Create a Loop

As I continue my training and build my stamina to longer distances, it has become increasingly more important to know exactly how far I run. I can program a treadmill easily enough but running outside is much more desirable.

My girlfriend, April, who had the original idea to run the Nashville Half Marathon, introduced me to an amazing resource on Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong website – Loops.

Regardless of where you live or run, you can map out your path to determine the precise distance. The website even maps most footpaths. I love to run through Happy Hollow Park but never knew the distance I ran. Now, not only do I know the distance, I also know the change in elevation. After all, hills come with the territory.

You can also enter your average pace and your weight to identify approximately how many calories your run will burn – if you care about stuff like that.

Even cooler, you can save your Loops to share with others in your community. Below is my 4 mile training loop.

4 Mile Loop

Running with Giants

Yesterday, for the first time since I started training for the half marathon, I ran with my 15-year-old son, Caleb.

Caleb and I - Summer 2010

I mapped out a 4 mile run with a moderate degree of difficulty for us. Difficulty meaning hills.  The weather cooperated for once – 34°, sunny, and just a tiny little breeze. For February, I couldn’t complain.

I assumed Caleb might struggle a little. Since I’ve started my training, he hasn’t run once. I often run before he is even awake on the weekend. Not yesterday. I woke him up at 11:00am, allowing him  a solid 30 minutes to roll out of bed. I fixed him a hot breakfast of eggs and toast and gave him another 40 minutes to digest his food.

At 12:10pm, we started off with a slow jog to warm up.

What can I say? One should never assume.

I immediately struggled. Despite a considerable amount of stretching, my calves were tight from yesterday’s 2 miles on snow-covered trails. I encouraged Caleb to run ahead.

Finally, after stopping briefly to stretch twice, at the one mile mark, I hit a good stride. Caleb still had little, if any, trouble keeping up with me. Stride for stride, there was just no comparison.

Who was I kidding? While Caleb may only be 2 or 3 inches taller than me, his hips come up to my rib cage. He can basically walk and keep up with my jog.

I learned two things yesterday. One, to assume only makes an ass out of me and, two, one should never run with giants.

Meeting Maxwell

Singing Directly To Me

If you know me at all, you know I love Maxwell. I’ve seen him three times in concert. Once on my birthday in 2009 and then twice last summer – once in May and once in June. That second concert consisted of a trip to New York City to watch him perform on The Today Show for the Summer Concert Series because I won a Today Show Fan Pass. It was amazing. He is amazing.

That being said, I would never want to meet Maxwell. Why?

I have this image of him that I’m quite confident he can’t live up to. I’d rather never meet him and live with my fantasy of perfection.

What if  I met him and he was completely unlike what I expected?

Unmet expectations…

That’s the problem with expectations. Things rarely turn out like one expects.

Two weeks ago, I attended an orientation for running the half marathon. Part of the package included being fit for shoes – something I have never done. They watch you run, have you try on different shoes, watch you run some more, until you have identified shoes that are ideal for your foot type and how you run.

I roll my feet when I run – in different directions, no less – so I need a stability shoe. After trying on several different shoes, I fell in love with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11. They hugged my foot just right and the heel cradle provided my feet the stability they needed.

One of the features is extra toe room, however, the pair I test ran seemed a bit short so the store suggested we order a size larger. I’d have to wait an entire 7 to 10 days to run in my fabulous new shoes.

For a week, I ran in my old shoes while dreaming of how different my new shoes would feel. For a week, I continued to anticipate how much easier it would be to run.

Finally, a day early, the store called. My shoes had arrived!

I drove to the store full of anticipation. I immediately drove to the TREC allowing my anticipation to build. Would my expectations be met?

I put on my new shoes, laced them up, and jumped on the treadmill.

Hmm…well…they certainly weren’t magical. I mean, I still had to move my own legs.

But yes! My new shoes felt fabulous on my feet! While my feet still rolled a bit (you can’t change muscle memory overnight), I felt more in control of my stride. Best of all, I ran 3 miles and my feet never fell asleep!

Maybe I want to meet Maxwell after all.

A Mystery

Wordle: ClaudineReneeGetsFit

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I never know what my run will be like. It’s always a mystery.

Saturday I could not wait to get to the TREC. I just knew I was going to have a fabulous run.

Not so much.

After running 5 miles on Thursday, I assured myself that 3 miles would be a walk in the park. It was a walk alright. It felt like their was lead in my thighs. Well…nevermind. The first mile dragged. I stepped up the incline for the next half mile to challenge myself but had to slow my pace. I was happy just to finish.

Afterwards, disappointment settled in. How would I ever run 13.1 miles if I couldn’t get used to running 3?

This evening I headed to the gym dreading my run. Since Saturday, the symptoms of a nasty cold have come and gone. Instead of running, I rested…for 3 days. Surely, running 3 miles would take a bit longer tonight. Plus, I had just eaten dinner. Rule #13 – Never run on a full stomach.

I started off with a the goal of simply running 40 minutes. Okay…not even running…just moving for 40 minutes. It wasn’t long before I realized I felt good. Really good! I completed my first mile in 12 minutes. Recognizing my heart rate was too high, however, I slowed down. I continued with intervals for the rest of the time. Not only did I run the entire time, I completed 3.2 miles.

From this point forward, if I’m having an awful day, I may just find out what mystery the track or the treadmill has in store for me.

By The Numbers

Thursday was my first five mile run.

Okay…calling it a run isn’t necessarily accurate. More like a run/walk. It was also my first indoor run thanks to SnowPacalyspe 2011.

I decided to run at the TREC (Turf Recreation Excercise Center). Yes…Purdue’s recreation center is under construction. When the renovations are complete, it will be fantabulous, but for now, there is the TREC.

I planned to run on the TREC’s indoor track which is 1/9 mile. However, reality quickly set in as I watched college-aged kids buzz around the track at lightning speed. I settled for the treadmill.

Not that I need to say this but running on the treadmill is incredibly boring…especially when someone forgets their iPod. Instead, I found myself counting numbers to pass the time. You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about so let me explain – or at least try to explain.

I love numbers. I remember numbers. I fixate on numbers. Numbers like me too. But sometimes numbers cloud my mind and get in the way. For example, I count how many strides I take per minute. Or I count how many times I take 8 strides over the course of a mile. As I run – or walk – I continue to make up new ways to count just to pass the time.

I really should not have forgotten my iPod.

Before it got better, it got worse. I started setting goals with numbers. My obsession with even numbers made this a bit difficult.

Goal 1 – Run 2 minutes at 5.2 mph – or – until I feel like I’m going to keel over. However, if I felt like I was going to keel over before 2 minutes, I’d set a new goal of a certain distance…and it would have to be even, of course.

Goal 2 – Run at 4.8 mph until a random student runs around the track 4 times. (The treadmills are on the inside of the indoor track.) Problem is that student disappeared somewhere between lap 3 and 4.

Goal 3 – S**t…if I’m going to run 5 miles, I better at least burn 500 calories. Crank up the speed.

Goal 4 – Ignore all these damn skinny college girls. I was that skinny too when I was their age.

In the end, it took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to run 5 miles at an average speed of 4.2 mph and I burned a lot of damn calories. I may be as slow as molasses but I feel accomplished.

Have a few minutes? Okay, have four minutes? Take a virtual tour of Purdue’s new recreation center:

SnowPacalypse 2011

Mother Nature has not made getting back on track easy. The weatherman called for inches and inches of snow combined with lots and lots of ice. He warned us to expect power outages as wind gusts upwards of 40 mph would snap frozen power lines. Somehow, I doubted the forecast.

As I sat in my office Monday afternoon as the snow began to fall. It fell so lightly at first. I continued to work as the “ping” of sleet started. Sleet is better than ice, right?  Soon the “ping” of sleet against my window grew faster and harder so I decided to head home. As I drove, I realized my mistake. Traffic crawled. I needed groceries. Instead of doubting the forecast, I started to doubt I’d ever make it to the gym for my first 5-miler on the treadmill.

The grocery store was a madhouse and I accepted that I’d never make it to the gym to run that night. I settled for postponing it until the next day. Unfortunately, Mother Nature continued to interfere.

**fast forward two days**

We have now been sniced (that’s snow+ice) in for two days. The foot of snow that fell on my back patio has iced over so the dogs can walk on top of it. It has also iced over my driveway. After attempting to go to the gym this morning and only getting my car half-way out of the garage, I was happy just to get it back in my garage.

Frustrated with my lack of exercise, I decided to work out at home and let Slim in 6 kick my butt. I’ve never done so many squats in my life. My legs felt like rubber afterwards.

Afterwards, Caleb and I took a chilly quarter mile walk to Redbox to return our movies. It might not be 5 miles but I definitely got my workout.

Tomorrow? Five miles, baby!

I’m not Catholic but Consider this a Confession

I have a confession to make. Life has kept me incredibly busy for the last few weeks. So busy, I haven’t been running – at all.

Initially, the stitches in my thigh kept me from running. I had a great run on January 9th but two days later, my stitches were screaming at me when I attempted to run. Considering my past history with stitches and wounds taking forever plus twenty days to heal, I chose to listen to my body and not run. Even after the surgeon removed my stitches, I was afraid to run. Stretching the skin as I crossed my legs hurt. I couldn’t imagine what running might feel like.

A week later, I left for vacation to Syracuse, New York to meet my amazing twitter friends, @KellyLux, @DanKlamm, @TracyTilly, @KimInCuse, @Rotolo and many, many others. Many people questioned my destination of Syracuse in the dead of winter. Considering Syracuse has the city with the highest average snowfall in a year, I can’t say I blame them. However, there isn’t a beach in the world that beats two things: meeting my twitter friends and my love of college basketball.

33,746 People in Attendance at the Carrier Dome

Kelly Lux, my awesome hostess, had the fabulous hook-up on incredible tickets to the Syracuse-Villanova game. We sat at center court in the eighth row, directly behind Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, a Syracuse legend from the early 80’s. While Syracuse lost in the end, the atmosphere was electrifying as 33,736 packed the Carrier Dome. I can definitely say attending this game is the highlight of my college basketball experiences.

As soon as I got back from vacation, I planned to run. Instead, a migraine decided to move in and take over my body for close to four days. Not amusing. Not in the least.

Other times, I didn’t have an excuse – or a reason. I was just lazy.

Today was different. The headache is finally gone. My leg has finished healing. It was time to get moving.

Fueled by the good news that my best friend from high school, Michelle Campbell Golladay, registered to run the half-marathon, I put on my running shoes, my leggings, my sweats, my track pants, my sweatshirts (yes, plural), my scarf, my hat, and my gloves, and hit the trails. I hadn’t run a lick for close to three weeks but I ran the entire three miles in 30 degree weather. I didn’t even play my usual game of focusing on the next mailbox or telephone pole. I just ran…and it felt great!

One Foot in Front of the Other

Yesterday was a frustrating day. When I attempted to run, my stitches screamed, “No!” before I could even get a half mile down the road. I decided to listen to my body…or rather, my stitches, and not run.

Later that day, my high school classmate and friend, Mike Colyer, accidentally called me. I was in the middle of another call so I wasn’t able to answer. It turns out Mike just accidentally butt-dialed me.

Mike and I at our 20-Year Class Reunion

Mike: Sorry, just butt dialed you. Hope you’re having a good day.

Me: You mean you didn’t mean to call me? Bummer.

Mike: Next time I will mean it. That is a promise.

Me: Hey! I signed up to run the Nashville mini-marathon and started training.

Mike: I am training for the Benton Harbor 1/2 myself. Good luck! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other!

As I started my run today, I reflected on the days since I had my incision, the ugly stitches on my thigh, the scar they might leave, and the lost days of training. Four, to be exact. I should be jogging my entire training route by now. After all, it’s only 2 miles.

Then I remembered Mike’s simple words of advice. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I turned off the grumpy voice in my head. I simply focused on continuing to put one foot in front of the other. Before I knew it, I was half way through my route. I kept jogging. I don’t think I actually experienced a runner’s high but, instead of wanting to keel over, my breathing became easier and I felt lighter.

All of this time, I had been making it harder than it was. Granted, I am still out of shape and far from physically fit. But with Mike’s simple words of encouragement, I was able to jog my entire route. All because of a butt-dial.

Sometimes God really does work in mysterious ways. Thanks Mike!

Old Scars, New Wounds

Tuesday I was so proud of myself for running 2 miles before work. And I still am! The funny thing is I almost look forward to running now even though I still hate it. I know…it doesn’t seem to make much sense but let me explain.

First, there is the sense of accomplishment I have when I complete a run. It isn’t really getting any easier – yet – but I am trying harder. Just the idea that I actually ran 2 miles is mind-boggling to me at times.

Second, although I may hate every minute of a run, once it is over, I feel so good. Refreshed! Energized! Invigorated! When I ran in the morning, I had so much energy all day. Well…I suppose I always have energy all day but I have more energy all day! Ha! For those of you that know me, that may be a scary thought.

Lastly, I’ve already lost 2#. Woot!

So, oddly enough, I now want to run just to have that sense of accomplishment – but I can’t. On Tuesday, I had that old scar – the one that started this entire journey – removed. It took 10 stitches to close it. When I asked if I could run, the surgeon said yes. He then explained how the stitches would pull so that the wound would be slightly pink but to rest-assured, it would not be infected.

Hmm…

While I am not using that as an excuse not to run, my training schedule does allow me to take 2 days off every other week…so that is exactly what I did. I took Wednesday and Thursday off from running and tomorrow…tomorrow I will run.