Monday, March 19, 2012

Run Strong.....mission accomplished!

So, after a rough run/walk Tuesday of last week I was feeling a little nervous. Maybe I'm overtrained, maybe this plant-based diet I've been trying is a bad idea, maybe my body is fighting some sort of infection, maybe worse, maybe I'm injured. All these thoughts raced through my brain and knowing what the next few weeks of my training plan looks like, I started to really freak out. I took it easy Tuesday and rested after my failed attempt at a run and showed up Wednesday afternoon at Kim's house hoping things were better and it was a brand new day.

I wasn't sure how the run would go or if I'd even be able to run. So, Kim and I headed out and I told her I'd just see how I felt and if it wasn't going well, she could continue and I'd just hang out back at her house with her daughter Ryann. Within the first mile I knew it felt totally different than the day before. I wasn't completely drained of all energy and I could actually run and hold a conversation with her. We weren't going fast, but I was running and I didn't feel like I was going to die. We did a nice easy 4 miles and when we finished Kim asked if I wanted to add on an extra mile. I decided to end on a high note and not over do it.

After the run, since it was Ryann's first birthday, we had pizza and the best homemade chocolate cake EVER! I had 2 pieces of cake. I think I even ate more pizza than Kim's husband Bill and he's a bottomless pit. I never order pizza so it was a super special treat for me. And it was really fun to watch Ryann dig into her birthday cake and look at us all encouraging her like, "Seriously?!? You want me to grab the cake? and that's ok?" She hesitated at first, but once she got a taste of the frosting she dug in.

Thursday I went for a run along the Charles after work. I did the 7 mile loop from work to the JFK St bridge and back. I was REALLY tempted to keep going, but the next bridge adds on almost 2 more miles. I probably could have easily done the 8.75, but I held back and resisted the urge to keep going. Thank God I did, it got really cold towards the end of my run and then it started raining. By the time I was driving across the Mass Ave bridge heading home it was pouring out. I would have been soaking wet, freezing cold, and miserable.

Friday, I took a rest day knowing that I had a really, really big weekend planned. I literally did nothing Friday night. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home for some junk food and sat on the couch watching mindless TV until I passed out in a puddle of my own drool. I friggin LOVE that. I had a busy week at work and a rough week of running and I just gave in to my body's overwhelming requirement for some rest. Before I passed out, I made plans to run in the morning with Kim and Shannon. I was doing 18 miles and they wanted to do half with me, so I agreed to run 7-8 miles and then run to Shannon's and meet up with them for the last 9-10 miles.

The alarm clock went off EARLY Saturday morning, granted I'm a morning person anyway and I'm used to it, but I really could have stayed in bed a little longer. I was meeting Shannon and Kim at 7:30 so I had to start my run at 6:00am. It was still dark out and I donned my reflective gear and headlamp and several blinking lights. I got out the door a little after 6:00 and started running. I hadn't run in the dark in a while and honestly it was a little creepy. Usually, it's quiet and peaceful and I enjoy it, but for some reason this time felt like I was the main character in a horror flick running from the villain. Luckily, the sun came up about 3 miles into my run and although it was a little chilly, the brisk morning air felt really good to run in.

As I headed towards Shannon's house and passed the 7 mile mark in my run I realized I didn't consider the time it would take me to run to her house after getting my miles in. I should have left a little earlier. I was going to be a little late. Not a lot late, just 5-10 minutes, but I hate being late and I didn't want them to worry. I got there and it was just a little past 7:30, no need to worry. We chatted for a bit and discussed which way to run and then off we went.

Shannon and Kim started out like bullets out of a rifle and I reminded them I was not going to be able to hold that pace and would be a little further back. They were nice enough to hold back and run with me. I kept an eye on my Garmin, knowing how easy it would be to pick up the pace and run faster with them, but needing to keep my pace a little slower because I was doing a longer run. We did great, averaging exactly where I wanted to be, 30-45 seconds slower than my marathon race pace. We were close to done and Kim was doing the math and figured we would be a little short so her internal GPS map of downtown Lowell corrected our course and added on a little extra loop making it a perfect 18 miles for me. They ran a little further when I stopped to make their run an even 10 miles.

Splitting the run like that and finishing it up with the company of great friends seriously makes me remember why I love it so much. We stick together through thick and thin and help each other with tough training runs and celebrate successes together and pick each other up after disappointing performances. I hardly even felt like I did 18 miles. Could have been the endorphin high or mentally breaking the run into two smaller chunks. Either way it was great. Kim drove me home, dropped me off, I took my ice bath, and hot shower and inhaled everything edible in my house. I went to Trader Joe's to get a few things and ended up buying my body weight in chocolate treats.

Saturday afternoon, I took my friend Erin for her very first IKEA shopping experience. It's so overwhelming and exciting. I love that place. It's like Toys R Us for adults. I got a new night stand and some curtain rods and Erin got a new rug and a bunch of small home decor things for her new apartment. She couldn't beleive how much stuff they had and how inexpensive it was. I'm glad I don't live closer to Stoughton because I'd be there every weekend. We spent a few hours there and by the time we finished up and I drove back home it was already 7:30 at night! I chowed on some food for dinner (homemade sweet and sour tempeh with steamed broccoli and brown rice) and went to bed.
Sunday was the Historic Half of Quincy. I got up early again and ate a quick breakfast before hopping in my car and driving to the race. It was a lot cooler out than I thought it was going to be. In the 40s and sunny, I hoped that the temperature would climb a few degrees before the start of the race. I got my new RaceMenu singlet and wanted to run in just that, but I felt a little too cold. 40 degrees is so hard to dress for. I know how to dress for 50+ and 30 or colder, but I struggle with 40. I had a long sleeve shirt on and put my singlet over it.

Considering that I ran 18 miles the day before I had no expectations for the race. I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the course. I knew I wasn't going to PR and I definitely wasn't going to win anything. I just wanted to have fun. The race started and I tried to settle into a nice easy pace. I did the first mile in about 10 minutes and the second mile only a few seconds faster. Then on my way up the first little hill on the course my friend Andy showed up. We started talking and before I knew it we were doing 9:30s. We held that pace consistantly for the next 10 miles! I told him I'd try to hang until mile 10 and then if he wanted to race the last 5K he could. He stuck with me until mile 12 and pulled me up every single hill. It was a really tough run, but having good company made it go by really fast. I finished up the last mile in 9:15 and my official finish time was 2:04:35!!!!! Significantly better than I had expected thanks to my personal pacer Andy. And I'm really starting to believe that the RaceMenu hat I wear has special speedy powers because everytime I wear it I surprise myself and kick ass!
After the race the weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was sunny and almost 70 degrees. I sat on the ground for a bit near the finish and had some water and a banana and soaked up some sun. Chatted some more with Andy and some of his friends. My stomach started to growl a little at me and they didn't really have many options for me to eat other than bananas so I hit the road and headed home. I really should have eaten lunch and then crashed on the couch, but the endorphins were still shooting through my veins so I assembled my new IKEA nightstand, hung my new curtain rods, made some veggie and barley soup, did some laundry, AND THEN finally around 7:00 I sat down and relaxed. What an amazing weekend!

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