Sunday, February 28, 2010

because we're AWESOME!

Since the spring thaw appears to be starting in the Midwest (!!), Meg and I decided that today was the day to break free of treadmills and head outside for a training run. It was 44 degrees when we parked our twin Priuses at the park. Dressed in thin running pants, my beloved Detroit Marathon jacket with a short-sleeved running top underneath, and gloves (I looked a little Dr. Evil-esque), I was chilly as we headed north out of the park. Before we were even two blocks out we'd set the brisk pace we'd follow for the rest of our run and the chill was gone. I'd used this website ahead of time to map out a route and, reading from my small, hand-written page of directions, Meg kept us from getting lost.

We followed the 6.2 mile route through (basically) two neighborhoods and back, including some streets I'd never seen before. This town has some really cute neighborhoods and it's fun to talk about the houses and so forth to keep our minds occupied. The distance passed quickly and before I knew it we were finishing off the trail through the park. Little did I know Meg had timed us. And guess what? We did it with a pace of 9:21.9/mile! The last day of February, and we beat the goal pace I set for long runs for February. Because we're awesome! And even better, the run felt great and we had fun. This was a huge confidence & motivation boost, which is important because we officially registered for the Illinois Half today, too. We have 9 weeks to build mileage and speed. We're both moving this summer and this might be our last chance to easily race together (there WILL be future shared races--the key here is the word "easily"). It's time to get our training in gear, and after today, I am so, so excited.

I have to admit a small defeat, though. Due to a bug that's been going around that prevented me from eating for about 4 days this week, I had to skip my Thursday run. Consequently, I missed my February mileage goal by 3.0 miles. I'm a little disappointed, but at least it was caused by something I had relatively little control over. Plus, I'm extra motivated to pick things up in March.

70.8 + 6.2 = 77.0 miles

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DIY house staging

We are in the thick of it with staging our house and getting it ready to put on the market. I've watched enough HGTV (and my father is formally trained in these matters) to know that we need to remove our personal photos and neutralize anything too bold. Today I took on a DIY project involving personal photos. Below is a picture of the corner of our bedroom next to my dresser. On the wall I had a set of three frames, one with my first race medal (Chicago Distance Classic, '07), one with a picture of Mr. Joanna and me from when we were first married, and one of a painting my father did many years ago. They are all personal, and they all needed to be packed.

To replace them, I took an old frame The Bestie gave me (incidentally, the frame was also a DIY project--she made it using a flower press I gave her and an Ikea frame, I think) that had been hanging in our bathroom. The pictures in this are also deeply personal--a picture taken near our house here, a picture of my two best friends, and a picture of my native West Virginia. I removed the three pictures and put them in safe storage.

Using my Slice and the Wedding design card, I made three 4x6" cards that say "kiss," "love," and "dream" and inserted them into the frame. And just like that, my corner of the bedroom is staged! The whole project, including dismantling and reassembling the frame, removing the old pictures, and making the new cards, took about 40 minutes and probably cost about five cents. Not bad!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Melt, baby, melt!

Two runs to post: Sunday's 7-miler long run and today's outdoor run.

Sunday's 7-miler was a little bit heartbreaking. I missed my goal pace by 2 seconds, averaging 9:24/mile. I'm going to blame the treadmill for a little bit of that. When I got to one hour, it automatically went into cool-down mode, downgrading the speed to a walk. I kept changing it back, but it kept resetting to cool-down every minute after that point, so that messed with the pace some. Plus it was pretty frustrating. But overall, it was a good run.

Today I GOT TO RUN OUTSIDE!! Enough of the ice has melted that I could run in the streets and occasionally on the sidewalks. I haven't been feeling great, so I went easy on myself. I put in 3.8 miles. I'm starting to think, just a little bit, that maybe a Garmin would be helpful after all. I'm sort of against it in principle, but it would help with pacing while outdoors. It's something to think about.

Mileage: 60.0 + 7.0 + 3.8 = 70.8

We're starting to get some traction in the moving process. We're making headway in getting the house cleaned up and ready to list, and we're getting a handle on how the logistics of everything will probably work out. Mr. Joanna and I have been painting and packing and sending things to Goodwill. Moving is a whole different ballgame now than in college, when both ends of the move involved rentals, no kids, and all of my possessions fit into maybe 2 cars or the smallest moving truck. I'll post some before and after pictures of our dining room later this week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beautiful Day

Here it is, your Three Things Thursday. Note: I'm switching from using initials to using nicknames for people. It's a fun twist. I'll put nicknames in italics for a while so it isn't confusing.

1. Our good friends who I'll call The Minnesotans had their baby this morning! She's a beautiful 8 lb. 13 oz. bundle of joy. Ears and I got to visit the happy family this afternoon. What an amazing gift. Mother & baby are doing well, and for that we are so, so thankful.

2. I am officially 10 days ahead of schedule on pacing! I did 4.1 miles today in an average pace of 9:16. I'm planning to do 6.5 this weekend and am hoping for a similar pace. Depending on how that goes, I may pick a new target pace and start working on it next week. I'd love to get down to 9 minutes eventually, but it's going to take some serious work, especially as long runs get longer.

3. That 4.1 miles brings my total mileage to 60 for the year. I am especially excited about this for two reasons: a) I'm on track to hit 80 by the end of the month, and b) IT WAS MAY 18 LAST YEAR BEFORE I HIT 60 MILES. Un-freaking-believable. I'm 3 months ahead of 2009 Joanna. And yes, I ran that 4.1 rather than 4 because I really wanted to hit the 6-0 mark. I'm a dork like that.

Side story from the gym (pretend this is part 3a). As I was walking back to my locker, I overheard a conversation between two moms whose kids were doing hockey practice. "I asked her what sport she wanted to focus on and she said crafting." Love it. It made me think of The Bestie, who I then called, because she comes pretty darn close to making scrapbooking a competitive sport. I also loved the idea of a little girl loving both. I love being both an athlete and a scrapbook enthusiast. Who says you can't do both? Since I'm on the topic, here's a link to my most recent project, still from our honeymoon to Alaska. It's a very unusual page for me, both because it has only one picture and because of the excessive layering.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My son is a dancing machine!

My little boy loves to dance. He dances to everything and sometimes dances to nothing at all. Over the weekend he introduced a new dance, which we like to call the "Grapevine & Point." I have NO idea where he got this from, but that's OK. It makes me laugh so hard. Capturing its essence proved difficult, but I think between these four pictures you can kind of get it. Enjoy!

(Oh, and while I'm at it, I ran today! 4 miles, and I took a few more seconds off the average pace. Total mileage = 51.9 + 4.0 = 55.9)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pushing the pace

Today is President's Day, a day that has always struck me as an obscure reason to shut down the Federal government. It also means my kiddo's daycare is closed, so I'm home enjoying a snowy day with my little boy. I got him all bundled up this morning to go outside so I could shovel the path to our front porch. I shoveled out a little square area for him to stand in, since he seemed hesitant, and put him down in the middle of it. True to form, he refused to move. He wouldn't even move within the square area I'd shoveled out. I tried to get him to throw a snowball but he wouldn't touch it. It's one of his lovable quirks. Last summer he wouldn't walk on grass and absolutely loathed sprinklers and other water-based amusements. This winter he won't walk on snow or salt. Otherwise, we ran errands, had lunch with Mr. Joanna (his new blog name), and played and played and played. And now the babe naps, giving me time to tell you about my weekend.

On Saturday The Bestie and I went to a crop (12-hour scrapbooking get-together at a crafts store) with The Gangsta. We always have a good time at these. It's good time to hang out and be super girly and tease each other a little bit and spend some money on crafty goodness. When I left my house to go pick up The Bestie my jaw dropped a little bit. We had hoarfrost unlike anything I've ever seen. The frost was so thick on the trees, weeds, everything, that it looked like thick snow and ice. It was drop dead gorgeous. We got to the crop a little after 9. I spent the day making Mr. Joanna a Valentine's card and completing 3 honeymoon pages (might have a picture of two of them later). It was a slow, fun day.

Sunday was possibly the best Valentine's Day ever. We were just us and it was fabulous. We went to church in the morning, then the boys headed home and I headed to the gym for my long run (more on that below). I got home and got cleaned up just about the time the babe was waking up from his nap. We played and all ate dinner together, then went out to get an ice cream cone from McDonald's (49 cents of terrible wonderful) and rent Inglourious Basterds (to watch after the babe was asleep, of course). That's who we are--a couple that goes to see The Hangover on our anniversary and rents Inglourious Basterds on Valentine's Day and plays with our little boy in between. I think that about hits the nail on the head.

So the long run, on the 'mill again. It was great! It took me longer than usual to settle into. I didn't feel like I hit that groove until maybe mile 2.5 or so, partially because I forgot to change the incline on the 'mill until some point after 1.0. With the 'mill at a 0.5% incline, I got through 6 miles at an average pace of 9:28! I'm definitely happy with that. I'm on course to get that average pace DOWN before training gets very serious.

Mileage: 45.9 + 6.0 = 51.9

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rediscovering the locker room

I'm going to participate in what Caution: Redhead Running and runjessrun call Three Things Thursday. I have to say, I've had a LOT of fun discovering these blogs and the blogs they link to. I started reading a few scrapbooking blogs a few months ago, and it's fun to do the same with running. I have some ideas of new directions for this blog, I think.

1. Tuesday and today I ran on the 'mill, 4 miles each day. Like I said in my last post, I'm working on pace these days. Today, I'm happy to report, I shaved 8 seconds per mile off my average pace, down to 9:33/mile, still including a (shorter) warm-up and cool-down. I'm pretty excited about the long run this weekend, since having more miles between the warm-up and cool-down will mean more time to bring that average pace down.

2. Both days, I had no choice but to shower at the gym before returning to work. It had been a long time since I'd done this and I'd consequently forgotten the...experience, we'll call it.

On Tuesday I was half way to campus before realizing that I'd left my flip flops at home, and I didn't have time to go back. All through my run I debated what to do about this. Could I get away without showering? Could I shower in my socks (no, too porous I decided)? Did I dare shower barefoot? Then it occurred to me--running clothes are made to dry quickly. I could stand on one of my articles of clothing, then trust it to dry out during the day. But what? I settled on my shorts. So there I was, standing in the shower on my shorts. When I got out I threw them in the bathing suit drying thingamajig, then threw them in my gym bag. We do what we must. :) I wasn't gonna do something crazy like miss my run!

Today I got of double dose of gross in the locker room. Upon entering the first shower stall I saw that its previous user had stuck her boogers and hair to the wall. GROSS!! So I backed out quickly and moved down a few stalls. The partitions between stalls don't go all the way to the floor, so you see the feet of the person next to you. About half-way through my shower I looked down and saw bare feet with disturbingly long toe nails. Eeeeww!! PEOPLE--certain bits of disgusting behavior are permitted among runners (e.g., discussions about missing toenails, chafing) but seriously?!? Pull yourselves together.

3. DISCOVERY! I've read a few times recently (once in RW, once from my teammate AM) that setting the incline on the 'mill to .5% or 1% better mimics running outdoors. To be honest, I was skeptical. It just sounded like But on Tuesday I tried it and I am officially a new fan. I think that it's helped ease the common treadmill shin problems, and it really *does* feel more like running outside. Effort-wise, I don't even notice the change. Do it! And please let me know how it works for you.

mileage: 37.9 + 4.0 + 4.0 = 45.9

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On short-term goals

I met my goal for the week by getting in a second, longer run today. I did 5 miles on the treadmill, and, uncharacteristically for me, took note of the average pace. I varied my time on each mile:
Mile 1: 10 minutes (warm-up)
Mile 2: 9:30 pace
Mile 3: 9:22 pace
Mile 4-4.25: 9:30 pace
Mile 4.25-5: 9:30 to 10:00 pace (cool-down)

Overall I averaged 9:41/mile, which is a good bit slower than my goal race pace of 9:10/mile. I'm sort of OK with it today because I am just coming back from time off, because it felt very easy, and because it included my slower warm-up mile. But, it got me to thinking about short-term goals.

I originally aimed for 100 miles by the end of February. I am going to adjust that goal to 80-85 miles to account for the time I took off. I am also going to try to improve my pace. By the end of February I'd like to be averaging 9:22 for long runs. I think this is imminently manageable given where I'm at right now and the fact that my long runs won't increase in distance very much before then.

My last half-marathon mile pace was 9:37. It seems reasonable that if I can work on pace this early in the season, I should be able to set a new PR when I race this spring/summer. I want that sub-two hour half.

Mileage: 32.9 + 5.0 = 37.9

Friday, February 5, 2010

Aaaaaaand we're back

Apparently my last blog post was sort of out there. You'll have to excuse me for that. It was written from deep within the fog of my dissertation, which I'm happy to report is now out with my committee. One good thing came from my post though--I discovered runjessrun, and that she follows my blog! Good stuff. I now follow hers, too.

I promised I would explain my "not even pretending to try to run." But, the more I try to come up with a metaphor for what those two weeks were like, the more I realize that I don't know how to verbalize it. I had anxiety so badly at times that I couldn't sleep despite complete exhaustion. In the middle of it I got a bug that's going around and that, for most people, sucks but isn't a huge deal. It put me in the ER so dehydrated it hurt to move my eyes. I know that sounds dramatic, and drama's not really my thing. I tell you all of this as a way of saying, "work got so out of hand there for a while that I internalized it and it messed with me completely." I am SO glad I got through my deadline and now have time to do things like run and update my blog. Oh, and go to a crop with my bestie next weekend (!!), which I am so excited about.

I finally got back to running today. On the 'mill, of course, with this crazy storm that's coming through. You know I love the list, so here it is.
1. I totally underestimated how much fitness you can lose in 16 days
2. I have dissertation weight that must be lost. Seriously. It has got to go.
3. I am officially behind on my short-term mileage goals for the year. The 1000 mile challenge (or, the 730 mile challenge, as I like to call it) is still motivating me though, so I guess it's doing its job.
4. My mileage this time last year was 18.5! So lame! So at least I'm still ahead of that.
5. longish run planned for Sunday afternoon. Yea!!

Mileage (a few runs from pre-crazy didn't get put here, so here's everything):
20.8 + 4.6 + 4 + 3.5 = 32.9 miles

In other post-crazy news, I've finally had time to tackle one of the two big projects I set out for 2010: scrapbook my honeymoon...that happened in 2005. I've had so much fun starting that. Scrapbooking is such a good creative outlet for me. I don't post all my layouts online (this is a running blog, after all), but every now and then it's fun to show you what I've been up to. So here you go--one of the pages from our cruise to Alaska. You can click on it to see the description of it on twopeasinabucket (a fabulous scrapbooking website).