Monday, June 27, 2011

I wonder as I wander: Chapter 1

Today's Miles: 4.5....I think. Garmin was dead so I guessed at it. But it was the slowest 4.5 ever. Migraine on Saturday night and little to drink on Sunday plus 72 degrees and 75% humidity at 6a.m. did not make for a good combo.

When I’m running, I have to find something to entertain me. Some days it’s my iPod. Some days even Pink & Lady Gaga can’t keep me entertained. So I wonder.

The nice think about running alone with your thoughts….if I’ve got a problem or trying to figure out how to do something at work, it’s the perfect time to sort all of that out in my head. But when things are going well and I’m not stumped on something – my mind wanders.Sometimes I can solve all the world's problems on a long run. Sometimes my mind just wanders off the reservation.

So one of the many things I've been contemplating on runs.... Which may reveal how twisted I really am…

Why do dogs eat poop?

No, Really. I’m serious…..WHY????

I’ve got one dog that has a sweet tooth. If he spies a bowl and even suspects it contains a dessert of any kind, he will try to win an Oscar for his begging performance. He’ll sit, with eyes wide open, ears perked up and back and tremble ever so slightly. Like whatever is in that bowl would be THE... BEST… PRESENT… E.V.E.R. On other occasions, he’ll lie on the floor in front of you and put his head in a near vertical position to get his chin to rest just on the edge of the couch, with the most pitiful – I’m. Dying…. From. Malnourishment….. I. Know….. Ice cream….. Would…. Save…. My…. Life… – kind of performance. He truly deserves an Academy Award.

My other dog, however, acts like a kid sneaking candy out of the cookie jar – you know, keep your head down low so no one will see it in your mouth, grab it and eat it on the run, but you’re so flipping excited you can’t control your giddiness (if she could giggle, she would). And she only does this when she’s eating POOP! 

We’ve not had any critters up on the hill behind our house for a few months. While we were on vacation, Dad had some cows and the donkeys up there for a few days. When we got back from vacation, I let the dogs go run in the field….and where did she go?! Yep, right up to the hill to sneak in some of those oh-so-delicious Field Biscuits. Now she’s up there every day, getting her fill. It’s like the never ending Easter Basket for her!! I'm surprised she didn't dig a hole under the fence and sneak up there every day while we were gone....just so she could get them hot and fresh!

Several months back, both pups go to the vet because one had tapeworms, and I assumed if one had it then there was a good chance they both did. I was told that I had to scoop their poop because after the medicine, if they ate their poop, they’d get re-infected.

Let me be clear on this….I do not scoop poop.

That is why I live in the country. So that my dogs can run to my brother’s yard and poop on his lawn. Love ya bro’!

Thankfully, my dog does not eat her own poop – she eats everyone else’s poop – cows, donkeys, horse, goose, deer, rabbit and who knows what else. I know she doesn't eat Rascal's poop. We all give it a 4' berth! Shhheeewwww! I do have a friend in Colorado whose dog carries around her own turds like a cigar hanging out of her mouth. I’m SO glad I don’t have one of THOSE dogs!

But I still don’t understand how I have one dog that’s a sugar addict, and another that’s a poop addict.

Gotta run…

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm just a Dumbass Runner

Today's Miles: Haven't decided yet. Either 4 or 2 easy miles...depending on how well my legs have recovered from yesterday...

Yesterday just sucked…for awhile…then it was better…then it sucked again…then we had power…so all the world is right again…..

Like most in Knox County – I spent 20+ hrs without power. My ice cream melted – which totally pissed me off. But mostly it was a bad day because I couldn’t work. Blackberry was dead. Laptop battery was dead. No internet. So…doing work that I get paid to do just wasn’t going to happen – and I had stuff to do. Instead, I volunteered to help Dad clean up trees on fence rows and rebuild fence. Yes, I was that bored.

Brush Removal and Fence Repair 101 lasted until 2:30pm. After working out in the rain; then the sun; then the bluejeans-sticking-to-your-butt humidity – I NEEDED a shower. But still, no power which means no hot water which means no-way-in-hell-I’m-taking-a-cold-shower. So I laid down in the floor and took a short nap instead.

At 3:30pm I woke up and decided with some intensity, I’ve got to do my track workout because I didn’t do it on Tuesday! Because the world might end if I don't stick to my training plan. I’m already stinky so what’s a little more sweat going to matter?

I arrive at CHS track with cloudy skies and just a light drizzle – PERFECT. I get out on the track, get my warm-up stretches done, start around the track for a couple of warm-up laps…..and here comes the sun. Like torture bright. My response: “REALLY? It’s been cloudy all day and now you come out??”  (Yes, I talk out-loud to myself, to Mother Nature, to God, to anyone that may or may not be listening to some weird lady talking to herself.) Big. Mistake.

I’ve never run in a sauna before, but I’m certain what I experienced for my first set was exactly like running in a sauna. There was so much steam coming off the track that I couldn’t see the other end of the track!
At the end of my first set, Mother Nature felt sorry for me and gave me a break by covering up that sun with a beautiful cloud. 

During my third set, it started drizzling – “Thank YOU! This feels great!”

During my fourth set, it started thundering off in the distance. “OH COME ON! I’ve only got 2 more sets left!”

During set #5, here comes the rain…and more thunder. No longer a nice cooling drizzling rain. It. Was. Raining. “Bring it on! A little rain won’t scare me off!” Big. Fat. Mistake.

Set #6. It’s pouring and the wind is blowing and it’s really thundering…loudly. The rain drops feel like a thousand little bees are stinging me. My shorts are so wet they feel like diapers. And I’m certain that each of my shoes weighed over 2lbs each.

And all of a sudden, I’m over come with pride. Who else but A REAL RUNNER would be committed enough to get out here and finish their track workout in this kind of weather.

I’ll tell you who….a real dumbass.

“Please Lord, do not strike me dead because I’m such a dumbass for running in a thunderstorm.”
(Don’t judge me. Yes I sometimes cuss, and cuss during prayer. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion for another day.)

Despite it all, I finished my track workout. 6x800’s with 400m recovery in the blinding sun light, sauna and a thunderstorm….so you decide….A Real Runner or a Dumbass?

Gotta run.....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Do you really NEED all of that????

Today's Miles: 3.5 miles on Tread-Dread because there were some NASTY thunderclouds out this morning and being struck by lightning was not on my schedule for today..... Of course this was after I ran to & from my neighbor's house to take back her dog that's scared of storms.

That’s the question I ask myself every time I pack a suitcase and zip it up, then pick it up while trying not to break my back.

The next question is – Did I accidently pack my dog because this bag is H..E..A..V..Y..!!???  (Yes, my dogs watch me pack every time. They lie there with a pissed-off, pouty face because Momma leaves every time this big tan bag goes on the bed, and they don’t like it. I’m certain they’ve considered climbing in that bag and one day I'm going to be in Randomtown, PA; check into a hotel; unzip my bag; and one of them will climb out of that bag, with a pissed off look on their face because they've been zipped up in a bag all day!)

All of this leads me to the question I’m sure men have been asking since the beginning of time……….

Why do women need more crap men? 

I’m certain that when Cavemen were packing up and moving on to the next cave, it took the Cavewomen 3 days to pack up their clubs and bear skins. And they also needed to take along some rocks they found that are perfect for cutting up meat; and 10 lbs of nuts and dried berries in case they get hungry along the way; and some firewood because where they are going may not have any good dried out wood; well…you get the idea.

After 2 years of living out of a suitcase, I feel like I’ve become fairly good at packing only the essentials….1 set of clothes for each day (I will sometimes wear the same pair of pants twice…gasp!); something to sleep in; and a set of workout clothes for however many days I will be running that week; running shoes; and toiletries…and of course an extra pair of undies and socks.....’cause you never know.

I pack these things, and my bag will weigh 50lbs. A man could pack the same thing, and he could fit it all in a shoebox! Why is that? I just don’t understand this weird phenomenon!?

I went for a ‘long’ run on Saturday – 4 miles. Well…it’s a long run for me…don’t judge me…I’m building my mileage! Anyway, I left later than my planned 6 a.m. More like 7:30 a.m. So what’s the big deal???

I'LL TELL YOU THE BIG DEAL….about 10 degrees and 15% more humidity! Oh, and don’t forget the unrelenting direct sunlight and the head wind of 10mph. THAT’S THE BIG DEAL!!!!

So, I knew on my long run I would need a water break. Problem with that: I was running a loop, through a residential area. Which I know most of my neighbors, but I’m certain if I stopped and knocked on their door for some water, I would probably win the “Weirdest Neighbor” Award. And leaving a cooler on the side of the road is not an option because people around here would be like “Hey, someone threw out a perfectly good cooler. I could fit a six pack in that!” Or it would get peed on by a dog....Or the bottle peed in by some prankster.....

So that left 2 options. Option 1) get Mark to deliver some water to me ½ way through my run. A good option, and he’s such a fabulous husband that he might actually do that for me! But, I’m holding that card for when I’m on really long runs. Option 2) pack it. This option includes wearing a fuel belt. Which if you don’t know what that is….imagine a fanny pack with extra pockets for little 4oz bottles of water.

No matter how hard I try – making a fuel belt look cool just….doesn’t….work. Oh well. I rocked that fuel belt for my 4 mile run, and I wouldn’t have survived without it! I NEEDED every ounce of water and Gatorade I had on me…..and the 4 dog treats I need to get past the German Shepherd, Black Lab “Lucy” and the 2 snarly little Jack Russell/Beagle mixes!

While I was running and trying to get used to running with all this crap hanging off my hips which possibly slowed me down more than the heat, humidity and sun…..I remembered seeing a lady at the Knoxville Marathon warm-up area last year. She was running the marathon I think. During most races, this one included, there are many water/Gatorade and even some GU or Gel stops (GU is a weird non-liquid electrolyte/calorie/sugar/caffeine thing that’s essential on long races…feels like Jell-O that’s been through a blender, tastes like stale Gatorade). So for my run, I had me and my iPod. What more could you NEED? 

This lady had EVERYTHING you could possibly need: a fuel belt with extra pockets for keys, ID, cell phone, & money; 4-4oz bottles of water; a hand held drink container (about 20oz) with Gatorade; at least 7 packs of GU; a poncho (plus the light jacket she was wearing); a hat that had some Sports Beans (Jelly beans with a punch) in a side pocket; and something large packed in the ‘fanny’ part of the fuel belt. My guess was extra socks, extra undies, and a first aid kit...'cause you never know. She was ready to run a race on a deserted road! She was P.R.E.P.A.R.E.D. for Everything… I felt grossly unprepared standing next to her.

It’s funny how we all define what we NEED to take with us…wherever that may be.

Next weekend, I may leave notes in my neighbor’s mailboxes and ask them if I can leave a bottle of water in their mailbox for a few hours. I NEED water/Gatorade on those long runs. I do not NEED the aggravation of extra stuff hanging on me while I run. And despite what Bear Grylls may believe, I don't think pee is a good electrolyte when dehydrated.

 Gotta run.....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm NOT a Gazelle...but I may be Poultry

Today's Miles: 3.5 miles at an easy pace & still recovering from Tuesday's super track workout.
I’ve repeatedly said stuff like I’m not “A Runner” or “A Real Runner.” 

Do I run? Yep.

What makes one A Runner? Not sure. I just don’t think I’m there yet.

I read an article once on this very topic. One guy said “An entry form” – meaning real runners race. I’ve been in races, but I still don’t feel like A Runner. Another said “When you can’t live without it” – I think I’m there too, but I still don’t feel like A Runner. There were all kinds of answers, but no solutions.

A Runner typically looks like A Runner, right? Thin, muscular, without much extra anything hanging on them. Svelte. Moves like a gazelle.

I, however, still have a lot of ‘extra’ on me. Svelte? Gazelle-like? HA! My running form is somewhere between a drunk man stumbling through the woods and a rhino on a stampede. Maybe a drunken rhino in a stumbling stampede through the woods is a better description. I am NOT graceful. I do NOT run with ease. I am NOT one of those people that run with a smile on their face. And when I run, I still have plenty of jiggly things. The other day I was running down the road, and I kept hearing this farting noise. I kept asking myself “Is that me?? Surely I’d know if I had gas?” I also didn’t think that those deer I scared up in the field were the cause of the mysterious farts. It took a mile but I finally figured it out. I was wearing a tank top from last year….about 30 lbs and a cup-and-a-half ago. This caused a larger than normal arm hole…..which resulted in my jiggly arm flab slapping my underarm….and farting….and me nearly tripping over my own feet laughing out loud. I never could do that armpit-fart noise as a kid but I have a new-found talent as an adult!

So maybe not looking like A Runner makes me feel like I’m not really A Runner?

I’ve got the obsession of A Runner. Anywhere I travel, I’m constantly trying to figure out where and when I’ll get to run. Is it going to be on a steady-tready in the hotel or are there trails nearby? Is it a safe neighborhood to run in? Wonder if they have leash laws? Is there a track? I was actually jealous of people that were out running on greenways in Canmore, Alberta. I wasn’t out there because at 5000’+, I just don’t have the lung capacity and I had too much vacation to do! But I SO wanted to go out and run those greenways that passed through the forests and by railroad tracks and run by some elk grazing in a field.

I’ve got the need of A Runner. If I go for a few days without lacing up, I get edgy. If I’m stressed out and can’t focus, a good quick run clears my head. Sometimes my need to run is not as strong as my need to rest. Sometimes my work days last so long that at the end there’s no way a run will happen (even with a serial killer chasing me). And those days really make me feel guilty!

I’ve also got the obsession of wanting to FEEL like A Real Runner down pat. So, why don’t I?

I think part of it is because over this last 1.5 years of making running my obsession, I would mention in passing to other people “I’m going for a run” or “I need to schedule this so I can get my long training run in” or whatever is was that made me mention the fact that I run. And I would get.....The Look………..the look you would give someone if they sneezed and farted at the same time and an elephant’s trunk plopped out of their face and a monkey’s tail out of their butt… 

Yes, that face you are making right now with that little sound you just made is exactly what I got, but maybe somewhat tempered so that they didn’t insult me. To my face. Too much anyway. Shock, Disbelief, Amazement, A weird curiosity. Soon after, I stopped mentioning to people that I run. I guess I felt them wondering if I was making it all up because I certainly do not… look… like… A… Runner.

Really though, when I think about it, it kind-of pisses me off too! At my recent 5K I was powering up a very steep hill, and I passed this rather large man (okay...he was very large) jogging up the hill. Who cares if he was going slower than a tortoise on hot coals? The man was JOGGING UP A STEEP HILL! As I passed him, I said “Looking good! You’re almost to the top!” I don’t know if it gave him any encouragement, but it sure did encourage me to see someone that was in worse physical shape than me tackle that hill like his life depended on it!

When Mark & I were in Canmore (the apparent biking capital of the world), a rather heavy-set lady was pedaling for all she was worth down a greenway. And I made a comment, “She doesn’t look like your typical biker. But Good for Her!”

Oddly enough, I think my issue with not feeling like A Real Runner actually goes back to 6th grade. In the 6th grade at Carter Middle School, I was so stoked to be on the cheerleading squad. That year for our group picture, I was put on the front row in some kind of kneeling position. And I clearly remember Heather Whats-Her-Name laughing in my face and saying “Why did they put your fat ass on the front row? You don’t look like a cheerleader!” And so it began. A lifetime of self doubt; of body image shame; of wondering – do I look the part?

Thanks Heather! Couldn’t have had such a screwed up self-image without ‘cha!

But let me ask this Ms. Heifer…as I remember you were actually heavier than me? Why pick on me? Why make me feel fat and ugly? Did it make you feel better? I sure hope so.

I know I’m not perfect. I’m certain I have made someone else feel bad about themselves in some veiled attempt at making myself feel better…..and for that, I am truly sorry.

For the record – I’m not running the hillier-than-hell 8K this Saturday. I’m chickening out. I’m using the excuse of I can’t handle running in that kind of heat. So, there again, A Real Runner wouldn’t chicken out…they’d tackle it head on.

Gotta run….

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Winning my 5K

Today's Miles: 4x800s with 400m rest at 74 degrees at 7:30 a.m.

Did I really win the race???  Uh, no. Don't be silly. Notice I said MY 5K.....Did I win MY 5K? Maybe....

So I went into my first 5K of the year nervous as all get out. I was a Nervous Nelly on Friday night. I didn't sleep great. I woke up Saturday morning in a bundle of nerves, which continued to the starting line. What the heck did I have to be nervous about? I am NOT an elite runner. I will NEVER win my age division, much less the entire race. I mean GOOD GRIEF! I was a bundle of nerves for no apparent reason!

That's me in the blue shirt on the starting line. With knees knocking wishing Matt Henkin would shut-the-heck-up-and-fire-the-gun-already!

Maybe I was just afraid of disappointing myself? I had set some goals for this race. Multiple goals in fact....just in case I didn't meet my big goal, I'd still have something to fall back on and say "Good Job!" So why was I so nervous? Who knows.

Goal #1: No walking.
Let me be clear - I have nothing against walking during a 5K! I think everyone should try one at least once in their life. Nor do I have anything against taking walking breaks during a race. I did, however, want to challenge myself that no matter how badly I felt.....JUST KEEP RUNNING! The only way I was going to let myself take a walk break is if I were literally about to crash and burn.

Goal #2: Do NOT let the hills intimidate you.
I checked out the race profile before-hand and saw some massive hills on this course. In fact from mile marker 2 to mile marker 3......all...up...hill. Seriously? Could they not find a course that did not include a 1.MILE.FREAKING.LONG.HILL!? At least the last .10 of the race was downhill so you could pick up some speed and look like a real runner crossing the finish line.

Here's the elevation change through the end of mile 2. (It wouldn't let me copy the entire race route?? But there's still a peak to that massive hill after mile marker 3, then a good downhill).

So let's count them together.... major hills in a 3.1 mile race....Welcome to East Tennessee!

Some were short and steep....Then there was the last mile....which was a joke.

Goal #3: Time goal....finish between 34:06 and 32:33.
I was really hoping I could average a 10:30 pace. But seeing the elevation profile of the race made me set a more conservative goal of 11:00 pace. I'd be 'happy' somewhere in between.

So, how did I do on my goals?

Goal #1 - kicked butt! No walking allowed. Not even while trying to swallow a sip of water...a more accurate description would be: me splashing water on my face with my mouth open hoping a few drops landed in the vicinity of my tongue. Good thing I didn't grab the Gatorade.

Goal #2 - I kicked it's butt! It kicked my butt! It was a game of give and take. The last mile was brutal, but I kept telling myself....JUST KEEP RUNNING. YOUR LEGS WON'T BREAK. YOUR LUNGS WON'T EXPLODE. JUST KEEP RUNNING. I guess it worked because I never stopped.

Goal #3 - my official chip time was 32:58. Which is a 10:37 pace. Not too shabby! Officially I placed 246th out of 375. 15th in my age division (out of 30)

So am I disappointed....No!

......wait a minute......YES!

What?! I met all of my goals, what is there to be disappointed about?  There were moments I held back intentionally so that I wouldn't burn out. Maybe I could have pushed it harder. I could have done better. I could have ran faster.

At the start of a race, everybody goes out like gangbusters. I kept looking at my Garmin, knowing I was going about a minute faster than I could sustain for 3 miles. So after the jitters wore out, I slowed it down. And got passed. And passed. And passed. And passed. I had to keep telling myself, you will be passing these people later because they are going to boink. Some did....but obviously not all. I shouldn't have settled for that pace. I should have pushed it harder.

My grand finish...oh what's that? Can't make it out? That's b/c the lovely lady in Green stood up right in front of Mark just before he took his shot. So he had to move. AND the lady that beat me across the finish line is in front of me. So, here's a grand finish shot of some random woman. But I SOOOO appreciate my dear husband for supporting me, riding with me, waiting around for me and snapping some photos! It means everything to have someone say "I'm proud of you."

Oh well. First race down. Maybe I am becoming a Real Runner. I mean, good grief...I'm over-analyzing a 5K run!?

In case you are a running nerd and want to over-analyze my run with me......
KTC 5K by kristycampbell at Garmin Connect

What's next? I'm looking at an 8K in Walland. But the race description reads like this: "A hilly, challenging, out and back course that runs on rural, backcountry paved roads. Memorable hills; definitely not a PR course. This is not a course for walkers. No whining. Bring a sweatband."

I'll admit it.....I'm a little scared by this. There's only 180 spots available for this race....and a sweatband is apparently a required piece of gear...of which I am fortunate enough to not have one... Maybe I'll just sign up next week....because if I procrastinate long enough, all of the spots will be filled.

Gotta run....