Saturday, March 31, 2012

A few thoughts after the Birch Bay 30K

Maybe I'll write a real race report about this (my dad took some decent pics, so that's something), but I just have a few comments for now.

My time was 3:05 and some seconds. This was the first time I've been over three hours...nine minutes slower than last year and fifteen slower than 2010.

This did include a bathroom stop for the first time. But that only accounts for a couple minutes. The course was somewhat different from before, but I don't think it was harder. My average pace was under 10 minutes a mile...barely.

I ran 2.15 miles before and 1.25 miles after to make a total of 22 miles. My average pace does not include the extra miles.

I don't really know what this means for Eugene...perhaps with a taper my legs will be a little bit fresher then.

Looking at my times for other races last February and March, I should have been able to run the Boston Marathon faster than I did (which was 4:34).

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

One month to Eugene!

Here I am, one month away from the Eugene Marathon. If I had to run it right now, I could do it (though a week of tapering would be nice). Since I don't have to run it right now, here is what I have in mind for the last few weeks, plus some thoughts on my training in general.

*I have done a lot of long runs, three 20+ so far and one more planned for Saturday. I've also done two 17s and two 18s, with one more 18 on the books. I feel like I have enough long runs in the bank that it would be okay if I had to miss one of the remaining two. No plans for that, but you never know.

*My weekly mileage has been a little lower than I expected. It ranges from mid-30s to mid-40s (except for snow week), mostly upper 30s and low 40s. I would have liked to have more weeks over 40, and a couple close to or over 50. I think the lower mileage is primarily because my work schedule has not allowed for the medium-long runs I liked to do on Fridays (10+ miles). This has been unavoidable. I'm not willing to get up at 4 a.m. in the winter (maybe in summer I will) and work is work. I do see a lot of value in getting in more medium-long runs when possible. I'm not horribly concerned though, considering all the long runs I've done.

*I've been pretty good about the speed work and tempo runs--that is, doing them. The weather has messed with them a little bit, so I have done some modifications and switching around. However, I have not been successful at hitting the paces I put in the plan. I realize that they were far too aggressive (they would have been hard--or impossible--even when I was in a faster place). It is a little depressing to read blogs by people who surprise themselves by hitting paces they didn't think they could, while I can't...but that's just the way it is. I still feel like I'm getting benefits from my pacing efforts, even if I'm not meeting my goals.

*I am getting faster, though. Yes, it is hard having to work to get back to where I was easily last summer. Especially as I haven't done anything to cause a injury, no illness, no long breaks from running, didn't have a baby, didn't even gain much weight (don't really count 5-10 fall marathon/holiday pounds...and I've lost those now anyway). My 2012 race times keep improving, and I do see movement in my speed work paces.

*This final month is for sharpening, and taper of course. I have a couple of long runs to go, some key track workouts (old school 800s and 400s), a half marathon for practicing marathon effort pace (or a little faster, probably, hopefully), plus a 5-mile and a 5K for leg speed.

*This week I did a sluggish easy run on Monday (post Mercer Island Half Marathon), track speed work on Wednesday (1 x 1000m,1 x 2000m, 2 x 1000m), and a tempo run today (two miles warm-up, six miles at half marathon pace). On Saturday I'm planning 22 miles including the Birch Bay 30K Road Race.

*I'm not going to express any marathon goals or predictions until after the Birch Bay 30K and Whidbey Half Marathon.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Portland Shamrock Run 2012

I was one of the many running a St. Patrick's Day race this last weekend (now two weekends back). But while most of those were actually on St. Pat's Day (Saturday), the Shamrock Run is always on a Sunday, so this year (thanks to Leap Year) it was on March 18. No matter. I had enough green to carry me through an entire weekend.

The main Shamrock Run is a 15K, but there is also an 8K and a 5K. This year they changed the schedule so that the 5K started about 95 minutes after the 15K. Since I don't really pay attention to anything but the 15K, I didn't notice that bit of scheduling until a few days before the run. But once I did, a little idea was born...a way to make my Sunday run a little longer...if all went well with the 15K, anyway.

My parents and I drove down to Portland on Friday. I took the whole day off work, and used some of the morning to squeeze in an easy medium length run. I had originally thought I might do a longer 15 mile run, but realized earlier in the week that that would be cuh-ray-zee! And as I lolled in bed Friday morning, the potential length of my run got even shorter.

When I did get outside--happy that it was daylight--I had about 90 minutes remaining on my audio of Born to Run (the book), so I decided I would at least run through that (about 9 miles). I was soon dismayed that, once again, I could not pull up a signal on my Garmin. This time I made it through the whole run without ever loading satellites! That was two consecutive Everett runs without Garmin, although I did three runs in other places with no problem.

At least, my lack of measuring tool ensured that I would keep the pace relaxed. It took about four miles before I felt like I was in a groove, but after that I felt really good. Of course, that was probably because I was running very slowly. I finished the audiobook (I kept it running at lights and other stops, so it covered less than nine miles of running), and then put on music to finish the last mile or so. I estimated my total distance at nine miles, which I think was a fair estimate.

We didn't leave for Portland until afternoon, but the drive went pretty smoothly and we got into Portland around 5 or 6. We were staying at the Marriott Downtown Waterfront, which is right on Naito Parkway where the race begins and ends. Originally I had reservations at the Westin (actually less conveniently located), but they gave me grief when I wanted to change our departure date from Monday to Sunday (staying two nights instead of three). So that ticked me off and after I found another hotel I cancelled the Westin altogether. I was really surprised that the Marriott still had rooms at a decent rate (this was two or three weeks before the race), but was really happy with the change.

While driving down to Portland we listened to the audiobook of Dean Karnazes' 50/50 (50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days). We went through 25 states on the trip south and the other 25 on the way home.

Friday night we had dinner at the hotel's lobby restaurant and bar. All three of us had the steak salad with mixed results. Mine (medium rare) was pretty good, after they took it back to remake it with the dressing on the side. My mother's steak (medium) was terribly tough, almost unchewable! And my dad's might have been tough as well, but he always gets it well done so what can you expect of overcooked meat.

On Saturday we all took the Tri-met over to the Convention Center for packet pick-up and a small expo. For once I was pretty immune to the charms of the merchandise. I wasn't really into the St. Patrick's Day themed stuff. It's only one day, and it would be over by the time we even did the run! I do love green, but I have lots and lots of green shirts and jackets (including a new half zip that I'd just bought the week before).

We did score some freebies by each of us doing a short survey put on by an insurance company (totally anonymous). For that I got a sweet Shamrock Run gym bag, plus we got two Camelbak water bottles. The gym bag was very handy for carrying away the water bottles and my race shirt (which I do like a lot).

The weather that whole weekend was very dicey, though in the end we didn't have any real problems. The forecast for Sunday was rain and snow, but it didn't happen during the race. After leaving the expo we walked downtown and picked up sandwiches for lunch at Three Bridges Cafe. They have the yummiest sandwiches and each one comes with a chocolate chip cookie! I may have purchased additional cookies to be used for desserts and treats later....

Saturday evening we walked about half a mile to have dinner at an Italian restaurant. I like to have pasta before a race, even if the tradition is somewhat mythical and possibly unnecessary. Since I limit my carbs during the week, I tend to intentionally increase them on weekends before long runs and races.

The 15K run was supposed to start at 7:45 on Sunday morning. I got up at 6, grabbed my coffee and breakfast, and went back to bed for a while. I planned to leave at about 7:15 to head over to the start and jog a short warm-up.

From the hotel, I crossed Naito Parkway and jogged along Waterfront Park toward the race activities. I clocked about a mile for my warm-up, though it was probably a bit longer since it took awhile to get the satellites loaded. I was also able to use the port a potties a couple times (in addition to my stops in the hotel earlier).

As race start time was approaching somewhat, the announcer told us that the start would be delayed because the Amtrak train was late. They couldn't start until the train went through, as the course crosses the tracks. Waiting was fine with me...I already had my experience with the train holding up the Portland Marathon at mile 25!

While we were waiting, I wriggled myself into the starting corral somewhere between the 8 and 9 minute signs. It was packed, but I knew the staggered start would give us all room to run.

Finally the course was clear (so they said), and we were 30 second intervals. It didn't take long for me to cross the starting mats. Shortly after the start we heard bells and saw flashing lights on the railroad tracks. I don't know what was going on but I was one of the mob that darted across the tracks before they could make us stop. I never knew if there actually was a train or if it was a false alarm. The first mile or so of the race has changed pretty much every year, thanks to constant road and bridge construction work in downtown Portland. Last year we even had to go up onto one of the bridges and turn around. This time we stayed in downtown. The first couple miles were fairly flat. I managed a fairly comfortable sub-nine, around 8:45.

We started going uphill on S.W. Broadway (as the road does). Miles 3-6 are pretty much steadily uphill, and my pace was reflective--9:18, 9:22, 9:50, 9:33. I probably could have pushed harder, as I recall feeling pretty good despite the climb. I'm afraid marathon training breeds "comfortable" pacing! After mile 6, we reached our highest point and headed back downhill into town. For three miles I poured on the speed! 8:18, 8:19, 8.15. The last .3 was actually .45 for me and I did that stretch at a 7:47 pace...woohoo! Final official time was 1:23:59.

I learned later that my dad had been down there and saw me finish. I didn't see him at all...I looked for him when I went by the hotel, but after that didn't expect him. It is so crowded there in the finisher area that I have never managed to find anyone or hear a cell phone if it rang. I also learned later that up until that morning my dad thought I was running a marathon! Apparently he assumes if I'm traveling it must be for a marathon. I give him cheers for thinking I could start a marathon at 7:45 and still check out of the hotel at noon! (He did think it would be a very close call. Ha.)

So after I walked through the finish area I stayed on Naito Parkway and walked up to the mob waiting for the 5K to start. I think the waves may have already started when I got there. It was so crowded that it was hard to tell. Although I certainly wasn't running for speed, I did weave my way through the crowd of walkers to the back of the runners.

When I did cross the starting line and begin to run, I found myself weaving around people to try to maintain a 10-minute pace. There is really a huge difference running at the back of the pack from my usual spot somewhat ahead of the middle of the pack! People don't even seem to care how fast slow they are going! I mean, I didn't care much but I did care more than a 12-minute pace. I'm not going to dwell on this topic because I am bound to say something which could be interpreted as offensive.

I did manage to put on a surge in the final mile (when I had made it up to some people who cared a little bit about their times). My splits for three miles were 10:00, 10:07, and 9:21. I was looking at my watch and I did hit 3.1 miles under 30 only goal. Since I wasn't chipped or registered for this part of the race, my watch times are all that matter. Similar to the 15K, I sped up to 7:45 pace for the last .21 and my total watch time was 31:08.

After finishing my second "race" of the day, I headed back to the hotel (by way of Starbucks). I still had plenty of time to change before we checked out at noon.

I didn't get any good pre- or during-race pics, but here I am after.

The weather during both runs was perfect. The most rain we got was just a drizzle, and not much of that. On the drive home, though, we got rain, snow, hail, and sun. One after the other. Again and again.

Next up, my race recap from the Mercer Island Half Marathon last weekend.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

(Thank you internet for the lovely picture, as I can't use the actual symbol in my text!)

Here's a Pi Day problem for you.

A 9” pie costs $8.99, an 8” pie costs $4.99 and is on sale for $2.99. The smaller pie is clearly the better deal…right? By circumference (pi times diameter), the larger pie is 28.26 square inches and costs .32 per square inch. The smaller is 25.12 square inches and costs .20 per inch regular price and .12 per inch on sale. However, the bigger pie is also deeper and when you consider volume (of a cylinder, which is the closest I can get) (pi times radius-squared times height), the larger pie (height 2 inches) has a volume of 127.7 cubic inches and the smaller (height 1 inch) has a volume of 50.24 cubic inches. Dividing the price by the volume, the larger pie costs .07 per cubic inch and the smaller costs .10 per inch at regular price…however on sale for $2.99 it is only .06 per cubic inch and is still the better buy!

You're welcome.

Who said we'd never use math after high school?

(I should share this with QFC. I’m sure they’d want to use it in their advertising!)

Sadly, I won't be eating any pie myself as I am still plugging along in the quest to remain (mostly) sugar-free through Easter, as I attempt to tune up my body as well as my running for the Eugene Marathon.

Running continues to go pretty well since the great Garmin satellite fail last week. On Saturday I did 17 miles, with a three mile warm-up, Lake Sammamish Half Marathon (2:03:35ish), and a mile to finish the job. It drizzled pretty much the whole time and I got pretty wet by the end!
I finished the half marathon, ran a mile extra, looked around the booths, ate a piece of pizza, went to my car to get some money to buy a shirt, and as I was walking back toward the finish line carrying my purse somebody cheered me on--"You're almost done!" Embarrassing.

Monday morning it was raining so hard it made Saturday's drizzle look like nothing. Plus it was dark (thank you Daylight Savings Time for making my life miserable). But I perservered through eight miles and my average pace was sub-10, so that's something. I am hoping to keep my weekday runs up around eight miles rather than six or seven in this last six weeks before Eugene. That will involve getting up at least ten minutes earlier than I have been...and 20-30 minutes earlier would be so much better, allowing me to run and get to work on time!

Finally, today was my half-assed attempt at this week's speed work. attempt was fine, my results were pretty half-assed. I've said before that my goal paces for this training cycle are, sadly, too fast for me, so I'm not too distressed about missing the goal paces and just using "effort" as my measuring stick. So with that modification, my speed work today was supposed to be two sets of 3 x 1200 (or 3/4 mile) at 5K pace effort (after a two-mile warm-up).

The warm-up went fine. As for the intervals.... I was not doing this at a track, and my route included uphills and downhills, so I didn't expect a very consistent pace anyhow. The first 3/4 mile went fine, although I would characterize my pace as 10K rather than 5K pace. A couple minutes of recovery then another...this time slightly uphill...again 10K pace (but slower than the first). My third split started out well, but about halfway through, luckily as I was approaching the Y, I had to stop for a bathroom. Immediately. I had no choice in the matter.

That threw me off a little, and I decided to start interval 3 over again. I skipped the long recovery jog between the two sets, as I already had a longish break in the bathroom, and went directly to #4, then 5. The problem was that I was running out of time. I tentatively decided to finish #5, then maybe just do half of #6. But halfway through #6 I realized I hadn't restarted my watch after some stopping point, and had just run at least a quarter of a mile unrecorded! This is where things got confusing. Ha. Somehow I managed to complete all of lap 6, in fact one of my laps was .8 instead of .75 mile. And then I did another half mile, somehow. I finally finished with 8 miles on my watch, but I figure I ran about 8.25 (or more) in total.

On the good side, it did not rain at all while I was running this morning!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The solar storm messed up my run!

You've probably been hearing about the solar flares and solar storm that have been happening on the last couple days. If you check out some articles about it, you will probably learn that it has had surprisingly little effect on GPS and technology. Well, to that I say WRONG! It totally screwed with the Garmin satellites today. Or something certainly did.

I typically turn on my Garmin just before I'm ready to leave and have a signal before I open the front door. Occasionally I need to give it a few moments on the front porch. Today I had nothing inside the house. I didn't want to stand still in the cold for long, so I decided to start out and figured I'd have a signal witin a couple blocks. Broadway (.2 miles, if I were measuring), still trying to load satellites. I passed Starbucks (about a mile from home), and nothing. I finished my two miles of warm-up still without a signal. You'd think at this point I would give up, but I kept the Garmin on just out of curiosity whether it would ever find any satellites!

I did give up on my plan for a tempo run. I would have started the tempo miles after the first two miles, and I did try to pick up the pace a bit, but without some monitoring and feedback I just didn't have the motivation for a tempo effort. So I just ran.

A bit past the four mile point (I know my route well), the Garmin finally loaded some satellites. I decided to go ahead and run it for the last couple miles. But it still wasn't working well at all. Occasionally it showed me a pace around 9:45-10:00, but mostly it jumped around from the ridiculous (6 minute pace) to the obscene (14 minute pace). Of the two miles I managed to record, the first was 11 minutes (!) and the second was 9 minutes. Yeah, that makes sense.

I'm hoping this solar stuff gets all straightened out by my next run on Saturday!

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