Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Runner's High

Wikipedia defines Runner's High as a "publicized putative release of endorphins in response to strenuous, continuous workouts of moderate to high intensity, corresponding to prolonged physical stress.  The release of endorphins presumably mitigates pain sensation by negatively regulating pain-carrying signals from neurons in the spinal cord."

One of the many amusing definitions from Urban Dictionary is "A supposed 'high' attained by release of endorphins during and after high amounts of aerobic activity, possibly developed in the 1960's as a way to get the drug addicts of the class to exercise."

Here's my personal take, written of course while on a Runner's High :)

I feel your rush
You flood my brain
I'm so deliriously insane
I can't deny
Riding your high
Is when I feel the most alive
You take me to another place
Outside my mind
A sweet escape
The gain is proportional to pain
You start to wane
I start again
So choose your pleasure, choose your poison
Raise your cup and pour it in
Don't even wanna try to kick this addiction to endorphins

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

I was going to title this blog with the cliche line of "Practice Makes Perfect," but then I realized I couldn't in good conscience do that because it was drilled into me at an early age that practice does not make perfect.  Instead, perfect practice makes perfect.  When learning any skill, whether it be how to shoot a basketball, kick a soccer ball, or 'catch' the water while swimming, it's imperative to use correct technique.  Otherwise you are simply training your body with the wrong mechanics, which will in time lead to incorrect muscle memory, which will never result in perfect technique no matter how many times you repeat the process.  So yes, I subscribe to "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect." 

Anyhow, I wanted to talk about how I've started going to Without Limits team practices and I really like it.  My first appearance was at the track.  We did 10 min @ 6:20 pace, 2 min break, 10 min @ 6:20 pace, 2 min break, 5 min at 6:20 pace.  This nearly killed me.  My second rendezvous w/ the team was for a tempo workout.  I did 2 x 2.5 mi at 7:00 pace with 2 min rest in between.  This got tiring b/c it was super humid that day, but was not as painful as the track.  Today was my third team practice and I ran 2 x [1000 @ 10K pace, 400 @ 5K pace, 200 @ FAST pace.]  At least that is what the pacing was supposed to be.  As one team member put it, "Are we doing heart attack pace or stroke pace today?"  Haha.  This workout almost killed me as well.

So here's what I like about being on the team and going to team practices so far:

1.  The coach, Mr. Tom Clifford, is there, usually yelling out splits like a maniac and I find this both helpful and humorous at the same time.

2.  The people on the team are quality peeps - all real friendly, funny, and genuinely nice folk.  Can't wait to get to know them better!

3.  The people on the team are freakin' fast!!!  When I run with them they make me push myself harder than I ever would if I were running alone.  Thanks guys! 

4.  Practices also include stretching and strength work, two things that I usually always neglect and I know are good for me so it's good that someone else is forcing me to do them.  (However, I do have a theory that stretching leads to injury so we'll see what happens with that...)

5.  Interaction with the coach - whether it be critique of your form, how your legs are feeling from the previous workout, or discussion about your training plan it's nice to have face time w/ your coach as opposed to digital long-distance communication.

6.  Camaraderie.  It's nice to be part of a team and it's really cool that so many people are training for the same races.  LOVING having training partners galore :)

Looking forward to lots more painful practices.  It'll make me faster, right?

Oh!  I almost forgot to mention that last Friday I got a call from the radio station and I ended up winning the $50 gift card to Massage Envy!  How cool is that!!??  It was certainly not a bad way to start the weekend :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


A couple weeks ago I posted about winning something off the radio for the first time in my life.  Well the craziest thing happened - I won again today!  It came as a nice surprise b/c I was not expecting to win anything in the near future considering that I broke a mirror a couple days ago and was preparing for 7 years of bad luck.  (And no it didn't break b/c I looked into it; I dropped it on the ground.) 

Today's radio winnings came with a little bit more effort than last time.  I had to answer this trivia question:

What do 1/3 of office workers list as their top reason to go to work?

Money?  No.
Get out of the house?  No.
Enjoy their job?  No.

Answer:  To gossip with their coworkers. 

How did the answer come into my brain?  Well, I thought about one of the things that I like most about my job and that is I'm lucky enough to have really nice coworkers that are fun to talk to.  From my experiences, how well you like and get along with your coworkers can make or break a job.  Maybe they should start implementing some sort of match.com/eharmony type of software program during the hiring process, haha!

Anyhow, I won a gift certificate to a local shopping area - perfect b/c I haven't bought a single Christmas gift yet and Christmas is creeping up WAY to quickly!  In addition, I'm also entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Massage Envy on Friday.  If I won that it'd be a tough decision whether to give it as a gift or use it for myself ;)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Marathon Training

Well, it's official!  I'm decidedly in marathon training now.  How did that happen?  Pretty easily actually, haha.  I've been wanting to get a coach for a little while now and finally decided to bite the bullet.  I've had a coach in the past and always enjoyed having someone other than myself in charge of and responsible for planning and periodizing my training.  Plus I like the accountability of having a coach and knowing that someone else is invested in your efforts.

So, upon return from FL I signed up with a local coach whose specialty is running --> Tom Clifford of Without Limits.  We discussed whether to train for an early season full or half and in the end the full won out.  For me this was mainly due to the fact that I know I want to eventually get to the full distance so why not just jump right into it?  And, a lot of the awesome training buddies I've met will be training for the full so it makes sense since we'll be on similar schedules.  And, if I eventually get as fast as I'd like to I'll beat my half PR in the full anyways (yeah, keep dreaming ;)

I'm excited about working with a coach and what's really cool is that he has practices each week where all his athletes show up and share in the pain of mile repeats, track workouts, tempo runs, or whatever the punishment may be!  I think I'm really going to like the camaraderie that I envision these team practices will afford.  Most coaches can write you a training plan, but do they get to see you, actually coach you, and provide in-person feedback to you each and every week?  For me, it's a new dimension to the coach/athlete relationship and I cant wait for the first practice on Tuesday!!!

Lastly to put this out there right from the start, my goal is to run a sub 3 hour marathon in March.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Three For Three

I've been in FL for the past week on business.  It's made it a little bit more difficult to run because I've been so worn out from working, but I still got in at least 40 miles this past week.  I found a great path which parallels a freeway that traverses Tampa Bay.  In case you are wondering how pretty it is:

During one of my work breaks towards the end of last week I started googling local races on my phone.  I thought it might be fun to sign up for a half marathon for my long run on Sunday to switch things up a bit and give me some company.  The greatness of this idea was confirmed when I found out that the XTERRA Wild Horse Trail 1/2 Marathon was to be held a mere 45 minutes from my hotel!  What luck!

XTERRA races are fantastic because you really never know what they're going to throw at you.  They are also perfect "train-through" races because you can't become preoccupied with or focused on your time - each course is so different that comparing times from course to course is impossible.  My goal for this race was to get in a long training run, have fun, and if possible get the win. 

I signed up on race day and it was a small venue but well organized.  I lined up at the start behind a fast-looking woman (same MO as my previous trail race) and ran behind her for about a half a mile.  Her pace was a little uncomfortably slow for me, so I took the lead at that point and ran at my own decent but comfortable pace. 

Within the first mile things started getting crazy!  There was a steep downhill (don't ask me why this race had so many hills in it for being in FL - I still haven't figured that one out for myself) that led straight into a river.  Yup, there was no way around it.  I watched the guy in front of me plunge in with reckless abandon.  He tripped and was up to his neck in water, which prompted a volunteer to shout out, "Be careful, it gets a little deep in the middle!"  I took things a little more cautiously, but still found myself chest-high in water.  So much for not getting my shoes wet or dirty.  It had rained all day the previous day so actually the trails were very muddy and slippery.  There was one insanely technical section that lasted for about a mile where I was essentially walk/hiking because otherwise I would have 100% for sure hurt myself.  At this point, I modified my goals; not getting injured became top priority!

I tried to make up for my slowness on that section on the flats.  However, the flats weren't all that easy either because being in FL, they were mainly composed of soft sand!  There was another section of "trail" which was basically a swamp with 10 old tires through it.  I thought it was way too likely for me to slip off a tire if I tried to run across them so I just trudged through the swamp.  This worked out pretty well, though I almost lost a shoe!  There were some sections of "trail" in which there was literally no trail.  They called these "off road" sections and I'm pretty sure they just handed someone orange flags and had them set them up randomly in the woods.  Needless to say it made for slow goings at times. 

After two laps of this craziness I finally made it back to the river crossing.  The cold water felt kinda good on my legs the second time around.  The same volunteer as before yelled out, "Great job!  Only about a mile left and only a few more surprises left for you!"  The surprises were more "off road" sections and a crazy hill that was so steep you could not run up it.  Instead they had tied a rope to a tree at the top and you had to pull yourself up the hill with your upper body while running to get to the summit.  I laughed out loud when I saw it and thought it was fitting that they put that in the last half mile of the race! 

No woman passed me throughout the race so I knew I had won as I ran down the finish chute.  I was pretty happy because it was a fun, outside the box, enjoyable 13.1, and I got the W!  The funny thing is that this is third trail 1/2 marathon I've ever run and the third one that I've won.  So I'm 3 for 3 in trail 1/2 marathons and I guess I can say undefeated :)  Pretty cool!  As I was accepting my award for top female they told me I was only 3 seconds off the course record!  Dang it!  I so could have gone 3 seconds faster.  I had no idea what the course record was or that I was close to breaking it!  Well, I suppose it gives me a reason to come back next year...