32B's Blog

…where I write my words

30 going on 17

Happy New Year? Someone asked me about my blog.  Oh, yeah…that thing.  Well, see what had happened was I got busy with life, going out, meeting people organically, studying, working, playing mommy, and just spending time on the internet when absolutely necessary that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to write about, discuss, or vent about.  Scratch that.  I always have things to vent about but I asked myself if writing it here or anywhere would totally dismiss or erase it as if it never happened?  Of course the answer is “no” so I didn’t.  I had nothing to share with whomever decided to stop by and read what I had to say.  I would do a recap of what’s been going on in my life but I don’t feel like it.  For some reason, I am starting to enjoy “privacy”.  Funny that I of all people would say that.  But, it’s still amazing when someone is going through something I did way back when and find my experience refreshing.  It’s like a reset button or a reminder that sometimes being open ain’t all that bad.  Ya know? 

This post is about running.  2011 was supposed to be focused on my half marathon time and placing in my ‘hood 5K race in October.  The trouble is one was more dear to my heart and squeezed more passion than the other so I’ve revamped my running plans.  For 2011 I will attempt to channel the 17 year old me.  At 17, I had just graduated from high school and was running a 7 min mile pace easily.  Sometimes I finished a little slower but I was there.  I want to place in the Lawndale 5K.  I don’t want to win my age group, get a PR, or even just win another medal – I want to place overall!  It’s personal this year.  I have 9 months to get my butt in shape to run (and hold) a sub 7 minute mile pace.  Sub 7 minutes?  Yeah, that is a challenge and a half but if I shoot for 7 mins then the rest comes down to pure hunger.  How bad do I want it?  Drive, determination, and discipline can trump any training program.  Right now, I can run (and hold) approx a 7.30 min pace.  Last year, my time for this 3.1 mile race was officially 23:23 minutes….a minute faster than last year.  This year, I want to run it in as close to 20 minutes as I can which is definitely sub 7 min pace.  More like 6:30/min pace.  The winner last year finished in a little over 20 minutes.  One chick, the same age as I, cut 3 minutes off her time from 2008 to 2009.  B*tch!  lol Basically, I don’t stand a chance unless I join the 20 minute 5K group and obviously age ain’t nothing but a number.

I have no clue how to drop a minute let alone 2+ off my time.  Workouts?  The only ones I can think of are the ones we used to do back in high school during Cross Country season.  I know intervals, repeats, and some distance running along with hills, hills, and more hills.  I think I’d prefer hills and repeats more than anything.  Hills burn muscles like acid but it feels so wonderful when they get stronger and can run longer and faster without an ounce of additional effort.  Since I live in Chicago where winter lasts until June, I am basically chained to a treadmill if the snow/ice/winds are too bad out.  No workouts for now but I did do a mini-interval on the treadmill Tuesday.  It was my first day back running in 2 months so I was kinda excited to dust the rust off.  Today, I didn’t go running cause I have an appointment to get to this afternoon but I did do my 22 minutes of Abs – Windsor Pilates.  Core muscles are important when it comes to running.  Even more so when it comes to speed and shorter races where efficiency is vital.  My plan is to focus on my core muscles for the next 3 months.  Today?  I had to do 2 modified positions towards the end of the DVD.  Seriously, who can hold these positions perfectly straight for that long?  Only the chicks on the DVD!  I was grunting, dang near fell over, and actually couldn’t roll up on one of the ab contraction moves.  I have decent ab muscle strength but nothing like I want or think I need.  I plan to put the Ab, Back, and Burn Pilate DVDs in heavy rotation from now until April 1st then I will see where I am.  Hopefully, I have made some progress. 

In addition to that, I am gathering treadmill workouts so I can make my indoor runs beneficial in addition to getting outside when I can (weather permitting) because long runs on a treadmill are downright torturous.  Trust me, it is.  Until next time.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Life | , , | 1 Comment

A Bronze PR

When I signed up for the Chicago Half I knew one other race I wanted to run – the Lawndale 5K.  I used to attend an afterschool program with this organization.  Once a week for about 4 yrs during high school.  Last year I ran their 2nd annual 5k race and got 2nd place in the 25-29 age group clocking 24:44 mins.  This year I wondered how my legs would feel if I raced 13.1 miles Sunday and then raced 3.1 miles that following Saturday – I had to try it.  I never registered until the day of (yesterday) because I wasn’t sure but I made it there at about 7:45am ready to run.  Nothing was set-up yet so I didn’t officially complete my registration until close to 8:30am which sucked because the race was scheduled to start at 9am.  I ran to the bathroom, pinned my number on, did a snippet of a warm up, did all of 2 stretches, and lined up at the starting line.  Not a big race but I wanted to participate in my ‘hood where I semi grew up amongst my people.  I never knew this race would awaken my competitive spirit. 

My heart was racing because this was a shorter distance which meant I had less time to correct a mistake or a too slow/fast pace.  “Only 3 miles” was what I kept repeating to myself when I had to beg myself to calm down, enjoy the run, and just finish.  No expectations.  Only to beat my time from last year.  The race starts.  I go out hard and then have to remind myself that this was mistake #1 so I better slow down.  I made sure to clock each mile split too.  Mile 1 = 7:12 mins.  Mile 2 = 7:39 mins.  I was slowing down.  Not sure if that was good or bad but it was certainly too late to worry about it.  Mile 3 = 7:45 mins and I was staring at the finish line ahead of me.  Now, I have been running since high school and I know that there aren’t many black girls or black women who run long distance.  It didn’t bother me anymore because, truth be told, long distance is not for everyone but as I ran this race I felt myself fighting for a position.  I had no idea which one of these girls were in my age group because not a single one looked to be 30-34 yrs old but, neither do I so I’ve been told.  I just tried to run my best race and finish strong.  Somewhere during mile 3 I got a side stitch and almost cussed out loud.  It’s been years since I had one of those and it hurt and frustrated me like hell.  Here I am trying to maintain my pace without losing too much steam but every time I inhaled it felt like there was a rock sitting underneath my ribcage against my right lung just scraping my tissue painfully each and every time I took a breath which was not optional – I kinda have to breath.  I stretched my hand overhead while running and it lessened the pain but didn’t make it go away.  I did it 2 more times still cussing in my head – “dammit you fuckin side stitch I’m trying to race here and don’t have time for this shit!!”  At this point, you just run through the pain.

On the way back to the starting line, other black women in the race but further behind me cheered and screamed motivation my way.  With each “you go gurl!” I tried to pick up the pace and with each “stay strong sistah!” I tried to make these strangers proud but I felt defeated.  Although I finished in 23:23 mins which is one whole minute faster than last year, it pissed me off that I got 3rd in my age group.  Yes, I was the first black chick to cross the finish line but I felt this strong urge to not accept just an age group award – I actually want to win.  The entire race.  What the hell is wrong with me?!  The woman who won finished a good 3 minutes faster than I.  Three minutes!  In the world of running, she was already changed eating lunch by the time my butt crossed the finish line.  My insides raged.  I felt heated.  I congratulated every women who finished in front me of (about 5) while taking a mental snapshot of their faces so I’d have a target.  This was supposed to be a fun run – not competitive.  You win some and you lose some.  No.  Not this time.  I promised myself  I’d train and finish in the top 3 next year.  Not in my age group.  No, I won’t be restricted or congratulated because I did good for my age.  I wanna kick some young chick’s ass.  I haven’t felt like this since high school when I got 2nd place in the City Championships to some chick who had just started running that year.  I memorized her name and face.  Every race for the next 2 years she finished behind me and I finally won 1st place in the same championship race my senior year.  Defeat.  It has a strange way of waking up a spirit that may compel you further than you ever thought you wanted to go.

Other than that, I accept my bronze medal and my new PR happy that I decided to run this year.  I shouldn’t cuss and don’t normally but when it comes to sports I turn into someone else – almost.  Naturally, you slow down as you age.  Naturally, I want to test that.  Naturally, I cannot accept the status quo or barriers.  Naturally, I have to be the best although I could care less in any other race.  Black women were asking me how I train, where I train, and how long I have been running.  It was as if I had actually won the race.  They had no idea I felt unsatisfied.  I shrugged at the race and my time like it was nothing forgetting that most people cannot walk much less run.  Forgetting that most cannot finish 1 mile much less 3 to get upset that they didn’t finish those 3 fast enough.  Forgetting that the fun is in having the ability to run instead of being forced to watch from the sidelines.  To them, I was amazing.  I had no secret training, no running club to recommend, or tips other than to stay consistent no matter what.  The lady just shook her head when I told her that and to not let too much time pass between runs or she will physically feel like she is starting all over again.  Inside, I felt I had let someone down but I’m pretty sure it was just me.  Outside, I let it go and watched my 9 yr old run in the kid dash.  My calf muscles are sore but I feel good.  Next year.  Lord willing of course.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trial and Error

Running_Man_by_ClumsyCraftToday I ran the Bucktown 5K which is the first time I’ve done this race.  I heard about it from a woman’s site where she outlined the best Chicago 5K races by month.  I thought I’d join the other 5K running enthusiasts and sign up for it and see how good these goody bags really are.  Ok, this was the worst race ever!  I knew there would be a lot of runners but I had no idea how that would affect the start of the race.  Let me rewind a bit though.  I didn’t eat breakfast before my run….I never do for early morning runs because when I have it has upset my stomach and caused more trouble than if I hadn’t eaten so I don’t.  This is what some call a carb-depleted state.  Your body has no digested carbs to use for energy for the race so it has no choice but to run on its reserves and, once those are depleted, your body shifts into fat-burning mode to make more carbs.  I’m not trying to lose weight….just trying to not run with too much on my stomach and 3.1 miles is not nearly close to taxing my body as opposed to a marathon.  The carb-depleted state is supposed to be good for marathoners to train their bodies to run well in the event there is no nourishment.  Anywho, I bypassed the water stations today because last week I grabbed water from both and ended up with a side stitch and I almost wanted to kick my own butt because I wasn’t thirsty so I took the water simply because it was there…..bad move that I didn’t repeat today.  This morning, I sat there searching the crowds of runners for a black face.  I don’t need to run with folks who look like me but it does help to see someone similar to you and I don’t care how psychological or whatever you wanna get with that notion.  Some of the white chicks were looking at me like I was lost or something.  As if seeing a black person at a middle distance race was an anomaly.  The guys could less….the chicks were borderline mean-mugging prb tryna figure out if I’m part Kenyan or something.  But, eventually, I did see maybe 4 black women and 3 black guys out of about 4000 runners.

The starting line was by pace.  I stood in the crowd of 9 minute mile pacers because my thinking was if I start out fast like I did last week then I’ll kill myself.  However, if I start out slow by following those around me I’ll stay on pace with some energy to play catch up if need be.  My first mile was 9:15….snail pace!  The second mile I tried to pick it up and cross there at 17:30 (I think).  I told myself I had to run the last mile under 7 minutes which is hard to do when you’re dodging other running bodies.  How I knew I was in danger?  Before the start of the race, I looked around and almost half the runners had freakin iPods on.  Either the small Shuffle like I have or the Nano….no serious runner runs a race with a damn iPod!  The good thing is that I passed a lot of people during the 2nd and 3rd mile.  The bad thing is that I passed so many people that I knew I had started off waaaaaay too slow.  I’d try to pick up the pace but get stopped by a group of chicks making small talk.  Go around them just to get slowed by grandpa.  Make the turn just to get slowed down by a group of guys wanting to pass.  A few feet ahead I’m still making up ground just to keep having to sidestep, run around, dodge her, squeeze between them, and then keep my increased pace.  I was doing more lateral running then forward running on certain parts which is sooooooo counterproductive!  I didn’t hear the gun go off so that tells you how many people were in this freakin race.  I crossed the starting line while the race clock said almost 3mins.  Of course, you don’t start your own clock til you cross the starting line and ignore the race clock but still.  We all had D-tag timing devices attached to our shoes which the sensors on the ground picked up at the start and finish.  So, my time should be accurate to when my right foot crossed the starting line no matter how far back in the crowd of small-talkers I began to the time that same right foot crossed at the finish.  What was my time?  26mins something.  It’s such a shame I feel like I might as well have walked the damn race.

So, I crossed the finish line, walked over to the fruit table, grabbed an apple and bit right into it, saw everyone with arm full of food so I turned around and grabbed another apple, walked down further to grab 2 cookies while still eating my 1st apple, walked over and grabbed 2 protein-type bars in chocolate & peanut flavor, and then walked over to grab a protein smoothie-type drink….all as soon as I crossed the finish line.  What does that mean?  I wasn’t tired!!!  I crossed the line and starting eating.  Didn’t bend over to catch my breathe.  Didn’t hold my side from the pain.  Didn’t need to stretch a sore muscle.  Didn’t need to do anything but got my skinny azz in line to stuff my freakin face.  Ridiculous!  I can be hard on myself but I also know when I’m tired and Bunny is so good at maintaining her composure and running til exhaustion that no one really knows if I’m really tired of not.  I don’t huff and puff.  I don’t gasp for air.  I run with my mouth closed occasionally parting my lips to get a good amount of oxygen and then I close them again because controlling my breathing helps me remain strong and also does a mental trick on the other runners if I look like I’m coasting.  I can’t believe today but I’ll get over it.  I need to change my game plan, stop doing miles and do workouts, work on my pace, leg strength, and core muscles.  I got on the scale today….125 lbs.  Haven’t lost that much weight but my jeans fit different.  I don’t see as many little curves when I first gained weight but my thighs are bigger.  Does that make sense?  It seems my thighs have expanded more out in front and behind with my quads and hamstrings instead of from side to side with fat. 

I have another race November 1st which I’m not sure if I’ll run in or not because it’s the same number of runners as today.  If I do, I’ll start with the 8 or 7 min pacers, work on my running attire, and maneuver the crowds a little bit better.  Trial and error….that’s how I’m learning all this stuff.  I overheard so many people saying to each other, “so are you prepared for next week?” and I almost forgot the Chicago Marathon is next Sunday.  One lady asked me if I was running the marathon next week while I was standing there shivering in the cold waiting for the race to start.  I looked at her like she was crazy but I still smiled and said “nope”.  She is running the marathon….her 1st marathon so she’s excited with rookie energy.  My sister’s boyfriend said I can train with him for the Chicago marathon next yr….um, how about no.  23 miles?!  I haven’t even master 3 miles much less 23 miles and I don’t there’s no order or plan to running certain distances but to run for 3 or 4 hours straight….my mind can’t comprehend it just yet.  I think I wanna stick to the mid distance races.  Long enough to test your resolve but short enough to test your muscular strength.  I’m black so of course I have speed for the finish.  Now, I’m just working on the Kenyan stamina.  All I need is high altitude running conditions and I’m cool.  I heard on girl tell her friend, “if you need to slow down let me know but we are not walking cause I know you can do this”….talk about a hardazz! lol I almost said “go gurl” for being so tough on your friend.  I ran the race, grabbed some food, and picked up my stuff from gear check just to see my new Columbia jacket which is white & red has a streak of mud on both sleeves.  The girl looked really sorry and apologized so I took my dirty jacket and just made my way to the bus stop.  Never had a Columbia jacket before but always heard abt them.  Paid $30 for this one off eBay and I am loving it!  Got to the Ashland bus stop with about 10 other runners and made my trek to the bank and then home.  I kinda wanna go to the marathon and cheer the runners on.  It’s great to see and hear ppl cheering for you.  They can’t run the race for you but it makes the hard way, the mile after mile, and the cold weather a tad bit bearable to know someone is in your corner.  Oh well, that’s my lastest race story…..lesson(s) learned again.

October 4, 2009 Posted by | Life | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Silver Lining

Olympic MedalsA 2nd place winner is a 1st place loser…too bad I don’t care.  I ran my first 5K in two yrs yesterday morning and I felt all kinda things before, during, and after.  Before I was cool but as it got closer to race time I got nervous.  I was sitting alone because I didn’t come with anyone and I didn’t know anyone there plus I didn’t wanna participate in nervous how-good-of-a-runner-are-you conversations with other participants so I went to jog for a few minutes outside and came back in to stretch in a corner on the far side of the room.  Next to me were 2 guys one who had a nervous smile on his face when he asked if this was my first 5K.  I explained the 2 yr hiatus and he said it was his first time running the 5K but him and his boy play football.  I was thinking in my head that football and a 5K were two different things but I knew they were running for fitness purposes only.  He said I looked like I do this a lot…..race.  He said I looked like a pro.  Yeah, don’t know what kinda vibes I was giving off but they were completely erroneous.  Anywho, at the end of the race, he found me and asked what my time was.  I said 24:40 and he said his was 29 mins with a sad face…I told him that was still good and we went our separate ways.  At the starting line with 15 mins til the gun went off, I had to pee.  You just hate crap like this!  Always empty your bladder, bowels, and nasal passages right before a race because this can screw you up big time when you have to worry about mother nature and race too.  I ran inside to pee but there was a line at the women’s bathroom and I’m thinking, “did y’all just get here?! it’s 15 mins before the start!” so I walk into the men’s bathroom.  Two guys were standing at the urinals, two were sitting/chatting/changing for the race (with no impulse to make the 15 min deadline), and both stalls were empty.  I walked into one and was about to pull down my shorts when I realized there were no freakin frackin doors!!  I asked one of the guys sitting there where the hell the doors were (like he stole them or something) and he said there aren’t any.  Great!  I walked out and prayed I didn’t have to pee mid-race and not a guy said anything to me as if a girl in a guy’s bathroom was common practice. 

During the run, my mind was driving me nuts!  It wouldn’t stop thinking, analyzing times, and breaking down people standing nearby as if I could decode their athletic abilities by their body shape.  If I saw a chick with a huge gut I knew she couldn’t be faster than me with all that extra weight.  If I saw a chick with an ipod and earbuds in her ears I knew she wasn’t a serious runner thus no competition.  If I saw a chick with her boyfriend I knew they were doing a couple run for fun.  If I saw a chick with full athletic gear and decent running shoes but not a muscle or a muscular cut anywhere I wrote her off too.  If I saw a chick with a long sleeve Underarmor shirt and a hat on in decently warm weather I knew she was more interested in dressing to impersonate a runner than actually training to be one.  Coincidently, none of those chicks beat me to the finish line.  I did all this at the starting line in the middle of the crowd about to scream because then someone said “ssssh” and I heard the gun go off.  Here I was in the middle of a pack of people about to step on the back of at least 15 feet as I attempted to make some room for my legs to at least extend out in front of me.  While trying to make room for my own stride, a chick in front of me stepped on the back of someone’s shoe and hit the pavement hard.  I leaped over her, thanked God I was paying attention, and kept on running.  My mind told me to slow down but my body was feeling good since the crowd was moving and I had no idea where the mile marker was to know how to gauge my pace until the crowd thinned out, I saw nothing but guys around me and maybe 5 chicks, and I looked up to see 6:45 on the one mile marker clock.  I looked down at my wristwatch thinking that’s gotta be wrong but, nope, same time dang near so I gave into what my mind was screaming and slowed down but it was too late by then…..I had exerted my body too early and depleted any reserves to finish in a decent time.  Yes, I went under 25 mins but I’m Bunny….I like to break my own goal for myself just to say I’m that dang good.  I realized eventually that I was the only black chick near the front of the pack and I couldn’t remember if I’d seen anyone who looked to be about my age so I could gauge where I was as far as the 25-29 yo women runners were concerned but I did place 2nd in my age group and now I know to run smarter instead of harder next week.  That’s right, I have a race one week from today at 8am with a field much faster than this race so me getting a medal is very slim.  I just wanna redeem my rookie mistakes from this one, lower my time, and I’ll be satisfied since I’m getting cool goodie bags 🙂 

Now, I’m nervous.  People on Facebook ask me running questions, advice, tips, or other things since they assume I should know how to start running.  That’s fine but every now and then I get nervous thinking I won’t know the answer so I tell them what works for me which is difficult because I can be difficult on myself because I know my body’s cues….a novice does not.  I know when I don’t good, when I feel achy, when I’m doing too much, when my muscles are sore from too little use, when I need to focus on endurance more than stamina, and I know the difference between the two.  Today, one of my friends walked up to me and said “I heard you finished the marathon” and I did a nervous laugh because I hate that distance without ever having ran it so I don’t wanna be confused as a marathoner.  Anywho, she wants to run with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I looked at her face and saw she was serious as heck.  The problem?  I haven’t ran with anyone since high school and, even then, if you could keep up you kept up and if you couldn’t you ran at your own pace.  She said she wants to work on her endurance….fantastic.  I told her I run 6.5 miles on those days and that’s my plan for this week since I have a race this weekend again.  It’s not nervousness because people are asking me things and wanting to run with me.  It’s nervousness because I feel like a coach and I don’t want that at all.  I don’t have a coach.  I remember what workouts I did in high school, what those workouts helped me strengthen, and I know what I need to do to get my body in fitter shape and healthier shape to get a PR.  I don’t know how to do those things with people anymore and that’s why I love running so much….it’s an individual effort with a team spirit.  We cheer each other on but, in the end, it’s about how bad YOU want it and I can’t teach that.  I can’t coach drive.  You either complain about the distance and do it or you complain about the distance and don’t do it. 

This is my passion and, although I don’t make money doing it, I train like I do and I give my all as if I will one day.  I love PRs.  I love the love from runner to runner.  I love the grit of feeling like your left butt cheek is permanently clenched while you feel like the right one has fallen from your body completely.  I love feeling like my chest is on fire.  I love negotiating with my legs to just pick it up a tad bit more and fighting with my body as my eyes see the finish line and my body is like “you must be crazy!”  I love seeing people fall and get back up.  I love seeing the silly t-shirts and funny signs along the course that make me laugh and remember why I love to run.  One sign yesterday said, “this was such a great idea weeks ago” and I almost lol’d in mid-stride because I was just thinking “why did I talk yourself into doing this?!”  This week, like I said earlier, 6.5 runs for endurance since it’s not taxing on my body with a faster 5K next Sunday morning in the Bucktown ‘hood.  After that, hill repeats and intervals for stamina and strength once a week for the next 3 or 4 weeks.  Wanna make a mile feel like nothing?  Run some hills often and that incline will rip your thighs into shape so when your feet touch a semi-flat surface it’ll feel like you’re coasting with lil effort.  Wanna learn how to “feel” your pace w/o a clock?  Train your body to recognize how it feels at different speeds while training it to run alternately at those different speeds so you’ll know when you feel like you’re off pace (like I did for my 6:45 mile) and when you’ve shot your pace to hell (like I did for the final mile).  I don’t have to do all this just to run and enjoy being a runner but I wanna get into the precious 19 min group just to say I can do it and I remember how it felt to run at whatever speed I wanted and at any distance I wanted knowing my body could perform.  Next week, 8 min mile splits…start slow and finish on time which will guarantee me a 24 min time.  But, me being me, I’m secretly shooting for 23.  Anyone who wants to run with me can meet me on the corner outside my apartment ready to go.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment