Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Holidays, Eugene training plan, and SNOW

My, how time does fly. It seems like I was just finishing up the Tucson Marathon, then the Christmas holidays flew by, and suddenly we are halfway through the month of January!

Christmas came and went so quickly. I think that is a product of spending half the month of December tapering for Tucson and traveling to Las Vegas and then Tucson (eliminating the two of the three pre-Christmas weekends). I did, somehow accomplish a couple of milestones (for me). I finished all my Christmas shopping before Christmas, all my shipped gifts arrived by Christmas (even a couple of books I ordered from Amazon on December 22 and chose regular shipping for), and I wrapped all my gifts and had them done by December 23. Yea me!



Making Christmas lefse with Eva. She actually ended up doing a lot of the rolling!





"Little Christmas Eve" at my sister's house (the twins, Eva, my mom).



Rod and me, Christmas Eve music.

On New Year's Eve Rod took me up to Orcas Island and we stayed at Rosario Resort for their special New Year's Eve dinner and party. It was lovely there and it is so unlike us to do anything festive on New Year's Eve! He also bought me a swimsuit from the spa shop so that we could go swimming in the indoor pool on New Year's morning. The pool was original to the house when it was built in the early 20th century. We were the only people there and we spent about 25 minutes doing laps in the narrow pool. Since I am no swimmer, this was work!


View of the San Juans from Mount Constitution. It was a cloudy day, so the view was a little obscured.


The Roundhouse, our suite at Rosario.





Sunrise in the San Juans on New Year's Day.

I spent the month of December after the marathon running easy and trying to get my legs back. They felt fine after my week's post-marathon rest, but I have yet to recover any speed. I know it took me most all of the two months between Portland and Tucson to even get back to a moderate pace with bursts of speed for Tucson, so I am being patient and trying to have faith that I will find my way.

Although I tracked my mileage throughout the year, I didn't really pay attention to the overall total until December. I then added up all the weeks and discovered that I might be able to hit 2000 miles for the year but it would be very close (especially with the post-marathon rest period). By the time I got to the last week of December I decided I would include my 16.5 mile training walk in the total but not any additional walking miles. (Most days I walk a half mile home after I finish running, plus I usually go on several 3-4 mile walks after work during the summer.)

On December 30 I ran about 12.5 miles and couldn't run any more that day. I had to get to work, plus my achilles/heel/ankle problem was acting up. I thought I was at least five or six miles off 2000. Later I checked and saw that I had only 2.85 miles to go!

You would probably assume that of course I would get up a little early on Saturday and run an easy three miles on the last day of the year. That somehow I would squeeze in those last few miles. But...I didn't. Two reasons. One, we were leaving for the ferry to Orcas quite early and I couldn't quite bring myself to get up that much earlier and disrupt everything. Two, my foot really was bothering me, and I decided that 2.85 miles wasn't worth jeopardizing my spring training by causing a real injury. So, I took New Year's Eve off running. New Year's Day too.

By Monday my foot was enough better that I was able to start the New Year with a seven-or-so mile run. Before watching Oregon win the Rose Bowl. Go Ducks!

I started my "official" Eugene Marathon training plan in the second week of January. The day before my first day, I ran the Lake Samish Half Marathon up in Bellingham. I did it in 2:08 (meh) and had hopes of doing one the following weekend in 2:06 (which would be consistent with my training plan).

Speaking of the training plan, I have one. I am modeling it on the Run Less Run Faster plan for a four-hour marathon. I tweaked it a little (of course). Their plans only have three days of running per week--one speed work, one tempo, one long run--and a couple of days cross training. I am keeping my fourth day of running as an easy day. I'll still cross train, I always do anyway. I have put the suggested paces in my plan, but at this point there is absolutely no way I can run as fast as they tell me too, at least for the speed and tempo runs. It remains to be seen on the long runs.

I figure I'll keep working at the fast paces and maybe by the end of the plan I'll be able to hit them. Or not. It's worth a try. I believe that the long runs are the most important, anyway. In my experience, my marathon pace is going to be, at best, 15-30 seconds faster than my long run pace (assuming all goes well). Getting my long runs to 9:30-ish will be key, I believe, and that's what the plan calls for (by the end).

My first official long run was supposed to be 13 miles at 9:39 pace and I freely admit I failed at that. This was at the Nookchamps Half Marathon (which I had hoped to run in 2:06)...my time was just under 2:15. (That was about a 10:15 pace). Could I have done a little better had the conditions been better? Who knows. But the weather in this race was probably in my top three worst weather condition races ever.

You see, Nookchamps was last Saturday which was the beginning of SNOWMAGEDDON!

Ha, I jest. Saturday was the beginning of the bout of wintry weather we are now experiencing, though. When I woke up on Saturday morning and heard the rain I seriously considered bagging the race. It only cost $30, not the end of the world. But I got up and dressed, ate oatmeal, and got in the car to drive 30 or so miles north to Mount Vernon. The rain continued along the way...modifying to sleet by the time I arrived. Again, at various times throughout the morning before the start, I thought about turning around and going home.

In the bathroom shortly before the start, one woman had a box of garbage bags she was sharing. I put one on and this probably made the difference between a mildly uncomfortable run and a miserable one. With my lack of motivation, I made no effort at a warm-up run and just huddled with the rest of the crowd waiting to the race to start. I didn't even care where I was in the crowd.

Moments after the race did start, I felt my shoelace flopping. For the first time in a very long while, I had forgotten to double knot my shoes. I stepped aside and fumbled with my lace to double tie both shoes. During that time the remainder of the crowd passed me and I started literally in the back of the pack. I was next to people running the 5K with small children.

I did manage to pass enough people to join a group of mid-packers. My first mile was very slow but I continued at 9:45-10:00 pace. Slower than I intended, but okay.

Then, within two miles, I really, really needed to go to the bathroom. For the next six miles, peeing was all I could think about. Around the six mile point there was one port a potty. With a line of five people. Even though I wasn't going for a great time, I couldn't bear to blow five minutes just waiting in line. So I plugged forward.

Around eight miles there was another port a potty. This time there were only two people waiting, but my urge wasn't quite so desperate. This was at the beginning of an out and back section, so I could have another chance in a couple of miles.

I don't particularly like this out and back, or any out and back, for that matter. The out always seems so long. The back is usually better. I broke this one up by eating a Gu at mile 9. I figured I could use something to give me a kick for the last few miles. Especially after I though I saw an "11" on my Garmin after mile 9! (But I did not have reading glasses on and I must have been mistaken, as that did not turn out to be the case when I checked my splits later...it was a 10.)

At the end of the out and back, with less than a quarter mile to the ten-mile marker, I approached the port a potty once again. I knew I could force myself to make it through--the urgency had receded and it was more of a nagging ache. But I decided to stop anyway and make the last three miles a little less torturous.

There was no line, but I had to wait just a bit for a guy who was inside. So I lost a couple of minutes there. I don't regret it, though, as I really was able to push through the final miles and finish with a smile on my face.



The heavy rain and sleet did let up after the first couple miles, but there was some kind of precipitation throughout. I think it was light snow at the end.

And that was a precursor to our week of snow. On Sunday afternoon we got some light snow (I think). Yes, we did...I remember now. Then it snowed a little more overnight and on Monday morning we decided that it was too cold to go skiing. I know that sounds strange! But the road conditions were just bad, and it was foggy up at Stevens, and I just didn't want to go. Instead i ran 9.3 miles on snowy sidewalks. Snow = slow. I tried to think of it as comparable to trail running!

Just after I finished the snow started falling in earnest. On Tuesday morning we had enough accumulation to prevent lots of people from going in to work. I am lucky enough to live less than two miles from work...I will never have a snow day.

I did leave work early though and was able to get out for a tramp in my snowshoes. I spent about an hour and a half walking around my neighborhood.






Today, Wednesday, was supposed to be speed work. After some waffling and deliberation, I decided to go the the Y and brave the treadmill. This workout was the easiest speed work on my whole schedule, one mile warm-up and 4 x 800 so I thought it would be a good way to give the treadmill a try (I haven't run more than a mile on a treadmill for years). I brushed the snow off my car and warmed it up and drove up the snowy streets to the Y (about a mile away). And it was closed. After all that.

So I went home and modified my layers a little bit, then went back out and "ran" 2.25 miles in my running snowshoes. Not speed work, that's for sure. I did run one lap around the snowy track, just for fun.


I came home to a house that was far colder than it should be. I have spent several hours waiting for the furnace man to come, and now waiting while he works on the furnace, hopefully patching it up enough to make it through the winter without replacement. Fingers crossed.

Hopefully after he's done I'll have the gumption to get out for one more snowshoe run/walk. (The house can warm up while I'm gone, I hope.) Then I plan to make Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup! (I googled recipes while I was waiting.) I hope he finishes soon...my desire to go back outside is waning!





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