Wednesday, November 23, 2011

...and we're back!

Well, as you can see, I have taken a bit of a break from this blog. No particular reason, rather life got busy and time passed way too quickly. Since I last posted, so much has happened and I can't imagine trying to recount it all but now that the weather is getting colder and the days shorter, I am finding myself indoors more and thinking back to the warm days of the summer and fall.

My days are now filled with reading as many health and wellness blogs as I can, loading up on fresh, non-processed food and getting in regular exercise. While there is still room for much improvement, the small changes in the way I live my life have led to big rewards!

One of those rewards is my new found ability to run! I have never liked to run and I still don't think I like it very much, but my 2011 racing season was my evidence that I am becoming a runner! I started off the year signed up for a half marathon in March but opted to let Brian run it for me since I let the winter months keep me indoors and was far from prepared to run 13.1 miles. He did a great job running and I will be forever envious of his ability to do an endurance race with little to no training!

So skipping a race was hard on my ego and I knew it would be tough to get back into good enough shape to be part of the racing world again. So I took a big leap and signed up to join a local Crossfit gym close to our apartment. More blogging on this later, but if there was anything that changed my perception about fitness and a healthy lifestyle, it would be my involvement in Crossfit.

Working out at Crossfit really ignited my desire to get back into shape and even gave me confidence to sign up and run in a 10k trail run in June.  Trail runs are much more challenging than road races and a regular 10k would have probably been challenging enough for my first race of 2011, but this trail run really pushed me physically.  I was able to finish ( the very end of the pack) and that was the confidence booster that I needed to get back to gym to get stronger.

I completed my first half marathon of 2011 in September. My approach to training for this race differed greatly from my training for my half marathon in 2010. I did few long runs, more speed work, and strength training (Crossfit) 2-3 times a week. What a difference this training made on my run! I felt strong the entire race, I kept a pretty constant pace and only took 3 short walking breaks. And the best feeling was that after the race, I felt fantastic. I wasn't limping, the knees were not hurting and I had the energy to continue on with my day! Such a contrast from my first half marathon. Oh and I took about 5 mins off my previous time!

So my fitness confidence was up! I continued to run occasionally and incorporated Crossfit into my training plan, but my long runs didn't exceed 8 miles and I didn't have the confidence I needed to run in the 2011 Marine Corp Marathon. I had a spot in the race but 3 weeks before decided to defer to 2012. I am definitely disappointed in this decision, but feel very strongly that when I do run my first marathon, I want to be well trained and want to push myself as hard as I can for 26.2! So stay tuned and keep me accountable for training for a full marathon in Oct 2012.

This brings us to my last race. This past weekend I raced in the first Annapolis Half Marathon. Again my training for this race including few long runs, 5k speed workouts and lots of Crossfit! The race started out slow and I started having my doubts immediately. I had the same conversation with myself that I do at the beginning of ALL races... "why are you doing this?? why did you pay money to do this?? this will be the last time you ever do this!"
It was cold, it was windy, and the course remained crowded for the first 3 miles.
This race experience was a bit different in that I had my Garmin Forerunner with me and I got to track my timing, pace and milages. (Good thing because they didn't have any mile markers!) This helped tremendously! My goal was to keep a constant 10 min mile pace and finish under 2:20. My first few miles went quickly and I was keeping a great pace, I figured I even had time to stop for a break and would still be able to meet my time goal.
Well, around mile 8, I twisted my knee and felt intense pain throughout my whole leg. I hobbled around for a bit and took some motrin. I kept running but my pace slowed down to about a 12:00 min mile.... basically walking! I think I made it through all of mile 8 in this condition. I finally made it to a water station, stopped running and stretched a bit. I saw the injury van drive by and I was so very close to calling him over but resisted. I continued on and I think the motrin must have kicked in because I was back to my 9 min mile pace as I started mile 9.
The end came so quickly and I found myself pushing myself faster and faster during the last quarter mile. I am always amazed at the energy the human body can summon in those last meters of a race. It is those last seconds of a race, when you are sprinting toward the finish line that you really experience that "runners high" everyone speaks of!
My finish time ended up being 2:08!! Far better than the goal I had set. How cool is that! I still can't get over how great that time is for me!

So I end my 2011 racing season with a great race and the confidence booster I need to start eyeing the 2012 races! This time I will not let the winter months keep me inside and out of the gym!

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