Monday, December 3, 2012

13(.1) for 2013??

Wow, I can't believe I haven't written a post since the post race wrap up blog back in May.   Not sure why, really.   One of the best things about my running journey was that it forced me to blog often, ensuring that I had a record of my journey from couch potato to 5K runner.  I enjoyed sharing those posts with you, perhaps even more than I enjoyed the running itself and I'm not sure why I stopped writing.  Perhaps life just got in the way.

A lot has happened since then.   This morning I wrapped up my 2012 race season with the 5K Santa Shuffle in Mississauga.  A nice, informal "fun run" for charity, that also happened to be a friend's very first race.   I remembered so well what it felt like to be in her running shoes and it was nice to have a chance to be there to experience her first race with her. 

It got me thinking back to how far I've come and how much I've enjoyed this year.  One of the highlights was being able to experience 4 races with Makenna - I'm so glad we can do this together.  (Well, mostly together - generally after the gun goes off I don't see her again until the finish line....but I digress).  I was a little sad knowing that this was my last race for the year (for my 2012 race highlights, click HERE), but I also started thinking ahead to 2013!  What goals should I set?  What races should I run?  

So, after some thought, and without further ado, here are my 2013 Running Goals:

1. To complete 13 races in 2013 (and ideally NOT repeats of any races from 2012, unless racing a different distance). A few I have in mind are the famous "Around the Bay" (not the full 30k), "Harry's 8K Spring Run off", "A Mid-summer Night's Run 15k (you should SEE the medal for this one!) and perhaps even a road trip race.

2. To run 13.1 one race....I believe they have a name for that.....A HALF MARATHON! Yes, I'm going to go out on a limb and put this goal out there on the net for all to see - I will run a half marathon in 2013.

I had been hovering on the fence for quite some time about this, knowing that I really wanted to do it, but not quite sure if I could. I went back and re-read some of my blogs from when I was starting out back in February. Realizing that there was a time, not so long ago, when running for 60 seconds was a challenge and the thought of running a 5K race was nearly an impossible dream, somehow put it all into perspective. Damn right, I can do this!!!!! I can and I will!

I haven't quite decided yet which one I will do, but I am aiming for September/October. If you have a suggestion, by all means send it my way! The Island Girl Half Marathon in September is the front runner at the moment. I like the fact that it is totally flat and is a smaller event for women only.  I'll give it some thought over the next few weeks and come up with a race that will work!

In honour of goal setting for 2013, here are the top 13 things I learned during my rookie running season:

13.  Someone will always be faster (and slower!) than you.  Comparing yourself to other runners is foolish - the only runner you should try to beat is yourself.  (but don't become a slave to the stopwatch).

12. There will be days when the last thing in the world you want to do is run - just put on your shoes and go.  I guarantee you will not come home and regret it. 

11.  Being a medal wh*re bling junkie is perfectly acceptable.  Signing up for a race solely because of the awesome finisher's medal - also OK. 

10. Cute running clothes are a powerful motivator so go ahead and spend some money.  (Side note:  buying shoes is NOT the time to be frugal)

9. Smile as you cross the finish line - you won't want to buy a grumpy looking race photo. 

8.  Running is NOT a licence to eat whatever you want, whenever you want to.   Eventually your pants will get tighter.  

7.  HYDRATE - before, during and after. 

6.  Aches and pains are your body's way of telling you to slow down - LISTEN TO IT!

5.  Not every run/race will be awesome.   Some will suck.  A lot.   You still did better than everyone sitting on the couch. 

4.   Some runs/races WILL be SO awesome that you will think you are a super hero and will consider wearing a cape on all future runs.

3.  Those big bursts of motivaion?   They don't last.  Make sure you have a plan (and a goal race) to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. 

2.  Having a training blog (or training buddy) to be accountable to works like a charm!

and the #1 thing I learned in my rookie running season.......

1.  I CAN DO IT!

Happy Running! 

J :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Running Commentary Part Deux (Post Race Wrap Up)

Well, as most of you know that have been following me on Facebook, my 3 months of hard work and training finally paid off.  On Saturday, May 5th at approximately 6:41 pm, I crossed the finish line of the Mississauga Marathon "Hazel" 5K!  I'd love to say that it was easy and that all my efforts thus far paved the way for an easy jaunt to the finish line, but in fact this run was one of the hardest I had completed so far.  Definitely tougher than the two "warm-up" 5K's  I had run in the week leading up to the race.   Here's a rundown of what went through my head from beginning to end:

Pre-Race:   A (very crowded) shuttle bus dropped my running buddy and I off at the start line, near Port Credit Arena.  Holy cow there are a lot of people here.  We were pretty early so we had nearly an hour to kill.  Now what do we do?   Learning from a previous training run that needed to be aborted for a bathroom break, lining up for the porta potties sounded like an excellent plan.  Can't say I don't learn from my mistakes.  The race "Emcee" announced that there were around 1300 registered participants in the race.  Dear God, please don't let me be last!  A quick pre-race stop at the "hydration table", and it was time to find a place in the mass of people, preferably not too close to the front.  Would really rather not get trampled.  Kid sings the national anthem (cute!) and we count down to the start.  Here we go!   The race horn sounds and we're off!  There are so many people that we kind of do a strange "saunter" to the starting mats (this is weird), but about a minute after the horn we reach the front of the pack and the race officially begins for us!

Kilometre 1:  It's kind of disconcerting for the first 100 metres or so, with all of the faster runners dodging around you in the crowd. Not sure I like this.  I lose my much faster running buddy around this point, so I try to settle down into what feels like a normal pace for me.  Slow. The first kilometre is still pretty crowded, so establishing any sort of a steady pace is pretty difficult (at least for a rookie), but eventually I think I find it.  Holy crap a lot of people are passing me.  The first kilometre passes in a blink (OMG, the 1K sign! ), and I begin to think the race is going to be a piece of cake.  I am super runner!  Hear me roar!

Kilometre 2:  Another lady that I know that started way behind me, zips past me in a blur.  You go girl!  But I notice that I am passing my share of people too. So what if most of them are walkingI see a woman a the side of the road holding out a bowl of orange wedges,  (Mmmmm, I could go for an orange wedge right now), but I suspect that might be a little distracting so I keep going.  For some reason this kilometre seems much longer than the first.   Surely the finish line must be just around the corner? I start to reflect on how far I've come since I began this journey, and get a little misty eyed in the process.  You softie!  You call yourself a runner???!!!   It seems to be ages before I see the 2K sign and the aid/hydration station.  Yay, Water!

Kilometre 3:   I grab a paper cup from one of the volunteers, but because I don't want to slow down to drink it, I end up spilling it down the front of my shirt.  This really adds to my gracefulness!  I notice that most people just crumple their cup and toss it on the ground, but I can't bring myself to do it so I keep my eyes out for the trash can ahead.  "And the Green Citizen of the Year Award goes to......"   At about the 2.5k mark, I somehow manage to swallow a bug (protein!!), and I really wish I still had that cup of water with me.  Around this point, we encounter our first "mini-incline" in the form of a curved bridge.  Why does this feel so much harder than it did last week?  One runner in particular is driving me nuts by zooming past me on one side, and then stopping dead in front of me, only to zoom past me again once I pass her.  If we were driving, I would so give her the finger!  Finally, up ahead, I see the 3K sign. Hallelujah! 

Kilometre 4:    I can feel myself slowing down considerably at this point.  Is this race not over YET?  The race organizers cleverly tease us early on in this phase by showing you the finish line, but then diverting you in another direction to do a loop around a park trail.  Damn you, race organizers!  This was, by far, the longest leg of the race.   For a portion of the trail you are passing faster runners going in the opposite direction, and I keep my eyes peeled for my long lost running buddy.  You lucky buggers are almost done!   After what seems like forever....the 4K sign!  Wait, do I hear angels singing??

Final Kilometre:  I can see the finish line up ahead, but it seems like a really long way away.  You've got this, you're almost there.  I notice my inner voice has gotten considerably nicer in the final K. I think I prefer this side of you, inner voice!   As I run along a section of the waterfront trail (this is really pretty), I hear music and cheering up ahead. Almost party time!!   Around this point my headphone cords are driving me absolutely crazy, so I take them off and hang them around my neck.  Goodbye, P!nk!  And yes,  I am a Rock Star.   What's that I see up ahead???  Please tell me it's not a hill.   That's right.   A HILL!  Damn you race organizers!!   I wonder what happened to my nicer inner voice?  I'm sorry, you've got this.  Kick that hill's A$$!!    A cheery person at the bottom of the hill says the finish line is only 100m away.  Hill, you're going DOWN!!!   I make it up the hill, around a bend and see the finish line ahead. A strange voice announces my name, (Hey, how does he know it's me?  I MUST be rock star),  and I realize it's because I've crossed a pre-finish timing mat.  I look up at this point and see the kids and Marc cheering me on.  I must not cry.  I must not cry.     A few more steps and....YAHOOOOOOO!!!!

I DID IT!  I'm in a daze and slightly weepy.   A person comes up to me and gives me a hug.  I really hope this is Aynsley.   I realize it IS my long lost running buddy (whew!) who waited for me at the finish line before going around to meet her family even though she finished about 6 minutes before I did.   Awwww, that was nice.  More tears.   Man, we're going to have to toughen you up before the next race!  She shows me where to go to claim my medal (YESS!!and I notice that it matches my shirt perfectly.  My inner fashionista is pleased.    Nicely done!    We make our way through the crowd and find our kids waiting with their "GO MOM" signs.   Geez, Im crying again.   I have to say, this feels pretty darn good!! Yay, Me!

 All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how my first race went down.  My official "Chip Time" was 41:51, which was about a minute slower than I had been running, but I'm still pretty proud of myself. My goal was to run the entire 5K without stopping and, while I may not have been the fastest, I did it.  And I wasn't last.   I wasn't going to write this final blog since, by now, everyone already knows that I completed the race, but I decided that my adventure needed a proper wrap-up.   This morning I received an email from the official race photographers with my race photos, and I thought that it would be nice to compile these blogs, along with my own photos and some of the professional ones, into a scrapbook of my journey.   I figure it will be a nice reminder of my strength on days when I'm not feeling so strong!

So, once again, thank you to all who supported me.  It has meant a great deal and I couldn't have gotten here without you! 

I promise not to bore you with my running saga any more! 

J :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Running Commentary (Pre-Race musings)

Well, it has been a while since I've written a new post so I figured that since I have 4 hours to kill until race time...well, there's no time like the present! In a weird way, today kind of reminds me a little of my wedding day (minus the fancy dress, hair appointment and 100 guests). Today, like on my wedding day, I'm not nervous or anxious - just excited. I'm just dying to get there, get it done and party afterwards! The wait is killing me! (Advantage of early morning races duly noted.....)

For most of the morning I've been thinking back on the last 3 months and how far I've come. On this date, 3 months ago, I started the Couch to 5K running program, barely able to run for 60 seconds at a time. To be honest, I had no real expectations that I would be able to make it through the entire 9 weeks, which is why I didn't register for the race until March 27th - the beginning of week 8. If this program has taught me anything, it is to never doubt what you are capable of. Our biggest limitations are those that we impose on ourselves in our own minds and once we change our way of thinking, anything is possible.

I know that, to a lot of people, running a 5K race might seem like a very small thing. I'm not exactly changing the world here, am I? This is right, of course. In the grand scheme of things I am just another faceless runner doing the same thing that millions of runners before me have done...both farther and faster than I will. For me, however, this is a pretty big freakin' deal! Something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember but never thought I could. As a result of this journey, I've learned that if I want it badly enough I can make it happen. A pretty big lesson, I think. All of the sore knees, hips and backs along the way have been more than worth it!

I am really touched by the outpouring of support I have received during my journey - all those likes, comments, private messages and tweets along the way have meant the world to me and I thank you for them! More than you know, you made it possible to get here today! I'm in the home stretch now!

Can't wait to cross the finish line....which we all know is really just the beginning.

J :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Back on Track (Couch to 5K: Week 8 Day 2)

For the first time since I started this program, I've been really DREADING a run. I was somewhat discouraged after Monday's failed effort, and I think, more than anything, I was afraid that maybe I wouldn't be able to finish the program I had been working so hard at for the past 8+ weeks.

Since Monday, I've been paying really close attention to my diet and my water intake. I thought that perhaps I wasn't giving my muscles the proper fuel to carry me through my runs, possibly explaining my recent aches and pains. (I know that, as a rule, I don't drink enough water) I also bought myself a bottle of G20 Gatorade (which tastes like crap, but is only 20 calories as compared to 180 for the other kinds) and drank half of it in the morning, and the other half about an hour before my planned run - hoping for a little energy boost.

I plotted out my route in advance, throwing caution to the wind and deciding on a new 4K route I hadn't run before. One of the biggest dilemmas lately has been deciding on what to wear - just enough so I don't freeze to death, but not so much that I'm suffocating halfway through. Today I somehow managed to get it exactly right and I felt pretty comfortable throughout. The wind was wicked though, and I seemed to be running directly into it most of the time, almost as if it was following me. I think this slowed me down a little, but slowing down was probably not a bad idea at this point.

I have to say, I felt pretty good out there today. There was some residual stiffness in my back, for sure, but no pain! YAY! When I was coming into the home stretch, I ran into the kids walking home from school. I was sort of a "bad mom" here, and didn't stop to talk to them. I waved and kept on going. (Hey, I was finally in the ZONE! I didn't want to mess it up! There goes my "Mother of the Year" award. Again.) Erin insisted on following me on the rest of my route and she did pretty good trying to keep up while carrying her backpack.

I ran exactly 4KM in 32:26 (8:06 mins/km). Slow, yes, but at this point I'm thinking slow and steady will win the race. Or at least get me to the finish line!! I need to get my butt into a yoga class and stretch out some sore muscles, but hopefully Friday will go just as smoothly as today did. I'm not sure if it was the diet, the gatorade or just a better overall attitude, but I'm hoping to replicate it for W8D3!!!

J :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

Let me start off this book review by saying that, prior to reading this book, I really didn't know much about Steve Jobs (other than he was the "Big Cheese" at Apple) and I am not a drinker of the "Apple Kool-Aid", so to speak. Nevertheless, I have been on the waiting list for this book at the library for more than 4 months and I was really looking forward to reading it.

Walter Isaacson is a well known biographer that is responsible for the best selling biographies of several iconic figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Henry Kissinger. When Steve Jobs became painfully aware that his time on earth was drawing to a close, he contacted Mr. Isaacson himself and requested to be the subject of his next book. Steve gave Mr. Isaacson "exclusive and unprecedented" access to all aspects of his life, and requested no control over what was written, nor the right to read it prior to publishing. In true "Steve Jobs" fashion (the packaging is just as important as the content) his only request was to be able to select the image to be used on the cover.

The book is based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs himself as well as countless interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, colleagues and adversaries. The result of more than 2 years of hard work is an engaging, well-crafted story of a man so complex that, despite being a prominent public figure for over 30 years, very few people truly knew him. It could be argued that after completing this book, Mr. Isaacson himself might know him better than most others that were main characters in the story of his life.

Beautifully and sensitively written, Mr. Isaacson pulls no punches and paints a picture of Jobs' life that includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Jobs could go from Tyrant to Teddy Bear and from Tree-Hugger to Tech-Wizard in the blink of an eye, and Isaacson captured it all with just the right tone.

You come to realize that Jobs, while brilliant, was a complex and flawed individual with many layers. The book was written in such a way that I grew intensely attached to a man I barely know, and I cried my way through many of the final chapters (since we already know Jobs' story doesn't exactly have the happiest of endings). Surprisingly, one of the most poignant and complex relationships portrayed is the one between Jobs and Bill Gates. Often depicted as bitter enemies, I was shocked to discover the mutual admiration, respect and near-friendship these 2 men shared. For me, their final "meeting" was one of the most emotional stories in the book.

Jobs is not painted as a hero by any means, but by the end you are left with very little doubt that he completely revolutionized the world as we know it. Personal computing is just the tip of the iceberg here. From animated movies to music, digital publishing, phones and tablet computing, these industries will forever bear the thumbprint of Jobs and the iconic brand he created.

I highly recommend this book. Not only does it offer a glimpse into the rarely seen "human" side of a man everyone recognizes but few truly know, but it takes the reader on a "Technology Journey", allowing us to witness the birth of some of the amazing products (and a few not-so-amazing ones) that we now often take for granted.

Happy iReading!

J :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pain, No Gain? (Couch to 5K: Week 8)

Day 1: I could not WAIT for today's run. I was still feeling pretty pumped from the stellar run I had on Sunday, so I decided to run the same routine again and try to increase my pace. (The C25K Day 1 schedule suggests 28 minutes of running or 4.4km - my route on Sunday was 4.36K - close enough!) It was a bit strange getting back into my WINTER running gear, something I haven't had to wear since Week 4 Day 1. I debated about the windbreaker, but figured I'd warm up pretty quickly. (I was wrong. It was freezing. BRRRR!!!)

About 30 seconds into this run, I got a stitch in my left side. Definitely not fun, but after about 5 or 6 minutes, I didn't notice it any more. Overall, I felt sluggish and tired today and I was sure that my pace was going to be SLOW compared to Sunday. Come to think of it, I wasn't even sure I was going to finish. Coming into the home stretch (about the last kilometre or so) I started feeling pretty good - I was going to make it!

Or maybe not......all of a sudden, I felt like I'd been stabbed in my right side! The pain literally took my breath away - I saw stars! I stopped dead in my tracks, paused the stop watch (29 minutes) and made note of where I was on the trail. Partially because I wanted to be able to measure my distance when I got home, but also because I thought there was a decent chance I was going to have to call someone to pick me up. This was the mother of all side stitches! It was a minute or two before I could even walk properly, but I did eventually walk through it and made my way home.

When I got home and measured my distance, I found that I had done 3.81k in 29 minutes (pace 7:36 min/km). Maybe I wasn't going slow at all! I think perhaps I was pushing myself and going a little too fast, the end result being a killer pain my side. I'll try not to make that mistake again. This is where one of those Garmin running watches would REALLY come in handy so I could monitor my pace as I go along. (Mother's Day is coming up....anyone want to drop a hint with my hubby???? Anyone????)

I was feeling a little discouraged after today, but considering I did complete the time requirement for W8D1, I guess it's all good. I'm not sure yet what the plan for Day 2 is....we'll have to see how I feel on Thursday!

Day 2: Over the weekend, I wore (very) high heels for the first time in a while. I've been avoiding all of my pretty shoes lately because they seem to do a real number on my back. As expected, after wearing them, my back started to feel a little wonky. After my run on Tuesday, my back was a total write off. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday laying on a heating pad hoping for a little relief. When Thursday rolled around, it was clear that I could not run. I was so disappointed. W8D2 would have to wait......

Friday: Still no running today. I'm finding going up and down the stairs really difficult at the moment, so I'm guessing running would be a bad idea.

Saturday (Rehab Run #1): This morning, after bending over to lace up my shoes, Marc had to come to my rescue and pick me up off the floor after my back seized up. This afternoon was beautiful and sunny and I was literally WHINING because I was dying to get out for a run. I'm falling behind in my training!!!!!! Marc suggested maybe I go out for a walk to try to loosen things up a little, but warned me NOT to run. Under any circumstances. Yes, Dear! I headed out and felt pretty good to be moving, so I thought I'd give running a shot. I ran 3km in 24 minutes and couldn't go any further. By the time I got home, I could barely move. Yes, I am aware this probably wasn't the smartest thing I have ever done.

Sunday: Took it easy...popped a lot of Robax...and spent most of the day in a semi-reclined position on a heating pad either reading or watching a movie. I was desperately hoping I would feel strong enough to complete W8D2 on Monday.

Monday (Rehab Run #2): Another beautiful day! Couldn't wait to take a much needed break from my income taxes and get a little running done. Sadly, today was even worse than Saturday. I had to stop after 2.1km (18 minutes) because I couldn't handle the pain anymore. (Insert crying here)

I'm now so discouraged that I'm thinking I'm never going to be a real runner. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for the May 5th 5K Race earlier this week, and ever since, things have been slowly falling apart. I know that I have to rest and let my body heal a little, but it is very frustrating. I was doing so well and improving each week, and this is a major step backwards that I was not anticipating.

Hoping some yoga can get me back on the right path, but this may be one of those things where time is the best medicine. (and patience is DEFINITELY NOT my strong suit......)


J :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Breakthrough! (Couch to 5k: Week 7)

SEVEN has always been my "lucky" number, ever since I was a little kid. I was born on the 7th day of the month, I once won over $200 betting $2 on the 7th horse in the 7th race at Woodbine when I was 12 (yes, my parents encouraged underage gambling. If you know my mother, you'll understand why....) and any time I was asked to "pick a number", it was always either "7" or a number with "7" in it. So, needless to say I was expecting big things from Week 7 in the Couch to 5K program.

Every workout this week is the same - 5 minute warm up walk, then run 25 minutes without stopping. I am really starting to get the hang of this running business, so I wasn't particularly worried about this week at all. I am now more interested in how much distance I am covering, instead of how long I can run continuously.

Day 1: The first workout of the week was on Tuesday. Another beautiful, sunny day suitable for summer running gear. (YAY!) Today, my lone goal was to run for 25 minutes. I started at my usual spot and ran until my stopwatch told me not to run any more. I felt like I could have maybe squeezed out a few extra minutes, but I decided to stick with the plan. When I got home and measured out my route, I did 3.25 km in 25 mins (pace - 7:41 mins/km). Not bad!

Because I have been following the C25K plan so far using TIME as my only goal, I have been ignoring that the program creators also specify a certain DISTANCE for each day of the plan, for those that don't want to be concerned with checking a stop watch. Up until this point, I haven't paid any attention to the distance as I just wanted to be able to actually run continuously for the specified time without dying. Since I seem to be able to do that at this point, I decided that maybe now is the time to try to improve on my distance and/or pace. Looking at the Week 7 plan, the creators suggest running 2.5 miles (4K) or 25 minutes. I decided to make 4K my ultimate goal for the week. By day 3, I would run 4K if it killed me!

Day 2: I was supposed to run day 2 on Thursday, but (and I feel REALLY silly for even SAYING this) it was so freakin' HOT by the time I was ready to set out on my run, I decided to wait until Friday when it was supposed to be a few degrees cooler. I planned to run the same route as I did on Tuesday, and see how I felt about maybe adding onto it at the end. From start to finish, this run just felt great. When I came close to the end of the planned route, I decided to take a detour and add a few blocks of running. I ended up out on 9th line, which doesn't have a paved sidewalk, only a gravel shoulder, which felt a bit odd and unstable at first but I worked through it. I added 2 extra minutes onto my run (for a total of 27 for those keeping score), and when I got home I discovered I had clocked 3.6 kms at a record setting (for me) pace of 7:29 mins/km! SUCCESS! I was feeling pretty darn good about myself on the walk home. I may not yet have reached my 4k goal for the week, but I was certainly closer!

Day 3: Would today be the 4K day?? A friend of mine that runs regularly around the Osprey Pond (which I blogged about here in week 4) told me that two complete loops around the pond is 3.8 kms. I planned to walk from home to the Northeast corner of Britannia and 9th line, and start running from there, with the plan to complete 2 full loops of the pond. I hoped that the extra distance from Britannia to the path would get me to my 4K goal. It was a sunny, beautiful afternoon and I was looking forward to some new scenery. It took me about 4 or 5 minutes to settle into a good pace, which felt a bit slower than my earlier runs this week, but my goal was to go the distance no matter how long it took.

After circling the pond twice, I decided to keep running back to the lights at Britannia and 9th line where I had begun. When I checked the stop watch at the end, I had been running for 34:26!! More than SEVEN (there's that lucky number again) minutes longer than my longest run so far! HOLY %$#@!!!!! I couldn't wait to get home and check the distance, which turned out to be 4.36 km. (pace - 7:53 mins/km) YEAH BABY!!!! I was slow, but I did it! :)

The distance goal in the week 8 running plan is 2.75 miles (4.4K). Since I'm pretty much there, distance wise, I'll plan to work on my pace this week, keeping distance roughly the same. Ideally, I'd love to get my pace to around 7 minutes per KM in time for the race on May 5th, but I'm not sure if that's realistic at this point.

I guess I'll have to wait and see if SEVEN really is my lucky number! ;)

J :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Run has 22 Minutes (Couch to 5k: Week 6, Day 2 & 3)

Day 2 of Week 6 is a pretty big day for the Couch to 5K running program. The pattern isn't particularly difficult (5 min warm up walk, run 10 mins, walk 3 mins, run 10 mins), but it marks the LAST day of the program where there are walk breaks. From here on in, it's for REAL!

I managed to complete W6D2, but I didn't feel particularly great doing it. I am starting to think that once you start running it's easier to keep running, so perhaps it's a good thing that we are abandoning the walk breaks after today. The first 10 minutes seemed to go well, but the second 10 minutes were tough. I almost gave up, but somehow managed to push myself to keep going. I am definitely impressing myself with my dedication to the program so far. I'm really not accountable to anyone but myself (and my blog!) and no one would be the wiser if I had to quit on a run, but I just wouldn't let myself do it. I am going to become a C25K graduate - with honours! :)

So, fast forward to Day 3 - 22 minutes of straight running. I had already completed a 20 minute run, (with considerably less difficulty than the first 2 days of week 6, I might add), so I wasn't really nervous leading up to the run. My only concern is that I'm battling some sort of cold or mysterious illness, but I was hoping it wouldn't be a factor. (Maybe I could even sweat out the bug!)

(Side Note: I wore the same running outfit that I wore in Florida last week - a running skirt and a tank top. In March. I still can't believe it. All you running ladies out there that haven't tried running skirts, I highly recommend them. Lots of butt coverage, no riding up and a huge cuteness factor.)

Once again, the music proved to be a big help in getting me through the run. Using the old "don't look at the clock till after X number of songs" trick worked like a charm. I felt like my pace was quite a bit slower than it had been on the 20 minute run. Once I got home and checked my pace online (again using the handy-dandy website, I discovered I was right. In 22 minutes I ran exactly 2.83 km, clocking in at 7:46 mins/km (compared to 7:39 mins/km on W5D3). Not bad, but I'm hoping I can get my pace up to around 7 minutes by the time my goal race rolls around on May 5th.

I really can't believe that I'm starting Week 7 this week - only 3 weeks until "graduation" and 7 weeks until my goal race. I'm finally feeling like I will be ready!

J :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Slice of Humble Pie (Couch to 5k: W6D1)

I was really looking forward to today's run. After my big success on Sunday, I couldn't wait to hit the pavement and cross another run off the calendar. When I checked the run schedule for today, I almost laughed. There was the usual 5 minute warm up walk, followed by a 5 minute run/3 minute walk, 8 minute run/3 minute walk, 5 minute run/cool down walk. Surely after Sunday's 20 minute run, today's schedule would be a "walk in the park" (Pun intended).

I am guessing this is the point in the program where the creators laughed heartily, saying: "OH, so you THINK you're a RUNNER now, eh???? Well THINK AGAIN!! MUAHAHAHAHA!" Would you like some ice cream with your humble pie?

The first run interval started out pretty well. I looked at the clock a little too early, which messed with my head a bit, but the 5 minutes passed without too much difficulty. The 8 minute interval was another story. At this point of the run I was running directly into the wind, which really buggered up my breathing. I couldn't seem to find my stride either, and I pretty much watched the clock for the last 4 minutes of this interval. The final 5 minute run interval was better, but not great. All in all, I felt somewhat discouraged on the walk home.

So what have I learned from this? I think that my experience today underlines what I have suspected all along: the biggest battle in learning to run is the battle going on in your own head. Case in point.....

Today, I had a less than wonderful day. I had a lot of work to get through and, yet again, my technology was less than co-operative. The kids are off on March Break and a resounding chorus of "I'm Bored" could be heard throughout my house. By the time I laced up my shoes and hit the road, I was pretty frazzled. I think my biggest problem, however, was the attitude with which I approached the run today. I was feeling cocky. Over confident. I thought the run would be easy. It didn't take long before I was brought down a notch or two. c25K: 1, Me: 0

I'm going to try not to be too hard on myself and chalk it all up to a learning experience. After all, I am a long way from being a real runner and I still have to earn my stripes. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

The schedule changes again for day 2, but this time I won't make the mistake of thinking it's going to be a cake walk. The "program" may have won this round, but I'm going to win the battle!

J :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Holy #@&%!!! (Couch to 5k: W5D3)

Well, I was supposed to do this workout yesterday, but since we were expecting some stellar spring weather today (and since I'm still in Florida mode), I decided to hold off until today. So glad I did - what a fabulous day out there, and from what I hear, it's only going to get better this week!!!

I had some serious doubts going into today's run. Considering my longest continuous run so far has been 8 minutes, I didn't see how I was going to be able to complete the dreaded Week 5 Day 3 20 minute run.

Well guess what......I DID IT!!!!! I am still in shock, and my legs feel like jello, but I am proud to say that I survived the entire 20 minutes without stopping once! Once again, my iPod proved to be a valuable running buddy. When I started, I told myself that I wasn't going to look at the stopwatch until the first 3 songs were over, which today happened to be at 13:09. One song later and I was at 17 minutes! At that point, I was in the home stretch - I certainly wasn't going to give up then! The last 2 minutes were probably the most difficult 2 minutes I've run in the program so far, but also the most satisfying. NOW I feel like a RUNNER!

When I got home, I punched my route into a very handy website - Since I don't have one of those fancy GPS running watches, I was able to trace my route onto the satellite image for my neighbourhood and find out my distance and pace. The route was 2.6 km, which put my pace at 7.39 mins/km. I am pretty pleased with that - I am more than halfway to 5K!!!!

Now I can relax and enjoy the rest of this awesome day with my family, feeling pretty good that I accomplished something that, 5 weeks ago, I could only dream about.

HOLY #$@#!!!

J :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Running on Sunshine (Couch to 5K: Week 4 & 5)

Well, as some of you know, I am here in the sunny state of Florida on vacay with my family. As nice as the weather has been at home, it's got nothin' on Florida weather. Wow! From what I've heard, this is the warmest winter they have had in Florida in the last 50 or 60 years. Really glad we were able to get down here for a week and enjoy it! The question is: did this vacay totally derail my running program?

I am proud (and somewhat shocked) to say: NO! I haven't missed a run since I've been here. I've been keeping track of my progress so far, and here's a summary of the four (!!!) runs I've completed in the Sunshine State:

Friday Morning: (Week 4, Day 2) The temps are supposed to soar up into the mid 80's today, so I thought I would get out early before it got too warm. I can't tell you how amazing it felt to put on a tank top and running skirt and head out into the sunshine without bundling up! Methinks this is going to be a great run! I took a few days off after Day 1, due to some nasty knee soreness. I was a little anxious about how my knee would hold up today.....

The pattern was a repeat of day 1 (5 min warm up walk, run 3 mins/walk 90s, run 5 mins/walk 2.5 mins, run 3mins/walk 90s, run 5 mins/cool down walk), and I don't know if it was the sunshine or my general happiness at being on vacation, but I sailed through the run today without a problem! My only issue was one I haven't had to deal with much at home: SWEAT! It was pouring into my eyes and making them burn. FUN! Must think of solution before run #2. Makenna accompanied me on today's run, however she chose to ride her bike. She was a great pace bunny!

Sunday Morning: (Week 4, Day 3): It's funny how at home when it's 7 degrees (44F) outside, I'm dancing around thinking it's spring. This morning it's 60F, and I'm hunting around looking for a jacket to wear on my run. Brrrrrr! Today was supposed to be the cool day of our week here (A high of 68F), so we have an indoor activity planned. But first, my run. The last day of week 4, accompanied, as always, by the question: am I ready for the next week???

I did find a windbreaker to wear, so I "bundled up" and headed out. About 5 minutes in, I wished I had left the jacket at home. It was beautiful and sunny, just a little breezy, which was actually really refreshing. Today, Marc and Erin came out and walked the walk portions with me. When the run intervals came up, I'd jog ahead, then jog back to meet them. I thought it would be distracting, but again, it was nice to have company. I felt pretty freakin' good when this run was done, no issues at all. Bring on WEEK 5!!!!!!

Tuesday Morning (Week 5, Day 1): Week 5 is where things get REALLY interesting. And by interesting, I mean scary as hell. Every day has a different pattern this week, increasing in scariness until the mother of all scary runs arrives on Day 3: Run 20 minutes, no walking (!!!!). But first, I have to survive Day 1.

Today's pattern is: 5 minute warm up walk, run 5 mins/walk 3 mins, run 5 minutes, walk 3, run 5 minutes/cool down walk. There is actually 1 minute less running today as compared to week 4, but the fact that there are THREE 5 minute runs is somewhat troubling.

We have done a LOT of walking in the past 2 days - we spent Sunday at the Clearwater Aquarium (Home of "Winter the Dolphin" from the movie Dolphin Tale) and Monday at Busch Gardens (Home of some pretty freakin' awesome roller coasters), and my knee was feeling a bit off in the morning, so I decided to hold off on the run until the afternoon. Instead, I opted to take the kids swimming so I can hang out in the hot tub under the guise of doing some much needed "knee rehab".

The hot tub must have helped, because I didn't struggle with today's run much at all. The last 5 minute set was tough, but I managed to push through it. I'm finding the music is really helping as a distraction as we get further and further into the program. Today I kept telling myself not to check the stop watch until each song was over. Since each song is about 4 minutes, it definitely helped make the intervals go faster. I did see a snake on this afternoon's run (a Florida Black Racer), but unfortunately he was dead (sniff sniff). In addition to the superior weather, Florida has offered a more interesting array of wildlife to observe while I run - lizards, turtles and lots of colourful birds.

But now.....a margarita! I hear they just as good as gatorade for a burst of energy after a workout ;)

Thursday Morning (Week 5, Day 2): Our last day in Florida (Insert sad face here). I set the alarm so that I could get up early and get in one more run in the land of sunshine and grapefruit. Man, am I going to miss the weather. The first run back at home is going to be quite a shock to the system.

The pattern today is the usual 5 minute warm-up walk, then run 8 (!!) minutes, walk 5, run 8 minutes and then walk home. I couldn't help but wonder how on earth I was supposed to run for 8 minutes (twice!), when just a few days ago, running for 5 had felt like an impossible task. Shocking myself yet again, I managed to complete the workout without succumbing to heart failure halfway through. The music was more important today than ever in getting me through the running sets (Special thanks go out to Britney and the Black Eyed Peas for getting me through the last interval). I have to say, I'm almost starting to feel like a real runner! I really can't believe it!

I'm still not sure how day 3 is going to go, jumping from 8 minutes to 20 minutes straight seems like quite a leap. For now I'm going to trust the system - it hasn't let me down so far!

Farewell Florida! :(

J :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Buddy System (Couch to 5k: W4D1)

Well, my first week 4 run was scheduled for 2pm today. It is now 3pm and I am sitting here writing which means 1 of 2 things. I either: a) chickened out or b) survived! Hmmmmmm.......

Coincidentally, I have a cousin in Newfoundland that is following the same running plan. We are around the same age and both total non-runners. We also both happen to be starting week 4 today. Since she is an hour and a half ahead of me, when I woke up this morning I already had a text message from her filled with "wooohoooo's" and "!!!!!!!'s" She had done it! Cuz, you were my inspiration today! You convinced me I could do it too!

One of my friends and I have been discussing running together ever since I embarked on this little challenge. Even though I am a big believer in having exercise buddies to keep you on track, I have been hesitant to do it for a couple of reasons. First, she is an established runner that can probably run 5K in her sleep. I was somewhat concerned about dragging her down. Second, I was afraid I would push myself a little too hard to try to keep up to her and end up dying en route (at least I would have had a buddy to call 911!!)

Since today's routine was a little more challenging, I decided I was ready for a buddy. We arranged to meet at a pond that was somewhat halfway between our houses. I walked there, which amounted to almost double the usual warm-up time, but considering what was on the agenda for today, I thought that might be helpful.

The plan for the day is this: 5 minute warm up walk, run 3 minutes/walk 90 seconds, run 5 minutes/walk 2.5 minutes, run 3 minutes/walk 90 seconds, run 5 minutes/walk home. As you know if you've been reading this blog, those 5 minute intervals have been terrifying me since I first started the plan. Today is also the first day where the running intervals are longer than the walks. The plan is slowly beginning to wean you off the walking, pushing you to run for longer stretches at a time with shorter recovery periods. Last week's plan amounted to 9 minutes of running each day. This week, a whopping 16!!!

Oddly enough, the 3 minute run which was my nemesis last week was an absolute BREEZE today. After a short 90 second recovery walk, the dreaded 5 minute interval began. I have to say, it was nice to have someone to run with here - it made the 5 minutes go by a little quicker and a little less painfully than I expected. She also has one of those fancy Garmin running watches that tracks your pace and the mileage of your runs. This is a very handy feature to have in a running buddy. If you are going to get yourself a running buddy, choose one with the cool gadgets, if possible. During the first 2 running intervals our pace varied between 6:50 and 7:20 mins/km - which felt a lot faster than I was running last week, but is the pace that I am aiming for when I run my 5 K in May.

The last 2 running intervals were more challenging, but I am proud to say I survived them both. (My knee might tell a different story.....) Our pace slowed to between 7:30 and 7:50 mins/km, which I suspect is about what I was running last week. If you had asked me even a week ago if I thought I could run for 5 minutes without stopping, the answer would have most definitely been "Are you CRAZY?!?!" But I did it! Whoever designed this program is really brilliant. Each week is structured in such a way that you are challenged by it, but at the end of the week your body is ready for more. I really can't believe how it is all working out so far.

So thanks to my 2 running buddies for their part in helping me survive today - my cousin for making me believe that I could do it, and my friend for keeping me company while I did.


J :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Run, Walk, Repeat??? (Couch to 5k: W3D3)

Thursday Evening:

In anticipation of the "mother of all storms" that is supposed to arrive sometime tonight, I decided to bump up Friday's run to today. It is a beautiful, sunny day so I might as well take advantage. The run schedule today is a repeat of day 1 and day 2. The burning question on everyone's mind (ok, maybe just mine....) is: will the dreaded 3 minute run be a little easier today??? Followed closely by the question: will I need to repeat week 3 before I can "graduate" to week 4????

All in all, I thought today was the best run of the week. The 3 minute runs were by no means easy, but they did seem to pass a little less painfully than they had on the 2 previous runs. My knee also co-operated, for the most part, which made the run more pleasant overall. I have a bit of a busy weekend coming up, but my plan is to squeeze in one more "week 3" run and then make the decision about next week.

To be continued.......

Sunday Afternoon:

Made it out for my Week 3, Day 3 (Part Deux) run this afternoon. Weather was considerably colder today than it was all of last week, but the sun was shining so it was all good. Since I have been running this trail for the past 5 or 6 runs, I am getting pretty good at knowing where I should be on the trail at the end of each running interval. Today it seemed that I was further along on the trail than usual, so I am guessing my pace is increasing a little. Small victory #1!

During the first "long run", the little voice in the back of my head was saying "You are nowhere NEAR ready for week 4! Better do week 3 again!!!" I have to say, I was totally agreeing with it. I got a wicked cramp in my side about 1 minute in, making the first 3 minutes a little difficult to complete. By the time the second 3 minute run came around, however, I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to pay any attention to that little voice in the back of my head. Small Victory # 2!!

I decided instead of running for 3 minutes, I would run as long as I could and see where I ended up. I made it to 4:17. Not quite the 5 minutes I will need for next week, but I have decided to throw caution to the wind, put on my big girl tech-running panties and jump right into week 4 tomorrow. Go big or go home, right? Small victory #3!

Week 4 Day 1 is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Weather looks to be about +7 and partly sunny, which I think I can work with. Can't wait!!!

J :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Not To Wear (Couch to 5K: W3D2)

I think it's safe to say that I am starting to form a running habit. There must be something in the way that this program was designed that it sucks you in and keeps you motivated to move forward. It felt like a VERY long 48 hours from my last run to this one...I almost ran yesterday just for fun!

Today's program was a repeat of Monday's. I was hoping that I'd find the 3 minute run intervals at least SLIGHTLY easier than they were on Monday. It was beautiful and sunny (again!) this morning and I was in a bit of a quandary about what to wear. The temperature seemed similar to what it was on Monday when I overheated and had to remove my windbreaker, so I made the (wrong) decision to leave my windbreaker at home today. I did warm up eventually, but the first 10 minutes were mighty chilly.

As the dreaded first 3 minute running interval approached, I reminded myself to try to adjust my pace a little to see if that made the interval a little easier. I noticed on Monday that I started the 3 minute segment with a burst of energy and then had to drastically slow my pace down to make it through the full 3 minutes. Since I am now a little more familiar with the running trail, I made a mental note of a point up ahead on the trail and told myself not to check the stopwatch until I reached that point. (Which turned out to be 2:05 on the first interval, 2:13 on the second). The first "long" run seemed to be a little easier than I remembered on Monday, but the second one was a little more challenging. My knee was in a mood again, so I really had to slow my pace down to make it a little happier.

At some point during the first running interval, my worst fear was finally realized. Up ahead on the trail, I saw someone I knew! Do I keep my head up and nod as I ran past or avoid eye contact and hope she didn't recognize me? I this point I was hoping that I looked more like this:

Even though my brain was telling me it was more likely that I looked like this:

All my worrying ended up being for nothing, however, because by the time I passed her, she was bent over picking up dog crap. NO matter how "Homer Simpson-y" I looked, at least I wasn't doing THAT!

But I digress.....

I had planned to add an extra 90s run/90s walk and 3 min run/3 min walk interval at the end of today's run because, to me, this week's program seems kind of short. My knee let me know, shortly into the 90 second run, that this was a bad idea. I finished with a 5 minute cool down walk, as usual, and was quite glad to be home. At this point, I'm thinking I may end up needing to repeat this week before I am ready to progress to the week 4 schedule (there are two 5-minute intervals in there! GASP!) We'll see how I feel on Friday!

In spite of today's difficulties (or, perhaps, because of them) I am looking forward to it!

J :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feelin' HOT HOT HOT! (Couch to 5K: W3D1)

Happy Family Day! And what a lovely Family Day it is - sunny skies and above zero temperatures make it a perfect day for outdoor activities. My first activity of the day? My first week 3 run!

I felt pretty good on Friday after the last week 2 run session. I had hoped to squeeze in an extra run over the weekend, but it just didn't happen. The week 3 run schedule looked a little scary at first glance: a brisk 5 minute warm-up walk followed a 90 second run and a 90 second walk then a 3 minute run and a 3 minute walk, repeating that pattern twice. The 90 second run segments that had looked intimidating a week ago suddenly looked like a "walk in the park" since I was going to have to DOUBLE them today. Yikes!

The first 3 minute interval was tough, but I didn't look at the stop watch until about the 2:15 mark - about 45 seconds longer than my longest run interval thus far. Not too shabby. The second run interval, however, nearly killed me. I started clock watching at about 1:26 and couldn't wait for the segment to be over. I did it though, so I guess there's a small victory to be found here. I tacked on a couple of extra 90 second run intervals since I wasn't quite home yet, so I managed to find a little strength at the end which I'm guessing is a good sign. Hopefully this pattern will get a little easier as the week goes on.

On another note, the weather outside this morning was truly spectacular. The air was cool and crisp, but for the first time I actually overheated in the middle of the run. I had to take off my windbreaker so I could cool down a little. Pretty wild stuff for February 20th!!!

Run # 2 is scheduled for Wednesday and I'm hoping to kick those 3 minute intervals square in the ASS! I have to say I am impressed with my progress so far - I may not be breaking any world speed records, but I'm plugging along at my own pace and completing each run as outlined. That definitely counts for something!

Until we run again,

J :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Sound Of Music (Couch to 5K - W2D2)

The first part of my day kinda sucked. I was working on a particularly difficult project (on a tight deadline) and my technology picked today, of all days, to become less than co-operative. I finally got it all sorted out, but was feeling pretty frazzled by the time all was said and done. The old me would have probably spent the remainder of afternoon mindlessly surfing the net, shopping or eating chocolate to calm my frazzled nerves. But today I thought the best way to clear my head would be to go for a run! It was a proud moment.

I decided that today would be the first time that I would run with my iPod. Up until this point, I wasn't sure that I could co-ordinate the iPod (complete with dangling headphone cords), my BlackBerry/stop watch and running without falling into a ditch or tripping over my feet. Today I felt ready - bring on the tunes!!

WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! I have long suspected it, but these little portable music gadgets might be the best invention of all time. I wonder if Mr. Jobs himself was a runner and he created the iPod for the sole purpose of entertaining him while he trained? With the help of my music, the running intervals seemed to fly by without me watching the clock. In fact, I actually ran longer than necessary on a few occasions. It's safe to say that the iPod will be accompanying me on all training runs from here on in.

Now I need to come up with a few running playlists. Today, I had the iPod set to shuffle on a random playlist. This worked out well most of the time, but a few times some less than "inspiring" songs popped up. Patsy, I love ya, but "Crazy" is more of a "grab a bottle of wine and a straw " song than a "Get Pumped" song. But that may just be me......

All you runners out there - what songs do YOU have on your running playlists? What keeps you going when you feel like you've hit the proverbial "Runner's Wall"?

So, all in all, a successful run today. Many thanks go out to Stevie J., my iPod and to Mother Nature as well for being so incredibly co-operative with the February weather. I'm looking forward to nailing the last run of the week on Friday and getting started on week 3 (which looks a little intimidating at the moment....but today I'm feeling like I can handle anything!)

J :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feeling the Burn! (Couch to 5K - W2D1)

WOW! I made it to week 2! After a less than stellar Day 3 run on Friday, I decided to squeeze in one more week 1 run on Sunday before the run intervals increased in week 2. The trail where I usually run was snow covered (I had to take a detour) and it was beyond freezing, but I still had a great run and was feeling pretty positive about week 2.

The week 2 routine is a 5 minute warm-up walk followed by 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes of walking, alternating for 20 minutes. With the run intervals only increasing by 30 seconds, I was thinking (hoping!) it was going to be a piece of cake and I couldn't wait to get started!

Seeing how it was so gorgeous outside today, I decided to run in the afternoon instead of waiting until the evening when the girls were at cheerleading. The snow had melted from my usual running trail and the sun was blazing - perfect running conditions!

I sailed through the first running interval with little difficulty, but by the time the second one rolled around, I was watching the stop watch in eager anticipation of the walking portion. When the last running interval finally arrived, I was definitely ready for the run to be over. (So much for a "piece of cake"!) My left knee was somewhat grouchy, leaving me a bit gimpy for the final run , but I did it! Week 2, Day 1 COMPLETE!

The most interesting thing about my experience so far is that I am finding myself looking forward to the run days. Who'd have thunk it? They say it takes 3 weeks to form a habit, but here I am in Week 2 eagerly anticipating the days when I will run....wondering how I will improve compared to my last run....thinking of new trails I can try that might be more enjoyable. The whole thing is BIZARRE!!!! Who am I and what has become of the real Jenn???

It's a mystery to me......

Until we meet again on Wednesday!

J :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Note to Self: KLEENEX! (Couch to 5K, W1D3)

BRRRR!!!!! It's pretty freakin' cold out there this morning! I decided to get my run in early since I think it is supposed to snow later this afternoon. I've gotta say, running in the cold and wind is really NO FUN! And really, it's not even that cold out there at the moment considering it is the middle of February. I don't know what I will do/wear, when/if the weather gets really cold! UGH!

The run today was difficult. I had expected it to be the easiest day of the week since it is my third time (well, really, fourth time) with this run/walk schedule. For some reason, I found this day to be the toughest. I found myself really looking at the stop watch, waiting for the run interval to be over - something I hadn't done since the very first run almost 2 weeks ago in the blizzard. I'm guessing the wind had a lot to do with it. I found a somewhat sheltered trail that runs through the middle of my neighbourhood and decided to run there to try to cut down on the wind chill factor. (Of course, I was terrified I was going to pass someone I know - I really need to get over that!) The wind was fine when running in one direction, but when I turned around to head back.....well.....not so much fun. I also learned a really valuable lesson about running in the cold - bring KLEENEX! Nuff said!!!

The good news is, the knee still seems to be holding up OK. I can't tell you how happy I am about this! On another note, I was really surprised at how many birds I saw out there during my run. I have to say, if I could fly...well, first of all I wouldn't be learning to run. Secondly, I wouldn't be "wintering" in Mississauga, no matter how mild it has been to this point.

I think I'm going to try to squeeze in an extra run over the weekend using the week 1 schedule. The pace doesn't increase drastically for next week, but since I didn't feel so great out there today I want to make sure I'm ready.

One week down, eight to go!

J :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Think I Can! I Think I Can! (Couch to 5K: Day 2)

Well, after getting sidelined with an illness (damn cold!) following last week's run, I hopped back on the running bandwagon on Monday and repeated day 1 of the C25K program. I have to admit, it was a lot more pleasant running without the blizzard-like conditions we had last week. I drove to the same location I had run the previous week and definitely found it much more enjoyable with the sun still up and no big, fat, fluffy snowflakes flying around. I was impressed that my left knee didn't make its' presence known until about 16 minutes into the run, instead of 45 seconds in like it did last week. All in all, I felt pretty good on Monday evening with no residual knee pain or soreness! YAY!

I had scheduled run # 2 for this afternoon and I decided to walk to nearby "Osprey Pond" for more of a scenic running route. A friend of mine runs there quite often, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The pond is about a 7 minute walk north from my place, so I got a slightly longer warm up, which I am sure is not a bad thing. The trail is a 2 km loop around Osprey Pond (aka Osprey Storm Water Drainage Reservoir), but is quite pretty compared to running around the track at the local high school. (It was also pretty deserted, which is a bonus. I still feel somewhat self-conscious running with people around). Much to my surprise, the trail had some HILLS which seemed to appear only during the running intervals. To experienced runners, these hills are probably more like speed bumps. To me, they felt kinda like Mount Everest.

I was worried about the effect the hills would have on my tricky left knee, but today I barely noticed my knee at all. I felt the odd twinge here and there, but nothing compared to the pain I felt during the very first run last week. This makes me very hopeful that as I build muscle and strength in my legs, the knee will not be a factor. Maybe I can turn myself into a runner after all!!!!

"I Think I Can!"

Looking at the calendar, it seems I will be able to complete the 9 week C25K program by April 6th. This leaves me 4 extra weeks to prepare (or to repeat weeks from the program if I am not quite ready to advance) for the Mississauga Marathon 5K run, so I've decided to set that race as my "goal race". I can honestly say I am excited and really looking forward to it! (GASP!)

Run #3 is scheduled for Friday. Checking the Weather Network, it seems we may have some snow in the forecast, but the temperatures are still supposed to be above zero. I'm not sure what will happen to my training schedule if we suddenly find ourselves with some REAL February weather on our hands, complete with windchill factors! I'm definitely more of a "fair weather" gal, so hopefully it won't throw me off track!

"Ready to Run"

J :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Run Forrest, RUN!

Back in 2005, for reasons still unknown to me, I decided I would sign up for the CIBC Run for the Cure 5K Run in Toronto. Of course, I wanted to raise some money for a very worthwhile cause, but I believe there was also another reason. For as long as I can remember, I have admired people that run (Voluntarily - without being chased by a dog or a bear). Whether you run 5k, 10k, the half marathon or the full, you are one of my heroes.

S0 I enlisted the support of my long time BFF (who has running in her blood) and decided to sign up for the race. I had no idea how to train or prepare for the run and wasn't really interested in learning how to run properly. I had a goal and I was just going to jump in and do it! That's kind of the running equivalent of setting out on a cross country journey without a road map. Not overly bright. Sure, I worked out and exercised leading up to the big day, but prior to the run, I had never actually run 5K in my life.

I did complete the 5k run (I ran about 3.5 of the 5K) and had a slow but semi-respectable run time of 37 minutes, 10 seconds. While I was running I thought "Who in their right mind does this on a regular basis"? But I was determined to keep going. When I crossed the finish line that morning, I will never forget the way I felt. While I was running, I thought it was my first and last race. After I crossed the finish line, I knew I had to do it again.

In January 2011 I made a New Year's resolution to lose weight and get back onto the exercise bandwagon - a wagon I had fallen off about 4 years earlier. For quite possibly the first time ever, I actually stuck to it and here I am 13 months later - 24 pounds lighter and a regular "yogi" at my yoga studio. This year I needed a new resolution. Why not give that running thing another shot????

I had heard good things about a running program that you can follow on-line called "Couch to 5K" (C25k). Supposedly, by following their program you can go from a total couch potato to a 5K runner in 9 short weeks. All you "runners" out there would likely read it and think it sounds incredibly easy. I read it and thought "This might be a program I can stick to". What have I got to lose?? (other than HOPEFULLY the extra jiggle in my thighs and butt!)

So I decided, Monday, January 30th would be RUN DAY! (W1D1 in C25K lingo). The program consists of 3 runs per week over a 9 week period, each week becoming more difficult than the last. Today's run was a 5min brisk warm-up walk, transitioning into alternating intervals of 1 min of running and 90 seconds of brisk walking for 20 minutes, followed by a 5 minute cool down walk. Sounds easy enough, right??

Cue obstacle # 1 - semi-blizzard-like weather that began about an hour before I had scheduled my run. Thankfully I had purchased some winter running gear which I hoped would be enough to keep me warm in the snow. I planned to run during the 4 (!!!) hours that I spend at the cheer gym each Monday, but since the gym is in a deserted, poorly lit industrial area, I heard my mother's voice in my head and decided to drive to a nearby residential area with plenty of people around and lots of light.

I parked the car and began the 5 minute walk to a local park area that I knew had a running track. I'd like to tell you that the gently falling snow was beautiful and that I admired the way the trees glistened in the streetlights, but that would be a crock. To be quite honest, it sucked. I was, however, impressed with how my running gear kept me warm. With the exception of my hands, after my warm-up walk, I was pretty toasty warm.

Cue obstacle # 2 - my left knee. Within the first 45 seconds of actual running, my knee reminded me of why I don't run in the first place. It remains to be seen whether my knee will allow me to continue, but I did complete the full 30 minute Week 1 Day 1 program. In the beginning I thought "there's no way in HELL I will be able to keep this up for 20 minutes", but by the end, I was surprised at how fast the time passed. I DID IT!!

I've scheduled a hot yoga session for tomorrow morning in anticipation of needing to stretch some sore muscles and ease some aches and pains. I'm planning my next run for Wednesday morning after I drop the kids at school. I'm hoping for better weather, a happier knee and another successful 30 minute program. I have a feeling it may take longer than the 9 weeks for me to be able to run 5K without stopping, but with any luck (and a little hard work) I hope to run the 5K at the Mississauga Marathon in May. Wish me luck!

"I just felt like RUNNING"

J :)