Good advice from Coach Jenny!

So I went to the Cleveland Marathon Expo on Saturday. This time I was not picking up a bib and packet for the race. I wanted to go just to be a part of the marathon experience in some way. I could not attend on Sunday to cheer on the runners because of a church obligation so this was the next best thing. As I read about the vendors who were going to be at the Expo I noticed that Coach Jenny Hadfield was on the speaker list. That did it – I was definitely going! I have not only used Jenny’s training programs to train for my races, but I’ve also consulted her many times (via facebook) with injury and training questions and she has been most helpful!

I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare so I settled in with the other 7 people who were in the audience. It is a shame that not more people were there to hear her. She shared her story about how she came to running – through the initial hate she had for it as a kid to loving it. She also shared some really inspirational stories about life lessons she has learned from racing along her journey and also from others. I, of course, was moved to tears a couple of times. She shared some practical advice too about running in the heat – very appropriate for the next day’s threat of major hot weather, and some other tips. The one analogy that she shared that I will take with me and try to use was how she breaks up her runs into intervals. She said that no matter what distance, she breaks her runs into three parts. The first is the yellow zone in which she is happy. She pictures a smiley face and runs at an easy pace. The second part is the orange zone and she is focused.. She ramps up her pace a bit so she can hear her breath. The last part is the red zone and it is then that she goes fishing. This was a new concept for me, but what she does is she selects someone a little bit in front of her and throws out her imaginary fishing line and reels her in and passes her. After she passes her then she selects another person, throws out her fishing line again and reels her in and passes her. She has ramped up her pace again and is running hardest during the third interval. She said there is nothing like the feeling of passing someone in the last part of the race! Most people don’t do this, of course. We burn up our energy in the first part of the race by going out too fast and letting our adrenaline get the best of us. I really liked this metaphor and I hope to try it during my next race!

After she was done speaking and answering questions, I went up to meet her and thank her for her advice and coaching. This is big for me because I’m pretty much starstruck about anyone that is even remotely famous or that I respect a great deal. I didn’t ask to take a picture even though I wanted to. Before I got too misty, she gave me a hug. It felt good to be able to thank her in person for all her support. I shopped a bit and enjoyed feeling relaxed and not nervous for once. I did feel a bit like I didn’t belong because I would not be having the same shared experience that most of the other people would be having mere hours from then – in the heat. Maybe next year!

Graduation Advice

Well, it is that time of year again. Beautiful May weather…cool mornings and sunny afternoons…the feeling that summer is right around the corner and graduation cards are out in mass in the stores! Yes, around college campuses this time of year students are getting ready to say their good-byes to their forever friends and what has become their home for four (sometimes plus) years. As I reflect back fondly on my own college graduation day I remember a day filled with mixed emotions and while many of my friends smiled their widest smiles during the ceremony, my eyes couldn’t stop overflowing with tears not knowing just where my life was headed. Little did I know I would have a career in higher education and find my work home on a college campus! Go figure.

This week I was honored to be asked to attend a senior retreat luncheon by one of my star students who is graduating on Sunday. We were asked to share ONE BRIEF piece of advice with the entire group after the lunch. Now, those who know me well know that asking me to be brief about well, really anything, is next to impossible. But, I compromised by sharing my entire page of advice with my student in a card just for her and then just choosing one piece of advice to share with the group. I decided to share the entire list here just for grins. There is nothing earth shattering here – just a few things to think about, lessons I’ve learned and am still learning. It is actually more than graduation advice; it is good tips to live by or a blueprint to follow. As always, keep what helps you, share what moves you, and discard what does not serve you.

Be present
Show up. Truly listen to people in the moment without thinking about what you want to say next. Listen in between the lines in order to truly see people. Do one thing at a time: multitasking is overrated and really does not work!

Surround yourself with positive people
Run from the gossip grapevine. It is too easy to get caught up in negativity around you at the water cooler. Make a commitment to not join in and you will set yourself apart from bad situations. Plus you will attract more positive people!

Live in gratitude
Be thankful for your blessings even in trying times. Enjoy every moment and don’t try to rush your life. The days are long, but the years are short. Find ways to express your gratitude with those you love.

Keep/grow your relationship with your God. Find stillness in your life and just be. Get involved in things that bring you closer to God and not further away.

Take risks
Live out loud! Try new things. Put everything out there and see what sticks. Listen to that small voice inside you and be true to it.

Stand up
Make sure your actions match your values. Be firm in what you believe and help others to reach their potential, especially those who do not have a voice.

Use your gifts freely. Love without expectation. Help without judgment. Give without want.

Be sure to take time for recreation in your life. Spend time with those you love no matter how busy you are and don’t take yourself too seriously.

People will disappoint you. You will probably disappoint yourself too. But every new day can be a “do-over”. It does not matter if and when you fail. It just matters what you do next.

Do the Math: Pittsburgh 2012 Final Chapter

It has become sort of a tradition now to analyze my training for the various distance races I’ve run and crunch the numbers, if you will. So here goes:

14 weeks of training
Worked out: 82 times
Skipped workouts: 12 (extra ones added in – lots of yoga!)
Yoga Classes: 44
Bikram Yoga Hell: 1
Kickboxing class: 1
Elliptical/Bike: 50 minutes
Runs: 35

Total Miles: 155.23 (Side note: Last year I ran 202.25 miles training for the half. Yeah, I think I chose yoga one too many times over this training cycle!!)

10K: 1:09:24 (Pace: 11:10/mile)
11.3mile: 2:09:06 (Pace: 11:44/mile)
Finish – Chip Time: 2:31:14 (Pace: 11:32/mile)
Clock Time: 2:51:00
Overall place: 8512 out of 12135
Gender Place: 4677 out of 7439
Age Group place (women 40-44): 489 out of 808

Pittsburgh 1/2 Marathon Weekend – Day 2

Sun, May 6 – RACE DAY!

5am – alarm goes off
5:05 – attempt to make a cup of colored water in the hotel coffee maker in the dark and fail miserably. Put the light on and hope not to wake Mike up
5:10 – eat the whole wheat Panera bagel imported from Ohio with almond butter with my “coffee” and drink 1/2 water bottle of water
5:20 – use restroom
5:30 – decide to take a quick shower to warm up a bit (even though I’d be sweating soon!). I have energy to burn!
5:40 – use restroom
5:43 – get dressed and Glide the appropriate areas (missed a couple – ouch!)
5:45 – fill up the fuel belt and put it on along with the racebelt
5:47 – take a quick pic in the mirror (yes I’m a goober) and post it to facebook

5:48 – give Mike a quick kiss and head out to meet friends one floor down
5:49 – arrive at friends door to realize I forgot my bib upstairs! (that would be tragic.)
5:50 – run back upstairs and have to knock on door and wake Mike up to get my bib!
5:51 – kiss Mike again and run back downstairs to meet my friends
5:51 – in my haste and discombobulation I knock on the wrong door this time (typical Lisa style) and a dude comes to the door in his boxers. Thankfully he was running today too, was already up and waiting for someone else!
5:52 – explain my faux pas to my friends and we are on our way downtown.

So that is how my morning started! We decided to meet at 6am in order to give us enough time to get downtown by 6:30am. The start was about a mile from our hotel. As soon as we got outside we were commenting on what a nice morning it was. Gulp. It is gonna be a hot run!!! I was glad I had hydrated well yesterday and this am. I took some cool pics along the way to the start…

One of the bridges on the route

Cool banner!

We got downtown with plenty of time and that was good because we had to wait in line for quite awhile for portapotties!!

Here we are in all our glory!!

This was another cool area that I just had to get a pic of while we were walking to Corral E. The entire courtyard was glass on all sides…

It seemed like we were waiting forever to start. It turns out that we didn’t cross the start until about 30 minutes in! Here is me trying to be patient and calm.

I tied and retied my shoelaces twice. I was SO nervous about how this run was going to go. The last time I ran, 6 days ago, I could only run 1/2 mile and then had to stop because of extremely painful shins. I was hoping the rest and recovery plan I followed the last 6 days would allow me to run and finish the way I wanted to. Only time would tell.

We finally started and I just kept thinking “heel, toe, heel toe”. At first I couldn’t tell how it was, because of the packed crowds, but at about mile 2 I realized that I was not in any pain! It was working! Yes! Then I tried to just not think about my stride – hoping that I would just go back to my normal stride now that my calves were healed. I put my watch on pace mode and noticed that I was going between a 10:30 and 10:50. I decided a good goal would be just to keep it there and stay below 11. It was warm so I knew I would hit all the fluid stops and drink Gatorade rather than water to replenish the salt. We all know that I is a sweaaaattttterrrrr! The route was pretty flat and I was able to hold my pace steady even up the hills. I was feeling really good about this run – YES! At about mile 8 or 9 I was getting tired and kinda wished I had grabbed some chomps, but I would just have to rely on the Gatorade to push me through. I walked through all the fluid stops and a little bit near mile 10. Then I picked it up going across the 11.2 checkpoint thinking only 2 more miles to go. I checked my watch for time and thought I could not possibly get inside the 2:30 mark, but then I saw the 2:30 pace leader right near me so I thought there was hope. That motivated me to keep going and go faster! I pushed it all the way up the big hill at mile 12 and then realized it was all down hill from there. I could see the finish in the distance. I was pumped!! So I yell out to the crowd, “WE TOTALLY GOT THIS PEOPLE, LET’S GO!!!!” Yeah, I’m crazy, but that motivated me and hopefully some others near me!

I only saw one crazy person; a guy in a full suit running with a sign that said, “Late 4 Work”. Too funny! Of course there were tons of funny signs along the way. The best one that I saw was one that said, “You have trained longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage!” That got some giggles from the people around me! The crowd was great and the entertainment was awesome – lots of great music! It was really fun to go away to another city to run a race. I liked staying in the city so we could walk everywhere and not mess with parking the car, traffic and all that. It really was a stress-free event and I’m thankful for that! And even though I missed seeing Zach at the finish, I was happy that we had arranged for him to stay with grandma and grandpa as he hurt his foot on Friday at school and would not have been able to do all the walking and standing that Mike had to do over the weekend.

As I cruised through the finish I was feeling really happy that I was able to run the whole race! I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and got in line to take the medal pic. Then I went through the line of food goodies and grabbed a banana, a small cinnamon bagel and smiley cookie for later. All I wanted right then was water. I found Mike and gave him a big sweaty kiss and he told me my time according to the facebook alerts – 2:31:14. “Wow”, I thought. I’m really happy with that time!!! And secondly, “that sounds really similar to my first 1/2 last year in Cleveland!!”

We didn’t have too much time to hang around the after party. At that point it was 10:45am and we had to check out of the hotel by noon. So, we hiked it back to the hotel – 1 mile. The walking was good, but I was so ready to stop and shower when we got there. Thankfully I had time to stretch a bit before we had to pack up and head out, wet hair and all! It was so nice outside – beautiful day in the Burgh! On our way to grab lunch at Olive Garden I looked up my time on my blog from last year’s half and yes, my time was very similar. Last year it was 2:31:15. I had beaten it by one second. We were cracking up about that!!! All that and I PR’d this year – one year older and with a fudged training schedule to boot! Upon further examination, I realized that my time at the 10K was faster this year than last year also by like 2 minutes! That felt really good!! We had a great time driving home, jamming to some tunes and just enjoying the afterglow from a great race and a great weekend. So, yeah. I’m not quitting running anytime soon. Not even close!!! 🙂

Pittsburgh 1/2 Marathon Weekend: Day 1

Sat, May 5

So we dropped off the doggie and Zachary and headed south at about 2pm. We headed right for the Expo to pick up my bib, shirt, bag and other items. The Expo is one of my favorite parts of race weekends, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed in Pittsburgh’s. They had the usual suspects like shoe vendors, Glide vendors and assorted GU’s, but the shirts were really lacking. I liked the giveaway shirts, however. Here is what they look like. But they are long sleeved and I wanted a short sleeved one.

But the other Pittsburgh shirts for women, at least, were not that great. I loved a couple of the men’s shirts, but of course they were out of men’s smalls so I bought a black tank that is pretty cool. So yeah, it is apparently all about the shirts for me at the Expo! There were a few random booths there like “Gutter Helmet”, a remodeling contractor and an animal rescue organization. We met our first porcupine at that booth.
I’m not sure why some of those booths are at a runner’s expo, but hey, the more the merrier!!

They did have a really cool display of all the runner’s names on a big marble thing – think Vietnam memorial. It spelled out something with the word RUN in it, but I can’t remember what it said. I took a picture of my name after I found it. My name is in the center in the dark colored part of the letter.

And here is part of the whole thing…there were tons of people in front of it doing the same thing so I couldn’t get a pick of the entire piece…

After an hour we had had enough and so we went to check into the hotel.

We stayed at the Priory Hotel, which was a former parsonage for St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

It was really cool and our room was amazing!

We got settled and met up with our friends to figure out dinner. They had already eaten so they helped us find a place we could walk to for pasta. We walked about 1/2 mile to a place called Legends of the North Shore. We had great service, but just okay tasting food. But it did the job, however! It sure did look good though!

My spags and giant meatball

Mike’s chix parm

We headed back to the room, and settled in to watch a movie. I got all my stuff out and ready to go for an early morning. I think I fell asleep about 10pm…wake up call was for 5am…ZZZZZZZ

Massage Wisdom

Fri, May 4
I made an appointment to get a massage tonight in order to do everything I could to ensure a good experience on Sunday. The massage was great, but I learned tons from the massage therapist! She asked me tons of questions about my calves, shins, running, etc trying to get to the root of why I was having issues. We talked about all the variables – all the things that were different about this training cycle and my last training cycle and I think she nailed it on the head. Normally long distance runners run heal, toe and sprinters run more on their toes – or at least strike the toe first. Therefore many times shin splints are seen more in sprinters. The massage therapist thinks, based on what I told her, that maybe I was favoring my hurt calves and changed my gait to run more on my toes and therefore developed shin splints. It makes total sense because a few weeks or a month ago I remember waking up in the middle of the night with aching calves – so much so that I had to take ibuprofen and hope to fall back asleep. What I need to figure out however, is how I can avoid my calves getting so sore to begin with. I didn’t really do the rolling or icing that I probably should have done when they started to hurt (my bad!). However, the good news is that the massage therapist said my calves felt great and I had no pain at all in them during the massage. I’m hoping that they have sufficiently healed and that my shins are healed enough to carry me through 13.1 miles. I just have to make sure to remember to run heal, toe. Hopefully I’ll be able to distract myself enough by the people and things to see that I’ll just naturally go back to my old or normal stride again. Cross your fingers!!!

Yoga Stretch and Penguin Yoga

Fri, May 4
6am yoga

I tried stretch yoga this morning for the first time and it was so great! There was no flow at all – just delicious stretching. Charry taught the class and she is so great! We started on our backs and did a series of awesome stretching like that. Then we did a partner exercise which was really cool. We worked in 3’s – one person was in down dog, one person stood behind them and pulled them up and back with a strap under their tummy and the other person pushed into the area between their shoulder blades. We each took turns being the one in the down dog. Then we did another partner thing where one person laid on their back while one person pulled them by the feet and the other pulled them by their arms. It probably looked like an old torture thing like from the movie Braveheart, but it felt awesome. Then the head and feet people pushed on the laying person’s arms and legs like a Thai massage. We took turns doing that and it was fun too. We did some poses on our tummies, some twists, pigeon and then shevasana. I had told Charry at the beginning of the class that I had some calve and shin issues and was going to be running on Sunday, but I was pleasantly surprised when she came over and put biofreeze on me: first on my lower back and then on both calves. What a sweetheart! I also met a few ladies that meet regularly to run before the yoga stretch class. I am now on their email list! So who knows maybe I’ll join them sometime! I think I’ll definitely go to another stretch class. It felt like a real community in this class – very cool. As I matter of fact, both Amy (the owner and awesome teacher) and Kevin (awesome teacher) also took the class! I didn’t sweat at all, but it was great. It almost felt like I was giving myself a massage – that is how good the stretching felt.

Noon yoga
I went to my normal Friday noon class today just because I knew that I wouldn’t be doing anything physical tomorrow. I will actually rest before the 1/2 on Sunday. We did something different in this class. We used a block between our legs during a series of sun salutations and it was hilarious! Those who didn’t hop with the block basically waddled with it and we all looked like penguins! I was very careful not to overdo it today in class. For example, I did not hop at all. I still worked up quite a sweat (duh) and had a great workout, however.

Tomorrow: Pittsburgh bound, Expo and dinner with my hubby!!

Livin’ at the lounge

Wed, May 2
6am yoga!

When my alarm went off at 5:30am this morning I thought about my plan to go to LifeCenter and do the elliptical and immediately thought about the other option – YOGA! Guess what I chose? Yep, back to 6am yoga with Kevin. It was a really great class to kick of the day – very sweaty! The mantra that Kevin said that I kept coming back to was “one breath and a time”. Little did I know I would be back at the end of my day…

8pm – Extreme Yoga!
I got an email reminder that the Yoga Lounge was offering a free class for “Extreme Yoga” tonight. Mixing the word free with the word yoga will get me all the time! It was only 45 minutes but it was kick butt! We started with a really challenging set of ab workouts. Yooowwww! It is my favorite! The only thing I didn’t like about the class was the two sets of jumping jacks we did towards the beginning. Jumping jacks are my arch nemesis ever since boot camp last year. I did them okay, but I was glad there were only two sets of 50 in the class in total. I was prepared to NOT do any additional ones if they were presented, but I lucked out! We did some good challenging arm workouts with a cool mix of backwards chattarungas and then other arm workout push ups things. It was really fun and an awesome workout! The yoga lounge is going to be offering the new extreme yoga class at various times during the week – one being Mon at 6am so that should be cool!

Tomorrow – busy day so I will rest.

More yoga, more strength

Tues, May 1
Yoga at lunch

Yoga was great today. There were a few challenging sequences like yogi push-ups, as well as some kick butt abs (which I love dearly – seriously!). But I might be getting stronger the more I practice because after today’s class people were saying that it was a really intense and hard class, but I thought it was just a normal, great class. I guess that could mean that I’m getting stronger or that they are just having a bad day too. Or who knows because everyone is different and everybody’s body feels differently depending on the day. That is definitely true! The first yoga class I went to after the marathon I was so sore and was SO thankful to have a slow moving class. I guess it really doesn’t have to mean anything really. It can just be how it is for that particular day. I like that. There is not necessarily a need (except for my own over analytical mind) to assign meaning to every single thing in life. Some things can just be taken at face value. I just know that yoga keeps drawing me in to want to practice more, learn more and just be more yogi-like. I’m looking forward to finding out where this leads…

What do pianists and runners have in common??

Mon, April 30
Ran 1/2 mile on the treadmill at lunch

I now understand better why I can’t play the piano. It got hard. I look lessons for a number of years as a kid from Mrs. Chadwick, but I just didn’t like to practice. It turns out that my impatience (yes even as a kid) combined with my Taurus-like stubbornness kept me from keeping a discipline of practicing the piano in order to get better and actually learn to play. It wasn’t something that came naturally to me so eventually it became harder and harder to improve my playing without putting the time in to practice. Eventually I ceased piano lessons, stuck with singing and sadly, can only play chopsticks on the piano now. My sister, on the other hand, can still play the piano beautifully today (yeah, she practiced. She also got our family piano!). Lesson learned.

This week I have re-learned a similar lesson with my sore shins. After running only 1/2 mile on the treadmill at lunch yesterday before having to stop to walk because of my aching shins, I took the advice of a runner colleague and went immediately down to see the athletic trainer (yes, these are the benefits of working at a university!) He was very nice and told me to do the following things in order to still be able to run on Sunday:
1. Take 2 ibuprofen about 4 times a day with food as long as it doesn’t bother my stomach
2. Stretch my calves with an incline block (and he showed me 4 different exercises to try)
3. Ice a few times a day.

So you’d think I would be grateful to have some great advice, right? Nope. I was just pissed that this was happening to me and there was more work involved. I mean hadn’t I already worked enough?? I didn’t have to go this all this rigmarole for my first two major races!! I knew there were things I could do to help my shins, but honestly I didn’t want to do those things. I didn’t want to put in the extra work and time to heal my body properly. I just wanted to run, have a good race experience in Pittsburgh and get the medal. Now, don’t get me wrong – it is not that I don’t want to work hard: exhibit A – full marathon in Sept. But, I think what I’ve learned here is that I don’t want to work hard when it is hard work. Does that make sense? The first time around for both of these distances was easy for me. It was easy in terms of my desire and motivation to do the work. I mean, I was in! I felt like I had something to prove! Putting in the work for the training was hard, but it seemed “easy” because I wanted it so badly and I was so committed. This second time around has been more difficult because of my lack of motivation. Motivation has impacted everything else. Not wanting to run as much has influenced me to NOT run as much and fudge more on my training program. Well, it turns out that skipping too many of those runs during the week and jumping into a long run on the weekend probably isn’t the best idea. Couple that with a series of long runs followed by no rest days afterwards and you have a recipe for unhappy shins I do believe. Not to mention an unhappy runner. This training cycle has been more work than fun and I don’t like that! So what is the lesson here? Not totally sure yet, but this is what I’ve learned so far:

1. To finish what you start
2. To listen to your body
3. Put in the work even when it isn’t exciting.

Earth shattering news I know. But sometimes the simple things in life are earth shattering because we try to make them more complicated than they really are!! So I’m off to ice my shins (dixie cups filled with water make great ice-rs!!) and finish my healing regimen for the evening.

Next up: Some quality time on the elliptical tomorrow morning at Life Center