Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Training during the Christmas Season

Houston Marathon is January 15th, that is my next big race.  I am realizing that January may not be the best time for me to run a marathon since the real meat of the training needs to happen in December.  December is a tough month for most people, add in that I have craft sales (last week included one on Tuesday night, then another Fri, Sat, and Sun) and Christmas orders to get done...  Last week my training included:  Monday-  total body conditioning and 30 minutes of stairs, Tuesday rest day, Wed was total body conditioning and  6+ miles including 8 x 40 second hill repeats, Thursday 40 minutes of stairs getting progressively faster over the course of 3 rolling hills, Friday I wanted to run 9 with 5 at half marathon pace, but I ran out of time so ran 4.5 with 3 at a fast pace (7:06, 6:46, 6:40), Saturday rest, Sunday 18 after dark (on a gloriously warm December evening) about 1 minute slower than marathon pace.  Not exactly the training week I was hoping for, but still quite a bit of quality.

I've been noticing my stress fracture site a little bit since NYCM, so I will try to be careful.  Last year after my second fall marathon I could feel the site of my pelvic stress fracture acting up a bit.  I ended up having to drastically cut back my running to make sure I made it to Boston safely.  I really want to try to avoid that this year if I can.  I may shift into a LRE (long run equivalent) rather than a long run this week, meaning that I will do cardio for the amount of time it would take me to get in a 20 mile run trying to keep the intensity equal to or greater than I would have running.  Last year my LREs frequently included stairs, spin class, and some elliptical.  Occasionally I took my LRs to the snow and did them on snow shoes.  Based on the weather so far this week, I won't be hitting snow shoes for the LR(E) this week.

So far this week has started well.  Yesterday I did total body conditioning, 15 minutes of stairs, followed by yoga.  After the 18 on Sunday, I had been feeling tight, so I decided yoga would be a good call on Monday.  Today I can feel the last few days, I am tight and sore between the shoulder blades, my glutes are a little sore, I can feel my inner thighs...  I guess I did some good work yesterday.  Today I got in a very comfortable 6.5 with friends.  I still have to figure out when the LR(E) will happen since I would like to do a 5 mile race on Sunday and may get the chance to do a VO2 Max test on Thursday.  I'm pretty sure that this week will be a bit less hectic than last week was, so I should be able to fit the workouts in.

This morning I had been intending to work on one of my Christmas orders, but I ended up doing something far more valuable- made soup and some stuffed acorn squash.  Having healthy home made food to eat should make this week a lot easier to get through.  I still need to find time to do that order, and a few others, also need to get the house cleaned and decorated to be ready for an open house next Monday.  I don't anticipate having a ton of free time soon, but I think I should get everything done in time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Craft Show, Trying to Figure out How to Do It Right

This weekend I have another craft show.  Last spring I realized that I wasn't selling enough on Esty, so I decided I needed to have other avenues to generate sales.  I think that craft shows are a good opportunity for people to become familiar with my work.  I always hope that I will sell well at a craft show, but even if I don't, I take heart that I handed out more business cards.  Then there is the hope that the person will like my page on facebook, go to my Etsy page,  get something later...

This is still just my first year doing craft shows.  I am in the process of figuring out what types of things sell, what gets people to stop and look, if there is a certain price point that sells better than higher or lower...  I have noticed some trends, a few designs that I have sold multiple times, but things vary a lot from show to show.  I think the key may be in trying to figure out what demographic goes to which shows.  I know I did very well this summer at Boulderfest.  It was a fairly young crowd there out to enjoy the music, I also think that the beer consumption didn't hurt my sales.

This will be my first indoor show.  I know I will have a little less space, so I need to figure out how to display everything in an eye catching, compact way.  Also with the cooler weather I have decided to include crocheted hats and sewn scarves.  I figure they may help widen the appeal of my work, maybe some of the people not interested in jewelry may want something warm and soft...  (I'm still amused that I got 3 college credits learning how to crochet.  But it is a skill I use more than many of the things others learn in college.)

Some craft shows are very expensive to get a booth, sometimes more than $300, while others are as little as $15.  Usually the ones that cost more have more people coming through, but it takes a lot of sales to make up for a $300 registration fee.  I have had a few people suggest that I try to sell my marathon prints at the expo for the race, but those booths cost $1600-$3500.  I would have to sell sooo many prints to come out ahead with those fees.  Choosing shows so far has been a matter of what fits into my schedule around the races I already had planned, what looks like it might be a good event, what isn't too expensive, what I don't have to drive too far to get to...  Next year, I'll be able to make some more educated choices based on the shows I participated in this year but I still have a lot to learn.  

So far, I think this first year of not being employed full time has been going pretty well.  I have managed to stay current on my bills while getting to participate in a few races that involved travel.  I have had flexibility to shift my work schedule to accommodate the shows, family visits, races.  I have created quite a few new pieces, learned a bit about marketing, social media, and seen how supportive some of  my friends are.  I still have much to learn and improve on, but I am off to a good start.  

Oh yeah, if you want to swing by the craft show it is in Webster at the American Legion on Ridge Road Saturday from 11-4.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5 Boroughs in under 4 Hours

This weekend I ran the New York City Marathon.  Since I had just run a PR marathon 3 weeks before, I had decided that this would just be a fun run.  I had no idea how fast that fun run would be going into this weekend, not certain what my legs had in them, didn't know what it would be wise to try to run...  I had a bunch of friends also running the race who I met up with a number of different times over the weekend.  One of them, Elizabeth, was hoping to run 3:40.  That sounded like a good pace to be able to enjoy the city, and I really enjoy having company while I run, so I decided to run with her.

Lizzy was in the back of the first wave in the green corrals, I was supposed to be in the back of the blue corrals also first wave.  I was allowed to drop back to where she was starting rather than try to meet up with her on the course.  Her husband, Steve, was also running with her.  When I got the athletes village, I needed to drop my bag of stuff for after the race before heading to the green corrals.  I realized I had left my GPS in the bag but decided that was fine since this was just a fun run. I was very happy when I spotted Lizzy and Steve coming into the corral.  We decided to wait at the start line after the others had crossed to try to let the course clear out a bit. They played the Sinatra song New York, New York as the race started which prompted Lizzy and I to high kick like the Rockettes.  The last of the people in front of us crossed the line about 4 minutes after the gun, we waited until 10 minutes after the gun.  Seeing the start area after the people cleared our was just amazing.

The green start is just before the Verrazano Bridge, on the lower level.  In big races like this each runner's time doesn't start until that runner crosses the start line.  So, at 9:50 we were off and our time started.  There is quite a climb up the bridge in the first mile, it was hard to gauge our pace especially since Lizzy and Steve's GPS watches weren't doing well on the lower level of the bridge.  Before we had even crested the bridge we had started catching some of the Achilles athletes (athletes with disabilities and their guides).  It was inspiring seeing them out there, some blind, some amputees, some deaf... running, enjoying the day, achieving so much.  

The view off the bridge and a few of the Achilles Runners.

As we passed the first few mile markers, we realized that we were running a bit faster than goal pace.  Steve and I were trying to let Lizzy set the pace but wanted to be sure she knew what type of pace we were setting.  The roads were pretty open for a while, especially since the green start does a long dog leg that the other starts don't run.  Around mile 4 we merged into the road where the others were, but we were still separated from them by a divider in the center of the road.  There were quite a few people in costumes, we saw a pimp, a colonial woman, a really wacky raggedy Ann, a bunch of grapes...  

As we ran we commented on the fun signs, the loud spectators, the strange running gates.  Once we joined the crowd, we were on one of the few long straight ways of the race.  You could see a mass of people both ahead and behind.  It was such a beautiful day, sunny, blue skies, very little wind, not too hot, just amazing.  We got water or gatorade at most of the water stops, grabbing a cup, moving beyond the volunteers, and walking once we could get out of the way of other runners.  We did a good job staying together, not necessarily right on each other's shoulders, but within sight.  Lizzy and Steve had matching shirts for Williams College, so we would hear cheers for teams Williams which would always bring a smile to my face.  

Most areas along the course had a good number of fans.  Around mile 8 there was a school band playing Rocky.  There were quite a few different bands along the course playing many styles of music.  Some neighborhoods were a little quieter.  In one of these quiet sections there was a lady with a stroller who managed to cross an uphill cross walk without making any of the runners miss a step.  The course was starting to get a little more crowded, but we still had plenty of room to move.  We had been told that there was a large number of port a potties just before the Pulaski Bridge around mile 13.  I decided to take advantage of that, then catch back up to my friends.  There was a little wait to get into one of the johns, so it ended up taking me a little over a mile to catch back up.  

The Pulaski Bridge signaled the end of Brooklyn and the beginning of Queens.  We still were moving along at a good clip, but weren't way under pace anymore.  For some reason I was very hungry during this race.  I had drunk Ultra Fuel before I started and taken a gel at mile 5 and mile 10, but I wanted more.  I grabbed a half a banana.  The Queensboro Bridge came up quickly.  There weren't any spectators on the bridge and it was dark, quite a change from where we had just been.  The climb was pretty long, but it wasn't overwhelming.  I kept looking out the side of the bridge trying to see Roosevelt Island since I knew the climb would be over when we were at the island.  

Coming down the bridge was steep and fast.  There were signs on the edge of the bridge saying "if easy means 10 miles left, then welcome to easy!"  Welcome to Manhattan.
Coming down off the Queensboro Bridge was the first time I noticed the crowding, we really had to slow down to make the turn at the bottom of the bridge.  Then we were in our 4th borough, Manhattan.  First Ave spread out in front of us, another one of the long straight stretches.  It was in this stretch that Lizzy said she needed to stop talking and focus for a while.  We continued along at around an 8:30 pace, the mile markers seeming to come quickly.  The road was wide and the spectators were loud.  Mile 17 had the water stop that also had sponges, I grabbed one to wipe my face, then tucked it into my pocket.  I was still hungry, I had been eating my shot blocks, but decided to also take one of the gels that were handed out around mile 18.  I managed to get a raspberry one, which I had been aiming for since I knew it was one of the ones that didn't have caffeine.  When I ate it, I was reminded why I no longer buy power gel, it is so sweet...  

Next we hit the Willis Street Bridge which lead us into the Bronx.  There were roller bladers crossing the bridge in the opposite direction hollering "Welcome to the Bronx."  Somehow Steve and Lizzy got ahead of me crossing the bridge even though I thought they were behind me. I heard someone shout out Williams which was how I realized they were in front.  There was a band just before we left the Bronx, I didn't hear what they were playing but did see the costumes.   

Then we were crossing our last bridge and heading back into Manhattan.  I shouted out that it was our last bridge.  Mile 21, getting so close.  5th avenue was lined with people, which was good, because it included a long climb.  I felt pretty good still, but I could tell it was feeling hard for Lizzy.  The course was getting more crowded.  Many people around us had slowed more than we had so we were weaving through people to keep our pace.  Steve told Lizzy that she could still PR even if she slowed to 9s.  We kept going and entered Central Park for the first time.  

I saw Steve offer Lizzy a cup from one of the water stations.  He was trying to take care of her.  The course rolled through the park, I really enjoyed this part.  We passed the 24 and the 25 mile mark in this stretch.  Lizzy was staying strong, it felt like we were picking up the pace some.  Then we were back out onto Central Park South.  We were really having to weave to get through the crowds now.  Columbus Circle was ahead, time to turn back into the park.  There was a screen showing the runners as we reentered the park, which was not great placement since there was a curb there.  I saw a lady being helped back up after she tripped over the curb.  

We were in the final stretch, a few more rollers, then we would be done.  We passed the 26 mile mark, the 200 yard mark, Steve and Lizzy grabbed hands, 100 yards to go, they lifted their hands in triumph as they crossed the finish line together.  We remembered to head to the left so our friend Rick could give us our medals.  There we ran into another friend, Ann who had finished just a little bit ahead of us.  It was such a nice race shared with friends.  Lizzy got a new PR and we were able to share her accomplishment.  

After the finish line we had to walk for quite a while to get out medals, our mylar blankets, our snacks, our drop bags...  not a port o potty in sight.  We recovered our stuff and headed out to the street.  Unfortunately there was quite a line at Shake Shack, so I didn't get a treat there.  

I really enjoy running, sharing the road with friends.  I would recommend this race, it was beautiful and fun.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Never Talk about Religion or Politics...

So, I guess I'm not going to follow that adage...  Even though I was raised in a church going family, I would say I wasn't a Christian.  I only became a Christian a little before I turned 25.  I rarely attended church after I got into high school.  I didn't see the relevance and had other things I was interested in.  Religion rarely crossed my mind in anything other than an academic way during college.  I remember in one religion class having so much trouble getting through the chapters in the Bible I was supposed to read.  I couldn't focus, didn't understand...

After college I thought about religion enough to realize I didn't want to date a Christian since he would have such different motivations and beliefs than I had.  Well, that plan didn't last too long.  I ended up dating a guy who was a Catholic.  After about three 3 months of being with him, I figured I should go to church with him since it was important to him and he was important to me.  I was raised Methodist, so the Catholic service had quite a few things that were different.  I was not very comfortable there.  We went together a few times, but he could tell I was not comfortable.

One of his friends, who went to a non-denominational church and sometimes played in the worship band there, invited us to his church.  I was so much more comfortable there and my boyfriend liked it as well.  The people there were very friendly, the service was simple, the message was clear and relevant.  That was the first time that I had heard that the Bible was more than just stories, that it was truth, that it was applicable to my life.

I didn't have a quick breakthrough.  I listened for a few months, hearing the stories, hearing the message, reading the word (I was able to read through books of the Bible with focus and some understanding), listening to Christian radio.  I also read other books.  Some of the things that I had to get around before accepting and believing were my belief that Christians were unscientific and my belief that I was a pretty good person.  One of the other books that I read helped me to see that Christianity isn't unscientific and that many scientists act on faith rather than just on proven scientific fact.  Through reading and listening I realized that I was using the wrong comparison, I may have been pretty good compared to other people, but I needed to compare myself to the sinless perfection of God.  When I made that comparison, I realized that I fall very short.

Eventually I realized my need for a savior.  I prayed confessing my sin and asking for forgiveness.  I still had doubts and still have some now, but I know that God is at work in my life.  He has gotten me through some very tough times (including the loss of that boyfriend and his subsequent marriage to a friend) and given me hope.  Before I trusted God, I did not have hope, I couldn't see a future.  I still don't know what my future holds, but I trust that there is a purpose.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Columbus Marathon

To claim this:  GHSU5TSEU99M
This past weekend I ran my 15th marathon.  I chose Columbus for this marathon because it would give me the chance to hang out with a bunch of my friends who don't live near me.  As a bonus, it was the same weekend as the marathon a lot of my local friends were training for so our training schedules would coordinate.  Some marathons I sign up for are goal races, meaning I am training to try to run a new personal best time there, and some races are just fun runs. I went into Columbus intending it to be a goal race, unless the weather looked like a good race would not be possible.  Looking at long range forecasts as the race drew nearer, the predicted temps looked close to ideal, probably overcast (also a good thing), low chance of rain, but possible high winds, which could be a problem.

I was looking forward to hanging out with my friends for the weekend but getting a bit nervous about trying to run a fast race.  My stated goal was to try to break 3:20, which would mean I would have to average 7:37 per mile.  I still haven't wrapped my head around the idea that my body can run under 8 minute miles for that long.  Until last November my best pace for a marathon was 8:13 per mile.  I still remember when I first ran faster than 8 minute miles for a 10k (6.2 miles) not that many years ago.  But, my times have gotten a lot quicker since I was injured a little less than 2 years ago.  I had put some of my recent race results for shorter races into a pace predictor,  and they said times a few minutes faster than my goal were possible which made me feel a little more confident.

Race morning Abby and I drove into the city from our friend Kristina's house to meet up with our friends before the race.  Without too much trouble we found parking and headed to the meet up spot.  Just as we started to walk away from the car, I remembered to take my immodium ( it really helps my stomach during races and hard runs).  Where we met had real toilets, so we all used them before heading out to the start.  As we headed to the corrals we passed some port-o-potties with minimal lines, so we made one more stop.  Getting into the corrals was easy, and it wasn't terribly crowded.  There was a live band playing as we waited for the start, which was nice.  As the time drew closer Amy and Kari took off their throwaway warm clothes and I dropped my mylar blanket.  It was a little chilly waiting, which boded well for a comfortable running temp.  The wind was blowing a bit, but nothing like it had the day before.  We were just about ready to go.

The national anthem was sung and the gun went off, followed by a decent little display of fireworks.  It was a chip timed race, but I decided to start my watch when the gun went off rather than when I crossed the start line.  I did watch the clock as I approached the start line to see about how long it took me to get across, I noted a little over 30 seconds.  Time to get moving, but not too fast.  My plan was to try to run a negative split, meaning I wanted to run the second half of the race faster than I had run the first half. So I had decided to try to run the first 6 miles slower than goal pace then try to settle in.  I was looking for 7:50, 7:50, 7:45, 7:45, 7:40, 7:40, then down to around 7:32.  I decided to use a different screen on my garmin (the gps watch I wear which keeps track of pace, distance...) and had it showing average lap pace to try to keep things where I wanted them.  According to the marathon tracking I averaged 7:43 for the first 10k, I'd say I was pretty close to the pacing I was looking for.

I like talking to people as I run, so I struck up a conversation a few times.  There was a tall girl I was near for a bit of the first couple miles who had a pace band on, so I asked her what she was shooting for.  She was looking for a 1:40 half, so I said I would be willing to work together with her for it since I wanted to come through the half at about that time.  We ran together for a couple miles through some really pretty upscale neighborhoods.  It was her first half marathon, she had run in college.  After a couple of miles, she was picking up the pace a little more than I wanted to, so I let her go.  Mile 7 was still a little slower than pace, so I just concentrated on getting the pace down for mile 8 and beyond.  In the next mile or so, I ran for a little bit with a guy hoping for a 3:20.  But again, he wanted to pick up the pace before I was ready to, so I let him go.  There were a couple other ladies that I ran with for a little while, but our paces didn't line up for long, so mostly I ran by my self.  A little after mile 9 Kristy and Kim were out cheering for us.  Then just shortly after that I had a hair malfunction, one of my barrettes slipped out of my hair.  At least I still had the small clip in the front that kept the hair out of my eyes.  Around mile 10 I caught up with the girl who was looking for the 1:40 half, she seemed to have slowed down a bit.  I saw Kim and Kristy again a little before the 13 mile mark, it was nice to have people I knew out there cheering.  I came through the half in 1:40:08, the miles between the 10k and the 1/2 were a 7:35 pace, very happy to be just slower than half of what I wanted to run.

I was feeling very good at halfway through.  I started to let myself speed up a little, and started talking to a guy who was hoping for around a 3:20, but didn't think he had trained for that.  We had a couple good miles before he decided I was going a little too fast for him.  I was still paying attention to my average pace, but around mile 17 my garmin said the lap database was almost full (I had just emptied some of the older records before the race, but I guess that wasn't enough) so I had to switch back to my normal display screen.  There were clocks at each mile marker, so as I passed each I would figure out how much faster I was going than 8 minute pace.  I knew that if I got my time to 10 minutes total below the time an 8 minutes pace would yield, that I would finish in under 3:20.  It was satisfying to realize that my average pace kept dropping,  by mile 20, my average pace was faster than I needed to get my goal.  The miles between the half and 20 were 7:31 pace.

I was still feeling pretty good, time for the last 10k.  I tried to pick it up a little more.  Every once in a while we turned into the wind, but fortunately we always turned out of it quickly.  After we hit the halfway point, very few people passed me. I kind of targeted the women in front of me to see if I could catch up.  During the race I had taken gels at mile 5, 10, and 15, then started taking one shot block every 2 miles around mile 18.  I was carrying a hand bottle of water that I would sip on as I needed, and I took probably 6 or so cups of gatoraid from aid stations (and walked for a few steps as I drank).  I also had used Ultra Fuel before the race, 7 scoops in 32 ozs of water 3 hours before the start.  I think my fueling was good and my hydration.  I still felt pretty good going into the last 5k, so again I tried to pick it up a little.  I was starting to get weary, counting down the minutes until the finish.  Less than 20 minutes, less than 15, less than 10, I can keep pushing.  Then Kristy pops up running right next to me.  She told me I was looking strong, maybe could even go 3:16 or 3:17, to which I said it would be 3:18 based on when I had passed the mile markers.  I got to find out from her how well Abby had done and that Amy, Kari, and Chris were all running well.  I asked her how much farther it was until the downhill, so she described what I had left.  She ran with me, encouraging me until just before the finish shoot.  I gave all I had to get across the line and finished in 3:17:47.  Such a good race.  That last section was run at a 7:24pace.

After getting through the finish shoot I found Amy's husband Todd and Abby.  We talked about how our races had gone and anxiously waited for the others to finish.  I headed over to the port-o-potties rejoicing that  I hadn't needed a stop during the race.  As I walked back, I ran into Amy and Kari who had both run really good races.  I brought them to where Todd and Abby were waiting.  We all got to celebrate a wonderful race.  The course is relatively flat with some roll to it.  I think it was just right, just enough change in elevation to keep my legs feeling fresh.  I am so happy with how that race went, my plan worked, the weather was good, a nice 2+ minute negative split.  

I'll write about how I started running in a later post.  Thank you for reading about my race.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Getting started

While I can write, I do not feel like writing was something I was made for, so bear with me.  My posts may be sporadic, poorly edited, slightly misguided, but I will try to track some of my experiences and passions doing the things I was made for.

Of the three things I listed the earliest passion was making.  I have always loved creating things, arts and crafts at summer camp, sewing in home ec, wood working and welding in industrial arts...  I just liked it.  This led me to choose to go to RIT School for American Crafts where I double majored in wood working and metal working.  In the years since I graduated I have always had a studio.  For the last year and a half I have been supporting myself by the work of my hands, half time working for someone else making jewelry and half time working for myself making jewelry, prints, doing a little sewing...  Money is tight at times and I need to learn how to market my work better, but I am glad I made the choice to do my own thing.

A couple years ago at the urging of some friends I started combining the running and making by creating prints to celebrate some of the marathons I have run/ will run.  The most recent print is for the New York City Marathon which I will be running next month.

Selling prints has helped me to be able to afford to travel to races.  I have also made prints for Boston Marathon and Chicago Marathon.  I have talked to a company that puts on local races and I may have a chance to do a print for a half marathon in the spring.  

Hmm, I guess I should try to wrap up this post somehow, but as I said, writing is not something I was made for...  So, thanks for reading.  I'll try to add something in the next few days.