a mood swing

Coming off of last week’s workout and race high, this week I’m finding it hard to want to lift a finger. My drive is zapped. My motivation is lacking. My enthusiasm to get up early and exercise has seriously diminished.

Today I have an incredibly long work day. I started at 7, and will be at the office for my usual 8 hours. Then I’ll leave the office and drive to Condon for a public meeting tonight regarding a controversial timber sale that my agency is planning. We have a pre-meeting staff meeting at 5, then the public meeting starts at 7. It’ll probably run til 9, meaning I won’t get home til nearly 11!

Knowing that it’ll be a long day and I won’t get to do my usual afternoon workout, I tried to get up early to go swimming this morning. I had a fairly good swim yesterday afternoon where I worked on some technique drills, and I was planning to do a long endurance swim this morning to try to reinforce those habits and get the blood pumping early in the day. But just couldn’t make myself get out of bed. I hit the snooze bar for over an hour, trying to come up with any excuse not to exercise. Finally during one of my waking bouts I promised myself that I could take a long lunch break and go to the pool mid-day. So I’ll do that—go swim for a half hour or so at noon. But I’m bummed that I couldn’t coax myself to do it this morning. Yesterday I did manage to get myself up to go to yoga. But I was cranky during class, and just didn’t get in my normal chipper post-morning-workout mood.

Ah, the roller coaster of motivation. I guess it’s quite possible that I’m physically tired, that my body is asking for a little break after all of the tough workouts the last few weeks, and the extra stress of Saturday’s race. But I don’t feel nearly as physically tired as I feel mentally spent. I’m just kind of half-cranky, and I don’t. want. to. work. Not at my real job; not at the gym. Nope, I just want to lay on the couch, watch a movie, and spend my whole day eating and sleeping and being worthless.

Perhaps I just haven’t done enough relaxing lately. I sure didn’t take any breaks this past weekend. And I know I’m stressed with this big project for work, and I’m PMS-ing to boot. But taking a day off to lay around and wallow in my tiredness and stress isn’t an option. And my workouts aren’t giving me the good mood highs that they usually do.

Pout. I just want to be happy and motivated and full of energy all the time. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, April 7, 2008

And the winner is....

Not me, if you’re looking at the official race results. But if you’re comparing me this year to me last year, I TOTALLY WON!!!! After a nice warm-up walk and jog with Amy, we lined up at the starting line, this year bumping into the 8-9 min/mil starting bin instead of the 10-12 min/mi bin. After cooling off just a little (it was 35 degrees and cloudy), the gun went off and we took off like a bunch of lemmings headed for the Clark Fork River.

The start was fast. Amy flat took off, never to be caught. My heart rate spiked immediately, and for the first few minutes I felt very anxious, nervous, unsettled. It felt strange to be running fast at the beginning of a race. And the sounds of all the footsteps and people breathing all around me was a bizarre sensation that I’m unaccustomed to, especially since I usually just run by myself with headphones on, or with one other person in a secluded area. But the thundering of footsteps, the panting all around me, and the quickness of my own feet all led to a near-panic-y feeling for the first few minutes.

I talked myself down, though, without losing speed. It took a few minutes of telling myself “this is okay,” “just find your rhythm,” “remember— you’d rather go out too hard and crash than finish wondering if you could’ve gone faster.” With those little pep-talks I began to feel a rhythm to my feet and my breath, and began to get comfortably uncomfortable.

Then, all the sudden, there I was at the first mile, and glancing at my watch I saw an 8:38. (actually, the course was marked in kilometers, but I had looked beforehand at the race route on Map My Run, so I knew approximately where the mile markers were). I worried just briefly about whether I’d gone too fast and blown it, but quickly shifted that thought out of my head and focused on my form as I crossed the first bridge over the river. I saw Amy out in front quite a ways, and was psyched to see her having a good run. “I hope she can hold it,” I thought, fairly confident that she could.

It was smooth sailing for the next little bit. I had a good pace going, the field had narrowed out a bit and I was playing leap-frog with a small group of other women (who all looked like Real Runners!) Then around a mile and a half or a little more, the doubt once again started to creep in. “I’m only half way there—can I keep this pace up for another mile and a half?” But just about as soon as those thoughts had time to enter, I pushed them right out and thought about my form. I leaned forward from the ankles a bit more, and felt a new lightness in my feet.

That lightness carried me to the base of the Hill, or the 2 mile point. I looked at my watch, and it said 17-something. A wave of calm washed over as I realized that I had ten minutes to get to the finish line. No problem. Amy was making the turn to run across the bridge as I was starting up the hill. “Holy cow,” I thought,” she’s flying. Go Amy!”

The charge up the hill was no big deal, as expected from last weekend’s training. But once I got on the bridge my heart was still racing, and I felt a pain in my abdomen starting to rise. Once again I threw my thoughts to my form, and imagined a bungee cord attached to the middle of my chest and to the far end of the straight stretch I was on. I felt the cord pull me along, and subsequently opened up some space in my chest, got a few good breaths, and let the pain slip away.

I made the turn to run downhill, and told myself to use the downhill stretch as a recovery. I let my legs flop, uninhibited by my mind’s fear that we’d trip and flail forward. Amy was practically out of sight by now, and I was elated to see that she was having a terrific race. I knew that I was running well, too, and as I passed the 4k marker I did a little math and figured that I only had another 5 minutes or so to run. “So come on, you can do anything for 5 minutes!”

I passed a few women as we rounded the backside of the baseball stadium. Then I hit the home stretch, a ¼ mile or so on a gravel trail along the river. If it was scenic, I didn’t notice. All I knew was that I wanted to kick, to give it my usual sprint to the end. But try as I may, the sprint wasn’t happening. My little legs just didn’t have any extra kick in them.

There were no other runners right in front of me, so I didn’t have anyone to race. But I looked up and saw 26:17 on the time clock just a hundred yards or so out in front of me. I gave it whatever push I had, and was blessed with motivational cheering from Jordan, and then Amy who rushed around from her recovery spot and cheered for me. I crossed the finish line knowing that I’d smoked my goal out of the water. As had Amy. Go us!!!

After 30 seconds or so of my usual post-race heaving, I straightened up and there was Amy, ready for our celebratory hug. We were both so proud of ourselves and each other, it was awesome. We both exceeded our expectations and both felt we’d given it just about all we had to give. What a terrific feeling!

Post-race we enjoyed a great bowl of chicken chili and breadsticks at McKenzie River Pizza with Jordan and Beth. It was good to re-fuel and to get warm and to see friends that I hadn't seen since last fall. For the rest of the weekend I kept thinking about how proud I was of us. Sure, it would’ve been nice to beat Amy. But it was even better to see her push herself harder than she has before and realize that she’s so much stronger and faster than she thought. As for me, it was awesome to have proof that my efforts over the last several months have paid off, both in terms of the physical and mental training I’ve been doing.

So who won? We both did. And it rocked.

Official stats (Amy, I hope you don’t mind me bragging on you so much on here!):
Finish Time, avg. pace, and last year's time:
Carly- 26:25, 8:31/mi (29:55 in 2007)
Amy- 24:45, 7:59/mi (29:0? in 2007)

Place in Age Class & Amongst All Women:
Carly- 22/68 & 60/356
Amy- 16/68 & 37/356

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This Weekend's Race

I can't wait for this weekend's race. It's going to be a blast. To quote the Pointer Sisters, "I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it, I'm about to lose control and I think I like it."

I've been working hard on speed. Through both tempo runs and intervals I've been learning to kick up the intensity, to withstand the discomfort, to suck it up and just keep running. And I like it! I like the feel of running fast. Yesterday when I was trying to do a slow, super easy-paced jog, I was nearly bursting with the desire to crank it up. My legs want to turn over faster. My lungs want to work in turbo mode. My heart wants to see how fast it can get fresh blood down to my toes. And my mind wants to see if it can really push through the "no-- we must stop!" messages that my body will be trying to send it after a sustained hard run.

I'm not talking about breaking any land-speed records this weekend. I won't even have a chance at placing in my age class. But that doesn't matter. I want to beat my own record. And I want to see how hard I can push. I want to "lose control" of my inhibitions, to let it all out and truly see what I can do.

Last year when I did this race I wanted to see if I could run it in less than 30 minutes. I did it in 29:55. That was huge for me. I started out fast, then crashed out a little after mile 2, but found a new wind towards the end. I was tickled with my time, as I'd previously thought that 10 minute miles seemed awefully fast.

This year, 10's seem like a breeze. 9's, however, are quick. Can I really take an average of one minute per mile off last year's time? I'm going to try. My goal is to see how close to 27:00 I can get. My strategy is to get there early enough to pick up my race packet and get my number pinned on, then go for a warm-up jog (this from the gal who used to wonder if she could finish a full 5k... now she needs to warm up with a 1-2 mile run before running 3 miles?!) and do a few strides to get the legs used to turning over. Then line up and go. Go steadily hard from the start. And don't slow down.

Amy and I ran the race route last Saturday and talked about different points along the way that gave us troubles or bursts last year. We both struggled after the one hill. It's not a super big hill but it's fairly steep, and it's just past the 2 mile mark. Last year I powered up the hill, but within a few hundred yards after it I was toast and had to slow to a near walk. To help prevent that from happening this year, we spent some time hanging out with our hill on Saturday. We ran up and past the hill for a few hundred yards, then turned around and ran back down. Repeat, faster this time. Then again. Then again. Finally we continued on along the course and crossed the "finish line" together. The hope is that because of those hill repeats last weekend, the hill won't seem nearly so bad this weekend. We'll be psyched to get to keep going and not have to run back down the sucker.

Unlike the past few races we've done together, Amy and I won't be running this one together, per se. We're both on our own. Are we racing each other? Yeah, you might say so. She's always beat me in other races when we've gone solo. But does that have to be the case this time? Not necessarily. All I can say is that if she does, it's because she's gotten faster, too! (which I'm sure she has!) A little friendly competition might be just great for helping push each other towards the finish line. As long as we both kick our own butts and are happy with our performances, that's all that matters. We'll enjoy a good lunch together afterwards :)

So Saturday morning around 10am, if you think about it, give a little cheer for us. Heck, even put on the 'Sisters and dance around a little! And check back Sunday for a race report.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Out like a lamb-- my a@# !!!

Walkerruns got a face lift this morning. That's because Walker is tired of running inside!!!

It hasn't been all that cold, but it's been pretty windy every afternoon for the past several weeks, and we seem to have a pattern of getting afternoon snow showers. These little squalls pass through and blow ice nuggets at your face for about 10 minutes, then they pass and the wind chills you for another 10 minutes, then the sun comes out and it quiets down, again for about 10 minutes. Then the process repeats. So if you happen to pull on your running shoes during one of the sun-bursts, and think that it's FINALLY a nice afternoon to run outside, you're then sorely disappointed when the ice balls start flying. So, instead, you resign yourself to running lap upon lap around the 200m indoor track. Like you've done since November.

Yes, I'd like some cheese with my whine. Preferrably the melted, ooey-gooey kind. But don't let it pack any calories. Can you do that?
Probably not. And can I change the weather by changing the color of my blog to reflect the color of the green, lush grass that I really want to see? Again, probably not. But it's worth a shot.

Enjoy the new look! And send me some sunshine!!!!