30 Seconds

pt30

30 glorious seconds.

That’s how much I’ve shaved off my pace.

The first time it happened I looked down at my running app on my phone and said, “Wait, what,” while trying not to smile.

The very next day I did the same work out. My initial thought that was a fluke, or my phone app was acting wonky. I took no chances, with that second run I turned on two of my running apps and although I felt a little sluggish the pace was about the same, with just a few seconds difference.

And with that I had a full on goofy grin.

Those weekly sprint workouts are working.  And I like, okay, okay LOVE, doing them. I love the way my body feels –the wind against me, the focus required, the quick movements of my arms and legs. I feel light as feather, boundless.

I’ve been doing intervals for months, almost weekly. I noticed a few times that my pace seemed to be improving – a few seconds here and there, but I didn’t want to get obsessed about it. I focused on feeling good about each run and running consistently.  And no doubt the cross training and deep stretching and yoga have added to my new found speed.

I’m thrilled to know it’s all paying off.

30 seconds! Yup, I’m smiling now.

I feel ambitious.  I’d like to shave another minute or more before the end of the year.

The key, for me, is to keep my focus on running consistently, cross training and stretching.  You know all those things every running article has ever said.

shrug

Day 40 of 100 days of 100 workouts.

Feeling Good

I’ve been keeping my training nice and light.

I’ve got a 5K at the end of October so I’ve kept my mileage low – 2 miles three times a week and if I can manage it 3 miles during the weekend. If I miss the weekend run I don’t stress.

In between those easy runs, I’ve been doing some interval training that involve all out sprints. My good friend and running buddy O. usually dictates the length and repititons of the intervals. Sometimes I do what she says, most times I give her the side eye and adjust accordingly.  What I don’t often tell her is how much I Iove those darn sprints.

CaptureAnother friend told me about the a new interval program called 30, 20, 10 featured in the New York Times – jog for 30 seconds, run for 20 and sprint for the last 10.  With a little search on the interwebs I found the timer.

What’s been fascinating for me about this is the 20 seconds. I know what the 30 seconds of jogging looks and feels like – a bit like running through molasses. The sprints feel like I’m flying, but the run, the run is interesting. It’s faster than my jog and way slower than a sprint.

That run place is nice.

I’m breathing heavy, but I’m not winded. I’m aware of how my legs and arms are moving and I’m hyper aware of my breathing without feeling panicky.

Yesterday, as I did my nice easy run I noticed that I was definitely moving faster and that I wasn’t struggling, that I was actually enjoying my run.

Later on I’ll track my pace.  Right now I want to run without obessing about speed.

Now that’s progress.

Goals and Rules

A colleague suggested I do another half-marthon this October.

Sometimes I think yes, then no, then yes again. I’ve finally settled at no (for now).

thinking-clipart-KingzdE5TWhat I loved about my last half-marathon was the actual training with my friends. The race itself was torturous.

I’ve decided to take a step back, to focus on shorter races where I can work on speed and a little endurance.

My speed is improving, but at a much slower pace than I thought or hoped.

In the meantime, I’m doing more stretching and yoga, which makes my body feel so very good. And I’m doing other exercises to keep my running body loose, limber and injury free.

The half-marathon and marathon, will have to wait, maybe another year or even two.

The goal is to build up to do three 3 mile runs during the week and 4-6 miles on the weekends.

And at the end of the month, I’ll re-evaluate, if I think I can successfully increase my mileage to include another half, I will.

I make up the rules in my running life, why not set them up so I succeed.

100 Days

I wanted to boost my workouts – the number and the variety. But I know that I would need accountability around this – saying and doing are two different things. I convinced my partner and some friends to start a challenge with me – 100 days of 100 workouts. We’re on day 12 and the streak lives on.

Rest days are ‘active’ rest days which means walking, yoga and strectching. The motto of the group is get up and move. There are six members with a variety of goals, but the thing we have in common is the desire to be more physcially active.

And I’m loving all the ways were moving – workout dvds, running, swimming, dancing, walking the dog, strength training, stretching and yoga have all been added to our repretoire.

I’m hoping to add spin, swimming, bikram yoga and maybe a little tennis.

Running remains my first love and my nemsis, but adding other exercises means less chance of getting and staying injured.

To that end, I thought I’d give a new machine a try. I’ve been eyeing the stair master for weeks, sizing it up. Can I do it? Should I do it?

StairMaster

Last Sunday the gym was almost empty and I was grateful for that. I was sure I was going to make a fool of myself and the less people actually saw me the better, I surmised.  Before walking up to it I said to myself, “Ten minutes, you can do ten minutes E, right?”  I reassured myself, that yes, I could do ten minutes, pssh, who couldn’t do ten minutes.  “As a matter of fact, not only could I do ten, I could do fifteen!” Oyi.

I took the giant step onto the first step and then the second.  I stood for a moment looking at the buttons in confusion as though they were in another language. The start button finally came into focus. I took a deep breath and hit start. It started at a very slow pace – level one, I pushed the button to level two. It felt like walking up a moving escaltor – not bad.  I would use it as my warm up.

At five minutes I was sweating. I hit the level up button to three and found myself easily out of breath after about one minute. Okay I said to myself, just another four minutes to go at this level and then back down to two. And then a woman got on the stair master next to me and with no hesitation went up to level six. She went about her workout going from level six to ten, several times. I gave her the side eye, not that she noticed, she was busy playing a game on her phone!?!

I just barely did the five minutes at level three. By then I was dripping in sweat. Finally, I could go back down to level two, whoosh!  When I hit the 15 minute mark I stopped and felt incredibly accomplished. I had apparently walked up over 300 stairs and burned 75 calories.

Yup, you read that right – 75 calories.

I mean my tee-shirt was soaked, I was breathing hard and I burned enough calories to eat a small apple. Y.I.P.P.E.E.

Stairmaster 1, Esther 0.

Meh

I’ve been running and slooooowly improving.

I’ve gotten a little faster and what I mean by that is that it’s getting harder for walkers to pass me.

And still I worry that I won’t reach my goal.  An arbitrary goal, that I set, but a goal I really want to reach – an easy 11 minute mile.

For almost two months, after my half marathon, I haven’t missed a run. I run at the gym or the park with and without friends. I’m running 4 days a week – some slow and some fast. And I do my Iron Strenth workouts once a week.

And I feel…frustrasted is not the word, it’s more like a very long sigh. I’m a little faster for sure, but I still want to shave minutes off my pace, not seconds.

IMG_2721

Not running is really not an option, I’m a runner after all. So, I’ll keep at it.

Lately, I’ve been inspired by the Fat Girl Running blog by Mirna Valerio. I was excited to see she got a spread in the Wall Street Journal and is in the August issue of Runner’s World. She’s funny, super smart, black and a big woman who runs. She seems to worry little about her pace. She runs for the joy of running.

And I love to run, but I won’t lie.  I want to be faster. I know that an 11 minute mile isn’t really fast for most runners, but for me it’s the goal I cling to.

Mid-Year!

I recommitted to running in January. It was a New Year’s resolution. Six months later, I’m still running. I’m trying to think back about what prompted me to keep my resolution this year versus pervious years. I’m pretty sure it’s the fact that I’m getting older and that there are days I feel older.

And then there was the setting of a big public goal to run a half marathon! <– I’m pretty sure that was the icing on the cake that got my butt in gear. Who says the idea of public humiliation can’t be a motivator?

Running continues to be difficult for me.  These days I find myself running without audibly or mentally cursing. Now, that’s an impovement!

Next up is speedwork. I want to get faster. I’m tired of being in the back. As a back-of-the-packer at races I miss out on the best crowds, the yummy treats, and if I’m lucky I reach the water stations just as the volunteers are throwing the water on the street. Ugh!  It’s frustrasting.

My new goal is to stay with the pack, baby steps, right?  Next year, I’ll aim for the middle of the pack.

Speedwork is my new best friend.

Running Image 2

Right now I’m doing interval runs. And to keep me on track I’m registering for two 5K’s – one in August and the other in September.

A big part of being slow is my weight, I know. I’ve been working on that. I’ve lost ten pounds, twentyish more to go. And I’ve added the Iron Strength workout two days a week. Can I say that the burpees are killing me?! I can do three (on a good day), with good form and then collapse.

burpee

Fear not, my future in cursing is secure!

New Goals

Immediately after completing the Brooklyn Half-Marathon, I let myself recover slowly. I walked, stretched and walked some more. And then I ran.  It was hard, but it felt good. A few days after that, I started to plan my next set of running goals.

I’ve been easing my way back with short slow runs. My running buddies and I are coordinating schedules and figuring out when we can run and workout together, which is very exciting. I like running in a group.

I also want to increase my overall strength and gain muscle.

black woman with muscles

I’m starting with Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Iron Strength workout.

Running Strong

I’ve been reading Running Strong and I’m looking forward to learning how to continue to gain speed, endurance while staying injury free. I’ll probably register with New York Road Runner’s and take a class. I could use some coaching, someone who can guide me to the next level. And for community, I’m joining the local Black Girls Run group.

I’m working on short distances for now – 5K’s and 10K’s. I’ve got my splits from the half-marathon so I know what I’m working against.

And I’ve got my eye on another half-marathon in the early fall, but let’s keep it a secret for now ;).

Oh yeah – love is in the air

The AirBnB BK Half Marathon is complete, done, finished.

It was hard – from the first mile to the last. Every step felt tortuous, I never warmed up, it rained, actually poured the first 2 miles and if it wasn’t for my friends running with me and my lovely spouse and friends cheering for me along the route, I’m not sure what I would have done.

So to them go all the props!

Pre RaceMissing from this picture is L. who whoohoo’d, every mile, checked in with each of us, made sure we drank water and gatorade, ate food, and also made sure the other runners around us were also okay!  She flirted with race officials and cops, as well as running ahead and getting the crowd to cheer for us. And most impressively she danced her way to the finish line. She made me laugh, dance for just a moment, and made me wonder, why I doubted myself. She reminded me how well I trained, how prepared I was, how more than anything I deserved to believe in myself. She was in a word, magnificant.

O, pictured in the middle is wonderful. She gave me room to feel all my feelings, she’s really good at honoring people and their journeys. Training with her always grounds me. She reminds me that morning grumpiness is always acceptable and that I am better than I think I am. And she got me to do sprints!

M, on the far left is my ace!  We met almost every week, sometimes twice a week to get in our training runs. We laughed, gossiped and complained about running while we ran. She ran the whole race with a smile on her face, the whole darn race. She was a few steps in front of me as we crossed the finished line and she did what she has always done, she turned back to make sure I was by her side.

Running...FriendsIf you don’t have one, I recommend getting your own cheering squad. My best friend, on the far left, has been to almost every race I’ve run. She flew to San Franscisco to cheer me on in my first marathon, 11 years ago! This time around she asked for the date and made sure she was there. She’s always there. She is family.

L, second from the right is sweet and kind and a brillant artist (she’ll hate that I said that, but she is) and has become a part of our inner circle. Whenever we plan something big or small we can’t imagine the event happening without her presence. She’s made that extremely difficult for us these days, since she’s not as close as she used to be.

BT, on the far right is a confidant, best friend, trusted advisor and very much part of our family. She is always looking out for me, for us. Her heart is big and I’m glad I’ve got a piece of it.

And that lovely lady, K, second from the left is EVERYTHING. She takes care of me, loves me, and in general doesn’t take me at all seriously. She was both my cheering squad and coach. She made sure I ate and slept well.  She made sure I didn’t miss my runs, and stretched. No matter how tired, cranky she might have been – she always asked how my run was and listened.

I’m sure I’ve embrassed them sufficiently. I love them and want everyone to know it!

finishers medalMy finisher’s medal belongs them.