Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lessons I've Learned While Running

yeah probably not supposed to be using this image.
oh well. I'm on the far right. 

About a year and a half ago, I started trying to "be a runner" and while I've had some "downtime" along the way, I'm still working toward that goal. (For the record, I do think I'm a runner, my goal is to continue feeling that way.)

I know some of my friends are trying to pick up running, so I've been shelling out advice here and there and figured it would be good stuff for a blog post ... so ... here is my super expert (not really) running advice beyond the "get a good pair of shoes" stuff. Feel free to add your own lessons learned in the comments.

I must be clear, I am in no way an expert. Also what works for me might not work for you. Seek an actual professional for the good advice.

You will have bad days. Don't let them derail you. Every runner has bad days. You never stop having them. The trick is not to let it get you down. The best way to bounce back from a bad run? Figure out what went wrong, and then get out there for your next scheduled run and kick ass at it. Like anything in life, when something doesn't go as planned, just roll with it and keep going.

If you run, you are a runner. There is no magic number that makes you a real runner. If you run, you are a runner. Plain and simple.

Other runners are not judging you. One of my friends said her lack of running confidence gets in her way. She didn't elaborate on what causes the lack of confidence, so I'm just interpreting this from my own point of view. Anyway. When I'm out running, and I see another person running, I don't look at how slow or fast they are going, or if they stop to walk. I don't care what they look like. I think "cool! another runner!" and give a little wave and smile and a quick "hi" if they aren't listening to music. Most people know when they are out running that they don't look their best, and are competing with themselves, that they don't worry about competing with other runners. Also everyone has to start slow. We were all there at one point.

Hydrate. Do not try to run 11 miles on a sunny, 70-degree day, on a trail with little to no shade, and not have a plan for how to hydrate. Because around mile 8 you will be so parched and tired and desperate that you will call your husband and ask him to bring you water. Ask me how I know this. (And if he hadn't answered his phone, or I hadn't had my phone on me, I probably would have started drinking water out of puddles on the side of the trail, no lie.) Now, I always have some plan for water, unless I am running 3 miles or fewer on a pleasant, 60-degree or cooler non-humid day. Otherwise, I am plotting my routes to pass by water fountains, or pass by my house, or pass by my car which has a bottle of water, at least once every 1.5-3 miles.

Body Glide. Use it. Do not try to run a half marathon (or any other distance, really) in shorts without it. Ask me how I know.

You don't have to spill water on yourself during races. I cannot believe it took me so many races to figure this out. The obvious answer is walk the water stations. The other answer is push in the sides of the cup (so the opening becomes an oval) and drink out of one of the narrow ends. Duh.

Sometimes just getting up and going is the hardest part. It took me a long time to get to  a point where I honestly enjoy running. Where it doesn't feel like a chore. But while I was working to get there, there were so many times I didn't want to run. A lot of times I gave into to that feeling. (That would be the "downtime" I mentioned at the beginning of this post.) I almost didn't run my first half marathon (because of one bad day that I let derail me) and spent a good 20 minutes the morning of talking myself into it (at 6am ... seriously ... it was hard). But I'm so glad I did. I'm so glad I've stuck with it. Not only have I lost weight, but I feel great. Not just physically, but mentally. I feel good knowing I can stick to something, that I can still reach goals.

You will continue to surprise yourself. For me, getting to a place where I enjoy running has been a surprise. Where I not only don't make excuses not to run, but I make efforts to get in my run if I have other stuff going on. And seeing my pace improve, and winning my age group in a race, have also been surprises.

What did I forget?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Garmin stats versus real stats

Today's track workout ... my very FIRST track workout. (Yet another check in the "real runner" column, right?)

Also, once again, let's illustrate why your Garmin watch distance/pace isn't perfect, and if you run a race use the chip time/pace, not your Garmin's time/pace:

Yay Garmin

For the record, I did not in fact start running the baseball field's outfield and scale a fence. In case you were wondering.

Edited to add: Read this if you use GPS to track your running. It's not perfect. It has to go to space and back!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to Injure Your Hand Playing Soccer

Yes, your hand. Yes, I know soccer is primarily played without hands (unless you are the goalie or doing throw-ins). Doesn't mean it's not possible to sprain your wrist while playing.

Picture it. Monday night. Temps in the 90s. Perfect weather for soccer, right? (Um, no.) I play defense (left outside usually). I was blocking a player, she was about a foot or two in front of me, kicked the ball (hard) and it went straight into my right wrist. Not a good feeling.

Because of the heat + immediate intense pain, I thought I was going to pass out. I've passed out a few times before, so I know what it feels like. I sat out for about 10 minutes and then felt like a slacker, so I went back in and played the last 15 minutes.

The next morning the wrist still hurt pretty bad, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't broken, so I went to the immediate care before work. Got x-rays. No break, but a contusion (bad bruise) sprain (over-stretched joint). So for awhile I will be sporting this super awesome wrist brace. And I will try not to go totally crazy doing as much as I can with my non-dominant (left) hand. It's feeling better, just still tender. I went for a run tonight (without the brace) and I could feel the wrist tenderness with every stride. It was distracting. I think most of my energy was focused on my wrist.

In other news, even though it is a bit steep for a race ($110 right now), I think I'm going to sign up for the Rock 'n Roll Chicago Half Marathon. I've been wanting to sign up for awhile. I like that the course is downtown and not along the lakefront. I've already done two lakefront races (heading south from the museum campus area), it gets old after awhile.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Race Report: Commit to be Fit 5K

Please excuse my proud moment
This morning I ran a 5K race at the local Y. It was a small race (165 finishers), so going into it I thought maybe I had a chance at placing in my age group. You know, like third in my age group. There was also a 10K race going on at the same time, which I debated doing instead but decided I'd rather run the 5K and see if I can place. (Although I would have placed in the 10K - there were no runners in my age group!)

Once the race got going, I caught up to a group of young-ish women. Like probably around 20 years old. I kept up with them for the first mile, and then I think passed them somewhere during the second mile, although they passed me during the third mile. However, they kept me going, so thank you, younger ladies.

Running a 5K and 10K at the same time is deceiving. You think you're passing someone, or they are  passing you, and realize they are running the other race. When I was nearing the finish, there was a guy right in front of me. Turns out he was running the 10K and kept going. I had no one to sprint with at the end.

My time was 26:20. Also I know Garmins aren't perfect, but I noticed that my first lap was pretty much dead on with their mile 1 marker, but my second lap beeped quite a few yards before their mile 2 marker. Which was disappointing because it made me think I wasn't doing as well as I thought, according to my watch. Then as I'm approaching the finish line, I passed the sign for mile 6 (the 10K was the 5K twice) and my Garmin was at 2.9 miles. So dead on. (Right?) Anyway, goes to show you that even USATF certified courses might have their miles markers a little off ...

Anyway, so I ran this race alone (The Sailor was on duty this weekend), and after I finished I just kind of hung out, trying not to look too pathetic, waiting for them to announce the winners. They started with the 5K, announced the overall male and female and went into the age groups. Got to female 25-29. Third place went to ... not me. Damn, I thought. Better luck next time. Second place went to  ... not me, but I wasn't expecting it. First place went to ... me!!?!? Certainly wasn't expecting that!

Now that the race results are posted (notice I waited until they were up to post this ... I wanted to see it in writing that I won my group), I realize I won my age group by like 7 minutes. And for the record, there were eight in my age group, so no jokes that I won because I was the only one. Had they combined age groups, and I was among F20-29 I would have been third (because two of those fast 20-year-olds beat me)

Anyway, I know the small size of the race was in my favor. But I'll take it. Now my goal is to place in a larger race!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How I Lost 10 Pounds. (Hint: No Surprises Here.)

Soldier Field 10 Mile
Proof that I've been running
I've lost 10 pounds since March. Woot.

SOOOO since everyone always wants to know the big secret, how did I do it?

Uhhh ... the old fashioned way. Fewer calories in, more calories out. It's not rocket science. (It's, um, exercise science?)

It wasn't just one change, it was many changes, and making them habits. And having a partner (The Sailor) who was also trying to lose weight.

Fewer calories in

Even though I'm not a Catholic (anymore) (sorry Mom), I still observe Lent (sometimes ... like when I want to lose weight). This year, The Sailor and I gave up sweets and junk food (although I cheated on Sundays).

I watched what I ate (more than usual). In addition to what I did during Lent, I tried to make healthier choices more often. I'm not going to lie. I still ate candy and fried foods and all that, but not as much as I used to. I forced myself to be more aware of what I was consuming. I realized gone are the days that I can just shove whatever I want in my mouth ( ... that's what she said).

I counted calories in/out using (website and app). I set up my profile with the goal of losing 1 pound/week. That meant limiting myself to 1,420 calories per day, more if I "earned" them by working out (and tracking my workouts in the app). In all honesty, I only used this app most days for the first month or so, and then I stopped. However, it did give me a better idea of how much I should be eating throughout the day and what foods I can mindlessly eat (fruits and vegetables).

I DRANK LESS BOOZE. Yes, friends, the sad truth. No more cracking a beer because it's Thursday or having a glass of wine because the workday is over. I save my drinking for special occasions. (Dinner with my best friend is a special occasion.)

Less dining out/carry out. We don't get home until 6pm on weekdays. On the weekends we just want to relax. So we were doing a lot of carry out / dining out. But since we were both counting calories, we started making meals at home more. Yes, many of those meals were frozen prepared meals from Trader Joe's. Still fewer calories than any restaurant. The other bonus is we don't spend as much money on food.

More calories out

I worked out more. Mostly running. In case you can't tell from 90% of my posts. I also did occasional pilates and weights at the gym. But mostly running.  

So there you go. My big weight-loss secret.

Feel free to check back around Christmas to see if I've put the 10 pounds back on. I'm only human.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Movie Review: Bridesmaids (2011 Film)

For the record, I am in no way "qualified" to be a film critic. I am writing this review as a woman, a feminist, and someone with a sense of humor.

So my favoritest ladies and I saw Bridesmaids a couple weekends ago.

I didn't realize this until today, but my favoritest ladies includes my brothers' wives and my husband's best friend's girlfriend. For the record, I was best friends with two of them for like a decade before either started dating who they are with now. I'm not one of those "I have to be friends with everyone!" types of women. The other one has just been with my brother for so freaking long (since I was 14 and they were 16, with a short break while they were teenagers) that she has become one of my best friends. 

This movie is funny. Not "funny for a chick flick" or "funny to women" but "funny." Hilarious. I haven't laughed that hard since I saw The Hangover.

The movie was produced by Judd Apatow, so there was a little bit of sentimentality mixed in with the humor, but it was only as much as you get in the 40-Year-Old Virgin. And the sentimentality is about friendship, not love. Which is a nice change of pace for a movie starring mostly women.

I rarely watch Saturday Night Live, and what little I've seen of Kristen Wiig on it has not impressed me. However, I do like her in movies. I liked her in Whip It and Extract. And I thought she was hilarious in Bridesmaids. Everyone keeps talking about the scene in the bridal shop. I thought the scene on the airplane was the best in the entire movie. The comedic build up and the pay off still makes me crack up just thinking about it. And Kristen Wiig owned that scene. (And Melissa McCarthy partially owned it.)

Another great thing about this movie - it's a movie about a wedding that really isn't about the wedding. Things happen that are related to a wedding - there is an engagement party, the bridal shower, an (attempted) bachelorette party, bridesmaids dress shopping, and the wedding itself. But they are mostly backdrops to the main focus of the movie - friendships, and finding happiness and satisfaction. And the wedding stuff was largely without all the details ... and best of all, without any sense that this wedding, or nailing a man, is the ultimate achievement in a woman's life. Rather, friendship and having a purpose in your life is what's important.

So anyway, as a feminist, I'm happy that:
  • A comedy starring mostly women is funny and not just "funny to women"
  • A movie about a wedding isn't about crap like a selfish runaway bride, or a man-stealing bridesmaid, or brides fighting each other, or trying to stop the wrong people from getting married, etc. 
  • Said movie also passed the Bechdel Test (I told you I was a feminist.)
  • Said movie is currently rated 89% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
So, if you're male, female or other, go see Bridesmaids.  Unless you don't like to laugh. And don't like poop jokes. Or bleached a-hole jokes.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Your GPS watch is not perfect. And ... guess what I got today?

    Someone found my blog by searching for "soldier field 10 longer than 10 miles." [and "running ginger." whoa. or was that me Googling myself?]

    Newsflash: your GPS watch isn't perfect. It is a series of points connected by ... blah blah blah ... certified races are just that - certified - through super fancy means of measuring ... blah blah blah.

    Shelby at Eat, Drink, Run does a much better job explaining why the course is not long and your GPS watch is not perfect. With some pretty sweet MS Paint illustrations.

    And in totally related news, guess what was delivered today?

    New toy came today! And it conveniently reminds me of the date of my anniversary.
    Garmin 405cx

    I opened the box and LOLed. April 21 is my wedding anniversary. HOW DID GARMIN KNOW? It's also my Dad's (and his twin sister / my aunt's) birthday.

    Anyway so now I can start plotting my shorter-than-Garmin-says runs. Although I'm sure the free apps on my phone have been doing a stellar job for me so far. Which for the record, said the Soldier Field 10 Mile was 10.15 miles.