Sunday, March 24, 2013

Just Breathe

So, I realize that I'm a little behind in posting. There's a really good reason for that - last week I fell victim to the "too busy" excuse and completely ditched my training plan. Despite having signed up for the Interplanetary 5K at the Peoria Riverfront Museum for March 23. Not my best idea. I figured that maybe I would just have super fresh legs come race day from the week of rest. And since I had been training so hard before I knew that I could at least get through it and probably not have to walk much.

Now comes race day. I woke up with the worst stomachache in the world. I seriously considered throwing in the towel but I had promised my friend Troy I'd run the race with him and I knew he was going to pick me up at 8:00am to go down there so I decided to suck it up. If I had to walk, I had to walk. I had a little time to start reading the latest edition of Runner's World (I'll spare you the details of why I had this time pre-race...) and I was reading the editor @DWilleyRW's letter and he talked about a breathing technique where you use a 3:2 variation and match your breathing to your strides - 3 steps inhale, 2 steps exhale. I thought that sounded like an interesting idea to try when training since I never focused much on my breathing before. I notice other people's breathing and the fact that some people sound like they are about to keel over when they run yet somehow finish ahead of me (I'm not bitter...) but I never really focus on my own breathing or my own body.

I was plenty focused on my body on Saturday. Focused on how not to toss my cookies on the way to the race and how I was possibly going to finish the 3.1 miles. I felt a little better once we got to the race site and I started running into some of my coworkers who also run a lot of the same races I do. I knew I would at least make it through the race and the excitement and nerves at the beginning of a race are infectious. I started focusing less on my stomach and got caught up in what was going on around me. The gun went off and I started running.

Not even a half mile in I started feeling a little winded. I knew I needed to take it easy but my legs felt fine so I decided that this was the perfect time to put that new breathing technique into play. 1-2-3 1-2. 1-2-3 1-2. I did this over and over again until I felt a great influx of oxygen coursing through my body. It was so rhythmic to be counting my breaths that when I got to the first mile marker the timer yelled my time to me 8:32. "Really?" I asked him - he assured me he wouldn't lie to me. I was excited to be making such good time. I continued along with my regulated breathing and made it past the "goose loop" (luckily devoid of geese - I have been hissed at many a time on the Peoria Riverfront). Mile 2 time was yelled out to me as being 17:10. I thought to myself, even if I ended up having to walk a little I might beat my PR from last week. That seemed completely out of reach.

1-2-3 1-2. 1-2-3 1-2. I kept chugging along and finally the clock tower came into view. I was pushing myself to my limit and not quite sure if I could keep up my current pace. Just then the older gentleman next to me yelled to me "Go! You've got this! Go!" My body kicked it into higher gear. I rounded the curve and headed straight for that finish line. 26:43. A new PR! After a week of not training and a PR the previous week. I couldn't believe it. When I started my day I thought I'd be lucky to finish it in 30 minutes but instead a new PR!

I made sure to find the older runner after the race and thank him for his encouragement. We had a nice chat about running and PRs and about the different courses there were to do in Peoria. It helped remind me why I run. It's not to beat other people - it's for the camaraderie. It's to share with other people this crazy thing that we love. So the big lesson here - if it feels a little overwhelming and like you might not quite make it, just breathe. You might even PR...

...and get your picture taken with Boba Fett like I did at the after party!

(I also assured the Storm Troopers that were wandering around that these were not the droids they were looking for...)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blitzed My Way To A New PR!

Sarah, Me and Jake ready to go before the race!
WHAT A RACE! Not only did I feel good (and look great...) but I set a new PR for myself. I completely was not expecting to do as well as I did but my finishing chip time was 27:14! This not only beat what I was thinking for the day (I would have been happy in the 28 minute range) but it also beats the goals that I set for myself for this summer of 27:30 5Ks...guess I'll need to do a little re-evaluating.

I contribute this personal victory to a few different things. First, as I focused on in my previous post, I listened to my body. I was able to adjust my training this week in order to compensate for some soreness and cramping and I came into this race very well rested. There were also physical therapists from Accelerated Therapy there that lead us in a dynamic warm-up (I have a new pre-race ritual) and helped stretch us out afterwards. (Funny moment from that - my brother felt that the guy stretching me out was taking a little too long and came over and stood near the table.)

Me with my brother after the race
Second, great support system. I love running races with Sarah and Jake because they have my same fun-loving spirit as it comes to the costumes and just going out to have a good time. My previous PR was from the Jingle Bell Run where I was dressed up like an elf with them. Running races with my brother is also a great motivator. This race I made it my mission to stay with him the entire time. There was a point towards the end of the race where he lengthened his stride and I thought I was going to fall behind but I stayed determined and then was able to surge past him at the end and beat him for the first time ever in a 5K (disclaimer: only by a couple of seconds...I'm not bragging, just excited! His running ability, considering that he started at the same time as me, has been a source of inspiration for me because he is so naturally gifted at it. He got a sub 26 minute time and placed in 2 races last year. He also didn't really train for this race - I'm sure he will get me next time!)

Third, my training. I was sticking pretty close to the training plan that I set for myself and even though I didn't want to do it some days, it has obviously paid off. I feel that continued training and altering my diet will fuel me to an even better PR by the end of the racing season. This race has left me so excited with the prospect of training and getting better I wish I could start right now!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody and for strength training day tomorrow...well, I just hope those 12 oz. weights don't get too heavy for me!

Can't Catch Me Lucky Charms!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sometimes, My Body Talks To Me...

...usually it is my stomach telling me it is too empty or too full. But this week I got a new experience - my calves talked to me (and they were saying more than "MOO.")

I had a long run (long for me - it was just 4 miles this week in the training plan) scheduled for last Saturday but life happened and I couldn't fit it in so I thought "no big deal, I will just move it to Sunday". So I did and I didn't get a great time but I did run the whole time so I was pleased to have gotten my miles in.

Now here is where my novice training status really shows. I SHOULD have adjusted my training plan this week to accommodate the switch in my long run. I didn't. Instead I did 40 minutes of cross training on Monday (including almost 4 miles on the ellipitical) instead of doing my stretching/strength training day that generally follows a long run. I still felt okay so since my training called for 3 miles on Tuesday I laced up my running shoes and hopped on the treadmill.


I had never quite experienced the sensation I had when both of my calves cramped up on me simultaneously. When I say that they were talking to me I should amend that to say that they were emitting blood-curdling screams. Luckily I had the good sense to pause the treadmill. I massaged the cramps out of my calves and hopped back on the treadmill - I was determined to get through this workout. 33:36 and a ridiculous amount of walking intervals later I did it! I had never been so happy to be done. The next day I had in my plan to run 2 miles and strength train. I opted to put an extra rest day.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Today I am just going to do some light cardio in preparation for my 5K race tomorrow and my legs feel strong and ready.

Sometimes, the best training is knowing when NOT to train. I could have seriously injured myself had I continued but instead I rested and now feel healthy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rebecca Somogyi, Warrior Princess

Leaping flames, barbed wire trenches, seemingly insurmountable walls - my own personal battle zone. Nope, I haven't joined the military (despite my recent visit to the local Air Guard Base). Instead I enlisted in a very extreme challenge - The Warrior Dash. On August 17th I will climb cars, crawl through mud, wade through water and, yes - leap over fire! I figure nothing is a better motivator to develop a completely strong body than the possibility of being burned alive so ALAS! my journey to total strength and fitness begins. (At the very least I am going to work on my jumping skills...)

Quote of the day: "Don't be sorry. Just improve." - Xena: Warrior Princess

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The "Why" Behind the Blog

It's easy to SAY that I am a runner. I certainly look the part. But that's easy. What's hard is doing the actual running part. I want to BE a runner. I want to have the physical prowess and drive to log 26.2 miles at one time without walking. But that is way beyond my current ability. The truth is, I just started running last year and I have recently been so inconsistent with my training that I get winded doing a short run. But as long as I post on Facebook that I am doing the runs, I at least look legit, right?

Because you can’t put anything on the Internet that isn’t true…

There are a lot of reasons that I started running. I had always wanted to do the Steamboat Classic so I convinced my brother to do Building Steam with me in 2012 to train and we were good! For my first Steamboat Classic I ran in 35:54 which was an 8:59 pace. I had trained with the 9:00 pace group so I was really excited to have stayed on track the entire time and to have run the whole thing from start to finish. From that first race, my brother and I were hooked.

We went on to do 6 more races together in 2012 – three 5Ks, two more 4-milers and one 10K. I had my share of ups and downs throughout the year (see my obsessive compulsive race results spreadsheet for proof). The next race we did was just a couple of weeks later – the Firecracker 5000 5K. I thought that since it was a shorter distance than the Steamboat and I had done fine on that race that I didn’t have to train so hard. Plus, it was so hot that getting out and running was unpleasant. I didn’t do so well that race. I had to walk a little during it and did the race in 28:15 – which doesn’t sound so bad since it is still a 9:06 pace, but I had let myself down by not training for it enough and having to walk. I can make up all kinds of excuses for why this happened but it ultimately comes down to me not being prepared. I wasn’t going to let that happen again but, alas, life happened. I was very active during the summer playing sand volleyball and softball and I even started doing CrossFit in August but come 5K trail race time in August I was still unprepared for the race. 

I finally got it together for the Pumpkin Festival 10K in September and I felt incredible. That was by far my favorite race and I felt the best prepared for it. I had been doing CrossFit and consistently running so I went into that day feeling prepared and the weather was perfect that day on top of it all. After that I let my training dip again. I wasn’t going to CrossFit or running so my next two 4-milers were rough. I made it through but it was hard on my body and I had to walk portions of them – for the Turkey Trot I was having to alternate running and walking intervals. Embarrassing. I ended the year on a good note, training once again for the Jingle Bell Run 5K and feeling so great that day that I got a new PR for the 5K distance that day – 27:57. By the end of the year I had picked up doing CrossFit again and felt I knew what I was doing wrong. 

I started 2013 with the resolution that I was going to become a better runner and a healthier person. I know, I know – me and the rest of the world. I thought I was off to a great start – I did a 2 mile fun run at midnight to ring in the new year and a 5K at noon (very fitting – the “Resolution Run 5K”) to help ring in my healthy new year. I didn’t do great but considering that the course was snow and ice covered my 5K time of 31:11 did not really disappoint me. I chalked it up to the road conditions. I felt that coming in number 36 out of 120 runners was not too shabby. I was doing CrossFit still so I knew that I was in shape enough. I set the goal for myself to do at least one race each month so I did the Super Bowl Shuffler 5K in February and it was rough. I did improve slightly on my time to 30:40 but considering that the conditions of the road were better and I should have been training, I still have lost 3 minutes on my PR. I am disappointing myself. I also had to quit CrossFit due to my busy schedule. Again. 

So that brings me to now. I am in the midst of training for a hilly half-marathon relay (I will be running the 6.8 mile portion of it) that will take place on April 13, 2013. I am not by any means being perfect with the training program that I have started – quite the opposite actually. As a matter of fact, I am polishing off a bag of jelly beans (my Easter vice) as we speak so I am a long way from being the healthy eater that I aspire to be. I read recently in Runner’s World magazine that the most effective runners not only have strong legs but have strong and healthy overall bodies so I that is another goal I need to work towards. What it comes down to is a need to increase my accountability to myself and, eventually (hopefully), my readers. Thank you for bearing with me in my introduction to my journey – I promise my blog posts will not usually be this long. I just wanted to come clean that while I say I am a runner and I aspire to be a runner…right now, I am more of a RUNNING ENTHUSIAST who hopes to one day feel like a runner, inside and out.