Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Half Crazy?

So I've mentioned once or twice that I'm currently training for a half marathon that will take place on January 19, 2013. This will be my third half marathon and based on the recommendation of a co-worker I decided to completely change gears on training this time around. So let me discuss first my previous half marathons and what I did for training.

My first half marathon was the Mission Inn Run held in Riverside, CA (this is a "small" local race for me) in November 2010. I had just started running in June 2009, with my first "running" 5k in September 2009. I then did a 10k in June 2010 and felt like I was ready crazy enough to try a new distance. I didn't know a whole lot about distance running at this point but jumped right in to the training plan generated by the Runner's World SmartCoach (the site to the SmartCoach is temporarily here's the link to the page and you'll see the box on the right-hand side to access the plan generator feature), but I definitely had to heavily modify it because 1) I wasn't a run 5-6 days a week runner and 2) some of the distances on the mid-week runs were longer than was possible for me since I have a full-time job and family. I will also admit, that there were definitely missed training runs and because I've either blocked it out or have forgotten, I think I only made it up to 12 miles ONCE prior to race day. The basic idea behind the plan was to gradually increase by 1 mile each long distance run; so if it was 8 miles one week, it was 9 the next with an occasional drop down for a recovery week. So come race day, even though I felt "prepared" I really had no idea just how unprepared I was! It was a horrible race experience for a lot of different reasons. I wasn't really ready, it was hotter than expected, it was windy, I didn't fuel correctly, I didn't have enough water to stay properly hydrated, and it was a horribly boring course with over 6 miles along a single track out and back along a dry riverbed heading towards a freeway. There wasn't any on-course entertainment, very few water stops, and it wasn't an overly friendly group of runners either. Not a fun experience. The absolute best part of this race for me was the fact that I "acquired" the 13-mile marker at the end of the race! (That first picture may or may not be proof of me nabbing* it...).

The pink shirt is my sister with her oldest child finishing the race. I'm the purple shirt in the background.

A group of us that participated in either the half or 5k race. Along with 2 of my sister's kids photo-bombing on the right.
My finish time on this one was 2:57:53...just under 3 hours which, mentally, would have been my breaking point. But it was so far from where I wanted to be.

So for my second outing, I really wanted it to be the full "experience". I wanted on-course entertainment, I wanted cheering sections, I wanted lots of water stops, and I wanted it to be interesting. Well, I couldn't have picked a better race because my second outing was the Inaugural Tinkerbell Half in January 2012!

It was a WONDERFUL experience. I seriously cannot praise the RunDisney race organizers enough. It was a stellar experience from beginning to any issues with my finish time can't be blamed on anybody else but me. The weather was perfect, the course was perfect, the entertainment was perfect.

For my training on this one I used the plan provided by the race organizers that was created by none other than running legend and Olympian, Jeff Galloway. It was a really good training plan that worked for me because it was a 3-day a week plan where you ran for time during the weekday (45 minutes with some mild speedwork thrown in) and a distance run on the weekend. And once again, I will admit that some training runs were missed. However, if I remember correctly we did actually get up to running at least 13 miles prior to race day. I felt more prepared this time out and had a much better plan in place to start slow and not kill myself before mile 7. The two areas that I felt were less than desirable were: 1) my fueling still isn't what I needed it to be...I can't handle nothing but sweet for miles on end apparently. By the time I was finishing in both, I was feeling sick from all the sport beans, Gatorade, and energy gels; and 2) I didn't feel like I was prepared for running at faster paces for prolonged periods of time. Even though I had done some speedwork, it was mild at best and was only during short bursts. And even though I practice fueling during my long runs, I must have a different experience when racing because I don't remember feeling like if I ate one more sweet thing I might die during training! LOL

Even though my finish time on this one was within my "happy place", it still isn't my mental ideal. Prior to the Tinkerbell, I had set the following levels for finish times:

  • LOVE - Anything near 2:30
  • LIKE - Anything under 2:45
  • HATE (AKA: Disaster must have hit, but at least I finished) - Anything over 3:00
I hit in my like zone with a chip finish time of 2:41:02 - so I like that time, but boy am I sure still hunting for that LOVE zone! 

After the race...tired but proud of that awesome BLING!
Which brings me to half marathon #3. I am most definitely on the hunt for a 2:30 finish time. Granted, I will set Love, Like and Hate zones again and will be happy with any of them, but I'm not content to sit back and have lazy training hoping for a miracle to happen either! So as I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post, I totally changed gears for this training cycle and so far it's been awesome! So what am I doing? I'll be back on Friday to fill you in on all the exciting details!

*I did actually ask for permission from someone that was cleaning up along the course and they said I could have it - granted I already had it off of the post by then and they may not have been anyone that actually had the authority to let me have it, but if they had said no I would have willingly given it up!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Zombie Dash - Virtual 10K

I will start out this race recap with the following disclaimer: no persons, either real or fictional, were actually harmed during the running of the Zombie Dash virtual race.

So the morning started out dark and ominous with news reports on TV that there had been strange and mysterious sightings of people wandering around with dazed and confused looks on their faces. But you know, that really isn't too strange when you think about where I live, so we decided it was safe to head out for a basic, everyday training run after all. We had 11 miles at a pretty mild pace on my case, it was a HMP +30 seconds, which equates to upper 12-lower 13 minutes/per mile (this was my last day on my low end of pacing...this too will be explained in the future - just know that I'm gradually stepping down (up?) my paces over the next several months). Piece of cake.

We did a nice little warm-up walk around a short block and then I hit the Garmin and started going. I stayed fairly close to my mom and sister for the first several minutes, which in hindsight was good since it seems like us traveling in numbers was useful, but eventually I broke off to find my own stride and get into a rhythm that would carry me through a long training run. But not long after I left my mom & sister I started hearing a groaning, shuffling sound behind me...I didn't want to waste time and look back because I figured it was probably just one of the people from my group. I should have known better.

Next thing I know I feel breath on my neck. Could it be a slight breeze? We are supposed to be in Santa Ana weather after all? Perhaps I was just freaking myself out a little bit...but nooooo - I'm pretty sure that's breath I feel and hasn't the moaning gotten louder? I finally decided to look back thinking I would see nothing, but it wasn't nothing. It it couldn't be...yes, it was a ZOMBIE!!!! (cue dramatic music here)

There it was...reaching out and incoherently mumbling something about brains. It was then that my fight or flight instinct kicked in. Run down a side street - dash up and back on a cul-de-sac - take a lake trail - head out to a more populated street. No matter where I ran the zombie stayed tight on my tail. I couldn't slow down and I definitely couldn't stop. I passed my house at one point and considered stopping, but I didn't want to draw the zombie into my home where my sleeping husband would be unsuspecting of the zombie apocalypse that was dawning with the new day. After all, a clever zombie might have turned him while he was sleeping before he even knew what was happening! I couldn't let that happen so I kept running.

I eventually made it back to my sister, but it appeared that something disastrous had happened since my mom had disappeared and my sister was running by herself - alone and defenseless. We teamed up and kept running back down the same streets trying the entire time to shake that darn zombie! I found out that my mom had escaped to leave for I was definitely glad to hear that it wasn't something worse! Whew - that was a close one! I would occasionally draw the zombie off by running ahead of my sister, but would always circle back around to make sure she was safe and she was definitely holding her own. The zombie was closing in though and there was a scary moment where I could have sworn that the zombie got it's hands on me...was that a scratch? What would happen if I was infected by this zombie??? No time to stop and worry about it, I finally was able to shake him after a cul-de-sac and kicking in the turbo to return to my sister.

We had a period of time where we didn't see any additional zombies...perhaps there were only a couple? I'm not sure but I was happy to be able to slow my pace and just head for home. And then after a few more miles it started...I began to feel strange and not like myself. I was hungry - no, not just hungry. I was STARVING. But I wasn't craving my usual breakfast comfort foods of cereal and coffee...I had an overwhelming desire for...BRAINS!!! There was my sister up ahead and she has brains...and I bet they are pretty tasty! As I tried sped up to catch her I developed a cramp in my leg but was unable to stop so I dragged it behind me in what turned into a slow shuffle as my arms stretched out ahead of me attempting to catch her. As hard as I tried to catch her, she was just too fast and before I knew it she had made it to a safe zone and acquired a zombie antibiotic. I was saved and just in time!!!!

Whew - who would have known that a boring training run could turn into a mad dash through the 'hood running from zombies?

Okay - so seriously...obviously we weren't being chased by real zombies, but we did participate in the Zombie Dash: Run the 'Hood Virtual 10k this past Saturday. I finished in 1:14:55...not a 10k PR (10 seconds slower than my 10k time at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon this past January), but I wasn't really going for one either. I do have to say that I felt so great that if I had wanted a PR, I'm pretty sure I could have gotten one. :-)

There is one part of the story that is sort of true - I did chase down my sister while pretending to be a zombie at the end of her 10k to give her a little added "drama" and remind her why we were running that morning. Funnest part of the day!!! Who doesn't love pretending to be a zombie??

The registration for this "virtual" race included a medal and t-shirt so I was happy to put my new medal up on the rack - I earned it after out running those zombies and narrowly escaping becoming one myself! Glad I lived so I can run another day...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lookout Weekend...Here I Come

Okay, so who's singing that awesome 80's song after reading the title? *crickets*, maybe it's just me? :-)

If you have absolutely NO clue what I'm talking about then you must have been living under a rock during the 80's. Here's Debbie Deb rocking it out:

Yep - it's Friday so that means the weekend is finally here! I may not be doing fog machines or laser rays, but I have a fun weekend ahead of me! It's all going to start at noon today with some housework once I get off of work! I know, right, I'm a party animal!!! Seriously - I told the weekend to lookout...and now you know why. hehe

The excitement will continue with me hopefully catching up on a few shows sitting on the DVR. I haven't watched a single episode of Once Upon a Time yet this season, and I'm feeling woefully out of the loop. What else is on the DVR? Several episodes of Elementary, Vegas, The Mindy Project, Ben & Kate, New Girl, Raising Hope and I think the newest episodes of Revenge, Survivor, and America's Next Top Model. Whew...Too much to watch and not enough time! If all else fails I figure I have some upcoming furlough time to catch up on this in December/January. Hopefully all the new shows I'm recording haven't been cancelled by then. Don't you hate it when you want to get into a show and they cancel it?

But then tomorrow morning I have to get up early and prepare to run for my life! That's right - the Zombies are coming!!! My Fairy RunMother (that's my Mom, by the way) signed us up to participate in a virtual 10k race called Zombie Dash: Run the Hood put on by The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. I'm not planning on dressing up as a Zombie because I figure I look Zombie enough out running at 5:00 AM on a Saturday morning when most people are happily sleeping in. I wonder if I'll have a cheering section on this one too like I did with the Cupcake Classic last weekend (race recap to come in the near future)? I'll also tack on a couple extra miles to round it out to 11 total. At least that's the PLAN. You never know what might happen when zombies are chasing you...

The Walking Dead on AMC
After that the excitement will continue with more housework, grocery shopping, and other boring chore-type stuff. Again, I warned ya - I live an EXCITING life. I'm hoping to get to a pumpkin patch over the weekend, but probably not the large one about 30 minutes just isn't seeming like we will be able to pull that together. But there's a little cheesy local one, and hey - I like supporting local AND cheesy, so it should be a grand time!

That's what is on tap for my weekend. What exciting plans do you have? Are you ready for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Music Makes Every Workout Easier!

Just a quick share today - I recently created a new music workout playlist to share with my mom and sister as part of a challenge we have been doing (I'll probably get around to explaining that more in the near future!) and figured if it motivates us to move - perhaps it will motivate you too!

I will say that my musical tastes are quite eclectic...they are all over the board. And rather than only listen to dance style music when I'm working out - I find that it doesn't distract me well enough - I like to listen to a wide variety of tunes to keep it interesting. So most of my playlists are all over the board, just like me, and this one is definitely no different!

That will get you through a 1 hour workout! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Changing Lanes...

So seeing how I have like, maybe, one regular reader on this ol' blog thing I'm figuring the change in title may go completely unnoticed! But at the same time, I just figured that would be completely unfair of me to change it and not explain to...well, anybody that cares! LOL

The name Putt-Putt actually goes waaaaaayyyyyyyyy back. That was the nickname my Dad gave to me when I was just a little one and the story goes (at least this is how I remember it going!) that he worked for Mattel toys and would sometimes bring toys home for us to play with. One time he brought home some kind of wind-up train and I apparently followed that little train around going putt, putt, putt. I can't tell you how accurate this story is, but the nickname Putt-Putt stuck. As a child, it was really the moniker only my Dad used...or my siblings used to torture me. They loved calling me by my nickname in front of friends, crushes, potential boyfriends. You name it, the nickname came out at the WORST possible moments more often than not. But here I am 40 years later and you know what - Putt-Putt Runner is pretty much the perfect way to describe what I do.

I'll never be described as fast and I'll never win medals for my running...or so the joke goes that I'll win a medal when I'm only one of three in my age group! But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it, and it doesn't mean that I won't keep striving to get faster even as I continue to naturally slow down as I age. I often wonder when they talk about how you get slower as you get older what it means for someone that is still a "baby" when it comes to running. Reality is that in running years, even though I'm 40 in real-life, I'm just a toddler. Three years old and still figuring it out. I may be able to walk and talk, but I'm still inquisitive and I still make mistakes. I might still push limits to see how far I can go and sometimes life will give me a little swat on the rear and tell me I pushed too far. Running is still a new thing for me when it comes down to it and I'm anxious to see how I "grow up" over time. What is my running adolescence going to look like? What will it look like when I'm a running teenager? I don't know...but I can't wait to find out!!!!

So my previous title to the blog was The Pursuit of a Quality Life...that still hasn't changed. I'm still pursuing a quality life full speed ahead (hahahaha). But a really, really big part of finding the quality is found in running. So I'm changing lanes a bit. Shifting focus. Hope you'll continue to be along for the ride...or for the run is perhaps more accurate!

Running Shoes

Question: Do you have any childhood nicknames that have "stuck"?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Speaking the Same Language

Last night I had the opportunity to attend my very first book signing for an author/blogger that I just adore - Kelle Hampton of Enjoying the Small Things and author of the memoir, Bloom. My bestie and I both happen to really - no REALLY - appreciate Kelle's blog. We identify with it because here is a woman who speaks our language. She doesn't speak normal "English". She speaks unicorns and Target and women supporting women and candles and fall leaves and letting our freak flags fly whatever they might be. She speaks the language of finding happiness in difficult situations, in sucking the joy out of life, in finding the "glitter" in everything around us. She speaks the language of life is freaking HARD sometimes, but when you have a support system around you anything can be overcome. She speaks the language of love and tolerance. I could seriously go on all day about it...LOL

I haven't had the easiest life, and I haven't had the most difficult life (by FAR!) either. But I've weathered my fair share of storms and even though I can often find the peaceful seas, sometimes the wind rages and the waves rock my little boat something crazy. But I can usually be a pretty happy person. And sometimes, let me just be honest for a moment, I feel like such a FREAK for always being so stinking cheerful - even when sometimes I am broken inside and it is merely a crumbling facade. Seriously, people are always like "you're so happy". You're "always smiling". You're "always positive". I hear it all the time. And I'm so glad that I have that impression on people...really I am. But sometimes it's HARD to carry that burden. The burden of "The Happy One" or "The Positive One" or "The Strong One". Sometimes all you want is to be weak and to crumble, but as woman we pick ourselves up again and again and put on our happy face to the world.

My bestie, Rebecca, she sees the ugly. My husband - sometimes he sees the ugly too. But most of the time the only thing that really sees the ugly is my closet. That's where I usually go when I need to seriously have a breakdown. But let me get back on track here. I am admitting that there are times when I'm not happy or positive. But those times are pretty darn rare. I am definitely an optimist. And sometimes I feel like there aren't many other people in my life that are the same as me. Rebecca is, most definitely. Kelle is, most definitely. But let me tell ya - last night I realized that there are a LOT of other people that speak the same language!

I had shared with Rebecca on our way down to San Diego that I tell people about Kelle's blog all the time...and yes, I feel like a creepy stalker when I do...but I've come to accept it. ;-) But I never really feel like anyone that I tell about her blog says "Man, I SO GET IT". I get what this Kelle chick is talking about. I really FEEL it. In other words, I kind of feel like most people view me as that creepy blog stalker that I am! But we get to the Barnes & Noble and wander in after taking pictures in front of the store by the sign announcing the event (cheeseball!!!!) and kind of start wandering to figure out where the event is. And then all of a sudden we see a LOT of people gathered in an area and I was like "whoa - that's got to be it". It didn't seem real to see a group of 100+ women, men, children and babies all there for the same thing. But it was. So then we are chit-chatting wondering if we traveled further than most to get there when a gal turns around and says that her and her sister traveled about 4 HOURS to attend. I found out after the fact this morning that another group of ladies traveled 8 HOURS to be there. All in all, I would say the group grew to about 200 people at least. We packed that B&N something fierce!

And the funniest thing was that as we were standing there we were picking up conversations from other ladies and they were talking about the same stuff we always talk about! Lots of talk about unicorns and glitter and happiness and the importance of a support network. We were all different people from different backgrounds but yet we were all speaking the same language. And it was wonderful!!! To think that no matter where we are at and what we have gone through in our own lives that there are real and authentic people that have struggled or found joy and are willing to share it so that we all know that we aren't alone in how we struggle and that we aren't alone when we find joy. The overwhelming feeling I left with was that I could have been friends with any of those people in that room.

Finding this kind of supportive and like-minded community is really not a first for me as I am part of an online community through SparkPeople and I have made friends with many of the people on there...I definitely would like to think that many of them will be lifelong friends...We just speak the language of health and triumph over our fat cells there. A different type of language, but one that is important nonetheless. I guess the important thing - AKA "the moral of the story" is that in a world where we are all so different and are spread across the globe, that we can find others that speak our language - that we can be drawn to them like moths to a flame because we finally realize that we aren't alone no matter what we are going through...well, it's a powerful thing. And I definitely had a taste of that power last night and it was pretty darn awesome.

Go forth and Bloom...