Saturday, May 5, 2007

My first post--outlining the last 3 weeks

Since I started training for my first half-marathon two weeks ago, I've been debating blogging about all my first-timer aches and pains and lessons. On Friday, Natalie helped me decide to do this. Once the decision was made, I realized that I'd better get started sooner rather than later, so here I am. My very first runner's blog.

I'm going to use this first post to outline the last two weeks or so. My following blogs will chronicle my experiences as they happen.

Sometime around March 20 or so I attended an info meeting for Team in Training (TNT) at my gym. I'd considered going to one before but never had. The info meeting won me over. Jill Nydegger told us what running for TNT entails and who it benefits, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She had a little video and everything. I had a few reasons for wanting to run. First, Penn State's THON inspires me to participate in events that raise money for various cancer research programs. THON is so touching, so important, and so overwhelming, that I couldn't leave Penn State and not take part of the THON experience with me. Second, I've had this crazy life goal of running a marathon or a half-marathon for a long time. I've never been together enough to make myself train on my own, so I knew I needed a group of some sort.

We had the TNT Kickoff Party in Bloomington on April 14. We got fundraising ideas and met our teammates that day. Already, I'd started "training" on my own a bit, trying to follow the schedule vaguely. In doing so, I managed to fall off a treadmill for the second time in about a year. This time I didn't scrape myself up too badly, fortunately. I might share a picture of my leg if I had it, but fortunately for you I don't. The only disappointing part of falling off the treadmill for the second time was that I caught myself immediately and there was NO one there to see my heroic save.

Our first team practice was on April 21 at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. Aside from parking at the wrong end of the park and having to go searching for my team, it went smoothly. The loop around the park is 1.8 miles, so we ran it twice. I slowed down for maybe the last half mile of the second loop, which I was pretty pleased about. After practice, we went to Body & Sole, the coolest shoe store (for running shoes, anyway) ever. They look at your feet, at how you walk, at how you run, and find the best shoes for your foot. I had no idea running shoes varied so much! I came in wearing pink & gray running shoes that I bought off the clearance rack at Shoe Carnival a while ago. The sales lady made fun of them (rightfully so) and sold me some really nice Aasics. They turned out to rub my feet a bit, so I exchanged them on Monday for a pair of Brook's. Love them.

Our next team practice was the following Saturday (my birthday) again at Meadowbrook Park. The run went about like it had the week prior. I'd been having trouble with my right shin hurting. I still am having some trouble with it, but I've gotten some good stretching ideas from both my coach Harley and my officemate Sarah. After the run, we went to the Panera at Kirby & Mattis for coffee & bagels, to get to know each other a bit. That's where I met Harley for the first time. Meredith (the spring team coach), Allison (my mentor), Cynthia, Meg, and I (all on the fall team), and Randy and his wife (spring team) were there.

That afternoon, Sarah and I went shopping at Dick's and Target to get me proper running clothes. I've always run in cotton, which is the worst possible thing to run in. Cotton doesn't breathe, so if you sweat, you are drenched. I bought three new running shirts, two pairs of shorts, a sports bra and a hat. The difference is amazing! I'm no longer drenched when I run. And my shorts sit where they are supposed to sit and I don't have to tug at them. The shirts don't feel like they are sticking to me and twisting after a mile or two. I definitely recommend Target--they have a good selection of Champion stuff at really reasonable prices. Their dry fit stuff is great.

My training schedule goes as follows: run Monday, cross-train Tuesday, group running on Wednesday, Thursday off, run on Friday, group run on Saturday, Sunday off. I kept running and lifting and whatnot on my own between the group workouts I'm mostly talking about. Lifting seemed easier on the second Tuesday. I've been lifting for a few years, so I don't think it was practice. I wondered if it was because I'm getting better with the running, that it's helping the rest of me work better too. It could also have been my imagination.

On Wednesday, May 2 we had our first group run at the track in Urbana. First off, let me say, it's a wonderful track. It's soft and a quarter-mile. We had an "easy" workout to start off. We ran a mile warm-up at an easy pace, then ran a mile at a strenuous pace, then another half, then a mile to cool down. My "strenuous" pace mile was 7 minutes 45 seconds, which is not terribly fast for runners. Regardless, that's faster than I had been running on the treadmill, and I was pleased with the pace. After practice, my hip flexers tightened up substantially. On Thursday at work, Sarah showed me more stretches to help me out. What would I do without her?!?

Yesterday was the best run ever. I went running around our neighborhood after work. In the rain. It was awesome. The rain ranged from a mist to an all-out rain. I was absolutely soaked. I finally got my new shoes dirty. My mascara just barely started to run. I only ran about 25 minutes. I just kept thinking to myself, if you can't run in the rain and get dirty when you're 26, when can you do it? And because I now own awesome running shoes that breathe, they were 98% dry this morning.

This morning was our third Saturday practice at Meadowbrook Park. Meredith was in Indianapolis with the spring team, as today was the Indy Half. Allison stepped up to organize us for this morning. We did the same path we've been doing, twice around the park for a total of 3.8 miles. I stopped briefly after the first loop to stretch my right calf/shin since it was doing its thing. It continued to cramp for about 0.1 or 0.2 miles after my stop, but then released and felt fine. I caught up to Meg and Allison about 1.2 miles into the second loop (Meg and I run about the same pace, I was pushing myself to catch up). And today, for the first time, I didn't slow down for the end of the second loop! So I was pleased to reach my goal for the day.

I then came home and took a nap. My calves are pretty tight right now but nothing hurts. Stay tuned! Future posts will NOT be this long!

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