Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Grand Prix: One Hour Track Run

The One Hour Track Run was the first event in the 2011 Grand Prix series. The idea is pretty simple. You run around a 400 meter track for an hour. At the end of an hour, they determine how far you've run. For the lap count, they used timing chips. When the event director called the time, everyone stopped where they were and waited for an event official to come around with the rolling distance measuring wheel. They took up the timing chips and marked on a clip board how far around the track you'd gone since passing the mat for the timing chip.

Initially, I didn't really have any goals for this race. I was just planning to treat it like any other hour-long training run. Running on a track isn't especially exciting, even though they were playing music the whole time. I hacked my watch each time I completed a lap so I could keep track of how fast I was going. I wanted to maintain an average lap time of less than 2:45 (for an average pace faster than 11:00/mile). After my first few laps, I decided I would try to maintain a constant pace for the entire hour. By the time I was rounding out my 12th lap at about 31 minutes, I realized that I might have a shot at completing 6 miles in the hour. So I started pushing my pace a little.

If I could've gained just a few seconds on each lap, I might have been able to squeeze in just a little more distance before the time was called. When I came around the track and saw there was only 11 minutes left, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it to 24 laps. It was humanly possible, yes. But not Jennily possible. I'd have to pull out an 8:30 minute mile... and I just didn't have it in me. So my new plan was to finish out the 23rd lap and then haul ass for whatever time was remaining to get as far as I could.

I made it about halfway around the track when I heard the event coordinator call time. I was so tantalizingly close! But I'm still quite pleased with how I did. Roughly 5.87 miles in 1 hour. I'm still waiting for them to post the official results, to see how I did in my age group, and to see how many Grand Prix points I earned toward my total.

Oh, and did I mention it was 46 degrees and raining? Yeah, it was a great day to go for a run.

Update - Officially I ran 23 laps and 783 feet for a total distance of 5.898 miles (so close!!). I was 40th out of 75 women and 7th for my division. Because this was also a championship event, I earned 12 points toward my Grand Prix total. Woo hoo!

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Run 2

Time - 45:04
Pace - 11:39
Distance - 3.87 miles

Today was supposed to be another hour long run around the track, but the weather was working against me. It's cold (about 45 degrees) and drizzling and all I want to do is curl up in a blanket and nap on the couch. But the hour long track run for the Grand Prix is on Sunday and I didn't run at all during our trip to visit our family, so I felt like I needed to do something. Plus spending 14 hours in the car yesterday has left my body feeling stiff and in need of some exercise.

So I bundled up and opted to go for a run around a little rural neighborhood near our house. I decided to only run for 45 minutes because I don't want to be sore and I'd like to get in another run or two before this weekend without feeling totally spent on the day of the event.

I ran at a pace that felt faster than conversation, but slow enough to be comfortable. Part of me wishes that I'd pushed myself a little harder so I could have run at a pace less than 11 minutes per mile. But I know how I felt and it was probably better that I did a nice, easy run. I might not have made it the full 45 minutes if I had gone any faster. Learning to pace and recognize my body's limitations is an important component of distance running. I don't want to burn out during a run and I don't want to burn out in the course of the year.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Introducing Hamish MacPuppy

We have a new puppy!! For those of you who don't already know, my parents found two small puppies on their front porch about a week ago. We arrived for our visit two days later and began an exhaustive search for new homes for the puppies. To my surprise, NO ONE wanted them. Who doesn't want a puppy?? They're so cute! After several potential homes fell through, we finally found a home for one of the puppies (the girl). We really hoped to keep them together, but new the chances of that were slim. It was a little disappointing, but girl puppy's new mommy is really great and I felt good about handing her over.

We still didn't have a home for boy puppy and the date of our return trip home was approaching soon. My parents couldn't keep him because they already have two dogs and don't have the time or space for parenting a puppy. We couldn't take him to a shelter because we'd never know if he found a good home. I just couldn't do it and keep a clear conscience. So ultimately we decided to bring him home with us.

Clearly, I've lost my mind.... but he's so cute. And he really is a very good puppy to be so young (vet estimated about 10 weeks). We think the puppies were unwanted Christmas presents, which is just so sad to me. Not four days after they showed up at my parents' house, an incredible snow storm hit. If they hadn't found their way to us, they likely would not have survived the storm. But luckily they did find us and now they each have new homes.

We just got back home from our trip last night (that's another story in and of itself) so I wanted to share the good news of our newest little fur baby with my blog readers. These pictures were taken with my Blackberry in dim lighting, so they're a little grainy. But you get the idea. So without further delay, meet our little boy:

Hamish MacPuppy

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Run 1

Time - 24:57
Pace - 10:24/mile
Distance - 2.4 miles

Today I went to the base with the intent to run around the outdoor track for an hour. The first Grand Prix event (a 1 hour track run) is in a few weeks and I thought this would be the best way to prepare. I need to get my body used to the feeling of running for an hour, but I also need to get my mind used to the feeling of running in a quarter-mile long circle for an hour.

I had a terrible time getting to the track. Apparently, I picked the worst possible time to try to go anywhere on base because there was a massive group run going on. I don't know how many people there were... I'm going to guess somewhere in the ball park of 500-700 people maybe? I have no idea. What I do know is that there were several streets blocked off, that the runners were NOT running on the sidewalk, and they were going incredibly slow! It took me, no joke, almost an hour just to get to a parking place. And even then, I still wasn't where I wanted to be.

I resigned to parking near the gym (not AT the gym, NEAR the gym) which is about half a mile away from the outdoor track. I figured that I would run to the track, run around the track, and then run back to the car and try to take about an hour to do it. When I got to the track, they were conducting PT tests for about 50 people. And although I still could have run there, I didn't especially want to. So I decided I'd just go for a free run around the base and hope not to get lost in the process.

Ultimately, I ended up running much faster than I usually do (guess I was feeling a little frustrated) and made my way back to the car in much less than an hour. But it felt good to get outside and it was better than nothing. At this point, I just need to get myself back into the habit of just running, regardless of whether or not I hit a target time or distance.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Year of the Grand Prix

I am so excited about all the running events we're planning to do this year. Some of you may know about the difficulty I've had getting back into running marathons. For those of you who don't know, here's what happened.

I started running marathons in 2006 before James and I got married. I didn't run a spectacularly fast time, but marathons are all about finishing, not necessarily finishing fast. Generally first-time marathoners can be split into three groups after the race: those who wish they had never done it, those who are glad to have finished but never want to do it again, and those who are hungry for more. I fell into the third category. Crossing that finish line the first time was such an exhilarating high that I wanted to do it again and again, despite how much pain my body was in.

So after taking the recommended two to three weeks off after my race, I started running again. I wasn't training for anything specific, but I wanted to keep up my fitness level so I would be ready to resume training as soon as I found a race I wanted to run. My first race was in April. I moved out of my apartment and back into my parents' house in June while we waited for our new house to be built. Over the summer I did fairly well. My parents live in a large neighborhood and there are two other large neighborhoods very close by, so I was able to run without having to worry too much about cars. By the end of the summer, I was back up to 14 mile long runs and I felt great.

In September we moved into our new house, across town from my parents, and got married. The fall semester started and so did my 3 hour daily commute, I started working again on the days I wasn't in school, and James left for his first deployment. My running came to a sudden and very abrupt halt. Our new neighborhood was very small, about a half mile around, and there was no where nearby that I could safely run without having to worry about cars (I would later discover that to be false because there was a 4-mile, paved running trail only 5 minutes away... but I didn't know that at the time). My parents lived about 30 minutes away, too far to be convenient for me to go running every day. And on top of that, the commute to school and back had me completely exhausted and I was lonely for my husband... who was half-way around the world.

That fall I ran a half-marathon with my mom, who'd been bitten by the distance running bug when she came to watch my first marathon earlier that year. After that she decided, at age 53, that she wanted to run marathons too. So I trained with her and we did exactly that the following March (2007). It was freezing cold, so we ended up doing a run-walk sort of race. But that isn't all that uncommon in marathons. We finished in a slower time than I had done the previous year, but marathons are all about finishing and we had a great time doing it together. James had just gotten home from his deployment and was geared up for a full spring racing season.