Until I ran my first half marathon, I had no idea that a split was anything other than a trick performed by gymnasts and very happy, limber ladies.

Splits have another meaning especially important to runners; they are the minutes it takes to run a mile (or a lap on a track).

I’ll be honest here, I’m not usually very proud of my splits. They are often embarrassingly long and slow; a true reflection of my time on the road.

But my splits from yesterday’s seven miles looked pretty good. Even with a turtles’ start, my last three miles were between 11 and 11.3; fast for me.

Possibly the reason I sped up the second half of the run. I had been kept company by the moon for most of the morning, but then I saw this and I sped right up!

Is it possible that the missed runs from sickness and recovery have actually helped my time or was it the greeting by the sun that pushed me on to quicker speeds?

Tomorrow’s long run will be another test.

Until then…

Mind Games

Yesterday my daughters wore their pretty red dresses (despite the early morning tantrums about them not being pink) and performed in the pre-school Christmas show. I was teary-eyed watching them stomp their feet on the way to Bethlehem and singing about the baby they were going to see. Hands in the air, “Jesus!”

Last year I arrived a minute before the show, because I took too long running, getting showered and ready. My mother was not pleased and the face of disappointment that met me in the pew left no doubt about it. Mother’s have a supreme power and that was the proof.  It lasts far longer than the age of 18 and can make this 40-year-old want to be sent to her room.

In order to ensure that I got there early this year, I decided my final short run of the week would have to be two miles, instead of the planned three.  I haven’t run that short in ages, and in the rush to get back and go through the routine of hair drying, makeup applying, and clothes picking, I probably ran faster than I should have.

When I returned home, I quickly plugged in the USB port to attach the Garmin and pulled up Garmin Connect. Analyzing my runs is proving to be a useful tool. It was obvious that I was running harder than normal, based on my numbers…

Average moving pace: 11:47, Best pace 8:42

Average heart rate 153BPM, Max heart rate 183BPM

I read in Runner’s World that the whole point of the long run is to prepare the legs for, “Running long.” Running too fast is like racing, and defeats the intended purpose. My attempts at running more slowly during the higher mileage outings is affecting my pride and becoming the downfall of my long runs.  It’s become more of a mind game than a running game. Whenever I see my pace slow to what it should be (closer to a 15 minute mile), my ego gets a bruising.  My pride can’t take it and mind games aren’t nice.

I’m eagerly waiting for Brian to wake up so that I can hit the road and get some of this resolved. I am determined to keep my heart rate steady on today’s 13 miler. It will be difficult to see my pace (and my shadow) running so sluggishly, but I’m curious to know if the last three miles of this long run will feel different.

He’s up.

I’m off.

Wish me luck.

Mindful Eating vs. Mommy Eating

Today was my mid-week mid mileage run. I mapped when I got home and had gone farther than actually planned, roughly 7 miles. I was happy  about the mileage, but not so much the speed. While on the road, I felt slower than slow. I visualized myself like a little turtle. A turtle in pink compression socks.  It turned out I actually had run an 11.42 minute mile.  Faster than Monday, but still pretty sad.

I spent the majority of the run thinking about why I am so slow? I wish it was complicated, because then I’d have an excuse for it. No, it’s simple. I have terrible eating habits. And I’m great at excuses!

Yesterday is a pretty good example of why. I started the day as I usually do, with a cup of Special K with Red Berries and a cup of skim milk. A few hours later the girls were getting antsy because I was still typing away, and they wanted to go to the library as I’d promised. A bad mommy moment later, to minimize the whining and buy me some time, I offered them a homemade cupcake that Brian had brought home from work last night, and a show on the DVR. There were three cupcakes left, so they each got one. I figured that last little cupcake shouldn’t just be sitting there all alone, so I gobbled it up. After going upstairs to get showered and dressed, the library was waiting, and I realized I should feed the kids some real food before we ventured out. I made them a whole wheat pita pizza with bell peppers, and they nibbled carrot sticks with humus while it cooked. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When they were finished with their lunch, I participated in the most dreadful, “deadly to the waistline,” habit of the stay at home mom. I finished their food. Oh, and lest I forget, I also finished the remainder of the cupcake that Grace didn’t want (she didn’t like the peanut butter on the inside).

Hmm. I wonder if that bit of peanut butter is what made me want a pb&j?

I digress.

The day continued in the same frenzied way. At the grocery store in the late afternoon I sampled the ham and salami that we got at the deli counter. A cookie from the cookie bin and a piece of “grocery store” bread, the kind that’s filled with sunflowers and honey, was next. For dinner, I gave the girls leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes that their grandmother had made the night before. I steamed up some green beans and voila, dinner was served. I proceeded to eat a bite of meat loaf out of the pan, two bites of potatoes from the microwaved dish, two green beans, and 2 gigantic bowls of ice cream!

We went upstairs after dinner and I brushed my teeth, so I wouldn’t be tempted to stack later.  As soon as the night-time routine was complete and the kids were asleep, I came back downstairs for this week’s Empire Boulevard, a Fresca, and a the remaining half of a bag of pita chips from Sam’s Club (you know, the gigantic bag) hiding in the back of the pantry.

The excuses had to stop today. I will never get faster if I don’t stop this ridiculous and lazy eating. I need to be mindful and care more about me. I’ve got to fuel my body right if I’m ever going to lighten up to speed up, let alone run 26.2 miles.

Today has been a much better day. I’ve eaten whole, real, small meals and I feel much better! Let’s hope this turtle can keep it together; the marathon and my life require it.