Sunday, July 28, 2013

Run, run, in the rain: Michelle Style

PSY may be picking up ladies and cracking pistachios Gangnam Style, but the really cool kids are running Michelle Style. Ok, so maybe crazy would be a little more accurate than cool. I have never gone for a run in the rain before tonight. That's right. I have been running long distance going on three years now, and I have turned home as soon as the rain started to fall every time until tonight. I did turn home once during my run tonight at the beginning, but that was only because Matt originally made me take my phone with me tonight, and when the torrential downpour started, I decided to book it home and drop it off so that I wouldn't ruin a brand new iPhone 5.

When I stopped in to drop off my phone, I realized that I didn't really have anywhere to put my keys because I took off my SPI belt, and the tights I had on today didn't have a key pocket. Matt and I briefly tried to come up with a solution to getting me back in to our apartment building that is locked, but none of the ideas we had really worked. Matt decided he would just throw on his old shoes and go for a run with me. I decided I would only run five miles instead of seven because I felt bad that Matt was running with me in the rain.

I am a fairly particular person. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to make 2013 my year of thanksgiving was because my family and close friends always comment about how I hate everything in the world. I don't really want to be viewed as that person, and I thought that I should spend more time being thankful and less complaining. Well, even though my family might say I hate everything, it just so happens that the two things I hate more than anything happen to be wet socks and rain. In that order. Top freaking two. Now you know why I usually turn home when it starts to sprinkle. Well, in true Michelle style, the first time I ran in the rain, I just had to go all out. Flash flooding and lightening accompanied my torrential downpour this evening. Yes, I realized about a quarter of a mile in that we were under a flash flood warning.

I didn't let it get me down. I ran my five miles in the downpour with water-logged shoes, a soaked white t-shirt, and a smile on my face. Even with the rain, the heavy shoes, and my terribly wet socks, I managed to run 11 minute miles. I even ran up the two biggest hills that I encounter on my regular routes. It may take a week for my shoes to dry out, but it was surprisingly fun. I don't know that it would be as much fun during the day with the threat of the sun coming up to kill me with the humidity, but for a rainy, flooded run, I'll take it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

If at first you don't succeed, give up and try again tomorrow.

I have already admitted that I am a wimpy runner, but I sank to an all new level of wimpy Saturday. I'm talking stopping my run an hour early as I whimpered all the way to the car. I was planning to run about two hours today at a nearby state park. Matt even agreed to get up at 5 on a Saturday to go with me to help with hydration and motivation.

The problems started when we got there at sunrise, which the PA state park website lists as the opening time, and we found out that the gates to parking areas don't actually open until 7. On top of having to wait around for the park to open, I was already starting to get hungry. I could feel disaster setting in, but I kept trying to put it behind me.

Matt and I have been to this park before to ride on the paved multi-use trail, and I have been on the hiking trails with my friend Caitlyn, but this was the first time I have ever attempted to run there. I knew it was hilly, but I think I underestimated the elevation. I went in the direction that I thought would be easiest. I opted for several short steep inclines with some rest in between because I knew that the opposite direction would force me to trudge up the biggest hill of all. It really weighed on me, and I quit after one lap.

I was so defeated when we left the park. When we got home, Matt reassured me, and he told me that I could always go run Sunday morning. I usually do my long runs on Sunday anyway, so I finally decided that I had to just let it go. Tomorrow is always a new day, right? I got a little worried though when we didn't get to bed till 12:30 after visiting with friends. I knew right away that I had to get up anyway and just run. I got up by 5:30, and although I was a little slow getting around, I was out the door and running by 6 am.

I started out with hope because it finally rained overnight, and I was so thankful that it gave me respite from the punishing heat. It was also one of those rains where it wasn't oppressively humid afterward, so I just had to pray that the cloud cover would hold for my ten miler. The clouds held today, and I am glad to say that my resolve did as well! I had a great run, and I am thankful for that. I stopped after 7 miles to take a pit stop at 7Eleven, and Matt met me there to buy me a drink since I ran out of water. I spent the last 3 miles just praying and being thankful that I am able to run, that the weather was nice, and that each day is a new day.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

iTrack: How my smartphone stops me from making dumb decisions

Motivation is different for everyone. I write this blog as one tool to keep myself motivated. I have also learned that along with motivation comes honesty. Sometimes it can be hard to stay honest with yourself about how hard you have worked out or how much you have eaten, but with today's technology our phones are all too ready to be real with us if we aren't real with ourselves.

I ordered the UP band made by Jawbone about a month ago, but I am still waiting to start using it because I got the wrong size, and it takes quite a while to get through all the customer service stuff to exchange it, so I have been using the free app Argus by Azumio for the iPhone. It is the only app I have found so far that fits into my daily routine smoothly.

Argus tracks your steps, but it appears to just go by distance traveled. It will sometimes count steps in the car when I am in stop-and-go traffic, but I'm not too concerned about that part because more often than not, I end up setting my phone down at home or work while I am doing plenty of moving. You can also track your water intake, coffee, food, sleep, and workouts. 

I like the food diary that is compiled of pictures taken of the meals you eat throughout the day. I'm not big on counting calories, but just having that picture of a cheeseburger staring at me all day can sometimes be enough to deter me. I think the water and coffee intake trackers are ok, but not something that I necessarily need. If you struggle with getting enough water, then Argus might be good for you because a reminder message pops up if you don't track any water intake after a certain number of hours. I drink plenty of water though, so that isn't extremely useful to me. I'm also not a big fan of the sleep tracker because it has to be manually turned on and off. I never seem to remember to turn it off, and I wish that it would recognize that I'm obviously not sleeping if I am walking around, but I guess there are sleepwalkers! ;-)

The workout tracker is pretty cool as far as the running goes. If you don't already use the mapmyrun app or some other tracking device, then Argus might be for you. I love that it maps out exactly where I ran, and I like that it even turns itself on automatically unlike the sleep tracker. It also continues to count steps during a run. The only thing I dislike about the automatic running tracker is that the timer doesn't always stop right away when I am done, so it can tend to throw off the time a little. It can be turned on manually though, and then you have the option to stop the timer immediately. There are also other workout choices like cycling, weight training, swimming, and others, but all those are tracked manually by entering how long you engaged in the activity, so no cheating yourself by fibbing!

All in all, I like the Argus app, but I am excited to finally get my UP band whenever that may be. There are plenty of other great apps as well if you are looking to track your intake and output to take steps toward a healthier you!

Be a Do-gooder! 
Want to do good by others and yourself? Consider using the Charity Miles app to track your distance for one of their charity partners! Do a little good for you while also doing a little good for others!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Runner's Rambles: 5k why have you forsaken me?

So it may seem like I've gone off the map, but in all reality, I have been on the map...running. I have gone back to work, so it seems that until I get on a better schedule, or I get myself in gear to get up earlier, then my posts might be a bit sporadic for awhile. I have still been struggling with staying on my training schedule and getting up early enough to beat the heat, but this week has been good so far. I have already done one strength training session and logged 3 short runs this week. I've got another strength session on the books for tomorrow morning, which leaves me Saturday to sleep in!! Wow! No 5 am alarm. No snooze button...10 times in a row. No place to be! Ahhh, I can't remember the last time that I set myself up to feel good about getting all my workouts/runs in to be able to sleep in on a Saturday with no regrets.

I got up just early enough to run before getting ready and heading to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, and though I still need to wake up earlier to really beat the heat, I felt good that I at least logged the miles even if they were sluggish and somewhat uninspiring at the time. I was happy to have a morning off today because Matt and I signed up for a series of night races this summer, and tonight we ran the first one. Technically this is the second race in the series, but Matt and I were home in Missouri when the first race took place. I was a little sad to miss it, but it was nice to see my family, and I still got some good running in with family.

Not lookin too shabby for post-race!
This race was a 5k at a small park in a neighboring town. The course is a one mile loop that you run three times...obviously. I am still not sure how I feel about night/evening races after this. I felt like it took place at a somewhat awkward time, so I tried to eat at the right times to keep myself from starving, but I was unsuccessful. I did like that I was able to get a full night's sleep, and I didn't even have race jitters throughout the day. The jitters didn't set in until we were in the car on the way there, and I was suddenly in full-on irritated mode.

I am somewhat frustrated and baffled by the 5k distance for a race. I can run 3.1 miles under 30 minutes when I am doing a training run by myself, but I have never actually had a successful 5k race. I feel like they are for the extremely fast and the beginner. Granted, many people would consider me a beginner with my measly 2 years of running under my belt, but I don't think my 5k racing should be as terrible as it usually is. The worst part is that before today, I had never run a 5k race that I didn't end up walking at least part of. Again, training run by myself? Fine and dandy. 5k race? Suddenly I can't suck it up. Well today, I sucked it up, and I don't have the chip time yet, but I think we came in just over 30 minutes. (Neither one of us wore a, I know.) And I think I'm ok with that time considering my history with this race distance, but I am still annoyed that makes me one of the slowest people in the race, and I just feel like I should be better than that at this point. Oh well, I have never claimed to be fast, and now I have a time to beat for the last race in this series on the same course.

Soundbite Side Note
On my long run last week, I listened to a podcast episode of To the Best of Our Knowledge entitled, "Born to Run." It was very fascinating, and I really enjoyed it. I am probably going to listen to it again to catch the parts I missed when my attention faded in and out as it tends to do on a long run, but I think it is definitely worth a listen. Check it out! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Runner

To say that I have been struggling lately, would be an understatement. I didn't even make it out of the my bed, let alone my house on Sunday morning for my long run. I then spent all day Sunday whining about how I am never going to survive a marathon. I went to the gym on Monday, but I was still down on myself because I know I've been neglecting my training and not really enjoying my runs ever since I got back from my trip to visit family.

Today I was able to get myself out of bed and on the road. I decided that a slow, steady, podcast run was just what I needed to start getting myself back on track. After my realization that slow and steady is good enough, I knew that I just needed one good slow-and-steady. I can always count on a podcast of "To the Best of Our Knowledge," to pull me in and take my mind off of the miles that I need to log in order to just get them done. Those are not my speediest days, but I do enjoy them.

I know that I can log the miles. I know that I should log the miles, but I just haven't been able to make myself do that lately. I saw a quote that Runner's World had posted on Facebook that really hit home with me. I decided that I need to stop being a wimp. I saved the picture to my phone as the screen saver.  When I wake up in the morning when my alarm goes off, it is a little harder to ignore it and snooze when I see the quote asking if I am going to be a wimp.

I am supposed to be running this marathon in my grandmother's memory, but I have not been emulating her strength lately with my training choices. One thing that majorly contributed to my PR at the Delaware Half this spring was thinking about how my grandma went through so much more pain in her life than I was at that time, and she did it with dignity and grace. That is the whole reason I am doing this And on top of that, I have dedicated 2013 to be my year of thanksgiving. I should be thankful that I still have the ability to run because I know that there is a chance that I won't always be able to run. I know that my training will not always be easy, and there will probably be days when I don't feel like running, but I need to keep everything in perspective.

Don't forget to help me out in raising money for ALS research if you are able to! Thanks! Find out about my marathon training goal!