Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cooler weather & some flag football

Today: 6 leisurely morning miles; 8:18 pace
Yesterday: 2 hours of flag football (more on this below!)

So the cooler weather has finally made its way to Austin.  This week has been amazing, with morning temps in the low 60s and daytime highs around mid 80s.  Running in this cooler weather has been awesome!  On Monday I had a great run in the dark/dawn light.  I was watching my friend's dog Ike who is an amazing running partner.  He is some kind of catahoula/boxer mix, but ultimately one of the fastest dogs I know and he has lots of endurance.  He loves running with me, so I took him for a 6 miler along the Shoal Creek Trail, so he was off leash most of the time.  Ike is a very unique dog; for example, he likes fishing for rocks.  Check out this video:

This morning I could not run with Ike, instead I ran on my own; 6 miles with two loops around Mueller Lake, which is just east of I-35.  I enjoyed the run because it was cool out and I started just as the sun was coming up.  But, my legs were pretty tired.  That is because I played two hours of flag football last night.

As I mentioned in my first post, I am a ChemE grad student at UT Austin.  For the past 6+ years, the ladies in my department have maintained an all girls IM flag football team called the CHEetahs (get the pun?).  This is my third year on the team and because a lot of the older girls have graduated in four years, it also makes me the most experienced girl on the team.  For this reason, I inherited the captain duties, which include recruiting new people to join, holding practices, teaching the new people the rules, registering our team, and sadly playing the quarterback position.  See out previous captain was very athletic and motivated and could throw well.  Because of her, we went to the Women's finals the last two years and because much more competitive and organized.  But, she graduated this summer and because she can't play anymore we needed a new quarterback.  No one else really wanted to do it, which left me.  Having never played any competitive ball sports except soccer (in which throwing the ball is almost always illegal), I was not well equipped to QB.

Our first game was on Sept 12, and we got creamed, 19-0.  Granted, the team we played against was very good and athletic and experienced (I recognized almost everyone from previous seasons), it was demoralizing for me.  I wasn't able to move the ball up field efficiently at all, and we only got 2 first downs.  I did notice massive improvements in our defense from the first to second half, though.  All of the other teams TDs were in the first half, none in the second.

Our second game was last night and in between the two we have been practicing twice a week and working through the kinks.  We are a relatively young team, with only 3 experienced players.  In IM football, there are 7 girls on the field at once. With only a 9 person team, scrimmaging at practice has been a real challenge.  We try to drag guy friends out to play with us, but it can be hit or miss.  Fortunately, my patient boyfriend is willing to throw the football around for hours with me and my range and accuracy are getting better.  And while determination/practice have led to significant improvements, I still feel quite limited in my abilities. 

Last night's game was a relative success, we won 24-0.  Granted, the team we played was much less skilled than our first opponent, but they weren't terrible.   Two of the TDs were running plays with the running back, one was a pick-6, and one was run in by me!  Overall, the throwing game wasn't great, I still need to work on that, but it was a big morale boast for me and my teammates to have a successful game.  We of course celebrated with a trip to Amy's ice cream, where I had a delicious fruit smoothie (I hadn't eaten dinner yet!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A running funk

For me, there is nothing worse than running funk.  That feeling of lethargy that you get when your alarm goes off and you contemplate going out for a run; the long list of excuses you run off in your head that justify skipping out and going back to sleep, and of course the guilt you feel later in the day because you didn't run and you know you should have.  

Lately I have been plagued by such a running funk.  I notice they come in waves, and I attribute this latest running funk to the unbearably hot August's of central Texas.  See, I grew up in Boston, which means I spent most of the year running in cold temperatures.  My favorite running outfit would be nylon shorts and a long-sleeved cotton shirt (plus a sports bra of course!) and my favorite running temperature would probably be 45 degrees, sunny or overcast and crisp.  Of course, a Boston summer can bring warm temperatures, occasionally peaking in the low 90s, but the mornings are always relatively cool, usually high 60s.  Well, that doesn't even compare to an Austin August, where for a solid month, the daily high was above 100 degrees.  The evenings weren't much better, with temps still in the 90s at 9pm.  That left the mornings, where it was high 70s or lows 80s, but more than 90% humidity.  Running is this kind of weather just isn't fun for me and it felt like work.  It was hard for me to psych myself up at 6am to head out for 60 min of running through what feels like a wet blanket.  In 10 minutes, I would be drenched with sweat.  It started becoming easier and easier to make excuses and I first found myself missing weekend long runs, which then turned into weekday runs.  Instead of 5 to 6 workouts a week, I slipped to 2 or 3 days a week.  The longer I went without regular running, the easier it became to skip the next day's run.  It's an awful "funk cycle"

Fortunately, I think the funk is coming to an end!  The weather is getting slightly cooler and dryer here in Austin, and I am feeling more excited about running.  It's probably to early to call, but I've already run 3 days straight this week and I'm hoping the funk has passed...

In other news, I hosted yesterday's Runner's Round Table, episode 99, Trail Running for the Urbanite.  Check it out!!!