Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A small crisis of confidence

I must come clean and admit that in the past few weeks I have been having some doubts about whether I can do it. What is "it," you ask? That's a good question. While I know I am feeling insecure about my running abilities, I am not completely sure what it is I think I am courting failure at.

Is it running a four-hour marathon? Or a sub-4:15, which is sort of my cut-off point between "decent, just not my best day" and "wheels completely off the bus." Totally arbitrary, of course.

Is it running a half-marathon PR? Or even just maintaining a reasonable sub-two? Because a PR is not my highest priority these days, but certainly maintaining my sub-twos is.

Is it obtaining PR's or reasonably decent performances in some unknown future fall 10K or 5K? Because again, I would like to get a PR or two but would happy to just stay in the range of my better showings.

I'll admit, all of these things seem a little scary and elusive. I feel like I am falling back into my inexplicable early 2009 slump, where I kept getting slower and slower, until I hit "bottom" at the Bath Half, then started to speed up again. This culminated in major PRs in every distance by fall of 2009. And now, a year later...what?

I think a few things have been going on this summer which have led to my self-doubt. I've already mentioned a few times that my easy runs, and easy long runs, seem slower than they were a year ago. As far as I know, I have been exerting the same level of effort but the times just feel slower. Or longer, whatever.

I've had a couple of 10K's (the last two I did) that were notably slower than my 10K's earlier this year (let alone my PR from November 2009). I also had a slow 5K, but I excuse that because it followed immediately (like five minutes) after a 10K.

Then there was the half marathon from hell in August. Granted, I was intentionally doing this as a long run rather than speed work, and it was super hot out, and I ran five miles before I started. But I was still stunned to end up with a 10:30-ish pace, which is completely out of the realm of my typical half marathon.

When I go out to run speed work, for example 800's (which are on the schedule tomorrow morning), I am never sure that I will be able to hit my desired pace. Even though I have largely succeeded at every effort, it has been success with an asterisk; for example, starting out too slowly but finishing on pace.

My fear is that what should seem easy (at least I think it should seem easy) instead feels too hard. And I don't know why. Probably it was hard last year too, and I am just remembering with too rosy a glow.

One thing that adds to my nerves, I know, is my ever-tender right ankle. It has never gotten to the point of true pain, the kind you can't run through, but the level of discomfort, though varying, is almost ever-present. That can't help my state of mind.

This morning I registered for the Super Jock & Jill Half Marathon on Labor Day. I've had it on my training schedule since the beginning, but hesitated to sign up until I was pretty sure it was doable (I'm talking personal schedule-wise, not ability-wise). For the first time ever, I think, I was somewhat reluctant and nervous to sign up for a half marathon. It's not that I want to try for a PR or anything. What I want to do is run comfortably and stay under two hours. I want those two things to be mutually inclusive, not exclusive.

And then there's the Fairhaven Waterfront 15K on September 11. I would like a PR in this one. But my PR from last year was so fantastic, I don't know that I could beat it even on a good day (surely on a great day, though!). My average pace last year was 8:18...I'd accept 8:30 without whining too much. My fear is...well, you can imagine.

So I don't know that putting all my concerns out there has helped me much. Perhaps it just added to the ephemeral worries that have been drifting through my mind. That can't be good.

But on the positive side (I have to be somewhat positive, I am the glass-half-full girl after all!), I am still running. The ankle hasn't laid me up or anything. As negative and reluctant as I might be starting a run, I always finish pretty strong and happy to have run. I tell myself that race-day adrenaline is powerfully strong.

I'll run Super Jock & Jill and see how it goes. If it doesn't go especially well, I'll try to let that go and concentrate my energy on Fairhaven. If I am in a slump, eventually I will climb back out of it. I know this to be true.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Candy canes

Today didn't go exactly as I planned, but it worked out well in the end. I'm not sure if I wrote about my run on Friday (I think I did), but I did my "long run" (13.26 miles, a cutback week) on Friday morning to free up some time on the weekend.

Early Saturday morning we headed east to Waterville to go to the North Central Washington Fair. It's a pretty small fair, but Rod and I agreed that it had more "fair stuff" than the Stanwood Fair, another smalltown fair we went to this summer. Stanwood has way more stuff for sale, but Waterville has more exhibits and animals.

We wandered through the exhibit halls and some of the animal barns (poultry and rabbits) and stopped at the Douglas County Democrats booth and gave them a $5 donation. We also looked at the new cars and tractors that were for sale. :) We weren't tempted by the fair food because we already had plans for lunch.

After a couple hours we were ready to go. There's only so much fair you can take. (And for me, apparently the amount is pretty low.) Someday I might write a whole post with some of my thoughts about fairs....

We had lunch at a gallery and Southern barbecue place in town. She really wasn't open for lunch, but offered to fix us lunch anyway. Unfortunately this unique, delicious place is probably going to close because she's just not getting enough business. Sad. She gave us a splendid lunch, some cheese and crackers while we waited, salad greens with coleslaw, magnificent plates with jambalaya, smoked chicken, and ribs, and finally an airy peach cobbler for dessert. It's unfortunate that we live too far away to help business much!

We were so stuffed that I thought we might not ever eat again. That's not a risk I'm willing to take, though, so we brought a couple cans of chili, corn tortillas, and plums to eat for our dinner at the cabin.

We spent a lazy afternoon lying around and I read most of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. I had just started it, and I couldn't put it down! (I finished the last pages this morning.) Love. It. (Another future post, my favorite memoirs!) You MUST read it!

I had originally planned to run around Rimrock on Sunday morning, but we decided to leave pretty early, so we might miss the traffic around the OTHER fair, the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe.

We headed out around 7:30, and took a slightly longer but SO scenic route through an area called the Palisades. The road descends steeply into a rock-walled canyon...I've tried to take pictures in the past, but haven't managed to capture the epic scenery. This picture is from nwpics.com, and even it doesn't really convey the magnitude. Around 9:00 we arrived in Cashmere, another storybook cute town, and stopped at the Anjou Bakery for a non-traditional breakfast. Rod had two pieces of their scrumptious cherry pie (because one was not enough) and I had a piece of cinnamony bread pudding (perfectly nutritious, just bread, eggs and milk!). Although I felt like I could have eaten a whole pan of bread pudding (it was so good), this made a very satisfying meal.

My compromise plan was to run in town when I got home. This would be a bit of a struggle, as the pleasant sunshine of Eastern Washington turned to deep clouds on the Western side. Plus my body was aching from the long car ride. My legs and glutes don't take well to sitting in a car for too long!

But I got home before 12:30, and hoped to get out around 1 or so. I arranged to meet my mother at the Farmer's Market around 3—I would call her when I was about half an hour away.

I was only planning 6-8 miles when the run was at Rimrock, but I upgraded to at least 8 at home (easier terrain). I also wanted to run around a 9:30 pace, if possible. I stacked my deck a little by planning a route that was largely downhill after the first few miles (after all, I was going down to the waterfront).

My first mile was about 10:15, not too bad, and I managed to stay under 10 after that. I used the downhill stretches to bring down my average, of course.

I put on a final burst of speed in the last mile or two and got to my destination at 9.53 miles, with an average pace of 9:31. YESSS! (I know, that's more of a Yes! pace than a YESSS!)

We strolled quickly through the market. All I really wanted was baby beets (see picture above), but I also left with a cocoa nib cookie.

I felt a little unfinished at 9.5 miles, so I ran a rather difficult loop around the marina (bringing my total to 10.65 miles at 9:33 pace). Total mile for this week about 41.5.

For dinner I roasted the beets and sauteed the greens. (And ate them with some other stuff.). Delicious!

Friday, August 27, 2010


After all my iPod difficulties of a few days ago, I did manage to get enough stuff back on my playlists to restore my favorite running playlists, plus a few podcasts that I have enjoyed listening to enough that I have gone for one-hour walks several days after work this week, just to listen. (That may be the longest sentence I have ever written. Yes, I was an English major!)

But this morning I encountered the most basic of iPod problems: dead battery. How this happened I don't know. I suppose during my use this week for running and walking I could have run it down (even though I just had it plugged into the computer the other day, I thought). I also suspect that I may have forgotten to lock the screen while carrying it around in my purse, so the play button may have been pushed and run it down. Who knows.

Anyhow, it was a problem. By the time I discovered the discharged battery it was already after 8 a.m. and I didn't have time to wait around for the battery to charge. If I had checked on this at 6 a.m., when I first woke up, or 6:30 when I fixed breakfast, this wouldn't have been a problem. Of course, I could also have checked last night when I made sure the Garmin was charged!

I woke up in the middle of the night, around 2 or 3 a.m., to the sound of pouring rain. By 6 a.m. the sound had changed to dripping. I didn't know if it was still raining lightly or just dripping off the eaves; I didn't bother to check, but opted to stay in bed and wait for it to really stop raining. Which it did, by the way.

Today was a hint of things to come in the fall, though, as I realized that there would soon come a day when I had no choice but to run in the cold, cold rain. (Happily, today was not that day.) But even without rain, I felt (from inside my 60-ish degree house) that it was a chillier day, and opted, for the first time this summer, to put on my capris and a long-sleeved shirt. (As it turns out, it wasn't really that cold; I would have been fine with a short-sleeved shirts and even shorts. There was even a few minutes when the sun came out that I was kicking myself for over-dressing...luckily the sun went back behind the clouds and I was fine.)

But back to the iPod problem. What to do, what to do. I wasted some more time fooling around with my BlackBerry in hopes that I could listen to a talk radio show by way of its website (couldn't) or that I could listen to a Phedippidations podcast through that website (nope, at least not on my BlackBerry).

I was resigned to braving the run without any audio entertainment, but decided to give Pandora radio a try. I had downloaded it to my phone a few weeks ago, but that time the program crashed after just a few minutes. This time I had a little more luck.

First I had to pick an artist to build a playlist with. This was hard, because I couldn't think of one single artist on my running playlists that would epitomize what I wanted to hear...I have such an eclectic mix. I was also trying to make a quick decision, and my brain was just empty. I finally typed in Natalie Cole, not because that was a good choice at all, but basically because she's recorded a lot of music over the years, a few of which I do have on my playlists.

Now, these Pandora radio programs, if you've never tried it, play music not just from your selected artists, but various artists who have a similar style. So my "Natalie Cole radio" gave me a very pleasant, if not hard-driving, selection of pop-jazz music...including Natalie and Nat King Cole, Michael Buble, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, and others of the like. Not exactly the music you want to push you through a run, but frankly, I was just happy to have music at all.

So I jogged lightly through the first few miles without managing a very impressive pace. I had decided to do my long run for the weekend today (12-14 miles, a cut-back week), to make things easier over the weekend. I wasn't trying to run very fast, luckily.

About 40-45 minutes along, the music stopped just before the end of a Michael Buble song. I got the phone out and fiddled around with it, trying to restart it, create a new playlist, or do anything to bring back the music, but it was no go.

So I ran the next few miles accompanied only by the sound of my breathing and my feet hitting the sidewalk. I decided that after almost an hour and a half the iPod had to have achieved some charge, so I diverted the route to return to my house at the 8 mile point. Sure enough, it was about half charged, so I plugged myself in and (after a bathroom stop), headed back out to finish the run.

Twelve to 14 miles, and I had done eight. That meant four, five, or six to go. At first I thought it would be cool to do another 10K (for a total of 14.2), but I wasn't sure I wanted to run that far. Also, I was so late from my delays earlier that this would probably be unwise.

As I retraced my steps through downtown, it became apparent (or at least, likely) that about 13.1 miles would be a good distance to shoot for. I could manage that by only tweaking my route a little bit, not enough to seem too difficult. I ended up running downhill on Everett Avenue in the last bit of mile 13, which was ideal, because I like ending on a downhill! I stopped the Garmin at 13.26 miles on the doorstep of Starbucks. I used one of my free drink cards to get a mocha and walked the rest of the way home.

My right ankle and achilles tendon had been bugging me a little throughout the run, which is a bit disturbing because I count on the soreness going away after a few miles. When I got home, even though I was really late and needed to get to work, I spent about 15 minutes with that leg in a chest of water and ice. (The one kind of ice bath I can do successfully!) I may do another course tonight. Or at the very least put an ice pack on it.

My pace for the run overall was about 10:08 (I believe that is correct; I haven't downloaded data yet). I accept that as an okay easy run pace. But I have been a little concerned that my long runs and easy runs seem slower this year than they were last summer and fall. I am sure (without actually taking the time to check) that I was managing a 9:30 to 9:45 pace, even in the very long runs. And I have always done those runs at a "comfortable" pace, without pushing myself until, perhaps, the last few miles. This may turn out to mean that my marathon pace is going to be slower as well. I guess I'll have to wait and see...it's too late in the game to make any big training changes now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mama Goes Masters - 8.25 Virtual Race Report

From one 40-something to the newest member of the club, happy birthday MCM Mama!

As befits my procrastinator personality, I waited until the last minute (actual day) to run 8.25 miles in honor of the birthday girl. Actually, to give myself credit, I could have plucked 8.25 miles out of any of several runs in the last week, but I really did want to run the 8.25 on 8/25. Because I am geeky that way.

I even carb-loaded last night with dinner at Lombardi's. A great way to justify eating pasta! (And, um, bread....) It was also the last day for my free birthday dinner coupon, so I enjoyed my $18.95 plate of Spaghettini with Dungeness Crab on the house. (And my accompanying salad on my folks' tab!) I have a little bit of leftover pasta for today, too.

I had all sorts of good intentions of getting up extra early to make sure I got the mileage in without making myself late for work. (Even though 8.25 miles is a typical weekday distance for me, I figured I'd want a warm-up before and cool-down after, making the total running time longer than usual.) I even woke up before 5 a.m., thinking I'd hit the road at 5:30 or 5:45. But I started reading my book, and cuddling with one of my cats (who, for once, wasn't using me as a pincushion but was instead just snuggling up with me, creating a barrier between me and the floor), and before I knew it, it was almost 6 a.m.

So I finally jumped out of bed and threw on some running clothes (wisely set out the night before). I pre-fueled with half of a peanut butter & chocolate PR bar (setting the stage for a morning of chocolatey-ness) and a few chocolate-covered espresso beans. I strapped on all my gear, set the Garmin, and stepped out the door to our pleasant late-summer upper-50's coolness. (It's supposed to get to the mid-70's today and then be cooler over the next few days. Our humidity is about 50%, which I guess is about the perfect level, because it doesn't feel humid at all but doesn't desiccate you like the desert does either.)

I knew I had to do some kind of warm-up before I started "counting" my distance, so I decided to use the first half mile or so (which covers the first hill) to get the early morning lead out of my legs. If that wasn't enough I could extend the warm-up to a mile, although I really wanted to get going on the real race!

I modified my usual running route to start out going south for a couple miles before doubling back, therefore adding extra distance at the beginning instead of the end. The downside of this is that those first couple miles are gradually uphill...the upside is that I then get to go back down!

My intention with this race was to use it as a tempo run, a "comfortably hard" effort that I could sustain throughout the run (although I could not manage a pace that I would consider an acceptable 10K or 15K race pace).

One of the differences between a "real" race and virtual race is (at least for me) that in a virtual race you don't have the adrenaline fueled starting kick of a race with actual competitors. You know, that kick that makes you go out way too fast and (sometimes) record a first mile split that is faster than any of the following ones?

Well, in this race I was apparently still warming up for the first mile, even though I thought I was giving it a strong effort. Mile 1 - 9:27.

In order to help give a boost to my overall pace, I decided to employ a strategy that has worked to speed me up a little in the past. For each mile I ran .75 at the aforementioned "comfortably hard" effort, then for the last quarter mile I would step it up a gear and try to run as close to 10K effort as possible. This worked best on miles where the last quarter did not happen to be uphill!

The first mile and a half was gently climbing, and then my route switched to slightly downhill until the end of mile 6! (That is, with a short uphill stretch, about a quarter of a mile, at the beginning of miles 4 and 5.) Miles 2-6 - 8:55, 9:03, 8:50, 9:07, 8:54. I thought that my effort seemed a little bit hard for what was essentially "easy" half marathon pace (or goal marathon pace), but on the other hand, at least I was averaging sub-9.

In miles 7 and 8 I was repeating part of the climb from the beginning of my route, but I was staying strong and, in fact, sped up a little in mile 8, my final full mile of the race! Mile 7 - 8:53, Mile 8 - 8:43.

My final quarter mile was all downhill and I threw it all out there—.25 mile at 8:02 pace. Okay, maybe it wasn't all out there. If it had been, my pace would have been solidly under 8:00.

Total time 1:13:56, average pace 8:57.

I jogged the remaining quarter mile to Starbucks, giving me total mileage for the morning just over nine miles.

At Starbucks I got myself a mini-mocha to celebrate the end of the race and toast MCM Mama! (Sorry the print is so small. Time to get yourself a pair of readers....!)

Post-race breakfast (part 3 of the morning's chocolate trifecta): Nutrigrain Lowfat Waffles with Justin's Chocolate Almond Butter and sliced banana. (I was out of oatmeal, okay?)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everyone's doin' it (the 20-miler)

It seems like my Google reader was full of 20-mile weekend run reports this weekend. All of them successful, go runners! Most of them also quite a bit faster than mine. How anyone can do a 20-mile training run at a sub-nine pace (in some cases, sub-eight), boggles my mind. In my case, I didn't even manage sub-ten this time around.

I'm trying not to dwell too much on my pace, though. I'm telling myself that long runs are supposed to be slowwww and eassssy. I'm telling myself that it doesn't matter that all of my long runs last fall were sub-ten (9:30-9:45 pace, mostly). I'm telling myself that my 10.5 mile run from Friday (with some marathon pace miles in there) tired my legs enough to slow me down on Saturday morning.

All of those things are true. And if this also is a harbinger that my marathon time (assuming I manage to get a marathon done) will be slower than I would like, well, too bad. It is what it is. (I sort of hate that phrase!)

Anyhow, I headed out on Saturday morning at 7:15 to put in the 20. (That was 15 minutes later than I had planned, of course.) The weather on Saturday was perfect, upper 50's to low 60's in the morning, and lightly sunny. Not hot at all (so I don't have that excuse to fall back on).

My route consisted of a nine-mile loop through Marysville, about three miles over the highway to Everett, and the remaining eight miles looping through Everett.

While not fast, I was at least pretty consistent. Most of my miles were in the 10:25 to 10:35 range, with the few that were even slower mostly understandably so. Miles 1-8 - 10:24, 10:25, 10:31, 10:28, 10:26, 10:36, 10:30, 10:29. Mile 9 was right down State Street in Marysville and it was inexplicably 10:54 (although now that I think about it, there was a little problem with a starting and stopping of the timer at one point, perhaps I mistakenly let it run at a stoplight).

The almost-three miles across the highway (along the shoulder and over some bridges) is my very least favorite part of the route. I hate the traffic, I hate the wooden walkways along the bridges. I would have thought those miles would be slower, but maybe (despite slowing on the bridges) I tried to hurry to get it over with. The final mile includes quite a bit of uphill. Miles 10-12 - 10:33, 10:29, 10:59.

After the unpleasantness of the highway, the almost deserted roadway (and good sidewalks) on East Marine View Drive in Everett was almost lovely. My legs were getting a little tired, though. Miles 13-15 - 10:27, 10:45, 10:37. As I'm running this part of the route, I started reconsidering my plan for finishing. Originally I had mapped it out to go down along the waterfront then loop back up. Even though that worked on Map My Run (and probably would work), I started to worry that this would take me long and I would end up too far from home. (It's not just that I didn't want to run extra, I was also on a time schedule.)

I decided that if I got to fifteen miles by Broadway (QFC), I would just do the remaining five miles on Colby and Grand Avenues without going all the way down to the waterfront. Colby and Grand are familiar stomping grounds for me and I thought that would make it feel easier.

I did hit fifteen right at Broadway, so I headed up the hill on Everett Avenue to Colby and headed north. After two miles I was at 10th Street. I probably should have gone a little further but I cut over to Grand and started backtracking. Of course, when I got back to Everett Avenue I was still only a little over nineteen miles, so I continued on for a couple more blocks before turning back and heading back down the hill to QFC.

Let me tell you a little about my legs during this little jaunt. They weren't happy. They weren't speedy. They were, pretty much, turning to concrete. In the last mile I pushed hard for a final kick and you know what my time was for that mile? 10:13. Yes, it was faster than the other miles but it was hardly a big kick. Miles 16-20 - 10:46, 11:01 (yes, things were getting hard), 10:35, 10:28, 10:13.

I had to go around the block at QFC to get over 20, so my final distance was 20.02 miles. I looked at the Garmin when I stopped at Starbucks and I think my average overall pace was about 10:35. I am not exactly certain because a funny thing happened at Starbucks while I was waiting for my drinks (a post-run mocha, with an Americano chaser to caffeinate me for the rest of the afternoon). I inadvertantly pushed the start button on the Garmin and let it run for a few minutes. So my final split was .03 miles in 2:26, which was a 30 minute per mile pace. Ha. Ha. Ha.

The good of this run was, of course, the consistency. The bad was not so much the slowness, but the lack of confidence in my ability to run fast(er) when the time comes!

Sunday was a deserved rest day, although I did break down and go to the Y in the afternoon for a stint on the elliptical.

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 6 a.m. (at least 15 minutes later than it should have been) for a Monday morning recovery (or whatever) run. As I wrote last week, even though this was a recovery run, I've been trying to put a little fun (and quality) into the Monday runs. Today I worked at pushing a 10 minute pace for a couple of miles, then did some more fartlek or interval work to add some bursts of speed to the other miles (which does wonders for the average pace). Mile 1 - 10:36 (the first half slower than 10, the second half faster). Mile 2 - 9:42. Miles 3-8.6 - 9:05, 9:17, 9:19, 9:03, 9:04, 8:51, and .6 at 9:52 pace. The kind of neat thing about those faster miles was that I achieved those paces by alternating a pushing pace with a jogging pace. Now, I'll admit that the fastest ones had more pushing than jogging (and the final .6 was almost all jogging!).

Average pace for 8.60 miles, 9:23 per mile.

Late this afternoon I had some iPod traumas (I won't take the time to describe it all), but by the time I got the iPod to sync and I managed put back some of my playlists and podcasts that had been deleted in my fumbling around, it got late. In fact, it is late. (Well, 7 p.m.) Which sort of puts a pall on my plans to go for a walk (listening to a podcast) in order to help work off some of the chocolate cake and tortilla chips I downed during my computer drama. Darn it. Maybe I still have time for 5K if I hustle...at least that'll put a dent in it!

So I'll be on my way then.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Five things Friday

I have no time here, so I'm trying the fast version, ten minutes or less, okay?

  1. This morning I ran 10.5 miles, with 8.5 at marathon pace effort. What that means is I tried to do goal marathon pace but didn't quite manage, due to a couple of extra-slow miles (9:31 and 9:45, right in the middle). My average pace for the entire 8.5 was 9:11 (so I almost made it up on the averaging). I would say that 6.5 of the miles were acceptable marathon goal pace (ranges from 8:47 to 9:19).
  2. While I was running, particularly during my two miles of warm-up, I considered changing my goal pace to 10:00 miles.
  3. I am concerned about the feasibility of running the Bellingham Marathon on September 26; not because of my training, but because of other things going on around then which may take priority. (They do take priority, the question is whether they will prevent me from running.) For a short time this morning I thought I had a solution, which was to drop to the half in Bellingham and find another October marathon to run. But I can't seem to find one. All the good ones are on October 10, when I am doing the Portland Half...and I can't trade up to the full, I emailed to ask and they won't allow it as they are all sold out. So I'm back to the original problem. My temporary solution: not to worry about it right now.
  4. I had a lovely birthday dinner last night featuring lobster rolls plus other stuff (may be a picture in a future post). I love lobster rolls, and all things lobster.
  5. There are several marathons in New England in October, at least one of which would fit the bill of what I need. But I can't go to New England in October. It's all the way across the country, and I'm going to Maine in the spring, after Boston. So I've got to stop thinking about this and this.

Have a great weekend, people!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My own little virtual race

I'll admit, I had to "cheat" a little to make this happen. At about 44 minutes I was perilously close to finished, so I jogged very slowly for about 30 seconds and then stood still for another 30 while the time ticked away. 4.5 in 45, done! (Plus half a mile warm-up beforehand and half a mile the rest of the way home after.)

Even though I got up way earlier than usual, I still twiddled away a bunch of time (including time spent taking pictures of my watch and myself), so I didn't have as much time to go to the Y as I expected to. So I had to settle for 45 minutes on the elliptical and call it good.

A new setting on the elliptical machine....

It's my birthday

someecards.com - Happy 45th Birthday. You'll never have to run a sub-4:00 marathon again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This week so far

Running this week has gone well. Even though the weather stayed warm on Monday and Tuesday, both days I went out early to run and the heat didn't affect me at all. I adjusted my usual running schedule for this week, so Monday was a recovery run, Tuesday was speedwork, Thursday (tomorrow) is planned to be a "special" birthday run, and Friday is a medium-long run as usual. (Saturday will be a long run.)

In the last few weeks I've been doing some block to block fartleks during my Monday runs, to add a little excitement and boost my overall pace. I was going to do the same thing this Monday, but instead I decided to do a "practice" of my 4.5 mile birthday run tomorrow.

I started with a slow warm-up mile. (I'm going to try to limit the warm-up to half a mile tomorrow.) Then I launched into my effort to do the next 4.5 miles in 45 minutes. That's obviously a 10-minute mile pace, which shouldn't be too hard to accomplish, but it is still a challenge to average an exactly 10-minute pace over a short distance!

Mile 1 - 10:11
Mile 2 - 9:59
Mile 3 - 9:57
Mile 4 - 10:02
.5 mile - 4:47

Total - 4.5 miles in 44:56. Score! Now to replicate that tomorrow....

I went on to finish 8.16 miles total (8.16 on 8/16), average pace 9:54.

Tuesday was speedwork Wednesday a day early. Seven 800's (half miles) at 10K pace.

After 3.3 miles of warm-up, I hit the track.

1 - 4:03 (8:07 pace)
2 - 4:00 (7:57 pace)
3 - 3:59 (7:56 pace)
4 - 3:58 (7:47 pace for .51 mile)
5 - 3:56 (7:54 pace)
6 - 4:00 (8:01 pace)
7 - 3:52 (7:38 pace)

I jogged .2 - .25 mile recovery in between each lap, except after #5, where I cut the recovery to .1 mile to save time. Apparently that was not enough recovery time, hence the slower pace on lap 6 (after which I returned to a longer recovery).

Total - 8.5 miles at 9:18 average pace overall.

Tomorrow is the "official" 4.5 mile birthday run!

SOWL update...

No, I have not forgotten, nor have I ignored, the Summer of Weight Loss and its challenges. As my weight loss ticker shows, I haven't managed any significant progress, unfortunately. Rather infuriating as I have been eating very cleanly and running lots...all I have managed to do is shed a few pounds that had crept on and get back to what appears to be my set point, the 155 neighborhood. I did try a bit of extreme dieting a few weeks ago (for a few days) (by extreme I mean about 200 calories a day lower than my current net calorie goal, which required intense monitoring and abstinence to accomplish), but I've backed off on that because I felt it was depleting too much energy from my running.

But I plug along.

The challenge a couple of weeks ago was to clean out your closet, pull out things that don't fit and give them away, donate them, whatever. That is a really fine challenge, I agree, and my wardrobe definitely needs pruning (although I have gotten rid of most of the stuff that doesn't fit). My problem is I have too much of everything, nice stuff, okay stuff, stuff I bought too much of because it was a good deal and looked cute at the time. I really do need to go through my several closets and pull out items that I just won't be likely to use, and donate them to a good cause. I'll do it by the end of the year, I promise!

This week's challenge is to create your own challenge. Determine what's hurting, not helping, your weight loss journey. Challenge yourself to correct whatever that might be.

Okay, what to do, what to do. I'll cheat a little and start with something I've already began as of August 1...which is to turn off the TV by 10 p.m. (on weeknights, anyway), in order to get to sleep earlier. I have been quite successful with this. I've done it every weeknight I can think of except for Sunday. The reason for that was I was up late waiting for something (don't remember what, maybe oatmeal to cook) and I watched TV in my living room until I went up to bed. Otherwise I've been in bed by 10, TV off, reading a book till I fall asleep.

Hmmm, I might have to stop with that. There's not much more I can do to change things up! I gave up diet Coke, I don't drink alcohol, the sweets are pretty well in check (except that this is birthday week and there will be exceptions for sure), I don't want to change my exercise routine too much until at least the end of the summer, and maybe after I get through this training schedule. The one thing I know I could do is give up half and half in my coffee but I am so reluctant to do that...so for now I am hanging onto my sweet cream.

Even though I haven't reached my next reward level (152), I did break down and get myself a pedicure. Really, my toes were unfit to be seen, with just a trace of old polish left and just general ugliness. Since my birthday is this week, and Eva's baptism (necessitating dress-up) is on Sunday, I thought it was a good time to patch things up. I went with orange polish because I am obsessed with orange this summer. I almost switched to violet when I was reading a little magazine piece saying that purple was the hot color this summer (and the lady next to me was using that color, and it looked nice!) but I stuck with my original choice. I am surprised at how normal my feet look now!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Burning in hell

Kind of a negative title for a post about a generally good weekend, I know. But with the temporary recurrence of real summer, there is a downside--heat! It's hot, hot, hot. Or at least it was over the end of last week and the weekend. Today we're starting a bit of a cooling trend.

I know, I admit, that what I call very very hot is just the norm in many parts of the country during the summer. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't know how you people do it! As much as I (and my fellow Washingtonians) complain about the weather here (too hot, too cold, too wet, not enough rain,* etc.), we are truly blessed in so many ways. And, best of all, very little humidity most of the time.

Friday morning was an off day for running, but I hit the Y early for 90 minutes on the elliptical before going to meet my mother. We headed north to Bow for a quick end-of-season visit to Anderson Blueberry Farm (where did the time go?). Loaded up with several flats of blueberries for the freezer, we then hurried back home so I could make my afternoon court obligations.

Saturday I had an 18-mile run on my schedule. I had signed up for the Magnuson Series National Fitness Day Half Marathon (to take care of 13 of those miles). Since the official run didn't start until 10 a.m., I had plenty of time beforehand to get in the first five!

My mom came with my for company and support, though I was a little worried about leaving her out there in the Magnuson Park parking lot on such a hot day. (But she could have gone down to the lake if she had wanted to. She was fine.) We got there about 8:30 a.m. I originally was going to run two miles, check in, then run three before the race started. But I decided to go ahead and do all five first, then get my bib number.

I had thought I would do my pre-run on the actual course (about 3.25 miles repeated four times for a half marathon), but it wasn't fully marked yet, and in retrospect I am glad I didn't have to do that same exact route five times--four was hard enough. So I just looped around the paths and trails in the park. Some of it was the race course and some wasn't.

The five mile warm-up went well enough, about 10:04 average pace. It was pleasantly warm out but not yet too hot. I finished about half an hour before start time, easily enough to get my bib, refill my nuun water bottles, and use the bathroom again.

My only goal for the half marathon run (other than surviving, of course) was to run at an easy pace ("long run pace") and not try to push myself at all. There were a couple reasons for this. One, it was going to be very hot, and didn't want to make myself sick or suffer too much for a run that was not any kind of goal race for me. Two, this was just a long run, no reason to treat it as anything but. (Maybe that's actually the same as number one!)

This race included four different distances, 5K, 10K, 15K, and the very special National Fitness Day Half Marathon. The 5, 10, and 15K's ran a 3.1 mile loop, and there was a little out and back added to the half marathon loop to make it the right distance.

Not surprisingly, there were far more runners in the shorter distances than the longer. 59 people finished the 5K, 36 the 10K, and a token six in the 15K. The half marathon had barely more than a handful, with 11 listed finishers (and one participant who stopped after three loops--don't know if they gave him credit for 15K instead).

So the strange thing was, the first two loops were like any race, plenty of people around, running faster, slower, and the same pace as me. But by the third loop I was pretty much running alone the whole rest of the way.

For the first few miles I maintained a pretty easy 10-minute pace. The 3.25 mile loop included paved trail, dirt and gravel, a decent gravel hill (I walked up this the last two times), and some some sidewalks and pavement. There was a water and Gu station about 2 - 2.5 miles in, and the short out and back was right after that (so you actually passed the water twice in a short distance). First three miles 9:54, 9:58, 10:04.

There was one major difference between this run and a "normal" long run on my own. When I am running on my own, I stop my Garmin when I stop for a bathroom, stoplight, phone call, or any reason I might pause. In this event, I didn't pause the Garmin at all, and that is definitely reflected in my pace. I had several stops or delays, including the water station, a call to my mom when I needed her to bring out my replacement nuun bottles, the actual exchange of bottles, and a bathroom stop.

Miles 4-7 (this includes all of the first two laps, plus a little): 10:15, 10:08, 10:44, 10:32. The only runner that was consistently near me after the small crowd spread out was a younger guy with a beard doing the half marathon. I think he was with a young woman who was very fast--she doubled back to check on him in the first lap, then was never seen again. She may have been the person who won the entire race, but I don't know. She definitely finished well ahead of me.

At the water station in the second loop (my 10:44 mile), the guy paused for a bit and I passed him. I stayed ahead of him for the rest of that lap, then apparently I pulled far enough ahead that I never saw him again. Either he never finished or he was the person who was 12 minutes after me (the age was right).

Miles 8-10 (I know I am not really reflecting the loops, impossible to do precisely considering the distance): 10:45, 11:50, 10:43. Mile 8 probably included walking up the gravel hill. Mile 9, I'm pretty sure, was when I walked while I called my mom to bring out the extra nuun (I almost just stopped while I called her but then I realized that it would be more efficient to walk!). Mile 10, I think, included my more leisurely trip through the water station.

I met my mom just before crossing into the final loop. She is used to me really racing half marathons, so was prepared to pretty much toss me the bottles while I ran on. But I stopped for a moment to take a couple swigs before leaving my almost empties and taking the new, cold bottles. I told her, see you in about 30 minutes, as I ran on. I was a little bit optimistic, somehow I thought that I would have a final kick for this last 5K+. As I was crossing the start/finish line to begin my final loop, a male runner finished with 1:42:44 (ah, my envy at both his time and his finish!). He must have been running much faster earlier in the race, because in the last mile he pretty much paced with me, and I was definitely not running an 8-minute pace!

Miles 11-13: 10:47 (hill, or just tired), 10:21 (a little bit of a kick!), 11:51 (bathroom stop). The bathroom stop in the last mile was crazy. Normally, if I had to go so close to the end I would push through, regardless. Normally, if I had to go so bad that I would stop in a race, I would have been suffering for several miles before the stop. This time I just approached the water stop (conveniently by a park restroom), and suddenly realized I needed to pee. I was so surprised, I announced it to the girls at the stop (I'm sure they appreciated my sharing). I thought I would do the out and back and stop after that. But then I started to pee my pants a little! How weird is that!

Weirder still, I felt compelled to announce that I was going to go to the bathroom then do the out and back. Actually, the reason I did that was to make it clear I wasn't just skipping the out and back. So I stopped, and added a minute or more to my time (my standard race bathroom time seems to be about 90 seconds--that would also be consistent with a 10:20 pace absent the stop).

All through this final stop I amused myself (if that is the word) but noting that this was the last time I would have to do such and such. The last time up the gravel hill. The last time around the big field. The last time past the sports field where there was a soccer game or something happening. The last time across the miserably hot black paved area. The last time through the parking lot. The last time over the lumpy rocky torn up road. The last time past the water station girls. The last time on the half mary out and back.

And then the best part...the last time on the out and back to the boat launch (disappointed because the guy monitoring the turnaround had apparently given up and left). And finally, finally, the last time across the start line which was now the finish line. I saw the clock was in the two-teens as I approached (slowest half in a long time**), and I crossed at 2:18:31, about a 10:35 average pace.

There were still three people behind me, so I wasn't last. Even though it felt that way--it was so deserted. I would have liked to wait to cheer in the rest, but it's just as well I didn't. One finished twelve minutes after me and the other two finished seventeen minutes after that.

Instead, I headed down to the lake, took off my shoes and socks and waded in! The water felt so good--cold but not too cold. The rocks on the bottom were mossy and slippery though. I didn't want to get in all the way because then I'd be sitting on my mom's leather seat in wet clothes. They were pretty wet from sweat already but I think that would be over the top. So after a few minutes I got out and put my shoes back on--the rocks were too hot to walk on barefoot.

I probably have not expressed well how hot it was out. I don't know the official temperature but it got over 90 that day. It may not have been quite that hot before noon but for running, it was definitely the hottest temperature I'd run in this year. By far.

I don't think there's any way I could have done that run at a race-level effort. Even the "race" atmosphere did not trick my body into running fast! Of course, there was hardly a competitive atmosphere once I was running all alone. It's a little discouraging to have such a slow time in a half marathon but I have to remind myself, I ran it the way I wanted to.

When we left Magnuson we headed back north, but made a slight detour to Coldstone Creamery to collect my free birthday ice cream (a "like it" size cup with one mix-in). I got cake batter ice cream with heath bar mix-in (450 calories total). Then my mom dropped me at my house and I hit the shower.

Later that afternoon Rod and I headed out to my folks' house for swimming in the bay, a little lounging on the deck, and burgers for dinner. The water was pretty cold but we stuck it out for a while before heading to the deck to dry off in the sun. I considered this my ice bath. I think it helped because my ankle has not been giving me too much trouble since!

I did pick up some other foot injuries at the beach though. I got a small cut on my left foot from barnacles in the water, and apparently stepped on something with my right heel because that has been sore ever since. I originally thought that was a barnacle cut too, but it's different; there's a sore spot on my heel like I have a thorn in it. Don't know where I would have picked that up, though. I hope it goes away soon--it makes walking uncomfortable, though I am able to run!

On Sunday I took a rest day and Rod and I took a ferry to Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) for the afternoon. We walked around the shops, ate a late lunch, then looked at a few more shops and the art museum before heading back to wait for the return ferry. It was pretty hot. By the later part of the afternoon I was sweating just walking around town! Luckily, once we were on the boat and moving there was a nice breeze.

The hot weather has continued this week, but I've done my running early in the morning (both Monday and Tuesday), so it hasn't bothered me. It's starting to cool a little, and by Thursday (my birthday) it will be much cooler, possibly even with some rain on the weekend. I think a little weather break will be okay. :)

*It's true. Sometimes we worry about water shortages.
**But still faster than the Bath Half Marathon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beach getaway

This probably looks an awful lot like a post from a month or so ago. I can't help it, this is as much of me sunbathing on the deck as I am willing to show!

We are having a mini-heatwave here--up in the 90's over the weekend, and as the temperature is probably going to drop again in the next few days, I took advantage of a light afternoon to head out here for some sun and saltwater. I have already taken a dip in the water to cool off while I lie here on a deck chair. I have two books but instead I have been reading blogs!

In the background of the picture you can see my sister, her (white) dog Nissa (a Samoyed), and the (black) neighbor dog Chester (standard poodle). I don't know if you can see the seaweed on my sandles...I wore them in the water to avoid barnacle cuts on my feet!
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

A better week!

I'm not quite ready to say, "I'm back, baby," a la George Costanza, but I do feel more myself this week, after three runs that were just what they ought to be, and much less back talk from my ankle and achilles tendon.

After my long run on Sunday (which counts as last week), where I finished feeling tired and achy all over, I really didn't know how Monday's recovery run would go. I was prepared for sluggish and slow. I just started out easy and tried not to stress about pace.

After a couple miles of warm-up, I decided to incorporate some fartleks, pushing the pace a little for a block or two, jogging the next block, and so forth. I figured this would add a little fun (runner fun) and make the run go faster--both psychologically and literally. I wasn't paying too much attention to the pace on my watch, so I was pleased to find out when I got home that I ran each mile a little faster than the one before! From the beginning--10:56, 10:21, 9:55, 9:38, 9:24, 9:16, 9:08 and 9:07 (half mile). Total 7.5 miles, 9:46 average pace.

My next running day was Wednesday, speed work day. I had already decided to switch out hill repeats for a re-do of last week's failed 800's (6). Once again my first few miles were slow. I did four miles warm-up on the way to the track.

The first half mile interval was not encouraging--4:06 and an 8:11 pace. But from #2 on things improved. I tried to focus on running well, landing on my mid- to forefoot and pushing off, rather than just trying to make myself run faster. I was jogging about .2 mile in between laps for the first four, then knocked it down to .1 mile for the rest because I was running out of time. My remaining intervals:

2 - 3:53 (7:43 pace)
3 - 3:54 (7:52 pace)
4 - 3:55 (7:44 pace--lap was long)
5 - 3:53 (7:43 pace)
6 - 3:44 (7:25 pace--woo hoo!)

Total run distance - 8.51 miles, 9:23 average pace.

Finally, today. Today was really the best day of the running week, just because it went well even though it was a second consecutive running day after somewhat hard speed work. Today's run was a progressive tempo run. After each two-mile segment I attempted to increase my pace by about 30 seconds (roughly), starting with 10:30+ pace and finishing sub-8:30.

Miles 1-2 - 10:56, 10:32
Miles 3-4 - 10:08, 9:56
Miles 5-6 - 9:29, 9:33 (Mile 5 was a special triumph because for the first .4 mile I thought I was still in the 10-minute segment. So then I had to speed up enough to correct my average pace. I was a little stunned that I succeeded!)
Miles 7-8 - 9:10, 8:52
Mile 9 - 8:20
Mile 10 - 8:54

The reason I split up the last segment was because I knew I would arrive home before finishing mile 10 (it was at 9.5). I wasn't sure if I'd have time to finish out a mile or would need to just quit at 9.5 (and get ready for work). If I did finish off the extra half mile, I knew I couldn't keep up an 8:30 pace just running around the block! So I intentionally let the final mile drop to closer to a 9 minute mile.

I did make the extra loops around the block, though. Total distance, 10.10 miles, 9:35 pace.

So, so far, so good. Of course the biggest challenge of the week remains... 18 miles on Saturday, including a half marathon in Seattle (I'm not planning on running race pace though). And, just to make things extra fun, Saturday is supposed to be hot, probably the hottest day we've had this summer! All the more reason to take it slow.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rethinking recovery

Or, perhaps I should just say thinking about recovery.

When I wrote up my current training plan a couple weeks ago, I did the unthinkable--included a full rest day every two or three weeks. That means complete exercise rest without any kind of workout.

Mostly, I am a fan of active recovery. I do like to allow plenty of non-running time in my week, but I usually fill that with elliptical training or sometimes another kind of cross-training. Even on a day where I want to rest up for a race the next day, I'll probably do something unless the race is really important to me (as in, I am seeking a PR) or it is super intense, like a marathon. I'll admit, it makes me a little edgy to go without any exercise in a day.

But lately, as I've been dabbling with almost-injury (sore ankle and achilles tendon flare-ups) and potential burn-out (slower race times, more negative thoughts about running), I have decided to cut my body a little slack now and then. I have certain rest days on my schedule but I am prepared to be flexible with either adding more (as needed) or switching back to some kind of activity on a scheduled rest day. If there's something fun to do, and I feel like doing it, I will. On the other hand, if I hurt too much, or even if I am just too tired (within reason), I will give myself a break.

But rest days are just the first part of the recovery revolution. Part two is working on the aches and pains, hopefully to make them disappear.

Yesterday Rod and I put the Boston Whaler in the water at his parents' beach. What this means is Rod backed in the trailer and released the boat, then I stood in the water and held onto the boat while he parked the truck and trailer at his parents' house and walked back. Then, after we finished our outing, I held the boat while he got the truck. Each time involved me standing in the water for at least 10-15 minutes. In the cold, salt water. Just call it a mini-ice bath!

Now, let me assure you the water was nowhere as cold as it would be with actual ice in it. But it was pretty cold by anyone's measure. And I think I am tougher than most because I grew up swimming in Puget Sound. I thought it was actually pretty mild yesterday.

But I swear to you, my ankle and the rest of my legs below the knee felt quite rejuvenated from the soaking! I didn't even mind standing there for so long because a short dip would hardly do anything. I actually had an urge to immerse my entire body in the cold water, but didn't because 1) I didn't have enough change of clothes with me, 2) it really would have been cold and not nearly as pleasurable as I was imagining, and 3) the neighbors watching us with the boat would have thought I was nuts. They probably already did, when they asked if my legs were getting cold and I said no, it felt good! I probably should have explained that I had achy legs from running 16.67 miles. Then they would have thought I was really bad-ass and not just crazy.

Much later that night I also forced myself to take an epsom salt (hot) bath before bed, to soak out the rest of my body. I say forced myself because by the time evening rolls around, I never want to take the trouble of running a bath and getting myself wet; I just want to go to bed. And that's what I usually do.

But I am going to make a concerted effort to give my foot and ankle more ice water soaks (or at least ice compresses), at least for the next few weeks until my ankle feels less tender. And I'm going to take more baths.

Recovery part three is basic, and should help in all aspects of my life: get more sleep. I think that speaks for myself. I am working toward that goal by forcing myself to turn off the TV at 10 every night. (No more Seinfeld!) Then I can read as long as I want...but it rarely takes long before the book is falling out of my hand and I am turning off the light. Unlike watching TV, where I may doze off and leave the TV flickering for hours...not quality sleep. (After I master the 10:00 thing, maybe I'll look at moving it back further so I can get an actual 8 hours!)

Finally, part four comes from a couple of articles in this month's Running Times. The online version has a few additional items that I might peruse, but I think you need to have the print version to read this current stuff. The first article is called "Work the Recovery," on page 24. This article addresses the best way to structure your run to maximize recovery, including fueling (before, during and after) and hydration. I'll probably need to study it more to see how it would help me, and I don't want to try to summarize and misspeak. So I would just recommend getting a copy of the magazine and reading it (there's other good stuff there too).

The second article talks about the time frame for gaining benefit from hard workouts, and the relative scheduling of different kinds of workouts to get the most benefit without over-straining your body. There's even a handy little chart showing types of workouts, time you should wait before another similar workout, and what to do the day before and day after.

Applying that to my weekend (10K on Saturday, long run on Sunday), I would characterize my 10K as a "threshhold" workout (even though the 10K wasn't ideally fast, it certainly was at least a tempo run). The chart recommends a recovery run or speed development (intervals) the day before, and a recovery run, speed development or easy long run the day after. What I did: recovery run two days before, "easy" long run day after (I'm calling it "easy" because of the pace--physically it was not easy!). Again, you really need to actually see the chart to get a complete picture.

I think that pretty much covers it, for now. I will add that I do think that food and diet probably play a part in recovery as well (and I will be rereading that part of the Running Times article) but mostly my diet is so healthy, high in antioxidants and Omega 3's and all that jazz, that I don't see any need to reform that part of my life (except for the ways I've already addressed). Fueling for runs is a work in progress, still, but it seems to be working okay.

Oh, one post-final thing. I am thinking of tweaking my training plan again this week and taking off the hill repeats on Wednesday. I would most likely replace them with the failed 800's from last week. Not because I feel compelled to make up the 800's as much as because I am a little concerned that hill intervals might rile up my achilles tendon. I know from running Langley and the pain discomfort I suffered for days afterward, plus just general experiences running up hills, that uphill running aggravates the back of the calf. It's elementary, really, when you consider how much that part of your leg gets stretched going uphill as compared to downhill or flat. If just running up hills at whatever pace is hard on the achilles, imagine what hard running, as I try to do in hill repeats, could do! So I am seriously considering putting hill repeats on the back burner for now.

Blogger woes

I just finished a lengthy post about my weekend runs and blogger failed to publish. What's more, blogger also failed to auto-save after the first few paragraphs, and I have lost almost everything I wrote. I don't have the heart to try to rewrite now. In case I don't ever reconstruct that post, let me summarize. River and Rails 10K - 52:22, pretty pathetic but second in age group. Long run Sunday - 16.67 miles, 10:12 average pace, seemed a lot harder than it should have been, but it got done.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

So, I ran.

After all my rationalizing and ultimate decision not to run today, I ran anyway. So how did this happen? Well, it started with the weather. Even though this was supposed to be the warmest day of the week, when I went outside it was actually quite mild, with a cool breeze. Perfect for running.

So when I got home I changed into running clothes and headed out for a short run. I started out with the Newtons, but after a block I just felt awkward, so I went home and changed into my Asics.

As usual, the first couple of miles were hard (I'm just not someone who can walk out the door and feel great), but eventually my legs lightened up and I was running mostly sub-10. After miles 1 and 2, the rest were all under 10 (if just barely--I had a lot of uphills--mile 5 was 9:59) and I hit six miles at just under an hour. I went on to finish at 6.3 miles in 1:02:48.

Then, as you can see, I got my mocha frappucino and walked home.

Now, laundry awaits.
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And then, a slump

Pretty much as soon as I finished my training plan and recklessly posted it on the blog and Facebook, I seem to have fallen into a slump. I've had a hard time running, already had to change some things on the plan, and fear that I'm losing my mojo.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I had to cut my morning run short at 3.36 miles due to some severe GI issues. I abandoned the planned 800's and got myself home as quickly as I could...enough said about that.

I really wanted to make up the missed mileage and possibly do the 800's after all, so after work I changed into running clothes and headed out. It was warm (for here), in the 70's, but not so hot as to be a problem. I chugged around a 5K route in my neighborhood, then stopped at home to change into my new Newtons and try them out at the track.

I think it is going to take me a while to get used to the Newtons. They fit comfortably but the "bump" on the forefoot is a little odd. I certainly didn't feel Ninja fast, as I had hoped! I jogged over to the track and started my first attempted 800. Unfortunately there was NO gas in my tank and not only was I slower than I almost ever am with intervals, as I approached the quarter mile mark I knew I couldn't keep it up for another time around. So I changed the 800's to 400's and did four, with quarter-mile recovery jogs between. Even just doing 400's the best pace I could manage was around an 8-minute pace. Pathetic.

The second half of my run, with the 400's, was another 2.53 miles total, which brought my overall total for the day to 8.99 miles. What, I couldn't squeeze out another .01 mile? I honestly didn't pay attention to the cumulative total, or I certainly would have!

I refueled with a mocha frappucino light from Starbucks. I forgot to ask for extra coffee so it was all sweet and chocolatey...nothing wrong with that!

This morning I was planning to go out to run again, but after waking up at 5 a.m. and eating a mini-breakfast cookie to fuel, I decided not to go. And I decided not even to go to the Y. Instead I laid in bed and read, fell asleep for a little bit, and then ate breakfast. I guess I should have cut something out of my breakfast to account for the breakfast cookie, but I did not.

It's been a hard day at work, hectic and stressful enough that my running FAILS have not been primary in my mind. I didn't even have time to eat my lunch until about 3:30. So now my stomach is still full of salad and vegetables, although I'm sure that will wear off by the time I leave here.

I am torn between shooting for an afternoon run again (and "making up" for my bailing this morning), or letting today be a true rest day and lounging around all evening. Both options have their appeal. Tomorrow morning I am going to the Y, not running, because I do have a 10K on Saturday morning and a long run on Sunday, so I really need to be fresh and not all tired for the weekend. So I could go for a run today and still have 36 hours or so to recover.

Or I could try to rest both my mind and body and sit on my patio and read. (Plus do laundry and dishes and get stuff together for the weekend and all that.) I am so afraid of falling into a place where my running falls apart not only physically (as in my abilities) but mentally (as in not wanting to run). (If I asked anyone's opinion, such as my mother, she would say "of course you should rest, don't run," which would just make me think I should go run. So instead of talking to real people, I am just venting here.)

I feel like the 10K on Saturday is sort of a test of whether I have really (somehow) fallen apart. If I do well, then I am still on track. If the wheels come off the bus...well, then the wheels have really come off the bus.

In addition to the numerous fails changes to my training plan already this week, I have already cancelled my plans to do a 10K at the end of August. Rod wants to go to Eastern Washington that weekend, and that's fine with me. I have so many things scheduled that we have to work around, I am happy to give up one unimportant 10K to do something he wants to do.

I feel like I have had such a morose tone here, I want to end with some happy stuff! A couple weeks ago I got a package of coffees that I won in a giveaway from MCM Mama. Very exciting! And today I got an email from Kristina of Marathon Mama, telling me I had won her FitGirls giveaway! It sounds like a great organization and I hope she got lots of donations.

So, almost time to head home. I'm leaning toward the "day off" option. I don't think it's just laziness, I really think I need to clear my head. And gear up for a couple of great runs on the weekend!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August - September Marathon Training Plan

Well, the time has come to kick it back into high gear and train for the Bellingham Bay Marathon. This run is at the end of September, which leaves me 10 weeks to train for it. Although that is a very short time for a typical training plan, I feel that I am coming into it mid-plan, as I have intentionally kept my training level pretty high so I can jump into a plan midway.

I always do my own plans, but I use Hal Higdon's plans as a template, and looking at his Advanced Marathon II plan (which is the most challenging, but as I said, I just use it as a template), I have pretty much done everything he calls for in weeks 1-9 over the last couple of months.

My plan doesn't jump right into a 19-mile run this weekend, though. It steps up from 16-17 miles this weekend, to 18 miles the next weekend, and finally 20 miles the week after. I do a second 20-miler two weeks after that. I am only planning two 20-miles runs this time around (instead of three), for the sake of time and because I have a number of races scheduled throughout the plan.

I am also doing my final 20-mile run a full three weeks before the marathon, instead of squeezing it in close to the end like I have before. After that I have a half marathon penciled in to run at marathon pace, and a 15K at race pace.

My final rather big change from past plans is that I have a number of real rest days scheduled in. That means rest with no cross-training. I am hoping this will help balance the intensity of the schedule, and also keep my ankle and achilles tendon happy. I'm not ruling out activity on rest days--it's not like I'm going to be lying on a couch eating bonbons*--but I'm also not going to be hieing myself to the Y to pump away on the elliptical.

Here is my training plan in all its glory!

*Or am I?

Monday, August 2, 2010

And so it is August

This post will have a much more positive tone than it would have had I written it yesterday, on August 1. July ended well, with the Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon (only a bronze, but a strong effort anyway; race report to come later). But August? August began with a whimper, at least in the running arena.

After running a half marathon on Saturday, I was really entitled to take Sunday off from running, and maybe I should have. But I had this misguided sense that I really needed to go for a run, maybe because it was the first day of the month, maybe because it would be my only opportunity for exercise in the day. I almost bagged it when Rod said we could put the boat in as early as 9:00, but he also didn't mind if I went for a run first (it was around 7 a.m. at that point). He did suggest that I keep it short, no more than 10K, which was a very good suggestion, as otherwise I would have felt compelled to do something crazy, like 8 or 10 miles, which would have been even more horrific than it was.

A few clues that running was not going to go well:

  • My legs were still stiff and achy from Saturday.
  • My ankle hurt--not badly, but enough to make me limp. Or lurch.
  • I had forgotten to bring a running bra.

Yep, that last one should have sealed the deal. But after shaking out all my running clothes, and other clothes, just to make sure that the bra wasn't hidden somewhere, I was so frustrated and irrated that I just wouldn't--couldn't--give up. I decided to wear a regular bra and fasten it as tightly as possible and see how things went. Yeah, really good idea!

So I headed out the door and man-oh-man, things were rough. Between the wonky ankle and legs and trying not to "bounce" too much, I was lurching along like a drunken Frankenstein. My Garmin was showing paces like 13 and 12. I'll admit, I have sometimes unkindly wondered how it is possible to run at a pace of 12 or 13 minute miles and still be running...well, it is.

It took at least a mile, maybe two, before the ankle eased up and stopped bothering me so much. I suppose around that time my legs also warmed up a little and I "sped up" to around a 10:30 pace. Since I couldn't see myself from the front, I don't know how much motion there was in the chest area, but it didn't feel too bouncy so that part was pretty much okay. Until after about three miles when the chafing kicked in....

The worst, but also best, moments in the run happened around my bathroom stop at mile 2.75. Around two miles I needed to go, but I decided not to stop at the grocery store I was passing (it was on the other side of a busy intersection, inconvenient) and go on to a Jennings Park restroom down the road. When I got there (around 7:45), the bathroom was locked. Oh. Dear. God. I really needed that bathroom.

I contemplated my options. Continue on to the next bathroom? More than a mile away, too far. Plus even if I cut through the park (which would be shorter), that one might be locked as well. My only real option was to turn around and go back up the hill to the grocery store.

I was about to do that when I saw a City/Parks truck pull in. I raced over to them and asked if they were going to unlock the bathrooms. They said yes! A huge relief. I was so grateful!

After that I continued on, bathroom issues solved, and the quality of my run improved slightly; I would say it went from craptastic to just sucky. I don't know how many times I contemplated quitting (that is heading back, I would still have to finish part of the distance to do so). At three miles I thought about newer runners who would be proud of finishing three miles, no matter how slowly. At four miles I decided to continue on for a half a mile, then turn around (leaving a mile or so to go after I retraced my steps).

I was going to finish at Starbucks but I was using up so much time with my slow pace and bathroom stop that I decided to eliminate the extra time it would take to get coffee and walk back from Starbucks. That meant, at the 5-mile point, heading out for another half mile or so, to get myself to the total of six miles (or 6.2).

I know this is pretty boring, but really, that's how lousy this run was. There was nothing interesting about any moment. Every half mile was pure torture. I never even got to the point of wanting to keep running more than wanting to quit! At 5.5 I turned around for my final half mile plus .2. I was just able to force myself to do another tenth of a mile when I hit 6.1 miles, so I could get to a full 10K. Then I stopped.

I didn't regret having done the run, but I didn't feel good about it either. The most I could say about it was, "well, that happened."*

The rest of the day did improve. We took the boat out for a run on the river and that was fun (though it was a little too cool out for full enjoyment) and, more importantly, everything on the boat ran like it was supposed to. Afterwards I got the Americano from Starbucks that I had passed up earlier (hurrah!) and we had lunch and hung out till we went over to my parents for dinner later in the day.

This morning, in order to stay on schedule, I went out for my usual Monday morning run, and I will admit, I was nervous. (At least I had a bra, though.) Happily, my legs were much better overall and my ankle, though I could feel it, wasn't hampering me at all.

That doesn't mean I was fast, though. My primary frustration this morning was (again), "how can an easy pace be 11-minute miles?" "Why, when I feel like I've sped up, am I still doing 10-10:30?" The usual.

I will say, though, that I felt much better at the 3-mile point than I did yesterday (when I just wanted to quit, or possibly die). After three or four miles I decided to liven thing up with a little fartlek effort. Push it for a block, then jog for a block. It made the distance pass more quickly and did a little bit to improve my average pace.

When I passed six miles (about two to go), I figured I might be able to get myself to an average 10-minute-mile pace for the whole distance, if I really pushed myself for the last two miles. I had already picked it up for mile six (9:25), held on through mile seven (9:31), and gave it my best effort in mile eight (8:56).** The moment I heard the Garmin beep the completion of mile eight I hit the stop button and checked out my total time: 1:20:00. Yes, eighty minutes ex.act.ly.

That small (very small) achievement gave me enough of a boost that I feel slightly optimistic about being able to continue running throughout August and beyond. (Yesterday I was slightly morose about my prospects.) I've even sketched out my marathon training plan for August and September. (More on that in another post.)

Other than my on-going goals (lose weight if possible, work on speed for 5K and 10K races, maintain moderate speed for half and marathon distances), my major goal for August is to get more sleep! I am really going to work on getting to bed earlier, because I can't plan to get up later (as nice as that would be).

*Yesterday, when I was mentally composing this post in my head, there was liberal use of the F-word. See how things have improved? And I didn't even describe the run as "shitty."
**Yes, my best effort was barely sub-nine. Sad.