Sunday, July 20, 2014

Running the Blue LIne

Today I ran a portion of the Akron Blue Line with the Towpath Turtles.  The Blue Line refers to an actual blue line painted on the roads around Akron to guide runners for the Akron Marathon.

This is EXACTLY how I look (like a BOSS)  running the Blue Line.   Just kidding.  This is Diane Nakuri, but that is really the Blue Line she is running in the Akron Marathon.
This really is EXACTLY how I look running the Blue Line.  Akron Marathon 2012, running the half.
Photo credit:  Christa Hammontree

At various points of the year, Akron runners like to go over parts of it to prepare for races.  There are many advantages to a Blue Line Run:

1.  Pre-mapped route with easy-to-determine mileage

2.  Runners can preview any part of the run by looking on YouTube.

3.  Shakes up the long run (remember last week's post?)

4.  Builds excitement for the upcoming race (The Akron Marathon/Half Marathon/Relay is on September 27, 2014.  Click here for more info.)

5.  Builds pride in community

The route that I ran today is particularly meaningful to me.  It is the route I ran when I first went ten miles (without ever thinking I could do so).  It is the same route I ran when I wrote my first blog post two years ago.  Today was the first time I've run it since I broke my foot, and I felt GREAT.  I am especially proud of the fact that while I brought my music, and I had it prepped, I never actually put the earbuds in and listened to it.  I talked with the Turtles, and when I didn't talk (which was actually for most of the ten miles), I concentrated on my form and my breathing.  It was surprisingly peaceful inside my head today.  Huh.

Pre-run fuel:

1 Panera blueberry bagel with cream cheese

Coffee with Girl Scout Thin Mints creamer (oh man, I am addicted to this)

Fuel at Mile 6:  Chocolate Outrage GU energy gel

Plenty of water throughout, thanks to Jone, who had a mobile water stop.

Post-run Fuel: Leftover fettucine Alfredo with broccoli.  Hangs head in shame

I clearly have work to do on the post-run fuel.  More on that in my next post.

Thank you to the Towpath Turtles for letting me run with them on this humid, but still beautiful day!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Shake up the Long Run

Are you tired of the same routine every day?  Do you have one beloved neighborhood route that you run all the time?  How about if you try to shake things up once in a while?

Distance runners get especially tired of their "long run" routes, possibly because after two hours on the road, we get bored anyway.  I know that I need something to be excited about on Sundays in order to get up at five in the morning to prepare for my lsd.  No, peeps, I do not indulge in acid; LSD stands for long, slow distance run.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am so. bored. with. running.

What helps me is having a different route to run each week.  I can still run my beloved neighborhood loop or do four strenuous, hilly miles on Sand Run path during the week, but Sundays need to be different.  Think about what makes a long run tiresome for you.  Is it having to carry water/fuel/tons of Kleenex?  Shhh, I have sinus issues; don't judge.  Is it not having access to a bathroom when you think you will need it?  Maybe it's that your pace is different than most in your running group?

The solution to all of these problems could be running a loop.  Now, loops can be monotonous, so I would not suggest running them every week, but once in a while they can be a treat on the long run.  Don't want to carry stuff?  No problem--stash your loot on the loop and revisit when you wish.  Is your pace faster/slower than others in your group?  No problem--run the opposite way on the loop to catch up and then continue running.  Also, many runners will accommodate slower/faster paces if they know that it's just for a mile or two.  Likewise, you can choose a faster partner and keep up for that one loop knowing that you can always slow down later.  You may find yourself running with a different partner for every loop.  How's that for shaking things up?

Today I ran a 1.8 mile loop at Hudson Springs Park with The Towpath Turtles.  The Turtles were going to run five loops, and I ran six.  We put all of our water, bug spray, fuel, and whatnot on a picnic table along with a board with our names on it.  Every time we passed the table, we would stop and make a tally mark next to our names to keep the numbers straight.  Genius!

Hudson Springs Park Trail in November
Hudson Springs in November.  Photo Credit:  Kevin Payravi

I really enjoyed this for several reasons:  1) Hudson Springs has a very pretty route going through the woods and around a lake, 2)the path is quite hilly, but not so much that I had to walk it (like on a trail), and 3) I got to run with different people all the time.  This was my morning to catch up with Jen  and Kathy, and we had great conversations.  When they got tired of me, they told me to move on, and I did.

Running a loop was a great way for me to shake up my long/slow, and it was fun to connect with other runners without worrying about pace.  In fact, my Garmin blew out halfway through the run (because we ran in a rainstorm), and I didn't care because I knew what the distance would be, and I could just estimate the total time.

I wonder where I'll run next week.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Race Recap: Bay Days 5 Miler

Happy Independence Day!

"You're a grand, old flag; you're a high-flyin' flag, and forever in peace may you wave!"
Today I celebrated my freedom to run in the Bay Days Five-Miler in Bay Village, Ohio.  The call went out to area running clubs to submit teams of five or more to compete against each other.  The Ohio Runner's Network (TORN) stepped up to the challenge.

Mandy, Michael, me, Joy, Tracy, and Brad

I was nervous about this race for several reasons:

1.  As I wrote in my previous post (I Am Jinxed), I have been afraid that my LEFT foot is broken.  I worried that this might be the end of running for a while, so I've been working out on a recumbent bike and weightlifting for the past week.

2.  I ran with some really fast people today.  My team members are beasts, and it was evident when we arrived that this small race was full of badasses.  Specifically, most of the badasses had the last name of Zangmeister.  It's the only name in Bay Village, apparently.  Anyway, I didn't want to embarrass my team.

3.  Not knowing the race, I was worried about the availability of bathrooms (after an hour drive) and parking.  Both weren't an issue, thank goodness.

4.  I am a neurotic freak, and I just worry a lot.

Before I tell you about the race, I want to tell you about what happened at the track two days ago.  It was my first day of seasonal speed and hill training with OneLife Fitness Coaching, and the first day always means assessments.  I hadn't eaten since breakfast, but I knew I wanted to avoid bonking so I ate a snack fifteen minutes before the workout.  When it came time to run two timed miles around the track, I was ready.  Too ready.  I took off like a shot, and I ran the first lap at a 7:42/mile pace.  The second lap I slowed it to an 8:00/mile pace, and the third I was at 8:15/mile.  After the fourth lap,  I just. . .stopped.  I couldn't go on.

"What are you doing?" Sheila (my coach) asked me.

"Can't. Do. It," I panted, leaning against the fence, "Can't. Go. On."

Sheila shook her head and said, "The clock is still running.  You can do it.  Go."  So I did.

It was really stupid of me to run out so fast when I knew I couldn't sustain it.  I know what a good pace for me is, and I know how far to push myself.  Clearly I needed a smack in the head to remind me to stop being an idiot.

It was was with this experience in mind that I set off in the five-miler.  The gun went off, and so did I.  I took off after Joy, who is a speed demon, and then I heard Sheila's voice in my head saying,"Run smart.  You know what your pace should be.  Don't mess around," so I let Joy go.  It took me the first mile to dial it back to a sustainable pace.  Then I started thinking about how and when I should push myself.  I experimented with surges where I ran faster in the first half of each mile, and then I slowed it down in the second half.  I liked this because it felt like I was giving myself a little reward in each mile.

One thing I am really proud of is that my last mile was my fastest by about twenty seconds.  Negative splits, anyone?

The course was really flat and pretty, running through the neighborhoods of Bay Village.  The weather was PERFECT, in the sixties and not too much hot sun.  I ran through three sprinklers, waved to some little kids, and high-fived a member of the military in uniform, thanking him for his service.  I finished my race with watermelon, a popsicle, and my TORN friends.

We are happy it's over!
This race helped me to gain some information about myself.  I finished very strong, and I suspect that I could have pushed myself a wee bit more, maybe a few more seconds per mile.  This is good to know because I was starting to lose some confidence in my running abilities.

I also enjoyed this race because my team mates are awesome people.  I look forward to running more races with TORN in the future, specifically races that involve lots of chocolate.  I'm looking at you, Hot Chocolate 15k.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Still Got It?

I have a secret. . . and it terrifies me.  Do you want to know my secret?  Are you sure?  Ok, but let's just keep this between us.

I think I broke my foot.  No, not THAT foot.  The other one.  I know, right?

I can't pinpoint when this happened like I could that fateful day of the nuts.  All I know is that the top of my left foot has been feeling a bit sore lately.  I really noticed it when I tried walking on my heels during a cool down, but it didn't hurt in my heels; it hurt in the top of my foot.  I massaged it, but it didn't look bruised or swollen, so I didn't worry too much.  

Yesterday I ran eight miles before hopping a flight to Atlanta.  The foot was a bit sore again, but I thought maybe it was overuse as I had run for three days in a row.  Then I got to Atlanta, and I walked all over the place (I'm at a teaching/tech convention) in flip flops (I KNOW!!!  I'M SORRY!), and I looked at the top of my left foot, and sure enough, there is a bump.  And it's tender.  


I'm going to self-diagnose here.  I'm going to say that I have the beginnings of a stress fracture, although I can't comprehend why or how because I haven't really ramped up my mileage.  Was it the two half marathons last month?  I don't know.  I do know that I worked on the recumbent exercise bike today instead of running, and I plan to jog in the pool tomorrow.  I am also not touching the five pairs of really cute sandals I brought to Atlanta with me; today I am wearing the running shoes with my dress. 


 I have a race on July 4th, and I intend to tear it up.  The race.  Not my foot.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Talking to Bob

Bob kicked my ass today.

Last night I got home at midnight from our vacation in Holden Beach, North Carolina.  I drove fifteen hours, two of them in a traffic jam FOR NO APPARENT REASON.  I needed a run this morning, but I didn't get my act together until about noon.  That is when I met Bob.

I had decided to run six miles on the Sand Run path as my "long run" for several reasons: 1) It is close to home,  2)It is shady (and it is HOT today), and 3) I thought the hills would make up for my lack of distance.  I am still tired and discombobulated from the drive, so I knew that I had to take care of myself.  I chose to drive to my starting point at the opposite end of the path because this gives me a largely downhill run on the second half.  I also told myself that I should take it easy on pace, maybe doing an eleven minute mile.  That didn't happen.

Around mile two I noticed that I was doing under a ten minute mile, and I thought I had been running more slowly.  I started to pass a gentleman ahead of me who was easily running (no gasping or sweating, unlike me), and I thought, "I should really run at his pace," but I didn't.  When I got to the three mile marker, I stopped to drink water, and the gentleman came in a few minutes later.  He introduced himself (Bob), and asked if he could run at my pace on the way back.  Damn.  I thought I was going to slow down, but I knew that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to run with someone who seemed to be running so effortlessly, so we took off.

Bob kept me going at about a 9:40 pace for the next two miles, and then I made him slow down in the last mile.  He was super-interesting to talk to about marathon training, and he really kept me going on what felt like a pretty tough run.  Thanks, Bob!  I hope we run together again soon!

One of the reasons I chose to run hills today is because North Carolina was so flat, and I felt like I got increasingly lazy during my runs last week.
This is the road I usually ran along the beach.
I ran the sidewalk along this road, and it was very nice and very flat, but it got very old very quickly.  I tried running around the marina, but it was really hot and muggy, and I found myself making excuses to just get the run finished quickly.

One day I chose to run barefoot on the beach, and it looked like this:

Holden Beach.  What you can't see are the clam holes in the sand.  Very cool.

I liked this much better, but I'm not sure barefoot running is something I should be doing when I still have a broken foot.  The sand felt great under my feet, and the wind coming from the ocean was a relief.

All in all, I got in four runs last week, and I think that is pretty good for a vacation.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I got in four runs on vacation.

Next week I'll be spending four days in Atlanta for the ISTE conference, and I'm thinking the runs will be just as hot and sweaty unless I choose the dread mill, in which case the runs will be frustrating and boring.

Also, I've joined a team from The Ohio Runner's Network (TORN) to run a five mile race on July 4th.   I usually don't do firecracker runs because it's so hot, but this sounds like fun.  I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Beach Running

This is sort of a bye week for the blog, as I am attempting to write this post on my iPad.  I've got no pictures that you would want to see, unless you'd like me to show you a deer again.  No?  Ok, then, I'll keep it short (sweet not guaranteed).

This was my first morning in North Carolina, and I tested the waters (see what I did there?) with a four miler on the beach road.  I didn't want to run directly on the beach yet because I don't want to deal with sand in/on my running shoes.  Maybe later in the week.

I ran at 6:00 AM, and there was a slight breeze coming off the ocean.  It was extremely humid, but it's humid in Ohio, too.  The road had a sidewalk, so I was safe from Sunday drivers.

The run was really pleasant with beautiful scenery, and as a bonus there was a cooler of ice water and cups outside the local coffee shop.  Thanks, coffee shop!  I anticipate checking out your version of a java chip frappucino later today.

I will take some pictures to post for next week.

Happy Father's Day!

Oh, and I lied.  Here is your gratuitous deer pic:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Increasing My Pace on the Long Run

     "Mom looks like a train wreck!" my daughter shouted when I entered the house this morning after my Sunday morning long run.  She and my son giggled and danced around me as I hobbled to a mirror.  I was sopping wet, muddy, red-faced, chafed under my arms, and I had last night's mascara dripping down my face, making me look more like a sad raccoon than a train wreck.

     "I look like a train wreck," I thought, "but I feel like a goddess."

     I had just run ten miles in a torrential downpour, without music, and my average pace was 10:16/mile.  For the most part, I was comfortable during this run; the proof is that I was able to maintain a conversation with my two running peeps the whole time.

     We ran along the Towpath in Canal Fulton, a place I had never visited, and it was my first time running that part of the Towpath.  During our run, we saw three snapping turtles.

This looks exactly like the turtles we saw: poised, ready to bite off our toes.

We saw a few Great Blue Herons.

When they fly, they look like pterodactyls.

We saw lots of frogs.  We saw geese.
Geese are scary and nasty.

  We also saw two deer.  I won't show you a picture of a deer because I always show you pictures of deer.  I know your limits.

     When you need to increase your pace, there are lots of ways to go:  fartleks, intervals, ladder drills, tempo runs, hill drills.  I try these on at least one short run a week, but I know I should do more.  The best way to increase your pace is to get comfortable with running faster.  Period.  I have been slacking off on my long runs by going much more slowly than I should, even with the advice of going at least one minute per mile slower than half marathon pace.  I knew I could do better, but how could I push myself?  Shelby, from The Ohio Runner's Network, advised me to hook up with Jen and Michael on my long runs and my tempo runs, and today was the day I was finally able to do it.

     One of the best parts about this run was that my Garmin crapped out on me (yet again) because of the rain (It was a monsoon, I tell you!), so I had to rely on Michael and Jen to dictate the pace.  I'm not a good follower, so it was good for me to match their cadence, and I listened when they told me to slow down or to maintain our current pace.

     They were so kind to slow down their regular "slow run" pace for me, and at the end of the run I followed our badass high fives with a truly grateful hug for them both.

     You wanna increase your pace?  Run with someone faster, and run naked.  No, Dirty-Mind, I didn't mean without clothes; I meant without a watch or music.  Let the faster person dictate your pace and give you the information you need when you need it, not when you want it.  Carry on a conversation while you run.  Look at the scenery to block out your discomfort.  When you need to, go deep inside your head, concentrate on your feet and your breathing, and look ahead to the finish.  That is what I did, and it got me through.

     I look forward to getting more and more comfortable with a faster "slow run" pace.  If my mascara streaks didn't scare off Michael and Jen, I hope to run with them again!

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