Friday, December 30, 2011

11 Things I'll Remember About 2011

1. I fell in love and stayed in love with running.


When I started running seriously in January 2011, I hoped that I'd still be running regularly at the end of the year.  Part of me, however, doubted my ability to finish what I'd started and stick with it.  At that point, running was still something I had to make myself do.  Ticking off every training run gave me a huge sense of satisfaction, but I can't deny that it was difficult to drag myself out of bed on those cold winter mornings.  So I never would have guessed that by the end of this year, not only would I still be running, but I'd be the sort of person who HAD to run in order to feel good.  Running hooks you in like that.  Now, I don't see running as something that I hope I'll be doing a year from now, but something that I'm pretty sure I'll be doing for the rest of my life.



2. I discovered Prospect Park 


Living close to Prospect Park has literally changed my life.  It's beauty and energy never fail to inspire and invigorate me.  I've run in the park in pouring rain, snow, 90 degree heat,  fierce winds and sub zero temperatures.  



Taken during a run in the pouring rain - this
wasn't a pond it was a puddle!
I've run before dawn, and watched the sun rise over the frozen, snow covered lake. I've run after dusk while fireflies darted around my feet.  

Why wouldn't you want to run past scenery like this?
Running through the year and watching the park change through the seasons has been a privilege and a beautiful sight to behold. 

3. I ran my first road race


Registering for my first race was scary.  I went through all the usual 'I'll come last' fears and truly worried that I wouldn't finish.  But I did finish, and I didn't come last.  Signing up gave me a reason to keep training and strengthened my commitment to running.  And guess what? I found out that I love racing.  I'll never win a race (much to my kids' disappointment), but those of you who race already know that it's not about that.  For me racing gives me a goal to work towards and a huge sense of achievement.  Racing isn't about competing against anyone else other than yourself but that competition is the best kind of all.  Working hard in training to achieve a new distance or a a better time provides me with a physical and mental focus that I relish, and nothing beats the feeling of pushing yourself further than you thought you could go on race day.  

4. I ran my first (2) half-marathons


I signed up for my first half as a challenge to myself, and had absolutely no idea if I'd be able to make the distance.  I clearly remember the first time I ran a 5 mile distance early in my training.  It seemed like such a long way that I couldn't fathom running 13 miles.  But I got there.  Those training schedules are clever things - bit by bit you build your distance, until that 5 mile run seems like an easy day.  

Half marathons are tough, but so achievable to the novice runner.  I love the training as it provides me with a weekly mileage that keeps me fit and invigorated and long runs that build my endurance and belief in myself.  I'll be registering for a couple more this year, and can't wait to get down to training.

5. I got injured, did something about it and got better


Getting injured this year was a huge learning curve for me.  Not being able to run was incredibly frustrating and if it wasn't for the focus that my regular physiotherapy appointments gave me I think I'd have handled it a lot worse.  I really struggled with the loss of my running routine, the sanity and me time it afforded me and the loss of my fitness.  I was determined to get better and get back to running, not least as I still had 3 of my 9+1 races to complete before the end of the year.

According to my physiotherapist, 90% of physiotherapy is turning up.  If you turn up, do the work and stick to your exercises, you'll get better.  He's right.  Having physio 3 times a week while I couldn't run gave me a focus and a plan.  I turned up, I did the work, I felt like nothing was getting any better at all for AGES, and then suddenly, I turned a corner.  

Now I continue to do the exercises I was taught, although admittedly, not as often as I should, and I've learned to listen to what my body is telling me.  To rest when it tells me to, to strength train when it feels weak, to stretch and ice when it's tight or sore.  I still have some pain, but it's not stopping me from running, and I hope that with time, the pain will go for good. My fitness is not where it was prior to my injury, but I'm coming back, and hoping that I'll be ready to challenge that half-marathon PR next spring. 


6.  My kids ran their first races (and loved them)


They're already asking when they can run their next races - see if you can spot the future track stars....

video


video


7. I lost weight and kept it off without dieting


Life is too damn short to deny yourself the things you like to eat and drink.  I will never be able to live a life where I have to say no to food for fear of putting on weight. 2011 was the year I discovered that I don't have to.  That I can maintain a healthy weight without dieting or obsessing.  That all I have to do is eat sensibly, have a treat when I want it, and cut back the next day if I go overboard.  Adding running to this mix gave me a stronger and healthier body than I've ever had in my adult life and actually put me in a mind frame where I prefer to eat healthily (who knew?!).  So as I sit here with a Christmas induced expansion of my waistline, I couldn't care less.  Because once my training gets back into full swing in the new year, my body will get back into the shape I want to be in.

8.  I started a blog


...and struggled to find the time to write it!  In the early days of My Mum Runs, I put a huge amount of effort into getting posts online as frequently and regularly as possible.  But it's hard work and I put too much pressure on myself.    I have to say that I wrestled with my insecurities and I often wondered who on earth really wanted to know what I thought or had to say.  It doesn't help when there are so many great blogs out there.  But hey, this blog is a document of my life, as well as a potential resource for others like me, so I'll keep writing, I just can' t promise how prolific I'll be.  For those who have followed and commented - thank you so much.  I've loved hearing your feedback and your own stories and I really appreciate your support.

9 I embraced social media


A couple of years ago, I couldn't have given a hoot about facebook or  twitter.  It wasn't until I moved abroad that they became lifelines to my friends and family back home.  What I didn't anticipate, was how much twitter, in particular, and other sites like Daily Mile would help me to discover a new running community and feel part of a runner's support network.  Through social media I've found real people to run with and a real sense of belonging, both to a like-minded group of runners and to my greater community of NYC.  My virtual world has expanded my real life and I'm so grateful for that.

10. I got my first road bike.  




The birthday fairy was VERY kind to me this year and I'm already using my (scarily fast) bike to cross train and speed around the Prospect Park loop.  I'm planning on competing in my first triathlon this year so am reading as much as I can and looking for the right training plan.  I'm so excited to see how triathlon training will change my body and my fitness and most of all I'm excited to improve my swimming and finally get over my fear of swimming in open water. 

11. I qualified for the NYC 2012 marathon!


Thought you might have been wondering.  Well I did it! 





Race Name, Date
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif

 Dist.
(miles)
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif

Gun
Time
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif

Net
Time
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif

Pace
per Mile
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif
Overall Place/
Total
Finishers
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif
Gender Place/
Total
Females
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif
Age Place/
Total
in Age Grp.
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif

Age-Grd.
Time
http://web2.nyrrc.org/aes-programs/results/vars/spacer.gif

Perf.
%
Volunteer Credit
December 31, 2011

VQ VQ 
VQ VQ 

   
   
   

  
Jingle Bell Jog
December 10, 2011
3.7
38:26 
35:18 
9:32 
2823 / 5775 
1309 / 3481 
158 / 469 

  
Join The Voices! 5M
December 4, 2011
5.0
57:03 
51:57 
10:23 
3984 / 5005 
1829 / 2568 
299 / 441 
50:44 
47.6% 
Race to Deliver
November 20, 2011
4.0
47:26 
41:34 
10:23 
3334 / 4500 
1574 / 2390 
261 / 381 
40:36 
47.3% 
Run For Central Park 4m
July 16, 2011
4.0
42:21 
37:52 
9:28 
3333 / 5236 
1194 / 2565 
484 / 1013 
36:59 
51.9% 
NYRR New York Mini 10K
June 11, 2011
6.2
1:00:23 
58:34 
9:26 
2095 / 4767 
2095 / 4767 
342 / 796 
57:12 
53.0% 
Brooklyn Half Marathon
May 21, 2011
13.1
2:17:02 
2:09:59 
9:55 
4143 / 5921 
1720 / 3036 
240 / 487 
2:06:25 
52.0% 
NYRR 4-Mile
April 23, 2011
4.0
41:34 
36:15 
9:03 
2968 / 5161 
945 / 2371 
128 / 342 
35:24 
54.3% 
More/Fitness Half-Marathon
April 3, 2011
13.1
2:22:13 
2:15:55 
10:22 
3552 / 7508 
3552 / 7508 
533 / 1082 
2:12:11 
49.8% 
NYRR Al Gordon Classic (4M)
February 26, 2011
4.0
45:59 
40:29 
10:07 
3002 / 3994 
1182 / 1840 
187 / 295 
39:32 
48.6% 


I ran my 9 NYRR races culminating in the festive Jingle Bell Jog - here's me seconds from the finish, running my fastest pace since my injury:

video


Those 9 races plus my volunteer credit have guaranteed my place in next year's NYC marathon.  I cannot wait.


Watching this year's marathon filled me with so much emotion and excitement, if I make it through the training I'm sure to be a wreck on the day!  But I did it.  I got my qualification,  finished what I started and I did what I set out to do.

This time next year, I could be a marathoner.  

How about that?

Happy new year and here's to a 2012 that lives up to all your hopes and dreams.

Love,

Lindsay x

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Catching Up

Blimey, it's been a long time since I posted anything, hasn't it?

I'm sure it must have appeared that I'd dropped off the planet, but in reality I've just been super busy and finding time to blog has been pretty difficult. What with my kids both starting new schools, my husband working away a lot and my in-laws visiting, it's been all I can do to keep things ticking over. Whilst I've stuck to my running training religiously (well as religiously as an atheist can), I'm no superwoman and I've just not had the extra energy to finish a thought in my head, never mind write a blog post.

So you have my apologies. Sorry. Will try not to do it again, promise.

Anyhoo...

There's a lot to catch up on. There's good stuff and bad stuff. So let's get started.

I've been training pretty hard, aiming for my third half marathon of the year, the Staten Island Half, which takes place on October 9th. So, for the last 11 or so weeks, I've been running 4-5 times a week, with three 3-4 mile easy runs, one speed work out and one long run every week. This has all been in an attempt to break the 2 hour mark at the S.I. Half.

To give you an idea, a recent week of training looked like this:

Sunday 3 miles easy (10.24 pace)
Monday 3 miles easy (10.24 pace)
Tuesday 6 miles tempo
(1 mile warm up, 4 miles at 8.54 min mile,
1 mile cool down)
Wednesday 3 miles easy
Thursday rest
Friday 11 mile long run (10.24 pace)
Saturday rest
TOTAL 26 miles

It's been great. I've noticed a big difference in my fitness and have dreaded and loved my speed work outs in equal measure. Before this training plan, I'd never attempted 'tempo runs' or 'mile repeats'. Those kind of runs were for proper runners. Well, I suppose I'm a proper runner now. I've even found my way to the local track for some of my speed sessions, which has been fantastic.


At times I've had to pinch myself. Little old me, bombing around a race track, who'd have thought it, eh?

Two things have really helped with my training:

First, I've finally embraced what technology has to offer runners, and have bought myself a Garmin Forerunner 305. It's not the newest model (which means you can get it on sale), but I don't care because I love it and am totally addicted to it. It can do all sorts of fancy pants things, but I use it to track my distance, my pace and my mile splits. Plus I can hook it up to Daily Mile when I get home and record my route, distance and speed, providing me with a perfect online and shareable training journal. I love the freedom it gives me to run where I want to, without having to plot out a route ahead of time. I run and the Garmin tells me when I've covered the miles I intended to cover. Genius!

Secondly, I've continued to train regularly with the lovely Majo, a running buddy I met through Twitter and Daily Mile. Majo has been doing the same training schedule as me and is also planning on running the Staten Island Half, so it's been great to run with someone who is at the same level and who I get on with so well. It's made both the short easy runs and the not so short not so easy runs an absolute pleasure. Majo is also a fantastic writer and has her own blog, so check it out.

So, it's all been going pretty well. Or rather it had been going pretty well, until 10 days ago.

The day before the 5th Avenue Mile race, which I was SO looking forward to, I set off on a 13 mile long run with Majo. I was really looking forward to chalking up the half marathon distance before running the race. It was to be the ultimate confidence booster. We had planned to take in both the Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges, running from Park Slope in Brooklyn to Manhattan and home again. Earlier in the week I'd completed my most intense speed session yet, a 7 mile tempo run, which after a mile warm-up had me running at just under a 9 minute mile pace for 5 miles. My iliotibial band (ITB) had played up the next day, giving me some knee pain and instability, but it hadn't stopped me running an easy 4 miles.

So, when 4 miles into my long run I started to feel hip and knee pain and a tightness in my ITB, I was not amused, and to be honest I knew what was coming. I've had problems with my left ITB before, often due to weaknesses elsewhere in my body (rubbish core and hip strength, for example). Despite plenty of walk breaks and stretching, the pain just got worse, and totally disappointed and disheartened, I had to say goodbye to Majo on the Williamsburg bridge.

Anyway, fast forward 10 days and I've had to totally scale down my training. I sat out the 5th Avenue Mile, which was GUTTING. I've missed my speed work out, and have managed just a 3 mile, 2 mile and 4 mile run this week. I've iced, foam rolled, stretched and repeated. I've even forked out for a (bloody wonderful) sports massage. Today's long run was the deciding factor. I was scheduled to run 11 miles, a distance that I'd run easily and happily just a few weeks before. I figured that if I couldn't run that today, I'd have no chance of running the Staten Island Half. So, I set off gently and covered the first 4 miles slowly and comfortably, heading again towards Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge (it's my favourite long run route, what can I tell you?). Anyway, no sooner had I hit Broadway, than things started to seize up again. My hip, my leg and then my knee. I battled on for another couple of miles until I had to be sensible and give up at just past the 6 mile mark. After 12 weeks of training for it, Staten Island is not going to happen for me this year.

It is SO frustrating. My fitness is fine. My fitness is good, in fact. I felt fresh and full of energy - which I suppose I'm bound to after effectively tapering this week due to my decreased mileage. But when the ITB says no, I have to listen. The last time I didn't listen and ran through the ITB pain, I couldn't run at all for months, that eventually turned into years.

But onward and upward. I'm trying to be positive and not let it get me down. There are other races, in fact I have to compete in a minimum of 3 more this year to fulfill my 9+1 guaranteed entry conditions - I do not want to blow that and forfeit my NYC 2012 Marathon chances. So I will ice, stretch and foam roll. I will rest, cross train and strength train. And I'll get some physio, because my oh so expensive health insurance covers it. Lots of it. There's the silver lining, eh?

So watch this space. Just because I haven't achieved my goal, I'm not going to let it get to me. I'll just set myself some new goals:

1. Sort out my ITB

2. Strength train and cross train to reduce my injury risk
(I'm thinking I might try me a boot camp and some of that spinning malarkey)

3. Finish my 9+1 races

4. Set a PR on a 5K or 4 mile race by the end of the year.

There. Goals. Got some. That was easy.

Onward and upward, my friends, onward and upward.....

x




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Streets Make Me Feel Fine

As you'll know from my recent Brooklyn Bridge love-fest, I'm all for the Manhattan bound long run these days. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about Summer Streets. I'm not just talking about the sunny NYC sidewalks here, but the totally brilliant initiative brought to the people of New York City by the touchy, feely, let's get greeny NYC Dept Of Transportation.

For 3 consecutive Saturdays in August, a route connecting Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park is closed to traffic, allowing runners, cyclists and walkers to take over the street and run, bike or stroll their way through New York City. The route, starting at my beloved bridge, takes in Lafayette Street, 4th Avenue and then a long stretch of Park Avenue, before it hangs a left off Park Avenue to end at the 72nd street entrance to Central Park.
With an 8 mile long run on my schedule for last weekend, it seemed the stars had aligned to provide me with both a route and a reason so I made a plan to run from my home, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, up to Central Park, taking the Summer Streets route through the Manhattan stretch. Mindful of the amount of time my running can keep me away from my family, I arranged with my husband to meet him and the kids at Central Park. That way we could have breakfast in the park, play with the kids and a have a walk back down the Summer Streets route. Perfect!

I set off around 7.45am, as I wanted to beat both the crowds and the heat, although in reality, neither of them turned out to be a problem. With LCD Soundsystem as my soundtrack, I arrived at Brooklyn Bridge within around half an hour (my training plan called for a 10.30 pace the whole way). That's where I hit the first wave of runners, who clearly had the same idea as me, although they were running en masse in the opposite direction. The bridge was literally full to capacity with group runners, and I had a few near misses with cyclists when I was forced into the cycling lane by the sheer volume of people.

Once I hit Manhattan soil, I made a sharp right and quickly spotted the start of the Summer Streets route.
I happily abandoned the pavement and began my journey along the middle of the road. Within a couple of minutes, I arrived at the first 'rest stop' at Foley Street. Whilst I had no intention of needing or taking a rest stop, I had to take the opportunity of getting picture of these guys for you. Cool, eh?
Just as I turned back onto the road to continue running, I saw a familiar face running towards me. It was my new running friend, Majo, who I met through Twitter and have been running with for the last couple of weeks. She was on a group run with Prospect Park Track Club (who I'm itching to join), so once we had got over the surprise of bumping into each other, I continued with Majo and her team mates, following the rest of her club further north up Lafayette St.
Majo is fantastic to run with. We pace really well together, and the conversation flows beautifully, so the miles just seemed to fly by.

We continued north, and by now my pace was pretty much set to automatic, which just feels really wonderful - it's that point in a run when you feel you could just keep going forever. We passed Soho, Union Square and its buzzing farmer's market, then onward up Park Avenue. Crossing 34th St I caught a glimpse of Macy's to my left, a shop I'm no stranger to, although I usually get there by subway! We pressed on, all the time aware of how beautifully quiet and peaceful our run was, the only sounds I heard were those of feet hitting pavement, or bikes wooshing past, of talking and breathing and laughing. I can't recall hearing the sound of traffic at all, although I'm sure I must have.

The next big landmark was the approach to Grand Central Station, usually a traffic hotspot, but today empty but for us lucky few.
The route took us around the perimeter of the building, bringing us downward through a tunnel to emerge again on Park Ave.
At this point, I said goodbye to Majo, who, having started her run at a different spot to me, had clocked her 8 miles. I carried on running with her team mates, until they also took their leave in search of a pit stop.

Left to my own devices and with around half a mile to go, I stopped to make a little video, to give you all an idea of just how quiet Park Avenue was that day:

video
I completed my 8th mile before the end of the course, but feeling good decided to run on to the end as there was only a half mile or so to go until the finish. And here I am, job done!
Then there was just the small matter of finding Paul and the kids, who it turned out were only a block or two away. Poppie was so excited by the whole thing that she even had a little run along 72nd street with me, along the last part of the course. Definitely the highlight of the day for me - I felt like my heart would burst with pride.

The last Summer Streets is this Saturday between 7am and 1pm. It's a totally unique and peaceful way to see the city, and I'd absolutely recommend it to runners and non-runners alike. So, whether you have a long run planned, or just fancy a family outing with the kids (I saw tons of families with their children in strollers, or on bikes or scooters) make the most of the Department Of Transport's generosity and go and enjoy yourself!