Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Freaking Scary!

So, it's finally happened.  I had my first kind of scary running experience.  I do most of my weekday training alone running along the river trail that runs behind my work.  I try not to go the same time on the same days so I'm not too predictable.  This week I only had one run to do from work as I'm now off the rest of the week.  Ironically enough last week I had said to one of my female co-workers that I just wanted to let her know my routine if ever I didn't come back from my run. I wanted her to know what direction I run and that I should never be gone more than 1.5 hours.  That if I am to ask one of 3 other runners in our Accounting Department to head out there and look for me.  We kind of laughed about it a little but she also took it very serious.  One of the precautions I always take is I text my husband when I'm leaving work and when I get back.  And I always tell him which direction I'm running (there are two).  I run with music but it's really low and I make a very conscious effort to always be aware of my surroundings.  When running alone I always run the same direction which is more populated and also near some neighborhoods.  I tend to see some of the same folks out there on a pretty regular basis.  I always look people in the eye and say hello when I pass.

Well yesterday was really no different.  Tyler (one of my running buddies at work) was still in a meeting as I was getting ready to head out.  He said he would try and run fast to catch up to me as soon as he was finished.  Heading out alone was no big thing.  It's what I normally do anyway.  Tyler and I have only run together two other times.  He's faster and I feel like I slow him down.  So off I went .. and so it began.

Pretty early in my run I passed a guy riding his bike.  I didn't think anything of it, he was headed in the opposite direction.  I trotted on.  As I was 3/4 of the way through a short tunnel that runs under the road at one point there was a loud noise that scared the crap out of me.  It was the guy on the bike again.  All he had done was ride over the drainage system which made a loud noise which of course echoed in the tunnel.  While the noise scared me at the time it wasn't THAT abnormal for the guy to be headed back the direction he came.  Perhaps he was just doing an out and back like I was.  As he passed me this second time I noted in my head that he was wearing black basketball shorts, a black backpack, dark sweatshirt.  He had a bottle of Off bug spray in the mesh pocket of his pack.  He was riding a beach cruiser kind of bike. 

As I came through the other side of the tunnel there is a park as soon as you come out.  The same guy had stopped and fetched a water bottle out of his pack.  As this is now the 3rd time I'm passing the same guy I'm starting to throw up some "stranger danger" guards.  At this point I'm thinking it COULD be a coincidence but I don't have a good feeling about it and I will be watching for him over my shoulder now.  After awhile sure enough bicycle boy passed me a 4th time.  After he passes now he starts zig zagging in front of me.  You know, like he was intentionally NOT going fast.  I slow my pace down more because I really would prefer to keep him in my sights in front of me.  I want plenty of distance between us.  After about five minutes of this he pulls onto the side of the path again.  This will now be the FIFTH time I've passed him.  He hops off his bike and has now starting stretching his legs.  At this point I'm really starting to get freaked out and thinking about what is my best option to get out of this unsafe feeling situation.  I had a few options. I could turn around and run back, although there's no question he could catch up to me if he wanted to.  I can run past him, because just on the other side of him is a big open park and I could lap the park to finish my mileage.  Plus there's usually people at the park so I wouldn't be alone.  Or I could run to the park and then hit the road after and take the road route back to work.  It will be out of my way but I'll definitely be safe there.  So I headed to the park and figured if Tyler hadn't caught up to me I would hit the road and run back.  At this point I'm really not even sure that Tyler had headed out behind me. But I had my phone so if I stopped I could have called him.  I then watch as the guy starts jogging next to his bicycle while holding it's seat.  It was WEIRD.  He had taken the dirt trail that ran in towards the river some, while I stayed on the paved walkway.  I now entered the park and I keep turning to look over my shoulder when eventually I see bicycle boy head back towards the paved walkway.  I know that I will not continue on now.  This will be like the 6th time he has now passed me and it is no longer a coincidence.  He's really stalking me and all my intuition tells me this isn't a safe situation.  Right at that moment I see one lone runner break through the trail into the park.  To my relief it was Tyler!!  I have never been so happy to see him in my whole entire life!  He cut across the park to catch up to me.  I then tell him the story of the weirdo who now passes the two of us running together.  At one point bicycle boy literally turns his whole head around to check if I'm still running with someone.  It was SO obvious! 

In all my runs along this same route I have never encountered someone that was so obvious with their following me, waiting for me, then turning around repeatedly.  It truly was scary.  In a way I'm glad that I was paying attention like I always do.  And I'm glad I remained calm and had multiple options of getting out of the dangerous situation.  Tyler is convinced he just wanted to hit on me or something. But I'm not so sure.  Either way I stopped on my way home from work that night (last night) and bought me some pepper spray.  I will run with this from now on, anytime I'm running alone or with a girlfriend.

I will feel safer. While I realize this won't save my life or anything, I do think that given the efforts I take to be aware of my surroundings and pay close attention to the people I pass will all work together to keep me as safe as possible when running alone.  I know that from now on if my running buddy is possibly going out the same day I will make more of an effort to coordinate with him to run together rather than alone.

Another thought I had while I was running that day (and this was prior to crazy stalker dude), I really should take off my wedding rings when I run.  The last thing I need is someone attacking me just to rob me or something.  I figure the more I can reduce the temptation for someone to bother me the better off I'll be.

I'm a pretty strong and independent woman.  It irks me to no end that JUST because I am female that I have to worry about this kind of thing.  Men can head out whenever they want on their own for a run and really never have to worry about being attacked or raped.  It's not fair that as a woman I have to worry about these kinds of things.  In fact it really pisses me off.

Anyway, live and learn I suppose.  It was a scary experience, there's no question about that.  I definitely thing someone was watching over me that Tyler turned up when he did.  His timing couldnt' have been more perfect.  On the way back my heart rate took a sky rocket up and I actually had to stop running for a minute to bring it back down.  I think it was the release of those extra hormones into my system from the scary encounter that did it.  I had a similar experience when I was in the hospital after one of my babies was born and that's what the nurse had told me.  However, it didn't help that I'd been reading that morning about the 2 guys that died after the Philly Marathon. I mean seriously 21 years old  and you die from running 13.1 miles!  I'm thinking what the hell??!  It didn't help that I was also talking while running, so my breathing was irregular.  A combination of bad stuff I tell you!

When I walked back into my office I found this on my desk ....

Umm .. thank YOU!  Just what I needed. One of my employee's works part time at a fancy cupcake shop.  Delicious!  Oh and to top it off I got some major stares when I walked into the hunting store that night on my way home to buy my pepper spray .. lol.  The ladies behind the counter looked at me like I was lost.  Then there were two guys that literally laughed AT me. I know it was the fact that I was totally looking out of place in my short skirt (with leggings) and high heeled shoes.  THEN as I was walking into the hunting store some kid approaches me and tells me he just got out of DETOX and needs some money for the train.  REALLY?  I was kind of wishing I had the pepper spray right then, as this guy made me uncomfortable too!

Holy CRAP what a day!!!!

Live and learn ... live and learn.

Does anyone have any good tips for running alone??

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week 10 - Recap

I was a blogging failure this last week.  It was a crazy week at work and I just didnt' feel like I had anything of interest to share.  Today's post isn't really interesting per se.  However, as I come to a close of my official training plan I know I need to document these last couple of weeks.  So we'll jump right into the recap of my training this week:

Monday - Yoga.  Complete.  I had both my big boys clamoring to join me on my yoga mat.  Wyland is actually quite proficient at his yoga poses. Jackson is a little more lazy about it.  But it's cute seeing them want to exercise with me.

Tuesday - 5 miles.  Complete.  Ran outside and it was a gorgeous day!  I think I passed the entire Accounting Department as I was headed back in to the office.  They were all trying to get their slice of the beautiful running weather pie!

Wednesday - 3 miles.  Done and was easy.

Thursday - 5 miles.  By Thursday's I'm normally feeling a little more tired. But this week I really focused on enjoying my runs.  This one also felt easy.

Saturday - 60 min Cross.  Fail. 

Sunday - 9 miles.  Complete.  I was really excited about this weeks run.  I mean, NINE miles!  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 .. umm that's a LOT!  And dare I say this one did not feel hard.  My BFF Rebecca has been kind of side lined with an ITB / Hamstring injury the past couple weeks.  I am so bummed for her.  She's worked so hard to run this race with me and was really looking forward to it. But today she came out anyway and rode her bike next to me the whole nine miles. We talked the entire time and it's my favorite run together to date.  The time flew by as we chatted.  Plus she said it felt like I was running fast because it was easier riding next to me than she expected it would be.  Well really I wasn't running fast but it was such a nice run.  I'm actually not worried at all at this point about my ability to complete 13.1 miles 2 weeks from today.  I know I'm going to do great.  And even with the injury I have a suspicion that Rebecca is still going to do much better than she expects. 

Lessons this week:  One thing I really tried to focus on this week was making sure that I didn't go out fast on ANY of my runs.  I actually didn't focus a lot on pace at all.  And I feel this really worked well for me.  Same thing with my long run today. I think it was the difference between feeling tired at the end and not.  I know the biggest thing I will focus on in Vegas is not getting too caught up in the excitement that I go out too fast.  I hope to help Rebecca do the same.  I also made a conscious effort to hydrate yesterday and not eat a total garbage meal last night for dinner.  I think perhaps all these things combined made for a very successful long run this week and I plan to repeat these habits next weekend.

So coming up this week:

Week 11

Monday ~ Yoga
Tuesday ~ 5 Miles
Wednesday ~ 3 Miles
Thursday ~ 5 Miles
Friday ~ Rest (or Black Friday Shopping!)
Saturday ~ 60 min Cross
Sunday ~ 10 Miles and MY BIRTHDAY!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week 8 Recap

This was a self portrait taken just after my long run last week.

Well that's another week checked off the list.
Felt good.  I don't know why 8 miles felt like some sort of milestone.
But it did.
Next week is a bit of a taper week which will feel nice.
My next big milestone is going to be 10 miles.  Which coincidentally falls on my 37th birthday!
What a great day that will be.  My last long run prior to Vegas.
And my birthday.
I LOVE my birthday.

Okay so on to the recap of Week 8:

Monday:  Yoga.  Fail.  It was Halloween and I just didn't have time to do it.

Tuesday:  4.5 miles, complete.  I was a little nervous this morning.  I woke up to rain turning into snow.  Then it cleared by lunch time so off I went.  It turned out to be an awesome run too.  I felt really strong.  Maybe it was that extra rest day.

Wednesday:  3 miles, complete.  Another good one.  All my weekday runs were done from work this week.  As we slide into the colder months running at the warmest part of the day is a wonderful thing. It will be very interesting once we turn hot again how I do.  I can't imagine I'll be running at lunchtime when it's 100 degrees outside.

Thursday:  4.5 miles, complete.  I ran with a co-worker this day.  A BOY *gasp*.  He's a cool cat.  He's married as well and his wife runs.  While I actually really love my solo runs, normally I only run with a partner on Sunday's.  But he's nice to run with.  We run north on the trail, which is the opposite direction than I normally run by myself.  He told me the first time we went out that he wouldn't recommend running north because he's seen more bums and stuff.  So I never do.  The other nice thing about running with him occasionally is that he pushes me to run faster. It's nice to know that I can run 4.5 miles and maintain my almost 5K pace the whole time. I was out of breath a lot with the chatting and faster pace.  But it was definitely a confidence booster.

Friday:  Rest, complete.  I did a lot of shopping this day!  Running Warehouse had 25% off of the sale price of everything already on sale.  I got some great Christmas presents and I also ordered my anniversary present (thanks Honey!).  I'll share my purchases when they arrive this week.

Saturday:  50m Cross Train, another FAIL.  Seriously I need to work on this big time.  Even if it's just going out for a walk with my daughter.

Sunday:  8 miles, DONE.  Rebecca and I headed out feeling strong and ready for the 8 miles ahead.  Rather than our normal 7am we headed out at 9am this morning.  It was much warmer. I wore my newish Brooks running tights.  And my legs were golden!  I felt so warm. Not like last week when I was chilled to the bone when I got home.  I was amazed and what a difference the pants were.  I noticed as I was cutting the tags off last night that they said ideal for less than 40 degrees. I didn't realize that they were designed to be that warm when I got them. Or maybe I did and forgot because I bought them awhile ago thinking I was going to need them sooner.  What a great purchase. These babies will get me through this Utah Winter for sure.  I wore my coat this morning too and ended up taking it off at the halfway point.  We also tried some Honey Stinger gummies.  They were tasty. I liked that they weren't as gooey as the Clif Shot Bloks and GU Chomps.  My legs took a LONG time to warm up this morning though, that kind of sucked. I don't think I felt truly good until after the halfway point.  But we were also running into a pretty strong headwind on the way out too.  That didn't help either.  All in all it was a good run and I felt strong.  It felt like a bit of a challenge that last mile, I could tell my legs were getting a little tired. But we finished strong.  I came home and popped some Ibuprofen and am still wearing my CEP Calf Compression Sleeves. 

Observations for the Week:  Eating a egg white breakfast burrito in the morning before I go to work seemed to work really well for me this week.  I wasn't quite hungry for another meal before my noontime run, but I also wasn't trying to scarf down a yogurt real quick before I have to head out to run.  I'll keep doing that this week.

WOW .. we're almost there!!

Week 9:

Monday ~ Yoga
Tuesday ~ 5 Miles
Wednesday ~ 3 Miles
Thursday ~ 5 Miles
Friday ~ Rest
Saturday ~ 50m Cross Train
Sunday ~ 10K

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Experimenting with Fuel

As of a couple weeks ago I have begun experimenting with fuel.
It's kind of exciting knowing that I now need to do this.
Since that means that I'm running longer.
Which in turn means I'm logging more miles.

I know that I need to figure out what works and what doesn't before Vegas.
So I purchased an assortment of things to try.
By the way .. the size of these things would make for GREAT stocking stuffers.
Too bad my kids wouldn't like them.

So far I've tried the Nuun (Grape and Tropical), both were good.
The Clif Shot Bloks (Strawberry), YUM.
GU Chomps (Blueberry), good.

I'm very intimidated by the GU Energy Gels.
But I can't imagine not liking the Sport Beans.
Because really, who doesn't like Jelly Beans?

I've also been trying to get used to running with a handheld bottle.
I went with an Amphipod Hydraform Handheld, 20 oz bottle.
Before that I had tried a smaller bottle and I don't know whether it was the hot day,
the fact that it was the first time, or the style bottle .. but I hated it.
The Amphipod however is just fine.
I kind of would like to give an Amphipod fuel belt a try, but we'll see.

For now the experimenting is going well.  Nothing has been gross or upset my stomach.

Does anyone have anything extra good they would like to recommend?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Week 7 - Check

I can't believe we're down to less than 5 weeks before Vegas.
This week was pretty easy.
I really love the structure of having a training schedule.
And I know without a race hanging over my head I would not have the willpower to stick with it.

Week 7 Recap:

Monday:  Yoga
This was pretty easy. I popped in my Jillian Michael's DVD and just did it.

Tuesday:  Run 4.5
I hit the trail at lunch time from work.  My legs felt really strong for a Tuesday.  Usually I feel sluggish on Tuesday's.  I saw a guy from work on my way back. I said hi, he said nothing.  That always makes me mad when people can't be polite.

Wednesday:  Run 3
I really tried to focus on not thinking about the short distance. I don't know what it is about my Wednesday runs but they always seem so much longer than they should be.

Thursday:  Run 4.5
I rocked this one.  Felt awesome.  Had the right amount of layered clothes on.  I'm now always running in long sleeves midday.  Which means since I don't have a ton of long sleeve gear I'm doing more laundry which kind of sucks.

Friday:  Rest Day
And rest I did.

Saturday:  Cross Training 50 minutes
FAIL.  I did no cross training. In fact the husband and I went on a date.  I had a delicious Bleu Bacon Burger (I know I know, not good for me) and went to see Footloose.  It was awesome!

Sunday:  Run 7
I felt strong going into this run.  It's a distance PR for me, but I was 100% confident I would complete it with no problem.  I ran with my friend Rebecca.  It was dark when we started out but lightened up quickly. But it was darn cold the whole time.  Like 37 degrees cold.  I was shivering when I got home.  I don't think that the burger helped my tummy that morning.  I definitely felt a tad bit queasy but all was well and all the cookies stayed where they should have.  I was a little cold most of the run so next week I will dress warmer for sure.  I may have to give my long pants a try.

I seriously have been trying to get this post written all darn week!

Week 8:

Monday ~ Yoga
Tuesday ~ Run 4.5
Wednesday ~ Run 3
Thursday ~ Run 4.5 + Strength Train
Friday ~ Rest Day
Saturday ~ 50 min Cross Train
Sunday ~ Run 8