Garden of the Gods 10 Miler Race Recap

I did it!! I finished this race!! I was waaaaay slower than my PR and finishing at 2:09…but I’m done 🙂

Pre-Race: Honestly, I’ve been pretty relaxed in terms of my prep for this race. I want to challenge myself but I want to do it on my own term. In the training department, I had a schedule to follow but I wasn’t very good at sticking with it during certain weeks. I had several great practice runs (and it forced me to work on hills) and overall, I became a lot closer with my running friend, B (added bonus). Although I had everything planned out, the two weeks leading up to the race was just absolutely nuts in terms of “life.” Two days before the race, I managed to squeeze in some time and picked up my bib at a local running store. This race also marked the first time that I drove myself to a race, ran it, and then drove myself home (my husband usually drives me and I will force him to cheer me on). I’m usually very excited by the prospect of running a race so I always do a little outfit planning the night before (mostly in anticipation of the weather). This time, however, I just sort of winged it the morning of the race.

The Course: They weren’t kidding when they said HILLS on the course. This is the most challenging course I have ever run on. The hills were frequent, some very large, and the altitude was an added bonus. I had decided beforehand that I was going to run/walk the course mainly to deal with the frequent uphills. I also need to make sure that I don’t push myself too hard because I had “other” things to do in the days following the race (I will go into this later). Despite that this is not an easy course, it was BEAUTIFUL. I had my phone with me and managed to snap several pictures on my run (yes, I wasn’t there to win the race). The view was simply amazing!! I hope I will have the opportunity to run this race again next year and with more prep, maybe I will beat my time from this year.

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Afterthought: It’s amazing for me to think that I only ran my first race (ever) Spring 2012. That was only a little over a year ago! A year later, I have two 10 mile races, one half marathon, and several 5Ks under my belt. I love this feeling of growth! I love that I’ve found something that I truly enjoy in the midst of all that goes on in our live (career, bills, relationships, marriage…you name it)! It’s an awesome knowledge that I can continue to challenge myself physically and mentally through my runs. Running will always be my sanctuary. I’m leaving for California on a short work-related trip starting tomorrow. This time, I won’t be brining my running kicks with me because my legs will need a little time to recover. I’m already thinking about my next race though – what distance and what location? I have several in mind, including the Santa Barbara Half, but I’m definitely on the look out for others.

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B and I post race!

It was indeed happy running!

GOG 10 Miler Week 8 Update

Holy moly…the race is this week!!! I don’t feel ready at all!

So last week has been OK in training, although I never got around to the super long run I had planned on Sunday. So I’ll have to just go with a longer/longish one tomorrow and then rest/short runs for the rest of the week. Also, I’m going to drink lots and lots and lots of water.

Fitness-wise, I’ve been feeling OK but I don’t think I’ve been managing my diet as well as I should 😦 I’ve been having a really sweet tooth lately and it doesn’t help that the spouse is always requesting my (famous) key-lime pie now it’s summer. How much pie can two relatively fit adults eat? You don’t want to know! Sometimes, life and fitness can be so frustrating, especially if you fall short of your goals. Sigh.

So what else is going on? Oh yes, the spouse is leaving home for work again. It’s always the WORST right before he leaves. Like right now, he’s packing his gear and whatever else he needs and you can just feel stress radiating from him. The energy around home is tense because we are both dealing (in our own way) with his departure. I know I should have pressed on with my schedule, but I allowed myself to take today off from working out (except now I’m regretful because I could have really used it). Tomorrow is the big day; we already have plans for his drop off…and then he’ll be on his way for work and I’ll be able to settle into my “lonely lady” routine. OK, I’m not really lonely during those times when he’s away (I actually fare really well on my own – it’s a part of my charm) but I get to hit the gym at night…and I really love that.

Anyways, I think I fared OK (but definitely not my best) in my training so this week is my last chance to figure things out for the race on Sunday. I guess, race and whatnot, it’s all a part of life. Hopefully I’ll have a satisfactory race report next Monday for all of you!

Happy Running!

GOG 10 Miler Week 7 Update

Oh my gosh, I’m late…on this blog post and life in general (haha). Let me quickly send out this update before I have to run off to the gym and officially start my day. So remember the soreness I had to endure at the end of week 6 due to overexerting myself during the “fun” and “pretend” PT test? Well, that baby lasted the whole damn week! I can’t say that my lower abs have returned to normal because I do feel some strain during the “upward dog” in yoga. Anyhow, this last week really wasn’t my best effort in training and fitness. First, the soreness (and SUNBURN) made it just absolutely bleh to do any kind of work out for a couple of days (although I did take some walks, tried to stretch…etc). Second, it was a whirlwind kind of week, both physically and emotionally (let me elaborate about that in a later post).

Despite the break from yoga and not doing as much running as I should, I did manage to squeeze in some speed work. I had mentioned that I’ve been trying to crank up my speed at the end part of my runs…and so far I’ve really enjoyed doing that. I was only able to run twice last week but both I felt were solid training sessions. And the rest of the time, I was just trying to recover physically with light cardio and some stretching.

Honestly, I’m not too happy about how I did last week but I really have to accept that it is what it is. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who can run 4-5 miles everyday and keep up with it for weeks and months on that same regimented schedule. Ugh. A friend once told me that sometimes, we just can’t allow life to get in the way of training…but I really also believe that for an amateur like myself, it is all about balance. I run because I want to be healthy. I also enjoy running very much so it’s my hobby. In a strange way, because it’s so enjoyable for me, I don’t want to feel trapped by all the constraints that could come along with training for races – I just want to do what I feel! I want every moment that I’m either out on a trail or  pounding the treadmill to be times that I enjoy in its totality. There are enough guilt and shame in our lives associate with being in a relationship (whether you’re a husband, wife, parent, girlfriend…etc) or in our jobs…I really don’t need my hobby to turn into something of a chore. As you can see, I am still trying to find that balance between how much do I make time for running and when do I just have to prioritize life and work. I may have to struggle with this one for a long while…but much like running, as long as you keep moving, you are getting somewhere.

Alrighty, more posts later this week about how life/work took over my last week but also some gorgeous photos from my short visit to the Rocky Mountains National Park!

GOG 10 Miler Week 6 Update

This was a fun week because I did decently (and felt great) on my training runs and then had to take consecutive rest dates because of an event I participated in over the weekend. So let me tell you a little about this…

The week started out kinda slow and I only had time to run for 20 mins at a time. When things get crazy, it’s easy to just say nope, maybe tomorrow. One of the things I’ve been working on in terms of my motivation for fitness is to resist that urge to procrastinate and hold off. Instead, I decided that it’s absolutely fine that I have a busy life and I sometimes can’t find time to work out…so I squeezed those run in. I figure if I run 1.5-2 miles on two separate days, I would have logged 3-4 miles after those sessions. That’s better than nothing.

Later in the week, my fitness level picked up and my schedule opened up. I was at the gym one day and ran the best feeling 4 miles in a while. I also went back to my heavily cushioned Nike Zoom Structure that day to give my legs/feet a break and it felt like running on a soft cloud. The ride on the belt was smooth 🙂 By this point in the week, I probably had ran close to 10 miles. I felt pretty great because despite the shorter session earlier in the week, I ran hard! I cranked up the speed and I’ve also been pushing the last half mile of my runs…I read some where once that many athletes do that to teach their bodies to deal with stress when they are tired…good training…

Now here’s the fun part about this last week. On Saturday morning, I went to an event that my husband’s work put on for us spouses. This event was meant to give us spouses a taste of what training may be like for our soldiers. A lot of my friends were at this Saturday mornng event so I thought it’s gonna be absolutely fun and a  no biggie. Well, it was a lot of fun but it was also way more physically demanding than I expected. One of the things we had to do is take a (modified version of a) fitness test – number of push-ups in a minute, number of sit-ups in 30 seconds, and a one mile run. I can do about 5 regular push-ups (now, consider that I couldn’t do ANY a year ago…it just never occurred to me to work on my upper-body strength before last year). I seriously pushed it and did 5 good push-ups and 15 other not-so-perfect ones. Then I did about 17 sit-ups (and of course, I hardly ever use my abs in such capacity). Finally, I went all out and sprinted a sub-8 minute mile (and I felt like puking the whole time I was running). It was hard, but it was fun! I’m happy that I went all out on the run…it feels good to pass people. My running buddy was also on this run and I barely passed her on the final stretch. We both ran a sub-8 minute mile – I think our training is working out (if only just a little bit).

After the fitness test, we had several other “stations” and events. Some were more physically demanding than the others. During one of the stations, we had to put on pro masks (gas masks) and walk/run to our next area. Yeah, that was exactly what I wanted to do right after I sprinted for a mile 😛 It reminded me of my husband and when he used to do military competitions in college (there was one event where he had to run with full-gear and wearing his gas mask – you learn some breathing techniques from that). But the worst part of the day was probably low crawling and high crawling through the dirt (and loose gravel). Days later, I still have awful bruises from that…and A LOT of respect for our American soldiers who carry on despite the physical and mental demands of their jobs.

I had a great time at the event but I felt like crap the next morning. I was sunburned (hello high altitude UV rays!) and I felt as if  a truck had ran over me. There were no part of my body that didn’t ached at least a little. I could barely move. So, it’s been no running for me for two days now although I did went on walks (through the mall) in hope that it would help muscle repair. A friend of mine once told me that I shouldn’t take ibuprofen because it hinders the healing process but I’m not sure if there’s any truth in that. I didn’t take any that day just because I was on an empty stomach and had to wait.

I’m finally feeling better and will probably get back to training tomorrow (did I also mentioned the weather is cold and rainy again??) Alas, there are really a lot of ups and downs in training…and we can feel so different from day to day. But all the more, each day, that we can go out and pound some pavement, is a day worth living for.

Happy Running!

GOG 10 Week 5 Update

My gosh, it’s Monday again…once again so pooped! Last week’s gotta be the best training week for me to date! I logged about 11 miles in 3 training runs, did yoga one day, and cardio on two others! I was pretty regular with going to the gym (one of the perks with the spouse being not home is I get to go to the gym in the evenings) 😀

One of my highlights from last week was I did a 5K on Saturday. It was a small local run and I wanted to do it. My husband had just returned home in the wee hours of that morning/night…but he was sweet enough to wake up and took me the event in the morning. It was a 5k trek around part of an airforce base. The weather was awesome (finally!!) and it feels good to go out and run first thing on a Saturday morning! Since the run was for our Armed Forces (and our surrounding community), I thought it was especially touching that my running route took me through the airfield and the terminal where our soldiers deploy out of and come home to. Looking at the C130s sitting on the tarmac as I run by just brings a tear to my eyes!

Another thing I want to mention is I finally did some hill trainings last week! Boy, was it hard! This is really something I have to work on :/ There’re a bunch of smaller hills on this trail near my house but there’s also this one very big (and long) hill – it’s one of those where your car would shift gears (if you drive an automatic like me) trying to get the top. So far, I’ve not been able to take that hill in one run. I’ve always had to stop mid-way and walk up the rest of it (grrrr). My goal is to be able to run up that hill without walking or feeling like I will pass out before my training is finished for this race.

It’s a gonna have to be a shorter post today because I’m so tired! Mondays are just kinda crazy for me, especially today, since I had to prep and teach/brief a military formals class this morning. Hope my training continues nicely this week…

Happy Running!!

GOG 10 Week 4 Update

Oh my gosh, I’m so tired! My eyelids are literally drooping as I type… 🙂

So this last week hasn’t been too bad…I guess I’m improving and I can start to feel my running groove coming back!! Last week, I got the new Inov8 shoes and I’ve been trying them out. The first time I ran on them, I only went for 2 miles but oh boy, were my calves sore! Last week was kind of a frantic week and my schedule was all mixed up because the spouse was in the field for 3 days and then immediately left for a week-long work-related trip. During the week, I ran between 2-3 miles to get used to the new shoes. After a day or two of rest coupled with yoga, I finally decided I was gonna do my longer run on the weekend in the Inov 8s! I gotta say those were the best 5 miles I’ve done in a long while! My legs were a little tired when I was done but not particularly sore on the calves and my feet felt great! No strange soreness on the ankles or anything…of course, I’ve also been more conscientious of my running form and these shoes do force me to pay more attention. Anyways, I could use a couple more  overall miles but I feel a lot more motivated about running! That’s an awesome feeling, especially at about 1 month out from the race!

In other training news, I found out that my yoga studio is adding additional 6am yoga classes! The studio used to only offer 6am classes on Tues and Thurs but starting next week, there’ll also be classes on Mon, Wed, and Fri. I’m really excited and my inclination is to dive into it…but I really have a lot going on this month so we’ll see if I can make it to all these extra yoga classes.

I’m really looking forward to my long run this weekend. I’m planning to do 6 miles. Last week, my friend B and I couldn’t coordinate to go on our training run together at the GoG because her husband is also away from home (in fact, on the same work-related trip as my hubby). Hopefully we can get together this week to run. She told me about the crazy hills on the race route that she checked out last week and my heart is just full of trepidition about it…but I guess there’s no other way to deal with it but to practice, practice, practice!

Besides all the fun stuff with my running motivation on an upswing, I also realized something last week on the treadmill. One of the lessons of running is acceptance. I saw this great quote on the internet that sums up my revelation pretty well:

There are two primary choices in life – to accept conditions as they exist or accept responsibility for changing them.

–Denis Waitley

For me, both types of acceptance is necessary. For one, I need and want to accept my body, my abilities, and my limitations. I acknowledge that at altitude, I might never run as fast as I can at sea-level but what’s important is my acceptance of the responsility to do something…including my attempt to become stronger and faster. I think this is something that I will continue to ponder on in the coming days and months.

I think that’s all for now. Happy running!

GOG 10 Week 3 Training Update

So this past week was a little better in terms of training although I didn’t keep a good record of what went on each day. Basically, the total mileage of the week wasn’t very high but that was somewhat planned. I was able to get three decent (but shorter) runs in with a combo of some strength and yoga. My friend B and I were able to go out to GoG park again and we did approximately 5k while we were there. Boy, the hills are really killers…there was a steady uphill climb that lasted approximately a mile. I had to transition to walking on part of the hill. Grrr.

Honestly, I feel that I’m behind in my projected training progress (did I mention that I’m a chronic undertrainer???) but I guess that’s one of the many lessons running teach me – I can’t be perfect but I can keep trying. I also feel that there’s a lesson about patience somewhere in there; progress is cumulative. In spite of the days I feel lazy and discouraged, I do love running. There’s nothing like the high of finishing a 5+ mile training session…and know that you can easily handle another 5 miles. SIMPLY AMAZING.

On other running news, the weather has been gorgeous these past couple of days. It felt so good to run with shorts and a simple running top (and not all bundled up like I usually am). It reminded me of those warm Southern California days when I was able to run with a long sleeve shirt and shorts (and never lose my tan) all winter.

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B on a training run in the GoG Park

Aside from the graces of good weather, I also added new kicks to my training gear. I know all the warnings against changing footwear mid-training but I’ve been working on my running form for a while now. After some research and soliciting the opinions of runner friends, I decided to see if a more minimalist shoe will help with my tendency to heel strike. Earlier this year, I suffered from horrid plantar fasciitis on my left foot. After going back and forth between getting better and then getting worse again because I ran, I finally just had to stop running for 6 weeks to let it heal. My doctor told me my injury is possibly related to heel striking (aka poor form).

I went down to a local running store and tried out at about 5 pairs of different “minimalist style” running shoes. Of the bunch, I really liked the Inov 8 F-Lite Series – I ended up going home with this shoe. I’m still trying to figure out how to run effectively and efficiently with my new kicks. I took them out for a spin this afternoon (have I already mentioned that the weather is glorious??), and I can really see myself getting used to this. Heeding the suggestions of fellow runners, I’ll be taking my transition slowly and will be going back and forth between the Inov 8 and my Nike Structure.

Since I’m a newbie at all this running shoes stuff, I would love to hear your opinion about running shoes! Do you run with minimalist shoes? What kind of shoes do you wear? Do you love your shoes? 

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New running shoes 🙂

Happy Running!!

GOG 10 Miler Playlist…So Far!

One of my favorite things to do is compling a running playlist! I always look forward to some “me” time in the form of beautiful running weather and an awesome tracklist 🙂 This is what I have so far for my GOG 10 playlist. I still need to add on another hour worth of music so I’m open to suggestions!!

Playist In Progress

Happy Running!

GOG 10 Training Week 2 Update

How about we call it the “not training” update? Between the craziness of Boston, weather in Colorado, and going on an out-of-town trip, my training runs have been few and far between. I’m not even going to really go into detail but basically I did a couple of short runs and I only have lukewarm feelings about them. Honestly, I couldn’t really tell because the weather has been so sucky and I’m kind of a wimp when it’s cold.

With the snow (and crazy wind) still coming in Colorado despite the fact that it’s late April (even as I type!!), I am seriously considering a gym membership at a location near my house (read: less than 5 miles). Currently, my gym access consists of the fitness centers available on military bases. The closet one to me is an airforce base approximately 10 miles away. I guess it’s not that far but considering the time and effort it takes to go there, get on the treadmill (if there’s one open immediately), and get changed afterwards, I’m already feeling defeated and tired!

It looks like the weather this week may be a repeat of what was last week – cold, rain, SNOW, wind during midweek with a slow warming trend towards the end of the week. I really got to get over my inability to go on training runs during poor weather. I can do all the weights I want in my house but at the end of the day, I’m gonna have to RUN for 10 miles up and down a bunch of hills at elevation and that you have to train for. Fortunately, I saw my friend B at a baby shower yesterday and we decided that we need to get together again for a training run in the GOG this weekend. We’re both busy (her even more so because she has kids) but I hope we can find a good time to go together.

In other news, I had an amazing weekend in Taos, New Mexico! It was the trip that both the spouse and I desperately needed – to get away from town, away from the busy-business of our work + everyday life, and to focus on ourselves. So I guess instead of “me time,” we had some “we time.” For those of you who haven’t been to New Mexico, it’s so worth a visit. I am just so facinated and inspired by the Southwest in general. Last Novemeber, the spouse and I visited Santa Fe. It was not hard for me to understand why so many artists (including Georgia O’Keefe) were drawn to New Mexico and were willing to spend years lost in the beauty of this region. I promise I’ll write a little more about my trip later this week but here’s one of my favorite photos from this weekend. I love old churches and the San Francisco de Asis Church is one of the most photographed churches in all of New Mexico. As you can see, it’s definitely unique!

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