Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On my run today

The crunch of cottonwood seeds below my feet
Trail of wood chips winding through the woods
Monarchs, monarchs, monarchs
Goose poo
Lilacs abloom and aromatic
Boxelder bugs mating on a garbage bin
Butter-colored dandelions, fluffy white dandelions, headless dandelions
Pre-Twitter tweets of robins and red-winged blackbirds

Monday, April 16, 2012

Warming Up

How long does it take you to warm up for your workout? What do you do for a warm-up? For how long? How is your warm-up routine different for before your weekly workouts and before your races?

These are the questions I've been pondering every time I've exercised in the last couple of months. I still don't know the answers, but I think I'm getting closer and it's changing the way I exercise and plan for races.

The training up to my half-marathon last October was fairly excruciating due to the unseasonably hot fall weather. I do not run well or far in heat. Still don't know how I managed the whole 13.1 miles on race day, though it certainly had something to do with the upper 40's temps that I love for running.

My warm-up that day: a jog back to the car to drop off stuff and some jumping up and down before the horn. My pace had slowed considerably over the course of training for the longer distance and over the first mile I barely maintained an 11:30 min/mile pace (I think) as indicated by Erin's RunKeeper app. I slowed to a more manageable pace while Erin ran on. The first 6ish miles felt jerky, like my breathing and my body just couldn't get in sync. Like I was fighting myself to get in a rhythm.

Then around 6.5 miles everything gelled. I ran smooth and faster. Just glorious running. Though I don't have proof of my pace on the back half, I sure felt like I was picking up speed or at least I wasn't losing as much speed. By the end of the race, my leg muscles were not so happy with me, but my lungs and heart were primed to go farther.

The same thing has happened on a smaller scale in a couple of other races. I'm not holding anything back at the start, I'm just not getting into a groove later in the race. I've encountered this during my personal training, too. When I run in the morning before training, I have more to give during training. When I'm on the treadmill at the start of training for my warm-up, the 12 min/mile feels really, really hard for the whole 5-10 mins. Then near the end of training last week, when I ran on the treadmill again, the 9:30 min/mile felt good and sustainable. What is going on here?

I need six miles or an hour of weights, push-ups and lunges to warm up? Really? Am I the slowest warmer-upper ever? Am I just not doing efficient warm-ups? What does this mean for before races where I might actually like to pick up the pace at the start of the race instead of over halfway done?

So many questions. Certainly, I need to do more warming up before my regular workouts and my races. So far that has meant starting out running very slow and gradually picking up the pace. I think perhaps I need to consider other exercises, too. Maybe I'll try some Skip and Twists like Beckham. Get my core involved. (http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/qt/SkipTwist.htm)

Well, that's the long way of saying that I'm trying to understand how warming up works for me. I've still got a ways to go.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Watching a race

Last Saturday morning, 156 runners ran 7 hilly miles. I was not one of them. Since I am slowly rebuilding my strength and distance, I decided to sit this one out and even wore jeans to ensure I wouldn't try to jump in at "Go!".

As the mass of runners pounded pavement on that gray, cool morning, I flipped through a magazine in my van. The energy at the start was so palpable, I found it hard to focus on reading as my legs ached to join in. I had at least 35 minutes before the first finisher ran by, my cue to find a spot to cheer on Mike, Erin and Scott as they pushed towards the end.

All previous races I've attended, I've participated in. I knew there were many fast runners, but I never saw them from my location at the back 1/3 of the pack. I saw them sweating and walking around afterwards and I scrolled past their incredible finish times when I searched for mine online, but seeing those runners near the end of a race was going to be a new view.

At about 35 minutes, a guy ran past my van. He was alone. I thought he was just a runner out for his morning run, but then I noticed his race number. He was the lead runner and he was going to finish in just over 37 minutes. That's less 5:30 per mile! I set my magazine down, got out of the van and watched him round the corner to the finish line. I looked down the road to the direction he had come from and no one else was in sight. No one was even close. He was running so fast I couldn't have even kept up with him for the final 1/4 mile.

I joined another spectator to watch for other finishers. The next couple of runners, sweaty and focused, passed almost four minutes later. These were elite runners and I watched wide-eyed.

We cheered, "Way to go!" "Quarter mile left!" "Great running!" "You can do it!" "Woo-Hoo!" and we clapped.

Now a steady stream of racers were passing by. All ages from teen to 60's and 70's. Men and women. I kept thinking that they were working harder than I do in a typical day. Their strong breath, pumping arms and legs. All different gaits and strides. And those old guys and ladies who were handily trouncing any pace I ever hoped to run. Imagine their strong beating hearts, that most important muscle, red, vibrant, striated. I want heart like that.

I saw Scott in the distance. He's training for Grandma's Marathon in June. "Go Scott!" I hollered as he headed down the final stretch. Then, less than a minute behind, there was Mike. He was running much faster than he had anticipated. A lot faster. I jumped up and down clapping and hooting, "Way to go, Mike! Only a quarter mile!" He smiled and waved. I suspect marathon training for him isn't far off.

After their race, Mike and Scott joined me to cheer on Erin. She beat both her last year's time and her goal time. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

We are runners and we support each other. I keep running because I enjoy it and I want to be fit. And I keep running because even when I'm the spectator I feel the spirit of the other runners. Especially the enduring energy of my husband and friends.

I hadn't known watching a race would be so inspiring.

Time to lace up my shoes and run out the door.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Run. Strength. Stretch. Rest. Four components of a running training program. In my past two years of running (2?!), I've managed the running and the resting with occasional side-trips of strengthening and stretching, but putting all four together consistently has been a challenge. This year I don't know all the races I may run or what distances I will go, but I plan to knit these four things into my life. Yoga, the stretching part, seems to be fairly entrenched. With a time-based running program printed out for me by my husband, running may become regular again, especially with this great weather. That leaves rest and strength. Yeah, I can do that first one.

So, strength training. This wasn't going to happen on my own. Along came a great groupon for personal training at a gym that a friend of mine frequented. I show up at the gym and someone else has the plan for the hour and counts the reps so I can focus on form and breathing? Yes, please. Over four weeks ago, I started training with Eric once a week. I can feel the difference already both in strength and my overall enthusiasm for getting fit. We are doing lots of work on my abs, trying to boost my core strength. I'm astonished at how much focus I have to give towards engaging my abs. If I'm not actively thinking about holding my core steady, it's just lazy ab city around my middle.

I'm sore after every session, but it's a glorious soreness from working hard and calling muscles out of hibernation. I've always said that I was in the best shape of my life during swim season in seventh grade. I hope someday, maybe this year, I won't be able to say that.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Beginning again

So, it's been awhile. I wrote several half-finished, unpublished posts. I considered writing an update, trying to "catch up" my blog, but that feels daunting and is unlikely to be an interesting read. In exercise and in writing, I have learned that catching up is a poor strategy for me. Much better to begin again. Otherwise, I feel like I'm always behind. Best to start where I am now and go from there.

Where am I now? Literally, I am sipping decaf at my favorite coffee shop. Exercise-wise, I am venturing into the new-to-me realms of yoga and personal training. I ran my half-marathon (13.1 miles) in October. Recap of experience: first 6.5 miles were killer, last 6.6 miles were glorious. I gave myself a break after that. In fact, I haven't really come out of that break. Running has been sparse and fairly miserable. I feel slow. Wretchedly slow. In training for the half-marathon, I seem to have increased my distance by slowing my pace way down, thus losing some cardio capacity. Must do sprints. Don't want to. Hey, lookee there, a yoga groupon!!

I've done yoga on the Wii Fit and with a video, but never in a studio. Very, very different. Yoga in my downstairs with Wii is "exercise"; yoga in a studio is an experience, an atmosphere, a joyful balm for my introvert soul. Dim lamps on the floor, swaying, rhythmic music like I never listen to, instructors whose calm, confident earthiness and encouragement speak directly to my body. I can't get in the groove of line dances, always turning the wrong direction, but with yoga it's like my body does the listening and just flows and holds and flows and holds. My green mat indicates my space. I wiggle my toes in the cushiness. I balance, I remember I have a core that holds me. I give 100%, then relax 100%. Stretch and bend and breathe.

Yes, yoga. I hope to never be without you.

Next time: I get a personal trainer!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Running at night

Why I went running at 10:30 pm in 90 degree heat:

*It was a dry heat (aka way better than 80 degree heat with high humidity, at least for me).

*I wanted to run. And I try to stay out of my own way when that happens.

*The sun wasn't out, hence no suncreen or hat needed.

*I really wanted to wear my blue tank top. And I wore a reflective vest.

*I only went for 15 mins, but I knew even that would make a difference.

*I'm lucky enough to live in a very safe neighborhood.

*I ran sprint intervals and it feels like I run faster at night. That could be an illusion...

*I need to get in better shape for my Go Commando in 2.5 weeks or not only will my ass be muddy, it will be kicked.

*Exercise is essential for my mental health. I'll take it when I can get it.

*The darkness was peaceful. Silent. Not chaotic, like my days have felt.

*The biggest reason (worth repeating): I wanted to run.

And I felt great during and after!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I’m convinced I'm a runner (aka Injury and Diversification)

Happy New Year! I hope you all are having a wonderful 2011! What’s that you say? It’s already April…oh dear, it’s been awhile since my last blog post…

Quick race catch-up (you can skip this and go right to the injury part, if you want):
Polar Dash: Mike, Erin and I ran our 5K Polar Dash on New Year’s Day. Brrrrr…it was cold! Below zero with windchill. Eek! But we bundled up (topped off with New Year’s party hats!), ran hard, and hurried back to the car afterwards so we wouldn’t get cold. We all felt like hard-core runners!
Winter: Erin and I managed an outside run about once a week through the whole winter!! Major goal accomplishment there!
MDRA Races: In March, Mike and I ran the MDRA (runmdra.org) 4 mile around Lake Johanna. That was a really tough mental race for me. This was the first race I had done without starting with a running buddy since Erin wasn’t there (she was running the Lucky 7K!) and Mike is a little speedier than me. I had no problem letting Mike run at his pace and me run at mine, but it was way tough. This race was through the Minnesota Distance Running Association, so this was a fast crowd. I was being passed. A lot. I told myself early on not to look behind me because there might not be anybody there. Just run. I hit a speedy groove right around 3 miles and finished really strong with my fastest time yet: 39 min 34 sec! Under 10 min/mile. Quite thrilled with that. One week later was the MDRA 7 mile in Hopkins. Chilly, but sunny day. This time it was Mike, Erin, Scott and I. Erin and I had never run 7 miles; we anticipated much walking. Mike zipped on ahead and Erin and I tried not to start out too fast (hard, due to another fast batch of runners). Around mile 2, I had to command Erin to walk. We both felt great, but I didn’t want to burn out—we still had 5 miles to go. Scott was having a directionally-challenged day, so he was late getting to the race, but he caught up to us at 2 miles. There were several hills and we tended to walk for short times after the hills. I estimate we only walked about 5 minutes total. Chatting with Erin and Scott was such wonderful distraction that we all just kept running. We finished at 73 mins some seconds! Whoa! Did we do that at just over 10 min/mile?? Yes, we did. So amazing to come out of winter and run 7 miles at our pace! Huge, huge confidence boost. A half-marathon near the end of summer feels totally doable!

I'm convinced I’m a runner (aka Injury and Diversification):
Why did I go to the acute injury clinic last Saturday? Because Mike was going. He hurt the top of his right foot somehow and could only walk on his heel. I figured as long as he was going, I would go along and ask about the nagging soreness in my lower right leg that had been there on and off since last…summer. Yes, last summer. I don’t usually ignore the aches and pains in my body, but seriously, this wasn’t that bad! The area just on the inside part of my right tibia along my calf (anterior, I believe) would feel a little sore while running, but not enough to stop me. Then, as long as I didn’t poke at the area, I felt fine and it didn’t really hurt during daily activity. I was aware of it, but mostly ignored it. To give myself a little credit, I had been planning to go in to have it checked out soon because Erin and I were to be training for the half-marathon and I didn’t want whatever it was to get worse.
            So there Mike and I are sitting together in the little room when the doctor walks in. Dr. W is friendly, easy-going, and direct. I like him in the first minute. He checks Mike’s foot first. Dr. W pushes and pulls Mike’s right foot around until he finds the exact spot and Mike grimaces and practically howls with pain.
            “You probably have the start of a stress fracture. We could do an x-ray, but probably won’t see anything. We’ll get you a boot. Wear it a week, then try walking without the boot. Start out slow. Your goal is to be pain-free for three weeks,. Come see me if you have any pain,” says Dr. W to Mike. Not too bad. No x-rays even. Then it was my turn. Dr. W. squeezes my leg at various points and when I whince, he says, “You’ve had this for nine months?”
            “Doesn’t hurt too bad if I don’t touch it,” I say.
            “What have you done for it?”
            “Rested it.”
            “For how long?”
            “About a week at a time,” I say very proud of myself for staying active.
            “So not really rested it, then?” says Dr. W. He prods the top of my tibia. “Doesn’t seem to be in the really bad spot, but let’s get an x-ray and maybe an MRI.” Whoa! An MRI?
            “I just ran seven miles on it a couple weeks ago,” I say trying to understand how I can go from that to an MRI.
            “Yeah, runners never come in. They just keep running through the pain,” says Dr. W. I start to say I’m not a runner, because well…I don’t really know why. I guess I thought of myself as sort of a runner, but I’d only been at this for less than a year. I still felt new. Surely I didn’t have the whole runner mentality already. I was wrong. I do. I’m a runner. I just keep on running.
            I got an x-ray. That didn’t show anything, so I got an MRI (which I totally lucked out on since they had a no-show). That is a loud, strange machine. The technician taped my feet together, laid a heavy flat, blanket-like thing over my legs and gave me headphones with music for the 30 minutes I was inside. I nearly fell asleep. Then it was over and I went back to meet with Dr. W.
            “Looks good so far,” says Dr. W, “I’ll call you on Monday after the full work-up on it, but it doesn’t look like a stress fracture.”
            “So what do I do?” I just know he’s going to say something I don’t like.
            “No pain. No running. Don’t do anything to make it hurt.”
            “Oh. Okay.”
Mike and I leave and I have no idea what to make of this. Not run? It’s finally spring. I have races. I was planning to increase my distance and times per week. Not run? Oh crap.
            On Monday morning, Dr. W. calls.
            “You don’t have a stress fracture, you have a stress reaction,” he says.
            “Eh, what’s that?”
            “It’s what happens before a fracture. It’s not in the bad spot, not medial, but anterior. That’s good.”
            “So what’s that mean?”
            “No running for three weeks. Don’t do anything that causes it pain. Does it hurt when you walk?”
            “No, it’s fine.”
            “Good. Come back to see me in three weeks and I’m going to ask you if you’ve had any pain. The only correct answer is no.” Somehow I found that funny, despite being a little distressed at what that means for my next three weeks.
            “Okay. Okay,” I say trying to convince myself, but extremely grateful I don’t have a fracture. This could be a lot worse. I could have really messed up my leg if I continued to ignore this. I can still walk. I had a fracture in my right foot about 4 years ago and was on crutches and in a boot for seven weeks. That’s hell. I keep telling myself that to resist the urge to run because it so beautiful outside. I see runners everywhere!! There’s that unfortunate kink in human nature that causes us to want most that which we can’t have. Arrgghh!
            I had to tell Erin. That was hard. We were just getting ready to jump into more runs per week. I couldn’t have made it through the winter without her support. Now I felt like I was totally bailing on her. Exercise and Erin are so connected in my mind. I feel so connected to her; what could we do now that I couldn’t run for three weeks?
There’s only one thing to do: Must Diversify! Yoga, biking, strength training! I really need all those to prevent further injury and improve my running. I had been only running. Hey, I was just getting started exercising more frequently and that’s what I could do then. Now I need to branch out. This little stress reaction could be a good thing. I will make it a good thing.
These three weeks are going to be tough, but I must Think Long Term, Expand My Horizons!! Erin sent me a supportive email suggesting yoga for Wed and Thurs. Sounds like a great plan! And we’ll probably bust out our bikes soon, too! 
             Here's to three weeks of trying new activities! (I hope I can make it because I really, really want to go for a run! It doesn't hurt that bad...)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter Running? Seriously?

Now, you might be thinking, “Hmmm, she hasn’t posted here for some time, perhaps after that 10K and with the encroaching winter, Amber traded her pink running shirt for a Wii remote?” 

But if you’re thinking that, you would be miles (at least 200 miles!) away from correct!

My totally stellar, uber-running pal Erin has been tracking her miles since about July and will hit at least 200 this year. Since many of my miles have been with her and we started in Mayish, I’m there, too. Wow.

After the mind-bogglingly hilly 10K (6.2 miles), Erin and I took to running shorter distances a little faster, especially as the weather got chillier and the days got shorter. I invested in some black running pants (which I think make me look sleek, did I mention I’ve lost a little weight over the last few months?), a pink jacket, and a couple long-sleeve running shirts. Oh, and a hat and neck gaiter which has been essential. This prepping for winter running was slightly daunting since I haven’t done it before, but with friends’ help, I acquired Minnesota-winter-appropriate gear. I set aside my pink running shirt for my pink running jacket!

Now about winter running. During September and October, I often feared what I would do when winter came. I had no desire to get a treadmill or go to a gym. Being outside is an integral part of my exercise. Would I lose everything I gained and gain back everything I lost over the summer and fall? I made a deal with myself: one day a week. Just aim for one day every week during the winter. No need to go out on the below zero or blizzard days. If I sat on my bum for the rest of the week and ran just that one day, I would be thrilled. So far, I’ve ran every week.

I owe so much to Erin. We are a well-matched pair, taking turns setting the pace and initiating days/times/locations for running. I surely would not be planning for a half-marathon next year if it weren’t for Erin. Or have integrated running into my life. Or lost a little weight. Or gotten faster. Or fallen completely in love with running outside. Thanks doesn’t even come close.

On November 13, Erin and I ran the 5 Mile Diva Dash in Centerville, MN. Anybody remember the weather that weekend? Yep, it was that big, gigantic, wet, blowing blizzard! But we were signed up, along with another friend, Charlotte, so we set out early for the mildly treacherous drive. Hundreds of women showed up to run in the slushy snow for MOCA (Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance). Temps were in the upper 20’s, it was windy and snowing, and most of us were covered head to toe (except for that one girl in shorts! Yikes!)

Even before the race started, my feet were soaked and cold. Nothing to do, but run. I would warm up, if I just kept running. The human body is a heat machine when it’s moving. I’m constantly stunned at how toasty I get even on the 12 degree days.

When the buzzer sounded, off we ran, a clump of chilly, snow-splattered women skittering through inches of sloppy snow. My glasses fogged right up and I was very thankful for the zipper pockets in my jacket. And I was thankful to be near-sighted since this race was all about one foot in front of the other and not falling on my tookus in the snow.

About a mile into the race, I was warm, even my wet feet, and I was in a groove, physically and mentally. I had signed up for the race to have a November race and the get manicures and massages, which totally didn’t happen (too cold, too many people). But I had also signed up because it benefitted the ovarian cancer alliance. Several weeks before the race, I learned that Astrid Slungaard has passed away over the summer from a years-long battle with ovarian cancer. I’d had one writing class with her and remembered her clearly. Her writing was as elegant and engrossing as she was. She had short, beautiful silver hair and a warm voice. When the class ended, I made a note to keep an eye out for her memoir in the years to come. I don’t know if she finished her book. I do know that she had a loving family and was also a runner. So I ran thinking of her. Her generous spirit gazing on this beautiful race through the snow-coated trees. I thought of how she would relish this day and turn it into a vivid essay. As I followed in the footsteps of the runners before me, I thought of myself too. My writing. My running. My family. I have so much to do yet. I hoped dearly that this running would help me along the way.

The snow sloshed under my footfalls. I tasted salty sweat and snow on my lips. Soon I was at the four-mile mark. Only one to go. I ran steady and strong, my legs incapable of going any faster or slower. I finished with my fastest pace yet. And that kinda sealed the deal with winter running. If Erin and I could run in that snowstorm, we could run all winter long.

Ready to run the Diva Dash!
 So, I am indeed one of those crazy running people I used to drive by on cold days and think, “OMG, they are crazy!” Now I want to honk my horn and cheer for those crazy-cool people! It’s no where near as hard as I thought it would be. Sure the first mile or so sucks, but then I warm up and I think “OMG, I’m outside in this cold, cold air and all my digits are warm!” And it’s fabulous because my digits have never, NEVER been warm in the winter. Not even indoors. I was a chronically cold-digited person and now I’m not. That’s crazy to me.

After these winter runs, the high is incredible. I remember again what it feels like to be an athlete. My body all in sync. My feet and legs and lungs doing what I ask them to do. My mind centered, the seemingly inevitable winter mean reds held back for several more days. No matter what I’ve been dealing with, life feels doable after a run. Not necessarily easy, but doable. In conclusion, winter running rocks.

In a few days, on January 1, 2011, Mike and I and Erin will run the 5K Polar Dash along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. We’re kicking 2011 off with a bang! I can’t wait!

Happy New Year to Family and Friends and anyone else who happens upon this blog!

An Afterword for 2010: In no particular order, the top ten best stuff from the last year! (It’s that time of year for making lists, ya know!)

*Married 10 years! Celebrated with trip to LA!
*Started running! Ran races! Still running!
*Amy turned 4 and started her second year of preschool! (Kindergarten next year…Egads!)
*Alex started 1st grade and turned 7!
*Both Amy and Alex grew like weeds!
*Road trip to Black Hills and Badlands with kids!
*Joined Eden Prairie Women of Today! (www.epwt.org)
*Lots of time with family and friends!
*Writing, writing, writing!
*New Year’s Eve party! Woo Hoo! Hello 2011!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Running a 10K

Erin (995) and I (973) both running our first 10K race.

Sun poured down on the morning of the Autumn Woods Classic. Mike and I and Alex and Amy piled into the car and drove to pick up Erin. Then we were on our way to Elm Creek Park Reserve. We had forgotten to get directions, so I scrambled to find a map on my phone so we wouldn’t be late for Mike’s 5K run at 9 am. After nearly taking a wrong turn, we drove into the park. And drove and drove. As the minutes ticked by and we inched behind a line of cars, we worried Mike would miss the start, so he jumped out and ran ahead.

I parked the car and was astonished at how many people were there, probably a couple thousand people with about 1200 of those running the 5K, 10K or kids’ 1K. Somehow I had missed the info telling me how big this race was.

I caught Mike just before his race started and gave him a big hug. Then he disappeared into the crowd of runners. Mike’s parents, Erin, the kids and I lingered near the finish line watching the runners. We saw Mike and we cheered and clapped and hooted as he finished his race just under 29 minutes. He was tuckered and sweaty and he felt great. No leg, knee, or feet pains which he’d had frequently before he began running again.

Alex and Amy left with Grandma and Grandpa for a visit to their great-grandparents’ house. I was bummed that they wouldn’t be there to see me run my first 6.2 miles, but even with the cool rocking climbing and face painting activities they were getting antsy.

Erin and I had less than an hour before our run. We went to the bathroom, drank some water, jogged around some, and stopped at a recording of a synopsis of the course. We kept hearing “hill” and “another hill” and decided that we really didn’t want to know, so we went in search of the start line.

Runners of every shape and size and age surrounded us. I was nervous. I hadn’t ever run 6.2 miles, so finishing this race was no given.

Then the horn sounded and the mass of people began to move. Erin and I tried not to start out too fast, lest we lose steam for the end. Feet felt good, muscles were relaxed, breathing was smooth, but it was bloody hot. So hot for an October morning, mid-70’s. All of our previous long runs had been in much cooler weather. This was going to be a problem.

Within the first mile, my sister’s family surprised us by cheering for us at the top of a hill. They had made it! My sister took the pictures.

Before mile 2, Erin and I encountered hills. On the way up one hill, Erin pulled away. I saw her for the next couple miles, but couldn’t catch up. However, I was still running. Slowly, but surely.

Around mile 3, I nearly faded. Only half done. Yikes. I focused on the beautiful foliage, fields of prairie grasses, and large oak trees. I thought about my feet, each with 26 bones and their muscles and ligaments allowing me to place one foot in front of the other, over and over again.

My face was bursting with heat like a red hot coal. I really wanted to walk. Thank goodness for water stations. I grabbed the cup without stopping and drank water, letting it drip down my chin. I poured it on my head, down the back of my shirt and splashed the rest on the front of me. Ah, sweet, cool water. I could run a little farther.

By mile 4, I knew I could run the whole race. That thought surprised me. Ya sure, I can run over 2 more miles, no problem. I’ve come a long ways from gasping the 0.6 miles around my block.

A couple more water stations and several hills later, I was closing in on 6 miles. My left knee felt cottony up the hills, but didn’t stop me. Before I could see them, I heard the cheers from the crowd at the finish line. I tried to pick up my pace near the end, but my body downright refused and I had no desire to push my wonderful legs that had just carried me sturdily over 6 miles.

I saw Mike, my sister’s family and Erin, who had finished 3 minutes ahead of me. I ran across the finish line as my name was announced. Yay! Whew! 10K down!

I ran the whole thing. Feels a little crazy, a little unreal, but altogether pretty awesome.

Amber in the pink running shirt finishes the race!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


What's up?

Something happened in the middle of September. That wet, dreary month. So wet and dreary that for six days in a row, I didn't run, didn't walk much, and napped in the afternoon. No ambition at all. Maybe this running thing wasn't going to work for me.

First off, my 5K on Sept 11 was a tad of a disappointment. I hurt. I ran slow. Thankfully, Mike ran at my side the whole way. I barely made the 2.5 miles they had laid out. And no, 2.5 miles is NOT 3.1 miles (5K). We were shorted on the course. We stopped and got water, realized that we hadn't run a 5K, and decided to run 0.6 miles farther. Terribly anti-climatic. Beautiful weather and lots of fun with the kids at the Monarch Festival afterwards, but a running bummer. I'm calling it my 5K*.

The week following my 5K*, Erin and I ran a couple times in the rain. One run was even 4.25 miles with a walking and some sprinting. Then nothing for 6 days. 

Finally the weather perked up a little to only a mild drizzle, so Erin and I ran. We didn't expect much. Then we went 3.9 miles in 48 minutes. All running. What!? Where did that come from? Two days later, we did 4.6 miles in 50 minutes. We were stunned.

I had forgotten about this lovely phenomenon that I first learned during swim season. In seventh grade, I swam at a certain pace, gradually got faster, then sucked for awhile, and then improved dramatically. Same with my running now. I kept running and running, then gave my body a break, and suddenly whoosh!

Last weekend, Erin and I ran 5.6 miles. That was my longest run ever and I felt so good. This Saturday, we are going to run our first 10K (6.2 miles). Wow. That's a long ways from huffing and puffing it the 0.6 miles around my block back in May. 

So what's up? My pace, my distance, my enthusiasm and my iron levels (I think my red blood cells are giddy with more oxygen.).

Watch out 10K! Here I come!

p.s. A big congratulations to my friends who completed the Twin Cities marathon last weekend. Way to go, Kari, Emily, Ruth and Scott!