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 :)