Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Viva Las Vegas...soon!

In about three days I'll be on my way to Vegas for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on Sunday. I'm doing the quick and dirty version of a trip (no, not that kind of dirty), flying in on Saturday and out as early as I can on Monday morning. I'm not exactly a Vegas kind of person. Although my dad, who is coming with me, does like a little bit of gambling...hopefully the 48 hours will be fun for him.

I signed up for Vegas on a whim last spring, when they had that one day only pre-registration, probably offering a whopping $10 discount or something. I don't really intend to be someone who follows the Rock 'n' Roll races around the country (would that be a R 'n' R race groupie?), but I am also registered for the Portland version next spring, plus Seattle in the spring as well, once again lured by early registration promotions.

My only reason for doing Vegas (other than a mild interest in running down the Strip at night), is as a warm-up race for Tucson on December 11. I have gotten into the practice of doing a half marathon one or two weeks before each marathon as as a final medium-long run. If it is only one week before, I try to do it at a marathon pace effort. That means I run at a pace I believe I can sustain for a whole marathon (even though that may not turn out to be my actual marathon pace; usually the half marathon is a little faster and I can't resist putting in some extra effort at the end which I certainly would not do at miles 10-13 of a full marathon).

And my planned pace for Vegas? Seriously, I do not know. I figure I will just see what feels good. Maybe that will give me some idea of what to expect in Tucson. I am in corral 6, as I originally gave a projected finish time of 1:55. That was actually the time of several half marathons I ran this last summer, so I wasn't even overreaching or anything. But that's a pace of 8:45, so...I don't think so. I'll be getting passed some a lot, at least if the other people in the corral were realistic in their estimates.

I am in the midst of taper for the Tucson Marathon. I did my last long (20 mile) run on November 19. Last weekend I cranked out a couple of mid-length runs (10 on Thanksgiving and 15 on Saturday), with unplanned full rest days on Friday* and Sunday.** In fact, last week was the first time in a long time I only ran three times during the week*** (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday), thanks to a combination of recovering from my 20-miler, baaaad weather, and the holiday.

This week I am running on Monday (easy run), today/Wednesday (speed work), and Thursday (easy run planned). I will take Friday and Saturday off running to rest my legs for the race, and then Sunday will be a tempo/pace run of 13.1 miles.

I may have mentioned (many times) how hard it is for me to get out of bed early and get running on these dark mornings...even when they are not particularly cold or wet (worse if they are). Because of that my mid-week runs are a little shorter than I would like them to be...generally starting with 6 instead of 7 or 8. I will also use that as my excuse explanation**** for why I "only" did six 800s this morning at the track.

My speedwork has been this mini-cycle leading up to Tucson. The truth is I have no speed (or very little). So even when I intend to do a tempo or pace run, my splits look a lot like an easy run. (My easy run splits? Are sad.) My last set of 800s were shocking, and frankly a little depressing. Seriously, almost a minute per mile slower than my standard. Well, 30-45 seconds slower, anyway. I can't remember for sure. I've probably blocked the memory.

Hence, I really, really did not want to do it this morning. Still, I forced myself to go to the track after a couple miles of warm-up, telling myself there were lots of reasons this was a good idea.

  • I would only have to run half a mile at a time, and could rest after each one.

  • No matter how slow I was, it would still be faster than marathon pace.

  • No matter how slow I was, I would probably be a little faster than last time. (I hoped that was true. Thankfully, it was.)*****

  • Forcing myself to run so that my lungs wanted to explode would probably be a good cardio activity.

  • Interval training is supposed to be good exercise.

One other factor that I did not account for until I was halfway through the really only produce endorphins when you make your body hurt. So in some way, feeling bad (physically) made me feel good (mentally).

After the first two repeats from hell, I told myself I could stop after four. Then I pushed through two more. By that time, I was verging on being late for work, and had no choice but to stop. Boo hoo, right?

And this is tapering because...I am reducing the length of my weekend runs. My weekday runs are already short enough (6.25 on Monday, 7.07 total today).

I am also modifying my eating patterns in preparation for the two races. Actually I am doing two food tapers, one this week and one next. This week, to help overcome the excesses of a holiday weekend, I am cutting out sweets and cutting back on carbs****** for four days (Monday through Thursday). On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I will increase the carbs and let up a little on the sugar restriction (though trying to keep calories in check still). Next week, I will repeat the sugar/carb restriction on Monday through Wednesday, and "carb load" a bit on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The last time I ran the Las Vegas Half I had a time of 2:07:00 and I thought if I ever did it again I would surely beat that. This year...not so sure. Oh well, we'll see what happens!

*Bought a new car! My first NEW new car ever.
**Planned to go skiing but it was raining at the summit and that was way too ugly to ski in.
***Technically the long run on Sunday was part of that week, but I count Sundays as the end of the week preceding, for running purposes. I guess because I often do long runs on Sundays, and they seem more appropriate at the end of a week rather than the beginning.

****I just love using strikethrough. Sorry.
*****If you are wondering (and I certainly would be)...The previous set of half mile repeats started at 4:26 for the first (slowest) and 4:11 for the last (fastest). Today, 4:16 for the first and 4:03 for the last. Pre-Portland Marathon, all of my half miles were under four minutes, except for a couple at 4:00 or 4:01.
******I haven't cut out carbs, just unnecessary sweet and starchy foods. I have been eating some whole grains, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and protein at every meal. I have not been eating cookies, candy+, cake, pie, or pumpkin spice bagels.
+This is a footnote to the footnote. I will admit to one dark chocolate Hershey's kiss after dinner last night and a dark chocolate macadamia nut candy after my run this morning. Those are the best, by the way. Hawaiaan Host dark chocolate macadamia nuts. Oh yes.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Hope you had fun last night! Looking forward to hearing all about it :)