Race Report: Pints to Pasta 10k (The one in which I surprise myself)

I surprised myself this weekend.  I ran the Pints to Pasta 10k on Sunday and managed to pull out a much better performance than I had anticipated.

Kudos to anyone who recognizes what my tattoo is.

Looking serious before the start. Kudos to anyone who recognizes what my tattoo is.

I say that because I have not been ‘officially’ training for this race.  I’ve been focusing very specifically on building my weekly mileage at the expense of any real speedwork or fine-tuning for any performance peak.  I plan to add more variety (including speedwork) back to my training techniques once I’m comfortable averaging right around 40-43 miles per week on a consistent basis.  I signed up for this 10k knowing full well that was my plan and, as such, I expected that my pace would be slow, but I still wanted to participate in the event regardless.

But, I repeat, I surprised myself.  I ended up finishing several minutes faster than I expected and even had (what I consider to be) a decent showing in the final rankings.  Here’s how it fleshed out:

  • Finish Time:  50:44
  • Average Pace:  8:10
  • Overall Finish: 299 out of 1738
  • Age/Gender Group Finish:  18 out of 203
Reuniting with Mr. Move Eat Create after the finish.

Reuniting with Mr. Move Eat Create after the finish.

This was my first 10k race, since I jumped right from 5ks to half-marathons and then the full marathon in my running, and I will say that I was pleased to see how much I enjoyed racing this distance.  The route was quite enjoyable, too.  We started in North Portland, headed South, crossed the Broadway Bridge, and then headed further South along the waterfront.

Yes, that’s right, we crossed a bridge.  This is another reason that I surprised myself.

Let me explain.

I am TERRIFIED of water and, by extension, bridges.  While various things may freak me out to some extent, this is my major fear.  I don’t know how to swim (no triathlons in my future!) and deep water really unnerves me.  I cross the various Portland bridges by car or bus almost every day to commute across town, but crossing one on foot felt even scarier to me.  I was definitely intimidated by the prospect, but decided to look at it as another challenge to conquer.  I even managed for a short time to look out over the side of the bridge at the Willamette River below without getting overwhelmed by the watery aisle of terror and death that flowed beneath my feet, and without hesitating in my stride one bit.

Shannon = 1, Scary Water = 0

Fun Morning!

Fun morning!

Another thing that stands out for me about this race was my prowess on hill inclines.  Now, this race was not very hilly at all, but where hills did exist, I was quite happy with how I took them.  I managed to gain some solid momentum on the elevation increases and passed quite a few other runners in those key spots.  Living in a hilly neighborhood is paying off!

Overall, this 10k was a big win for me.  Beautiful day, fun course, and to top it all off, with today’s race I have now logged over 1000 miles for the year

Not bad.

A Move Eat Create Medley: Looking Back At Some Favorite Posts

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been at this blogging thing for a bit over a year now.  I decided to take a few minutes to look through the content I’ve been putting up and to see which posts have been the most popular.  Like any good blog-mom, all my posts are special to me, and it was interesting to see which ones seem to have most resonated with others.

Here, in no particular order, are the top contenders.  Missed any of them?  Click through the links to get caught up and see what they are all about.

Salad - edited

burrito sliced - edited

Me nearing finish 4 - edited

And So The Taper Begins . . .

Newport is now less than two weeks away.  So I am officially tapering.  I’ve read many runners write about their experiences with tapering.  Some enjoy the rest and some feel like they’re going mad.

newportI’m more in the latter category for sure.  The funny (and by funny I mean anxiety inducing, awful, & crummy) thing is that tapering right now at this very time while still dealing with the new life changes I implemented last week due to health issues (which, trust me, has NOT been easy).

I’m a wee bit stressed.

But . . . it’ll be okay.  It will.

I know it will be okay because I am also incredibly excited and somewhat amazed at how quickly the past 18 weeks of training have gone by.  I know logically that I have trained and prepared as best as I could have and now it’s just up to me to deliver on what I’ve been training for.  I will try my best to keep that logic present with me for the next two weeks.

I received an updated confirmation email from the Newport race director last week with my bib number.  So it’s official that on June 1st, I will be runner #379, looking to finish my first marathon.  While I know anything can happen, I will say that I have confidence in myself.

For once.

It’s nice.

Go me.

Newport Marathon Training Update: In the Thick of It

Here I am – 7 weeks out from my first marathon and it felt like a good time to share an update on how things are going.  Dare I say it?  Am I un-superstitious enough to say it??  Things are going . . . well.  Pretty damn well, actually.

Now that I’ve said it to others, I’m nervous.

Shoot.

Rounding the turn

Okay, well, I will hope that jinxes are a myth.  As I was saying, things are progressing nicely.  I’ve been steadily increasing my mileage.  Weeknight runs have been upped slightly and my long runs are moving up, too.  I’m in the stretch of training right now where progress is quantifiable – making itself clear as I log paces, splits, and miles.  Before I know it, I’ll be completing my first 20+ miler before settling in for the taper.  It’s exciting and, while a bit nerve-racking, exciting wins out.

I love it when that happens.

The really great thing is that my body feels good.  Attention to recovery after workouts and my overall nutrition have been paying off in supporting my training.  I’ve become close friends with my foam roller, tennis balls (for managing knots in my glutes), weekly yoga cross-training sessions, and compression socks (nothing feels as good as compression socks after a long run).  And, I should mention, Vega Recovery Accelerator and Performance Protein shakes are always stocked in my pantry.

I’m having a blast.

I’m nervous still, for sure.  I spend too much time looking at race time estimators, doubting what they tell me I should be able to do (doubting myself).  I’m still working on that.

I occasionally get upset when I feel like my tempo pace wasn’t what it could have been.  I’m still working on that, too.

header2013

But, overall, I am finding myself as a runner.  I am finding out what feels good, what feels right, for me.  I am finding out that I am capable of a hell of a lot more than I usually give myself credit for.  I am finding out that I love to run without music – tuning in instead to the sounds of my feet, my breath, the birds, even the chatter in my head.  I am finding out how much this sport means to me and this is all pretty incredible.

Maybe I’m in a prolonged state of runner’s high right now, who knows?  But, I hope at least some of this keeps up.

So, 7 weeks to go.  I have little doubt that the next 7 weeks will be a roller coaster of running-related emotions, but I think know I’m up for it.

P.S.  I heart you Boston runners, volunteers, event organizers, cheerer-on’ers, and runners throughout the world who were there with you in spirit yesterday.  May healing ensue swiftly and warmly.

Gear Basics: 6 Essentials To Get You Running

Spring is here.  Dare I say that?  I hope I didn’t just jinx it back into hiding.

Warmer weather and longer days lend themselves to encouraging people outdoors – to the trails, the track, the pavement.  For those who are returning to the outdoors for the sake of running or for those considering a running routine for the first time, I offer you some tips on what you need to get started successfully.

It’s been said time and time again that one of the wonderful things about running is that you don’t need much to do it.  Put on some shoes and go!  And, while this is technically true, a few additional items can help to increase overall performance and enjoyment – both essential to sticking with it.

Me at start - sharpened a bit

Please note that I’m not going to discuss shoes in this post, because of course you know you need shoes to run in (unless you’re going all-out barefoot and, in that case, there are lots of resources for how to do that safely).  Plus, there are so many different types and styles specific to each individual runner.  So, on the issue of shoes, I will just say this: seek out a running store, not a big box retail chain, if you can to buy shoes.  You’ll get expert advice tailored to your needs by real runners and your money will be better spent.  You can also check out one of many running shoe guides like this one here from Runner’s World.

The Basics: Enough to Get Out & Go

  1. Clothes that wick

Ahhhhh.  Wicking technology.  It’s a glorious thing.  To get out and run comfortably you’re going to need some proper running clothes and proper running clothes wick.  You’re going to sweat, even in mild temperatures, and the last thing you will want is to feel that sweat trapped on your body as you’re striding along.  So while cotton is great for everyday, it is a runner’s enemy (chafing and perspiration-soaked clothes are nobody’s friend).  Look for items that have wicking technology, or at least include cotton as only a minor part of the overall material blend.

Fit is also highly important.  You don’t want anything so tight it will be restrictive during your run, but you also don’t want to wear something so oversized that it’ll flap around you (that’s just distracting and, frankly, not aero-dynamic whatsoever).  Depending on the climate that you’re running in you may need:

  • A comfortable pair of running shorts or capri pants.  Look for pairs with small pockets in them.  You’re going to need a place to store a house key or other small items and a good pocket means you don’t have to worry about buying and wearing an additional item to do so.
  • Long, heat trapping running pants
  • A sleeveless or short sleeve breathable top
  • A long-sleeve breathable top (or a lightweight jacket)

My All-Around Favorites:

  • Oiselle brand for women is absolutely amazing.  Materials, fit, and style are unsurpassed.  I shared my love for them once before here.

    roga

    Best Running Shorts Ever

  • For women and men, I also like Brooks.  Excellent quality and a brand that really focuses on knowing runners’ needs.

My Favorites for Those on a Limited Budget:

Building a running wardrobe can be expensive at first, so if you’re on a tight budget check out Target for tops.  Their lines may not be as durable as some of the other brands, but they’ll get you started.  Also, I’ve had some success scouring racks at discount shops, like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.  They carry a surprising amount of Adidas, Nike, and other big name brands at deeply discounted prices.

  1. A hat

This one’s simple, really, but will make your life a lot easier.  Not only does it allow you to head out for a run first thing in the morning without sharing your crazy bedhead with the rest of the world’s early risers, but it’s a great help in keeping both rain off your face and sun out of your eyes.  I have both a warm skull cap and a breathable cap with bill.  I switch them up depending on the weather and have even worn them together on really cold days.  A lightweight, vented baseball-style cap is a good place to start.  It will help rain roll off of your face on wet days and shield your eyes a bit from spring’s earliest rays of sunshine (without having to yet invest in pricey sunglasses).

A Good Buy:

I often represent one of my local running stores (LYS) during my runs and wear a Brooks-made hat from Portland Running Company.  Check out your LYS, too.

  1. Good Socks

I know that you can get three- or six-packs of standard, white sports socks just about anywhere.  I highly encourage you to get the best quality socks you can get.  This is probably one of the most important parts of building your running gear inventory.  You will be pounding your feet into the ground repeatedly, in a variety of weather elements, and you want to take good care of them.  Making the switch from average, general athletic type socks to socks specifically designed for running was one of the best things I ever did.  I didn’t even know what I was missing until I experienced something different.  Running socks that breathe and provide cushion and support, without bulk, are something special.

My All-Around Favorites:

Oh, Balega, how do I love thee?  Balega socks are the ones I trust the most to keep my feet happy.  They provide a substantial amount of balegaprotection against the harshness of the pavement, while still remaining thin enough to wear comfortably with my Mizunos.  They are my go-tos for all my long runs and my races.

If I was to give a runner-up award in this category it would go to Experia with Thorlo.  These are a bit bulkier than Balegas, but for street runners like myself, offer excellent cushioning.

  1. A durable, strong, comfortable sports bra (guys, feel free to skip this one if you like)

For so many years of my life, one of the reasons I thought I could never be a runner was because of my chest.  Running is high-impact, no doubt about it, and depending on your body type, it can be downright painful to do without the right sports bra.  No pull-over stretchy sports bra I ever tried from any department store or big-box sporting goods stores were ever effective for me.  Most of them come in three sizes only – small, medium, and large.  And, what if your cup size is large, but your band is small?!  There are way more than three sizes of women out there!  It’s downright infuriating.

This is an area to really focus on.  One good quality sports bra can turn you from aspiring runner to inspirational runner.  It’s that important.

My Favorite Hands-Down:

Moving Comfort is incredible.  When I discovered their bras, it was like a moment in a cheesy television show where harps are strummed, a choir sings, and the room is flooded with beautiful light.    These bras fit all shapes and sizes of women’s bodies.  They stay put.  They last through multiple washings.  And, they’re not even that expensive, really.  They rock.  Buy one.  Quickly.

  1. A book

Yes, I’m serious.  Running seams so simple, I know.  But, there’s a lot to it if you want to do it effectively and safely.  There are hundreds of books out there about running.  They cover running form, marathon running, increasing speed, maximizing your diet, preventing injury, and on and on and on.  I’d also be willing to bet that once you start running, you’ll discover how much there is to learn about it.  You’ll start to ask questions and wonder about ‘how to’s’ and ‘what if’s’.  Pick up a beginner’s guide to running and read through it.  Then, keep it on your bookshelf for reference as you advance in your skills.

I Recommend:

I wrote a post about this a while back.  Check out my resources for new runners to learn, be inspired and connect.

Bob Glover’s book was a great beginning book for me.  It covers a lot of topics and was a quick, easy read.

  1. A Training Journal

Some people feel that a training journal is only necessary once you are, you know, training – for a race or a specific goal.  I beg to differ.  Training Log 2Training journals are fantastic tools from the get-go.  They give you a dedicated space to track your runs (and other workouts), times, aches and pains, overall performance, feelings, moods, and sometimes nutrition.  Keeping an eye on this information from the beginning will help you learn how your body is reacting to your new routine.  By periodically looking at this data, you can discover patterns that you have (it helped me learn that Mondays need to be rest days or light workout days for me – I am no good on a Monday run) and respond accordingly.  You can track aches and pains which will help you notice and treat them early on – before they turn in to a sidelining injury.  You can pay attention to how what you eat sits with you during a run and whether you run fresher in the morning, midday or evening.  Essentially, a training journal is one of the most effective tools to helping you coach yourself.  As a bonus, they’re fun to look back on to see what you’ve learned and how you’ve progressed along the way.

My Favorite Training Journal:

There is a variety out there and most any of them would likely serve you well.  Heck, you can even create your own with a basic notebook if you want.  But, for what it’s worth, I like this one by Matt Fitzgerald (running guru).  It has space for all the information that I deem to be important and extra room to write in random notes as needed.  It’s spiral bound for easy flipping and bending and has little tips each week to expand your knowledge and motivation.

There you go.  The basics.  As you progress, there are loads of other fun things to pick up (Sports Watches!  Fuel Belts!  Hydration Packs!  Energy Chews!  Headlamps!) and I’ll likely do a follow-up post about some of these items in the future.  For now, take advantage of spring sales, weather, and energy to get the essentials that will get you started.  I encourage you to look for local running stores in your area and get moving!

12 Mistakes Runners Make (As Identified By Running Times)

I came across this article on the Running Times website this week (a wonderful wealth of information, by the way).  It is, quite simply, one of the most helpful articles related to improving training and performance that I have read in some time.  The article points out that even experienced runners are prone to make some of these mistakes, so regardless of your level of running expertise, it could possibly be worth a few moments of your time to check it out and see how you’re doing with these.

photo credit: [ changó ] via photopin cc

photo credit: [ changó ] via photopin cc

The list is as follows (full article here):

  1. Start Too Fast
  2. Make All Runs ‘Medium’ Runs
  3. Neglect Speed
  4. Recover Inadequately
  5. Overtrain
  6. Indulge in ‘All You Can Eat’ Workouts
  7. Refuse to Adjust Workouts
  8. Search For the Perfect Workout
  9. Become Running Fundamentalists
  10. Delay Injury Prevention Plans
  11. Train at Goal Pace
  12. Race Stupidly (A Compendium)

Of course, more detail on each of these is provided in the article and, not intended to leave you hanging, fixes for these mistakes are included, as well.  Though all of tips are perfectly logical and I may have heard many of them before, I think it is helpful to periodically return to fundamentals such as these and review how I am doing with them.  It is so easy to get caught up in the just doing of running, logging miles and times, and get distracted from focusing on the finer details that will really help me improve (not just maintain).

I know straightaway that I am guilty lately of committing #2.  I need to focus much more diligently on slowing down during my long runs so that my body can reap the benefits of the unique training they provide and so that I will be fresh enough to really do quality tempo runs when I need/want to.

Thanks, Running Times, for providing me with a fantastic opportunity to re-center on the details that will maximize the benefits of my training plan and overall performance!

Why Wednesdays . . . Is Retiring (But A New Feature Is Coming)

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  I have completed series on the topics of running, creativity, and food.  Now, I’m being a bit random and discussing whatever strikes me at the time!

writing

photo credit: insane_capture via photopin cc

So . . . after some deliberation, I have decided to retire my Why Wednesdays column.  This weekly feature has been a joy to write and the responses I’ve gotten have been touching and informative, but features come and go and it feels time for something new.  I will continue to write about the same types of topics and issues as I have been in this series – just in regular ole’ posts when the time is right for them.

Plus, as one feature wraps up, another begins!

Hooray!

Beginning next Thursday Move Eat Create’s new weekly feature will debut!  Stay tuned for it’s unveiling.  It involves food (yum) and a creative, adventurous spirit!

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If you’ve missed posts from the Why Wednesdays column and want to catch up, click on the column name in the tag cloud to your right or check out some prior entries here:

Why the Workout ‘Buddy’ System Isn’t For Everyone (And That’s OK!)

Why I Eat . . . Plants!

Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen

Why I Run . . . Breaking Out of Boxes and Shutting Down ‘You Can’t’

Why I Run . . . Stress Relief