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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beat the Heat 5K Race Report

Believe it or not, this was my first, non-virtual race of 2014.  What can I say?  It's been a busy year without much time or availability for racing.  But, I'm hoping to remedy that some in the remaining half of the year.

In reading local running stuff, the consensus was that this was THE 5K to run in the area, as it is the NC state championship 5K and thus attracts a big crowd, including a competitive elite group.  So, I figured I'd check it out.

First of all, it lived up to the "heat" part.

At 7 pm, the race start time, it was a steamy 90 degrees with a dash of humidity added to make it feel "melt your face off hot."  I honestly spent the majority of my pre-race sitting in my air conditioned car. Ruining the environment, but staying cool.

Here I am, pre-race: Out of the car and ready to run!

The start and finish were at Wake Forest University's stadium, and I do appreciate a loop for a race.

What really threw me for a "loop," though (Har-Har!), was the pre-race description that was broadcast over the load speaker beforehand: "Lots of heat today, folks!  And, remember, lots of hills on this course!  Mile 2 is all uphill!  Have fun."

Hills?!  Fuck.  I'd forgotten where I was.  This isn't flat-FL, so I should've expected some elevation, but the RD's course description made me second guess myself: "Should I hold back a little to conserve myself?  Will running hills kill me in this heat?"

Thankfully, I didn't have too much time to mull over the course description because it was gun time, but admittedly, it threw me off my prepared 5K mindset, which is generally "run as fast as I can."

Turns out, yes, the hills were killer, and mile two was truly a long, steady incline.  Combine the hills with the heat, and even though I was giving it all I had, I was running much slower than I'd hoped, and my finish was almost two minutes slower than I think I'm capable of in ideal conditions (like when a unicorn blesses me beforehand).

Oh well.  Not every race can be a PR; plus, I get to blame hills and heat on this one.  But, next year, I'll be better prepared for the challenge.  So, I'll be back, oh yes, I'll be back!  (Insert maniacal laugh.)

As an aside, a guy who finished a bit behind me approached me as I was getting water at the finish and told me: "You ran a great race: I was chasing you the whole way!"  I was someone's race bunny?  Ha!  Kinda flattering.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kiddus Interruptus

That's Latin for: "Kids have zero sense of personal space or boundaries."

Thus, the cliche about we parents just wanting to use the bathroom alone.

Staying at home seems to exacerbate this feeling.  Like, I never escape them.  They're in my bed at night, on my lap when we watch tv, in the shower with me, and, duh, in the bathroom with me.

Add to their ever-presence, there is their long list of demands and needs: And, it is ALL urgent.

Yesterday, Norah was yelling for me like she was on fire: "Mom!!!  I have a BIG problem!!!"

I go upstairs to see where she's bleeding from and find all her limbs attached.  "What's wrong?"  I ask.

"I need you to print some Ariel pictures for me to color.  I'm all out."

So, yeah, attending to my own needs, like running, is tricky.

I was talking to my brother, who doesn't have kids, the other day and describing how I Jenga together my runs, and naively, he goes: "Can't they just play in the garage or the driveway while you're on the treadmill?"

Bwahahaha!!  FOOL!

I used to believe in the same fairy tale, but alas, if they're playing nearby while I'm running, I get interrupted so much I can't even run a full mile without fielding requests, refereeing their brawls, and twisting my neck to make sure they're not juggling power tools.

Explaining this to my disbelieving brother, he again inserts his ignorance: "Can't you tell them you're running and they can't   interrupt you?"

He slays me.  Seriously.  Slays. Me.

Telling them to NOT interrupt me is to invite interruption.  Every parent knows that THE worst way to ensure quiet while on an important call is to inform the kids that you're going to be on an important call.  You may as well just say, "Okay,  guys, in five minutes, I'd like you both to start jump roping with my sanity.  As loud as you can.  Please."

The important phone call anomaly applies to treadmill running too.

So, for me, the best way to fit in the home treadmill runs is when they're watching tv.  I figure it's a fair trade: They melt their brains while I restore mine.

Of course, the downside to this is that most kid shows are about as long as an ant's leg.  So, I usually have a window of 18 minutes, maybe longer if they've chosen a show they agree upon on Netflix (thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus for Netflix's automatic start of the next show 15 seconds after one ends).  But, at most, I never have longer than 36 minutes.

Which means?

Speed work.

On the treadmill, I can for sure fit 2 miles into 18 minutes.  And in 36 minutes?  About 4 miles.

So the kids may be the secret to slowly bringing back a little speed to my running.  If I ever win any land speed records, I'll have to remember to thank the good programming people at Nick and Disney for forcing me to keep running faster!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I signed up for the US Road Running virtual race two weeks ago, but I wanted to be able to run it outside, and with Jerry's busy work schedule as of late, I didn't get the chance until today.

Delaying it actually worked nicely because after weeks of 90+ degree temps, we've had a cool spell, and this morning, it was only in the mid-60's, which is lovely running weather.

It's a bit tough for me to truly run at "race pace" without being in a race or on the treadmill, but I did my best -- for the early morning -- to push my pace a little and at least kept the miles under a 10 min pace, and while not thrilled with my "race," I'll take it!

The day's 6 miles also rounded out July's current mileage at 100 miles.  And, there's still 11 days left in the month, so I'm not-so-secretly hoping to exceed July's original goal of 150 miles.

Maybe I should go knock on wood now...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Twice as Nice

Lately, Jerry has been swamped at work; many days, he leaves for work shortly after 6 am, and he gets home just shy of the kids' bedtime.  He didn't get a weekend, and for about a week, it's felt as though he's out of town.

Hopefully, he gets a bit of a reprieve later this week, but when he's working this much, it makes me SO thankful for the treadmill at home.  Without it, fitting the runs in would be difficult. 

And, without the running, there could be casualties.

Even with the treadmill, it's tough to get my desired daily mileage without him home.

So, I've been breaking runs up and often running half in the morning and half in the late afternoon or evening.

It's a sweatfest in the garage, but when I know I only have to run 2-3 miles at a time, it's not so bad to suffer in the stifling heat.

One thing's for sure, though: There's a huge difference in what I am capable of in the afternoon versus the morning.  In the morning, my legs aren't too enthusiastic, and the runs are almost always at my slowest pace.  The afternoons, by contrast, are when I can crank up the machine and, despite the heat, I always run the day's fastest miles then.

Still a far cry from what I've done in the past, but I'm hoping my ability to speed it up a bit on the treadie will help me with the evening 5k I have on the 26th when it's almost certainly going to feel hellish.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to running outside one of these days.  Where I expect to be much slower.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Hump Day

I had a series of frustrating events this morning.  I was trying to accomplish a few things on my "to-do" list and nothing was coming together as smoothly or as easily as I wanted.

Then, I realized Caleb was being really quiet...


I found him, hiding under a blanket, painting his fingernails AND the carpet with blue nail polish.

As I did my best to try to clean the paint out of the carpet, I heard rustling in the pantry, so I leave the nail polish remover and the BLUE STAIN to investigate.

I find the kids shoving Oreos in their mouths.  Cookie crumbs all over their cheeks, the package emptied.

I'm throwing the purloined cookie packaging away when I felt the distinct, early rumblings of a fart.

But, my butt had a different thought.  

Annnnnddd...that's when I sharted.

Blue paint in the carpet, two sugared kids, and shitty, ruined underwear.  
That's exactly how I was hoping a Wednesday would go.

Thankfully, there was one thing that could salvage the day and my sanity. 

"Alcohol?"  You ask.

That too could work.

Instead, I got a movie going for the kids and hit the treadmill for a midday run.  5.5 miles later, I felt less stabby.  The carpet was (and is) still blue, and nothing was gonna resurrect those shitty undies, but the day felt salvaged.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Willpower vs. Habit

Recently, I've given up Dunkin' Donuts.  That's right: 13 days and nary an iced mocha latte has passed these lips. 

Feel free to be impressed.

Long time readers know that I've tried to give up DD before, but I have never lasted against the delicious draw of an iced mocha latte, and drinking these icy treats has been a daily habit for years.  And, habits are hard to break.

Especially tasty ones.

I don't put much stock in the power of "willpower," and I even find the word to be somewhat vomit-inducing.  Like the word "moist."  Yuck.  Who likes to hear about someone's "willpower"?  I sure as hell don't.  Because my willpower is about as stout as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree in a Category 5 hurricane: My resolve will disintegrate at the slightest provocation. 

Additionally, I'm like Matt at The Oatmeal:

Many runners, and other exercise enthusiasts, are also dedicated to making their lives all-around healthy.  Trust me, I do my best to choke down salads for lunch and munch on apples for snacks, but it's not my natural inclination.  I'd prefer to gobble up a bag of chips and wash it down with a giant slab of cheese.  And, I'll be honest: I find those who evangelize about their food (whatever their diet of choice is) tiresome. 

Yet, I know small choices can snowball into significant benefits or detriments, and bottom line: I don't need the iced latte (although...do you think it's lonely without me?), its extra calories, sugar content, or cost.


That's tough to say with any grain of believability, because for the past few years I HAVE needed that little daily treat.  It's my "reward." 

Reward for getting up, for getting out of the house with two kids, for running every day, for cleaning the house, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, for keeping small people and a dog alive, for cooking dinner, for making appointments, for planning birthday parties and vacations, for teaching and grading papers, for filing taxes, and managing retirement accounts, and calling the insurance company even though I know I'll be on hold for 18 days, and for simply getting to the end of the day with my sanity intact.  For WINNING at doing all the grown up stuff, I've felt I've deserved such a small reward.

And I do deserve it. 

But, not every day.  Once a week or once a month, such a treat truly is deserved and is special, but giving myself such a treat everyday is neither.  So, I'm not saying I'll never drink a small, iced mocha latte again -- because I will and it will be awesome -- but first I feel like I have to dump the habit so that I can control it and not let it control me.

So, I suppose it has taken some initial willpower in this endeavor, but in the end, it's the strength of habit that I'm relying upon to eventually autopilot me past those alluring orange and pink awnings that brightly adorn Dunkin. 

Sorry, DD, it's not you; it's me.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monthly Mileage

January through April this year was a leeeeetle tough for me -- what with Jerry being in NC and the kids and I still in FL -- and as far as running was concerned, my only priority was maintaining the streak.  Maintain it.  Not win any fucking gold stars for it.

So, there were some weeks when there were minimum (1 mile) runs aplenty.  April was especially weak, mileage-wise.

It was tough for me to not compare those months to any month last year (in 2013, I never logged less than 100 miles a month), so I honestly barely even looked at the mileage so as to not judge it.

Once May came, and the kids and I joined Jerry in NC, I began paying attention, and May became my "come back" month.

June, then, has been the "ok, we're back in business" month.

Today, though, I was feeling a big tired, so I decided I was gonna give myself the day "off" and just run 2, slow and easy, miles.

I did that.  Then, I was sitting down looking at the month's stats and saw I had logged 129 miles for June.  Annnnnndddd...I just couldn't...

I got my running shoes back on, got back on the treadmill and ran another mile.  Not as slow and easy.  

So, crisis of odd number averted, I was satisfied with June's round 130.

Aiming for 150 in July.  Not 149.