Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank you, running, for letting me eat

The Runner's Lounge topic this week was especially relevant because I'm thankful for running for one huge reason (pun intended): the ability to eat food I like. Since Thanksgiving is soon upon us, it brings me to one of my true loves: food.

Sure, there are other reasons I love running so much and am very thankful I can do it. It de-stresses me and allows me to think through problems while still burning calories. But I really love it because I really love food.

All of the experts tell you that you shouldn't live to eat, but eat to live. Yeah, I never got that memo or I threw it in the trash. Truth is, I LOVE food and enjoy ordering and eating it. I don't eat deep-fried Oreos (pictured left) or anything along those lines (anymore, that is), but I do enjoy good food and that doesn't always mean it's low calorie or healthy for you.

It also means that every once in a while I can indulge in unhealthy pizza or Chinese or cake or whatever and not feel guilty. I don't allow myself to do it much, but if someone offers a piece of cake and I want to have it, I let myself have it. I've earned that indulgence.

Quite related, I'm so grateful for running because I'm able to look at myself in the mirror and be happy with what I see. I fit into clothes that I could never fit into before and I feel great about what I've accomplished. While walking started it for me, it was running that really took off the weight. It's a life-long process, but I'm glad to say that running will continue to stay with me for the whole way.

This was written as part of the Runner's Lounge: Take It and Run Thursday. This week's topic was "Thank goodness for running day".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Seacoast Half Marathon - Pictures

Here are a few pictures from the Seacoast Half Marathon from last weekend. There were others, but they were virtually identical.

I haven't hit the roads since, but my feet are starting to feel better. Still need to get in to see a podiatrist to make sure I won't damage anything, but for now, I'm glad to be feeling better.

Me, Liz and Karl pre-race

Liz and me around mile 5

Coming into the finish

The finish!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I've lost that competitive feeling

With all apologies to the Righteous Brothers' version, I've lost that competitive feeling. To be fair, it doesn't have the same ring as their version.

When I was younger, probably all the way through college, I was extremely competitive. Insanely competitive, really. I made everything a competition, either with myself or others. Sometimes they didn't even know they were competing with me, but I knew they were.

I remember having a fiery competitive nature which really helped to motivate me in whatever I got into. It helped to make me successful and driven. It also made me super intense and probably a little tough to be around at times.

This competitiveness really works and is necessary for some people. If it works and you like it, hey, stick with it. I just found that it was throwing off my balance and taking energy that I'd rather spend on things that were more important to me.

Over the last couple of years, I've really lost that super competitive feeling. It's not depression or a feeling of hopelessness or anything. It can't be. I'm happy and feel more at peace because of the lack of competitiveness.

This puts me in a pretty unique position around other law students. Law school pushes you to be fiercely competitive with others and with yourself. The really competitive (and less ethical) students hide books and try to psych others out. I just can't get that crazy competitive. It was in me before but it seems to have left me.

And this has translated into my running. In the past, I might have cared that I didn't PR in a particular race or that I didn't finish under some arbitrary time like 2 hours for a half marathon, or whatever. But I just don't care about those times and whether I PR or not. I'm really just looking to enjoy myself, put in an honest effort and let things fall where they may.

Take the Moose On the Loose 10M run, the XTERRA Stoaked Race this year or the Manchester Half-Marathon. I didn't break a PR, but I couldn't have cared less.

In the half-marathon I did this past weekend, the Seacoast Half Marathon, I didn't start out to set a PR. Really, I couldn't have cared less. I had already proved to myself that I could do whatever I put my mind to, ala 48 Miles in 48 Hours. After that, every race has been the proverbial icing on the cake.

It turns out that I did PR by about a minute or so. I think Petra put it best, though, "looks like everyone does better when they take the pressure off". Bingo! But if I didn't get it, would I have lost any sleep? Not a chance.

This attitude, not just in running but overall, has made me a much more relaxed person. I'm much more at peace now than I was when I was so competitive. I'm not only at peace with my successes and failures, but I'm at peace with and can celebrate others' successes. When you're not comparing their success to your success, you can be more genuinely happy with what they've accomplished.

I wish I knew where or when this competitiveness left me, but I don't really know where it came from. I think it just comes from growing up and recognizing that things that I thought were important really weren't. And being hyper-competitive and taking the energy to be that way was more taxing on me than it was worth.

I'm far from perfect and I "slip" from time to time, but I just try to remind myself that the more balanced I am, the more at peace I'll be and the easier success will come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Seacoast Half Marathon: Race report

I ran the Seacoast Half Marathon yesterday in beautiful Portsmouth, NH. It was apparently a very popular race as they capped it at 1,200 participants and it sold out very quickly. I signed up in August and was in the 900s.

Portsmouth is about an hour from Concord, so we had to leave at 6:15 to get there at 7:30 for an 8:30 race. So that means I had to be up at 5. Greg doesn't like to be up at 5 on any day, much less a weekend. I survived, though.

The pre-race packet pickup was extremely organized and went quickly. It was at the high school, which, for some reason, decided that it would be smart to have a swim meet that day to minimize the number of parking spots. Nice move. Either way, we got in and collected our packets without much of a problem.

From there, it was time to warm up a bit and wait for the race to get started. The walkers started at 8:00 and the runners started at 8:30. It had rained the night before and they warned us that some of the bridges would be slippery. In fact, an ambulance was on the scene at one bridge where a biker toppled. Good tip!

As I mentioned before, I had planned to run with Liz and Karl. Well, that happened for a little while, anyway. Liz wanted to run at a sub-8 minute pace, which wasn't working for me and I asked her to dial it back to around 8:30/8:45 so that we'd be OK in the later miles. She was fine with that and seemed to understand. This was the first non 5K race she's done, so she deferred to me.

Karl was with us, too, and we were together until the first water stop at 2 miles. I always slow to a walk during the water stops so that I don't choke on the water. Yes, I'm that graceful. They, however, did not, so they got ahead of me. I sprinted to catch up to them and we continued together until mile 6--the next water stop.

At that point as I grabbed water, took a GU and sucked both down, I lost them. They continued on the run and I could see them in the distance. It just wasn't worth sprinting to catch up to them. I talked with some other people who were running my pace and I figured I'd just see them at the end. I was more worried about both of them than I was about myself, so I was glad that they were watching out for each other together.

I was doing fine through some hills through miles 6-10. The course was beautiful and had us running along the water for part of the course and through very pretty towns. I really enjoyed the course layout.

At mile 10, my right foot started to hurt. If you're keeping score at home, it was actually my left foot that was killing me after the 48 Miles in 48 Hours fiasco. I was a bit surprised that my right foot hurt, but it did, and it hurt a lot. I could still run on it, but it was a bit painful. The problem was that I didn't have anywhere to stop even if I wanted to, so I just kept going.

It was at this point that my pace slowed to 9/9:15 per mile, from about 8:35-8:45. I was fine with that and just wanted to finish. I felt like I was going to be close to a PR, and if my darn foot hadn't been hurting, I probably could have blown it out of the water. Eh, whatever.

Though I'm not that competitive anymore (I'll explain that later this week), I at least knew about what my 1/2 marathon PR was. It was 1:54 and some change, and I'd never gone below that.

I approached the final two hills and then hit the finish line on a nice downhill sprint. I looked at my watch and realized that I was going to PR. I ended at 1:53:15 which is at least 45 seconds faster than my previous best time, but I don't know how much faster. Maybe a minute or more.

I found out that Karl had bonked at 10 and dropped back a bit while Liz finished strong. She finished at 1:49, Karl at 1:50-something and me at 1:53. Though we lost track of one another, we still finished pretty close together.

I proceeded to get some food (they had pizza, clam chowder, pumpkin pie, etc.) and then hobbled around a little bit while we waited for others to finish.

Overall, it was a great course and an enjoyable experience. I would do it again next year.

Next step: podiatrist and likely X-rays of my feet. My right foot is feeling a bit better today, but I'm not going to take any chances. It's time for some rest of this weary body.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Seacoast Half Marathon: the preview

For those of you keeping track, the last couple of months have been quite active for me running-wise. Here's the list:
  1. AppleFest Half-Marathon - 10/4
  2. 48 Miles in 48 Hours - 10/18 - 10/19
  3. Seacoast Half Marathon - 11/9
I sign up for this race in late August because friends would be running it with me. And unlike the AppleFest Half Marathon, the friends will actually show up this time.

I ran with Liz on segment 1 of 48 Miles in 48 Hours. She's a gifted former Division 1 athlete. She says she'll run with us, but I suspect she'll want to break loose.

I ran with Karl in segment 2 and segment 5/6 of 48 Miles in 48 Hours. He's one of those natural athletes that can just wake up that morning and run 13.1 miles. I don't like those kinds of people. They make me insanely jealous.

Either way, I've had some foot problems since the 48 in 48 race two weeks ago. I stayed off of my feet for two weeks and then just recently started to hit the roads again, albeit lightly. I ran 2 1/4 segments twice this week and I'm going to run about 4.5 - 5 tomorrow. If I'm feeling good, then I'll run it. I've since given up trying to prove something to myself. After 48 in 48, I proved everything I need to prove--to myself and others.

The course

The course itself looks like it will be pretty as we'll be running along the seacoast (hence the name). The hills don't range any higher than 60 feet and most of the course is quite flat with a large hill at the very end.

The headphones

As usual, they're nutso about headphones. I got a question from Terri about how much they're enforcing the headphone ban. Unfortunately, Terri didn't have an email address or blog, so I had to respond here. Hopefully she'll read it.

They're being the typical nutso about headphones, blaming it on local police, etc. I also talked to the race director and she said that they'd disqualify people if they saw people running with headphones. Again, I'm not sure what "disqualifying" really means. The race director suggested that my time wouldn't be posted. Clearly she doesn't understand that watches also have the ability to keep time, but I didn't want to ruin her fun.

The answer for me is easier. Since I'm running alongside two other people, I won't be wearing headphones since we'll be talking the entire time.

My goals

At the end of the day, barring any injury prior to or during the race, I expect that I'll run a 1:54 and some change. I run almost all half-marathons at this time, and I'm fine with that. If I run slower, that's fine, too. It helps when you're not as competitive, I guess.

So, I actually don't have any running goals for this. I'd like to feel good running it and not get injured. I guess those are my goals, come to think of it.

Stay tuned for a race report on Sunday/Monday.