Friday, January 20, 2012

The Streak Has Ended

But I'm not sad. I'm disappointed - sure - it would have been cool to get to a nice high number. I'm ok though. A habit was created. I missed today. Stuff happens. I'll be out again tomorrow and the next day and the next and who knows how long it will last.

The important thing is a habit was created and I learned a lot about me and running. Most important that I'm better off - and prefer - running than not running. With the notable exception of the plantar fasciitis (sp?) which was very real and painful, most of my struggles last season were in my head.

So thanks to all my friends and family. Your cheers and support were very helpful. Keep smiling and keep moving.

Monday, January 16, 2012

30 days. What I’ve Learned; What I’m proud of; and What’s next?

I had to go back and count again. It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 days. I started on December 18th and sure enough, today is day 30. So here goes,

I learned any workout is better than no workout. I kind of new that already, but it really hit home these 30 days. There was more than one day in this 30 – today included – where I did not feel all that great. Because of this create-a-habit thing I went out anyway. And although it was a struggle it felt good to get the blood moving. I may spend most of the rest of today on my couch reading a book and napping, but I will feel less ‘sick’ and less like a slug because

I learned that the difference between a 5 and a 6 on the clock in the morning is mind boggling. My normal wake up on a work day is 6 a.m. On two days out of the 30 I had to complete the run before work. Those days the 1 mile minimum came in handy. I figured I could set the alarm for 5:45 – just 15 minutes earlier than usual – getup, put on running clothes, run 1 mile and be back in the house by 6 when I would normally get up. Sounded like a good plan and I’m happy to say I made it. Convincing myself to get out of bed with that 5 on the clock was difficult. Once I got past that – something I was only able to do because I refused to give up on the habit – I was fine. In fact, my whole morning seemed to go smoother with that 1 mile wake up.

I learned – I think – that running every day makes my long run weekends less stressful. I say “I think” because I’m not entirely sure it’s because I’m running every day or because I’m just having a good training fit right now. Maybe a little bit of both.

I finally understand “recovery run”. On Monday last week, I ran with The Running Place group. I ran faster than I usually run, pushing myself to stay with new friends. I followed this up the next day with a workout on the Art Museum Steps (preceded by a 1 mile run to be sure I got it in). We did new stuff at the AM workout and I hadn’t been there in months. By Wednesday morning my legs were feeling the effects of both days. Stiff. These are conditions where I would have skipped running in the past. I’d have convinced myself I had ‘earned’ a day off. Instead I went out for 1 mile both Wednesday and Thursday. Since these were the same two days that I knew time was an issue, it would have been even easier to bag it. I started out slow and in no way broke any speed records on either day. But after a few steps the legs loosened up and by the end of each I was actually feeling pretty good. By Friday morning the stiff and soreness was gone.

I’m most proud of starting this over the holidays and not waiting until the “New Year”. Doing so meant having to get out on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve; both days where it would have been just as easy to say forget it. I ran more than a mile on both days . Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day were covered thanks to group runs with my wonderful Phillyfit friends.

Somebody asked me how long I was going to do this. The goal is to create a habit where there are no excuses for not running. If successful it should be a self renewing thing.

So what’s next? There doesn’t have to be anything. I could just keep going as I am. I will keep going but I’ve decided to add another element to it. I’ve given this a lot of thought (are you surprised?) over the past few days as I realized I was approaching day 30. I came up with and discarded several things. The secret was to come up with a logical next thing without breaking the spell. In other words, baby steps.

So I’ve decided to take my success at getting up early and commit to going out before work three days a week; Monday, Wednesday, Friday. In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that Mondays is kind of cheating since I don’t have to be at work on Mondays until 9 (instead of 8). But since that means I have to work later on Mondays it’ll be nice to get home from work and no I’m done. Friday is a good day to go out early since we tend to have date night on Friday and since I have to have things in balance I’ll throw in Wednesday.
The challenge here will be that I do not want to cop out to 1 mile on M-W-F. The 1 mile minimum was supposed to be when I needed a break; either from fatigue or schedule constraints. So, right now I’m going to try to commit to at least 30 minutes each of those days; and I give myself permission to cop to just 1 mile if necessary.
Day 31 here I come.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

8 Miles at Forbidden Drive

I began my day today with 7 other Phillyfitters. We had fun running along the left bank (coming off Northwestern Avenue) of the Wissahickon Creek. You can read about that part of my monring here.

As a group we turned around just past the Valley Green Inn at the 2.5 marker on the trail. At the 1 mile marker I told the group I was heading back out again. I wanted to complete 8 miles today. We were at 4.25 and I was concerned that if I went back to the start with them I would be tempted not to go back out again.

I went back out to the spot where we came down off the trails. I remembered that we were at 2.75 there so if I went back along the trail that way I’d be just over 8 miles when I finished. I also knew the trail would keep my mind off the miles and provide natural walk breaks ..or climb breaks anyway.

Without my friends to guide me (friends who had run these trails before) I wandered off the actual path a few times but not far. Every so often I’d realize I was picking my way through tree roots and rocks when there was a smoother path just below or above me. I enjoyed the run and took some extra pictures on the way back (see below). The sun was higher now than when we made our first pass so many of the icy spots were now less slippery but as a result more muddy. It was fun :)

Shortly after getting onto the trail I met two bikers. I had just come down a particularly rocky portion and they were standing there looking up. I said, “Good luck with that”. They laughed. As I approached Bells Mills Road (the end of the trail) I saw two guys running toward me. I’m pretty sure it was these same two people. The one had bright red hair and beard. Kind of hard to miss. I didn’t ask but I’m guessing they locked up the bikes and decided to run out Forbidden Drive and then back along the trail to their bikes.

I saw a few people and their dogs. All were friendly thank goodness (the dogs and the people). One woman had three golden retrievers with her. None on a leash and all disappointed that I did not want to stop and play. It was a good outing. I feel good.

Day 28 and counting…. Here are some photos from today's run.

Me and my shadow

Either somebody decided this log was too large to jump
Or they wanted a seat to watch the falls to the left.

The group came down these steps
I went back up

Pretty isn't it?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday night running group

I decided to try the Running Place Monday night group run tonight. They meet at the store at 6:45 and run around the Newtown Square area in the vicinity of Marple Newtown High School. The store has been supportive of our group so I knew I would know at least one person in the group; Patti or Bill the owners.

When I arrived I asked what paces they had going. One group ran 9:15's. That was definitely out. Another group was doing run/walk using 60 second walk and 90 second run. I wanted to do more than that. The other group said they ran 10:30. I knew that was a bit much for me but I went with them anyway. I figured I could find my way back on my own. I'm not unfamiliar with the area. So off I went with Eleanor and Alex. We chatted a bit to start but after about a mile I was content to listen to their chatter. The pace was pushing it for me but this was going to be 4 miles at most and I should push the pace sometimes or i'll never get faster.

In the end we averaged 10:54 over 3.75 miles. I fell a little behind them on the way back but not so far that a good burst of speed wouldn't have closed the gap. I felt the pace in my breathing but my legs felt fine. I will go back.

Day 23 and still going.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 21: Trail running!

I had the best time trail running with Phillyfit today. You can read about it here.

Day 21. Three weeks of running every day. I had 8 on my schedule. I don't think I quite got there. It was a little over 7 I think. All my gadgets failed me today. My watch measured .1 and then froze. After running about 5 (according to a friend's measurement) with the trail group I went out for another 2 or so. My friend John T came with me. We were planning to do 3 and 1's after running most of the 5 on the trails. My gymboss reset itelf again. It worked but not properly. *sigh*.

I ran in old shoes today know that we would get dirty and possibly wet. The shoes are not  completely spent but I will have to decide soon if I want to purchase trail shoes or just keep running on my regular shoes which may mean they will wear out quicker. That's a decision for another day though. I had too much fun on the trails to think about that now.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Ok so I can't count. I thought my half marathon this past November was my 10th. Turns out it was only my 9th. Here's the count of half marathons:

2008; PDR
2009; PDR, Philly Half
2010; Disney, PDR, Hershey
2011; PDR, OCNJ, Philly Half

I had to go count the medals and the hat (OCNJ) to be sure this time since I can't trust my head.

The good news is that April 29, 2012 will be my 10th.... and Emma's 1st! I like the eveness that. It appeals to my sense of balance. :)

Oh and today was day 20. The hardest one so far but I did my mile after work and the habit continues.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

4 miles, 2 hills (twice each), Wind Chill 17

I had way too much fun on this, day #17. I wanted to do a hill workout so I ran a route that takes me on two hills in Media. Edgmont Road is a long slow climb for 5 blocks and 8th Street is a short steeper climb for 2 blocks. In between the two the route is up and down as well but much shorter pieces than either of those. In fact, the ones in between are just short enough to give me a burst then a break. Two circuits of this route then back home is just shy of 4 miles so I run down my street and back to make it 4. My average pace was under 12 the entire way. I think I could have run harder. So now, I have something to shoot for next time.

I love cold weather running. I discovered that last year actually. I thought maybe it was just the snow but there hasn't been any snow yet (unless you count the freak storm on Halloween which I don't because it was gone in hours). I feel strong in the cold and things don't hurt as quickly. I guess the cold keeps the swelling down in my old joints. Whatever it is, I'm having fun.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 15; Why am I doing this?

Today was day 15. I ran 4 miles with friends to start off the New Year. I had planned to do 3. Funny thing about running with a group. I did 4 and felt great. Had I been alone I probably would have struggled through the 3.

I have been asked several times since I started, "Why are you doing this?" (the consecutive days of running). There are several reasons. (If you've been reading this blog you may find a lot of this post repetitive.) First, after the year I had in 2011 I knew I needed a 'no excuses' approach to running. I needed to create a habit so that no matter how cold, rainy, hot or yukky it might be I would go out for at least something. I've set the threshhold at 1 mile. Even on my worst day I can run a mile in less than 13 minutes and usually average about 11.5. I figure how hard can it be to get out for 11.5 -13 minutes a day. I've joined the 100 Days Challenge on FB (John Bingham's page) so on the days I only go out for less than 3 miles I will have to find other things to do 'intentionally' to make up the time.

Another reason for wanting to get a running habit started is my goal of getting to under 2:17 for the half marathon. I did that in 2009 at the Philadephia Half Marathon. I've not come close since. So what was different then? Simply put, I was running more. I had signed up for the 2010 Goofy Challenge and I was so afraid of not making it that I pushed harder. I wasnt getting out every day back then but I was running more and harder than I did in 2011. I felt better too. I was in better shape and weighed less.

I am currently signed up for 2 half marathons and I have a total of  5 (maybe 6 ) that I'd like to do this year.

Lehigh Valley Half - April 29 (with Emma) - already signed up
1/2 Saur 1/2 Kraut - June 29
Pennsbury Half - End of August. This is the maybe race.
Rock N Roll Phlly Half - September 16 - already signed up
Ocean City NJ Half - September 29
Philly Half - November 18