Tag Archives: weight

Body & Sole

The photo on my About Page was from 2010.  Since then I’ve turned 50, cut my hair, and am now in the midst of getting into racing shape.  What better time for an update?

Well, hello there bitchin' quad muscles. Au revoir, sweet tits.

I’m still losing a pound a week: 7½lbs gone so far with 4½ left to go (still 5’3¾” tall).  Bodyfat is at an all-time low, from a weekly average of 17.3% in January to 14.1% (accurate as far as comparison on my fancy-schmancy scale but I’m sure it’s not really that low).  This, without any supplemental exercising aside from a few attempts at butt exercises which I’ve since given up on (I’m lazy…let the hills do it).  Anyway, it’s been fun watching myself morph into athlete mode.

And to illustrate the non-linearity of this linear path, here’s my progression thus far.

A Shoe Wear Oddity
This is a strange one.  Behold two pairs of Adidas Adios, one with 393mi and one with 556mi.  Guess which is which.

Well now, that wasn’t a very fun game since you know it’s not the obvious answer but check it out!  I have never worn a pair of shoes to the point of disintegration. Hell, I can never even tell when to retire shoes because mine never show real wear…and at the toes?!

I saw it happening on one shoe weeks ago but attributed it to either scuffing on a rock or a defective shoe.  Then yesterday, I notice both shoes had the same wear pattern and realized this isn’t a one-time deal, that something strange is going on.  Adding to the intrigue, the older pair was worn almost exclusively pre-injury whereas the newer pair, post-injury.

During yesterday’s afternoon run, my mind wandered to this shoe mystery which made me aware of my toes and and feet and then suddenly…a realization: my weight was falling predominately towards the front of my foot.  Apparently, the form improvements I’ve been messing around with the last couple months (keeping my hips more beneath me, giving me a more compact feeling and leading me to run “taller”) have had this cool byproduct.  Shock and amazement.  But makes all the sense in the world.

It’s hilarious in a way because, if you’ve been reading here a couple years, you know I was all into trying to change my foot strike but eventually gave up on it.  My mistake, it turns out, was concentrating on the end of the lever when in fact, it all starts at the hub!

What’s great about this is it signifies better mechanics (you can’t overstride if you’re landing near your toes) and it might even offer an explanation of why transitioning to fast running has been so awkward, not to mention my occasional stride/balance hiccups; my weight is distributed differently, so needing a learning curve to transfer it to faster speeds makes sense.  In fact, this even explains a sometimes “out of control” feeling I’ve had when running downhill since the injury, which I was sure was completely mental, but now I think is actually physical – a distribution of weight is all.  This morning, I thought about my feet while going down a little hill and made a point to land farther back, more flat, and gained a ton of stability.  So wow wow wow.  All major stuff.

Anyway, I’ll pay more attention to this latest discovery, revelations and observations are my biggest thrill.  As for the worn shoes, I’ll keep wearing them till water and/or goose shit starts seeping in.

A Morning Speed Session
I had an early speed session yesterday for a change.  Mornings have been reserved for slower runs but since races are always in the morning, I need to start getting used to it.  I would have liked one more recovery day – the weekend’s tempo and LR left me a tad creaky, but since I’m racing on Saturday (woohoo, first 5k of the season!) that was the day.

The workout was Hudson’s 5k Level3 raceweek workout (¾mi@5k pace, 1:00 rest, 6x¼mi w/1:00 rests).  I didn’t get to 5k pace on the initial ¾mi but that was fine, I didn’t dwell on it. Wind on half the quarters made one direction kinda pokey but I hit 6:16 and 6:18 pace for the other direction which was fun to see.  I was quite pleased with the session despite its imperfection.  The mental homework continues to bring happiness where once there was angst.  ‘Tis a thing of beauty.

Weights And Measures

It’s been 4½ weeks since I started the push towards racing weight and I’m happy with the progression.  Having done this in 2010, I have a lot of comparison data to peruse: weight, calories and bodyfat %.  I assumed it’d be an exact duplicate of that period, though with a faster weight loss this time since my mileage is up by nearly a third.

In reality, it’s quite different this time.  I’m losing just a pound a week but my bodyfat has dropped more dramatically.  When I started 4.5 weeks ago, my bodyfat in that first week averaged 17.3%.  This week, it averages 15.3%.

Comparatively, in 2010 my bodyfat was substantially higher at this same weight, so I guess the miles are giving me muscle. That might be a d’oh! thought to you guys, but I was always under the impression that the more you ran, the less muscle you had.  I guess the real answer is that as long as you’re eating the right nutrients, fat’s the only thing to go.

What I’m Eating
When I lost weight in 2010, I relied a lot on Trader Joe’s prepared foods.  They’re not that bad for you, no preservatives or fake stuff but I eat a lot better nowadays.  I still don’t like to cook or dirty a bunch of pans but I do ok considering those parameters.  My usual day goes like this:

7:15 – wake
8:30 – first run
9:30 – 5-grain cereal w/ peanut butter or spinach/mushroom omelette
12:00 – double open faced turkey sandwich with melted low-fat cheese and veggies on it…yum
2:00 – almonds or other snack
3:30 – 2nd run
5:00 – 5-grain cereal w/ peanut butter
7:30 – dinner (protein, huge amount of veggies and a generous carb)
8:30 – faux dessert (bread with low-sugar jam on it)
10:00 – crackers and salami or 5-grain cereal w/ cinnamon
11:30-12:30 – bedtime

Calorie-wise, I’m now eating about 2000 calories a day (though I had been eating more as you’ll see below).  You’ll notice my cereal consumption is pretty high, I never get tired of it and it’s simple to prepare (I use the microwave) while assuaging my sweet tooth.  While it’s cooking, I often take that 3 minutes to foam roll my legs.

Dinner’s my fun meal where I have spicy sausage or shrimp or fish or a crockpot thing with tons of veggies and either rice, grains or my favorite, Idahoan instant mashed potatoes (don’t judge me, they rock).  Alternately, I love Trader Joes dumplings, so I sometimes make dinner out of those plus veggies.

Dinner, Then And Now
My dinners end up being 450 to 600 calories. Behold a photo of two 450 calorie meals.

On the left is an Olympiad Pizza from TJ’s, one of the boxed things I used to buy when I lost weight in 2010.  On the right is my standard dinner: 11 big shrimp with broccoli, mushrooms and petite onions plus a huge dollop of those mashed taters.  Both meals take about the same amount of time to prepare but only one is infinitely more satisfying and fun to eat (hint: it isn’t the round frozen turd on the left).

Portion This!
For 2010’s weight-loss, I was pretty religious about measuring so I’d measure a tablespoon of peanut butter in an actual measuring spoon.  I’d become lax with it this time around and as mentioned a couple posts back, that “tablespoon’s” worth was actually 2 tablespoons, netting me around 90 unaccounted-for calories each time.  Turns out, that wasn’t the only thing I’d been misjudging…

I use a ½ cup measuring cup to scoop my cereal out.  After all, the package says one serving is ½ cup = 160 calories, so as long as it’s an even cup, my calorie count should be correct, right?  Utterly wrong.

Last week, for the hell of it, I weighed that ½ cup of cereal on my digital postal scale, since weighing is always going to be more accurate for dry stuff.  The box says that ½ cup should weigh 40 grams.  Guess how much it weighed?  No really…guess.

The damn thing weighed 62 grams!  That’s over 50% more calories!  What I thought was 160 calories was actually 248.  Add the extra peanut butter I’d been doling out and that 250 calorie meal was actually around 425!  This is what 40grams looks like in a measuring cup:

Now, I’d say I’m pretty astute when it comes to calories and measuring, so if I’m making these kinds of assumptions, I’ll bet many of my calorie-counting friends are doing the same.  So to all you sweeties out there who insist you can’t lose weight like normal people, I challenge you to weigh your food and measure exactly what you’re ingesting before you claim that as your problem.  I think you’ll find a few holes in your calculations.

That’s it for today.  Next time, I’ll be talking about the mental stuff I’ve been weighing.  Until then, run well folks!

Back On The Horse…er, Pony

On Friday, I had my first structured workout in months, a small thing but it put me back in the game: 8 miles with 10 x (1min on/1min off).  Modest as it was, I managed to feel somewhat accomplished afterwards.  Baby steps are not overrated.

Somewhat related (at least to my infamous resistance/dread of standard workouts) I’ve been enjoying a thread on LetsRun about a coach and his winning team of high school girls (#8 in the country with four #1 performers) who do no formal speed training – no intervals or tempo runs.  Why? Because the gals don’t like them.

He’s found a way to make them fast while keeping it enjoyable for them.  Here’s the article about the coach/team and here’s a FloTrack video of them.  Lastly, here’s the LetsRun thread.  It should be noted that they do race often, so in essence that’s their speedwork – still, it’s not a traditional approach by any means.

Film Recommendation
I just saw a wonderful “body/health/life makeover” documentary last night that’s inspiring, motivating, funny, charming and made me tear up at the end: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.  It follows an Australian guy, the filmmaker, who travels the US for 60 days on a juice fast to lose his gut and improve a chronic skin condition.  Midway through the film he meets a morbidly obese guy and eventually helps him out to dramatic effect and who in turn spreads the word…  It’s just great.  Available free on Hulu or via streaming on Netflix.

Speaking of body makeovers
Mine is going slowly but steadily; lost 4lbs in the last 3 weeks and my fancy-schmancy scale reports a 1% drop in bodyfat.  I’m having a good time with this!  I decided upon 112 lbs as my goal and since I’m currently at 120.5, I’ve got 8.5 lbs left to go.

To my friends who are also trying to lose for racing season, have heart! It hasn’t been a linear drop for me and never is, more like down, up, up, down, up, down, down, etc.   My bodyfat, however, has been a steadier progression which makes up for all that down/up crap.

Between hormones, whether you did or didn’t poop before weighing or if you had some high sodium thing for dinner the night before, it’s going to vary day-to-day, especially if you don’t have a lot to lose in the first place. I do like weighing daily, though many people don’t – for me it’s a better way to get the average than doing it once a week and possibly landing on one of those sodium/hormone/non-poop days.  Plus, I made a cool live graph in Excel so it’s fun to input the data.

In other body news, I started doing squats and step-ups yesterday – long overdue since I’ve always hated my ass.  I admit to copping out all these years, thinking the butt is a difficult place to make improvements so why bother?  That might have been a semi-valid argument when I was a couch potato with a lot more cush in the tush, but now I expect the result will be more readily apparent.

What’s funny is that every nice change my body has undergone since becoming a runner was a byproduct of trying to become faster.  Whether it was adding pushups, working on posture, weight…it’s always been about the running, looking better was just a cherry on the sundae.

My ass, however, is the opposite.  I’m finally doing something about it for vanity but in a brilliant turn, it will also make me a better runner.  Glutes are the powerhouse for explosive movement, it’s where we get the force to run fast.  Along with that, there’s a big anti-injury element since weak glutes mean your leg muscles are forced to compensate.

And I’ll have a cuter butt.

A Chilly Cutback Week In Review
Yesterday’s runs were lovely, big fat snowflakes but nothing sticking to the roads or paths.  I added a few miles to the afternoon run since today was forecast to be super windy and frigid.  It was.  One hour in that suck was enough.

5@8:44 8@8:14
7@8:24 8@7:49 (10x 1on/1off)
7@8:33 11@8:00
Total: 67.5 miles



Form, Weight & Magic Shoes

A week gone by with nary a post so this is a meaty one, starting with this: 88 miles and a breakthrough.  Like a gift from the Running Gods (or the result of 3 weeks back at high mileage) my general aerobic paces are suddenly back to my pre-injured state.  ‘Tis a thing of beauty.

In an odd coincidence, Tuesday through Thursday produced 3 runs averaging 8:06, 8:07 and 8:08, yet each run was composed differently: one had some faster miles in the middle, one included fartlek and the 3rd run was even splits.  I was especially happy with that last one since I never start quickly anymore, my first mile is usually between 9:1x – 8:3x so I was pleased when I saw 8:17 for that initial mile.

But then!  Saturday afternoon I wore my Hyper Speeds for the first time (review below) and between their magic powers plus the last day of Lady Time (hormonal magic powers) and a beautiful upper-40s day, my first mile was a completely unexpected 8:05 and then it progressed from there, ending in 8 miles@7:46 avg. pace.

7@8:27 8@8:06
10@8:07 (fartlek)
6@8:37 7@8:08
6@8:35 8@7:46
6@8:43 9@7:58
Total:   88 miles

Heart Rate
As much as I love data, the last time I strapped on my HR monitor was in September before my Half.  It would have been wonderful to have the comparison of HR while injured and rebuilding, but the inevitable crappy feelings it would have brought were not at all worth it.  I like to be happy when I can and knowing those numbers wouldn’t have given me anything useful.

But this week, I figured I was ready to see where I stood, so I started yesterday by checking my resting HR.  Much to my delight, I got a rock-solid 46 with a teasing of 45 (47-48 is more of a usual) so Yay!  Then today, I wore it out for my runs.

I’m glad I wore it for both runs because, while the morning run’s HR was fine, the afternoon’s was better – which is a good reminder never to put too much weight on HR data for one run, there are simply too many reasons for it to vary.  But back to the run…

I wasn’t wearing the magic shoes but the hormonal magic must be lingering because it was another feel-good zippy run averaging 7:58/mi with an average HRR of 73% and it was windy out there.  Considering this is the first week where those paces have reappeared, this is a really strong sign that everything’s in order.  I couldn’t be happier.

Running Form – Arms
As you know, I’ve given attention to different areas of my running form over the past couple years.  I’d work on one thing for a while then eventually come to peace with it, either because I’ve made an improvement (posture) or because the initial problem loses importance (foot plant).

Starting last Friday, I began focusing on something that’s been bugging me since the start: my armswing.  It’s not all bad, for instance I don’t cross the centerline of my body which is a common enough mistake, but when I see photos or watch my shadow on the bike path, there’s a certain “smallness” to my arm carriage that I know could be improved upon.

While it sounds like an aesthetic complaint, it’s much more than that.  I mean, of course I’d like to look like an Elite or, hell, even a high school XC kid, but beyond appearance, I suspect I’m missing out on a power boost because of this.  After all, your arms drive your legs: they dictate how fast you’ll go and even affect your stride length, so it really is no small thing.

I started by studying the race video from September’s Half and noticed a clearly uneven carriage: one arm doesn’t go back far enough while the other one goes back farther, but only because it’s driven by the hand (not the shoulder or elbow, as you’d want),  thus the angle increases well beyond the optimal 90-degrees.

So I’ve been reading articles and watching videos of runners I like – here’s a nice slow-mo of Shalane and Desi at the trials (Kara too, but she was all tensed up at that point).

When I work on it (and it’s very much a focus on the shoulders, not just the arms) there’s more swing to my upper trunk, less rigidity. It also seems to give me a more “tits out” posture, which is a good thing, not because I’m trying to get a job at Hooters, but because it’s optimal for breathing and efficiency.

In fact, Friday’s run was weird, it was unseasonably warm, 59 degrees, but super windy and I was feeling like crap so I almost cut it short.  The first couple miles were 9:15s and I was slugging along. After a bit, I started paying attention to my arms/shoulders and I’m not sure if it was the distraction or if it was really helping, but I picked up a good amount of energy – the last few miles averaged 8:03s.

I tend to think it’s really helping since I also paid attention to it on Saturday’s fast run as well, this time with an additional “trick” of brushing my hands lightly on the sides of my hip, which ensures they’re going back far enough while keeping a good angle.

It’s been 9 days and I’ve lost a touch over 2 pounds. I’m also happy to report that by timing my meals differently I’ve virtually eliminated the hunger spikes I used to get.

As far back as I can remember, my dinner time has been around 6:30pm.  Didn’t matter if my bedtime was 10pm in the summer or 12-12:30am in the winter, I’d always eat at 6:30.  This meant that in the winter I’d have those extra hours before bed that invariably required snacks and carrot consumption.  Carrots are fine vegetables, btw, but I don’t love needing a stomach filler to keep the growling at bay.

Now, in the last month, my eating schedule started shifting due to doubling my runs.  I usually get in from the afternoon run at around 4:30-5pm which left some time before dinner, so I’d eat some almonds or other snack to hold me over.

But this week, I decided to do away with the snack and just go for it: eat a small meal right after the run and then push dinner up to 8pm. This works beautifully because then at 10-10:30pm, I’ll have another little meal, usually the ole standby of PB/cereal (I love that shit like crazy, don’t ask me why) – far much more substantial than carrots or little snacks.

Et voila! I end up pleasantly sated until bedtime and my morning run doesn’t need fueling.  I haven’t had a carrot in over a week. It’s a miracle.

Aside from that, I did a silly motivating thing that I’ve never done before…I bought a clothing carrot.  That is to say, the other day on a whim I ordered some compression shorts (I only ever wear regular running shorts) that I’m too chicken to wear at my current weight but I think might look pretty damn hot when I lose a few.

I didn’t actually buy them with that in mind but once they arrived and I put them on I was like “I can’t wear these, too scary”.  FYI, a 4″ inseam is frumpy for me in regular shorts but in compression (with the potential of ride-up)…not so much.  Anyway, instead of returning them, it struck me that they’d make a fun treat for sticking to the plan.  We’ll see, I may feel too nekkid in them no matter what but it’s silly fun and they were on sale, so no loss.

As mentioned, I took advantage of RunningWarehouse’s shoe sale a couple weeks ago and bought the Saucony Fastwitch 5s and the Asics Hyper Speeds.  Here’s what happened…

Saucony Fastwitch 5s
These are the first pair of shoes I’ve straight up lost money on, which is my own fault for not exchanging them immediately.  The thing is, it was a defective pair but it wasn’t till the second run that I was sure about it.  When I first put them on, there was an intermittent feeling in my right arch when stepping off, almost a pinching, but it was occasional and I thought it might be something that just needed “seating” in the shoe.  I did try to find the source but no matter how I bent or investigated the innards with my hands, I couldn’t replicate it, so I took ’em out for a run.

First run was fine, I didn’t notice the sharp thing though it was odd to run in a stability shoe after wearing neutral shoes for ages.  They were comfortable in the upper but extremely firm in the sole and I did not love them, but as I ran faster I started liking them more.

However, the 2nd time I took them out, the pinching thing was there in full force and I ended up with a blister on my arch!  That is a pain in the ass place to get a blister – you’re doomed to feeling it for days no matter what shoes you wear.  So I was pissed at the shoes but thought I’d give them another shot once my foot was settled. (only because I’d spent 52 bucks on them)

So yesterday, a week after the blister run, I tried them on again but was instantly alerted to that same hot spot.  At this point, I knew the shoes were a loss so I took some snippers and cut the logo off the side thinking it might be the hard plastic and did some other operating but in the end, I couldn’t locate it. I think it’s the stability post or whatever keeps the shoe supported but I have enough working shoes right now that I don’t care to try another pair.  And I’ll stick to neutral shoes from now on.

Asics Hyper Speeds (aka Magic Shoes)
These shoes are wonderful.  They’re the lightest shoe I’ve ever had, 6.1 oz, compared to the Adios’ 6.5.  Talk about barely there.  I took them on that 8-mile run yesterday and you know how that went (fabulously) and they felt great!  Lots of room in the toebox and no discomfort anywhere.

I’m debating whether to stock up on them, putting ’em in regular shoe rotation since they’re so inexpensive right now (new version’s coming out) or whether to save them for races, in which case one pair will last me a long time.  Either way, I resisted wearing them today, the better to harness their mystical magical powers for good rather than evil.  Not really, I just wore the pair closest to the bed.

And that’s it for today’s self-involved novella.  Have a great start to your week folks, run well and enjoy yourselves.  Later!

A Sharper Week & Weight Revisited

Finally!  Back to feeling like an efficient engine rather than the comeback clunker of recent weeks.  Of special note is that prior to this week, the injured leg had required daily stretching and foam rolling but now it’s as resilient as the right leg – no extra attention needed.

As far as the schedule goes, I quizzed Coach Adam/A muse on how far to take my long runs now.  Since I’m only doing short races this cycle, it makes sense to limit them accordingly.  I liked his suggestion: keep the weekly LR to 2 hours (for me, 14-15mi) and every 3-4 weeks do a 17-18 miler.  Perfect.

So on Friday, I did the 17-miler, moved up a couple days since our first real snowfall was due that night.  It turned out to be an excellent run, took my time on the way out but had lots of energy at the end.

That night we got 4″ of snow so I waited till the afternoon to venture out.  They’d cleared the bike path earlier but a thick sheet of sleet had fallen afterwards so the entire run was one long sheet of ice.  Luckily, it was mostly crunchy ice so no suicidal slipping, just a slow, effortful yet beautiful run.   I added a few miles to make up for not doing a morning run today – would have been too slippery.

Today was a lot more slippy and slidey.  I fell on my ass…hard.  Tomorrow promises warmer temps and rain, so hopefully that’s the end of it.

Oh, Snow You Di-unt! Week In Review

5@8:52 7@8:15
6@8:45 8@8:17
8@8:14 7@8:38
12@9:20 (ice)
11@9:12 (worse ice)
Total:   91 miles

Weight, Weight, there’s more!
During my injured month off, my weight went up a few lbs to 123-124 and there it has stayed.  While it’s a fine weight for a normal 5’4″ woman, for someone whose primary interest is improving race times, that’s 10lbs over what I consider my optimal race weight (which is still 10lbs over any Elite), at least it’s the lowest I’ve ever been while running.

Now, my PR Half in September was done at a fluffy weight (120 lbs) so 5 lbs. heavy.  At the time, I had made a weak attempt to lose more but moving into a new apartment was stressful enough, plus I wasn’t that motivated since the higher mileage had already given me a great improvement.  But now my routine has settled in and after seeing the Olympic Trials last weekend with all those beautiful strong bodies, I’m inspired to get serious about it.

So at the beginning of this week I got all the cravings out of my system with a 3-day candy-fest: Reese’s Pieces, Hershey White Chocolate Bliss and some spearmint leaves.  Once the gorging was complete, I then pulled out the trusty ole notebook/food diary that got me to race weight in 2010 and Baby, I’m on this like a candy-coated shell on a Reese’s Piece.

Unlike some people who hate counting calories, when I’m motivated to make a real change I love jotting down my piehole input.  There’s something deliciously empowering about keeping track – it puts you in full control and as I’ve said in the past, removes the emotion from it entirely.  Not the enjoyable eating emotion, that’s still there in full glory, but the wishy-washy “I feel skinny today so I’ll eat this pile of crap” followed by “Fuck, I ate that pile of crap.”  I tend to get caught in that cycle indefinitely.

Calorie-wise, I’m kicking it off by eating about the same amount as I did for 2010’s weight loss (around 2000 cal/day).  Back then I was running 55mpw and lost about a pound a week but this time, with about 35 more mpw, it should come out to twice that (35mi = 3500 calories = 1lb).  It might end up even being more since doubling keeps your metabolism busy longer.  If that’s the case, I’ll up the calories to keep it at 2lbs/week.

My aim, as in the past, is to remain healthy and well-fueled for my runs.  So far so good: I’ve been timing things better with smarter choices, so instead of  munching on various and sundry after dinner, I have a 10pm bowl of hot cereal w/PB (my favorite sweet crack).  It’s the seemingly small things like this that add up to not feeling hungry despite eating less.

So this is exciting, as much as getting a new training plan or writing up my weekly schedule. I’ve worked on the puzzle pieces separately at different times in my running life: I know they work.  To think what might happen if I start putting them together…might be a trailer-trash masterpiece in the making.

1:32:10. A PR…finally!

Race facts:
4th in 50-54 AG (3rd was 1:32:08…ouch)
149 out of 9507 femmes
793 out of 16,517 OA
Age-Grade 80.91%

Training beforehand
Might as well post a graph of my mileage since that’s been my focal point for the year.  The graph begins on Feb. 7th after taking a voluntary 2-week running break due to burnout.

I had mentioned how I was going to lose weight for this race and start counting calories again.  I did for a couple weeks but when the move started, I gave up on the counting and just ate healthy as ever, there was enough stressing without being nitpicky with food.

Turns out that while I only lost a couple pounds, holding at 119-120, thanks to the physical labor of moving to the new apartment, my bodyfat percentage dropped by 1.5%!  It’s been steady like that for about 2 weeks, so while I know my fancy-ass scale can’t be accurate as far as the base percentage (I’m surely not 14.5%) I do believe it’s trustable as a comparison unto itself.  So anyway, while I wasn’t at my best racing weight, the bodyfat thing made it A-OK.

My sweet pal and race buddy Kat arrived in the afternoon. I’d picked up both our packets already, so all we had to do was chat and eat dinner.  I made her accompany me to an old-fashioned diner in my neighborhood that I wanted to try because they served spaghetti and meatballs and I thought that’d be a funny place to go.  We were not disappointed.  It was Early Bird Prime Time so we were the only ones there who still had pigment in our hair.  Was good, made me feel fast.

This Morning
My new apartment is amazing for Philly races –  located 2 blocks from the start, it allowed us to take our time and pee to our heart’s content…luxurious.  We ventured out at 7:30, ran into my friend Peggy who was on the way to her long run.  She wished us great races (so cool to see her), then split up while Kat looked for our friend Lynn to run with.  I did a mile warmup with strides and got into my corral.  While standing there, I see my young friend Steph, one half of the twins I’ve befriended in my racing/running travels.  She didn’t have a firm goal but we decided to run together with the understanding that neither of us were “talkers”, which worked out great.

The Race
No big details here.  First mile seemed right on, then the Garmin went insane as it always does downtown, so for a couple miles I only had the mile markers to rely on, though I hadn’t noted when we’d left in relation to them and I missed the first one entirely, so my Garmin was saying anywhere from 8:46 – 5:xx, and for the first few miles, I thought we were off goal.  Around mile 4 I realized we were dead on, so that was a relief.

I wasn’t very stuck to the Garmin for this race because it was off for a great part of it and required quite a few “catch-up” lap presses (was on Autolap), it told me that for the most part I was running 6:4x-6:5x so after adding the leftover lap press, I figured I was right under 7:00 territory.  I did think I was in line for a sub 1:32, btw, right up until I saw the finish line.

I felt solid throughout this race.  There were points where I recognized my breathing was getting louder or that funny exhale whistle was happening but I would make a point to try and relax at those times, which helped.  Because of my previous collapsing/medical adventures, I was very mindful about how much effort I was putting out and told myself in the days before this that should anything feel strange, to not try and power through but to back off and slow down, race times be damned.

At this point we were at the park, my day-to-day running ground, and as we approached it I turned to Steph and said “home”.  Once there, I had a gel at mile 5 with a half-spilled cup of water to chase it. Never wanted for more, the temps were great (57, though breezy at times with 14mph wind) so it was extremely comfortable out there.

Once we hit Falls Bridge, with about 4 miles left, I felt like it was all downhill from there.  Steph dropped back at mile 9 so I was on my own from that point. Coach Adam/A muse had told me to keep steady till mile 10, then go into L’ Assassina mode, and I had to smile at the thought – while I was able to pick off people, I didn’t have an extra gear so I just kinda kept chugging was all.

About the park: since I started running in 2007, it’s been my gym, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on and an unparalleled source of joy.  I talked to the park this morning and thanked it for taking care of me.  I told it how much I loved it and reminded it where my favorite spot is and that even though it’s been the location of some scary health moments, I know it loves me too.  I communed with that park today.  But back to L’ Assassina…

There was this one girl that I don’t like from the park, she always gives me a bitchy look, and in the last few miles, she jumped into the race to run a few friends in.  When I finally passed them I heard her tell her friends they had to speed up, which I know was totally prompted by my presence so I took pleasure in moving farther ahead and out of their vicinity.

As I closed in on the finish, my friend Kev yelled out “just 1/2 mile more, you’ve got it!” which was great.  But even with all my park adoration, that last 1/2 mile is a scary spot for me, it’s the finish of many a Philly race and where 2 of those silly race collapses have occurred, so while other people were kicking it to the finish, I repeated to myself “feet under you, feet under you, keep your feet…”  and slowed down a tad until the finish line was right there.

I mentioned before that I thought I had my “A” goal right until the end so it was a disappointment to find I didn’t.  But really, it’s nothing but a few seconds and since this was my first race since January and I’ve had no real idea of where I was at, I’ve got nothing to be poopy about.  I know this and anything else is just plain Ego.  The main thing is after 2 long years, I finally got a PR when I’d pretty much convinced myself I’d not see another, ever.  I’m also pleased as punch with the Age-Grade and the Age Group placing.  This is such a competitive destination Half, I thought I’d be lucky to be in the top 6, so 4th is a nice bonus.

This race also unveiled the new race me: one that is confident but at the same time, reticent about pushing it to the Nth degree, probably won’t ever again as a matter of fact, but will do what I can within a comfort level that feels safe.  Because of this, I’ll never be a great racer – I believe you do need that balls-to-the-wall ability to do it properly, but I’m ok with that.  I think I have many great races ahead, just within those parameters is all.

After After
Kat and I went out for food and bloody marys before she embarked upon her journey home (Love you Kat, thanks for being such a fun and calming influence).  I sat here for a bit, thinking about the blog post I had to write and looking forward to seeing my ex-hubby tomorrow for the first time in eight years when he stops for a visit on his way home from that 12-week sailing adventure.  But after a few minutes, I said fuck this and went to the drugstore and bought a shitload of shit to stuff in my piehole.  Doritos, Reeses Pieces and Twizzlers.  All huge size.  After being good for so long, tonight I will be bad (or have a really bad stomach ache, whatever comes first).  All that’s missing is a cigarette.

Before I close, I want to thank all my dear friends from the 3:20 thread, even the hopeful crazies who predicted a sub90 (Matt), which I knew was not ever on the table.  Your confidence in me was beautiful, albeit overly hopeful.  And that huge collection of messages from my Facebook friends filled my heart like you wouldn’t believe.  I just love all you internet and real-life pals of mine – you make it all so much fun. Thank you for being so great.

I hope to have at least one ok race picture but until then, here's me and my dinner.