Wrap up of the last few weeks…

I ended up taking a break from blogging due to the tragic death of a friend and colleague that occurred on 04/12.  I continued my runs, but with all that was going on, blogging was not a priority.

I am feeling better and continuing to make progress so here is a quick wrap up of where I have been and how it’s been going!  Thanks to Runkeeper (which is not always reliable, but very close) I have been able to keep track of my mileage.

So far, April is my highest mileage month!  Currently at 28.5 and it isn’t over yet!

Seacoast Science Center Whale of a Tail 5k (04/21):  What a great time!  I loved the course, loved hanging out with Team Fish Fry and I’m especially proud of my time!  I finished in 28:44 (19 seconds slower than my road time for the Grail… I’m definitely faster since this entire course was on nasty trails and up and down bunkers!).  I was 23/98 and my pace was 9:19.  Not too shabby!

Runner’s Alley 10k group:  Also due to the tragedy, I missed some of the group runs.  My last two runs were 04/17 and 04/24.  My stats on those runs were as follows –

04/17: Ran with the group and Tony… we chatted the whole time.  Near the end he was accusing me of running off and not being able to keep up.  He’s full of crap in his speedy Newtons!  He did point out that my cadence is good, my footfalls are quiet and my body is actually leaning and arms moving in a way that helps me pick up speed.  This was a 3.03 mile run, overall pace was 10:15, my last split was 7:54.  I get faster with each passing mile.

04/24: I treated this as a stretch out run following two days off since the 5K and I had been in class for two full days.  I had some calf stiffness to start but nothing major.  I stayed with Tony and Lise for most of the run and went off on my own for the last 3/4 mile.  My final split was 7:12!!!!  Seriously?  And it doesn’t even feel like I am trying that hard.  This really is starting to get better for me.  I keep getting that “high” and it’s thrilling!

We are running again on 04/26 with the group and are scheduled for a 4 mile loop out to Little Harbor Road.  I am following that up on 04/29 with a 5.5 mile benefit run for Chief Maloney.  I am not sure what approach I will take with that yet.  I’d love to try to run the whole thing, but I want to hang with friends too.  I have to strike a balance.  Hoping to pace Scott for the whole run.  Tony and Steve (aka Calamari) will probably run ahead and keep coming back to check on us.  Can I do it?  Can I run the whole thing???  If so, the 10K will be easy… wish me luck!  I’ll check back in soon!

Cold or allergies?

I am not typically plagued my allergies, but man have I been knocked on my butt for the last two days!  Sore throat, nose issues and a nasty sinus type headache.

Managed to get to our run last night at Runner’s Alley.  I did the 3.11 mile loop in 32.09.  My first mile was 10:36 pace, second was 10:16, third was 10:17 and as I came into the fourth mile I was cranking at 9:27.  My legs felt great and the only exception was a cramp in my big toe (right) in the last half mile.  That went away almost as soon as I stopped and I do believe it is still related to the tight calves.  Calves were great though!  Just a little tight but no pain to speak of.

I am contemplating doing my four mile loop out at Wallis Sands on Thursday or Friday.  We will see how this cold is treating me!

Maybe riding and running don’t mix?

On Sunday, Amanda and I tacked up our boys and went out for our first spring trail ride.  Tiki had injured a major tendon in his right front leg in March 2011 and was laid up for most of last year.  I had gotten limited ride time in from August 2010 when he came home until his injury, but the thing I loved about him was his floaty running walk and rocking horse canter.  When we did get him back under saddle last fall, he had some stiffness and his running walk was a little awkward.

The winter off did him wonders!  He was right back to moving out beautifully at the running walk.  He loves to flag his tail and curl his neck.  We call this “parade pony!”  We took a leisurely half hour ride through the field and conservation land… being back in the saddle was a wonderful feeling!

Then I came home and went out for a run almost right away.  I was ready to quit 3/4 of a mile out.  My calves were screaming and spasming.  Sadly, my run from last Thursday was not repeated.  I suffered through the 2 miles and came home to immediately rest my legs.  I iced and within an hour, my calves felt normal again.  I have to believe the cool weather combined with riding (for those that don’t ride, proper form and balance includes sinking the heels down with the stirrup under the ball of your foot) wrecked havoc on my poor calves.  This form is so natural to me and considering my lower legs would have been in the position for a solid half hour, I think it was just too much.

So, for now anyway, I will ride and run separately.  I can probably get away with running first!

Tomorrow starts week 3 of the 10K group with a 3 mile run for tomorrow night.  Fingers crossed my legs feel better.  I stretched and worked everything at Body Pump this morning without any issues.

Stay tuned for a recap of tomorrow’s run!

Progress?

Last night was night four (second week) of our Runner’s Alley 10K training group.  We took a new route (Middle to South to Pleasant and back via Court) due to the wind and cold.   I started the run with a slight cramp and tightness in my right calf but that quickly went away.  I focused on my form, trying to lean and ensuring I am landing midfoot.  All was well.  My pace for the first mile was 10:23.  I caught up to another runner who I had been pacing behind and we began chatting and getting to know each other.  Our second mile was 10:08.  By the time we hit out third mile we were down to 9:57.  I was running, breathing, talking and PAIN FREE!!!  I have a tiny blister on the inside of my right foot on the ball and even that didn’t bother me.

Shin splints?  What are those?  And this is all without the $50.00 orthotics and $40.00 compression wraps.  I am currently running in Saucony Triumph (9).  I am happy with them, but would love to try the Saucony Kinvara 2.  They have a 4mm drop vs. the 8mm drop I am currently running in.  They are well reviewed as a transition shoe for those wishing to run more naturally.

All of this change has been inspired by the book “Natural Running” by Danny Abshire.  Quick read and fantastic information on how running has changed for the worse over time.  So much makes sense!

Up next… solo run over the weekend due to my work schedule.  Back to the 10K group on Tuesday PM.  Stay tuned!

How I got here

I have never been a runner… or a traditional athlete for that matter.  As I mentioned before, I rode horses for nearly 30 years.  I consider that an intense sport, but that was as far as it went for me.

I hated gym class.

I never once joined a sports team in school.

Bowling and miniature golf were the extent of me playing sports.

Then I decided to become a police officer in 1999.  In order to get into and pass the academy, I needed to be able to run the mile and a half in under 15:00 minutes or so.  I also had to meet push up, sit-up, flexibility and bench press standards.  I trained by mucking 26 stalls a day, working horses and jogging around the neighborhood.  At 21, that was all I needed to do.  I got hired and got into the academy without any issues.  At the time, I HATED running.  It was uncomfortable, made my legs hurt and it sucked to breathe.  I made it through 12 weeks of the academy, completed runs as long as 7 miles and suffered with nasty shin splints and blisters.  I was in pain literally every step of the way.

Fast forward 13 years and I have only dabbled with running on occasion, only to quit  a few weeks later.  Shin splints would take over and I would “rest” only to never return to it again.  In July of 2011, I was officially as heavy as I had ever been.  I was up 17 pounds over the course of 13 years, had no endurance, no muscle tone and felt terrible.  It was time for a change.

Motivated by co-workers and my best friend, I started a work out program that included both weight training and treadmill work.  BORING!!!!  I did want to run in the Footrace for the Fallen (October ’11) and kept at it.  Shin splints returned and I completed the last month of training before my first 5K on an arc machine.  My time was 29:19.  I even surprised myself.  Couldn’t walk right for days after that.

I met with a PT at Access, got some valuable information about my stride (midfoot striker naturally!) and invested in a pair of Saucony Triumphs.  I also joined Seacoast Sports Clubs and began participating in Les Mills BodyPump and Body Combat (November ’11).  I began running 2 days a week 1.5-2 miles each time without pain.  I gradually increased my mileage over the mild winter and took classes 2-3 days a week.

Today, I have lost 13 of those 17 pounds!  I have gained muscle tone and endurance and now run 3 miles without giving it another thought!  I still struggle with aches and pains, but I am learning new ways to care for my body and have more goals than ever.  The only regret I have is not taking before photos and measurements!  So stay tuned for regular updates about my training and adventures while I learn to run!