Thursday, May 2, 2013

Another Sunday, Another Run

Distance: 2.88
Time: 52:14
Number of times Maddy received inappropriate attention from other dogs: 6
Number of gunshots heard: Approximately 63

Sunday I took David and Maddy out to Rose Lake. It was David's first time running out there, and he really liked it.

Rose Lake is classified as a wildlife research area, but interestingly enough, I never seem to see that much wildlife there. There are, however, many people walking their dogs, several of which REALLY liked Maddy. Rose Lake has numerous trails and is a great place to run, as well as a nice place to mountain bike, particularly in the winter.

There are a couple of drawbacks to Rose Lake. One is that it is open to public hunting, and during hunting seasons it is basically off limits to anyone doing any other type of activity. In fact, during part of our run we started hearing repeated shooting and David and I wracked our brains to try and think of what hunting season it could possibly be. We couldn't come up with one, but a few minutes later the trail opened up into a parking lot where we saw a sign for the shooting range. So apparently it's the season for clay pigeons or something similar.

The other thing about Rose Lake I'm not crazy about is the fact that it's not signed AT ALL. This makes it a little difficult sometimes, and it seems like I frequently get lost out there. During this run we didn't exactly get lost, but when we reached the parking lot, we came out of a different trail than I was expecting.

Due to all the meandering and stopping to greet dogs, I had another really slow time. However, I have some new insights into my slowness problem and a plan to increase my speed which I will talk about in another post soon.

Monday, April 29, 2013

5k Saturday

Distance: 3.1
Time: 39:57
Number of falls: 0
Number of times I felt fat and out of shape: 15-20
Number of times Kyli asked me if I needed a rescue inhaler: 2
Saturday morning I went to my friend Kyli's hometown to run a 5k with her. Her mom was one of the organizers for the race and Kyli wanted someone to run with. I knew running with her would be difficult because I had run with her once before. She's in good shape and works out all the time. Even though running is not her favorite thing, and she claimed to want to run slowly because her knee was bothering her, I knew I would have to work hard to keep up with her. I also realize that it's good for me to run with people who are faster than me. I think it will help me improve my speed.
The weather turned out to be beautiful, and as usual, I was overdressed. Before the race I had visions of beating my PR for a 5k, which is 38:05. I figured if I just toughed it out and tried to keep up with Kyli I would end up with a much faster time. But she was serious about wanting to run more slowly than usual, and though I started off running faster, we eventually settled into what was more my pace. The first two miles were pretty fast for me, but by the time we hit the third mile I was feeling crappy and slowed way down.
Kyli seemed content to spend the whole run socializing. She kept up a steady conversation and I got in a few words here and there. It's always a bit of a struggle for me to talk while I'm trying to run. The good thing about running with Kyli is that even though I was laboring, we still had fun. And we both thought the race went by really quickly because of all the conversation.
I ended up finishing with a time that is so-so for me. Not my fastest, not my slowest. One of my goals is to be able to run a 35-minute 5k. I was hoping to be able to do that by the end of the summer, but I think I'm a little farther away from that than I originally thought. It may be time to get out to the track and do some speed work to help that goal along a bit.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Hazards of Trail Running

Distance: 3.52
Time: 55:27
Number of falls: 1
Number of ankle turns: 1
Number of confused moments trying to find the trail: 6-8
After spending Wednesday evening riding our trainers while watching the Detroit Tigers game, we were ready to get outside again Thursday. As it turned out, the weather began cooperating just in time for our run, and it was a sunny, fairly warm evening.
We decided to hit the Lake Lansing Park North trails again and unfortunately, I took this quite literally. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am making an effort to improve my speed. I was trying to run faster and it was working. But as much as I love trail running, there are drawbacks to being out in the woods. These drawbacks are called roots. If I'm on my mountain bike I don't worry about them too much—I just roll over them. While running I have to try a lot harder to watch out for them, and this time I wasn't paying close enough attention. I felt my foot plow into one of those pesky roots and the next thing I knew I was sailing through the air.
When I landed, my first thought was for Maddy. I lost my grip on her leash when I fell and she kept running for a minute until she realized what happened. I always freak out a little because she isn't trained to be off leash outside and she's gotten away from me more than once. Luckily this time she must have been concerned for my welfare because she ran right back to me.
Later in the run, I stepped on another root which was hiding under some leaves, turned my ankle and then stumbled a bit. I had a momentary fear that I may have sprained an ankle, but then I realized it didn't hurt that much so it must be a false alarm.
We ran the "blue" loop this time, which is supposed to be 3.8 miles. At the end of the route the trail opens up into a clearing with a playground. At this point I've always just walked through the playground back to my car, not realizing that this wasn't technically the end of the trail. When looking at my Garmin I realized we had only gone a little over 3 miles, so we started looking around for a continuation of the trail. We found one, but it crossed multiple parking lots and big open fields. Each time we crossed one of these, we had to search for another trail sign. Finally, when we had gone about 3.5 miles, the trail ended abruptly at a big brush pile. We ended up doubling back and walking through another field to get to the parking lot. Then we went home to tend to my wounds.
Even with all the hazards, it was still a great run. And during the time I was actually running, I was making good time. Unfortunately, the fall and the walking around confused at the end made for a much slower time than I should have had.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rainy Run

Distance: 2.57 miles
Time: 41:43
Pace: 15:52 (told you I was slow!)

On Tuesday, we were going to watch a lacrosse game after work, but we wanted to sneak in a quick run first. It was raining, but it's been doing that a lot lately, so it wasn't a good excuse for skipping our training. It wasn't that cold, and running in the rain was actually kind of pleasant.

Since we were limited on time, we decided to run at Fenner Nature Center, which is literally 5 minutes from our house. I renewed my association with Fenner a few months ago after they lifted their dog ban. (I used to hike and snowshoe there all the time until I got a dog, but then I stopped going because if I am spending time outside I usually want to have Maddy with me.)

Fenner is a great place to run. As I mentioned, it's very conveniently located. It's in a peaceful setting, mostly woods with a little bit of meadow. The trails are a mix of wood chip and dirt, with a few paved loops near the trailhead. If I have one complaint about Fenner, I would say that I wish there were more trails. It's not a good place to get in a long-distance run unless you want to run the same trails multiple times, which can get boring.

Our run was very enjoyable except for one point when we came across some teenagers with a charging Great Dane. David ran into them first since he was ahead, and he quickly got Maddy and I turned around. He thought the dog looked mean and was concerned that she would come after Maddy. This pissed me off a bit. For one thing, I didn't like having to turn around instead of going the way I want to. But I also don't want a few people breaking the rules to result in not being able to bring my dog there anymore. (Leashes are required on all dogs at Fenner.)

I felt pretty good during this run even though it was slow. As you can see from the stats at the top of the post, we ended up with about 2.5 miles and it took more than 40 minutes. I usually don't pay too much attention to my speed on trail runs because I know they are going to be a lot slower, but having a lofty goal like the Dopey means I have to change the way I do things. It means that the status quo isn't going to be good enough anymore, because this race is going to be HARD. I have to not only put in my time, but I need to continue to improve. And that means I can't be content to just slog through the woods. I need to be in the best shape possible come January.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sunday Funday

We finally got some decent weather on Sunday. It was sunny, dry and warm, which has not been a common weather combination lately. David and I decided to start our training with a trail run at Lake Lansing Park North.
We do some of our running on the road, but we like to do a fair amount of trail running. Your speed suffers a bit with this type of running, but as I mentioned in my intro, speed is not really one of my attributes anyway. Besides, the scenery and the peacefulness of being in the woods more than make up for it. It's also a lot easier on the knees than running on pavement.
This was David's first trip to Lake Lansing Park North, which is astounding to me because he's lived in the area since his college days. (Over the past several months I have introduced him to many trails he hasn't been exposed to before, which has been fun.) David absolutely loved this trail and is already wondering when we can go back.
Lake Lansing is a county park which is actually across the street from the lake. The trails don't go around the lake, as some people assume. Instead, the trails traverse wooded areas and some marsh land. (There are sturdy well-maintained boardwalks over the marshes.) There are approximately 10 miles of trails in all.
We chose the "green" loop, which is 3.3 miles. We could easily have done more, but we wanted to save some energy for riding.
The trail has a many shaded, piney areas, which are my favorite spots. It also has some fairly significant hills, which is what David really liked about it. Although the Dopey takes place at Disney World, which means it is quite flat, some of our upcoming races (namely a 10-miler called the Crim which we plan to run in August) are hilly. We definitely need hill practice.
Since David is a much faster runner than I am, he usually runs ahead for a while and then doubles back to where I am to say hi before continuing. Sometimes he will come back and take Maddy with him for a while so she can experience the feeling of actually running fast for a bit. (At Lake Lansing he found this bench to sit and wait for me for a while.)
We ended our training with a 10-mile bike ride around town. To say we've gotten a lot of rain this spring would be a huge understatement. Because of this, it's been difficult to get out on any mountain bike trails, which I would prefer to riding around town. Also due to the rain, our local bike path, which is normally a good alternative when the mountain bike trails are too muddy, is out of commission. It runs along the river and half of it is currently underwater. But even meandering around city streets was an enjoyable way to round out our Sunday of training.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Starting at the Beginning

I haven't updated my previous blog, The Accidental Athlete, in nearly two years. I guess I got busy, or it got old, or I just ran out of things to write. But I've recently started a new journey, one which will be tremendously difficult, and for some reason this seems blog-worthy. It's possible no one will read this, but at least it will be a way for me to keep a record of my progress and one more way for me to make myself accountable.

The reason I titled this blog "Being Dopey" is that the race I'm training for, this goal that right now seems huge and daunting, is a race called The Dopey Challenge. More info about The Dopey Challenge is here. What it entails is 48.6 miles of running in four days. Day 1 is a 5k. Day 2 is a 10k. Day 3 is a half-marathon. Day 4 is a full marathon.

I started running three years ago, and I have since finished races at numerous distances, including many, many 5ks; several 10ks; one half-marathon and one full marathon. I know I can cover the distances with the appropriate training, and I have about eight and a half months to prepare. The challenge is going to come with getting up each day and hitting the road once again while still being worn out from the day before.

My running style is a bit like the Energizer bunny or the tortoise from the tortoise and hare fable. I am slow, but I have endurance going for me. I can keep going and going and going. And hopefully that will get me through this adventure.

I'm not a super fit person. I'm not lean and in fabulous shape like you would imagine a person running this type of race should be. To really find out what type of athlete I am, it's probably best to read the introduction to my first blog. It's a bit long, but it explains my story.

And so the training begins. It will include lots of running and some significant cross training as well, mainly because I have to spend time on my bike to stay happy and fulfilled. Most of my running will be done with the two running partners you see on the sidebar, my boyfriend David (who will also be running The Dopey Challenge) and my dog, Maddy (who will not). 

This journey will also come with some weight loss, not because I think you have to be skinny to run long distances, but because it's something I've needed to do anyway and I think it will help make the experience more enjoyable. I'll try not to obsess about it, but I'll probably mention it from time to time.

Here I go!