Saturday, September 29, 2012

Two Weeks Until Cannonball!

From the five-month photo shoot. One of her new favorite things
is to pick up legs and arms and "fly".  How did she get
so cute?

Goodness, what a week! Alfie turned 5 months on Tuesday, Bambino got a train table which reinvigorated his locomotive obsession, and he made it all the way through a movie last night:  Ratatouille! Thank you, DVR, for bringing us so many good choices for movie night and for letting us fast-forward through the commercials. Bambino is at that tender age where he proudly parrots back slogans- funny but a tad bit scary.

On the running front, I've done well. Monday was a rest day, then I ran Tuesday afternoon with Bambino and ran Wednesday morning solo. Thursday night I tried the treadmill for the first time in a long time (more about that in a minute), and then this morning I had a two-part long run of 11 miles! Why two parts? Because I do not like to do a long run in the pouring rain and the dark.  At 5:00, I woke up to feed Alfie and myself (peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat toast with a side of Gatorade). Of course, my morning glory (aka Bambino) woke up, too, so I fixed him first breakfast- he has two or three on a typical day, like a Hobbit- and sent him back to bed. I hopped on the treadmill for four miles while catching up on last week's Big Bang and The Office.  Then I hopped off to stretch and guess who was awake? Bambino! I bribed him with my iPad and hopped back on for four more miles, this time watching Glee.

Whatever it takes. He knew exactly where I was
if he needed anything. 

At the end of that set, everyone was up, so I got to hang out with Bambino in the train room and let Alfie have her second breakfast.  Then Jenn and Bambino went yardsaling. I planned for Alfie and I to stroller run the last two-three miles since the rain had stopped, but it kept returning. I will run in the rain, but not with a baby. We just chilled, meaning she played and made noises while I stretched and had my coffee.  Around 8:30 the yardsalers returned and I headed out for Long Run Part 2 (or 3, if you break the treadmill into two parts). I ran the neighborhood for three miles in just over 27 minutes.

So, the treadmill. I haven't used it recently, because when I do it no longer gives an accurate measurement of pace or distance. I turn it on, press start, and enter a speed, but the speed feels much much faster than expected, and then the speed indicator starts switching numbers really quickly, finally settling on 0.0.  If I set it at 5.0-5.5, I can manage to not fall off the back.  Aggravating? Oh, yes. Aggravating but workable. My solution has become to set the speed somewhere that feels reasonable and just call it 10-minute miles, because I don't really care about pace right now anyway.

There's got to be a good caption for this, but I don't know what it is...

So, a great week for life and for running. I hit 20 miles today and I plan to run tomorrow, making this my highest mileage in a long time.  I've run 83 miles so far in September, the most in 18 months. On top of that, I feel really good about running's place in my life right now- I run early in the morning or late in the evening to preserve family time. I run with Bambino in the afternoons when he asks, because how could I say no when he wants to do that with me? I'll run with both of the kiddos in about another month, because it's such a great way to spend time with them.  I am very conscious of not letting my running take too much time away from family, and I think right now I've struck a good balance.

My first post-Alfie half-marathon is coming up in two weeks: Cannonball! I'm running it with my dad again. Last year, we ran it together when Alfie was still in my belly. In the year since, my dad has trained a lot, so it will be so much fun to see how he does- I bet he'll take at least 10 minutes off of his PR.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Miles for Matthew 10k Recap

My first 10k went very well.  No pictures of me racing (kids are a lot more fun to photograph), but plenty of details.

We got to the race at 7:50 so that Bambino could participate in the kids' run at 8:00. He got a number and everything, and then the kids took off for one lap around the track.  As one of the younger runners, Bambino was near the back, but boy did he run.  He didn't stop once, and he looked like a runner. He beamed as he finished. Made my heart warm and proud. 

After the kids' race, Bambino went to child care (awesome feature!) and Jenn and Alfie walked me part-way to the start.  Tgere weren't that many runners- 296 combined for the 5k and 10k, so it was easy to ind a spot. At one point some woman behind me said, I wish I had a course map so I could figure out where to cut through.  My ears perked up. Who would admit to cheating?  Who would be so brazen as to say, before even starting, that she planned to cut it short for a better time?  I turned around ready to scold and saw a woman, clearly a spectartor, talking to her daughter about taking her picture during the race. Oops. I told her what I'd thought she meant and that she made my day. Laughter's always a good way to start a race.

At 8:30 on the nose, we started.  I tried not to stare at my watch, but I'm a little addicted to the numbers.    Mile one was fast: 9:13.  My goal for this 10k was to break 1:00, so I needed to run around 9:45 for that. I totally meant to slow down, but mile 2 was 9:09.  

At this point, I started to panic and talk to myself, thankfully in my head.  Okay, I said, you're going too fast.  You are going to crash and then walk and you'll be disappointed in yourself.  Slow down this instant.  You have a Garmin- use it!  No more speed!

Well, while I was talking to myself, mile 3 passed by in 8:48.  Crap, said I. That did not work.  Please slow down a little, okay?  You know you feel good now, but what about later? You haven't run this fast on a run longer than three miles in a year. A YEAR.

At mile 4, which I ran in 8:54, a different voice popped up. So you're running faster than expected.  Big deal! You can and have run a lot faster than this. You're doing fine.  If you crash, the worst that can happen is that you walk. But what if you don't crash? What if this is the right pace for you right now? Doesn't it feel good to go faster than expected?

I like this voice a lot more!

I ran mile 5 in 8:33 and blasted through mile 6 in 8:08. As you can see, I picked up the pace for the final mile and really tried to floor it when I could see the finish.  The course was a little short, so my final time was 53:23 for 6.09 miles, or 8:46 pace, a minute faster per mile than my goal.  Happy doesn't begin to cover how I feel about this race.  Despite being about ten pounds above "racing weight", despite having a baby less than five months ago, despite sometimes having trouble making runs work around family and work, I surpassed my goal with room to spare.  I consistently ran four times per week and 15-20 miles per week.  I raised money for a great cause and dyed my hair a funky color accordingly.  And now I am more than ready to tackle the rest of the season: two half-marathons this year, and a marathon in the spring.  I'd love to find another 10k to do, too.  This distance seems to fit me really well.

Monday, September 3, 2012

17 Miles (!) and a "New" Camera

Nope, I did not run 17 miles Saturday. 17 is my total miles for last week, the highest in a year. I did run 7 on Saturday with some running buddies, and that was the first time in a year, too.  Despite the humidity and the fact that they are too fast, it was so much fun to run with a pack. We ran Salem Lake, a 7-mile gravel loop around a usually lovely but currently very low body of water.

Over the past month or so, I've steadily increased the mileage with no real problems.  My knee is still off from all of that driving and sitting on our trip to Memphis and the beach, but it's improving slowly.  In late July/early August, I was running 5 times per week, but lately that has dropped down to 3-4 times as the run length of the individual runs has increased.  Back then, I was running 2-3 miles at a time, but now I run at least 3.  This week the goal is to run 5 times, including an 8-mile long run this weekend.  Morning runs still work well as long as I get out of bed.  I might need to invest in an alarm clock because Alfie isn't waking up at 5:45 anymore to remind me.

In other news, I'm using a new (to me) camera.  Craiglist, you might ask? Ebay? Goodwill? Try a snowpile on the Washington Mall.  Last year (or was it two years ago?) while visiting family in DC, we came across a digital camera.  We brought it home, looked at the pictures, and put the word out on Facebook about a lost camera belonging to someone who had graduated from some special program that I no longer remember- there were pictures from graduation on the camera.  We waited, but no word.  Put the camera away, forgot about it, moved...  About a month ago, I started thinking about a camera of my own.  Way back when, I had a Pentax K100 (still do actually, but who uses film on a regular basis anymore?).  As much as I would love another SLR, they are pricey and not portable.  So this brings me back the the orphaned camera: it's little, so unlike the DSLR, you can actually take it on a walk, run, hike, or bike ride without trouble. It's free, which is awesome. And, it seems to take pretty good pictures, although I am not used to the delay yet- lots of blurry toddler shots.

You can expect to see a lot more pictures from now on, starting with these:

The Bambino posing with the meerkats at the Science Center.  Because of a recent obsession with The Lion King, the meerkats are quite popular.  Did I mention he refers to himself as Mister Pig?  Now if only they had a warthog, some hyenas, and a lion...We go to the Science Center a lot these days- Bambino loves it, Alfie doesn't care, and it's got so many different things to do: he even got to pet a bearded dragon this time!

Me posing with the tyrannosaurus who roars at you.  The first try, I looked too happy; then, Jenn said that I should have protected the baby.  At this point, Bambino saw something else to do so we gave up trying to get an appropriate dino-pic.  (The hat Alfie's wearing is more than just a hat- it's also a nursing cover and, oddly enough, her favorite lovey.  She holds it, sucks on it, occasionally sleeps with it... pretty adorable.)

Finally, a picture from our walk yesterday.  Alfie won't be old enough to run in the jogger for another few months (you're supposed to wait until six months unless the babe is in an infant seat, which this stroller doesn't allow), so we've been walking the neighborhood.  Bambino adores it because he gets to be the big brother.  Alfie tolerates it, some days better than others.  Yesterday, for instance, she did great for about fifteen minutes before becoming a screaming puddle of anger, waking the neighborhood from its siesta with the lungs of an opera star.  Bambino very sweetly and calmly tried to calm her down: he tickled, he sang, he grabbed toes, until he finally just tried to ignore it.  Hopefully she'll enjoy running more than strolling, because we are going to do a lot of it this fall and winter!