Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Come Run The Hidden Pine Trails Of The Forest

I was on vacation last week for Thanksgiving.  My family has gone camping the week of Thanksgiving since 1962.  Wait a minute.  Whoa.  That’s 50 years.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. 

It’s nice to sit in a camp chair and know my hips don’t exceed the sides of it.  J

It also helps that the chair has an hourglass shape built right in. I know, I know – I don’t have an hourglass shape yet, but a girl can dream, right?

Okay, back to my blog.  I wasn’t about to blow off running just because I was on vacation, so Monday morning I laced up my shoes, left camp, and ran for 55 minutes, keeping up my schedule of 5 minutes longer each time two days a week.  I ran 4.4 miles at a pace of 12:36, a minute faster per mile than I‘ve been running!  Woohoo!  Thank You, God, for giving me the ability and the desire to run that far! 

On Wednesday I did an exercise DVD with my cousin.  We exercised our bodies and entertained our teenage daughters.  J  For a  minute we were afraid they were going to put pictures or videos of us on Facebook or YouTube.  (Thank you for not doing that, Brianne and Katie!) 

On Friday it was time to run again and it was time to do 60 minutes.  A whole hour of running.  A milestone.  I also wanted to run on a trail since we were in the woods, so I went to Manatee Springs State Park, very near our camp.  I was armed with my MP3 player for music, my heart rate monitor watch,
and my phone just in case I needed it.  I walked a little bit to the first trailhead to warm up, started the music, and began running.  About 30 seconds into it I realized that instead of listening to music I needed to concentrate on not twisting my ankle and falling, so I stopped and put that away.  I started again and just ran.  The trails weren’t marked for distance so I have no idea how far I went.  I know I ran some trails twice and looking at the map now I think I may have missed some.  Oh well.  The objective was to run for 60 minutes straight and I did that.
I ran under a fallen tree. 

I ran on sand trails/roads.   
Sometimes the trail ended with no warning, but I kept running. Do you see a trail here? 

Me neither, but do you think that kept me from running?  Nope! 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

It's a little bit hard to see, but there's a trail that goes off to the left in that picture.  That's the way I went. 

Trail running is different from road running.  On the trail I can’t get the speed I have on the road, but the dirt/sand is easier on my joints.  In trail running I need to concentrate on not falling so it works my mind and body in a different way than road running.  I really enjoyed going off the trail and want to do more running like that.  I know of two parks where I can – Sawgrass Lake and Weedon Island.  Trails, here I come!
Finally I had been running for one hour straight!  I stopped my watch at exactly one hour! 

I walked to the spring and took my shoes off.  I waded up to my knees in the icy water to help any inflammation the run may have caused.  Up to my knees was all I could stand and even that was hard to get used to.  I don’t like cold water! 

So I hit a milestone a few days ago.  One whole hour of running!  I'm well on my way to running the entire 10K in a couple weeks!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting Closer to the 10K!

The other day I was driving and saw this sign:

No, thank you.  No; not thank you.  Just no.  2X is the size of clothes I used to wear (and sometimes even 3X), so I want no part of food that would very quickly get me back there.  Not that I want fake Taco Smell food anyway. 
I got up at 5:00 this morning to do my long run on the 10K course.  My goal was to run for at least 50 minutes, but I wasn’t able to do this course Monday for 45 minutes like I’d planned so I wondered if 50 minutes would be too much of a stretch for me. 

I had to put some gas in the car so I stopped to do that.  I paid $20 and look how much gas it gave me:
6.2 gallons.  A 10K is 6.2 miles!  Interesting! 
I got out and started my run up a small hill like usual and then it leveled out.  I ran almost 1 mile to the beginning of the big bridge then started to earn my downhill.  I really felt like I was in a groove this morning.  I’m still slow, but I enjoy running.  Especially this morning for some reason.  I came off the fun downhill and the long flat part wasn’t as difficult as it has been before, maybe because the cold temperature made it invigorating.  I hit the shops on Clearwater Beach chugging along and turned around about a block after Bay Esplanade.  I don’t know the exact turnaround point, but the instructions said it was just after that street so I went a block farther.  Later when I clocked it in the car the turnaround point I used was exactly 3.1 miles.  Yay me!  At the turnaround I was only at about 40 minutes so I continued running back the way I’d come.  Then I switched to walking at 50 minutes.  I made the change to more accurately run the course that the actual race will take and go back across the bridge on the opposite side from the one I’d come over on.  I didn’t know how many minutes I would walk, but I knew I would have to start running again no later than the base of the bridge.  I ended up walking for 18 minutes, probably longer than I needed to.  Live and learn and change it next time.  There was a water fountain so I got a drink and then walked a short distance to the base of the bridge.  I started running up it and saw where it looked like the railing leveled off.  Yay!  The top!  Then why does it still feel like I’m going up?  Sigh.  Whatever.  Keep running.  I finally felt the downhill and then I saw what they call the helix but I like the word spiral better.  There is a spiral down ramp on that side of the bridge instead of just a long slope on the side I’ve been running.  Fun!  There were no walkers, other runners, or cyclists so I had it all to myself! 

Round and round she goes!  Where she stops nobody knows!  Oh no; she knows where she’ll stop – the finish line!
Oh.  There’s another hill to run up. 
I finished running the spiral and ran up the hill.  I knew that it would be flat at the top and that I’d make a left turn there, run a few blocks, and then make another left turn and go downhill to the finish line!  Knowing that made it not so bad. 
I made the finish line (Well, Coachman Park.  I don’t know where the exact start and finish line will be.) in 1:23:42.  That’s a 13:30 pace, which is pretty slow, but later I remembered that I walked for 18 minutes, so when I run the whole thing (notice I said when and not if ;-)) my pace will be faster.  I need to work on getting my pace faster regardless, though. 

I’m going out of town for Thanksgiving but still plan to run two long distances at 55 and (GASP!) 60 minutes and two easy 40-minute runs.  I want to do trail running, though, so we’ll see how that affects my endurance. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm Getting There!

At the end of my last blog post I asked if you thought that next time I’d go 35 minutes in one direction before turning around. 
Raise your hand if you thought I would.  You win, because I did! 

I took the same course except for a little correction to start on the right street, on the north side of the park and not the south side.  Oops.  I think I still need to correct another part.  I run on the same side of the bridge out and back, but I think the actual course comes back on the other side.  My way takes safety into account but with vehicle traffic banned from the course they can do things a little differently on race day.  In my last post I had two pictures of the bridge that I couldn’t get side by side so you could see how big it is.  My friend Doug melded the two together for me so you can get a better idea of the length and height of this bridge I run twice two days a week.  Thanks, Doug!


I ran for 35 minutes, almost to the turnaround point for the actual race, then turned around and went back.  I ran for a total of 40 minutes, which is my usual running time, and then walked for 4 minutes.  I’m a little disappointed about that, but I started the race hungry and battled that all the way through.  I then ran some, walked a few more minutes, ran, walked, etc.  I walked for a total of probably 10 minutes.  I made sure I ran the entire bridge, though!  I have to earn the fun downhill and I do that by running the uphill. 
I traveled 2.7 miles in one direction and then back for a total of 5.4.  I’m getting there!  I know I may have to walk part of the distance on race day, and that’s okay.  I’d like to run the whole thing, but it’s okay if I don’t.  As long as I run the entire bridge both times, that is!  I finished the course in 1:13:54, which is about 13:30 per mile.  A little slower than I’d like but, again, that’s okay.  I’m running.  Period. 

I think I’m going to run the course again on Monday, so I’ll let you know how that goes.  Will I go 40 minutes in one direction?  If I continue to run the course twice a week and increase by 5 minutes each time, I can be running the entire thing by December 7.  When I think about that I get a nail-biting, I-don’t-know-about-this feeling like I probably had when I registered for my very first race without being able to run the whole thing at that time.  And that was an easy 3.1 miles!  Look how far God has brought me!  I did run the full distance about a week before race day, though, just like this will be (I hope). 
I know I need to eat a better meal the night before a long run.  I had a big lunch yesterday and a small supper, which is what I prefer in general (eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper), but which doesn’t work too well when I’m pushing my body beyond its limits.  Live and learn. 

Okay, I interrupted composing this post to actually register for the race.  Exciting!  I have an exercise jar (actually a piggy bank) into which I put a dollar each time I run or otherwise exercise. 

I took $19 out of it to pay the fee.  I’m committed now! 
One of the songs on my playlist is the Veggie Tales song about knocking down the walls of Jericho that I adapted to my running:  “Keep running…and I will knock down that wall!  Keep running…and I am not gonna fall!  It’s plain to seeeeeee my God is very big, so keep running…I will be knocking down that wall!”  I think for this race I want friends or family members stationed somewhere along the route with a paper banner of a brick wall and the words “I Can’t” on it.  As I run by I’ll break through the banner!  That sounds like fun! 

Once again, my friend Doug came through for me.  I googled pictures of brick walls but don't know how to add words to an image.  I made a brick wall texture background in Word and added "I Can't" to it but it wouldn't copy to this blog.  I asked Doug for help and he sent me this picture.  Um, that's quite a wall, there, Doug.  Thank you. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Farthest Distance Yet!

I ran 4.6 miles of a 6.2-mile (10K) course this morning.  This was in preparation for the 10K I want to do next month.  I’d gone the full 10K distance before but that was running half and walking half.  Today I ran more than half.  And that included going over the Clearwater Causeway bridge out and back! 

I took these as a panoramic shot but I don't know how to get them that way on the page.  You'll just have to imagine them side by side and imagine me running up, across, and down. 

I set a goal of running for 30 minutes, turning around, and running back.  I was only on the second song when I heard myself say, “22?  23?  How about 25?” 
“NO!”  I answered out loud.  “30!  I said 30 minutes!  Run for 30 minutes!”  While Mandisa was singing:

It's a good morning!
Wake up to a brand new day
This morning
I'm stepping, stepping on my way
Good morning
You give me strength
You give me just what I need
And I can feel the hope that's rising up in me.
It's a good morning
I was trying to tell myself to shorten the distance I was going to run.  (Sigh.  Shaking my head.)

I met my competition.  Her name is My Own Thoughts.  My competition is not against any other runner.  It’s not even against the voice in my head telling me to stop because there isn't a voice telling me to stop.  It knows I won’t do that.  It does know that there’s a very real possibility I will shorten the time or distance I’m going to run or that I’ll slow to a walk if it can catch me at the right (wrong) time.  It knows I’ll say that walking is better than doing nothing.  It knows I’ll say that the fact I’m running at all is an accomplishment and I’ve already run some so it’s okay if I walk some. 

This morning was not the right time to catch me in those thoughts!  I not only told myself (more like gasped) out loud that I would run for 30 minutes, I kept telling myself out loud, “Keep running.”  A few yards later, “Keep running.”  (Check my watch.  Only at 15 minutes, halfway to the turnaround point.)  “Keep running.  Look how far you’ve come!  You made it up the HUGE bridge, across the top, and you earned the downhill!  Wasn’t it fun?!  Yeah, the downhill was fun!  Keep running.” 

After 30 minutes I turned around and headed back.  I had maybe ¼ mile to go before I hit the bridge again.  I prayed that God would help me focus on His creation along the way to keep me going and that the sun wouldn’t blind me.  I didn’t want to focus on that!  I hit the bridge and, man, did I feel that incline!  Part way up, though, a cool breeze came from behind to keep me from getting overheated.  It was God pushing me!  No way could I slow to a walk now!  Besides, I knew I had to earn the downhill again.  On the downhill portion I even raised my arms up for a second!  (well, as much as my left arm could go without disconnecting my music) 

At some point on the run I was thanking God for giving me a body that can run.  I thought of the verse that says “You have given me a body to offer.”  Hebrews 10:5.  My running can be an act of worship.  I can offer it to God to be used to give glory and attention to Him.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Dear brothers and sisters…give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship Him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

By offering my body for God to use as He sees fit, He can change my thinking so that I will know His will.  He can change my thinking from wanting to get by with a shorter distance to running farther than I ever have before!

I finished this run after 1 hour and 2 minutes and then drove it to see the distance I had gone - 2.3 miles in one direction and then back for a total of 4.6, the farthest distance I’ve ever completely run. 

Will I go 35 minutes in one direction the next time I do this course?  What do you think I’ll do?
This evening I got an email from a friend who put the two pictures together so you can get a better idea of the HUGE bridge I ran.  Thanks, Doug!  :-)