Friday, July 23, 2010

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling on the River

At best, I can qualify my years of running as sporadic.  At young ages, my sister and I were on a track/cross-country team for kids in Portland, OR, coached by a marathon runner who may or may not have been fast or famous within the running community.  I would have remembered, but I was 8 and was less than concerned by posterity.  Track season was my least favorite, as I got easily bored running in circles (to this day I still am), but I loved cross country season.  We would do our runs at the local Gabriel Park and the changing scenery left an impression.  After we moved from Portland, I kept running.  There was even one night that I had to study for a geography/earth sciences test, and I remember recording the notes that I had to memorize onto a tape so that I could listen to my notes while I ran.

After I started high school, the running dedication stopped.  That is, until this past October, when I moved into Cambridge.

I began running along the Charles River.  I would run across the Longfellow Bridge, which is one of the bridges that connects Cambridge to Boston, and then along the Esplanade. After that, I would have my choice of bridges to cross back over--if it was an easy run, I would go over the Mass Ave bridge, if it was a longer, harder run, I would run all the way to Harvard and cross at the bridge there.  The path never really leaves the river, though.  Almost ten months later, it is still my favorite place to run in the whole city.

The other great thing about running in Boston is that you're basically never running alone, since there are so many runners.  (Unless you go running on a Sunday afternoon in January after it has just snowed, you will be a little lonely.  Not that I've done that...)

This past Tuesday night run, I took my camera with me...see below for a quick tour of my favorite 4-mile run!
crossing the longfellow bridge

prudential tower

longfellow bridge

prudential tower as a flashlight

view of back bay apartments and prudential tower

me, mid-run, with cambridge in the background

mass ave bridge

view of boston from cambridge

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Looking Awesome

(c) Natalie Dee

It's easy to make fun of runners.  I mean, just look at those socks.

T-minus 5 days...

until the SheROX triathlon at Lake Chaubunagungamaug in Webster, MA!  Yes, that's the real name. It is also called Webster Lake, for those of us who can't pronounce a 20-syllable word.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Full-Blown Panic Attack is a go!

More specifically,

Thank you, Joanna.  

Ok ok, panic attack aside, I really am excited for the triathlon that is in 10 days (oh god 10 days).  My favorite quote from the article above, besides the snarky, jaw-dropping, pit-in-my-stomach creating ones, is this: 

"When you first transition from running to triathlon, it’s best to think of a triathlon as an extended workout. The swim is your warmup, the bike is a good way to dry off from the swim, and THEN you jump into the real race."

So I can do this, really, I canIf you have words of encouragement you'd like to share, by all means, share away!  I could use it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Limit

"A lot of people run a race to see who's the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts."
Steve Prefontaine

I'm a slow runner. That's not to say that I'm the slowest person out there--I mean, I have been running regularly for about 9 months now (which I just calculated in my head and wow it seems like a lot less time than that), and so my comfortable running pace is about a 10-10:30 minute mile. In half marathons past, my splits, or what my average pace per mile was, were around 10:10.

My background is also not an athletic one. A former band nerd, my experience with pushing through sweat and pain is from August marching band camp, when we would stand and march for hours in the sun without any shade.  But pushing through sweat and pain because I'm running fast?  Not what I'm used to.

Two weekends ago, I ran with my speedy friend Jenny. It was first thing in the morning and we were on a new road, one in New Hampshire by the lake mentioned in the previous post. There were some hills, but they were the nice kind--not too high, not too long. Running with Jenny, I knew that I would be going out of my comfort zone, so I tried to push myself and I also tried to hold my ground with a pace that I'd be able to keep up for the 4.5 mile run we were doing.  When we were finished, I was surprised to find out that we had run about a 9 minute mile the whole time. I was exhausted but it wasn't the kind of exhaustion I would expect from that pace.

Our coach, Adam, taught us about breathing and foot turnover a few weeks ago.  To reach maximum speed and endurance, each foot should hit the ground about 90 times a minute, and we should be breathing on a pattern of 2-steps in and 2-steps out.  If we're breathing more than that, we're working too hard, and if we're breathing less than that, we're not working hard enough.  By the end of my New Hampshire run, I was just short of reaching that pattern, comfortably breathing in a 3-steps in 3-steps out rhythm.

This made me realize something about myself: I'm a wimp!  When it comes to physical pain and exertion, I go the easy route.  Sure, I can run a long ways, and I've enjoyed the long runs I've gone on in training for the past two half marathons, but I do it at a leisurely, comfortable pace (leisure running: grab an ice cold water from the cooler and enjoy yourself). My running mantra for the past 9 months has "run for enjoyment, not for speed."  Formed out of my fear that working hard would make me hate running, I think this mantra is out of date and needs revision.

My goal time for the marathon is 4hr 30min, although I would be satisfied with an under 5hr finish.  I still think that it's more important to finish than it is to finish in a certain time, though.  I do want to get faster, but not so I can finish faster than other people (that's just a perk).  I want to go faster to prove to myself that I can.  I want push myself to meet my limitations and greet them with success.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Thought I'd Tri It

Starting back in May, I got bit by the race bug, and it was bad. I had already signed up for three half marathons over the course of the year and for some reason I found it very hard to resist signing up for more. Here's a list of the races to come:

July 25--SheROX Triathlon in Webster, MA. 0.5 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, 3 mile run.

August 28--100on100 Relay Race in Vermont. Basically, I'm on a team of 6 people and we each run 3 legs of 5-7 miles each over the course of the day along Route 100 in Vermont. This means we'll each run between 15-18 miles, totaling up to 100 miles. Vermont is hilly, fyi.

October 3--Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half Marathon in Harwich, MA

October 17--THE RACE: Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, CA

Fact: the last time I swam a lap in a pool was during summer gym in high school at the age of 16.
Fact: Over this past weekend, I went to my friend's lake house up in New Hampshire and did some swimming in the lake.
Fact: Swimming in such a vast expanse of open water gives me the heebie jeebies.

You should be scratching your head right about now, wondering why in the world I would sign up to do a triathlon, given that the above three statements that are presented as facts are, actually, facts. Well I'm wondering that too.

Fact is, I decided to do the triathlon with my friend Kendra because I thought it would be great motivation to begin cross training for the marathon. Cross training is nearly any form of aerobic exercise that does not involve walking or running. It helps with training and also saves your body from the wear and tear of running every day. Prior to last October 2009, exercise for me consisted of running once or twice every month and attempting to do some core work every so often when I felt like it, so going to the gym and getting on the bike and the elliptical was not my thing, and swimming a lap or two was definitely not my thing. According to our Team in Training coach, Adam, swimming and biking are two of the best ways to cross train.

My plan to force myself into cross training mode by signing up for yet another race that required me to do something besides run worked and at the same time failed.

Here's how it worked: I've been going to spin classes at Healthworks Fitness Center and I absolutely love them. Classes last from 45 minutes to an hour and you get to work at your own pace, despite the fact that it actually is a class. Also, you sweat like you've never sweat before, and although it takes a few minutes to stop being so grossed out by yourself that you want to curl into a tight ball in the corner of a cold shower somewhere, it's a great feeling to have such a physical reaction to hard work. Seriously, it's worse than going running at noon in the middle of July.

Here's how it failed: today was the first day in 10 years that I have gone swimming for more than 10 feet. Luckily for me, I think I'll be okay in both the biking and running portion of the race, so as long as I don't get kicked in the face by the hundreds of other people who will be in the lake racing alongside me, leaving my flailing arms in the dust, er splash, as they zoom by with their "real" strokes like the crawl and backstroke.

 Not drowning, but waving

In the water next to the kayak

 Post swimming
Safely in the kayak

Something I learned as I was swimming in the giant lake that gave me the heebie jeebies is that I do have a natural talent for treading water and moving with the current. Looking at my calendar, I'd say I have about 20 days to give up the idea of buying arm floats and start working on my doggy paddle.