Friday, December 27, 2013

Goals for a new year - Planning for 2014

I set a goal to read 60 books in 2013.  I started reading 63, completing 60 of them.  (I just started #64, and I'm pretty sure I'll finish before the end of the year, probably before the end of this weekend, so I'll finish 61.)  If you're curious, you can see the list of what I read here: 2013 books

My 2014 reading goals are:
  1. Read 65 books
  2. Finish reading Les Miserables
  3. Finish reading East of Eden
I don't remember setting any definite running goals for 2013.  If I did, I didn't write them down anywhere or make any kind of record of what they were. So, in the course of the year, any that may have been thought about got lost in the shuffle of life over the year.  And that was bad.  Well, not exactly bad, but not good either. 

Everything just kind of floundered.  I ran, but not that much. Certainly not any more than the bare minimum needed to get to the finish line of my races.  I didn't push any limits; I gave in to excuses. Which led to a yearly mileage of just under 700 miles, dropping out of 2 races I registered for, getting slower instead of faster as the year went on, and zero new PR's for any of my races.

Sooo... That's all going to change in 2014.   I am hereby declaring 2014 to be the year of the PR.

My running goals for 2014 are:
  1. Run at least 1000 miles over the year.
  2. Get a PR in the 5k (under 29 minutes by or at the Winter Series 5k in December)
  3. Get a PR in the half marathon (under 2:25 by or at the Marshall Half in November)
  4. Get a PR at the Dirty Dog 15k (under 2:25, in May)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Finding Christmas

“Yeah, there's a lot of bad 'isms' floatin' around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it's the same - don't care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.”

– Alfred, “Miracle on 34th Street”
"You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 years or so I've been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we're all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle."
- Kris Kringle, "Miracle on 34th Street"
Charlie Brown: “Actually, Lucy, my trouble is Christmas. I just don’t understand it. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down.”...

Charlie Brown: “It’s all wrong.”  Lucy: “Look Charlie, Let’s face it. We all know Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate you know.”
– “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

“They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming! They're just waking up, I know just what they'll do. Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry, "Boo Hoo." That's a noise... “ grinned the Grinch, “That I simply *must* hear!”  So he paused - and the Grinch put a hand to his ear. And he *did* hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low... then it started to grow.   But this... this sound wasn't sad. Why... this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without *any* presents at all! He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming, it *came*! Somehow or other... it came just the same.

 “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
– Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”


Charlie Brown: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus: “Sure Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”

 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shown round about them. And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men." – Luke 2:8-14
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Race Report(s) - My Double Race Weekend

December 7 & 8 was a busy busy weekend in Melissa world - Christmas decorating at the parents' house, candlelighting at the cemetery where my grandparents are buried, pouring rain, snow, and... oh and 2 races.  Here's how they went:

Race #1 - the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis (Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013)
Costumes were encouraged for this race (like I need any encouragement...) so as soon as I registered I started thinking of what I could do.  Found a pretty awesome pair of nutcracker socks, and knew that's what I had to be (Santas and elves are so overdone ;-) )  I bought the socks, I had the blue sparkle skirt, I had a red shirt...  All I needed was some embellishments and I was set.  

As I sewed my stars & stripes onto the shirt, I was a little nervous. The shirt is very warm and can only be worn to run on really cold days or I get overheated.  Early December weather can be anything around here, so it was a toss up on what we were going to get. But I only have the one red shirt and with Christmas coming my budget is allotted to other things (presents galore!!) and buying a new one wasn't in the cards.   So I sewed it all on and hoped for the best.

Turns out it being too warm wasn't something I needed to worry about. After pouring the rain all day on Friday, race day arrived with a temperature of 30, with a "feels like" of 24.  (Luckily it dried up fairly well overnight, so there wasn't a lot of ice to worry about).  I was one chilly nutcracker waiting for the start.

Originally, I had a time goal for this race, but once again I was highly optimistic when I set it and with the training I had gotten in, I knew I wasn't going to be able to meet it.   So I set it aside and just ran easy, walking every so often, and just planned on reaching the finish line.

Even though I had ditched my goal, I still hoped to finish in a "decent" time (which for me right now is under 32 minutes.  I'm a speed demon, I  know ;-) )  But with the easy pace and the walking, I was slower than I wanted to be.  The time on my watch was a bit of a disappointment, so I decided that for my next race, I was gonna do better, I was gonna be faster.

Race Stats:
Jingle Bell Run 5k, 12/7/13
Finish time: 33:46 (garmin); 33:57 (official)
Pace: 10:49mpm (garmin); 10:56 (official)
Place: 133 out of 285 overall, 68 out of 194 women, 17 out of 50 age group

Race #2 - The Winter Series 5k (Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013)
The weather reports throughout the weekend mentioned that there was a possibility for snow during the night on Saturday.  I don't remember any mention of any accumulation, so I didn't get concerned.  But Sunday morning I woke up a bit earlier than I had originally intended and looked out the window to a world of white.  Snow covered the lawn, snow covered the street. An almost pristine blanket of white (marred only by some doggy footprints). A 4-5 inch think blanket of white.   While it was beautiful, it had the potential for making the drive to the race an interesting proposition.

So after clearing off my car and shoveling the driveway, I spent the rest of the morning with one eye on the Weather Channel (forecast called for some freezing rain) and one eye on the race director's Twitter feed to see if the race was still on.  It was - the temperature had warmed up just enough that the rain was just plain rain.  The roads were still a bit covered but not too horrible. (They were just right for the yearly "let's put the xterra in 4WD to see if still works OK" test. (for the record - it works just fine. got me out the neighborhood))

It rained on the drive in to town, it rained on me as I went in to sign in for the race, it rained on me as I went back to the car to hang out until race time, it rained on me as I headed back inside to turn in my toy donation and wait some more.  I was convinced it was going to be a cold, wet race.  However, it slowed to a fine mist by start time.  And I had on my too warm running jacket (thinking it was going to be as cold as the day before; it wasn't) and I was hot, so it ended up being a not so cold damp race.

After the day before's disappointment, I had changed my goal for this race to simply be "better and faster than yesterday."  I was going to run every step and I was going to finish faster and stronger.  And I did.  I admit there were points where my brain told me I needed to walk. But running is a mental game and I convinced myself to keep running by telling myself I could walk when I got to point x and then constantly moving point x further and further along the course until I got to the point where I might as well just run to finish. 

As I rounded the last corner I saw a woman who beat me the day before running not too far ahead.  I saw her up there said "she's not gonna beat me again."  So i tried and tried to catch her.  Unfortunately for me, I didn't and she beat me again (not by much, but I never did catch her). 

But I was ok with that, because I knew I had tried my best and I had done what I could with what I had at the time.  And I had run every step and finished faster and stronger than I had the day before.

Race Stats:
Winter Series 5k, 12/8/13
Finish time: 32:26 (garmin); 32:46(official)
Pace: 10:39mpm (garmin);
Place: 298 out of 401overall