Saturday, May 17, 2008

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Even if you don't read my lengthy 'Reasons I Run' blog post, you should know that there are two additional posts (new posts) below that one. Please scroll down to read 'Freedom and a 5K' and 'Summertime Running and a Training Plan'. I would just rearrange them, but Blogger won't let me do this. Hope you enjoy these 3 new posts and are motivated to go for a run afterwards!! :)

Reasons I Run

Now that I am making some progress in this new “running adventure”, I have decided it will be good to spell out the reasons I run. I know in my mind the reasons why I chose to do this type of fitness, but writing these reasons down will certainly prove to be helpful and motivational in the future – when I need to remember why I’m doing this I will have this list to reference. These are not in any particular order:

I run for me.
I’m not a selfish person, but running is absolutely something that I do which is first and foremost for me. I enjoy having some alone time, time to clear my thoughts, escape stress, mull over things, etcetera. It’s so hard to get this time in today’s world, where I’m constantly bombarded with ways to entertain myself (e.g., TV) that are completely mindless. Being on the track, treadmill, or open road, gives me this gift of precious alone time and greatly improves my mental well-being.

I run for perspective.
Along the same lines as what I was just saying, it’s so easy for me to get caught up in the stress of school, paying bills, etcetera. Going for a run reminds me that life is really much simpler than we have a tendency to make it. I can observe people around me, from a couple taking a walk with their baby in a stroller, to a homeless man, to kids playing in a park. I can appreciate a beautiful tree, flower, or bird. This is all so simple, but these are things I don’t take the time to take note of unless I run by them. Not only can life seem simple and beautiful, but I can also be reminded how fortunate I am. Unlike the homeless man, for instance, I have someplace to return to after my run. This connection to my surroundings gives me perspective.

I run for my loved ones.
Exercising will give me a longer, healthier life. I can therefore spend these additional days with my family and friends, the ones I love. The idea is that I will achieve not only a longer life, but a fuller life as well. More time with those that I love adds up to a happier life. I can have a longer, fuller life with the man I love. I can experience the joys of watching my future kids and grandkids grow. Who wouldn’t want these things? Moreover, the idea is that my own running and commitment to fitness will motivate my loved ones to take up fitness as well. That way they can be around for longer, fuller lives as well! Our multi-state family fitness effort is a testament to this reason to run – we are all motivating each other.

I run for health.
This is an obvious one, and is directly tied in to the above reason of running for my loved ones. I want to live a longer, healthier, fuller life. In order to do this I need to stick to my fitness plan, lose weight, and combat the many predispositions I have to illness and disease. By starting now, my chances are excellent to avoid things like heart disease, diabetes, and so many other things that have plagued my family. I do not want those things because I’ve seen what they do to individuals and their loved ones!! On a lighthearted not, you might say I’m fighting my genes by trying to fit into smaller jeans. :) Not to mention, running has other health benefits that aren’t necessarily physical, including improvements in mood and energy. The endorphins that come with exercise improve my general mood, making me a happier person who’s more able to deal with the changes, surprises, and rocky times of life. I also have more energy which allows me to do more in a day than the average person can. With this energy I can also keep up with those kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and all those other young ones that I love. :)

I run for inspiration.
When I need inspiration, I can find it all around me. As I run around the track in my gym and see an elderly man just walking the outside track, I think ‘Good for you! You’re going a great thing to stay in shape’. As I watch my friends and family members run races to improve their health and lose weight I am awed by what they accomplish. This inspiration works the other way as well. I can actually give others inspiration as I complete runs and races. People who might not be physically active otherwise can be inspired when they hear about my goals or see me crossing a finish line. That in itself is amazing! Furthermore, when people learn that I’m striving to do these things even with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, they realize that they can absolutely strive for these things as well. To be someone’s motivator in this way is an extraordinary gift that running provides.

I run for t-shirts and medals.
These simple, material things are a symbol of my accomplishment. It’s great to be awarded for the races I complete and these things make me feel very proud and satisfied. They also keep my hungry for more, motivating me to the next challenge and the next award. The t-shirts I can wear every day to showcase my achievements and also to inspire others to do the same races. The medals are just for me, but they are also displayed proudly in my home, where friends and family who come to visit can know what I did and be inspired.

I run for structure.
The goals I have set for myself – 5K’s, half-marathons, eventually marathons – they all require training plans. These plans give me the structure I need so that I know I’m training properly in order to achieve my goal. As my husband has said, they take the guesswork out of running. This is vital in order to keep me running, because if I didn’t have a training plan and a goal in sight I would likely make excuses and still be sedentary. Besides keeping me running, the training plans also give structure to my day in general. If I know I have a five-mile run of schedule I can aim to complete that first thing in the morning. Then I can eat, shower, and have energy to tackle the rest of my day knowing that I’ve already accomplished something. In other words, this structure allows me to manage my time better, which is always a wonderful thing.

I run for charity.
This is a reason for running that I didn’t really discover until I started looking into races. Many local races benefit my community (like the Health for Friends 5K I just did). Many benefit wonderful charities and organization, and it’s great to run these races knowing that I’m supporting a great cause.

I run for food.
To end on a lighthearted note, I love, love, love, to eat! I run to increase my metabolism so that I can still eat great food and not feel too guilty. Whether it’s Maine lobster, Rusty’s Frozen Custard, Dysart’s Poutine, J. Tim’s Dirt Wings, Pat’s Pizza, Olive Garden, chocolate in just about any form, or any of my other favorite foods…I run to eat them. :)

I am sure these reasons that I run will continue to change as I get older. Nonetheless, here they all are. I hope they give you a place to start in making your own list. :)

Happy Running!

Summertime Running and a Training Plan

The day after my last final exam I decided to get the summer off to a great start. What better way to do this then to go for a run? So, on Saturday May 10th, at about 11:45 am, I set out for the 5K Home Loop. It was a good run all in all – beautiful blue sky, great songs on my Shuffle – the only problem was the extreme heat. It was 71 degrees when I walked out my front door and 82 degrees when I arrived back home! Wow! It’s not unusual at all for Oklahoma, but it certainly slowed me down: I completed 3.28 miles in 53:26 with an average pace of 16:17/mile. It definitely showed me what I already knew – I will have to become a morning person and get these runs out of the way much earlier in order to beat the heat.

Then, on Monday May 12th, B and I left for a very early morning flight to North Carolina, the first of our summer vacations, with all of our running gear in our luggage. We visited my brother, sister-in-law and my 6 month-old niece (who I hadn’t met yet) and had a really nice time. On Tuesday, I had a 2-mile run on my schedule and B had a 5-mile run to complete. These were our first runs in North Carolina and it was my first run on my training plan for Disneyland. Needless to say, I’m psyched. :)

I have coined this the “Snowglobe Run”, because the neighborhood where my brother and his family live seems kind of like a snowglobe – all the houses are very similarly designed, the sky was a clear blue when I was out, it was all so seemingly perfect. Not to mention, it’s a pretty hoity-toity neighborhood, where every house is beautiful and expensive and they’re all nearly right on top of each other….not the kind of place where B and I want to live, but pretty to run in. In fact, the houses all looked so similar that I was worried I’d get lost, so I kept to the same circle for the two miles. :) All in all, I completed 2.04 miles in 37:56 with an average pace of 18:37.

I was going more slowly partly because I had hills to contend with, which we really don’t have in Oklahoma. Also, my training plan (which I just got from calls for me to go at some pretty slow paces. I know speed isn’t nearly as important as endurance, especially for me as a beginner, so originally I intended to stick to the plan. I do want to be sure, however, that I’m prepared to complete Disneyland in August. That race has a required 16:00/mile pace…so I think I’ll be changing up my training plan just slightly to reflect that. B said there’s nothing wrong with making those slight changes because after all, training plans are just guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

After visiting with my brother and his family for a couple days, we’ve now driven out to western NC to visit my parents. Of course since I’m not accustomed to running in hills, much less mountains, I opted to do Thursday’s run (5/15/08) on the treadmill. :) I went for 2 miles at a steady 19:21/mile pace (3.1 mph), which took me about 40 minutes to complete. This was the pace my training plan had set for me, so that’s what I did, but as I said before I’ll be modifying that – I’ll likely change that 19:21/mile pace to a 17:10/mile pace and change future runs accordingly.

Thursday’s run went well, except I got tired very fast. I felt like I was going uphill, so I tried to change the incline on the treadmill…only I pressed the wrong button. I realized after a half a mile that the incline was set at 8.0. Such a Hayley thing to do! :) I quickly changed this and lo and behold the run got easier.

Finally, I’m now all caught up to the present on this blog. Yesterday and today are rest days/cross training days. Does playing with my parents two adorable Labrador retrievers count as cross training? :)

Happy running!

Freedom and a 5K

A few days after the OKC Memorial Races, my Marathon Training Class had its last meeting (on Thursday May 1st). We didn’t have a formal speaker, so we simply reflected on the OKC races, discussed what we learned and shared stories of how we did. Not everyone had run in one of the OKC races, but most of us had. Some people even set PRs! Jaime also told us an adorable story. You see, she was one of the people in charge of the Kids Marathon, and as we know kids say the darndest things. One little girl came up to her and asked, with complete seriousness, “Now, when I win, will I be able to break through the tape or will I bounce back?” LOL! How adorable is that? Of course, I’m sure the girl was disappointed to find that the Kids Marathon wouldn’t be timed and there would be no tape to run through. :) Jaime then told us to keep in touch and said it was possibly she might offer an Advanced Marathon Training Class in the fall. This class would involve discussing running topics more in depth, and it would be available for those of us who had taken the regular class and/or people who’ve already completed a marathon.

On this happy note my classes would wrap up for the semester on Friday May 2nd. At this point I still would have finals to take, but the classes would be finished. And freedom from classes means more time to run!!

Thus, on Saturday May 3rd, I participated in my first timed 5K with B, right here in Norman. This was the first annual Health for Friends Historic Norman 5K. There were probably a hundred or so people participating, so it was much smaller than the OKC races and more low-key. The route took us along Main Street, which I drive down all the time, and along many of the beautiful historic neighborhoods where I hadn’t been before. Even as low-budget as it was, they still managed to provide us a water station after 1.5 miles. I didn’t take any, but it was still nice to see it was there. Actually, I probably should have taken some water – very often I get a cramp around my upper left rib cage after a mile of fast walking, and Jaime has told me it might be due to not drinking enough water. She also said it could be due to improper breathing. In other words I need to make sure I expand (not contract) my chest and my stomach when I inhale. I’ve been working on this but it doesn’t make much difference, so maybe water is the key (?). Has anyone else experienced this? Let me know.

Eventually the route brought us back to the railroad tracks, which we ran alongside from mile 2 to mile 3. The headwind at this point was a little fierce, but certainly not as bad as it could have been. Soon the Finish line was in sight and I ran almost the last tenth of a mile. This was really my only “strategy”, if you can call it that. :) I would randomly break into sprints like this, with the goal of ‘Ok, I’ll run past this person’ or ‘I’ll run to that intersection’. I finished in 48:33 (average 15:34/mile pace) with B motivating on the sideline. After announcing the winners in each division, we all got finisher medals – so now I have two race medals in my collection! :)

A week later, on Friday May 9th, my finals would be over and my Spring 2008 semester officially concluded – woohoo! Now I’m free from those obligations and my summer has really kicked off…. I have a lot planned! I will be reading lots of Runner’s World books on running and marathoning. I will be working on improving my cooking skills, so I have more healthy recipes in my repertoire. Most of all, I look forward to starting my training for the Disneyland half-marathon, and as always I’ll keep you all posted.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My First Medal for an Athletic Accomplishment!

The Oklahoma City Memorial Races went great for everyone. :) After waiting in the car for the rain to let up we finally started making our way to the starting line. In fact, we donned some trash bags as makeshift ponchos. The plan was to just make a whole big enough for our heads so that the bag would cover our arms and the rest of our bodies. This didn’t quite work however, as the tall kitchen-sized bags were too narrow to go over our broad shoulders. Discovering this, I very ungracefully tried to make armholes but ended up creating a bigger hole on one side than I’d planned…it was all very comical. :) So next time we know to bring bigger trash bags. Nonetheless, we made it to our corrals. C stayed in the church, where I told him I’d find him after I was finished. B and A went to their corral while I stayed with all the other 5K’ers.

The master of ceremonies (or whatever you call him) declared 168 moments of silence to honor those killed in the OKC bombing. Let me tell you, it’s really very powerful to hear almost 20,000 people just shut up for that long a time. Next was the National Anthem, and then the Wheelchair Marathoners took off. Thankfully, by this time, the rain had pretty much dissipated. It was still cloudy, dreary and cold but I think it’s safe to say that everyone there felt happy and energetic, me included. In fact, I didn’t truly feel cold until I took off my hat briefly for the National Anthem – taking it off let my body heat escape from my head! Oh yeah, and by this time I’d ripped off and thrown out the too-tight trash bag. (That was the beauty of the trash bag, the ability to just throw it away. This way none of us needed to worry about checking any gear.)

Before we knew it the Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Relay runners all too off. I never actually saw B and A during this time. There was no way I could pick them out in a crowd like that, not really knowing where they were. I’ll admit I was a teensy bit nervous for them, I mean who knows what can happen? This feeling pretty much passed though. Anyway, a few minutes later it was time for us 5K’ers to go. As I crossed the Start line they were playing ‘Walkin on Sunshine’, a great upbeat song to get me going and also one that gets played on my Shuffle a lot. It was also ironic considering the weather. :) I felt fantastic though, because who would’ve ever thought I’d be there – me, with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis; me, who never participated in anything athletic growing up if I didn’t have to?

I took off running for the first tenth of a mile, not only because I was excited, but also because I wanted to shake people off of me. I walked all the rest, taking in the whole experience, and then I ran the last tenth of a mile for a strong finish. Along the way I took note of all kinds of people doing the 5K with me. It was just fun to be a part of it. One of the coolest people was a Marine running along the course and motivating everyone. He had a big American flag he was carrying and an adorable beagle on a leash running ahead of him. He shouted to us that we were doing great and it was a beautiful morning to be outside – he was a character and, Tracie, I totally thought of you! :)

Finally I finished in 51:16 with an average pace of 15:54. Aragorn said I went for 3.22 miles – the accuracy of all this is questionable anyway since the Garmins don’t do so well in urban environments with tall buildings around (which is exactly where we were running though). Once I crossed the Finish line I was surprised to actually get a medal. After all, since the event wasn’t even officially timed I certainly wasn’t expecting us 5K’ers to get medals…so it was really very cool when a volunteer did give me one. :) It occurred to me much later that this was my very first medal or award of any kind for an athletic accomplishment. All my life my awards have always been for academic achievements, so I was proud of this recognition of my first athletic achievement – here’s hoping it’s the first of many medals!

At this point, more inspiration came. About a minute or two after I crossed the Finish it was announced that the winning half-marathoner for the men had just crossed – Wow. And of course he hardly seemed phased.

After this I headed over to the church where C was right there waiting for me. He showed me where the big screen TV was located in the huge sanctuary. From here we chatted about the race and watched the live broadcast of it, which was mainly focusing on the lead marathon runners. I also went ahead and did my stretches and then got in line for my free pancake breakfast. The wait was worth it as it was really yummy! I also picked up a business card so that I can send the church a donation at some point because it really was great of them to open up their doors – and their kitchen – to all of us.

Once the race clock said the runners had been out for 2.5 hours, C and I made our way to the Finish line to be sure to be there to cheer on B and A. They had projected to finish in about 3 hours, but I knew they could also come in faster than that. We watched from the bleachers as people streamed across the Finish and got their own medals. I also randomly cheered for lots of runners as they finished, who cared if I didn’t personally know them?

B finished in 2:50:30 and A came in just behind him in 2:53:35. I can’t even express how much I was beaming with pride when I saw B. As promised, I gave him a big sweaty hug. :) We made our way to the car, took turns showering when we got home, and relaxed the rest of the day. We celebrated with some Little Debbie Swiss Rolls that really hit the spot. We also watched the local TV coverage of the race, which we’d had Tivo set to record. What turned out to be really awesome was that all three of us runners made it onto TV at some point! The lead marathoner for the women ran by A at one point, so you can see her running in the background. And then while they were interviewing the lead marathoner for the men you can see B and me in the background. Pretty cool.

All in all it was an excellent race and a wonderful experience for me. And what makes it even better is that this is only the beginning.

Getting Ready for My First Race!

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately, but I promise I’ll make up for it today…this will be the first of several posts as I get you all caught up on the running news in my life. :)

Getting ready for my first official race was SO exciting!! First, I went out for a ‘practice run’ on Thursday, April 24th. I went around the usual 5K Home Loop (which is actually a little more than a 5K distance). Aragorn (my Garmin) says I completed 3.28 miles in 50:33 with an average pace of 15:25. This was a great run for me, and really just an opportunity to get my body prepared to do the same distance on Sunday.

Andria and Chino arrived on Friday to get ready for our Race Weekend. We talked almost nonstop about running and racing and all of it! Saturday we drove up to OKC to take in the Expo and pick up our running packets/goody bags. This was my first running expo as well as Bobby’s first and we were ecstatic. We first went all the way to the back where we got our racing bibs. Bobby and Andria also picked up their Champion Chips here, but since my 5K wasn’t a timed event I didn’t get a chip. Next we got our official t-shirts and goody bags, which was very cool. I kinda wanted to look through my bag right away, but I also knew I had a whole bunch of booths to explore. :) So, we all set off! Sometimes sticking together, sometimes splitting off to check out different booths and exhibits on our own, we all had fun.

Bobby got some Brooks running clothes to match his shoes, as well as some extra Gu Gel. Andria finally got what she had really been wanting since her first marathon in January – a hat with the 26.2 logo on it. It’s lavender and really cute! She was very excited as I’m sure I will be when that time comes for me. Chino even had fun when he found some free pancake samples at the Expo. At this booth he learned that the First Methodist Church in OKC would be serving a free pancake breakfast during the race. In fact, one of the volunteers at the Expo said the church would be only a block away from the Finish Line and he would be able to stay warm indoors and watch the TV coverage of the race while eating free food – this made him a very happy camper!

As for me, I bought my very first Bondi Band! Andria had highly recommended them to me so I chose a pretty, light blue one which says ‘5K’ with a circle around it. It knew it would be perfect for my first race and for all the future 5K’s I’ve already signed up for in the coming months. I also got a SPIbelt, or a Small Personal Item belt, which basically wraps around your waist and is just big enough to hold all those little necessities one needs when out on a run – your ID, cell phone, house key, etcetera. It’s great when you don’t have any pockets, which I frequently am without.

After a couple hours of exploring we were ready to go and especially ready to eat some lunch. We went to Olive Garden, one of our absolute most favorite restaurants. We often go there when Andria and Chino visit, but at least this time the need to carboload was the perfect excuse. :) Later that night we all explored our goody bags and studied up on where we were able to park on race morning, where the corral was, how our family could track our progress, etcetera. It’s all a very big deal, and just goes to add to the excitement and anxiety we all already felt.

We went to sleep early after setting out our outfits and running gear, trying to think of everything possible we might need and trying to wrestle with the nagging question of ‘Am I forgetting something???’.

I know I slept great, but then again my race would require only 3.1 miles – that’s 10 miles less than Bobby and Andria would be doing. On Sunday we literally woke up well before the crack of dawn. I don’t remember when exactly we got up, but I know it was early enough that it would have been more typical of Bobby and I to still be awake at that hour rather than for us to have actually been waking up at that hour. Though I’m not a morning person I was very excited and it was this excitement that kept me positive. Once we were all ready we set out the door and drove up to OKC in rainy, yucky weather.

Did the rain clear out? Did the race go well? Read the next post to find out…

Friday, May 2, 2008

Coming Soon to a Computer Screen Near You...

Hi everyone! I have a lot to blog about, including details from before, during, and after the OKC Memorial 5K Race. I also want to write about the reasons I run, the last Marathon Training Class of the semester, my plans for the summer, and much more. All of this, though, will likely have to wait for about a week, as I will be very busy studying and writing papers for my final exams. I will happily get back to blogging once finals are finished on Friday, May 9th. See you all then!! :)