Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Embracing the taper

The tapir - at the zoo with my niece Eva on Tuesday afternoon.

Unlike some, I don't have much of a problem with dialing it back before a marathon to help my legs and body rest up. Perhaps that is because the only thing I really cut back on is my weekend long run. My weekday runs remain in the 6-8 mile range, with some sort of speed work and tempo work, and cross training on non-run days.

I did cut out evening workouts during these last couple weeks. Even though my twice a week yoga class would be a good thing to do, I don't get home until 9 p.m. on those nights and I wanted more restful evenings.

Here is the running schedule I have followed over the last four weeks. I didn't consider myself in taper until three weeks out, but my longest run was four weeks before.

Saturday 3/31 - 22 miles (includes Birch Bay 30K)
Monday 4/2 - 10K easy
Wednesday 4/4 - 7.5 mi with 10 x 400/quarter miles
Friday 4/6 - 18 miles
Saturday 4/7 - 6.5 miles with Tulip Run (5 mi race)

Easter Sunday - 15K at about 9:45 pace (I consider Friday to be the "long run" of the week, moved up for Easter)
Tuesday 4/10 - 8.5 miles with 8 x 800/half miles
Thursday 4/12 - 7.12 miles with 5 at HMP (about 8:45)
Friday 4/13 - 8.17 miles with 6 at MP (about 9:30)

Sunday 4/15 - Whidbey Island Half Marathon - 1:59:19
Tuesday 4/17 - 7 miles with 5 at MP
Thursday 4/19 - 7 miles with 5 x by 1000m (fun fact--although I was pleased with these intervals, the total time for 5000 meters was actually slower than the 5K I ran the following Saturday)
Saturday 4/21 - 6.23 miles with Earth Day 5K (24:40)

Sunday 4/22 - 11.2 miles at MP (9:41 including warm-up miles)
Monday 4/23 - 7.18 miles easyish (a little slower than MP)
Wednesday 4/25 - 7.71 with 6 x 400/quarter miles plus one mile intended to be MP but too fast (9:05)
Thursday 4/26 - 5-6 miles planned

Friday 4/27 - travel!
Saturday 4/28 - Eugene!
Sunday 4/29 - EUGENE MARATHON!

I don't know why my iPad made some of those dates into links. And I don't know how to change it either. So the weird and pointless links remain.

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Eugene minus one week:
Eugene minus two weeks
Eugene minus three weeks:
Eugene minus four weeks:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Nine days to go!

It's April 20, which means only nine days to the Eugene Marathon (less if you're counting hours). Today I was finally able to start stalking the ten-day weather forecast. It looks good, lows in the 40s and a high of 60 for race day.

Last Sunday I ran the Whidbey Island Half Marathon for the fifth time. At some point I realized that all my past Whidbeys had been 2:00:xx or faster...pressure! I would have been sad to break the streak this year. Happily, I didn't! I squeaked under two hours with a chip time of 1:59:19.

Running nine-ish minute miles (on average) did confirm that a four-hour marathon was not in the cards for Eugene. That pace was doable for 13 miles but way too hard to sustain for double the distance.

So here are my goals for Eugene....

1) Just do my best and don't die. Doable.
2) Sub-4:30. This should be easily doable. That's a 10:30 pace, I think.
3) Sub-4:25 (or sub-4:24 to beat Tucson). I think that's roughly a 10:15 pace. If I could do that in Tucson eight weeks after the Portland Marathon, I should be able to now, right?
4) Sub-4:20. About a 10-minute pace. This is probably my C goal.
5) Sub-4:15 (beat Portland). 9:45 pace. My B goal.
6) 4:10 or below. My A goal. 9:30 pace. Keep in mind this would mean a 9:30 average, including a bathroom stop (s) and any inexplicably slow miles. It would be a stretch but I might do it!

I have felt like I am getting my spring running legs back since Whidbey. Probably there's not enough time to make a major impact on Eugene, but I'm feeling good!

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Today is a rest day

Why a rest day? Tomorrow is the Whidbey Island Half Marathon and I want to go into it with fresh legs and a body that doesn't feel slightly achy. I usually cross train (sometimes vigorously, sometimes very lightly) on non-running days but occasionally I think it is good to have a whole day off. I plan to take two days off before the Eugene Marathon. (In two weeks! Eek!)

Since the Birch Bay Road Race 30K two weeks ago I have had two good weeks. I feel like I am making some real progress toward rediscovering my spring speed. I don't know that I will recover as much of it as I would like before Eugene, but that's okay. We'll see what my two weeks of "sharpening" will do as I taper.

Here are some of the key workouts I've done over the last two weeks.

10 x 400 (actually quarter mile) at the track. At first I thought these were going to suck because I was just not getting under two minutes. The first four were over 8-minute pace. But then for no apparent reason it turned around and all the rest were two minutes or under, at a sub-8 pace! The last one was about a 7:30 pace. I was very pleased. I also did about 2.5 miles warm-up, 90 seconds recovery jog between laps, and a cool down which brought the total mileage for the run to 7.5 miles.

On Friday, April 6 I began a 3-day Easter weekend of awesomeness. By 3-day weekend I don't mean time off work, but rather three consecutive good running days. I don't usually run three days in a row, but it worked out great.

Friday - 18 miles (yes, on a workday). I broke this up a little because I needed to check in at work at 9:00. Originally I was going to do 11 plus 7 but I knew those extra miles after stopping would be hard. So I decided to get up earlier and squeeze in as much as possible (and planned my route accordingly). I prepared by leaving a jacket to throw over my running clothes, plus a hairbrush and hairdryer in case I had to mop myself up and do a quick court hearing. Don't worry, I sweat but I don't smell. Really. I could make myself marginally presentable, if needed.

I arrived at work (court) at about 8:50-8:55 with 15 miles done. Luckily, I had nothing on the calendar so after a short break to eat some Sweettart jelly beans (I had already eaten one 100-calorie baggy at around mile 9 or 10) and map out how I would accomplish my final three miles, I was on my way. The route back to Starbucks (where I end most of my runs) was a little less than three miles so I had to add on a few extra blocks. I chose to do that rather than take a more circuitous route which might take me too far...I was committed to no more than 18 miles.

In the end I did 18 miles at an average pace around 10:15. I had hoped for under 10 minutes but also wanted to keep to an easy, sustainable pace. My average was really messed up by my first mile which was over 12 minutes. I am still puzzled by this. Typically my most sluggish, leaden first mile under poor conditions is not too much over 11 minutes. I don't know when I've last run a 12 minute mile (except on trails) without snow and ice on the ground. And on this day the conditions were great and my legs felt fine...more like a 10:30 warm-up pace. Mile 2 was in fact 10:30, and the rest were around 10 minutes, give or take. So that first mile really messed up the average. I don't know if it was the Garmin, or me.

But no matter, I finished a strong 18 miles and then I did take a shower and clean up before heading back to work. I also ate my second breakfast. I had an English muffin with almond butter before the run and a Starbucks spinach, egg, and feta wrap, plus grapefruit wedges, after.

Saturday - Tulip Run 5-mile race up in Skagit County. I haven't done this one for a few years due to schedule conflicts. But it worked out this year. Plus there was a Historic Homes Tour that same day so I made a big plan to do the run, then tour with my parents afterward.

It was a sunny but still cool morning (with a wind), so I wore a long sleeved shirt under my flowery NuuMuu dress. I had planned to do a 2-mile warm-up but time was short so I only did 1.5--that got me to a portapotty so I was able to use that at the last minute without standing in line.

I had no idea how this was going to go. After all, I ran 18 miles the day before. (Although I ran my 8K PR last summer the day after an 18-miler.) I was prepared to be happy with anything under 45 minutes.

I took off pretty hard at the start. Although this was a flat course, the first mile was ever so slightly downhill. My Garmin was showing paces around 7:30, which I knew was too fast and not sustainable. But I thought I'd go with it and see how long I could hang on. Mile 1 was 7:47...probably the fastest full mile I've run this year (sad, I know). In mile 2 I settled down somewhat and I think that one was around 8:15. Probably where it should be.

Somewhere in the second mile we also moved from the road to a dirt trail in the woods. It wasn't remotely technical but had muddy patches and turns, which I think are somewhat slowing. My last three miles were around 8:30, so it was only my first too-fast mile that kept my average down.

About halfway through I was passed by a woman named Becky who I have met in several races. She has beat me in every one. In at least three I have seen her pass me about halfway, which shows that she is far better at pacing than I am and she runs amazing negative splits. Luckily she is older than me, so we are not in the same age group. She finished about three minutes faster than me but we were both 5th in our respective AGs.

I really tried to put on a final kick but my splits don't show it (except that the .15 miles over five were at 7:30 pace). The finish time on my watch was 42:02 and my chip time was 42 flat. I was okay with that. I looked back at my past Tulip Run times and this was the fastest by about 30 seconds.

I didn't feel at all like I could have run faster without the 18-miler the day before. I did wonder if I should have paced myself better in the first mile, but who knows if that would have helped me run faster than 8:30s on the trails.

I decided not to run any more afterwards (I had contemplated at least finishing the extra half mile). Instead my parents and I headed out to visit the historic homes of Skagit County (well, a few of them).

They gave everyone a tulip at the finish line.

With my dad.

Sunday - Easter Sunday. I had originally planned on taking Easter off running, but we went to the 7 a.m. church service and there were a lot of hours between that and going to my parents' later in the afternoon. So after a leisurely breakfast and watching Rod go up on his roof to clean it, I headed out for an easy run. I planned to do about eight, but ended up with 9.3, average pace about 9:45.

Some Easter pics at my parents' house...

Eva and Rod.

My sister Gretchen helping Eva with her Easter booty.

Eva contemplating her finds.

Eva and the twins, Erik and Hans. Hans has a sweet helmet to help with a flat spot on his head.

After my three somewhat hard running days, I took Monday off running and rearranged my running schedule a bit.

Tuesday, April 10 - another track workout. This time 8 x 800 (half miles). Except for the first, each was at or below four minutes (8-minute pace). With warm-up, 90 second recovery jogs, and cool down, my total distance was 8.5 miles.

Thursday, April 12 - two miles warm-up, five miles half marathon pace (which was in the neighborhood of 8:45).

Friday, April 13 - two miles warm-up, six miles marathon pace (which was optimistically around 9:30-9:35ish).

So that ended two good training weeks. After the 18-miler, I officially started taper. My long run for this week will be the Whidbey Half.

I am looking forward to reading Boston Marathon race reports next week. My TV provider no longer has Universal Sports, so I probably won't be watching Monday morning. I might try live streaming on my iPad, but I don't know if that will work.

And yes, I've been wearing Boston 2011 gear all weekend. I wonder if there is something subtle I could wear to work on Monday....

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Random thoughts on April 1

No April Fool's jokes from me today. Anything I write here today will be true...or true as I know it.

Have you seen this video of Lance Armstrong getting passed in the last second of Ironman Texas 70.3? Apparently there is a bit of controversy over whether passing someone (or just someone famous? Dunno) in the chute like that is bad form. I know nothing about triathlon so am not familiar with the particular courtesies that might be expected. At first I thought it was just the breaks (having been passed in the last seconds of a race many times myself), but when I watched it did look pretty obnoxious. And isn't your place in a triathlon determined by all the legs, so beating someone in the run by one second is probably not going to affect the overall outcome, right?

Speaking of Ironmans (Ironmen?) 70.3, I'm wondering how and when Half Ironmans/men became Ironman 70.3? I don't call a half marathon "Marathon 13.1"...although I realize there are a couple half marathons out there that do use that name. It seems silly to me. Embrace the half, people! I love half marathons, but I fully accept that they take a whole lot less work to do than a full marathon. Probably way less than half the work, really.

On a somber note, you've probably heard the news story about Micah True--Caballo Blanco from Born to Run--being missing. This morning the news came out that his body had been found in the New Mexico wilderness. Very sad.

The Boston Marathon is two weeks and a day from today. The London Marathon is three weeks from today. The Eugene Marathon is four weeks from today. This is a year in which a person could run both the Boston and London Marathons (plus Eugene) without particularly difficult travel logistics. Assuming one could have qualified and gotten into Boston, plus gotten into London through the lottery (or as they call it in London, the ballot). Neither of which I accomplished, of course.

It has been three years since I was last in England, and I don't know when I will go back. If I wait until I get into the London Marathon, it could be a long time.

And on the subject of lotteries (not the mega-million, I didn't even buy a ticket), I am about to sign up for the MacKenzie River Trail Run 50K. If they oversell (which happens every year), the entrants will be chosen by lottery (after a few priority entries). I am nervous enough about the prospect of this that I am okay with the chance I won't get a spot. And if I do...well, I know I can do it.

Today is a rest day from yesterday's 22 miles. I went to the beach this morning (I am at my parents' house) and walked for an hour. The rest of the day I've pretty much been sitting around. With my feet up.

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