Thursday, February 16, 2012

One week

So for the past couple weeks, I've been fighting what I jokingly call Death Plague. Mostly just a nasty headcold, but it makes me feel like shit, to be honest. So when Valentine's Day came and I really felt like crap on a stick, I began to worry.

That night, I had to suck it up; after all, the show must go on! I was in a play that night, and there was no way I was going to let the production down. After all, it's a two-person cast. If I didn't make it, it would become a one-man show, a reading of letters from himself to himself. No, a single person cannot perform a play called "Love Letters". So I got my rear in gear and let adrenaline carry me through.

Then Wednesday dawned, and I called in sick. I never call in sick. I just did not feel up to vertical. I took a day to rest ... and that day turned into two. This morning, I saw the doctor. I'm taking an antibiotic, and hoping for the best.

I'm a little worried, because one week from tomorrow, I leave for Orlando. In one week, the journey that's taken me a full year to prepare for will officially begin.

Am I nervous? Hell yes. And being sick doesn't help. But I'm determined. I keep seeing myself crossing the finish line; I'm so excited to do that, to finish something I've worked so hard to prepare for.

I will be among the slowest on the course. Even after a year of preparation, running is really tough and slow for me. I hope to be able to complete the half marathon in under a 15-minute mile. If I'm able to do that, I'll finish in roughly three and a half hours. Am I ready? I don't know. Are you ever ready? Can you be ready for your first big race? I know that I've trained relatively well - as well as a heavy girl with a travel schedule can train - up until now. Last Sunday I ran 11, in the company of good friends, and it was painfully slow ... but I still went fast than the required 16-min-mile, over terrain that was pretty much snow-covered all the way.

So for now, I have visions of finishing and hopes for feeling better. I have a packing list and a playlist. I have a week to acknowledge that something that started out as a little wish is within my grasp.

On your mark ...

Monday, February 13, 2012

This goes to 11

Yesterday, I completed my longest run to date. Eleven miles.

Today, my legs and bum hurt. Coincidence? I think not.

The thing is, I didn't have to do it alone. I think that's incredible. I think the fact that my friend Linda came along is pretty awesome, because she only had 10 on her plan. I think Di and Kristen joining us, however, is even more incredible, because they're not training for a half marathon at all. They're just supportive and awesome.

It was a hard run. The pat was pretty snowy, and in places kinda icy, too. Plus ... 11 miles is a long way. It's the full way around Busse Woods, and then a little further. It's borderline crazy. But that's what friends do; they come out to cheer you on when things get tough. I'm lucky beyond words.

At around mile six, my hips started to hurt. By mile nine, I wanted to die. The loop around the forest preserve is 7.7, so we went all the way around and then some. I had to take lots of walk breaks, especially toward the end. But I learned a lot, too. For instance, I need to add a little something to my water - PowerAde or Gatorade - because I had the shakes at the end. I probably need to amp up my nutrition plan, too.

There were a few good signs on the run, in addition to the soreness. I did not cramp up at mile seven, as I have my last two long runs, and I did not have any pain in my right leg or ankle - not even in the Achilles. All good signs.

So we ran. I was exhausted, but certainly not too tired to enjoy a monstrous breakfast with my besties. Seriously, I am so fortunate. These women encouraged me for 11 miles on a cold, snowy Sunday in February. What more could I possible ask for?

Clockwise from the top: Kristen, Diane, Linda and me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Shuffle 2012

Today brought me to another one of those full-circle moments - the opportunity to participate in a race for the second year in a row. The town of Geneva puts on a 5K the morning of the Super Bowl (this is the second year) and it's a great small-town race. Last year, Linda and I did it, and this year our friends Megan and Kristen joined us.
Meg, me, Linda and Kristen.

This was the perfect day for a run. Sunny, chilly (low 30s) and clear. (Last year? Yeah. Torrential snow.) So I was ready to run. A little nervous after yesterday's eight torturous miles, but ready.

My run was good. Not the PR I wanted (I feel like I may forever be chasing the elusive 13-minute mile) but one of my best runs to date. I finished 700th out of 796, in 40:57 or a 13:13 minute mile. (Last year, by comparison - and to be fair, the ground was covered in ice and snow - I finished in 47:37, running a 15:22 minute mile, 335 out of 361. It really is about progress.)

The day didn't end with the race, though. My girlfriends and I went out to lunch (stumbling upon a breakfast place that served amazing bloody marys after we learned the taco place was closed), the local running store and then to the Chocolate Cafe. Seriously, can you imagine a better day for a group of women? I didn't think so.

It was a pretty perfect day, and now I'm left to relax and prepare for the week ... and try to come to grips with the fact that, three weeks from now, I will have run my first half marathon. I'm nervous and excited, and I feel like I'm ready. But for the next couple days, I'm going to take it easy on my legs. They are tired.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Operation 2012

Hello, and welcome to February.

While I won't call it a resolution, I did begin 2012 with a plan. It's simple, really: Move with intention for at least one mile, every day. Run or walk, for one mile, every day, for one year. Create a 366-day streak of activity.

One month in, and I can celebrate 31 days of success. I use two different apps to track - Nike+ GPS for running and Map my Run for walking - so I keep the activities separate. The Nike app is a little generous, so my actual miles are actually a bit less than this indicates, but does that matter? Nope. Because I've done it.

My longest run is nine miles. Shortest walk, exactly one mile. And there's everything in between. There's a two-mile run simply because I was feeling good and wanted to go further than the "required" one. There are a few 1.7 mile walks over lunch when I needed to blow off steam. And there are training runs.

Dear GOD, the training runs! Some of them like to 'bout kill me. Speedwork is not my friend. But each time I'm out there, I'm adding on the miles.

I'm proud to say that my combined total miles for January is ... drumroll please ... 97.85. That's almost 100 miles, in one month!

Yep. I'm a little proud. So, welcome to February. This is the final month of training for the Princess Half Marathon. After this month, I expect the mileage to back off a bit. But I will definitely keep pressing forward!

As a little add-on this month, I think I'm going to go back to my push-ups and planks. As many push-ups, from my toes, as I can do, every day. Plus, hold a plank as long as I can every day. A few more minutes at the end of each day, just for me? Yeah. I can do that.

How 'bout you? Do you have an Operation 2012 goal? It's not too late to start. It's never too late to start.