Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What I have learned about running in two years

5K, 10K, 3.1, 6.2, 13.1, 26.2, bib, tech shirts, training, PR, sprints, hill training, splits, carb loading, ct5K, ultramarathon…. And so many I more I can’t remember. I started running just for fun, my sister and I did a 5K… I honestly didn’t know how long a 5K was, just knew I had to run it. We did well, but people started asking me things, that I didn’t know how to answer “What was your time?” what ? Time? We started at 9:30 and finished at 10:02… that time? “What was your pace?” I was going slowish…. That pace? “how was your split?” I went running, there was no splitting. “Was this a PR for you?” A PR? Puerto Rican Rice? Where I want some, now please. Carb loading? Why, yes please!

I have learned a few things, mostly by trial and error. I have learned others by researching and others by reading books, magazines and blogs. Here is a few things that now I know

5K (Kilometers) - is a 5 Kilometers run, or 3.10 miles. My most popular run!

I like to tell people how far 3 miles are from the point we are standing at. I read in A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson, that once you hike, you get really good at telling distances. I believe the same for running, once you have to run 3.1 miles, you get really good at estimating how long 3 miles are from where you are standing. But for today, I’ll put it this way…. You are on the highway, driving 60MPH, 3 minutes of driving is the distance of a 5K.

I have seen runners complete this in 15 minutes, that’s 1 mile per minute, running as fast as they can for 15 minutes, but it seems that an average for this is 20-35 minutes. The way I see this: 27 minutes of running, out of breath, questioning all life choices, from the food consumed all week, to the now incredibly heavy jacket I’m wearing, the old worn sneakers, the chafing shirt…. Questioning why on earth a person would get up early, slap on a number and run around? I’ll tell you why, because when you are done, it feels amazing! It feels like anything can be accomplished. And most of the time, there are great snacks after the run! And if you registered on time, a t-shirt to brag about the 5K!

10K-10 Kilometers= 6.2 miles. – twice the life questioning, including questions on getting tattoos and triple the questions on clothing choices. But if planned right, it’s amazing! I cried when finishing my first 10K.

13.1- Half marathon- signed up for my fist one. Scheduled for October … but I’m guessing a whole lot of life questioning moments. It sounds scary…. I drive an average of 7 miles to work. To complete a half marathon, it would be running to and from work! Scary! Very scary!

26.2- 26.2 miles= Full Marathon- I don’t even want to think about it. I looked it up, and Wikepedia says that the name from the Greek Legend of Pheidippides. According to Legend, “he was sent from the battle field of name Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon” he announced they won the battle and then collapsed and died. Yes, died. And this is what we aspire to… the running 26.1 miles, not the dying. There is several other versions of the Greek Legend, but I chose the most dramatic one, for effect.


The first time somebody told me we had to pick up Bibs, I honestly had no idea what that meant. I kept saying “I’m picking up the number, not a bib”. I guessed we would be getting actual bibs, like babies, it sounded ridiculous, but so did running 3.1 miles for fun.

Bibs are those lovely printed numbers which runners wear on their stomach, legs, back, and /or chest, that are used to time tracking purposes. I have come to love my collection of bibs, for a while I had a thing for getting bibs with an odd number and came close to a nervous breakdown when I got an even number. But now, I’m over it! But I will not run a race if there is no bib.

Split- The speed at which each mile was run. During my short running career, I have learned that my second mile is typically my fastest. But I have also learned that this depends on the weather. If it’s cold, I will run faster my first mile.

PR – Personal Record. Recently I have seen this one being used as a verb… as in ‘I just PRd my rest day”…. Ok… that’s a funky way to use it. I had to look it up, kept seeing people saying on IG that the got PR, or that the just beat their PR. I looked it up and found out that it meant they beat their own personal record. This one I had to do more races to understand. Last year I ran 9 races, and at the time my biggest concern was running the entire race without stopping, and my training was very light, mostly running a couple of miles per week, a couple yoga classes, and lots of zumba. This year, after I signed up for the Hershey 10K, I had to really plan my training, include more cross training, longer runs, spring training, hill training and track exercises. The more I run, the better my time got. Last year, I completed the library run at 27.30 and immediately sent my sister a text message telling her that I would never beat that time again. My last 5K, also the Library Loop 5K was 24.56, which is now to date my best time…. And I’m telling myself again… I doubt that I can beat that time.

Hill training – a nightmare!! That’s what hill training is! Running as fast as you can up a hill? For as long as you can? Several times? Exact definition of insanity! But hill training is necessary, to keep improving at running. When doing runs in places I have not been to, it’s hard to know what to expect in respect to hills. Some races will say “relatively flat course” or “Almost flat course”. I have learned those definitions don’t mean the same to everybody. In March 2015, I ran the Irish Jig Jog 5K. The presenter went over the course before the run started, and said that it was mostly flat, little bit of a hill, but nothing much. The first 1 mile was going uphill, a slight uphill, but an uphill.

There are many things I’m still learning, and trying to practice… I’m being tortured with sprints and fartleks, both which are exhausting, but have helped me so much with my running. Maybe I’ll do a follow up… a What Else I have learned.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Running in Costumes

Running in Costumes

Last year I ran the Harrisburg Hero Run dressed at El Chapulin Colorado, to my knowledge there is not many Mexican Super Heroes, I appreciate and love comic book heroes, Wonder Woman totally rocks those shorts and boots, Batman broodiness is super rock and roll and I will never deny the appeal of Chris Evans as Captain America, but neither appealed to me in thinking of a super Hero costume. In Mexico, We have El Chapulin Colorado, a parody of superhero shows, and I was determined to run dressed as him for the Hero run. Lucky for me, Trick of Treat weekend was the same as the Hero run, and The Art In Motion Fitness Halloween Party was that Sunday as well….. I got a lot of mileage of the $18 costume!!

This year, I was inspired and have wanted to do more runs in costume, just because it gets me thinking of costumes, working on them and adding to the fun of the run.

First run this year was the Irish Jig Jog Run, with a costume contest. I wanted to dress up, but didn’t want to be offensive to the Irish culture. I asked my sister to make me a sparkly green skirt, which she agreed and I loved it! I wore green and a green tiara. But it was raining, the tiara melted, my green shirt was hidden under my sweater and rain coat, and there were other many more creative runners with costumes that were way cooler. A group of three women were wearing head to toe green, with rainbow tutus, beads, shamrock glasses, face tattoos… and naturally they won. I won 1st place for my age group, but lost the costume… so still won!

Then we had the Bunny Palooza in Bethany Beach, which was not a costume contest, but I wore my bunny ears, and a pastel pink shirt. It was awesome! But it was way more awesome to run by the beach. Great memories of that run!

For our annual Kennett Run, I had come up with the idea to wear a Mexican inspired skirt, with ribbons and lace. My sisters agreed they would wear one too, I got the fabric, we planned, we talked and weeks prior, my sisters backed out of running with the skirts. I made a sugar skull tank top, it really turned out great! My sister put my skirt together the night before, it was perfect! I also made a flower headband. This is one of my favorite running outfits. I felt like a running queen!

For the 5K on the 4th, there was going to be another costume contest, and I wanted to win it. But I also wanted to be respectful of the flag… I went and got more stuff than before, made my own flag tutu (I’m not a big fan of running in tutus), even painted the stars on myself, got a fireworks headband, and star sunglasses. I wanted to wear glitter tattoos of stars, but it was raining and I saw no point on trying to do the stars, thinking they would fall off with the water. I lost the costume contest… AGAIN! But got my best PR to date! So again, in my mind, I won! The winner wore flag leggings, a frilly tank top, stars necklace and beads, very festive!

This weekend, I’m running in costume again. I have thought about this one long and hard, and I’m excited to see my creation. The Camp Hill Library is having a Dress as Your Favorite Hero Run, I love that library! I did this run last year, and it was very emotional for me! I love Fredricksen Library because it’s a very big library, awesome selections, and perfect location. It was emotional because since my divorce, I have been heavily into reading and listening to books, and this library had provided a ton of them. Anyway, I could spend a long time talking about how awesome the library is…. My choice for my Hero is Selena Quintanilla. The reasons why she is my hero are that she was a revolutionary in her musical genre in the early 1990s, she stayed true to herself, she didn’t give up on her dreams, and she worked hard to achieve her goals. I have been thinking of this costume for a long time, and just now got around to getting supplies for it. I have 4 days to finish it… and can’t wait for it! If the costume turns out the way I’m hoping, this will be my Hero Run costume in November.

Wow! I really love my costume runs! Anyway, I have come up with a formula for running in costumes, rules if you must:

1.      Keep the skirts short and well fitted around the waist.  Learned this from the Irish Jig Jog, the skirt was not tight enough and the weight of the water kept sliding it down.

2.      Head gear is not always conductive for running. Melted crown, lost bunny hears, soaked 4th of july headband.

3.      Festive Sunglasses – they serve dual purposes, festive and protect from the sun.

4.      Still on the fence on tutus. I don’t have the body for a tutu, they look awesome on other people, and I always get jealous looking at them.

5.      Keep it festive, keep it creative, if winning is the plan, go all out, or lose the contest.


My sister is an amazing seamstress and without her help, half of this outfits would not have been possible. Thank you awesome Sister!!!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Exhausting 3 days!

Half way to Marathon Training

I have been training for the Hershey Half Marathon for 2 months now. I signed up back in June, knowing I would have to train hard for the October race. There have been other things I didn’t consider, and are still trying to learn. Yesterday I learned a good lesson; rest can make or break a long run.

I am divorced and share custody of my son with his father. We have a strange schedule that allows us both to see our son for a few days alternating each week. And that means, I train when I’m alone, sometimes 3 consecutive days of training, with a race in between, but also 3 days of no activity or training at all. This weekend, I had to train for 3 days and overdid it and now I’m paying for it.

On Friday, I had off from work, and it was a beautiful day. Roget and I decided to go hiking to Swatara State Park. The Park has 24 miles of trails, and the Appalachian Trail goes by it. We both thought, without telling each other, we would do about 4 miles and go home. But oh boy, were we wrong! The directions on the phone dropped us off at a side parking lot, Sands Siding Road. No bathrooms in sight, except for a sign saying that the bathroom was in Trout Run Trailhead. So we started to head towards it. Well, 4.5 miles later we were there, both of us dying to use the bathroom. We took a look at the map and decided that going back to the car for the 4.5 miles was not something either one us wanted to do, and we were still to find the Appalachian Trail! So we decided to loop back through the AT and hike the shorter distance back to the car. Another 4 miles later, we were back on the car. It wasn’t a bad hike, it was easy most of the road was paved; not very hilly hike, but we were both tired.

The next day I had the 5K on The 4th, which I was super excited about, and got myself excited for despite the rain. Running in the rain is not new for me, it has to be at least my 3rd run in the rain. First one was The GOTR Frozen run, then Jig Jog 5K and last was the Kat’s Angels run. But the rain was heavier this time, but at least it was warm. The run was good, my calf felt tight, but I felt good through the run. I came in at 25.30, which is my best time at a 5K to date! We rested most of the rest of the day, movie after the run, and didn’t do anything until we went to the Hershey Symphony show later that night. We even got home early, and only drank water the whole day, in preparation for the long run of Sunday.

Sunday I woke up tired, my legs slightly sore and my hip a little sore as well. I wasn’t sure my body would be capable to do the 7.25 miles long run planned for that day, but off we went. It was hot; it was humid, but cloudy. We started our run at Bull Frog Park in Hummelstown, thinking we could run the track around Hershey Medical Center.

First time we ran up through the running path going up to Shank Park, it was the best part of the run. Shaded by trees, and close to the creeks, it keep me cool for the first 3 miles, but the slight uphill was hurting my shins, so I ventured off to the Hershey Medical Center. I ran past the medical Center, to the Medical Center East, and back. It felt hotter, and I had slowed down significantly, no water because it was back at Bull Frog Park, but kept running as much as I could. At around mile 4, my hair started to really bother me, so I tried to put it up in a bun above my head, got too confident and pulled for another loop of the hair tie, when it snapped. I had to stop and make the best of the resources. I braided my hair, and used the snapped hair tie to hold it together. About 5 miles in, I had to use every motivational line that I could think of to keep myself going. But I completed, and exceeded my 7.25 goal. My hips were very sore, my calves were tight, I was sweaty and tired. I wanted to lay on the grass and stay there for the rest of the day!  We Went home and fell asleep to Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix…. God, the movie version of the book REALLY suck!... anyway, when I woke up my hips were still very sore.

So my lesson learned by this crazy 3 day? Rest before a long run. That means no 8 miles of hiking, no fast 5Ks the day before and tons of water the day before and the morning before.

This whole experience has me questioning if I can do a half marathon, but there is no turning around now, since we are already registered and half way through training. I hope better days are ahead! But tonight, rest, water, and hanging out with my awesome kid. Tomorrow, zumba, to stretch out the hips, Track exercises, and Monk.