Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In the mail

I received this!
On the left, a booklet with all kinds of information about the race. On the right, my number pick-up card. And in the middle? Official merchandise of the Boston Marathon. Oh yes. Oh yes, indeed.

It's taper time

Well, here we are, three weeks from Boston (as of yesterday), and I am ready to taper. Oh yes, I am. Tapering, as most runners know, is the period of time before a race where you reduce your running volume, though not necessarily intensity, in order to allow your body to rest, rebuild minor muscle damage that your hard training has caused, and also rebuild nutrient stores and glycogen. I really like this article by Patty and Warren Finke from Run the Planet that discusses tapering and carbo loading. I will say that the mileage volumes they recommend, even in taper, are quite a bit higher than I ever do! That is partly because they assume 6-7 days of running...and I don't do that. Also the "advanced" plan has a final long run of 25 miles, two weeks before the marathon. Twenty-five miles? That's crazy talk! But otherwise I like what they have to say. Some important points:

  • Rebuilding glycogen stores in the body requires two to three days of lowered activity.

  • Carbohydrate loading should take place during these last three days (not necessarily just the evening before the race).

  • Rebuilding minor injuries in muscle takes at least five days.

  • Any training effect you get from hard training in the last ten days before the race will be minimal.
So what does taper look like for me? In many ways, my running schedule will not change a lot during the taper period, at least during the week. Mondays will remain an easy, mid-length run (until Monday, April 18, that is!) (6.5 miles yesterday). Wednesdays are speed-work. I am not certain whether tomorrow I will do the nine 800s that I cut to eight last week, or just do a tempo run and leave the 800s for a final shot at ten next week. The Wednesday before I leave for Boston I will probably do "speed-work lite," meaning an easy run with a few 400s at the end. On Fridays I usually do a medium-long run with marathon goal pace miles. I will probably stick with that this week and modify it for next week (due to a half marathon scheduled on Sunday, April 10--that will be my marathon goal pace run for the week!). The part that will really change is the length of my weekend long runs. During this training period I have done six runs that were over 16 miles long. (For some reason 16 miles is the point where I consider a run to change from long to LONG.) Those runs were 17.5 miles, 19.25 miles, 20.65 miles, 21.5 miles, 23.15 miles, and 19.62 miles long. I have been torn between whether this weekend's long run should be longer, 15-16 miles, or a cut-back, 10-11 miles. Originally I planned shorter, then switched to longer...now I am back to shorter. On April 10 I am planning 13.1 miles, and April 17 will be a rest day! Taper is not only a time for resting, it is a time for sharpening. With that in mind, I have two races to run in the next three weeks! On Saturday I am planning to run a 5K, just to fire up those fast twitch muscles a little. Then, on April 10, I am running the Whidbey Island Half Marathon as a marathon-pace practice run. As far as eating, I'm not changing my habits much. However, the Finkes do recommend carb loading in the last three days before the marathon. That pretty much coincides with the days I will be traveling to Boston and hanging out resting my legs before the race. I love the suggestion to start with a big carbo-load breakfast such as pancakes or french toast, three days before the race! I can do it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A little test

I just downloaded the blogbooster app, in hopes that I can use it to blog more easily from my iPhone. I got the tip from my blogger friend at A Marathon Leap. (Maybe soon I'll figure out how to do links!) This should make blogging from Boston easier.

Today was a total rest day. That's always a little weird to me...although I am so lazy, you'd think I'd love it!

Birch Bay Road Race, with words

I did it again...spent a long time writing a long blog post on my iPhone, then messed it up and posted only the picture, without text. I am just doing it using the Blogger email method, nothing fancy. Hopefully I can figure out how to do some kind of a "real" post with the iPhone soon. Maybe one where I can include more than one picture! Anyhow, here is the whole story from yesterday. I apologize for the lack of paragraphs, but every time I hit publish the spacing goes away, and I am sick of trying to fix it! Yesterday morning I arose well before the crack of dawn and arrived at my parents' house before 6 a.m. to make the trek north to Blaine for the Birch Bay 30K. Blaine is right on the Canadian border; in fact, the Peace Arch between the U.S. and Canada is in the town of Blaine. I think Birch Bay is a little bit south. A lot of Canadians come to this race. In fact, the course is marked solely in kilometers. Not a mile marker to be seen. his run was fairly low pressure for me, though not insignificant. On the low pressure side of things, it was "just" a long run, about 18.6 miles. I did 23 last weekend, so this would be a piece of cake, sort of. Plus, it would be my last long run before taper and Boston. (I don't know whether that counts toward low or high pressure, actually.) On the other hand, this run would also be a sort of test of what I could do on a long distance run under race conditions, where things like bathroom stops and dawdling have more significance than in a run-of-the-mill training run. I wanted to see what I could do, while still running at a comfortable level of effort. I really thought it was going to rain, at least a little. That is what the weather forecast had been promising/threatening all week. So when we were approaching Blaine sometime after 7, I was almost dismayed to see clear skies with just wispy traces of clouds, and the possibility of full sunshine to come. Why was I dismayed? It's not that I wanted it to rain; I had certainly been dreading the idea of running in the rain for three hours. It's just that I have been having a little difficulty adjusting to the transition in running gear from full-on winter to emerging spring. I could deal with the 30s; I know that the 50s will be warm. But what do you do with the 40s? That's the kind of weather that feels cold (leading me to overdress), but quickly feels warm once you start running. Since I knew that intellectually, I was dressed for the run in one of my go-to cool season tops, a Lucy half zip that I wore for CIM and many other runs and races. However, it might be a little warm if it got very sunny. (I was also wearing long running pants so I could wear my CEP socks without looking too dorky. I will have to abandon them when I switch back to capris and shorts for spring and summer, and just wear them for recovery purposes.) Also, I was all atwitter because I was wearing my contacts in case it rained. I didn't bring any sunglasses though. I debated whether I should take out the contacts so I could use my glasses with clip-on sunglasses. In the end I decided not to bother, and just rely on my hat and trees on the course to shade my eyes. We arrived around 7:30, which gave me an hour to get ready to run. I collected my bib, chip, and shirt quickly. Last year they had women's shirts, which turned out to be a bit of a fail as they ran small--I had a large and I still was not happy with it. (The race director says he still has a whole bunch of leftover smalls that no one wanted.). This time I got a unisex medium and it is fine. It is the same design as last year...I wouldn't mind if they changed it for next year. We parked along the road where the race starts, with the car looking toward the water. It was a nice spot for my parents to hang out while they waited for me. Plus my mother could try to take a picture of me when I ran by. She actually got a fairly good shot, even though she forgot a camera and had to use her phone. I used the porta potty, ran .85 mile warm-up, and stood in line for a second potty stop before the race began. I would have rounded the warm-up up to a mile, but I didn't want to miss my last chance at the potty. As we all gathered for the start, the race director tried to informally seed us by pace. I don't know how successful he was, but I tried to gather near the nine minute mile area. Even though that might be optimistic, I didn't want to sell myself short. I would rather be around people who would push me rather than slow me down. (My dad tried to get my attention when they called for eight minute milers...apparently he thought that might be my pace. He's been to several 10Ks where that was my pace, or close.) My goal, as I said, was to see what I could do, without running too hard. It would have been ideal not to look at my Garmin at all, and just run by feel. Of course, I could not do that. At first I could not resist checking my pace, then I couldn't stop monitoring it. As well as checking mileage obsessively.

The race started down a hill, and I think the first few miles were flat with a slight downhill. My first few miles were close to nine minutes but truly felt easy. Effortless. Miles 1-4 - 9:02, 9:10, 9:07, 9:13.

When I was looking at my splits earlier I made a rough graph of my paces and, with a few blips, it showed a bell curve with the slower paces toward the middle, then speeding up in the second half. This makes sense as the was going uphill quite consistently in the first half, then we got to come back down on the return. The hills weren't extreme, but we definitely had some hills as well as slight inclines in the road.

Miles 5-7 were mid-range pace. 9:34, 9:22, 9:25. I hit my slowest point in miles 8-10. 9:44, 9:44, 9:41.

The course ran along the water for quite a while, then we angled inland and ran on a bike path to the turnaround. The sun did come out in the beginning, and I felt hot, but after I started sweating my body temperature regulated itself. Eventually it got a little cloudy and I never regretted my lack of sunglasses.

Although I was running easy (and no, I don't mean "easily") (regardless of pace), I was struggling a little with the mental aspect of a long run. After 10K it was exciting to be 1/3 through, but twelve miles to go seemed LONG. Same thing with 15K. Halfway, but a lot remaining. It was only around the half marathon distance and 20K that I felt the end was finally within reach. I tried to keep my mind on small chunks of distance rather than the big picture.

After the 15K runners turned back, the number of runners decreased a lot, though there were enough people around to assure me I was on course. There were two women who I had in my sites for at least the second 15K, maybe even before that. One was wearing a purple shirt and one red. I kept my eye on them as pace setters of sorts. They remained consistently ahead of me, at least until the final 5K (foreshadowing).

As we moved into the final miles I dug just a little deeper and took advantage of the return downhill to bring my pace back up. Miles 13-15 - 9;13, 9:11, 9:15. Mile 16 was inexplicably slow, all I can figure is that there might have been a hill. 9:44. Halfway through we hit 25K and I prepared to put on a big push for the final miles.

Mile 17 - 9:07. Yes! At the end of mile 17 I called my mom to let her know I was almost done. Unfortunately I had trouble handling my phone and after one wrong number I finally stopped to place the call. I'm sure I lost at least 30 seconds in that maneuver. Maybe more--I was running strong, when I was running. I didn't want to take the time to try to put my phone away, so I finished the rest of the race carrying an iPhone in my hand! Mile 18 - 9:46.

In the last mile I passed both the woman in the purple and the one in red. I also passed a man who must have been running faster earlier and then lost steam at the end. I do not recall seeing him at all until I caught up to him near the end. He was running, though, not walking. I passed all three and left them significantly behind.*

The very end of the race has a short steep hill. I chugged up it and then ran for the finish line, finishing strong. Final chip time was 2:56:23. That's an official pace of 9:29. (The true distance was 18.77, pace 9:24.) So, slower than last year, but I'd be very happy to manage that pace for Boston.

I considered running a little more to round up my total distance to 20 miles, but decided not to. Instead, we headed down to Bellingham for a delicious lunch!


When I came back to fix this post, I made a few corrections and added some stuff. I guess I will also add that I am not completely okay with finishing six minutes slower than last year (20 seconds per mile, pretty much exactly). The same thing happened with the Shamrock Run a couple weeks ago. I would much rather be faster than slower! However, I was in so much worse of a winter slump a couple of months ago, that I can't be unhappy with my progress. I truly feel that I am out of my slump. Whether I will ever beat the PRs of late 2009 and the comparable speed in the first half of 2010, I don't know. But I do know that I am now in good place with my running, and running makes me happy again, as opposed to (at least occasionally) angry and frustrated.


Okay, one more thing. Just because it was a good run doesn't mean it was all rainbows and unicorns out there. Running 18+ miles is hard, I tell you, hard! And not always fun. But I am happy that I do it.


Because of the chip timing, any of them could have officially "beat" me, however, and I have no way of knowing. Nor do I care, really. But I did get to start in the first wave of runners--they held the group right after I crossed the start line--so that could have significant affected the net times.

Birch Bay Road Race 30K

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Post interrupted

Half of last night's spring run post disappeared into the internet! My fault, I did it the wrong way. In addition to my odyssey on spring running, I tried to do a quick summary of my speed work efforts. So I'll remedy that now.

Wednesday is speed work day, and yesterday had 800s on the schedule. Instead of going out into the dark morning, I waited until afternoon so I could enjoy the daylight and sunshine. Also I wanted to have enough time to finish without worrying about being late for work.

I planned to do 9 x 800, but ended up with eight instead. That is because (hahaha) I dilly-dallied too much before I started, spent too much time trying to take pictures of cherry trees with my phone, and ran out of time. The time deadline was solely due to my desire to stop at Starbucks on the way home. Starbucks closes at 7:30, and after 3.5 mile warm-up, I arrived at the track around 6:30. That allowed only an hour to complete the 800s plus the recovery jogs between laps. That's not much time for someone with my kind of pace.

Plus, I will say that (as per usual) I was not thrilled about doing the 800s and had the usual trepidation about whether I could do it. Once again, I just talked myself into doing a few, then seeing how much time I had left.

Amazingly, despite my nerves, my legs worked great. My first half mile (which was a little long at .51 mile) was 3:59 and a pace of 7:46. I did a quarter mile recovery jog after each of the first four 800s. My paces on 2-4 were 7:57, 7:52, and 7:57 again. Then on #5 I hit a 7:51 pace.

By that time, though, I saw my time melting away. I decided to shorten my recovery jogs to save a little time. After #5 I cut the recovery to point .20 mile. My next 800 was my slowest, .51 mile in 4:03, which was exactly an 8:00 pace. Then .10 recovery. #7 - 7:56 pace. It appeared that I had time for one more 800, so I increased the recovery jog to .20 and rocked the final half mile at a 7:47 pace. Hurrah!

I jogged the remaining third of a mile to Starbucks and collected a celebratory mocha using one of my free drink cards. Total distance for the evening - 9.33 miles.

I ran again this morning even though Thursday is not a typical running day. I want to take off Friday (which is normally a running morning) to freshen my legs for the 30K I am doing on Saturday. This morning my legs were tired and my quads were achy. The first couple miles I couldn't even break an 11-minute pace. Eventually I warmed up to about a 10:15 sort of pace for the remaining miles, finishing 7.78 miles in 1:22:46 (average pace 10:36). I started super early this morning too, before 6 a.m., because I wanted to get to work early.

This is my last "big" week before Boston. Next week I start my version of a taper.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The first springtime run

Technically, Monday was my first spring run of this year, but today was the first time it really felt springlike. Sunny! Warm (enough)! Streets lined with fragrant flowering cherry trees! The cherry tree picture is just so-so. Something about the cars parked on the street detracts from the composition of the photo. I actually think the trees have more impact when you are driving through than walking or running.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Longest run

Today I ran my longest training run ever (excluding marathons and one marathon I did as a training run). By the end my distance was 23.15 miles. I had thought about doing 23 miles but had dialed it back to 22 early on. And look what happened anyway.

I ran in Marysville, into Everett to check on my cats (even though I would be back later, they needed food and water sooner), then back Marysville. This meant running the 3-mile highway stretch twice, which I was not a fan of...but at least it made the run productive.

I had a sort of big breakfast, with a whole grain power scone, some yoghurt, and about half of a big cup of coffee (about 375 calories total). I pretty much ate it right before I left. I wouldn't do that for a race, but I wasn't going to get up two hours early on a Sunday morning unless I had to!
I took Saturday off to rest my legs and it really paid off. Even though I had the usual slow warm-up woes, my legs felt really good, especially for the first ten miles. I even felt myself using a nice mid-foot strike (at least I thought I was).

Even with the warm-up, I was running 10:15-10:30 paces, mostly. A few slow miles left me with an overall average of 10:24 per mile. The slower or faster miles were fairly random--mostly I can't identify why any particular mile was 10:00 or 10:45.

I took a bathroom stop at McDonalds at seven miles. Actually I ran a couple extra blocks before doubling back to stop, so I could bump it up to seven! That also meant I passed nine miles before I left Marysville to head across the highway. I ate a Gu (chocolate mint) before I took the plunge.

The highway distance is a little less than three miles (about 2.75 I would guess). It wasn't too horrible, though, probably because my legs still felt pretty fresh. Pretty soon I was in Everett passing twelve miles! Things got a little rough around mile 15, though. Not because I was having difficulty running, but I had a mental setback. I had planned to stop at my house after 17 miles to take care of my cats. It became clear that if I continued on my current route I would hit my house at 16 miles, a mile short. So I had to deviate from my route in order to squeeze in that extra mile. I still had to run around the block to get to 17. (Of course if I'd known it was six miles back to Marysville instead of five, I wouldn't have needed that extra mile!)

I only had a little bit of "I don't want to leave" feeling at the house. I refueled with some chocolate dipped pretzels (seemed like a more appealing choice than Gu), and tended to the cats. By the time I left, though, it was almost 1:00. I started feeling stressed because I had estimated that I would finish at 1:30, and with (at least) five miles to go, there was no way that would happen. Rod was waiting to have lunch until I got there, and I felt terrible making him wait. (I probably over-exaggerated the significance of this, but after running 17 miles, sometimes your head is not in the right place!) I sent him an email telling him to go ahead and eat.

The next few miles I was slowed down by the weight of guilt. Again, I know I blew it out of proportion. It didn't help that in his message, "see you at 1:30," the time was highlighted. This was not his doing, it is an iPhone trick to allow you to easily transfer stuff to a calendar. But it makes truly minor things look BIG.

I know that running is supposed to help lift your spirits, and usually it does, but there is also a kind of gloom that can set in while running that is exacerbated rather than helped by the running. I think that there is a point where your body is so tired and beaten down that the endorphins don't have their usual effect. Obviously this can happen in a marathon, people often seem to get overwhelmed in the last few miles.

Anyhow, I managed to work through my dark moments (even running back across the highway), and regain my moderate pace. Mile 18 was 10:52 (tied for slowest with mile 17, right before I stopped), but mile 19 was 10:26, and mile 20 was 10:15. I noted that my overall time after finishing mile 20 was just under 3 hours 30 minutes (which would lead to a 4:30 marathon time).

Amazingly to me, I managed to kick up my effort level and finish the next three miles in under 30 minutes overall. Miles 21 and 22 (still mostly on the highway) were 9:52 and 10:16. The remaining 1.15 mile was all in town and I really pushed myself. I just wanted to be done! I did a sort of fartlek routine by a block pretty hard, then jogging across the intersection, and repeating. This worked well enough to give me 9:26 for mile 23, and an 8:45 pace for the last .15 mile. (I noticed that I was just under four hours at the 23 mile mark.)

I also learned that the distance from my house to Rod's is just under a 10K (6.15 if I stop at the garage, probably closer to 6.2 if I go around to the front).

Total time for 23.15 miles was 4:00:55, average pace 10:24.

Next Saturday I am doing the Birch Bay 30K as a final long training run. My experience last year was that the distance is a tiny bit longer than 30K, about 18.6 miles total. Although I might do a short warm-up, I have no real desire to stretch it to 20 miles. I've done three runs longer than 20 (20.65, 21.5, and 23.15), plus 17.5 and 19.25. I think I may have enough long runs in the bank!

Then, after Saturday, the taper begins.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rest day

Today I am taking an unplanned rest day. Originally I had intended on a long run (20+ miles), but I have postponed that until tomorrow and am giving my legs a much needed break.

After my successful speed work on Thursday, I planned on a moderate effort pace run on Friday morning. I had a CLE to go to, but I thought I could still get up early enough for ten miles. In actuality, I got up early enough for seven or eight miles. I did nine, and was late to the CLE.

I've been doing these "goal marathon pace" runs at about 9-9:30 pace, depending on how I'm feeling (actually how fast my legs are feeling). This week I would have been happy with 9:30, but my legs were having none of that. Not only did they just feel slow, they were actually achy and my ankle and heel remained sore throughout the duration of the run (instead of letting up after a few miles as they usually do).

After two very rough warm-up miles (11-ish plus), I ramped up my effort a little. While my Garmin blinked 9:30 a couple of times (not for full miles), the remaining seven miles varied from 9:45-10:15. I probably could have gone faster but that would have required a higher effort than I was willing to provide.

This morning I was prepared to hit the road again, but I was nervous. My legs still felt the opposite of fresh, and I was a little afraid of not being able to finish or of aggravating my ankle further. So after Rod and I agreed that we didn't need to go skiing tomorrow, it didn't take much for me to postpone running for a day, and declare a total rest day. (that means no cross-training at the Y either).

I did walk to and from Safeway to buy sandwiches for lunch. I thought about a bike ride around town, but that may not happen. It's amazing that time passes even when you're not running 4-5 hours!

In other news, I got an iPhone! The blackberry finally had one too many roller ball failures. I'm still learning how to use it. Seems promising, though. :)

One more thing.... You'd think that on a no exercise day I wouldn't be as hungry as usual, right? WRONG. I have been hungry ALL.DAY.LONG. A ravenous beast, that's me.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This has never been a big holiday for me, other than the mandatory wearing of the green, and my participation in the Shamrock Run over the last few years. I am definitely not into the beer-drinking and partying aspect, and I don't love a parade. I wouldn't mind eating corned beef, cabbage, and/or Irish soda bread, but have never actually prepared them.

But I do love the color green. So there's that.

Today was a rather lucky day for me, in the running arena. Well, I felt lucky that I finally got my act together to run my scheduled 8 x 800 track workout (which had been put off from Wednesday morning to Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning), and I actually ran my best series of 800s (really half miles) since this training season began! All but one was at or under four minutes, and all but two were at or under 8-minute pace (one of the 4:00 repeats was a little short on distance). My half mile splits and paces:

1 - 4:00 (8:00)
2 - 3:56 (7:51)
3 - 3:58 (7:56)
4 - 3:57 (7:57)
5 - 4:00 (8:15) (.49 distance, and I didn't feel that slow!)
6 - 4:00 (7:57)
7 - 4:04 (8:09)
8 - 3:55 (7:54)

I won't pretend it was easy. But it wasn't too hard; I didn't feel like my lungs were being ripped out or my legs were falling off. I found it hard to imagine running a 10K at this pace without stopping, but I've done it in the past (as well as in some 5Ks). It pretty much felt like all track work does; hard but not impossible.

I jogged a quarter mile between the intervals. After the eighth one my total distance for the track was at 5.75 miles, so I decided to make it a 10K. I jogged .2 mile then did another quarter mile fast (1:53/7:28 pace), which gave me a 10K total time of 54:01. (Which irked me, I had hoped to make it under 54 minutes!)

My warm-up was a little over 2.25 miles, and I jogged about a third of a mile to QFC when I was done, so my total morning distance was a bit over 8.75 miles.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Raining in Portland

This feels eerily reminiscent to last October! I know it doesn't rain here all the time (just as it doesn't rain in Seattle all the time), it's just unfortunate luck that it's happened my last two visits. I just pray that the rain (if any) is LIGHT during the Shamrock Run 15K tomorrow, and not a DOWNPOUR like the Portland Half was.

My mother and I drove down here yesterday, and manage to leave so late in the day that we were able to collect our free Starbucks petite treats on the way out of town. Mmmm, LOVE THESE! Yesterday I had the mini PB cup cupcake, and my mom had the mini whoopie pie. (Thursday I had the salted caramel bar. Oh. My. God. Love!)

The late-ish start worked out well, as we missed out on any Portland rush hour traffic. I was also able to finish my packing on Friday, and get in a 9.36 mile run in the morning. (Progression run, starting with warm up pace and finishing with the last full mile at 8:35 and the final third of a mile at 8:20 pace.)

Today I need to get over to the Convention Center to pick up my race number. The Tri-met should take me right there BUT I am concerned that road construction is going to interfere with the transit routes. I guess we'll see. I don't really want to get the car out of parking and drive over.

I'd also like to go by Foot Traffic Sports because I heard there's a sale, and by Lucy as well (no sales tax!). I also had an urge to seek out the Apple store...but I fear the lines may be too long to bear.

This morning when I went to get my coffee from the nearest SBUX, they were giving away treats early because they close at 3. So I got the salted caramel bar to share with my mother (after we ate our oatmeal breakfast).

Well, time to get this day rolling!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another run

I couldn't resist the balmy weather this afternoon and instead of going to the Y, I headed out for my second run of the day after work.

I don't typically run twice in a day. The few times I've done it have usually been for a specific reason. Today it was "just because."

I didn't attempt 800s or any speed work (that WOULD be excessive). In fact, I ran the first two miles without my Garmin (explanation below). These were surely junk miles, if there is such a thing, run primarily for calorie burning and mile accumulation. I don't believe that any run is wasted, though. Every run has some purpose to me.
I was dismayed as I geared up to head out to realize my Garmin was "missing," not in its charger. Of course I knew where it was--I had brought it to work to download data. I was prepared to go Garmin-free, but decided instead to run to the office (about a mile away) and pick it up.

But when I rummaged around my desk there was no Garmin! So it had to be at home after all, or in my car. So I ran back home. I peered into the car and didn't see anything, so I went back in the house and there it was in my lunch bag, where I had looked before unsuccessfully. I'm counting that initial distance as two miles, even though it is undocumented.

I headed out again for another three or four miles, measured. I have a 5K loop from my house that I sometimes do (it's great for walking, too). It's a great loop because of the distance, not the route. At one point it passes a house where there was a shooting a couple months ago...maybe not the BEST neighborhood. But it was only 6:30 or so, not the dead of night.

My legs felt a little tired but not too bad. Even with the Garmin on, it was too dark to monitor my pace, so I was running free. About a 10:20 average pace, it turned out.

I went a few blocks past my house then turned back towards Starbucks. I got to SBUX just past the four mile mark (not including the two miles sans Garmin).

I popped into Starbucks to get a short mocha post-run treat. I then discovered that I had forgotten the free drink card that I had meant to use. Luckily I had a Starbucks card with me, as I had ALSO forgotten to bring money. Brilliant!

Tomorrow is definitely a day off running!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Fartleks and 400s

Seven x 800 this morning = FAIL. Not even a DNF, simply a DNS. Was it the rain on the roof? (Maybe.) Was it the inevitably muddy track? (Maybe.) Was it the general achiness of my bod (which turned out to be illusory after I finally got going)? (Maybe.) Was it PURE FREAKING LAZINESS? (Well...maybe....)

In the end, I managed to overcome at least the laziness portion and get up and dressed and on the road. I wasted a little too much time trying to decide whether to go to the Y and then run in the afternoon, or run some in the morning and try to do the 800s in the afternoon, or just stay in bed and run in the afternoon (that one got overruled). Eventually, I started out with the plan of doing an easy run in the morning and trying for the 800s later on.

But as usual, conditions were not nearly as bad as I feared. It really wasn't raining (well, barely), and by 6:30 it was practically daylight (soon to change with Daylight Savings Time). I still didn't want to go to the track (and I didn't have enough time for the full track workout anyway), but I managed to work up a nice little speed workout all the same.

After about a mile of warm-up, I started doing little fartleks, just a little sprint alternating with a jog. This also helped speed things up so that I made it to my bathroom stop faster...always a good thing. After the stop I expanded the fartlek distance to blocks, running hard for a block then jogging for a block, until I got to Grand Avenue Park. There my fartleks turned into 400s (convenient as the length of the park is about a quarter mile!). I ran up and down the park four times (4 x 400), then decided to extend the 400s back toward downtown.

7 x 400 - 8:35 pace, 8:08, 8:29, 8:03, 8:24, 8:29, 8:27.

Instead of an eighth one, I decided to make the last one a half mile, but miscalculated and did .65 mile instead (pace 8:55).

Finally, I busted out a final mile at 7:57! It would have been a little faster, but I had to stop abruptly (pausing the Garmin of course), when a car turning right out of the McDonald's driveway did their best to run me down in their haste to leave.

In the end, 7.56 miles, 9:11 average pace.

Even though this wasn't my planned speed work, I think it was successful enough to call it good and move the 800s to next week instead. I'm not going to try to get in a second run this afternoon. Although I must say, I was right when I gauged that the weather would be better in the afternoon! Blue skies and sunbreaks midafternoon, though who knows how it will be by the end of the workday.

I was also vindicated (as such) when I was walked home from Starbucks past the track...muddy and puddley. It would not have been a good time this morning. Or very clean.

Dilemma of the day: Should I register for the night time Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon on December 4? Apparently registration closes tomorrow...a decision must be made! Do I want to do this for fun a week before the Tucson Marathon? If I thought I could fly in and out of Vegas in one day I would (almost) definitely do it, but I don't think I could get a flight late enough to avoid spending the night. If I were a partier or gambler I would appreciate this opportunity a lot more. I don't know. I still need to think about it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Six weeks to Boston

Not an original title, I know. All over the blog world, "Six weeks to Boston" posts will be popping up today and tomorrow. Because (obviously) the Boston Marathon is six weeks from tomorrow!

And you know what? I think I'm ready. If I had to, I could run it tomorrow. Or, preferably, in a week or two so I had some time to taper. Although I am close enough to ready, my legs could use a little recovery after last week's training and Saturday's 21.5 mile run.

This week went very well! Seven miles on Monday, easy, in the MORNING--no slacking and outting it off till Tuesday. (Good thing, too, as I had to get to work early on Tuesday.) Plus an hour of elliptical and yoga Monday night. Tuesday is a semi-rest day, just an hour or so of elliptical in the morning (EARLY).
Wednesday I did have a bit of a slacker episode but redeemed myself in the end. I was afraid that did wouldn't have enough time for my 800s before work (and it was dark, and rainy, and I was lazy) so I went to the Y instead.

In the afternoon the sun came out (except for that downpour of hail that swept through, and it was windy all day), so I left work a little early to try to run before dark.

I started out with 5K to warm up in my neighborhood. About halfway through my legs really lightened up and I sped up enough to average a 10-minute pace for the distance. I stopped at my house to use the bathroom, then headed to the track (just a few blocks away).

The track was not a promising sight. It's not a great track to begin with, and thanks to all the snow and rain we've had, the unpaved parts (about half the distance) was muddy and squishy. I thought, I can't do this. Then I decided to do one 800 (or 400 if it was too bad), and if I couldn't get anywhere near four minutes, I'd quit and just finish the run on the streets.

So I headed out and though I didn't love it, I was able to take my two laps and my time was about 4:05. So it was doable but I didn't want to do it! Then I made a deal with myself. I was supposed to do 7 x 800, but if I made it through four, I could quit.

It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't easy. Half the way I was running in mud, and the other half I was running into the wind. I never got faster than 4:00 for a half mile (but I gave myself a little break on that, due to conditions). After the four I did one more, then another, and then I only had one left to make my seven, so I did it. My legs were screaming, I was gasping for air, but I made it through (with a quarter mile recovery between). I ran another easier mile around the track, then over to Starbucks for a mocha. Total distance 10.10 miles (this required some running around the parking lot to make my distance!).

Thursday was a cross-training day, and I actually took the morning off from the Y due to a cat crisis (all was solved before work). I made up for it Thursday night with about an hour and a half of hard elliptical, plus some push-ups and yoga stretches.

Then it was Friday, with a medium-long pace run on the schedule. Knowing I had the long run on Saturday, plus having some things to do, I meant to keep it to eight miles or so (though ended up with 15K in the end).

This was my best pace run of this training cycle so far. After two miles of warm-up I picked up the pace. I'd been doing 9:15-20 on these, but this time I was hoping for closer to 9--or below. I was stunned when the first mile was about 8:40...and I kept it up (thought not all that fast!). Miles 1-5 of the pace miles were all sub-9. Mile 6 should have been sub-9, but thanks to some lights changing, ended up just over, 9:05 I believe.

I finished that mile right by Renee's, and popped in to say hi and have a look at the sale rack and new arrivals. I spent long enough there that I cooled off too much. My final mile was 9:16, but I'm sure if I hadn't stopped it could have been close to 8:30.

As great as that run was, I do think it left my legs a little tired to tackle my long (20+ mile) run on Saturday. That's not all bad though, there are benefits to running long on tired legs.

I might write a separate post about the long run (as I'm getting tired now), but let me just summarize: 21.5 miles. It seemed harder than the 20-miler two weeks ago, but there were those tired legs, of course. I got it done, and that was a success in itself. That made 47.95 miles for the week.

So how does all this make me ready for Boston now? Well, I think I've done a lot to regain my moderate speed (most, though not all of it). I don't know that I can get much faster over the next six weeks, although perhaps I can lock in the pace a little more firmly. (I don't EXACTLY know what my pace will be, but for Boston I would be more than happy with 9:30, if that is possible.) (I would be fine with slower, too.)

I've done four LONG (> 16) runs. 17.5, 19.25, 20.65 and now 21.5. I have two more planned, which I think will happen, but I wouldn't be concerned if I cut one out.

My legs have been a lot less tired and achy after medium-long and long runs. I feel really good about that, and it is certainly easier to live with!

This next week is going to be a sort of cut back week, as it finishes with the Shamrock Run 15K in Portland. So my distance will be shorter this week. However, this 15K is very hilly, so it will be a good hill tempo workout!
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