Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Holiday Run

It's been awhile since my last run...the half marathon to be exact, not including the run in the airport from one gate to another gate located on the opposite end with 20 minutes to catch my flight. That airport run actually caused a tweak in my ankle and it's been tender ever since. So, I have stayed away from running or even exercise to let it heal (ballooned up as a consequence). I will say that it is healed, but I'm still having issues with my other bad ankle and going to the doctor tomorrow to look at my next steps (eek possibly surgery).

After a dismal weather Christmas weekend (and well, week) and a hard Christmas personally, Houston finally got a stop in the rain and even the sun made an appearance yesterday. I forgot what sunshine looked like. I was eager to put on my running shoes and try out my new Christmas present from Hiroko. It is the Nike sensor for your shoe and ipod that calculates your time, distance, calories, and type of run (much cheaper than the watch I really wanted). It also activates your running playlist through the application on your ipod.

My awesome gift from Hiroko. Love you and thanks so much.

My plan was to walk up to Hermann Park to warm up my muscles, run the 1.98 mile loop, and then walk back. It was cold and I needed the extra warmup. Plus, I wasn't sure how this run was going to go since I haven't done any running since December 4. I figured there would be some huffing and puffing and whining and screaming.

I laced up my shoes (adding my new cool sensor and blue pocket), plugged in the other piece to my ipod, stretched, and headed out (while trying to keep the dogs at bay from bumrushing the door as I opened it). I walked out of my apartment towards the main street that takes me to Hermann Park; I was already feeling the cold even though I had on my under armor shirt and a beanie hat. When I got to the street, I decided to just run. I wanted warmth. I ran the entire block around (1.5 mile loop). It felt good to get out there again. I tried to focus on my breathing. I swear when I am getting flustered from the heavy breathing and wanting to stop for a walk, I meditate my breathing like the book says. It calms me and I can run more. Breathe in...1...2...3...4, breathe out 1...2...3...4, but be mindful of what you are doing.

The one thing I forgot about was all the construction they were doing on the main main road. They have been laying pipe for months and chunks of the sidewalk periodically get taken out of commission. Since I haven't ran this loop in awhile, it completely slipped my mind. When I saw the missing sidewalk chunk, I ran over to the other side to use that sidewalk, but eventually, that side ran out of sidewalk. With the rain, I just didn't want to run on grass. In hindsight, I should have stayed on that side. I looked over to the side I'm used to running on and saw that the sidewalk was reopened even to the point where I have to turn to go home. What I didn't see was the mud. As I approached the last 30 ft, the piles and piles and piles of mud covered the sidewalk and the sides. Did I mention piles? I couldn't just run out on the street, because it's busy with people (shouldve done that anyways, but still had to cross the mudpit). I decided to just walk through it and hope for the best. When I got out of it, my shoes were caked with mud to the point where I couldn't even walk. I stopped to find a stick so that I could work on getting the mud off. It took awhile and my ipod stopped playing (controlled by the Nike app) when I was inactive for awhile. How cool was that? If I started running again, I can pick up where I left off.

Oh, right...back to mud. So, I stood there for about 15 minutes just trying to get the mud off my shoes and decided to go home once I was done. I was so tired and frustrated, but at least I got a run in yesterday morning.

I tried to update my stuff online, but the directions do not follow what actually happens and I couldn't figure it out. But from what I remember, the loop was actually 1.9 miles, I burned almost 190 calories, and I did it in alittle over 18 minutes (some of this time was used on my stop). I didn't calibrate the results, which I found out later gives you even better results. I love my new Christmas gift. I just wish I could figure out how to track my progress like it said can easily be done. This is why they should hire Technical Writers to write their instructions.

Even though it wasn't my best run, I got out there again and it felt good. I can't wait to run again (probably today) and then, I will see if I have a long journey of exercise inactivity to fix my bad ankle.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

And Finally...My First Half Marathon Done

On Sunday, December 4, 2011, I participated in the La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon with Haley. And on that cold and rainy day, Haley and I officially became Half Marathoners.

This race was the last event in the Texas Bridge series earning me an extra medal (or T-shirt, but the medal was WAY cooler). WHAT? WHAT? MORE BLING!!!! I was so nervous about this race, because I had only ran 9 miles before I left for England and I didn't do any running there (lots of walking though). Also, I only had a week to prepare for a half marathon when I came back from England without overdoing the training, which could lead to hurting myself. This was a big fear of mine, because I tore a ligament in my left ankle before the 2011 Chevron Half Marathon in January (supposed to be when I popped my half marathon cherry) forcing me to eat the registration.

To top it off, the weather was expected to be raining all day. Great, my first half marathon...on a bridge...in rain. Am I glutton for punishment or what?

On the Thursday before the big day, I went out to the Flying Saucer where I met up with some friends who also run. I was introduced to a guy who had done an obscene amount of marathons (concidentally, it was about the same number of plates he had on the walls at the Saucer) and he put my mind at ease. He reassured me that I was ready, because I ran 9 miles...I'm good to go and to not be nervous. Easier said than done. Okay, really, I felt less nervous and told Haley (also freaking out at this point) what the guy told me to calm her nerves. It worked...up until about as soon as I woke up the morning on the big day.

The night before, I was cleaning and putting up decorations doing everything to busy my mind about my impending death. I had a restless sleep when I finally went to bed, because I kept thinking I would miss my alarm (side effect from the Seinfeld episode). But I woke up at 5:20 a.m. when my first text from Jules came in saying she was headed my way (I enlisted her to drive me and support me). Haley texted shortly after to make sure I was awake. Then, I started to get texts from friends wishing me good luck. Mal went so far as to send me flowers and a balloon and posted on both Haley and I's facebook page. I felt the love.

I can't love this girl anymore than I already love her. She thought of me all the way from Grenada. Thank you Mal.

For breakfast, I had an English Muffin with peanut butter and LOTS of water. I could say that I had a marathon of water. Yup, pun intended. I went there. Don't judge me.

We found our way to La Porte. Now, I have driven through La Porte, but never actually stayed there or visited there or even really been there. I think I was asleep everytime I drove through or just drove fast. I wasn't exactly sure where we were going, but I knew it was at Sylvan Beach and luckily for us, there were signs guiding us everywhere. Jules parked at the school and we met up with Haley at the chip pick up table (we actually got our packets early this time...GO US!).

Haley and I in our standard before shot trying not to look nervous.

I saw a group of people just stretching away and I said, "Let's go join them" after Haley and I went to the bathroom. They were passed the good stretches and on to the let's raise our heartbeat. We took that time to stretch on our own; however, we rejoined the group at the end when they went back to stretching.

Haley and I having fun with our tandem stretch.

Then, we found out that we in fact crashed the Bay Area Fit Club warmup. I'm not sure if you need to be a part of them, but it was probably a good thing. The main guy huddled us all up and they started shouting "HOORAA" and "Bay Area Fit Club." We were kind of near the middle and couldn't really sneak out of there without notice.

After our crash, we went over to get some more pictures with the bay in the background.

Yeah, that's right...I busted out the guns. Whatchya gonna do, punk?

Finally, it was time to head over to the start line. And wouldn't you know it, that's when it started to rain on us runners. The whole time we were there waiting and waiting, the weather gave us a reprieve and false hope that it wouldn't rain. But then, I could distinctly here this evil laugh coming from the skies and what sounded like, "You stupid peons....I will rain upon thee." So, as we stood there in the rain, it got cold and I was wishing that I had brought Jules' windbreaker (although, I'm glad I didn't). One guy was supporting his wife by standing there holding an umbrella over her head so she wouldn't get wet. Now, everyone at the same time, "Ahhhhhhhhhh."

I was getting antsy, jumping around, wanting them to hurry up and just blow the whistle. I complained that this race started later than the other 2 bridge series races. If we had started earlier, we wouldn't be rained on while we were waiting. But instead rained on while we were running (much better).

Then, I heard them announce the La Porte high school glee club to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Finally!  Let the countdown begin...5...4...3...2...1...GO. It was time to start running...well, sort of, since we had to walk with the crowd before crossing the line.

I couldn't believe it. Haley and I were RUNNING OUR FIRST HALF MARATHON! Whoa! The song choice of course was I'm Sexy and I know it (video) and we sang that the entire run. I sang the Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle and she sang the Yeah. We had it down to a science.

Even with the cold drizzling rain (reminded me of England for some reason), it was hot. After awhile, I took off my under shirt. Before we reached the first mile marker, this loud group of guys started chanting Haley. They were Haley's friends and coworkers. She was so surprised to see them and just started running faster. In fact, every time she saw them, she got faster. They showed up throughout the course and were just awesome singing and chanting and yelling. They even had me tear up a little, especially when they finally learned my name and started chanting for me, too.

The boys cheering on Haley.

Jules standing by the boys as we came around close to the first mile.

Our goal was to stop for a walk at the 4 mile marker (or see how we felt), but we had a quick stop at the 3 mile marker so that Haley could fix her knee brace (it was quick...I swear). We ran mostly with this group of three ladies. They ran what seemed like 5 minutes and walked 1 minute. Even though we kept running, they were keeping up with our pace. At one point, we tried to follow them, but they stopped too much. This may have been our downfall in the end when they beat us at the finish line.

Everytime we reached a mile marker, I said, "1 down, 12 more to go." "2 down, 11 more to go." And of course Haley would sing, "I'm sexy and I know it." We had a system.

The rain was pretty much start and stop, but it was never really heavy. I was so thankful that Haley suggested we wear our hats to keep the rain out of our eyes. It was just drizzly enough to make the ground slick. I think that is why my toes started hurting really bad at 6 miles. I never had that issue before at 6 miles and my theory is that I was putting too much pressure on my feet so I wouldn't fall.

Finally, we made it to the bridge and it was really an awesome sight since the top of the bridge was covered by the clouds. 

The top of the Hartman Bridge covered in clouds.

Haley looking like a bad ass as we approach the incline.

We ran the level area until we got to the incline where we walked to the halfway point before we picked up the run again. This is the time when we had goal points of when we would walk. However, Haley would get fast everytime she saw the boys and I would have to tell her to slow it down, bring it back. We made it to the turnaround point, which was roughly between the 6 and 7 mile marker. We weren't dead yet and in fact, feeling okay.

A viewpoint of what we just ran over from the turnaround point.

Seriously, I love these guys and want to adopt them as my friends.

I thought this was cool seeing Santa at the turnaround point. They asked if we wanted to stop to take a picture and I said, "No, gotta keep moving."

As we made our way back on the bridge, I still felt good, but my legs were hurting. My toes were hurting. It took a lot just to get to the incline so we could walk again. Finally, we made it off the bridge. 

On our way back down the Hartman Bridge.
Our other goal was to smile everytime we saw the photographers. Although, I contend that they didn't have many actually taking pictures. A lot of them were slacking.

When we got to 10 miles, I screamed out, "Milestone. Longest I've ever run. Oh and 10 down, 3 more to go." When we got to 11 miles, Haley and I pretty much pittered out of steam and energy. My toes were hurting so bad at this point. We would set a goal to run to a certain location in the distance, but we would stop a couple feet away. Haley kept saying, "I just want to get this done" and my response was, "So do I, but I can't get my legs to cooperate." For the rest of the 13.1 miles, we pretty much complained about our legs and feet. In hindsight, was that healthy or motivational? Um...no, but we did it anyways.

What's crazy is that we lost the 3 girls a LONG time ago, way before the first crossing of the bridge. Yeah, they caught up to us and passed us by, but we followed them on when they stopped and started. Actually, at the end, everyone in our group that had been with us for the last 3-4 miles were pretty much on the same thing of when to stop running and when to start. The only anamoly was this girl who sang and danced her way on the runs; she had a different start/stop then us, but still kept in our group.

Finally, we hit the 13 mile marker flag and it was so glorious to see. We still had 0.1 mile left to go and we ran. Then, we saw the guys and they saw us, which started a flurry of chanting. Haley and I picked it up and just sprinted in to the finish line. I'm sure to the bystanders it looked like a fast jog done by mental ward patient, but to us, it was a full on Olympic marathon sprint to take Gold. I'm not even sure where I got the energy from or even the muscle to do it, but it happened and I'm betting it had to do with seeing the boys running and screaming with us on the sidelines. Our time was 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 22 seconds (full results here). Haley and I got the exact same time. How cool is that?

Afterwards, I saw Jules and begin stretching, drinking my water. She kept saying how proud she was of me and asking if I was okay. My first response was that I may puke or cry and I don't know which one will happen. I honestly didn't know if any or both or one would happen. My body and mind pretty much shut down at this point. I walked over to the guys and they flooded us with awesome comments. I really do love those guys.

Look at those smiles. I think I was hallucinating at this point.

I went over to get my Texas Bridge Series Medal and it was awesome and loud and heavy and I loved it.

Me and my bling. What an accomplishment to finish not only a half marathon, but all 3 bridge races.

I got in line for pizza, but I had to wait on a new delivery. I got a sausage on a stick, but so NOT what I wanted. In fact, sausage on a stick is just not right after the race. Too greasy. I did end up getting my pizza, but I thought I was going to collapse. In fact, a guy did collapse, while I was waiting on my pizza. Haley and I said our goodbyes and I thanked those guys for being awesome. Jules drove me home where I was flooded with text messages of my survival. Jules got me home and pretty much took care of me and the dogs.

I want to take the time to thank Haley for going on this crazy adventure with me. I'm glad I found someone just as stupid as I am to share this journey. Without her, I don't think I would have survived. We pushed eachother to get this done and we accomplished what few have considered and completed. I'm so proud of us in so many ways that it's hard to find the right words. Jules...you are awesome. I love you. Thank you for everything that you did that day. I don't think I could have made it home or anything had you not been there to nurse me back to life. Thanks to the guys for being there cheering us (mostly Haley, I know) on throughout the entire race. Seriously, you guys were the best ever! And thanks to everyone that sent me messages of good luck and how proud they were of me.

The guys made this for us after the race. How freaking cool are they? And the best shot ever!

And Jules made us a video of our run. I have the best people in my life.

Haley and I plan to do one more half marathon (maybe 2) and then we start training for the marathon in possibly November. Yes, we are THAT stupid.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Run in the Park with Remi

So, alot has happened in the last couple of weeks. I ran 9 miles by myself on Sunday, November 13, at Memorial Park. This was monumental for me since it was the longest that I have ever ran before. I ran 3 loops (3 miles each) for the first time ever and 6 miles (2 loops) without stopping. I kept up a decent pace, but yes, it could have been better. The craziest thing that happened that day was a man running with his dog, tripped. He tried to catch himself and didn't fall, but he tripped for at least 20 ft pulling a muscle in the process. It would have been better if he went down. After the run, I did a mini workout at the adult playground, which included ab work. I wanted to write about my run, but I didn't have time. I was packing for my trip to England (yes, I went back), but I also had to go to California at last minute for work. Consequently, my monumental run didn't get written.

While I was in California, I ran 2 miles a day on the treadmill, with some ab work at the end of each run. I was not familiar with the area and it was dark, so I felt safer working out at the hotel gym. I don't know if it was the time difference or what, but they weren't pretty runs. In fact, it took me 30 minutes at least to run 2 miles. I'm used to running 3 miles within 35 minutes.
While I was in England, I didn't run at all. Yes, I know. I wanted to take that long run down a road with picturesque England countryside views, writing about how the scenery inspired me or something, but it didn't happen. We had way too much to do and it got super dark early there...like at 5 p.m. However, I did walk. In fact, I walked so much in Ireland (spent a day in Dublin...beautiful) and England, that my bad ankle swelled up alot and caused me pain. I'm so getting this thing checked out again.

Since I got back from England, I have ran a couple of times at Hermann Park with Remington. On Sunday, I ran the full 1.98 loop. On Tuesday, I ran half of that loop, because I was running out of time and daylight. And on Wednesday, I ran the full 1.98 loop around. I felt sluggish on my runs, but that could be due to all the traveling I have done in the last couple of weeks and taking a week off of running. It could also be that my dog stops too much causing me to get tired early from all the starting and stopping. I'm still running majority of the loop without stopping (okay, just mini stops for Remi...oh and 1 fix for my ipod), but it's not the best. My breathing is all over the place, but I am noticing that whenever I get a cramp, I used meditative breathing to stop it.

I write about this run in particular, because of something that happened. Remington and I were running by and I see 3 people coming from the golf course. At this time, it's getting pretty dark and you don't know if they are punk kids just smoking some pot, people just taking a shortcut, or geniune criminals ready for action. With a history like Hermann Park, you tend to think as a woman that they were geniune criminals ready for some sexually forced action. I didn't have my mace on me, but I was alert. However, when they stepped over the fence, it was 2 cops and a kid handcuffed. I had seen the police lights and heard the sirens earlier, but I just assumed it was a car accident. Nope, it was a police chase. And as I'm running by, my dog's German Shepherd police dog heritage came out. He really wanted to help and I had to force him to move along sir, nothing to see here. So, that was weird and crazy.

This run really made me think about running with Remintong. Now, it's been a pain in the toosh to have to take my dogs out separately and bring Remi on my weekday runs (no time otherwise since it gets dark early). I no longer have long runs, because he doesn't last long and he's constantly stopping. But it's good that he was there. I know that Remi would attack, maim, kill anyone or anything that would try to hurt me. He would probably die trying. It makes me feel safe having him on my arm (even though it's rough trying to keep him at bay from other dogs or some runners). The other positive is that I HAVE to run. I almost talked myself out of running on Tuesday, because I had such a bad day. But I had to get Remi out of the house. It was a great motivator to force me to go and just get it done. Was it a good run? Nope, but I still did it. And I need all the help I can get right now since my half marathon is on Sunday...eeek ggaddss!

So, my next post should be about that, but I might have some other blog writeups in the next day or so. We shall see and wish me luck!