Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And so ends 2013...

Also known as the year I became a slacker blogger! Okay, don't mean to start on a negative note. Maybe my one resolution for 2014 will be to write more!

I can't remember if I made any 2013 resolutions. Basically I just wanted to live my life well, run, be healthy, nothing super exciting. I hope I didn't plan to run faster. Well, I probably did, because I ended 2012 pretty slow. I was both faster and slower in 2013. All of my 2013 marathons were faster than my slowest 2012 marathons, but my fastest 2013 marathon (NODM - 4:28) was slower than my fastest 2012 marathon (Eugene - 4:21). And I'm pretty sure that my average half marathon time was slower this year. Only one under two hours (Heroes' Half), a couple 2:00 (Whidbey, Portland Rock & Roll) and one 2:02 (Mercer Island).

I did set a goal of running 13 half marathons in 2013. I thought that was such a clever idea--turned out it was a thing. Everyone was doing it. In the end I ran 15. So two don't count (I'm counting them as long runs because in each I ran extra miles before and after to make 20-21 miles).

Here are the half marathons of 2013 (the ones that "don't count" are in parentheses):

January 20, 2013 - Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon - 2:09:50
February 27, 2013 - Birch Bay Half Marathon - 2:08:19
March 24, 2013 - Mercer Island Half Marathon - 2:02:12
(March 30, 2013 - Cupcake Run - 2:06:32)
April 14, 2013 - Whidbey Island Half Marathon - 2:00:31
April 28, 2013 - Heroes' Half Marathon - 1:58:37
(May 12, 2013 - Kirkland Half Marathon - 2:06:56)
May 19, 2013 - Portland Rock &Roll Half Marathon - 2:00:10
June 22, 2013 - Seattle Rock & Roll Half Marathon - 2:09:49
July 27, 2013 - Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon - 2:04:34
August 10, 2013 - Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon - 2:21:41
September 29, 2013 - Bellingham Bay Half Marathon - 2:10:14
October 13, 2013 - Biggest Loser Half Marathon Seattle - 2:07:59
October 27, 2013 - Snohomish River Run Half Marathon - 2:12:50
December 1, 2013 - Seattle Half Marathon - 2:13:44

I ran four marathons in 2013.

June 2, 2013 - North Olympic Discovery Marathon - 4:28:19
September 1, 2013 - Kauai Marathon (Hawaii) - 5:09:23
October 20, 2013 - Mount Desert Island Marathon (Maine) - 4:53:38
December 8, 2013 - Tucson Marathon (Arizona) - 4:44:05

I did a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks, one 5-mile, one 12K, two 15Ks, and one 30K. None of them were PRs. I didn't expect them to be. It's all good. (That really should be one of the phrases of 2013 that is retired in 2014!)

My total mileage for the year is something over 1,850 miles. I'm not sure of the exact number because I lost track of a couple runs with my non-functional Garmin. But that's about right.
One of the reasons I have many unfinished posts is that I want to add pictures and it is such a pain (to get them onto the computer, not to upload them into the blog post). I had several pictures to put in here but...it's too much of a pain. So here is one picture to end the year, the finish of the Kauai Marathon. (It may have been slow, but it was sort of awesome!)
I have some plans for 2014...but that will be for another post.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tucson Marathon - Last Marathon of 2013

On Sunday I ran the Tucson Marathon.* Since I finished before noon, I can legitimately say it was morning. The marathon started at 7 a.m. But I was up at 4 a.m. and got on the bus from the hotel to the start before 5. The drive up took about 45 minutes. Luckily we were allowed to stay on the buses as long as we wanted, which was good because it was cold out! Not bitterly cold like at home, or in other parts of the country where marathons were cancelled due to snow and ice, but it certainly felt cold. I heard later that it was around 40 degrees up at the start, but there was a cold wind that certainly brought the "feels like" temperature much lower.

Which leads me to my primary topics--"What Went Well" and "What Could Have Been Better"!

What Went Well

I dressed appropriately for conditions. This was not as easy to accomplish as you would think. Even when I left home I was unsure how the weather would turn out. At one time they were projecting freezing at starting time and upper 50s by the end. As it turned out, it was probably in the lower 40s throughout. I went with capris, a sleeveless NuuMuu dress (with sunblock on my arms in case I got down to that layer), a light half zip over that (which I bought at the Expo, even though I had one with), a zip-up hoody which was supposed to be a throwaway layer, a running cap, gloves, and a warmer fleece jacket which I left in my drop bag. I started with the hood over my hat (the wind was cold) but was fine when the hood blew off after a couple miles. I took my gloves off for an early bathroom stop and carried them the rest of the way. My throwaway stayed on--comfortably--for 23 miles! At that point I took it off and tied it around my waist to save for future use. I pinned my bib on my fuel belt to accommodate changes of layers. My bare arms were never exposed.

My easy pace was good in the early miles. The beginning miles had downhills which I know helped my speed, but it also had some rollers. I was feeling strong then, though, and it didn't hold me back. I don't feel like I went out too fast. Miles 1-10 were all where I wanted them to be, except for mile 4 with a bathroom break, and one might say mile 6 was too fast but it felt okay, and I was catching the 4:30 pacer (a somewhat temporary endeavor). See--9:53, 10:04, 9:51, 12:23, 9:49, 9:12, 9:46, 10:02, 10:14, 10:18 (BTW, 10:18 is the pace for a 4:30 marathon.

Miles 11-17 were acceptable, given some hilly sections of the course and my "banked time" from the early miles. (Although I suppose you could say I had already used up the banked time with the bathroom stop.) Miles 11, 12, and 13 were out and back on Biosphere Road. Out was largely uphill. This was where the 4:30 pacer passed me, on the out. Although he was ahead of pace because I passed 13.1 at under 2:15, yet never caught up (while running, anyway). 10:44, 10:45, 10:24, 10:33, 10:29, 13:20 (another bathroom stop, ugh), 10:33. By the way, I saw the 4:30 pacer for the final time at that 15-mile bathroom stop--he was coming out of the porta potty I went into. Obviously he was off pace at that point. But I assume he is a naturally fast runner and would make up the time and catch up with his group, who were presumably staying dutifully on pace in his absence.

You could say miles 18-19 weren't bad, compared to what happened after that. 10:48 and 10:49. These miles had my first walk breaks, and I still stayed under 11 minutes. At that point.

I used walk breaks pretty well, and didn't get sucked into long walking spells. Which can totally happen. As in Honolulu. (Although in Honolulu at least I only had one, quick, bathroom stop.) Starting in Mile 18, through 24, I allowed myself one 30 or 60 second walk after the mile marker. Obviously I should have stuck with 30, but I succumbed to a little weakness. I also walked briefly in 2-3 aid stations while getting water. Once I combined this with my other walk, but there were a couple supplemental. The walking did slow me down. I honestly don't know what my splits would have been if I'd plugged through without walking. Miles 20-24 - 11:17, 11:09, 11:32, 12:19, 11:19. Miles 23-26.2 was a deviated course due to road work, and there were some evil hills as well as some hills that would have been easy if it wasn't the end of the marathon! I stopped walking after my break at the beginning of 24 but honestly you can't see the difference. Mile 25 was 11:20 and mile 26 was 10:47 (a bit of attempt to finish strong). I did finish strong in the final .42 mile at a 10:14 pace (back to goal pace, haha).

I used a podcast to get through the deadly middle miles from 15-ish to almost 22. I wasn't going to do this because I do think that I run slightly slower with audio than music, but the distraction value was worth the potential few seconds different. Plus, it made music seem fresh and uplifting when I went back to it at mile 22. I listened to The Marathon Show's latest episode, an interview with Gary Allen and Reno Stirrat, both of whom have run many sub-3 marathons. NOT like me. Gary Allen is also the founder of MDI Marathon.

I fueled...okay. I had a Gu around mile 8-9 and another around 13-14. In the upper miles I started to feel nauseous and didn't want Gu. I did have some Gatorade (just a few sips though). Somewhere after mile 20 I dug out another Gu and ate about half over a couple miles. Then I threw it away. I never felt like I hit the wall but obviously I did slow down.

What Could Have Been Better

Bathroom management. Obviously. I don't want to go into TMI details about what didn't happen before the start and what did in the lengthy stops, but although it was necessary at the time it clearly added several minutes to my time. I only went to the porta potty once before the start--I like to go three times. It was just too cold to spend an hour standing in lines. I stayed on the bus as much as I could. In an almost ideal marathon I would have one bathroom stop of about 90 seconds. I calculate these two totaled about five minutes.

Not fading after mile 18 (or 17). Although I slowed after mile 10, things didn't really get semi-ugly until near mile 20. Not unheard of. But I need to work on that. Especially if I plan to have a goal pace next year that's faster than 10:18, or 10:00, or 9:45....

Not walking. Although the walking was not a bad thing, I've run many marathons without walking at all. Why I have I succumbed to the walk?

Fueling better. An ongoing problem for me. Although, I will say that in my faster marathons I don't think I fueled any more than this one. I may have made it through three Gu's once or twice...maybe. Never the four I plan for.

Running through discomfort. Not bathroom discomfort, although there is a line there too between when to hold it and when not to. What I am really talking about is making myself hold on when running feels hard. It's great that mikes 1-10 felt easy at goal pace. Goal pace should feel at least sort of easy for as long as possible. But at some point, it's not going to. Somehow, I've got to get better at sucking it up.

What I'm Not Saying Is the Answer

Just running faster. Obviously that would be nice, but I trained for a 4:30 marathon at 10:18 pace (that would be the pace without bathroom stops), and the important thing is maintaining the range of that pace, not trying to run faster. When it's time to run faster I need to train for that.

In the end, I think it went well (enough).

My fastest marathon this year was NODM at 4:28, and my other two were much slower. Kauai was 5:09 and MDI was 4:53. This one? 4:44:05. This was supposed to be an easier course (and overall it was), with a lot of downhill (and it did have, although much was very gradual), but it was NOT easy and with the changes in the last three miles it was quite challenging. So I'm okay with finishing my last marathon of 2013 as my second fastest of the year.

P.S. I've tried to find some significance in the numbers--4:44-- but I can't. OH WAIT! (Honestly this just occurred to me.) This was my 4th marathon of the year, on the 4th anniversary of my first marathon, and I'm in my 49th year, which if you add the number together numerology style to get a single digit, it is 4. Yes, I had to stretch on that one. The first two came easily. So clearly, I was destined to run 4:44 today.

*Yes, I know I haven't blogged since October 8 (two months!). So many unfinished blog posts. Maybe someday I'll finish writing about Kauai, Mount Desert Island, Honolulu 2012....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My thoughts on marathon taper

I've just started a two week taper in anticipation of Mount Desert Marathon, coming up on October 20 in Bar Harbor, Maine. I often read about runners who don't like taper, who find it frustrating and difficult to get through.

That's not me. I embrace the taper! Maybe I'm just lazy and welcome an opportunity to cut back on running. But I don't think that's it. (I am lazy, but in other ways!) I actually do get restless on non-running days, or during the real rest period after the marathon is over. But tapering doesn't bother me.

It's not like you give up running during a taper. Just laying around for two or three weeks would truly be a problem and impact your fitness. Taper includes plenty of running, just in gradually decreasing amounts as the marathon date occurs.

Generally speaking, a taper is two or three weeks long. I actually prefer a three-week taper, even though I'm only doing two weeks this time, and did two weeks before Kauai. This is because my training period between Kauai and MDI was less than two months, so I didn't want to spend a great portion of it in taper. I had three months between NODM and Kauai, but somehow the two-week taper worked better for scheduling then too.

This is what a good three week taper looks like to me. (On non-running days, I generally continue to cross-train on the elliptical.)

Three weeks before the marathon - final long run of 20-22 miles. The week after that long run my weekday runs don't change, typically 6-8 miles three times during the week. If I am doing speed work and tempo runs in the training cycle, I would continue with them as well.

Two weeks before the marathon - long run is 13-16 miles. This is a great time to do a half marathon with a two-mile warm-up. You can either run at faster than marathon pace (there's still plenty of time to recover from a strong half marathon effort, as long as it isn't super hard) or practice running at marathon pace. Again the weekday runs would stay at 6-8 miles, though perhaps trend toward the lower end. I think it's fine to do a little speed work or a tempo run as well. I have been known to do a 5K on a Saturday one week before the marathon, if I am not doing a half that weekend.

One week before the marathon - long run is 8-13 miles. I would likely do 10-12 unless I am running a half marathon. I like to do a half marathon at marathon pace (if I didn't do one the prior weekend).

The final week before the marathon - in this last week it is time to reduce both duration and intensity of runs. I might do six miles on Monday, five on Wednesday, and four on Thursday. (Or, given my propensity to overdo, six, six, five.) If I want to do a little speed work I might do a few 400s on Wednesday (but only if I've been doing speedwork regularly). It is really important not to do anything that might cause lingering soreness or injury at this point. So no hill repeats or barreling down hills too fast. It's not a bad idea to do all your easy runs this week at marathon pace.

I like to take two days off running before a big race. That would mean cross-training (sort of easily) on Friday and real rest on Saturday. I am not one who likes to do a shake-out run the day before the marathon. (However, that might change a little this time around.) On occasion (like in Kauai), I did do my last short run just two days before, and then just have the one rest day. That was more of a travel and scheduling fluke than any plan on my part.

This time around I am doing a two-week taper, but my longest run (20 miles) was actually four weeks before the marathon. On Sunday I did my final long-ish run of 18 miles. The rest of my planned taper schedule looks like this....
  • Monday (yesterday) 6.5 miles at marathon pace (average 10:15, miles 3-6.5 were around 10-minute pace).
  • Tuesday - 53 minutes elliptical (I was short on time) and going to hot yoga tonight.
  • Wednesday - I'll do 6-7 miles at a moderate effort, hopefully averaging 10-10:30 pace. I'm also going to test wear my marathon outfit! That will give me time to wash it and pack before leaving for Maine.
  • Thursday - Planning an hour on the elliptical.
  • Friday - 6-7 miles at moderate effort.
  • Saturday - Yoga (not hot) and some time on the elliptical.
  • Sunday - Biggest Loser Half Marathon at marathon pace effort. What does that mean? Don't try too hard! Historically, I almost always try at least moderately hard in a half marathon (results may vary). I really want to work at a pace that I can sustain for further than 13 miles. Slow as that may be.

Next week I'll do about six miles on Monday, fly to Maine on Tuesday, five or six on Wednesday, and then a few (no more than five) on Thursday. Rest on Friday! The switch-up is that I'm doing a two-mile fun run on Saturday morning, en route to a pre-marathon breakfast. This will be my first stab at a shake-out run! Not something I plan to continue, it just worked out that way. Still plenty of time for rest after that. Hopefully with blueberry pancakes in my tummy.

My 18-mile run on Sunday went really well. I was determined to do 18 miles instead of another 20, because I feel like I recover really well from 18-milers and I didn't want to drag myself down so close to marathon date. After two slower warm-up miles I was running around 10-minute pace through mile 10. Then I slowed to 10:30ish for four miles, and finally finished the last four miles back at 10-minute pace. (Average overall 10:20.) At mile 17 my sister drove by on the way to my parents', so I told her to drive ahead a mile and wait for me. I had over-run the distance at the beginning and it was still an extra mile to my parents' house...and I didn't want to run that last unplanned mile.

Then we went to my parents' and ate lots of good brunch food. The end.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Things I've learned about running over the years

I have a few unfinished posts waiting for me, but I keep getting bogged down in finishing them. So I thought I'd do a little free writing instead. I was sitting here reading a blog where the writer said she wasn't worried any more about trying to run PRs and get faster all the time.

Of course it made me think about how I don't foresee any PRs in my near (or perhaps distant) future, either. I think it's one of the myths people like to believe about running...that if you train regularly and try pretty hard you can keep improving and getting PRs. That's not necessarily true. You can run regularly, and do speed work, and not get laid up with an injury, and really try to run fast in races, and still just keep getting slower. Or get a little faster but not as fast as you once were. It's a roller coaster, really.

Some of the other things I've learned (that were a little surprising to me at the time)....

  • You really have to run more than two or three miles before a run becomes enjoyable. Maybe it's just me, but the first two miles of a run are usually slow, awkward, and not fun. That's why I almost always do warm-up runs before a race. My warm-up distances are one (or two) miles for a half marathon, two miles for a 10K or similar distance, and three miles for a 5K. I don't do warm-ups for a marathon, generally, although I suspect it wouldn't hurt. When I was in high school I ran regularly (for off and on stretches of time), but I never did more than two, occasionally three miles at a time. I never liked running back then. But when I started running five or six miles, the endorphins kicked in, and I found out I really did like to run!

  • Never say never. Any time I have said never again it has come back to bite me. For example...I'll never run over a two hour half marathon again. Um, yeah....I've been under and over more times than I can count. (I definitely do not intend to say I'll never run under a two hour half again!)

  • You can run for about three hours before your body starts to break down. Again, at least for me. This is why 18 miles is my favorite long run distance. (Granted it usually takes more than three hours, but it's in the neighborhood.) I'm not saying that 18 miles or three hours doesn't hurt, but it's fairly easy to recover from.

  • You run a lot slower on trails than on roads. That's normal. But if you run on trails a lot, your legs will adapt to that slower trail pace, and it might be hard to recover your road running pace. I'm sure trails build a lot of fitness in many ways, but they do nothing for speed.

  • It's okay to walk. I'm not a run-walk person, generally speaking. If I'm running, I prefer not to walk (although I will stop as needed) and if I am walking, breaking into a run seems like the most impossible, awkward thing. But I have discovered that a judicious use of walking in some races (and especially in trail runs with a lot of difficult, hilly terrain) is not a bad thing. It's best, in my opinion, to put some structure around it (e.g., walk for a minute every mile), so that you don't end up walking and dread starting to run again (e.g., Honolulu Marathon).

  • You can run faster in a race than in a training run, no matter how hard you try in the training run. I know, everyone already knows that. But it shocked me, in my early days of running 10Ks and half marathons, how I could take off and go faster than I thought I could. Even though that's abated a little bit--after running so many races, the race-day adrenaline is a little weaker--I can still usually find my git-up-and-go and pull out a decent finish time. (I said decent. Not great.)

  • However, when you get to the marathon, most likely your marathon pace is not going to be all that much faster than your long run pace. I know that contradicts most every training recommendation to run your long runs 1-2 minutes slower than goal race pace. And maybe if you are a super fast talented runner that works. But almost invariably I have found that my marathon pace turns out to be only a little faster than my typical long run pace for that training cycle. (And if the marathon gets ugly, it might even be slower.)
And finally, the most important, and shocking thing I've learned in my seven or so years of adult running....
  • You can run 26.2 miles and live to tell the tale. I know, it shocked me too!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The good and the (really) bad

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....

That's actually a non sequitur. There's no swimming here. Or sharks.

How about, just when you thought it was safe to go back out on the roads? That's not quite right either.

But I did feel like my small running-related woes and worries were decreasing. My dodgy Achilles discomfort had subsided to almost unnoticeable. My non-working Garmin sprang back to life on Friday morning, and was still working for my long run on Saturday. Everything was a go.

I headed out for my 20-miler around 8:30 on Saturday morning. I had really intended to go at 8:00, but Book Club on Friday night kept me out until midnight, and what is a Saturday morning for if not being able to stay in bed a little longer than a workday?

The weather Saturday morning was cloudy and comfortable, not too warm, not too cold. I started with a loop through North Everett. August 3 happened to be "The Mother of All Garage Sales," so I had to dodge various crowds of garage salers along the way. Aside from the obstacles, I felt slow and steady for the first six miles.

Then I headed towards Mukilteo. The road to Mukilteo is hilly. Long rolling hills. That's why I love it. Okay, love it might be an exaggeration, but  I did intentionally select the route for hill training. Between the ups and downs, I was still keeping a pretty steady pace between 10:30 and 10:45. I had hoped that I would get to the Mukilteo Ferry at 13 miles, but it wasn't quite far enough so I took a side trip through Mukilteo to add a little extra distance.

I took a bathroom stop at the ferry, and sat on a bench for a few minutes. Then I had to stand and wait for an entire ferry to load up before crossing the street and heading on my way. I was a little sluggish after the long break, and it's all uphill from the ferry out of town, so I was a lot slower starting my trip back than I had been earlier. Actually it took me about five miles before I got back to my original pacing...which would coincide with finishing the final hill by Forest Park before heading back into downtown Everett.

I stopped for my now traditional rainbow pop at around mile 16.5. There is something so refreshing about frozen fruit-flavored sugar water! I had originally thought of doing 21 miles, but due to lack of time I cut it to 20.20. I had also been using MapMyRun without pausing, and it said 20.65 which included some stuff that wasn't on my Garmin. My Garmin pace for the run was 10:50, and my MapMyRun pace (without ever stopping the timer at all) was 13:19. (I seriously thought it would be slower, especially considering the long stop at the ferry!)

Once I got home I had to hustle because Rod and I were meeting my sister, her kids and my parents at the Stanwood Fair. By now the sun had come out and it was a lovely afternoon. The Stanwood Fair is a small town fair with animals, crafts and food displays, carnival rides, and a pretty good selection of food.

I accompanied Hans on the pony ride. His twin Erik didn't want to go, but changed his mind after watching Hans and then Eva. The pony ride is pretty long and it's more work than you would think trotting around in a circle making sure the toddler doesn't slide off!
 Rod and I with Eva and Hans on the carousel.
 Me, Eva, and Rod on the Tilt-a-Whirl, which is a lot scarier than I expected!
I also accompanied Eva through the House of Mirrors...it was a narcissist's dream.

Then Eva went on some more of the kiddy rides unaccompanied. She had the wristband for unlimited rides...the rest of us had to buy tickets. Carnival rides aren't cheap.

By 7:00 I was ready to eat, and we dragged Eva away from the giant slide to get some food. Since it was late in the day, things were running out...specifically the turkey legs (which is what I had wanted). I got a brat instead, and corn on the cob. Then we were all tired enough to head home.

I think the walking and activity was good for my legs, because they never got really achy. Sunday I rode 22 miles on my bike (not fast).

Sunday night was when the bad started to happen. Actually it had started a few days ago with a slight sore throat that didn't go away. It never turned into a cold either. But on Sunday the sore throat got much worse, and Sunday night I had to sleep sitting up in a chair because when I was lying down I was having too much pain. Swallowing hurt so badly that I would start choking on my saliva because I didn't want to swallow. I was a mess. (Still, no cold.)

Despite the sore throat, I managed to go out for a moderate 6.25 mile run on Monday morning. I was back on MapMyRun because, guess what, my Garmin had died again. That was minor compared to the misery of my sore throat. I decided I would go to the Group Health Urgent Care after work.

Then, rushing into work, I pulled the building door into my foot and ripped off my big toenail. Well, it didn't detach completely but it was excrutiatingly painful and once the pain subsided (which happened quite quickly) I was gushing blood. I limped into the building and one of the guards helped me to a bathroom and called the detention nurse who bandaged me up. After my court calendar I drove down to Group Health and begged to be seen (for the toe and, while they were at it, the sore throat).

All they did for the toe was re-bandage it. As for the throat, they accepted my self-diagnosis of night-time reflux making my throat sore, and gave me a prescription for an acid-blocking med.

I don't know if that is the real cause, but happily, my throat seemed less painful that afternoon and, while it's still somewhat sore, I can swallow and eat without wanting to die. Obviously I was not cured by the medication (yet) as I just got it, but I'll go through the prescription for three weeks and see what happens. I pray that the sore throat will be all gone by the end of this week.

Because that's when I'm going to be in Colorado. My dad and I are leaving on Thursday for Denver, then Idaho Springs, for the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon this weekend. Yes, I know it is possible that I will not be running. I have no idea if my toe will be healed enough to run. Well, I know it won't be healed, but the question is whether I can run without much pain and without injuring myself further. If it doesn't seem like a good idea, then Colorado will be just a trip, not a race. I'm considering doing a test run tomorrow. If I can get my shoe on. Today was a rest day. I have also eaten cookies, cake and candy today, even though it is my least moving day ever!

In addition to everything else, yesterday I booked tickets for Tucson in December, for the Tucson Marathon. And...I got trip insurance. Just in case.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1 - One month to the Kaua'i Marathon!

Shall I join in the chorus of, "I can't believe it's already August"? And commiserate that summer is almost over? It has seemed a little fall-like for the last couple days, as it's been cloudy all day and never burned off in the afternoon. In fact, yesterday afternoon we had freak thundershowers. But despite the cloudiness, I haven't felt the bite in the air that says fall to me. It's been warmish and a little humid instead.

Actually, you know we're not even halfway through the summer. Summer ends around September 20. But most of us feel like summer ends informally around Labor Day, probably because the whole "school" thing.

For me, this year Labor Day weekend brings the Kaua'i Marathon! It's on Sunday, September 1, exactly one month from today.

Am I ready? I think so. I've run one 20-miler and have one planned for Saturday. Then I'll do an 18-miler in two weeks (which is two weeks prior to the marathon). I decided not to squeeze in a full 20-miler on that last long run, since two weeks is just a little close to race date. I feel comfortable with 18 miles, as that is the long distance that I seem most able to easily recover from.

I have had a few little glitches--not quite setbacks--that have affected my training and state of mind in the last couple weeks. I have had a persistent discomfort in my left Achilles that is not quite painful, but just enough to concern me. Actually on Saturday, after the Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon, my Achilles was really sore and painful to the touch. I ended up putting on a compression ankle brace/sock that I had bought for my other leg, and it really helped a lot. I have been pretty proactive with both legs, wearing compression socks and sleeves for the last few days, icing (with cold packs, not actual ice), and applying anti-inflammatory cream pretty regularly. Both legs are a lot better now, and of course, I am starting to slack on the icing and ointment.

On the technical side of things, my brand new (two months old) Garmin Forerunner 610 has gone CRAZY. Crazy in the sense that it won't charge, and has done some other bizarre things that make it unusable. I have called Garmin once and they gave me some things to do to try to resolve it. Up until this morning nothing has worked. I've had it plugged in to charge for two days and the screen remains blank. But this morning, when I was planning to call Garmin again, it suddenly showed 93% charged! WTF??? I left it plugged in to "finish" charging, and we'll see if I have a working watch when I get home today.

Obviously I can't run without my Garmin. Kidding! But just barely...it's hard to feel like I'm really running without constantly monitoring the pace and distance. I have been using the MapMyRun app, which does measure distance and pace based on the total time. But you can't easily pause MapMyRun like a Garmin, so I just keep it running except for major lights where's there's time to stop and start. So my timed pace has been in the 11-minute plus range for the last two days, and I have no idea what it would be if I could pause at all stops. (Or if I could just run steadily without stopping...what a concept!)

Between my sensitive legs and my insensitive pacing, I have not even tried to do any speedwork or tempo runs this week. I've also continued to ditch the weekday long runs that I wanted to do. It just doesn't seem wise (either speedwork or too much distance) when I'm trying to coddle my Achilles tendons. On Monday I ran about 6.25 miles at a 10:30 pace (Garmin worked up to 5.6 miles, then died--I assume my pace was about the same for the remaining distance.) On Wednesday I did 7 miles with MapMyRun, and today 6.75. My next run is a long run on Saturday, and who knows whether I'll be using Garmin or MapMyRun? Actually, I am planning to run MapMyRun even if I have a Garmin, just in case the watch dies mid-run. Also, I would like to compare the distance measured my MapMyRun with the Garmin distance.

Even though I said I'm pretty much ready for Kaua'i (although I wouldn't want to run it this weekend), the leg issues and watch issues have made me a little leery about running. It's hard enough to get myself out of bed in the morning, without wondering if I am going to hurt myself running! I've sort of gotten past the edginess that comes from running without my Garmin, but I don't like being unable to monitor my pace. I don't know if it's good or bad that it might be working again. It would be nice to have it on Saturday (and for a half marathon coming the following Saturday), but there's always the fear that it will die again, leaving me watchless at a crucial time! I guess with MapMyRun I have some backup. It would be fine in a race, as I wouldn't pause for stops anyway. I have also been thinking of buying a cheap Timex GPS watch as an additional backup. (The model is called Marathon, so why wouldn't I want it? Haha.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Random running update

I can't believe it's been more than two weeks since I've written a post. My computer deficiencies make it less than convenient to just sit down and write a quick post...plus, things like work get in the way!

Since the 4th of July we've had pretty good weather most days. I think there were a few random rainstorms at some point but most of my running has been in sleeveless tops. I always run in the mornings so even on hot days it is comfortable. I've had a few long runs that have extended into the warm mid-morning, but that's not a bad thing...I need to acclimatize for Kauai anyway.

I am currently in week 7 of my 12-week Kauai Marathon training plan. This time around I used a Runners' World Smart Coach customized plan. I tweaked it to suit my schedule and needs, and frankly I've tweaked and modified it so much that I don't consider this training cycle a good test of the effectiveness of the plan. I've followed the basic structure, particularly with the long runs. But the one thing I liked most about the plan is the part I've failed most consistently; that is, weekday long runs. A lot of the weekday runs are supposed to be 8, 9, 10 miles. Despite my good intentions, I have not managed a weekday run longer than eight miles, and most have been 6.2 - 7.5. It's not that I don't have the ability to run the distance, I just cannot get the motivation to get out of bed early enough to add 2-4 miles to my schedule. I thought summer would be the perfect time to do that, but...I am weak.

The last two weeks I have been running both weekend days, with a short race on Saturday (i.e. a tempo run for me) and a long run on Sunday. Back on July 13 I did the Magnuson Run Series 5K. The last time I did this back in May I was just over 25 minutes, and really hoped to break under 25 this time around. But it was not to be. My Garmin was unexpectedly discharged, and so I had no timing to encourage me (I don't know if that would have made a difference). I ended up with 26:55...not horrible I guess, but not great! It's a fun 5K to do though. They also do a 10K and 15K (and sometimes a half marathon), but I had no interest in doing more than one loop! (Although actually, I ran the loop beforehand as a warm-up.)
Afterwards, my parents and I went out to breakfast.
On Sunday, I did an 18 mile long run. This was one of those days where it got hot out before I finished my run. My average pace was 11:03 and really, I didn't care that much. I did appreciate a Rainbow popsicle at mile 16! (I learned this weekend that a popsicle is still good on a run even if it is not too hot out!) (This kind of goes along with the study that says that drinking an iced slushy drink can help improve running performance.)
This last weekend, I upped my race to a 5-miler (with a two mile warm-up). Again, a middling time (44:20) but a decent tempo run at 8:43 per mile. By some fluke of fate, I finished third in my age group.
It was a cloudy, slightly misty morning, perfect running, but after standing around more than an hour waiting for the awards, I was freezing!

The weather stayed cool and cloudy on Sunday morning for my 20-miler. Despite the good conditions, my average pace was exactly the same as the week before, 11:03 per mile. Please don't say that is now my long run pace....

For the last couple weeks, I have been experiencing some discomfort in my left achilles and calf. This is disturbing as it has always been my right leg with the problems (oh, my right ankle is twinging too, but that's normal). I've been trying to baby it by not overdoing too much (never mind the consecutive race/long run weekends). After my 18-miler I did an ice bath, which I think was a good thing, but I was too lazy to do one this week. Last night I put an ice pack on my right leg and a heat pack on my left (because the calf muscle feels tight)...I'll see how that works for a few days. I am not too concerned because it didn't feel any worse in the second ten miles on Sunday than in the first ten.

This Saturday is the Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon, which I've run six times before (this will be #7). It's a favorite!