Monday, November 29, 2010

Hiroko's First Umstead Run -- My Attempt at a Q&A: 11/25

She said . . . He said.
Q & A:

Greg: So, how did you like running in Umstead.

Hiroko: I liked it, but it scared me.  But, it was defintely easier to run distance than on a flat surface, but I hurt my ankle.

Greg: why do yo think that it easier?

Hiroko:  Because it has a lot (inclines and declines*) and I don't have to push much on the declines.

Greg:  Do you think that you will run it again.

Hiroko: Hmmm . . . if the leaves are not there.

Greg: Did you like running with me?

Hiroko: Umm (Japanese way of saying uuuhhh)

Greg:  Which part of the trail did you like best?

Hiroko:  The part of the loop before the bridge because it is flat.

Greg: Did you like because there weren't that many rock and roots, and more soft pine needles

Hiroko: Yes, and ofcoures .  But, I like running in the woods, the sights and sounds, and there weren't any cars and buildings.

--At this point, Hiro falls asleep.--  My first ever attempt at an interview is a failure because my interviewee finds my questions, so boring that she falls asleep!!  Not really the case, Hiroko is a champion sleeper and can fall asleep at anytime and anywhere.  So this is basically par for the course with her. 
*Greg's words for what Hiroko described.

On Saturday, we ran in Umstead together for the first time.  Hiro really enjoyed the run, but was a little freaked by the possibility of turning her ankle.  I admit that this was not the best time of year to take her to run there because of all of the leaves on the trail, but I was surprised when she said that she wanted to go with me.  We ran the first 4.8 miles, and she was fine for the first mile, but then she turned her ankle and got a good scare.  She was able to walk off the pain, but she did really enjoy herself as much as she had for the first mile.  Ironically, she tripped at a relatively easy part of the trail.  I think she more took a bad step than anything else.  This run was much slower for me, and spent a lot of time pointing out roots, rocks, as well as which part of the trail is easier.  I didn't mind this at all because I was concerned for Hiroko.  Also, I wanted her to enjoy the run, so that one day I might have an Umstead running partner.  Currently, Hiroko is having some soreness in her ankle, but there isn't any swelling or discoloration.  It's more from an old volleyball injury that has caused a ganglion cyst on her ankle, which she has to get drained from time to time (it is gross but cool to watch . . . I'll take off work to go to the doctor's office with her just so I can watch!).  Also, Hiro is just not having used working her ankles like you have to on this type of trail.  I had the same kind of soreness after my first few runs in Umstead.  I am fairly sure that she'll be in a day or two.  This run was a really good and unexpected addition to my holiday running, and I am happy that Hiro wanted to go with me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Robert Frost 5.8 Mile Run: 11/26

I kept coming up with reasons not to run today: it was raining, I had eaten my weight in turkey and other thanksgiving foods, I had a headache, I had run 5 miles yesterday, Friday's are normally an off day.  I tried to think of reasons to run but decided that I didn't really need a reason to run.  I've gotten to that point -- I am able to run and that is reason enough.  I wanted to hit the trails in Umstead.  Hiro was back at work and I couldn't stand the idea of spending the whole day on the couch watching old movies, and if I were going to go to the gym to workout, why shouldn't I do what I really wanted to do and run in Umstead?  So, that was what I did. 

I left around 2pm, the rain had stopped, and it was much warmer than the day before.  I felt loose.  I untapped my feet before a run for the first time in about two months.  I knew that the trail would be blanketed with wet leaves, which would require that my pace be much more measured.  It made sense to me to try running without the tape.  The tape has helped my PF and achilles problems, but it is doing a number on my skin.  And I hate spending money on it.  I am not sure when I decided to run the whole length of The Company Mill Trail, but my mind was made up by the time I left the parking lot.  I've never run the whole thing before.  The trial is 5.8 miles long according to most listings.  I kept thinking about all of the people that were shopping today and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy ans wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

By no means is this my favorite poem or is Frost my Favorite poet.  In fact, I have always been rather annoyed by how often it is quoted, but it just fit today.  It fit the way I was feeling and the trial that I was running.  Because today, it was truly the road less traveled because there were so few people on the trail, which offered me a lot of time to myself.  I was able to really enjoy where I was and what I was doing.  Running has become a huge part of my life in such a short time, and today's run was one of my most enjoyable runs yet.  In fact, other than the last mile, the whole thing was nearly effortless.  I was no slouch and made good time despite the fact that the trial was wet and kind of difficult to see.  But, I wasn't timing myself and just made a point to try to enjoy this run.  The creek was running faster than normal because of the rains, the trees held far fewer leaves, and the whole day seemed more clam, sort of like Japan feels on New Years day or how it feels here just after Midnight Mass.  I think that today's run was by far my most transcendental running experience.  I know that their is a spiritual side of running that is out there waiting for you if you are open to it.  I am not saying that I am going to one day go Forest Gump on the world and just start running across the country, but if I came find a nice inner peace out on the trails of Umstead State Park, then all the better life will be!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8k: 11/25

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This was my first attempt at an 8k (or 5 miler) race.  I did a 10k about 10 days ago, so I knew that I was ready for the distance but wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to run the course.  Luckily for me, my Thursday running group from Fleet Feet runs on most of this course, so I knew what to expect.  The difference was that I had run only portions of it at a time and not the whole course.  But, I really wasn't worried at all.  Since this was my first time at this distance, I just set out to enjoy myself and was hoping to finish in under 45 minutes.  The Ridgewood Turkey Trot is a big race with over 3,000 participants and is put on by Fleet Feet.  Another aspect of the race that I really like is that I starts a mile from my apartment.  Hiroko and I were able to ride our bicycles to the race! 

Trying to stay warm before the race.

It was kind of cold this morning compared to the way the weather has been over the last few days.  The low for the day was suppose to be around 55 degrees, but it felt colder than that this morning.  Maybe because I was riding my bicycle.  I just know that I felt really cold before the race.  There were suppose to be a competitive and non-competitive divisions with start times 5 mins. apart, but it seemed to me that the competitive group had a lot of non-competitive people mixed in with it, but it didn't present as much of a problem for me in this race as it has in others because the road we were running on was really wide, and since this was an 8k instead of a 5k, I wasn't worried about getting off to as quick a start.  Hiro didn't run this race, but I was able to meet up with several different people that I knew from my various running groups.  However, I lost everyone in the crowd and ended up running the race alone, which I didn't mind because with that many people I was doing good not to bump into people that weren't trying to run next to me. 


The first mile of the course was a long straight stretch with a mild decline.  I run this portion of the course as part of the Thursday running group and know it like the back of my hand, which helped me to keep my pace right where I wanted it.  Another thing that help was that my legs were so cold that they felt like concrete slabs.  The Free to Breathe 5k was a much colder morning, but I didn't feel it.  However, I felt the cold today.   I would really like to see what the temperature was on site this morning because if the was 55 degrees, I need to wear some big boy pants and toughen up.  The road through this portion of the race is a wide two lane road with a bicycle lane, so I didn't feel the need to do much weaving through the crowd, which was just awesome.

Just past the starting line, caught in mid wave.

The second mile continues the slow decline for the first 3/4 of the mile, then turns and the last 1/4 of the mile is a pretty steep decline.  I ran this portion alright considering my legs were still frozen solid.  I was actually feeling the a small shock wave up my leg with every step for this entire mile.  Each of these waves seemed to crash right into the bottom of my quads just above the knee.  It hurt but I didn't feel like my quads were burning, so I wasn't worried about cramping.  I just thought that my legs need to warm up and everything would be sorted out.

Around the third mile, we hit the hilly section of the course, which was also the portion of the course which I hadn't run before.  I had done some practice runs on the old course, but it had been changed this year, so this portion was totally new for me.  I handled the hills well, and my legs were starting to feel better.  It was around this time that my ego took a kick to the gut because I noticed two kids running ahead of me.  The boy was around 8 and the girl was maybe 10.  I am not sure if they had run the whole course or not, but it sure looked like it, and they were both putting some ground between me and them for most of the third mile. 

Mile 4 started at the end of the hilly section and went back up the road that we had run down, but we got back on the road a point farther down from where we had turned off, and I new that this section had a deceptively long slow incline that can become a killer because it is easy to not notice that you are running up hill.  I ran this the right way, but I was still trailing that 8 year old boy wearing a Capitol Area Soccer League shirt.  I was really missing legging it out with miss 1025 from the Old Reliable because even though, she beat me to the finish line, it wasn't like I was taking one step for every three of her's. At least I had manager to pass the 10 year old girl somewhere in the hilly portion of the course!  By now my legs were really starting to feel good.  The vibrations had stopped and could tell that the blood was circulating properly at last.  Mile 4 was by far the best yet. By the end of mile 4, I knew that I was gaining on the kid, but it was giving me mixed emotions because how can you feel proud of yourself for out running an 8 year old?

looking pretty rough after the finish. 
As mile 5 began, I finally passed the kid and tried to focus on running a strong finish.  I hoped to find someone to try to keep up with and use as motivation to push myself like miss 1025, but no one really presented themselves, so I just had to dig deep an motivate myself.  I was able to open my gate over the last half of the mile 5 and actually hit what I consider a sprint over the last .15th of a mile, which help both my ego and my time.  I was beat by the time I crossed the finish line and knew that my chip time would be under 45 minutes, which made me really happy.  My final time was 44:44, so I am pretty pleased with this race as a whole. Hiro couldn't get a picture of me crossing the finish line because her hand's were too cold to turn the camera on in time, but no matter.  After the race, I saw my co-worker Lisa and her daughter Annie-Lloyd.  Annie-Lloyd does Iron Man and ran today's race as part of her trip to Raleigh for Thanksgiving.  As we were talking, I asked her about Garmins, and she said that her's changed her life.  That is when her Husband said "yeah, you show it off more than your engagement ring."  She jokingly agreed and said she actually wears is more.  I thought you know that your an athlete when your Garmin ranks up there with your wedding rings!

Anyway, it was a great way to start the holiday!

8k official chip time 44:44

Monday, November 22, 2010

Umstead Bottom Out: 11/20

Well I rode the wave of good runs as far as I could, and it finally bottomed out about halfway through my Saturday Run in Umstead.  It was sort of strange because I wasn't running poorly and I wasn't sore.  If anything I was running a bit too strong, but I just got to point where I felt like I had run enough.  So. I stopped.  I just walked the trail back to the parking lot and tried to enjoy the park, which I run in but don't often take time to just breathe in. 

Trail Run in Umstead
Over the course of this run, it really became apparent to me that I like running trails more than anything else.  I really enjoy the challenge of managing roots, trees, and rough surfaces of trails.  I think that trails require an amount of focus that other surfaces don't, and I can run the same trail over and over and not get bored because it will always provide me with some new challenge.  This weekend the leaves were so thick that it was really hard to see the trail in some places.  I always thought that I would be too worried about falling to enjoy my runs over a trail like this one, but I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that I get from being able to navigate the trail.  Recently, I have been running a lot on the street and greenway, which are fun places to run, but running on the trails really gets my mind right.  Even though this wasn't a monster run, I can't wait for my next Umstead run!  I can't even go so far as to say that this run was a bad run because it wasn't.  It was more just the end of a string of monster runs.  Basically, I just hit my mileage wall for the week.  I was on 17 miles for the week coming into this run, which is the most miles that I have ever put down in week, so there is mo shame in my game. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday Fleet Feet Social Run & Thinking Ahead: 11/18

Last night I attended the Fleet Feet social run and ran with the same group of runners that I ran with the first time I attended the social run.  We did a 4 mile course with a few good hills over the last 2 miles.  It was really nice to run with them again.  However, I am not sure that I made a great running partner because I am on such a running high that I kept pushing the pace.  I stayed with the main group until about the 2.5 mile mark then broke off with another runner.  However, I was a little bit more concerned about staying at least within earshot of the main group because I didn't know the course we were running and was thankful that I did when I lost the other runner at a crossroad that was just over a hill.  He was about ten yards ahead of me when we started up the hill, but when I came over the top and dude was gone.   I continued to the intersection a little bit ahead, but do to another hill and some trees the other guy was impossible to see, and since I wasn't 100% sure I should go straight, I just jogged in place for a bit until the main group came over the rise.  Once they told me which way to go, traffic picked up, which was the sign for me to rejoin the main group for the last half mile.  It was another really great run, and the ladies that I had run with before all said that I was running a lot stronger and looked like I a had slimmed down since they saw me about a month ago.  I haven't weighed myself recently, and I really don't care to so because I feel like I have lost weight, and don't really want the scale to tell me anything different.  

Honestly, I feel better than I have in years.  I really don't think that there has been a time in my adult life where I have felt this good physically and mentally.  I know I have weighed less, but I have never been this active and excited about my prospects for good health.  I really feel like I am becoming the person that I always dreamt of being.  I know that their is still a part of me that regrets that I waited so long to make these changes, but there is an even larger part me that never thought that I would do it, which is just pleased as punch.  It is hard to believe how far I have come in such a short time.

Now that I have run my first 10k, Hiroko and I have been talking a lot about my future plans.  I have pretty much made up my mind that a half marathon is in my plans for this spring.  And if all goes well, a full in the fall.  However, I really am drawn to the 5k distance because I really like pushing my pace.  I really and truly love the feeling that I get from making that last push towards the finish line.  I know that the challenge of the longer distances on my endurance will also inspire me.  But, I know that I just enjoy legging it out, and I think that I have a lot of room to get faster.  I think that I take speed as a large sign of my personal achievement because I was always considered slow because of my weight.  The best thing about this dilemma is that it exists.  I don't really care about finding an answer at this moment because I am just happy that these are questions that are part of my life.  

Friday will be an off day because I haven't been to Umstead in a few weeks, and it is calling to me, and I am pretty sore from a fantastic week of running!     

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

After Work Solo Run-- 4.27 mils: 11/17/10

Work passed by quickly today.  I had a lot of things to do, none of which were stressful or frustrating in the slightest, which for me is always the mark of a good day.  The only drawback was that I couldn't do a lunchtime run, so I was looking forward to a run when I got home from work.  I knew that it would be dark, cool and a little damp because of some strong storms that moved through yesterday.   My legs were feeling fine, but I was a little concerned with all of the mileage that I have been putting on them over the last few weeks.  However, my legs have really felt amazing since last Thursday's run.  I don't know why . . . . and I am not asking . . . but my legs just feel awesome right now. 

When I got home, I just set my stuff down and started getting ready for my run.  I changed, put on my I-pod and blinky light and headed out the door in sort order.  I was sure where I was going to run, but I decided fairly quickly that I would run a long the four main streets that surround the neighborhoods in which I live.  I ran from the corner of  Hillsborough and Faircloth to the corner of  Faircloth and Wade, from there to the corner of Wade and Oberlin, then to the corner of Oberlin and Hillsborough, and then returned to the starting point.  The whole course was 4.27 miles, and was my first solo run in over a week.  It was a hilly course, which I enjoyed a great deal.  During the run, I  felt an amazing sense of clarity and peace.  I didn't time this run, and just ran a good steady pace throughout.  I wash that all runs were like this one, but as we all know there are bad slog-fest runs out there waiting for all of us, so I am just going to be glad that I got this awesome run today and go from there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

nOg Run Club: Post 10k 3 miler -- 11/15

This run was in doubt for most of the day.  I felt like doodie all day yesterday after the 10k.  My quads were sore, and I had a pretty bad headache, both of which continued into this morning.  The quads were to be expected, but I am not sure if the headache was a result of dehydration or just from pounding along the street.  Either way, it didn't really matter, the point is this morning when I spoke with Hiro I told her that there was no way that I was going to Tir Na Nog Run Club tonight.  However, when I called her at 4pm, I asked her if she want to go.  I expected her to say no, but she said that she wanted to go.  So, of course we went.
We decided to do the three mile route, and we met up with Audrey, Henry and his wife from the Thursday night's Fleet Feet Running Group, I introduced them to Hiroko, who Audrey had read about on my Blog (on a side note Hiroko and I bumped into another member of last Thursday's Group on Saturday when we took out kitten to the vet).  Tonight, we talked for a bit before the run kicked off about yesterday's 10k, cold weather, and The Krispy Kreme Challenge, which we are all planning to enter next year. 

The Tir Na nOg Pub in downtown Raleigh
Our chat was short because the run was kicking off, and this run had well over a 100 members, so we just got swept away.  Hiro and I stuck together for the first mile.  I was shocked by how well my legs felt.  My Quads were still sore, but they were not holding me back at all.  In fact, I think that I flet a little better over the the course of this run than I did yesterday.  I think that I am going to run a little the day before my next race and see if it helps.  I  always seem to run better on the second day of running.  The night was nice and warm, but it was much darker than the previous times that we attended, so our blinky lights came in handy.  After the first mile I started to pull away from the group of runners that we were running with.  Hiroko stuck with me, but as we made the turn near Oakwood Cemetery, she said that she had a pain in her side.  However, she is so competitive that she still passed me two more time during the second mile!!

I picked up the pace right as I passed by this tree.
But, by the beginning of mile 3, I pulled away.  Once we got near the North Carolina State Capitol, I started to open up my stride.  Upon passing in front of the Capitol Building, I really picked up the pace.  The last mile was by far my strongest mile.  It wasn't an all out sprint like that last two tenths of a mile were yesterday, but I was in the last gear before it.  I felt really strong all the way back to the the pub.  And, I am sure that I finished the run in under 26 minutes, which would be a PR for me, but alas . . . No garmin to be sure of it, nor was it a race day . . . so oh well!  After the run, we chatted with a guy, who had also run the 10k the day before.  Hiro remembered him because he had worn a kilt, which he said he was required to do in order to join a local running club out of Fleet Feet.  I think that I might be getting sized for a kilt soon!  After chatting for a while, we enjoyed some $1 pasta, which I enjoyed a lot more than last time.  We saw Audry once again and she introduced us to her husband, Victor.  Hiroko and I were both really glad that we went tonight, but she was a little disappointed that she couldn't beat me.  Hiro thought that since I ran a 10k yesterday that she would have no problem beating me; I didn't either!  However, I seem to be getting a lot stronger than I thought.  Also, I am really glad that I am starting to meet lots of new people, who share my passion for running!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Old Reliable Run (My First 10k): 11-14

I ran the Old Reliable Run today.  It was my first stab at a 10k and couldn't have picked a better event.  Everything was done very well from the registration system to the course layout.  I have nothing but compliments for the organizers, event staff, volunteers, and my fellow runners.  The last two races that I ran in were plagued with issues, so I was really nice to take part in an event that was done right. 

The course was deceptively challenging with many long slow hills that you don't give much thought to when you are driving but are difficult to run.  Also, I prefer courses with a lot of twists and turns because they force me to think about the section that is right in front of me and not look at how far I need to go.  Today's course had a two long straight stretches that forced me to stay focused mentally.  Also, this race is special for me because last year I watched it being run from the window of the YMCA where I workout.  I remember that I just stood there looking out the window watching as to runners were passing and thinking how I wished that I could be one of them, but at that time, I was tilting the scales at around 300 lbs couldn't imagine running around the block let alone 6.2 miles.  However, one year later here I am running in the race that a year before I could only stand and watch.

Nash Square where the race began and finished.
 We could not have asked for better weather for today's race.  Nice and sunny with a high of around 68 degrees.  Hiro and I got to Nash Square at around 11:45am for a 1pm start time.  I am the type of person that hates to be late.  We hung around the park while I warmed up and stretched a little.  Hiro wasn't running to day, so she got photographer and stuff holder duty, which is why she is wearing my Raiders Toboggan, which I think looks damn good on her!

workin' out the kinks in my pesky left leg

Hiro wearing my Raiders hat and looking just too cute!
 I once again got pretty amped up by the start of the race.  This was my first afternoon race, so I didn't really know what to expect and kind of worried about when I should eat and how much, but I just tried to do things like I would on any day when I went for an afternoon run, and I didn't have any problems.  The start of the race didn't seem to have any problems from my vantage point.  I did however run my first mile way too fast at something close to 8 minute mile pace.  And, I paid for it a bit in the second mile, which was my worst of the race.  Starting the race too fast didn't seem to hurt me as much this time as it did at the Autism 5k.  I think that since it was a longer distance I felt more comfortable backing down from the pace than I did at the 5k.  At the Autism race, I tried to maintain the pace into the second mile and got crushed in mile 3.  Today, I backed off from my first mile pace during mile two and was able to recover.  At no point in today's race did I think that I might need to walk.  I was able to run the entire race.

Near the 1 mile mark and going too fast.
 Even though I ran the first mile too fast, I did not waste a lot of energy weaving in and out of the pack.  I stayed fairly close to the inside edge or the middle of the road and didn't really get tangled up with anyone.  The second and third miles were the most difficult of the race for me.  they were a series of long straight stretches and slow rises.  But by the  of the third mile, I had things sorted out for the most part and felt like I was running pretty strong. 

Mile 4 was really good for me.  It had a few hills in it and I was able to use them to pass a lot of people by following Bart Yasso's advice about hills from runners world.  I got into a cadence right before the hill then shortened my stride and maintained the cadence as I went up the hill.  Most of the people around me charged up the hills or just fell off at the start of the hill.  By the time, I reached the top the people that had charged their way up were fading while I felt fine and was able to open up my stride and pick up my pace.  This hill strategy was probably what made this distance a reality for me.  I have run this area before as part of my first 5k, and it took the wind right out of me.  I know that I am much stronger now, but I didn't feel these hills hardly at all. 

Mile 5 had two more hills then it was back on the straight stretch.  Along this part of the race I remembered that I had watched the end of last years race from one of the restaurants after my workout, but this year I was running it.  That memory really gave me and extra boost for the last half of the mile 5.  At the end of mile 5, the gun time was around 48 minutes if I remember right. 

Mile 6 was another long straightaway and was the most difficult mentally because I kept looking ahead for the last turn.  At this point my pace was picking up a little and I was trying to figure out just how much I had left in the tank for the home stretch.  As it turned out, I had a lot left and I used most of it.  Right at the 6 mile mark two ladies went by and I picked up my pace a the turn and went past them and another lady.  The third woman called out to me to "get after it!"  I turned and said, "I don't know about that." 

The woman in bib 1025 and I legging it out
 One of the two ladies picked up her pace and pulled even with me and the race was on!  I am not sure how many times we passed each other, but at one point she spoke to me and said, "your going to make me go faster?" or something like that, and I replied, "Come on you push me and I'll push you. " We both legged out the entire last .2 miles of the race, people were cheering us on.  Most of them were yelling at her to not let me beat her, and she pulled out a late burst to pull ahead of me right at the finish line. 
After we crossed she came back and gave me a high five and I was really glad that we were able to help each other shave off sometime from our race.  I wish that I had gotten a chance to speak with her more, but that wasn't a real option because. . .
After legging it out with 1025
 was crushed!  I really don't know how I stayed on my feet long enough for someone to take off my chip and hand me a bottle of water.  I knew that I should keep moving, but it just wasn't happening.  I was able to get up after a few minute or two and take some pictures with Hiro.
Dazed and sweaty but really happy!
enjoying some post race grapes and bagels
Overall, I can't see how this race could have gone any better!  I am just thrilled with everything about it.  I would like to give a shout out to Miss 1025, who really pushed me to finish this race the way that all races should be finished! 

My times for this race were 58:05 by gun and 57:25 by my racing chip, which gives me 9 min. 16 sec.miles by my chip time. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I've Been Tagged: 11/11/10

This came at the right time first 10k tomorrow and I need something to make me relax.

Irene from Tales from the Back of the Pack tagged me with the following questions

Here are your questions:

1. What is your favorite holiday and why? Any special traditions?This one is easy.  Thanksgiving.  I missed Thanksgiving the most when I lived in Japan.  There was no Thanksgiving in Japan and unlike Christmas, no one knew anything about it or cared in the slightest.  Now that we are back in the states, I can enjoy Thanksgiving, which always puts me in the mood for Christmas and New Years.  As for Traditions, it has been the standard fare Turkey and Football, but I may be starting a new one this year with the Turkey Trot -- a local 8k held on Thanksgiving.  I am already entered!

2. What songs are on your go-to playlist? Describe how or why the music motivates you.

Black Sheep By Metric is a great song to kick of a run with

Electric Feel is my top running song now

Black Sheep -- Metric
All These Things That I've Done -- The Killers
How You Like Me Now -- The Heavy
Make Me Wanna Die -- The Pretty Reckless
My Heart, Your Hands -- Dommin
Steady As She Goes -- The Raconteurs
Back Against the Wall -- Cage the Elephant
Time to Pretend -- MGMT
Your Woman --White Town
Whataya Want from Me -- Adam Lambert
Electric Feel -- MGMT
Gold Lion -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
New Moon Rising -- Wolfmother
Paper Planes (Blaqstarr Remix) -- M.I.A.
Cosmic Egg -- Wolfmother 
Beat the Devil's Tattoo -- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Medicate -- AFI
E-Pro -- Beck
West Coast -- Coconut Records
Colossal -- Wolfmother

How You Like Me Now by the British band The Heavy is the
song that has lasted the longest in my running playlist

I tend to have large playlists because I get bored with songs after a while.  I'll have a 2 hour play list then put it on random and keep it fresh.  A lot of my songs are chosen because of the lyrics.  I was a literature major, and I'm a sucker for a good story.  Most of the songs are a little fast, but I think that I like songs that have a good emotional depth.  I think that I feed off the emotion the music stirs up than the beat or rhythm for the most parts.
3. What is your dream vacation? Money is not an issue. I would love to travel across Europe on the Orient Express.  I love to ride on trains.  I miss the Japanese rail system so much.  I don't even mind the packed Tokyo subway system. 

4. Looking back at 2010 so far...what are you most proud of?  That I have made the healthy changes in my life that I always dreamed of making, and along the way I found something that has stirred my passion. 

Have fun!

I am going to tag the following blogger:

I Am Boring
Running in Circles
When I Get a Little, Run Run Run
JerBare Shares

Here are your questions:
1) Where would you like to run most in the world?
2) Who would you like to run with the most?  Living or dead.  Why?
3) What is the one song on your I-pod that you really don't want anyone to know that you love.  Mine was Whataya Want from Me -- Adam Lambert
4) Looking back at 2010 so far...what are you most proud of?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fleet Feet Running Group 3.5 Miles -- 11/11/10

Man, it is so nice to run with a group.  It has rained the last two Thursdays, which led me to skip the Thursday night running group that Runs out of Fleet Feet.  However, you couldn't have asked for a better day today, and after a really boring day at work because everyone in my office is a conference, I couldn't wait to go for a run.  Hiro has been working a ton of overtime, which led her to stay home and play with our new kitten -- Basil.  I got lucky that my new Raiders toboggan (knit cap for some people) arrived today, so I was able to wear it on my run and to keep warm.   We had a nice warm day, but the temperature was dropping rapidly.

The host of the running group
I think that there were around 10 runners in tonight's group, and one of the ladies had read this here blog.  She had participated in the Free to Breathe Whatever K as well and had found my blog post about the event.  She indicated that she agreed with basically everything that I wrote about it.  She also pointed out that none of the course was marked.  I remembered seeing cones in the street, but she pointed out that they were unrelated to the course.  After thinking about it for some time I realized that she was right.  I think that the cones were there to either indicate parking or to steer street traffic off of the course.  I remember that portion of the course was on a two lane road, which one the lanes remained open to cars.  We swapped stories about the e-mails we received about it from the organizers, which I'll detail in a later post.  It was nice to see that I was not the only person irritated by this.  Also, I was wondering how some of the more competitive runners felt about the race, and I came across this post by Pat Price, who finished the race 12th: PWP Running.  I was really interested to see the prospective of someone of his caliber because I knew that this was a points race for some people.

Anyway, after chatting for a while the group left for a 3.5 mile run down Ridge Road.  Most of the group was planning to run at around a 9 minute mile pace with some people doing intervals.  I joined the group that was not.  The pace was slower than what I have been running of late, but was exactly what I needed because I have a bad habit of getting amped up at the start of races and running too fast, which would be a bad idea this weekend at my first 10k.  So, I enjoyed the slower pace chatting with the other runners in the group and enjoying the run.  However, my legs felt too good and really want to open things up some, so at the turn I followed suite when one of the other runners pulled away and I opened it up also.  My legs felt great and the night air was nice and cool.  I ran really strong on my way back the the store.  When I returned to Fleet Feet we all got back together and chatted about: running shoes, places to run, Garmins, Races, Running gear, etc.  Basicly all the stuff that Hiro and other friends humor me about when I try to talk about with them.

I know that both Jeri and Irene have made comments that they should look for running groups in their areas, and I can't recommend  it strongly enough!  It is just so nice to be around people who get it and are just as geeked out on running as you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Running Errands: Lunchtime 5k

I hadn't planned to run at lunch today.  Hiro and I were going to go to the nOg Run last night, but I was tired from my run on Sunday and Hiro was wiped out from work we got a kitten this weekend, and  yesterday was his first day home alone, so we ended up staying home.  Tonight I have a meeting after work, so I knew that if I wanted to get in a run it was going to have to be at lunch.  Luckily, I had some work related Errands that I planned on doing after lunch any way, so I thought that it would be great to "run" my errands.  I ran the same 5k course to Hiro's work that I did for my last lunch run.  It is a really hilly course through some busy city streets.  But, this was just the perfect afternoon for a run: 72 degrees, blue sky, and a light breeze.  This was a great run, and just an awesome way to break up the workday.  One funny thing did happen during my run -- some of my co-workers had gone to lunch and were on there way back to the office when they saw me cross the street in front of their car.  After I was well past their car they laid on the horn, and I didn't recognize them, let's just say that I engaged in some non-verbal communication in response to their horn.  After I recognized who it was I felt like the gesture was even more warranted!  Just kidding!

I generally ignore horns and all things yelled from car windows while I run, but if someone lays on the horn or goes out of their way to be a nuisance, they may elicit an occasional response from me.

How about you?  How do you react to people blowing horns, yelling at you, or splashing you while you run?

Any funny stories?  Please share.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Art Park Run: 10.7K

Greenway Trail with art exhibit in the distance.
I am entered in a 10k next week, and had never attempted the distance until today.  I wasn't sure if I would run the distance today because I had planned to run hard at yesterday's 5k.  However, since the course was messed up, I didn't really run all out.  Nonetheless, I still wasn't sure what I was going to run today until well after I left my apartment.  I thought about running on the Meredith college track, but once I got to the greenway I decided to run the Greenway to the Museum and then to run the loop around the museum twice.  I was sure of the exact distance but knew it would be over 10k and a more difficult run than next week's race course.  It was a really nice day for a run, a little chilly and a bit windy but sunny.

NC's longest pedestrian bridge which  is part of the Greenway.
This greenway is all hills, so it was a good chance to practice shortening my strides on the up hills.  My legs felt surprisingly fresh throughout the entire run.  I didn't try timing the run in order to avoid creating a certain level of expectation for myself at next wees race.  This run was just to see if I could handle the distance, which was no problem at all.  After I returned home I mapped the course and found out that I had past 10k the ease.  Overall, this run was exactly what I needed, just a nice long relaxing run on a nice day.  Next weeks 10k will just be me laying down a base time, so I just want to enjoy running as much as I can over the next week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Free to Breathe 5K Raleigh: WTF!!!???!! 4.34 K and Everyone Gets a PR!

OK.  Where to start?  I am trying not to childish about this event, but The Free to Breathe 5k was a waste of time.  I don't care about the money because it went to a good cause, but I would have been better off just donating the money and skipping the race.  The major issue was that they did not mark the course properly and neglected to post a volunteer at the most confusing part of the course, and the police officer directing traffic sent the runners in the wrong direction (which was not the officer's fault), and the course ended up being short around 3 or 4 tenths of a mile.  Honestly, there was only one difficult part of the course for people to know where to go and the organizers had not one person standing there, no cones, not a single sign!!!  Just B.S.!  I realized the course was not going in the direction laid out on the map, but thought maybe there had been a last minute change.  But, I realized that they had just made a mistake, when I ran to the second mile sign in around 4 minutes!!!  But I shouldn't have expect much when you consider that this is the Map the event organizer provided in the pre-race packet:

Who thinks that this is acceptable?
All they did was photo copy a campus map and draw on it with a sharpie!  As soon as I saw this I should have known not to register for this race!!  But, I was looking for an event nearby that fit in to my schedule.  Never again. 

warming up before the race
 Honestly this thing was just an all around mess from the start. The advance packet pick was poorly organized. They didn't have shirts in either XL or 2XL available at the advance pick up, which was annoying because I had driven across town to pick up a packet that was nothing more than my race bib. Someone did send out an e-mail apologizing for this, but at this point, it does little to salvage my opinion of their event.  Luckily, Hiro wasn't running, so she could hold my t-shirt and other promotionals while I ran otherwise it would have made things even more of a mess.  I saw lots of people that need to get there stuff then take it to their cars before they ran.  Also, they scheduled the first night of the advance packet pick for election day, which was just poor timing. Honestly, I didn't really mind this little stuff, but messing up the course annoyed me to say the least! What was most frustrating about it was that everything else to to with the race itself was well done, except having a person, some cone, or a sign at the most confusing part of the course. They had cones everywhere else, the start was orgainzed well with people holding signs showing where runner's should line up based on thier speed, and they had people at the mile marks calling out the times as you by. But, they just failed to put anyone at the point where the course is supposed to run a panhandle. Honestly, that's just crap! I was running pretty strong up until that point, but once I noticed that the course was messed up, I really didn't try to push myself because I knew that everyone was getting a PR out of this race.

Me getting a PR (also me pissed off)
 Hiro was so excited because she thought that I had just crushed it and ran the best race of my life, but she soon found out that I was not a happy camper.  I am not the type of person that gets angry easily, but this race made me mad.  I trained and expected to run in a 5k today, if there had been some sort of freak snow storm, or a power outage messed up the timing, no problem, but someone failing to make sure  that the course is run correctly just makes me nuts.  I am not the type of person, who can laugh this one off . . . at least not yet . . . because I know how much time and energy that I invested in running this race, and I feel like the organizers just didn't care enough about what the participants put into the race.  I may be wrong, but that is how I feel.  It just seemed to me that they didn't care about us as runners.  The crappy maps, messed up advance packet pick up, and a course being run wrong don't let me think otherwise. 

Looking forward to running in a 5k . . . oops.
I wonder if this has happened to any of you or how you would feel if it had? 

BTW: If offered a refund I would reject it outright.  Like I said, this has nothing to do with money, I happy that the money I paid will support a worthy cause.

I will post my official distance and time once they are up, but it honestly doesn't mean that much to me at this point.

4.34K my time was 22.05, but I didn't really push this.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hip Pointers, Dengue Fever, Color Blindness, and Taper Madness! 11/3

This is an old photo, but it is just about
 sums up how I feel on the inside right now.
 Not suffering from three of the four things in the title of this post.  Can you guess which one I have?  I am not sure if you can call it Taper Madness when you are just training for a 5k, but whatever it is, I've got it.  I have a race this weekend, and I am trying to reduce my running a bit, so instead of running my normal 3 miles on Wednesday, I just did about 1.5 miles which I split between the Treadmill and the indoor track.  I only did this to get a good warm up before hitting the foam roller and stretching.  I could feel my cranky left leg getting . . . well . . .cranky all day yesterday, which made the foam roller and a stretch seem inviting.  Everything went fine at the gym.  Then I went home and everything was fine there too.  But right before bed, the tendon that runs along the top of my left foot to my big toe started getting sharp pains.  It didn't feel like it was something that would last but after trying to walk it off, it just wouldn't go away.  Finally, I started to roll my feet as I was trying to go to sleep, and the pain went away or I fell asleep without noticing.  No matter, this morning when I woke up the foot was fine.  However, my right hip was sore.  Now, I have been alive for 30 some odd years, and I have had tons of aches and pains, but I can tell you for a fact that my right hip has never once hurt.  My right hip is like the English . . . no complaints . . . stiff upper lip and all that!  There is no reason for my right hip to be hurting even in the slightest.  Then, I am sitting at work sifting through my 112 unread e-mails and start feeling dizzy, which makes me wonder if I am getting sick, maybe it is caffeine withdraw, or two much caffeine, perhaps I should drinks some water, maybe I need some fresh air, could it be Dengue Fever? Maybe, I should adjust my chair . . .OK that didn't work, maybe I should adjust it back . . .OK let's dim the lights . . .Who Knows !?!  Call it what you will Taper Madness. Pre-race jitters, Greg being Greg, whatever it is . . . I just want to Fast forward to Saturday, so I can run this race!

Monday, November 1, 2010

nOg Run Club: 3 Miles & a Meal

Wow!  Can't tell you how much I enjoyed this run!  Hiro and I got to Tir Na Nog on time this week and were able to leave with the main group of runners at 6pm, and it was a blast.  Running through the streets like that was so much fun.  You could see people in their cars just wondering "what the heck is going on?" and "Where did all of these runners come from?"  It looked like some thing out of a Nike commercial, especially when you consider that people were running 3,4,5, and 6 mile courses that intersected or over lapped randomly.  You would be running along in your pack and then all of the sudden a group of ten or so runners would come out of nowhere, join you for a little bit, then you would veer off and they would keep going straight.  I didn't have any issues with staying on course, but I got a bit ahead of Hiro and she said that she nearly got lost once, but was able to see where the runners ahead of her had gone. We did the same 3 mile course as last week.  I was planning on sticking with her but found myself running really well, while she was struggling with the cold air in her lungs for the first mile; she kept waving me on and there was a guy who I was trying to keep up with, so I stopped worrying about sticking with her and just ran at the pace that felt comfortable.  The guy that I was trying to keep up with was clearly in better shape than me, but I was taller and had a longer stride.  He was able to pull away from me after the 2nd mile, but I was close to catching up with him when a traffic light caught me.  He finished about a half a block ahead of me, but I felt really good about my effort.  I expected that I would have to wait a while for Hiro, but she finished at a minute behind me, which I couldn't really believe because I was running a lot stronger than I had been recently.  She is so competitive!  Also, I am really proud of her for attending because she has to be up at 3am, tomorrow, so she can be at work by 5am!  Allstar !in my book

After our run, we saw one of Hiro Co-worker and her roommates, who were about to join the late comer's run.  Hiro got a Facebook message from them late that said they had a great time and will be back next week, so maybe we will start seeing more people that we know at these runs.  After a stretch we sat down to a nice warm plat of pasta, some bread, and salad.  It wasn't the best or worst thing that I have eaten, but for a buck, who am I to say a word!?!  It was great!  The nOg Run Club is a permanent addition to my weekly agenda!