Saturday, March 30, 2013

Crossfit Newbie

As I'm typing this I can't really feel my arms. I mean, I know they are there, because they are sore. But they can't move on their own, making it difficult to do normal, every day tasks like: wash my hair, brush my hair, lift a coffee cup, get dressed, etc. Basically anything that involves raising my arms higher than off the couch.

Why? Because today I went to my first Crossfit class! 

It was a free class, which means anybody, at any kind of fitness level, could do the workout. They encourage anyone wanting to sign up to attend the free class. So that's what we did. My first initial thought before the workout? "Oh, this won't be too bad." My thought afterwards? "That was bad." You know the saying "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger"? Well, I'm pretty sure that was written with Crossfit in mind. I haven't lifted weights (unless you count babies and toddlers, which are excellent for weight lifting) since high school. 13 years to be specific. So this was completely new to me.

I've never been interested in doing Crossfit. I think it's fun (and funny) to watch the Crossfit games on t.v., because those people have super human strength, but I never thought I'd be interested in taking a class. So, of course, my first thought before going to the class was "yeah right, I can't do Crossfit. I can't throw a tire across the room!" (Which they don't make you do by the way.) I run, and I like to run. I know how to run. You just put on your shoes and go. It's easy.

But Crossfit...that's another kind of workout. You don't just put your shoes on and run. I can run for two hours, but a 15 min Crossfit workout will leave me on the floor. Literally. 

And I liked it. My arms feel like rubber, but I liked it! I liked the intensity. I liked the competition. I liked the fast paced atmosphere.

Now, I don't know all the fancy Crossfit acronyms, and while normally I'd spend time searching them on Google, right now I'm not. My arms are being nice by even letting me hold my phone to type.

Here was our WOD (work out of the day - figured that one out myself!):

15 min AMRAP of (learned this one today! "As many rounds as possible"):

200m run
10 front squats (35 lbs)
20 hand release push ups

I did 3 rounds and 24 reps.

Not too shabby for having no upper body strength! Even though I left with less strength than I came with.

Anyway, we signed up for their two week On the Ramp class, which is five days. After that we decide if we want to stick with it. I think we will. We're stubborn that way.

I'm sure by this point in the post (if my husband reads this) he's saying "I told you so." Yeah, well, I'll let him bask in that, because I do think I'll like it. I'll like seeing the improvements - in Crossfit, but especially with my running. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Growing as a Runner: What's Next?

Today's race could have ended in a failed attempt, but it didn't. It ended with a PR of 23:36, and the accomplishment of running a sub 24 minute 5k - one of my running goals for 2013! Now, I'm not going to write out a whole race recap, because it was a 5k. It's 3.1 miles, people. There isn't much to say about 3.1 miles. I raced hard and crossed the finish line (remembering to stop my watch for once!) The only thing I will say is this: Before any race (mainly 5k's) my husband ALWAYS says, "If you see a girl you think is in your AG dig hard and catch her, no matter how much it hurts." Well, that stuck in my head for the last two miles. There was a girl ahead of me, just out of reach! I tried to catch her a few times, but failed. Maybe I could have dug harder, but with not even 1/4 of a mile to go I looked down at my watch, knowing I was about to accomplish my goal, and all of a sudden catching that girl didn't matter any more. What I had just achieved mattered.  

See? Stopping my watch :). Ignore the time on the clock - that was for the 15k, but check out my AWESOMELY BRIGHT Saucony Kinvara 3 shoes! Love.

My mother-in-law ran the 5k as well, and placed 1st in her AG! My husband ran the 15k, placing 6th overall and 1st in his AG!!! So Proud. 

Side note: I didn't catch that one girl, but I did place 3rd in my AG. :)

Anyway, now that I've accomplished that goal, it's got me thinking: What's next?

One of my favorite parts about racing is the fact that there is always room for improvement; there are always new goals to set, and accomplish, no matter how long (or not long) you've been running. I LOVE that! Right when I've accomplished one goal - no matter how long it takes to achieve it - I automatically feel the need to set a new goal and go after it. That's the stubbornness and competitiveness in me. 

A lot has changed since I first started racing. I care more about setting smart, attainable race goals, and accomplishing them, than I do placing in my AG - something that I cared a lot about last year. Don't get me wrong, I still love getting an award, but I get much more satisfaction out of setting a new PR for myself than I do getting a medal or plaque. 

Now it's time to slow it down a bit; take a step back, and look at what I've achieved, and what I want to work towards. Here are my plans and aspirations for now: 

  • Take 1 or 2 weeks off COMPLETELY. I've been battling off and on knee pain for nearly two months, and this will give my knee and hip and whatever else has been ailing me to completely heal and rest. Will probably work in some cross training, though.
  • Speaking of cross training. Here's something new: Crossfit. Yeah. So, my husband and I are planning on taking a Crossfit class in April. We'll see how that goes. I need the cross training to help improve my running. It just looks...insanely intimidating. I don't know of any other way to put it. And I don't like not being able to do something, so I'm sure at times I will throw a fit like a little girl. It should be fun for everyone ;). Who knows, maybe I'll enjoy it.
  • Start back up, fresh and ready to run. I plan on trying to keep it consistent with my mileage, but working more on speed than anything else since I haven't been able to do that since January. Chris wants me to get in a good 7 weeks or so of speed work with no races to interrupt it.
  • I love to run, and I love to race. I'm not planning any races for the month of April, and if I do I won't expect much out of it. My next 5k I'm looking at (and hoping to knock off more time) will probably be in May.
  • Next goal for a 5k: sub 23. Next goal for a 1/2 marathon: sub 1:55, then will work for sub 1:50 (I need a challenging goal to look towards!) Not sure when I will run another 1/2 marathon, so it will be awhile before I accomplish this one.
  • Start training on hills. I say that all. the. time, but I really need to, as much as I hate the
  • Maybe, MAYBE run a full marathon in December?! I'll come back to that...

Runners go through lots of ups and down. There are goals which are accomplished, and a number of failed attempts. But nothing holds you back for good. You know that those failed attempts only make you stronger mentally; those failed attempts cause you to push harder to the goal in sight.

What are some of your running goals? Have you accomplished any of them this year? Do you "catch" people when you race?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tom King: My Race Recap

1st half: 11/2011 2:04

2nd half: 10/2012 2:02

3rd half: 2/2013 1:59

4th half: 3/2013 1:57

In case you suck at math, that's a 7 minute PR since my first half with 5 of those minutes being within the past 5 months. That's good, right?!? Well, I think so. And I'm not even all that awesome of a runner (compared to lots of super speedy road runners out there.) This race made me really happy. I like that feeling. I like it so much that I wanted to share it with you. I don't want to bore you with details, but I probably will. And it will probably be long. You can stop reading now, if you want. Just don't tell me :). Also, if you find grammar errors I will blame it on the fact that I ran 13.1 miles and haven't had lunch, yet. Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch!!! Okay, I'm going to get me some of that first.

Tom King. Course is super flat, which is one of the reasons I've been so excited to race it. My legs and lungs don't like hills, because they don't ever train on them. Even though I know it makes you a stronger runner. Blah, blah, blah. I still don't like them. Maybe I'll learn to love them like I love half marathons?...Doubt it.

I wasn't sure how this race was going to go at first, seeing that I've been injured AND sick the past few weeks, but my stubborn self knew I would push through any pain if I had to. The lead up to the race is pretty mundane: Stretch, use the restroom, walk around (decided not to do a warm up run), sit in the car. Dang it, I gotta pee again! Go to the start line, jump around to stay warm (or maybe to shake the nerves out? Or both?) Say a little pra- oh, crap that was the gun?! Apparently, they don't do countdowns at this race. A little heads up would have been nice, but it is what it is. Funneled through, and off we went. 

Now, the very first thing I thought about when I started running was "how does my knee feel?" And I don't know if it's because it was a race, and adrenaline was flowing, and I was ignoring it, or if it actually didn't hurt. Turns out it was the latter, which was good, good news! I knew at that moment it was going to be a great race. 

I started out with the goal of averaging around an 8:50 pace, but I felt good at 8:30-8:45 for the first 5-7 miles, so I tried to stay there for most of the run. That didn't really go as planned, because since I had picked up the pace (without really preparing to do so) I stopped. A lot. More than I should have. More than I stopped during last month's race on a hilly course. I stopped THREE times during mile 3, not because of pain, but because my STUPID HAIR KEPT FALLING DOWN. That annoys me so much. I've got to figure out a better contraption to keep my hair up on my head. That caused my average to slow down. And that sucks.

Side note: I have long, thick, wavy hair. You know, the kind that everyone just looooves, except for the girl who has it, because YOU know how much of a hassle it is? Yeah. Pretty when it's fixed, not so much when it's not. And a pain in the butt when you are running. I seriously use three hair ties to keep my hair up on top of my head when I'm running. You'd think it wouldn't go anywhere... So, any suggestions are greatly appreciated! :)

Anyway, I took my Power Bar gel at mile 7 and it kicked in for a little while, but the last three miles were brutal. All I wanted was for Chris to be by my side pushing me along. I desperately needed that extra nudge. Actually, I needed someone saying "suck it up, Kayla, and RUN!" I got a "you're almost there, keep pushing!" from one girl, so there was that. Thanks. But I was needing more of a literal push. Like, someone behind me pushing my back, or pulling my arm. That would have helped a lot! I didn't get that help. Then I saw the stadium! I'm almost home!!! And I STOPPED. Ugh. Less than a mile to go and I stop?! But I did. My mind won. But I regained my strength and kept moving. We ran under the stadium and out onto the field. I saw the jumbotron, and I have no clue if they announced my name, but if they did, I didn't hear it. I just thought, "If I trip and fall with my face up there on that big screen...I'm never coming back to this race again." I crossed the finish line, and was DONE. Hallelujah! 

I don't know what my time would have been had I not stopped all those times. Better, duh. Maybe I would have been able to run a 1:55? (kind of made up that goal during the race - a little late, I know. But it was doable!) All I know is that I'm proud of how I did.

I know I'm always improving, and I know I have room for lots more improvements, and that's motivating for me hear and to realize. Regardless of my "setbacks" I will continue to run, race, and improve. 

Yay, you made it to the end of my post! Sorry, there's no prize, but thanks for reading anway. :)

Lookie, it's me on the Titan's Jumbo Tron! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Setbacks and Moving Forward

Sometimes it takes being injured/hurt to truly appreciate running. 

Let's rewind. 

This past September I was 4-5 weeks out from my second 1/2 marathon (in October) when I injured my foot. I was out on my longest training run (13 miles - was running the race course) with Chris following me on his bike. Around mile 9 my foot started to ache. Then between miles 10 and 11 my foot completely fell apart. I could bear no weight. I looked down at my watch, fighting back tears of both frustration and pain, to see that I was basically at a walking pace. We got to the stop light to cross the street and I said I couldn't walk, let alone run the rest of the way. Chris said he would ride back to the car (about 2 miles away) and come back and get me. At this point I was at, oh...mile 11? Now, in case you don't know this about me, I'm extremely stubborn. If I set out to do something, I'm going to do it. So, I put my foot down (literally. Well I tried) and limped my way across the street. I remember seeing these two men staring at me out of the corner of my eye. I seriously thought they were about to ask if I needed to be carried. I would have said no. I kept attempting to run, thinking it was just a small mishap, but every time I started to run, my foot wouldn't let me. After limping, and stopping 4 or 5 times because of the excruciating pain, I finally called it quits at mile 12.5 and waited for Chris to come and get me. To this day, I still don't really know what happened. Fallen arch? Torn tendons? Whatever it was, it caused me to lose a lot of training, and it wasn't until about a week (maybe 2?) before the race when my foot started to feel better. Even though I set a 2 minute PR, it wasn't what I wanted. My legs broke down at mile 10 and I struggled the last 3 miles. I didn't hit my goal of going under two hours. I was beyond frustrated. 

What did I learn from that injury? Patience. Something that I have very little of. That, and being okay with the fact that races don't always go the way you expect them to. Take the time to heal properly; I can't be defiant all the time. 

I moved on from that struggle, and IMMEDIATELY got excited about my next BIG 1/2, Tom King, in March! The one I just knew I'd race right.

And then something ELSE happened...

From September to February my training was right on track. I had been doing a mixture of tempo runs, easy runs, and intervals trying to work up my mileage and my pace. My long miles stayed between 10 and 12. I was feeling good, and had already talked myself into running around 8:50 pace for Tom King. Then, as I got a little further into my training I thought with as flat a course as this is I might be able to average between an 8:30 and 8:45 pace! Mayyyybe. But I didn't get my hopes up.

Anyway, somewhere around the beginning of February I started having problems with my hip and knee. It started in my hip for a few runs. My hip would start to collapse if I had to stop for traffic. I thought it might have been from not stretching after a run a few days before, but I wasn't sure. I ran off and on for a week or two and it wasn't feeling better. I took 4 days off and that seemed to help. I ran my third 1/2 marathon on February 9th simply as a warm up race for Tom King. I ended up doing better than I had planned, even with my knee and hip still acting up, and set a new PR with a 1:59. Not too shabby seeing as it was an extremely hilly race. Thought I was in the clear after that, but stupid, stupid me didn't stretch afterwards (whether that's related or not, I don't know), but it wasn't smart. And it didn't help. 

Present time:

A month has passed, and since then I have only had 6 or 7 runs that have actually felt good. The rest have felt horrible. Some have been bad because of my knee and hip, the rest are because I've also been under the weather the past week or two. So that hinders training, as well. First injuries, then sickness. I feel like I can't catch a break. 

But no more complaints. zip. none.

Tomorrow is the big day!!! The race that I've been looking forward to since September. I am more excited about this race than I was my first half! Which also means that race nerves set in about a week ago. To be honest, my mind has been all over the place the past few weeks. I've had a lot of negative thoughts go through my mind because of this injury. I don't know what's going to happen during the race. I don't know how my knee is going to react. I don't know how I'm going to wake up feeling. All I know is that I'm excited, because I know I've put in the training. I know that as long as I can endure any pain my knee may give me, that I will come away with a PR. I don't have a set goal. All I really want is for the run to feel normal. And I want to enjoy it. If that happens, I will be happy.

Injuries happen. Sometimes ones that could have been prevented, and sometimes ones that couldn't. You can't get mad about it. You can't let it get you down, and you sure as hell can't let it keep you from achieving your goals. Tomorrow's going to be a great race; my mind knows it, and my body will follow suite. And in the end I'll still be my stubborn self - never giving up until I've reached my goals.