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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