Birthday Plans

This year, the Seattle Marathon is on my birthday. What better way to celebrate than to run a half marathon?

I really am serious. By the end of this week, I may be signed up.

I have had a week of fantastic runs. This morning, in the cool rain, I did a fast run in the neighborhood – my fast run being 32 minutes at an average pace of 9:18 and average HR of 168. It’s my best time as of yet, though I purposely ran less hills for this run.

I’ve decided that since I’ve taken to running up Phinney Ridge on at least one long run that I will use Phinney Ridge for my interval runs. That’s a 350ft gain in something like 4-5 blocks.

My last long run was almost 8 miles, and it felt great. The only problem was that I had to take two bathroom breaks! I blame this on pre-hydrating a bit too much, and coffee. Other things I’ve learned is that I need a hand-holster for my water bottle.

I think the next few weeks I will be figuring out what my Fall exercise schedule is going to look like. I’ll be working full time at least until January (when my internship is up) and I will be in class two nights a week. I’ll also have to adjust for the changing light.

Lots more to come. I’m loving running right now. I especially love running in my Five Finger Bikilas. They’re the best shoes I’ve ever worn! Looks like they’re still in great demand, though. I feel lucky to have gotten mine. Thanks, See Jane Run!

Running in Chicago vs. Seattle

Yesterday I probably walked over 5 miles – it was wonderful, especially considering the amount of fried food I ate yesterday was more than the past month combined. Today I went for a light, long run – it’s a break week, so I only did about 45 minutes for the run. My pace ended up just under 11 min for the entire run, and I ended up doing just over 4 miles. The biggest treat was going along the lake in the bright summer sun. It was a bit breezy and, of course, hot – but it was wonderful. Running in Chicago makes me feel like I could run forever. It’s amazing what running up and down hills in Seattle will do for your perception of effort. My heart rate was pretty low for a run (around 120-140 a good part of the time) due to a lack of effort needed. It was a fun vacation run, to say the least.

Today was also my first run in myVibram Five Fingers Bikila . They are definitely an improvement over the Sprints – and I’m glad to once again be running a minimalist shoe. My knees ache so much less after a run. The only problem I seem to be having is that my big toe on my left foot gets a little unhappy – similar to the problem I had first with the Treks. At least I’m relatively certain these are the right size. Not too big, not too small. It will take a few more runs before I’m certain – but I think the Bikilas are likely the winner.

Now – back to my break!

Training Progress and Bikila’s in Sight

First, I have to say how proud I am of myself for my run on Sunday. It started out as my long, slow run, with no real hills planned. It ended up with me doing a half mile with an elevation gain of over 350 feet! I ran through three different neighborhoods, and 6.26 miles at a pace of just under 11:30. I was a little sore on Monday and Tuesday, but I can’t help but be pleased by the experience over all. My knees and hips really didn’t like it – and this I partially blame on my conventional running shoes. You see, I’m still running in my conventional shoes as that the Vibram Five Finger Bikila‘s have been out of stock and backordered for the past month, and I sold my Sprints in expectation of getting the Bikilas. Oops.

This morning I’m a bit worn out after not sleeping well, and then doing a morning run. I’ve tried to switch to mornings during the week as that it allows me to get more done with my evenings. Also, I can run half-awake if I have to – which I definitely did this morning. It was a misty humid morning, and I did my short fast run at under 10min/mi for 27 minutes. I’m making sure to make hills a part of my routine – something I expect will be a sharp contrast next week when I take lazy runs along the Chicago lakefront.

Speaking of Chicago – I’m really excited that I was able to find Bikila’s available at the second store I called. They have them on hold for me to be picked up next Tuesday! There is only ONE official retailer of Vibram FiveFingers in the Seattle area – and that’s REI, and they aren’t even available for backorder in my size on their website. Chicago, on the other hand, has tons of stores offering FiveFingers – and if I have the misfortune of someone selling the Bikilas before I get to them, I will have at least a half dozen places nearby to check out to see if they have them in stock.

I’m not sure how I’ll adjust back to minimalist running after wearing the bone-jarring conventional running shoes. I’ll be bringing them with me just in case the Bikila’s don’t pan out – or end up not working like the FiveFinger Treks.

I’m loving running right now – it’s sort of like my co-drug of choice, with my other drug of choice being delicious food. I’m a foodie now, more than ever – I think because my interests have turned to quality over quantity. A running store I had hoped to get my Bikila’s from (See Jane Run, whose customer service seems to be ignoring me) sells shirts that say “I run for chocolate.” It’s true. I run because it feels great to run. I also do it because I can eat more delicious food (with reason) as a reward.

And for a weight update – I’m now below 150 lbs, and my body fat percentage is down to around 29%. I still have 12 lbs to go before I get to where I want to be (20-22% bodyfat) I don’t know if I’ll get there before my next challenge, but I just thought I’d put this down here for now.

Back and Neck

A week ago, I did something not-so-great to my back while running. I think that it was a combo of issues, being my posture, my running in conventional shoes after a few months of running in minimalist shoes, and poor choice in cross-body day bags. Saturday, I did a 66 minute run, and on my hills coming back, I tried to keep my body to keep my head up and my posture vertical as I ran. That ended up with me waking up Sunday morning with a stiff neck, but my mid back feeling much better.

The good news was that my doctor told me last week that I didn’t have to stop running. This was good. It’s very much a part of my life, even when I don’t want to do it, it’s something I just feel better doing. I’m finally getting back into a groove where it’s not as painful to do my runs (in the moment) and stretching myself feels good. I just need to work on my posture, and I need to work on strengthening my core muscles (and doing more yoga).

And, just to put in some numbers, I did my slow run for 66 minutes, and went 5.56 mi. That’s a pace of 11:52. Not bad, for me!

In other news, I’m almost 4 lbs away from the upper end of the BMI for “normal.” While I know that’s not a judge of fitness, it means that in roughly 9 lbs,if I lose only fat, I will be down to about 20-24% body fat. This is awesome!

Still Recovering: Long Slow Run

Today I did my first long slow run for recovery since my two weekends in a row of racing. Let’s just say my body is still not quite up to where it was. I don’t think I’m going to do two races in a row like that again!

I’m still running in my Five Fingers Sprint(36, Slate/Palm/Lichen), and loving every minute of it. I did have some funky minor blister/bruising after my race last weekend, but it cleared up in short order. I have to say that my dress shoes in the same amount of time are more hell on my feat than running in the Sprints!

My run today was a short 33 minutes and change. I cracked just under 12 minutes a mile, and kept my heart rate at around 140, give or take. I had to go pretty slow to start off to keep my heart rate from getting too high. I tried to do some more hills, but it turns out no matter which route I take in my neighborhood, I’m not equalling the elevation I saw around Seattle Center for the LIVESTRONG Challenge. I might need to find a hillier place to train.

I canceled my gym membership this week in order to seek out alternative cross-training opportunities. Should I do the climbing gym? Maybe get back into yoga classes (this is most likely)? There are definite possibilities out there. I may rejoin a gym once the cold/dark season comes back, but for now, I’ll enjoy the freedom.

It’s funny doing two races and realizing I’m a very small minority of runner with the minimalist shoes. I would have thought they were all the rage – I hear so many people talk about them, even just an aside at a bus stop when I’m not even wearing them! So many people I know are converts, and I’m definitely noticing benefits of my own – but I’m curious as to why this isn’t catching on like wildfire. I mean, they’re light, washable, packable and fun! What’s not to love?

More on my minimalist shoe fetish in the next post.