Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Journal - 9/12-9/17/09

Saturday, 9/12/09

A month and a half ago my sister asked me if I wanted to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with her in March of 2011. “Sure!” was my response. The date was so far off that it didn’t seem realistic so it was easy to agree to. Furthermore, this all came about when I was shoulders-deep in the county fair in my role as the Porter County 4-H Extension Agent, so part of my eager agreement was probably related to a long-term lack of sleep or just the thought of a vacation…albeit a vacation that involved running 13 miles. I kept the thought of becoming a runner in the back of my head as I finished up the county fair and headed off to the State Fair to work the 4-H Beef Show for a week.

Then a few weeks ago my sister asked me if I wanted to join her and her husband Jeremy for the Princess Half Marathon in March of 2010. “WHAT? You said March 2011 before! I can’t run 13 miles in 6 months! Maybe cumulatively over 6 months I could run 13 miles!”
She said I could just join them for a vacation and cheer them on. Screw that, I don’t want to be the fat lazy one that doesn’t participate in a fitness-focused vacation…so I went on-line and learned about Disney’s “Royal Family 5K” that is in conjunction with the Princess Half Marathon weekend. I informed Annie that I would participate in the 2010 Disney World trip and I’d be participating in the 5K, as that was a more realistic goal for me in the time span of six months. Maybe if that went well, I could accomplish the half marathon in 2011…maybe.

And that’s where the story of my training for the 2010 Disney Royal Family 5K begins.

Annie and Jeremy are no more built like runners than I am, and by my starting point, they had already been working out for six months and had been on a run as long as six miles. I opted to adopt their interval training program; it worked for them, why can’t it work for me? I sometimes struggle with decision-making and with all the various “couch potato” training plans on-line, deciding which would be best might have served as enough of a deterrent for me to just throw in the towel before I even started. Thus, just adopting the same interval plan that worked for Annie and Jeremy made fine sense to me.

I decided that before I should even attempt to run, I should try to establish a minimal level of cardio-vascular fitness by doing some serious pedaling on the exercise bike that was collecting dust in the corner of my living room. Between Monday, August 31st and Sunday, September 6th I pedaled that bike for 45 continuous minutes each day (with the exception of a one-day break on Friday the 4th). I was able to increase my resistance, thereby increasing my miles pedaled and calories burned each day, and it was easier to do it each day. I was off to a great start.

One challenge that I face that will probably be a recurring challenge during my training and therefore ought to be mentioned at this point is that I become bored EXTREMELY easily. I wouldn’t be able to get through my 45-minute workouts on my exercise bike if it weren’t for queuing up missed episodes of shows like CSI on-line and watching while I pedal. On-line, an “hour”-long show ends up being right around 45-minutes, so it works perfectly to help keep my mind occupied as I pedal. My short attention span makes me doubt that I could ever run much more than 5K...even if I was in shape, a half marathon would just take too long and I’d get bored, wouldn’t I?

Monday, September 7th, Labor Day…a new week and time to start this interval training business. The plan involves determining a 3.1 mile (5K) route and doing the whole 3.1 miles each time (at least three times per week). For Week 1, the plan is to walk for 3 minutes and run for 1 minute…over and over until you complete your 3.1 miles. Given my attention span issues, I had to put some thought into a route that would work for me. If I ran at home, my scenery would just be as follows: corn field, corn field, corn field, corn field…you get the idea. So I thought about Fairgrounds Park in Valpo…once around is 0.75 mile, so four times around and I’ve got 3 miles…and that’s close enough to 3.1 in my book! At the park there are other people and trees and a busy street nearby…stuff that helps your mind contemplate other things!

As I set out to do my first interval training, I had in mind the minimum pace requirement for the Disney 5K. If participants don’t maintain a pace of 16 minutes per mile or better, they are picked up and transported to the finish line and don’t receive their finisher’s medal. I really didn’t think this would be a problem, as I’m a fast walker and I contemplated whether or not I could even meet that pace just walking.

That first training outing went very well. The one-minute running intervals seemed easy enough and the three-minute walking intervals were long enough to be ready to run again. At the end of each 0.75 mile lap I would crunch the numbers to see if I was on-track to beat the minimum 16 minutes/mile pace requirement. As I realized that was an easy pace to beat, it helped build my confidence as I completed my first training outing.

I ended up completing my first three miles in 45:17 or 15 minutes/mile. As I said in a text message to my sister after that first training session, that’s not too shabby for an obese girl’s first attempt! Seriously, 15 minutes per mile isn’t bad at all when you’re only running a quarter of the time!! What a confidence-booster…I could go home and hibernate ‘til March and I could probably do the 5K if I had to. But rather, I decided that this was totally doable and that I was going to attempt to get better and better!

After that first “run” on Monday, I biked on Tuesday and then on Wednesday I headed to the park again. On Wednesday, my second “run”, I felt like I was dragging more than I had on my first outing, I think the year-old shoes I wore for my first outing may have contributed to some shin splints that I was still feeling on Wednesday. At any rate, I ended up completing the three miles in 44:24…an improvement of nearly a minute. Perhaps the improved pace was due to the new pair of shoes (Nike Structure Triax 11) that I found at the Nike outlet that were on clearance because they were last year’s edition of the Triax. Very comfortable (so far, anyway).

Thursday the 10th I opted to give myself a total break from the walk/run and the bike. I think that was a wise decision, as my run on Friday the 11th was totally my best yet. I was feeling really good, I felt like I was gliding through the running intervals (at least early in the outing), the shoes were feeling good, my shins had recovered, and I was even cheating my way up to more running on a few of the intervals. (I would cut out of my walking interval 10-30 seconds early to add to my running intervals.) I finished Friday’s outing in 42:44.

Now here I am on Saturday, September 12th. I did some “unmeasured” walking today as I was helping staff the “Popcorn Panic” walk/run for the Popcorn Festival, but other than that informal exercise, I took it easy again today. I had my monthly appointment with my massage therapist today and I just wanted to be lazy this afternoon when I got home. Tomorrow I’ll either do a rigorous 45-minutes on the bike or I might go for a morning walk/run at the park. Right now I’m leaning toward squeezing in one more 3/1 walk/run tomorrow to help prepare me for the 3/2 walk/run for Monday or Tuesday.

WEEK 1 RECAP (3 miles of 3 minutes walking/1 minute jogging):
Workout #1: 45:17 (15:06 minutes/mile)
Workout #2: 44:24 (14:48 minutes/mile)
Workout #3: 42:44 (14:15 minutes/mile)

Monday, 9/14/09

Well, I was lazy yesterday…I opted for the exercise bike rather than the walk/run. In my defense it was a fairly decent intensity 45-minute bike ride.

Today at the office I was pretty busy working on my annual reports (that of course I put off all year and then began the day before they’re due). I was so engrossed in my reporting that the morning seemed to really fly by. (The afternoon was a slightly different story.) As I worked, I was really looking forward to the after-work training session later in the afternoon. Today was the first walk/run of Week 2 and the plan called for 3/2 ratio of minutes walking to minutes jogging. (The Week 1 plan was 3/1.)

After work I got changed and headed to the park. I wasn’t as excited about the training session as I had been earlier in the day, but I pictured myself being more fit and running around Epcot Center and I got myself re-motivated. As I progressed through my first 2-minute jogging interval, I began to wonder if I could do this. Last week’s 3/1 workouts seemed almost good, who would’ve thought running for two straight minutes would seem so unbearable after the encouraging sessions last week? I guess 32 years of a fairly sedentary lifestyle will do that to you! Additionally, on that first jogging interval, I got passed…by a dude in cut-offs! That made me feel like a big loser; I wouldn’t have thought anything of it if he would’ve been wearing athletic apparel!!

Each running interval today seemed to become more taxing than the previous, but I kept going (and hoping that my breathing didn’t get as labored as Adam Sandler’s Fatty McGee (Google it)). I was continually crunching numbers in my head to figure my pace and it was kind of a bummer when it became clear that there was a high probability that my pace on this 3/2 workout was going to be slower than the pace on my last 3/1 workout! But I kept going. Another calculation I kept repeating in my head was figuring out how many more jogging intervals were likely to remain based on my pace, so that I could attempt to “see the light at the end of the tunnel”. Who needs an IPod when you can just do math in your head to keep you occupied!!

I’m not sure if my struggles today were related to taking two days off from running, or just due to the addition of another minute to the running intervals. All in all, today was tougher than I thought it would be, but I finished my three miles in 43:31. I was a little bummed that workout #3 of Week 1 was a better overall time, but today’s time was still better than workouts #1 & #2 of Week 1. And I have to remember that my very first outing last week was still a good enough pace to keep me in the Disney 5K and get my finisher’s medal!! Besides, what’s a couple seconds? I sure hope that this Wednesday’s workout is a bit easier for me!

Tuesday, 9/15/09

Today I just did a leisurely 45 minutes on my exercise bike. Today I was definitely feeling the effects of yesterday’s grueling workout…especially in my left quadriceps. As the day wore on, my legs started to feel better. The evening bike seemed to make my legs feel a little better and I followed it up with a little stretching. Tomorrow will be a big day…I hope it’s not as rough as yesterday! I’ll have to do a little “flexible scheduling” to get my run in tomorrow, as I need to be back at the office by 6:00 for a 4-H committee meeting. (And no, I have no intention of getting up any earlier than I already do on a regular work day!)

Wednesday, 9/16/09

Today was the first day since I started my training that I had to truly commit to my desire to do this and make a workout fit into my schedule. Up until now, I’d managed to work things so that my training sessions fell on days I wasn’t at work or on days that I didn’t have an evening meeting and could just go right after the office closed. However, today, I had an evening meeting that I had to be showered and presentable for, so I left the office before closing time to get my workout in so that I’d have time to go home and shower before I had to be back. I didn’t lie when I left the office early and said, “Gotta run!” I made the limited window of time work for me, but it’s not my preferred scheduling; I better get used to it though since evening meetings are a fairly regular occurrence in my line of work.

Today was my second attempt at a 3/2 workout, and as I started around the track with three minutes of walking I was hoping that it would seem easier than it did on Monday. As the stopwatch feature of my trusty Timex ticked to the 2 minute and 40 second mark, Mr. Speedwalker passed me on the left. I’m a fairly quick walker (at least early on in each training session), and there was something that irritated me about this guy, so I was happy to pass him within 20 seconds and leave him in my dust! Okay, so maybe there wasn’t dust, but that was because it’s a clean paved track…I was flying! Or at least it seemed that way. My first jogging interval of the day went quite well and I was feeling good and I felt that I had obviously recovered from the arduous time I had on Monday.

I made it around the track once (0.75 mile) in 10 minutes…awesome! As I started lap number two, I had a great outlook and realized this might be a better day. Though I was positive, I do like to keep it real, so I knew the remaining laps would not necessarily go as quickly. The second lap was going pretty well, and I was over halfway around again before I really started to think “dang, running sucks”. Somehow I managed to pass my starting point at just about the 20 minute mark…which I guess means that I maintained my best pace for a mile and half…good for me!

The third and fourth laps got increasingly tougher. During those final two laps, I realized I was finally falling behind the great pace I had on the first two laps, but I knew I was still going to finish with a better time than Monday. Whereas my first 3/2 workout ended up slower than my last 3/1 workout, today I beat all times that I had established to-date, I finished in 41:20. If you want to translate that into a “per mile” pace, it would be about 13:47. As I’ve probably noted before, not too shabby for a fat girl!

Thursday, 9/17/09

Yesterday’s workout didn’t have many major residual effects, unlike some of the previous workouts. I felt pretty good today. Even so, I opted to take it easy, because I’m going to get up earlier than usual tomorrow and run first thing in the morning. I have a pretty tight schedule tomorrow, as I need to get to Purdue mid-day to park the Jolly Roger (our tailgating bus) in our preferred parking spot and take care of some other standard Friday tailgate errands. I’m hopeful that tomorrow’s training session will go even better than yesterday’s!

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