Something different

All right, I know I’ve taken a long break after my race last Friday. It left me surprisingly sore (although I admit that’s not real the reason I took a break). It was mostly my feet– all weekend my feet were tired. But I feel better now.

Anyway, today I went to the gym to take a class– a self-defense class, taught by an ex-Special Forces fitness instructor. It was interesting, and although it was pretty contrived I learned a couple things. (Mostly I learned that people playing the ‘attacker’ in self-defense classes wind up thrown to the ground, over and over.) My partner was a very tiny woman and I kept feeling like I was being too rough on her (though I really tried not to be) but she was a good sport. We may both have bruised forearms tomorrow.

Maybe someday I’ll get around to trying out a martial art– it’s something I’ve always been interested in. My partner spent years studying Wushu, and he’s never been able to find the time to get back into classes. As for me, I really have no idea what I might enjoy most– I’ve eyed more formal styles like Kendo but something practical would probably be best?

Of course, this probably goes against the advice of my eye doctor, who says that I should avoid any activity in which I may be hit in the face or eyes…

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Race Day

So I’m going to write half of this before the race– it isn’t until noon (what a weird time, eh?) and so I get to wait all morning. Right now I am seeking the happy medium between ‘well-hydrated’ and ‘have to go pee at the starting line’.

The weather today is pretty good for racing: cloudy and high 40s. I’m not getting much done this morning, and I’m kind of grumpy about that. It’s 30 minutes before the race and I’m definitely antsy. I ate a banana, because I’m running through my lunch time. I asked my partner to make me Japanese curry last night because it makes good race fuel, and my guts feel happy.

. . . .

Yay, the race is over! It went really well, better than I expected, really. I finished in 36:28, which is a full 3 minutes faster than my time last year. I guess all that training worked! I should’ve followed my favorite pre-race advice and trusted in all the hard work I’ve put in. (I wasn’t the slowest runner either, this time; it was a strange experience passing a couple people.)

I’m oddly proud that I ran so fast and took no walking breaks. Even my ‘test 5ks’ wound up with a short break in the middle; I never could sustain a race pace without catching my breath. (Of course, the big hills probably didn’t help. The race course is quite flat in comparison. It had a couple small hills and I was like "Hah! You don’t scare me, little hill!") There were several occasions where I was tempted to slow to a walk… and every time I told myself, "No, you’re not actually tired enough yet, run more." So I stuck it out, and the next thing I knew I was looking at the finish line.

The trail was very muddy, and my shoes are pretty gross– I nearly slid through a big muddy patch right before the finish line. And I actually really like the race shirts this year. They say, "When your legs get tired, run with your heart."

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T-minus 1 day

Today was another non-strenuous day. I started with 15 minutes on the hamster wheel, then grabbed the foam roller (because it hurts so good) and then finished up with some yoga and stretching. It’s nothing fancy, but I definitely want fresh calves for the race tomorrow so I’m trying to make sure that area is rested and loose. (With my forefoot strike, calf soreness is killer.)

There’s an idea that I’ve been turning over in my head and thinking about in advance of the race tomorrow: that the mind says ‘stop’ long before the body really needs to stop. I find races inherently demoralizing; as someone who may well be the slowest runner in the race, it’s easy for me to get discouraged midway and decide not to push myself because it’s hard and I don’t have a hope of competing. But the only person I’m competing against is myself– I mean, that’s why I do this, to demonstrate to myself my improvement year-to-year. So the trick is going to be keeping myself focused on doing the best that I can, and keeping negative thoughts out.

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Just keep going, you can do this

Still tapering over here. I used the off day to go to the gym, elliptical for 15 minutes to get the ol’ blood flowing, and then do some nice stretchy yogas. I have lots of sore places and most of them are my hips. My psoas are tight and tender and I really ought to give them a once-over with the foam roller tonight.

On top of stressing about the upcoming race, I have a bunch of other nonsense coming up soon– standing up in my friend’s wedding and all the stuff that entails, then leaving for an overseas trip where I’m desperately trying to get to at least a bad-tourist level of language comprehension. (I thought learning Japanese would be very hard. Then I started and said "oh, it’s not so bad". And now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m actually understanding what I’ve undertaken and it’s enormous and I have one month left.)

Deep thoughts for today: thank goodness for the internet. Just about every bridesmaid item I’ve needed has been ordered online, from the dress, to a CD of Oktoberfest music for the shower, to a petticoat (fun! poofy! itchy!) to 4 pairs of 8.5W heels (desperately hoping that one pair works and sending the rest back). How did people do things before the internet? I can even make my hair appointment and hotel reservations online. It’s amazing. No driving around or talking to people, it’s perfect.

I was talking to my mom on the phone and I guess I sounded a little frazzled (probably because I am) and she had good advice, like she always does: "Make a list, set dates to accomplish things, and don’t freak out, just keep going, you can do this."

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One last tempo run

Today’s my last run before race day and I’m feeling kind of anxious and antsy about it. It was a strong but short 30 minute tempo run that I pushed hard on; I divided it up 8-14-8 and pushed all the phases nice and fast, finishing 2.65 miles on the treadmill. It was awfully hot and sticky in the cardio room this morning, since it’s pouring outside.

Maybe the reason I’m so antsy is I don’t feel tired at all after the workout– I mean, while I was running the fast phase I think I was about at capacity, and the cruise phase was challenging as well, but as soon as I finished and slowed to a walk my breathing and heart rate rapidly fell right back to normal and I felt like I could do the whole thing again. It makes sense; I’ve been doing so many long workouts and I’m sure my endurance is much improved, but the question is, could I (should I) have pushed harder for that short time? I don’t know.

I feel like I’m definitely prepared for the running part of the race Friday, but I’m a little bit worried about the inevitable fallout that comes after. But I think my best bet is to set that aside for now and deal with it when it happens. I have enough to think about.

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It’s finally taper week, and I couldn’t be happier. I thought runners were supposed to hate tapering? I’m like “YES ALMOST TIME FOR THE RACE”.

I had a regular 3 miler on the schedule but I really wasn’t feeling it. I think I’m still sore from Saturday? And I didn’t sleep well at all this weekend; it’s been too hot and stuffy. Anyway, my legs felt like crap and I struggled through only 2.5 miles and that felt like plenty for today. All I could think about when I was out running was getting home and stretching.

This weekend I went to the sporting goods store to poke around and look for some new goodies. And once again I was amazed at how expensive things are… I mean, I can understand dropping some money on a good sports bra or shoes, because those are critical items. But $25 for a plastic water bottle with a handle? What the heck? (I think that store is overpriced and I could probably do better on Amazon or something, but still.)

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Through gritted teeth

Today’s a long run day and I was feeling good as I cruised along towards 7.5 miles. Weather was beautiful, legs felt good, pace was strong. And then, around 5.5 miles, I stopped at a light and when I started running again I felt it: intense burning blistery pain in the ball of my right foot. The sound I made was something like the Sound of Ultimate Suffering. And I cussed as I desperately tried to alter my stride, limp, whatever it took to take pressure off. Nothing really helped, though. And I thought, well screw it, maybe I should just stop running and walk the rest of the way– but it hurt when I walked too, and at least I could save on time in pain by running. So I gritted my teeth and hobbled along and wrapped it up the best I could. I managed 7.1 miles in 1:33, 13’09″. I was headed for under 13’00″ too! That would’ve been a nice PR for the distance.

It occurs to me that one week before the race is a particularly bad time to mess my foot up. At least I’ll have extra motivation to taper, I guess.

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