Thursday, March 28, 2013

Trading in my running shoes...

Ok, maybe I'm not really trading in my running shoes (that title scared you all a bit, huh??)... but I did try something new this week!  Sorry, I'm photo-less.  Bad blogger!

I've always wanted to take dance lessons.  I figured it would be ballroom dancing and with the popularity of Dancing with the Stars, these classes have taken off.  One of the downfalls of these classes?  The majority of them say you have to register with a partner, at least the cheap community college or park district ones always do.  And I've never had someone to register with.

If you know me, I do NOT dance...EVER!  I don't even like dancing at weddings.  But I get harassed by the bride telling her that if her bridesmaid doesn't dance it will "ruin her wedding!"  Way to lay a guilt trip on me.  So I force myself to "try" to dance at a wedding and generally hate every minute of it as I have no rhythm and two left feet.  Everyone always says it doesn't matter what you look like, just have fun!  As much as that is probably true, feeling like I look like an idiot isn't much fun.  I think my dancing insecurity stems from a traumatizing incident at an underage dance club when I was in 7th grade.... 

Me:  (Dancing)
Horrible random girl:  "You call THAT dancing!"
Me:  (Blank stare and feeling humiliated)

Horrible random teen girl...I hate you for ruining my dancing life!

As much as ballroom dancing is hardly done at the popular's the easiest class to find and probably for me to learn (as my hips don't like to shake much). 

I haphazardly mentioned one evening to boyfriend Derek after seeing a Dancing with the Stars commercial that I've always wanted to take dance lessons.  That was all I said. I didn't ask him to go. I didn't beg him to fulfill a life long dancing dream of mine.  I mean, most guys don't want to do such silly things with their girlfriends. 

The next day...he was sending me links to fancy expensive dance classes in far away lands (Naperville).  He actually wanted to sign up with me!  I immediately became nervous.  You mean, I might finally try to dance...on purpose??  I finally asked him about park district or college classes that might be cheaper.  He found that his park district had a session of classes starting up in a couple weeks!  (What were the odds?)...  It was really cheap and only 6 classes.  I figured why not!  I've always wanted to learn and I had someone willing to go with me.  He signed us up. The information said we would learn the Waltz, Fox Trot, 2-Step, Rumba, Cha Cha, Polka, and Swing.  With only 6 classes, I figured it would be very basic, which was all I really wanted right now anyway!

Turned out the class was moved back one week and unfortunately that first class coincided with one of Derek's weeks to work nights.  Therefore, he was going to miss the first class.  I decided I would still go and if nothing else, I could sit on the sidelines and watch, or talk to the instructor, or dance alone....whatever happened.  I just didn't want to miss the first class. 

I arrived a few minutes early but the instructor must have been eager and he had already started class.  I mentioned that I was solo for the first class but thought I would still come and the instructor said that was a good idea.  Everyone was lined up and we started learning the basic box step.  It seems easy but it remembering which foot to lead with, which foot to retreat with, and all that "jazz"  Then they all got with their partners to practice and I practiced alone.  The instructor came over and looked at me and asked if I had done this before.  I said no and he looked surprised and said it looked like I have!  Ok, let's not get too crazy here kind sir!  It's only the first move!  I have plenty of time to show you how dance challenged I really am.

That came quick when we were practicing the second move which was how to turn.  I got confused with the second half of that step and asked the instructor for clarification.  After all, I have to teach this to my dance partner later in the week!  The instructor paired up with me to show me how to do it and I quickly caught on. 

We learned more things, like how to move around the dance floor doing the Waltz moves, other types of Waltz moves, etc.  The woman always moved backwards and the guy is leading her and basically making sure he doesn't run into things.  Since I didn't have that and I was moving around the dance floor backwards on my own, it was inevitable that I would run into another couple!  Luckily it only happened once and also luckily, I didn't run into a wall or a poll.  I call that a success!

We transitioned these Waltz moves into the Fox Trot.  I guess most of the dancing have the same basic steps, only different beats.  1-2-3...quick-quick-quick...or... 1-2-3 slow quick quick, etc.  I felt like I was going to dream about these words!

The class was supposed to be an hour but it stretched to about 1 hour 20 minutes!  There was a Salsa class afterwards and the instructor said if we wanted to stay for a free salsa class, we were able to.  I decided to stay since I was already there and I like free things!  We learned the first step and again the instructor asked if I had done this before.  I said no...and he was shocked and said it looks like I have.

I think I missed my dance calling!

I stayed for about 20 minutes but since I had been there for 1 hr 40 minutes already, I was tired and decided to head home.

I had a great time and even though I had to go solo, I'm glad I went. I was in a great mood afterwards!  I understand that the Waltz may not be the popular dance that "all the kids are doing"...but it will be fun to do something different.  I may have to break out some sweet Waltz moves at my next party!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Implementing Speed Work...again

Now that I'm a month post-injury, I feel that it is safe enough and my body is healed as much as it's gonna be enough to start putting speed work back on my running schedule.

I'm slightly obsessive compulsive so when I first started doing my speed work back in November, I created a spreadsheet that tells me the date, type of speed work (tempo, intervals, fartleks), distance, average pace, and a spot for comments (interval pace, any conditions that I feel are important enough to write out, warm up and cool down pace).  Seriously, OCD.  Anyway, my last speed work was around January 10th.  I had the half marathon at the end of January and stopped with the speed work immediately prior to rest my legs.  I stopped immediately after due to my shoulder dislocations.  Two months after my last speed work, I was a little lost on how to start back up.

I've mentioned running has been a bit hard to pick back up.  Not running in general...but running the way I ran back in January!  I'm too hard on myself.  I want to be there NOW!  I have a goal half marathon in May!  I've tried to just relax a bit.  I picked running back up slowly.  I ran shorter distances and a slower pace.  I needed to start somewhere but didn't want to hurt myself.  Especially considering the first time I tried to run was with my Thursday night run group and I ended the run with tears, frustration, and a sore shoulder.  It's never easy coming back from any type of injury.

But with an 8k PR, a long run last weekend of over 9 miles, a hill run, and several "regular" runs, I felt that it might be time to start speed work again.  I don't want to push myself too hard but I don't want to baby myself either.

I decided 400 meter intervals were the best way to start back up.  The question was...what pace?  I looked at my old notes on my speed work and decided maybe I should start where I started in November.  My speed intervals were around an 8:30 pace.  However, I also know that sometimes I focus too much on the garmin and it may throw me off mentally. So I also decided to do what I did that first speed workout in November...not look at my pace at all and run by feel.  It worked really well back then!

Yesterday, I went out for my 400 meter intervals.  Easy 1/2 mile warm up & cool down and 4x400 speed and 4x400 recovery.  My thought was to have my speed be around 8:30 and maybe my recovery to be around 10:00, running by feel of course!  It was super windy and slightly cool with a light mist.  I went anyway.  It's now light out if I go immediately when I get home from work!  The thought of the dreadmill made me sad. Plus since I wanted to run by feel, the treadmill would make me focus on a specific pace too much.

The result:  I felt that I was running my warm up too fast.  I tried to slow up a bit but I didn't think I succeeded in that.  The first speed interval and recovery interval were into a huge headwind.  After my first speed interval, I stopped and swore under my breath at the wind for making this more difficult!  I thought about giving up the speed work and running easy.  Then I remembered back to my first speed workout in November and I remember it being hard.  And after a few weeks, it got easier.  That helped me not give up and keep pushing, wind or no wind.

The whole time I was out there, I felt my speed intervals weren't fast enough (and that maybe there were closer to 9:00 than 8:30).  I also felt that my recovery intervals were probably closer to 10:30's than 10:00.  I was slightly frustrated the whole time for this feeling as difficult as it did.  Again, I didn't look at my watch at all.  And I finally made it to the measly 3 miles I set out to do.

Actual results:  I was much faster than I thought.  No wonder I was winded and frustrated.

1/2 mile warm up and cool down: 10:04, 10:00
1/4 mile Speed: 8:06, 8:16, 8:02, 8:27
1/4 mile Recovery: 9:40, 10:11, 9:55, 9:52

Ok, it's clear from my garmin results that I actually have more in me than I think I do.  Coming back from an injury shatters your confidence a bit sometimes.  I doubt my abilities.  I get frustrated with myself.  Basically, I need to not be so hard on myself and just keep pushing forward.  I still have the "old me" in me.  It just takes a little time.

Did I also mention this was already my second workout of the day?  I enjoyed an early morning spin class the same day as my evening speed workout.  Bad ass or stupid?  Doesn't matter to me...

Next time I'm going to look at my garmin pace to be a little more consistent with my intervals.  My speed could be taken back just a bit 8:20-8:30.  I'm pleased with the outcome of yesterday's speed work and am excited to try another round of intervals or a tempo run next week. Just trying to get back on that horse...

**Giveaway News** - Check out this great giveaway posted on Erica Finds!  Click HERE for details!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Running O' the Green 8k Race Recap

Last Sunday I ran the Running O' the Green 8k in Tinley Park.  It was kind of a last minute decision (a week prior before online registration closed and the price doubled).  I thought it would be a good way to see where I was at with running a race (and an 8k) prior to running the Shamrock Shuffle at the beginning of April.

My goal for the Shamrock Shuffle was always to PR my 2011 time of 48:04.  That equals a 9:40 pace and with the way my running was going in January...seemed like a "sure thing".  Of course, when you expect a sure likes to bring you a curve ball to challenge you a bit.  Thanks Life.

Since I dislocated my shoulder and took about a month off of running...and almost all exercise, it's been slightly challenging to get back into it.  Hence...the small local 8k race to prepare for the Shamrock Shuffle.

The race was on Sunday, March 10, 2013.  The morning after daylight savings time and we would lose an hour of sleep.  I'm never a fan of losing an hour of sleep.  Especially because I had a surprise birthday party for someone in my run group the night before.  Of course, I started with a light beer since I was running in the morning.  Then followed it with 2 long island ice of my favorite alcoholic drinks!  I got home about 12:30 and went to bed.

Derek and I at the party the night before the run
I got up kind of late and rushed to eat something and get ready.  I heard it raining outside and seriously considered being a baby, skipping the run and going back to bed!  My excuses were:  "It was only $16. I just came back from a dislocated shoulder (got to throw that in right?).  It's raining, I can just run later!"

When I realized that I was being a baby and that a little rain was no excuse to skip this race, I finished getting dressed and decided to tough it out. Plus the weather was in the lower 40's and I miss "warmer" weather.

I got down to the run in about 5 minutes...and got to park in the lot right by the building (got to love small local races) and picked up my packet.  I talked to some Yankee Runners and then hung out with some of my Frankfort/New Lenox runners before the race started.

FNRC representing
When my friend Jill and I were walking to the start, she kept telling me to hold her arm/hand when we had to walk over snow and ice so I wouldn't fall.  I thought that was funny and cute.  Such a friend!  She said if I was going down, she was going down too.  She didn't want me to hurt my shoulder again.

My plan for this race was just to run easy and see how I do.  I had NO HOPES of running a sub-10:00 pace.  I really didn't think I could do it for 5 miles since coming back from my injury.  I also honestly thought (and really never considered I could) that I definitely would not PR my 8k time of 48:04.

The race started about 15 minutes late due to "the rain and technical difficulties".  Finally it started and so did I.  My first mile?  About a 9:06.  Wait!?  What!?!  Ok, I figured I could slow it down the second mile a bit.  My second mile?  About a 9:08.  I guess I slowed it down.  I thought "How is this happening?  I haven't been able to run sub-10 since I came back from injury!"  Now I really figured I needed to slow it down because this was an 8k (not a 5k).  I needed to make sure I would be able to sustain a good pace for the rest of the run and not fall apart.  So I told myself to bring the 3rd mile back a bit. I was already on a PR pace.  I was running about a 9:39 for a good portion of the 3rd mile but then looked at my watch after 3/4 of the mile and saw it dropped to 9:20+...  What the hell??  3rd mile came in at about 9:23 and that was with me slowing it down!

Well, now there were only 2 miles left.  I just wanted to keep a "consistent" pace and I'd finish with a decent time for me.  Most of the run was on the streets through Tinley Park but the last mile was on a trail.  When I saw the trail, I immediately got nervous.  I didn't know if there would be any slick, icy patches.  It had been raining almost the whole time and I didn't want to chance slipping and falling.  When I got to the trail, I saw that it looked clear and relaxed a bit.  Of course, that's when it decided to downpour sideways rain!  That was fun.  So I was running straight through about 5 puddles in the last mile.  I was getting cold and wet and was glad it was almost over.  Of course, I wanted to stop and walk.  In fact, I thought about bringing the last mile back to a 10:00 minute pace...just because I could and still PR (and because I was pretty tired).  But I'm not a quitter and I know that's no way to run a race, so I pushed through.  It's a little humbling to have to "push through" 5 miles but I am where I am right now in the running world.  My 4th and 5th miles were 9:15 and 9:21.

So, after all my stress and worry about running an 8k, and being completely positive I wouldn't PR and not even thinking I would run faster than a 10:00 pace...  My final time was 46:23 with a average pace of 9:20.  I came in 12th in my age group (out of 40).  Not bad at all from coming back from an injury and only running a couple times before this race.

I like running races in Tinley Park for a couple of reasons (and this race was no exception).  It's right in my backyard (almost).  They have a starting mat and finish mat so you get an accurate time.  Right after you cross the finish line, you can go and get a printout of your time and your current standings.  They have a pretty awesome spread of food afterwards.  The location of this race meant we would wait inside the Park District building which was great due to the rain.  It's well organized and inexpensive (pre-registration prices are $19 with a shirt or $16 without a shirt).

I've never done this particular 8k race but I really enjoyed myself and I'm pretty sure I would do it again.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Race Fever & The Shamrock Shuffle

I think I need an intervention.  Bring me back from the DL and I now have race sign-up fever.  Last year I was "peer-pressured" into signing up for tons of 5k races, which I never do more than 1 or 2 a year.  This year, I vowed not to cave into signing up for races just because others in my run group were and "it would be fun!!".  And so far, I haven't signed up for a single 5k for 2013 (with the exception of the Warrior Dash, which I'm now not doing because of my shoulder).

I am registered for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k on April 7th.  This is one of my favorite races to do and I've done it every year since 2004 (except once when I went to Florida) that makes 2013 my 9th year doing it!  I looked up my previous PR for this race back in January and my fastest time was 48:04 in 2011.  What!?  48:04 is an average pace of 9:40 min/mile! of my main race related goals for 2013 was to PR my Shamrock Shuffle.  After looking at the time I had to beat and my recent (in January) races and running...I figured I was a shoe-in to PR!  Well, a month out and I'm just getting back into running from my month off due to my shoulder dislocations...and needless to say...I'm not as confident anymore!  I'm wondering if I'll even average a 10:00 pace!

In order to "see where I'm at" for 8k's, I signed up at the last minute for the Running O' the Green 8k in my hometown of Tinley Park for this Sunday.  It's practically in my backyard and super cheap.  My only issues were that I'm going out the night before for a birthday celebration and there will be a few the time change (losing an hour of sleep)...might make an 8k rough.  But I figured I won't be out until the butt crack of dawn and I've done half marathons on less sleep and more drinks so I should be good.  Plus, I'm not planning on "racing" this 8k.  I'm just running it to see how I feel.  It will give me a good indication of what I need to do to PR the Shamrock Shuffle next month.

That 8k was an impromptu race sign-up.  But I figured why stop there...I also signed up for the half marathon in Champaign (4/28) the week before the half marathon in Indy (5/4) ...I previously mentioned this to you all.  With my April filling up pretty fast (ok, only 2 races actually but also 2 races in May), I was undecided with signing up for the Quarryman Challenge in Lemont again this year.  Last year, it got cancelled on the day of the race due to rain after we all waited around for an hour (see my post here).  The race offered the 2012 participants a discounted price for 2013.

I was unsure what I wanted to do about this race.  I signed up on a whim last year the weekend before.  I didn't have a good experience with it being cancelled.  I was just kind of .. "eh..."  And after looking at my race schedule...this race falls directly after the Shamrock Shuffle and 2 weeks before the Champaign half.  If I signed up for it, that would put me with 3 races in one month.  Kind of a lot for me.  I sat on making this decision for a little while.  After looking at my half marathon training plan, however, it has me down for a 15k race that same weekend (9.3 miles).  I finally decided it was worth signing up for this 10 mile run with the discounted price since it fits into my training plan.  It's a hilly run and I am not "racing" it.  I also know Maggie will be there as well.

So there you have it...I've got 3 races in April and 2 races in May.  As long as I (knock on wood) stay injury free, I'm hoping for some good outcomes and that my running will steadily improve back or close to where I was before I injured myself.  I also have to make sure I don't succumb to too much peer pressure come those summer 5k's!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

February in Review

I actually had 3/4 of a blog post written and I just deleted the whole thing. I wrote it a couple days ago but never finished it.  I realized that it was a bunch of whining and complaining about running and my shoulder...and no one wants to read about that. Not even me!  So I realized I never did my month end report.  How'd it go??  Well, it was a rough one...

Total Run Miles: 11.66
Total Bike Miles: 27.67 plus 1 spin workout
Total Swim Distance: 2000 meters (1 swim workout)

The month started well...I was doing a February Fitness challenge that consisted of a lot of plank work and triceps.  I did a nice hill long run on February 2nd.  I did a great swim workout on February 3rd and covered my longest swim distance to date!  That's pretty much when it ended.  I dislocated my shoulder in the evening on February 3rd.  And dislocated it again exactly two weeks later on February 17th when I was gearing up to do my first run back.  It's been a pretty frustrating month for a runner and avid exerciser.  I barely did anything besides some walking, some stationary bike, 1 elliptical workout, and 1 spin workout.  Finally at the end of February, I was able to go for a run again.

From now until several months swim distance will now say 0.  I'm pretty upset about that as I love to swim and was glad I got a membership for my birthday for a gym with a pool!  I was going to do a triathlon later this year.  I wanted in the near future to do a half ironman.  All that will now be put on hold due to the swimming.  I need to make sure my shoulder is a little more stable before I can think about doing any swimming.

I did a short Thursday night run last week with my group.  I was only going to go 3 miles but the group was going 4 miles.  I thought I could try for that but that day my shoulder was incredibly sore the whole day and running didn't help it.  Half way through, I was consistently saying "Ow!"  My breathing was labored as my fitness level isn't quite where it was.  I wanted to keep going.  After saying Ow a few times, Derek told me we were going to head back.  I'm stubborn and fought it a little more.  Finally after 3.25 miles, I told him I needed to go back and cut it short of 4 miles.  I did 3.56.

Needless to say, I'm a little bit of a baby when things aren't going right.  3.56 miles used to be not so bad...relatively an easy distance to cover.  But that Thursday, I struggled the whole way. And when I got back with Derek and we were waiting for the rest of the group...I fought back some tears of frustration.  Of course I know it's ok.  That I need to start somewhere and ease back into it.  I need to not completely push myself too hard right now.  That was just my first run.  I tried to keep a sense of reality.

And on Saturday (March 2nd), I tried a "long" run...since I'm half marathon training and in my 3rd week!  Of course, I missed the first 2.5 weeks of a 12 week training program but I should be ok with that.  My plan was to do a slower long run of 5 miles (if I could).  I figured as long as I can at minimum do 4.5 miles, I would be "ok" with it.  I met Derek and Becky who are also training for half marathons.  We were going to hit the trails and I wanted to run alone...just me and my music, but the trails were too snowy and icy so we hit the streets.  Since I was unfamiliar with the area, I decided to stick with Derek and Becky.  They were doing 6 miles but I figured I could get back sooner.  We did 1.5 mile loops and near my 5, they asked if I wanted to head back.  I decided I felt well enough and I was running slow enough that I could hang for the 6 miles instead.

Saturday was definitely a slight boost in confidence for me.  Yes my miles were slow but I did more than I had intended.  My shoulder felt pretty good and really didn't bother me at all while running.

The following Monday, after a spin workout, I decided to hit the treadmill for a short speed workout. I actually HATE the treadmill but thought this would be the easiest thing to do.  My goal was to do 3 miles, with 4x400 intervals.  I actually felt good while running, I just am not a fan of the treadmill and after 2 speed intervals, I wanted to be done and stop.  I decided to squeeze one more interval out and call it a night.  My speed pace was 9:05, 8:57, 8:49.  I probably could have hung in a little longer if I kept the intervals at 9:05 but mentally, I was checked out from the treadmill.  I really just wanted to see how my shoulder felt after running "fast".  It felt good so maybe I can take a speed workout outside this week.

I also might pick back up some of my hill running and really just try to get back into the swing of things.  I've moped around long enough.  I need to get my routine back.  I'm just trying not to dislocate my shoulder again.  Everything I do (opening doors, carrying a bag, grabbing a railing), I'm worrying about how my shoulder and arm is positioned.  It's really not fun and I think I'm being a little too cautious but honestly, I just really don't want to hurt myself again.  Did I mention that it sucks only being able to really stretch one side of your body??  Try it!

I have my Thursday night run group tonight and we will once again be running on the streets instead of on the trails due to the 10 inches of snow Chicago received on Tuesday (thanks for that Mother Nature).  It's supposed to be warming up however, and I'm hoping the snow melts and the trails are ready to run come next week!