Time Warp

This morning I woke up one hour earlier than I typically do throughout the week. I set my alarm for 6 am sharp and went to sleep peacefully and easily last night. Apparently I was ready to get up and run because my body’s internal clock woke up 10 minutes before the alarm was to go off. Usually I would dread this moment. You wake up, roll over, check the time, and think, “but why couldn’t I just let myself sleep that extra 10 minutes”. And then either one of two things happens: A) You close your eyes just to find that you fall asleep for what feels like a measly 2.2 seconds or B) You lay there thinking that you wish you weren’t stuck in limbo somewhere between being asleep and being awake. Luckily, neither of those things happened to me today.

Preparing clothes and gear for the day ahead has seemed to help me get motivated. Even when I plan to go to the gym after work the next day, packing my bag and making sure I have no excuses for avoiding the gym helps to keep me on schedule with my training plan. Last night was the first time I laid out clothes to wear the following morning, rather than the evening at the gym. It’s getting to be that time of year when it’s no longer unbearable to wake up before work and hit the pavement for a morning run. In high school and middle school, I spent my summers waking up before 5 am in order to make it to team practices. And while back then I may have really hated it at the time, I always enjoyed how I felt after accomplishing something 4-5+ hours earlier than any other ‘typical’ student would during the summer. I don’t think that feeling goes away. For example, today I feel particularly accomplished after running a solid 3 miler, the last run before the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon this weekend.

The sun was shining. It was a cool and comfortable 41 degrees, which called for running tights and a light long-sleeve top. I was focused on accomplishing a 1 mile warm up, 1 mile at race pace, and 1 mile cool down. Short and sweet, as they say. I think it’s easy to think that running takes a lot of time and dedication–because it surely does. But for those that use that as an excuse not to run (or exercise in general!), let’s think about exactly what time of time and dedication is involved. This morning I spent 25 minutes running. 2 minutes to brush my teeth. 30 seconds to brush my hair. 3 minutes to get dressed. 2 minutes to put shoes on and tie the laces. 1 minute to drink a small cup of water. And 1 minute to get my tunes ready.

A grand total of 34 minutes and 30 seconds was invested in preparing to run and actually running. 34 Minutes invested in getting the day started in a refreshing, meditative way. After my run I had 20 minutes to actually enjoy that cup of coffee, catch up on some news tidbits by watching the Today show, and eat some cinnamon swirl toast. I accomplished more before 7:15 am this morning, than I have in a long time and it feels great. I warped time by running through it.

So, to my pseudo-self that will find excuses not to run in the future—what’s your deal?

-J

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Last LSD Before I Enter the Pig Pen

As of today, 10 days remain between me and the start line of the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. It’s weird to think how fast this training period has progressed. It seems like just the other day that Brittany, my sister, and I were trying to decide which half marathon we’d be running this spring. The Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon was out due to my twin sister’s graduation weekend (would never miss that–duh!). And there wasn’t one in the Chicagoland area that really piqued our interest either. Luckily, Brady, a fellow long distance runner on DailyMile and Twitter recommended the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. I’d never heard of this race before and was open to going elsewhere in the Midwest to run. The timing worked perfectly in order to hit an early ‘peak’ before starting the true training cycle for the Chicago Marathon, so Britt and I decided to register.

Since then, I’ve kept my head down and remained focused on getting those workouts in each week. I’m very detail-oriented and like the idea of looking forward to a training schedule and backward on what I have already accomplished–which is why DailyMile has been such a great tool for me. I’m so happy I’ve used it as much as I have, because the encouragement and camaraderie is just outstanding (and most often when you most need it and least expect it). Since I began a consistent running schedule in late January of this year, I have run over 226 miles and devoted 38 hours to time on the treadmill or pounding the pavement (weather permitting, of course). Leading up to the Sam Costa Quarter Marathon last month, I wasn’t feeling very healthy joint-wise. My knee was giving me problems and I was scared which way it was going to go for me that morning even after an easy warm-up jog. Luckily, the knee wasn’t an issue that day and I was happy with my first age group award in over 10 years. It was a great way to start the season.

Since allowing myself to rest and rehab the knee a bit with some cross training and light running, I’ve amped up the workouts in the past couple of weeks. And last weekend was my last long run before Race Day. I had a target to just stay on my feet and ran a consistent pace for about 2 hours. I woke up that morning prepared for what I had to do. I’m not always the most consistent when it comes to fueling my body as I should before a long run, so I made a point to be diligent this time around. I wanted to feel nice and strong throughout. I had a cup of coffee and some oatmeal with a bit of natural yogurt from Trader’s Point Creamery. (I was out of hummus which I love to munch on before long runs, but the small bit of yogurt was a nice substitute.). I also had a couple Shot Bloks left over from the Shamrock Shuffle. The margarita flavor is oddly enough very tasty! And I think the extra salt really does help keep me going–I’m sure it will on even longer runs in the future as well.

The weather on Saturday was the perfect kind for a long, slow distance run. It was mild outside with a cool breeze. Well, breeze might not be the right word, as it amped up to 16-18 mph during the second half of the run. But I was comfortable in leggings, a lighter long sleeve shirt, and a headband to keep my ears warm (something that always bothers me is cold ears!). As much as I wanted to run along the lake that day, I know that the wind was just going to get worse the further east I ran. Instead, I decided to run north up Ashland and see where my legs took me. I like letting my mind go and not prescribing a strict route on long runs–keeps the mind fresh, I think. I always know the general direction of where I’m going to go, but especially for runs that are about time and not distance, it’s refreshing to do away with those mile markers. (I even turned off the distance audio cue on Runkeeper to keep from focusing on that number.)

As I looped back around and ran towards home, the weather took a turn for the worst. Running through strong gusts of wind really does motivate you to run towards home! I felt strong and powerful and my legs didn’t feel fatigued much at all. In the last 3-4 miles a natural water cooler appeared in the form of mist and cooled my forehead, which was nice! I decided to push it the last mile and a half or so. I absolutely love pushing the pace at the end of a long run. It helps to open up the hips and let your legs loosen up a bit.

In total, I ran 11.89 miles in 1 hour 55 minutes and was very happy with my pace throughout. Traffic signals provide somewhat of a problem when you’re trying to judge one mile to the next, but it was pretty consistent nonetheless. As nervous as I may have gotten in the past few days with the Flying Pig on my mind, I know that I’ve done practically all I can do to prepare for a good Race Day. Good days and bad days may happen, but you never know what surprises are in store when you get to the start line. I learned that lesson just 4 short weeks ago. I’m looking forward to seeing what I’m made of on May 1st in Cincinnati. An even 8:00/mile pace would make me happy, but a 7:50 pace would make me even happier!

-J

I Shuffled Through Another Milestone

Race #2 of my Chicago Marathon training season was last Sunday in Chicago. I had never run the Shamrock Shuffle before and remember always wishing I had registered in time to be able to run it. It seems to be one of those races that pulls people from all over the Chicagoland area and I can definitely see why. Most of the races in the city take you up and down the lakefront–and while this may be gorgeous and the breeze is nice at times, it does get sort of mundane if you run a lot of races throughout the year. The opportunity to run on open terrain throughout downtown streets was a welcome change.

Race Day Morning did not go as well as I had hoped. I had everything prepared and ready to go the night before. Clothes set out. Check. Bag packed. Check. Breakfast ready. Check. Coffee make queued to brew. Check. Phone Charged…….Check? Alarm set….Damn it!!! So it turns out I set my alarm for Saturday instead of Sunday–a somewhat rookie mistake. I woke up on my own at 7:30 am with a deadline to get to the American Cancer Society tent for a DetermiNATION photo op at 8:15 a.m. THAT was surely not going to happen. Luckily, I was able to make it to the park by about 8:25 a.m, but the time did not allow wiggle room when it came to saying hello to my fellow DNation runners. I was pretty disappointed, but I knew I had to focus on getting myself psyched for the race.

The second issue–the phone! Due to yet another rookie mistake, I thought my phone was plugged in, but it turns out the USB side of the cord had come unplugged from the actual charger. When I woke up in a fuss and looked at the time, the ‘Charge Your Phone’ message popped up. Because I was in such a hurry and cursing my own error in A) not setting my alarm correct and B) not charging my phone, I didn’t think anything of it and started to throw on my race day clothes.

Despite these setbacks, I felt prepared once I got to Corral A and started some light stretching. I knew it was going to be a difficult race when I went outside and was already sweating by the time I go to the part. It was going to be HOT. And hot it was! I think it was over 70 degrees by the time we started. The first half of the course had a decent amount of shade and felt pleasantly cool, but the second half was in direct sunlight–not cool.

I went out way too fast for the first two miles. While I may have had the training to back up a 7:30 pace for the entire Shuffle, I wasn’t “feeling it” that morning and after all that had happened before I go to the start line, I wasn’t as pumped as I had hoped I could make myself be. By mile 2 I was at a total time of 15:00. Not having my phone and the Runkeeper cues at every kilometer really make me struggle to keep a pace I could keep up with for the entire 8k. Note to self: always always always make sure the phone is charged. I had a good back up though! My boyfriend djs in his spare time and he had a shuffle powered up and ready to go with songs that were sure to make me forget all about how exhausted I was or could be.

After walking a bit at the 3rd mile and wishing I had made the time for a port-a-let break, I pushed through to the finish line with absolutely no juice left in my system. I finished with an official time of 38:50, a 7:46 pace overall which is entirely impressive to me as I look back on the race as a whole almost a week later. After blasting through the first two miles, I was sure I wasn’t going to meet my goal of 37-39 minutes. But alas! I did! Here’s to another milestone down and the next goal pointed towards the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati on May 1st! Just 16 days away!!!

-J