Sunday, April 26, 2015

Progress -- but not where I need to be


The past week has been eye-opening, but I'm afraid that it hasn't been the good kind of eye-opening.

The first 10-miler, in Chapel Hill, was really nice. It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful place, and I felt my friend Jill's presence so much.

Here's my favorite photo, from before the race. It was so peaceful in the stadium, and I could picture Jill in her band uniform playing during those UNC football games.

We were required to maintain a 15-minute per mile pace or be moved to the sidewalk. I was able to keep it up until about mile 5, but right around then, a few minutes behind, I was moved. It was OK -- I actually was with another runner who was super nice and supportive. My pace slowed in the last five miles (I was super tired), and I finished at about 2:42, which was a 16:16 pace. I then spent about an hour stretching in Kenan Stadium, as I was truly spent.

This week, I missed the last 5K in the Friday night series because of work/a missed train, but it was probably for the best. My right hip was hurting me. And my left foot has been in pain during some runs/walks. So I prepped for today's 10-miler instead and hoped for the best.

The cool thing about the Parkway Classic is that they have an early start option for those who can't maintain a 15-minute mile. So I took it. Unfortunately, they changed the process this year and it turned out that because I had signed up for the early start, I had to stick with the bicyclist for the first four miles, and he would only go at an 18-minute mile pace. So I wasn't even able to try to go faster until we were moved to the road with the rest of the runners.

The road, alas, was concrete, and while my IT band and hip seemed fine, my lower back hurt a bit and my foot, well, it was in a lot of pain.

I was able to run the last six miles at around a 15:30 pace, ending up with an average of 16:30 or so.

But as I sat on the waterfront with my medal afterward, I couldn't help but be a bit sad, worrying about the aches and pains, and realizing that I'm just not where I need to be in my training. I am definitely proud of how far I have come in the past six months. I'm a lot faster than I was, 35 pounds lighter and up to 10 miles in my distance. But I am still carrying too much weight on these runs and I'm starting to feel more pains than I'd like. I'm also not able to keep a 15-minute mile pace for 10 miles -- so how am I going to do it for 26.2?

I got my MCM training shirt in the mail this week and was super excited. But then a Facebook post came across noting the "six months until the race" and I kind of freaked out.

Can I do this? Should I even keep trying? I know I want this desperately, but with that six-month clock now ticking down, I am honestly more than a bit scared.

I'm also a little worried about this streak, which has hit 180 days. It may be causing me more problems than it's worth. A friend thinks the foot pain is a contusion from overuse. But if I stop the streak, I'm so afraid I will never get back.

A lot to think about.

192 days until the MCM: 1 mile
191 days until the MCM: 10 miles
190 days until the MCM: 1 mile
189 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
188 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
187 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
186 days until the MCM: 1 mile
185 days until the MCM: 1 mile
184 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
183 days until the MCM: 10 miles

Friday, April 17, 2015

Absent but still going

Apologies for being so absent! I started a new job three weeks ago, and it's been all-consuming. Well, 90 percent consuming; I am still getting in my daily walk!

How many days is that?

170 days in a row!

That's mind-boggling. But the funny thing is, it's still not completely ingrained in my consciousness (maybe that's because the new job is trying to nudge its way in front). On Saturday, I spent five hours waiting for my car to get looked at, on a gorgeous morning, in a neighborhood that had sidewalks. And I never thought to use some of that time walking (instead, I worked). I got home, watched TV and such, and around 8 p.m. realized...ohmygosh! I haven't walked yet! So I scooted down to the gym and did a mile.

I've had a lot happen since I've last written and I hope I can remember most of it. It's funny: I tend to write the blog in my head, but then never get a chance to actually type it down. I've got to get better at that.

One big milestone: I've been running the Crystal City 5K Fridays in April and seen progress. The first one was super rough: I was exhausted and dehydrated, and it was humid and very pollen-y out. But I still had my best time in two years. The next Friday, after making sure I spent the week drinking tons of water, I beat the previous time by nearly 3 minutes! (See "after" photo above.) I really pushed myself and was able to maintain a 14:54 pace. So I'm now capable of doing 3.1 miles at a 15-min-mile pace. Just 23.1 to go!


I have this 10-miler TOMORROW that is requiring a 15-min-mile pace. And I just know it will be impossible to do for 10 miles. I'm prepared to be pushed to the sidewalk, though, man, that will suck. But the race is in Chapel Hill, and it's one I've always wanted to do. So there's no backing down. I'll give it my best shot and try to keep a slow, steady pace. (If you have time on Saturday morning between the hours of 7:30 and 10 a.m., I'd sure appreciate some good vibes!)


I still have been dealing with some IT band strain/discomfort. I'm trying to roll my leg as much as possible, and that helps. But I can't help but worry about that, too.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I've been trying to walk home every day after work. It's only 2.5 miles, but about 1.5 of it is uphill, and some of that is up a giant hill. Which adds to the strain. But I think my muscles are getting stronger as a result; it's definitely getting easier to walk it (most days).

Other news to report:

One of the biggest problems with me changing jobs has been the weight gain that results. My move from Wilmington to Virginia Beach in 2005 resulted in a 30-pound weight gain in the first two months or so. My move from Norfolk to Arlington was about the same. It's scary.


I am pleased and proud to say that I was able to lose about 2-3 pounds in the weeks since starting the job. Not much at all (and not at the rate I really need to be at) but I didn't gain and that is huge for me. I fluctuate some (some weeks have been better than others), but I'm getting lower and am at my lowest weight in two years. The next goal is getting to my pre-Arlington weight, which is about 20 pounds away. (For the curious, I think I'm about 35 pounds down since October.)

Another milestone is coming up. That 170-day walking streak is about to equal six months! While that is exciting, it's also a bit terrifying: That means I'm just six months away from the MCM. Gah! I have so much progress to still make, and that's not taking into account possible/probable injuries. If I can complete these 10 miles somewhat kinda sorta near a 15-min-mile pace, I'll feel somewhat on track.

(Note: For those who have investigated and see that the MCM website says you have to maintain a 14-min-mile pace, the course is open for 7 hours (about 6.5 hours after the last person crosses the start), which means a bit less than a 15-min-mile. Starting time is 7:55; the last person to cross the start -- me -- will be at about 8:20. You have to "beat the bridge" by 1:15 p.m., which means you have to get to mile 20 in about 5 hours, which according to my calculations, is a 15-min-mile. If I am wrong about this, well, just shoot me now.)

It's a bit anxiety-inducing to think about these details, but I need to. I still remember that joy I felt back in September 2009 when I finished 20 miles in less than five hours. I want to feel that again!

So here is where I stand in this 170 day streak of at least 1 mile walking:

218 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
217 days until the MCM: 1 mile
216 days until the MCM: 3.5 miles
215 days until the MCM: 1 mile
214 days until the MCM: 1 mile
213 days until the MCM: 1 mile
212 days until the MCM: 1 mile
211 days until the MCM: 1 mile
210 days until the MCM: 1+1 miles
209 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
208 days until the MCM: 3.5 miles
207 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
206 days until the MCM: 3.1 miles
205 days until the MCM: 1 mile
204 days until the MCM: 6 miles
203 days until the MCM: 1 mile
202 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
201 days until the MCM: 1 mile
200 days until the MCM: 1 mile
199 days until the MCM: 3.1 miles
198 days until the MCM: 1 mile
197 days until the MCM: 1+1 miles
196 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
195 days until the MCM: 1.5 miles
194 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles
193 days until the MCM: 2.5 miles

(So, when I started this little streak back in October, I remember standing in Penn Station in NYC and literally counting the days on a calendar to figure out how many there were until the MCM. I counted a few times to make sure I was right. Now, the MCM has its official clock on the website and it says today is 191 days until the race, whereas I'm at 192. At some point I'll need to skip ahead to the correct number, but I'll wait a little longer!)