Liv to run

Lots of random ranting, whining, and attempts at being humourous as I run, run, run in pursuit of higher mileage and better races.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Damn damn and what should I do?!?

ARG! Terrible news. Well okay, in the perspective of life, it's actually pretty trivial, but saddening nonetheless - my SCUBA club is having it's annual "recognition night" next Saturday, with promises of hilarity and, best of all, an open bar.

What's so bad about that?

My 5k race is the following morning.

Why don't drinking and running mix? Drinking = fun, running = fun, why not together? Duh, okay, I know why. I know I know I know.

Anyway, I figure, it's 5k, not a marathon. The open bar only lasts for an hour, I'm not going to get myself smashed in that time. Maybe 3 drinks. And then when they start charging, I'll switch to water, and rehydrate myself for the rest of the night, go to bed sober, wake up happy, but still get tipsy for the evening. If anyone thinks that's a terrible idea I need to hear it :)

No, I'm not an alcoholic. I'm just a student.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Being kind of brainless

As my race finally approaches, I had visions of myself getting fitter and faster with a super-organized super-powered training schedule with all the right things in it.

Yeah, that's not happening.

First of all, I should definitely have taken a clue from Running Jayhawk and not done those god-damned stairs - even though I felt pumped right afterwards, today was the first day since that I have been able to flex my calves without pain. Interestingly, I did manage to squeeze in one quick run on Friday despite the suffering, and unbelievably, running was less painful than walking - I didn't want to stop! Well... up to a point, obviously. I have a sneaking suspicion it was the going down stairs that did me in rather than going up. Should I ever feel so demonically possessed as to attempt this again, I'm taking the elevator to the bottom!

Today, however, I figured I should get back on track with my plan, and make up the long run that I missed last week in all the fuss. I was planning for 10-12km. I was not planning to forget to bring my running socks to the gym. Which might not have been the biggest deal, except that the socks I happened to be wearing today are paper-thin on the heels, and I could feel them rubbing by the time I got to the locker room. Luckily, I had some vaseline, so I rubbed that on my skin and hoped it would go the distance.

Well, it didn't - at any rate I didn't - something along those lines. I was feeling gross and achy by km #1. That didn't bode well for the next hour. So I changed tactics, made that bit my warmup, and kicked into sprint mode instead, doing 8x200m at full tilt. All told, it was actually a pretty fun workout, despite the calamities, and I managed to keep a great pace - none of my reps was less than 0:45 or more than 0:46 - how's that for timing? And then to cap it off, the boyfriend joined me for stretching afterwards, which is the only athletic feat in the universe in which I can kick. his. ass. Sweet! (Who me, competitive? nah...)

Anyway, what the hell - I'm doing a 5k, speed workouts are probably more useful than long ones anyway, right? Right?

That's my justification, and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Um... I'm cross training... yeah....

... That's my excuse anyway, because I'm sure not running very much! Reading week has played havoc with my running schedule, and I'm usually SO good at keeping it. Oh well, sometimes life gets in the way, and I have to be flexible, I guess.

And by flexible, I mean both mentally AND physically - though I've only run once this week, I've also done yoga and gone rock climbing - two activities which do crazy things to muscles I didn't even know that I had!!! I mean seriously, who knew that you could flex your fingertips? Okay maybe not, but I swear I never realized how many little muscles I have in my forearms. Now I know they're there - they've made their presence quite clear by all being in pain at the same time! Obviously, I'm a very amateur rock climber - apparently you're supposed to use leg, not arm muscles, but I haven't quite mastered that art yet. All in good time.

In any case, the extra recovery time seems to have been beneficial for my running - I beat my previous 5k race time yesterday while doing a tempo run! That was a nice little confidence booster. Unfortunately, I didn't get out today, but there was a good reason: a surprise visit from an out-of-town friend put the run on hold, so it was great to see her and as for running... there's always tomorrow.

I'm at work now and bored, and considering "cross-training" some more by running up and down the stairwell a couple of times. Highly professional, I know. But as long as I avoid the security guard, there's no one around to see me! Hmm.... stairs... how badly do I want to exercise, really...? Maybe not that badly. We'll see.

Update: Ha ha, I did the stairs after all, ran up and down up and down like a maniac - it was a great workout! I really hope they don't have security cameras in the stairwells, but they probably do. Oh well, maybe I've provided some entertainment. One thing I did not take into consideration: having to sit around afterwards cooling off in sweaty scrubs. Ooooops - hope my patients don't smell me :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My neck's in the noose

I'm really in for it now, and there's no turning back.

In addition to the 5k I am running in March (doable), my running season now officially includes a 10k in May (challenging) and a half-marathon in September (yikes - what have I done???)!

Okay, I'm not really griping, I'm actually super excited about it all. I get to explore different types of training for each distance, I'll be sure to stay motivated through the summer with such a big goal at the end of it, and hey, there have got to be some sort of bragging rights involved, right?

Not to mention all the "free" shirts. Now that's where it's really at.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Track for two

Running for me is pretty much a solitary pursuit, as I run alone 99% of the time (my boyfriend has been known to join me, but it's not "exercise" for him unless he's lapping me). So when I ran into a friend at the gym who I hadn't talked to in a while, I was really happy to see him, but hesitant when he said he would run with me - I was afraid I'd be way too slow, as I was planning an easy-paced 6-miler (yes, I have to count in miles at this gym, because the track is a really odd distance and if you count in km it actually cheats you out of the distance after a while; for example 6 miles is 69 laps, but 10km is allegedly 70 laps - it doesn't add up. Okay, end of digression.) Also, I wasn't sure I was up to the multitasking prowess of running and conversing at the same time.

Of course, as I'm sure all of you with running buddies know, my fears were totally unfounded. Okay, so I got a little out of breath with all the talking, but that's mostly because once I start talking, I have a really hard time shutting up to take a breath regardless of running! At any rate, it was worth the tradeoff of having a good conversation. And luckily for me, my friend was a little "out of shape" (he claims) and was happy to run at my pace. Actually, I think I've conveyed to him some of the wisdom of the "long slow run" - he was so impressed at how far we went!

Altogether, it was thouroughly enjoyable, and we've sworn to try and do it again, if not every Saturday, at least more often than not. Yay for company!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pain and gain

One of the little-known facts about me is that I am a closet trampolinist. Well, okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. But I've been taking recreational trampoline classes this year, and let me just say it is one of the coolest sports on Earth. Bouncing and flipping 10 feet in the air - now that rocks. Unfortunately, this incredibly exhilerating pastime comes with its share of perils.

Scrapes and falls are par for the course - some are just more graceful than others. For example, in class this week, while attempting to execute a backdrop-half turn-to-backdrop sequence, my coach was berating me for being too conservative and not "flinging" myself into the move enough. So, like a compliant student I obediently "flung" myself - right into the oh-so-original position of "ear drop". This move is very neither here-nor-there: not quite on my back, or my side, or my neck, although most definitely on my ear. Mostly, though, it was my neck which suffered the consequences, and all my muscles from about the small of my back on up have not let me hear the end of it since - and this was Monday! Ack!

Well, as everyone around here is so fond of saying, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I would like to expand upon this statement in the view of increasing its accuracy - "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - but it might land you in traction along the way."

So with that risk in mind, my rebellious neck and I are off to run :)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sometimes you just need a little motivation...

This should be a quick post because I am procrastinating like mad and I should be studying for midterms... not much to report anyway except a nice tempo run today which wasn't really meant to be. It should have been 5k easy, but since I slept until THREE pm and the gym closes at five, I hustled my butt over there and started running "really fast" (aka 10 minute miles) in order to get it done before I got kicked out. The upshot was that I ran my fastest 4k in months! I stopped there because it was five and I figured I'd get booted any second - but wouldn't you know, turns out they were keeping special extended hours today because of intramural sports - I could have gone as long and as slow as I pleased! Grrr.... oh well, I'm training for a 5k, not a marathon - I should be picking up the intensity anyway. So yeah, deadlines apparently motivate me, even if they are imaginary. Too bad the deadlines for all this studying I'm not doing are oh-so-real... back to the books I go.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The band

So RW profiled "the band workout" this month. I was excited to see it - I've had one of these babies since Christmas but didn't know what the hell to do with it. Since today was designated a non-running day, I decided to try it out.

The verdict: when the band works, it works amazingly. I managed a killer hamstring exercise by anchoring one end to my foot and the other to the radiator, and doing curls like that. Felt great, because I've tried this before but with ankle weights, and all I would get is knees that went snap, crackle, pop. Stretchy band = no rice crispies = yay!

But oh man, this thing has plenty of room for error, and it packs a punch. Ever snapped yourself with an elastic band? (I seem to do it every time I'm trying to shoot someone else - sending flying elastics on target is obviously a skill I have yet to master) Well, imagine that sensation only it this big honkin' mega-elastic - yeeeouch!!! I think I might be bruised...

The other thing is, and this is probably strictly my fault for being an ignoramus, I can't for the life of me figure out how to work certain muscles with it. I seemed to be doing the same body parts over and over again no matter what form I took on. Well. Obviously I need some work. However, it's a nice change from the freeweights and the machines. And the best part? I don't even have to leave my room :) No sweaty, stinky gym - just the sweet sound of my next door neighbours having a raucous evening of "beer pong". Oh well - that's residence.

Breakthrough week

Big milestone this week: I logged 25k! Now, to be fair, I did this once before... back in November... and afterwards my whole body went kaput and I couldn't run properly for weeks! Yup, I learned the hard way what happens when you double your distance without a proper base. But there was a bright side: without that downer, I probably never would have started this blog, and then where would I be now? The world would be inconceivably altered!

The breakdown: Sunday 4k (moderate pace)
Tuesday 5k ("easy" pace... except it felt brutal...)
Wednesday 10x400m (hard pace) plus 1k warm up/cooldown
Today... Friday... drumroll please... 11k!

I'm sure you can guess how fast that 11k was... I almost couldn't stop at all because I felt like I'd been running for 10 years straight! In fact, it wasn't until I stopped that my body began to protest. I was very "in the zone" - and I loved it. So I'm officially past half of a Half, and creeping up to it every week. I have my eye on the Scotiabank Waterfront Half-Marathon in September - plenty of time to train and fit it a couple of shorter races first. 21k... seems soooo far... soooo worth getting to.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Good reasons to weight train

I know that runners should weight train regularly, because it helps keep us strong, upright and injury-free. Unfortunately, I find lifting weights one of the most boring forms of physical exercise in existence on this planet (as for Mars, I cannot say). I do it out of guilt and necessity, not nearly as often as I should, and I have to bring along my mp3 player or I just can't hack it.

But today, I was presented with very convincing evidence of the value of being strong. The scenario: I am sitting at lunch with a few guy friends, and this girl we vaguely know from residence comes up to the table, bats her eyelashes at one of the guys and hands him a bottle, asking: "Could you do me a huge favour and open this please? It's just so hard! *giggle*".

Now, I agree that men have their uses, but this, in my mind, should not be one of them. As an independent woman, I affirm myself in large part by the ability to DO things for myself, at least little every day things like opening the pickle jar (although I will admit, that sucker takes persuasion...) Not being able to open your own drink definitely smacks of a certain helplessness. So I thought, what a great reason to hit the gym.

Another point: I am a heavy girl. Nope, not fat, or even chubby, just heavy - by BMI calculation, I have just crossed over to the "dark side" of being overweight, at 5'3" & 142lbs. Looks a little scary when I write it out like that (which is why I did it!), but the truth is I am rapidly encroaching upon the highest level of fitness I have ever achieved in my life. I look pretty good, if I may say so. And thus, I have absolutely no choice but to finally buy into the old truth that muscle weighs more than fat. Well so be it - bring on the pounds. In fact, it's to the point now where my looks and my weight-by-numbers seem so discrepant that it's actually fun to tell people, because they look at me in disbelief and then say, "well whoa! Are you serious? You must have a lot of muscle!" So as long as I take this with the right attitude, it's actually very empowering... I just have to stop somewhere before the point where I'm heavier than my boyfriend :)

Obviously, I'm no svelte model (I also don't look like I'm addicted to heroin). But I once read an article on Ronaldo, the famous Brazilian soccer player, in which he was ever-so-flatteringly described as having "legs like muscled tree trunks". Now that's a powerful image that I'd like to embrace. I could do tree trunks. Well, mobile ones - you know, kind of like an ent. Except not as tall.

Definitely as slow, though :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Icky 5k

Today was not a good run. Eked out a sad 5k, getting frustrated by being passed, being bored, feeling out of sorts, and also feeling like I had to pee, even though I went just before I started. Oh well, we all have days like this - and on a happier note, I remember a time in very recent memory when I wouldn't have been able to "eke out" a whole 5k to save my life; so I'll take comfort in that small measure of progress.

In other, more exciting 5k news: I've signed up for one! So my first race of the season will be the "St. Patrick's Day" 5k run on March 12th. I have about six weeks to add speedwork to my program, so the plan is to max out around 25-30k/week and concentrate on regular interval training. Gonna knock the socks off this one!!! I would love to come in under 29 minutes, as last year my 5k best (well, only) was 30:43 (although I came first in my age group - out of three people - but yesssss!!!) anyway so I think it's a very reasonable but still challenging goal.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Oh my aching balls

The balls of my feet, that is. And the glorious ball that I went to which left them in so much pain...

Every year, my college throws a fabulous soiree known as "Fireball" - so named because once way back in the 1800's, half the building burned the night of the Valentine dance, due to someone breaking an oil lamp in the hall. Well, there were no pyrotechnics last night, but there were gorgeous, sumptuously decorated rooms all over the college, each depicting one of the Seven Deadly Sins as this year's theme. After drinking myself dizzy, stuffing my face with food, dancing the night away and lounging languidly about (there was even a complementary massage! I only wish it had been a foot massage...), I am certainly hell bound. Of course, the greatest sin of the night had to be the sexpot shoes I was wearing. Hell, they were hot, and hell! they hurt.

Ah but we must suffer to be beautiful. And I felt like a princess, so in the twisted world of feminine vanity, it was all worthwhile. Yet the question remains... I fully intended, foolishly enough, to do a short run today. Do I go through with it? My feet are the only part of me that are hungover - but they're just a little bit of an important part when it comes to going for a run. So I must decide which is the more sensible course of action. Scratch that - I'm never that sensible anyway. Desireable, then - is it more desireable to be slothful, or proud?

What's a girl to do?

Update: Screwed my courage or whatever the saying is, and went for the run like I knew I should. Now I'm doubly happy: I ran, it felt great, it was short (4k) but fast (9:57 pace - under 10:00, yay!) - and it actually made my feet feel a lot better than they did before! Must be the running shoes. Why oh why can't fancy shoes feel as good as my beautiful Nikes?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Hitchhiking to 10k

Today was a momentous day: I finally ran 10k! It was slow (about 11:02 pace), but felt SO good. For this sense of euphoria, I am graciously indebted to Douglas Adams.

I was searching for some really motivational music to put on my mp3 player for what I knew was going to be a long run, when I remembered a Runner's World article about listening to books while running. A friend recently gave me a copy of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" BBC radio series - it's about 12 hours long so I figured it would tide me through 10k - so I put that on the player instead and away I ran. It was amazing! Time just flies when you're concentrating on a story rather than on being tired and cranky. Plus, Hitchhiker's is HILARIOUS. I swear, the only "downside" was that everyone in the gym must have thought I was slightly nuts because I was randomly grinning and giggling as I looped around and around the track! But hey, I bet none of them were having as much fun as I was.