Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July - And so it goes

Let me join in the chorus...whatever happened to July? Just a minute ago it was the
4th of July, and now we're staring down the barrel of August.

July can also be known as "the month where good turned into meh." I do feel like I've been writing the same thing in my (slightly less than) weekly posts... June went so well, and then July happened.

June was the month where I started my ultra training and it all seemed to click.  Adding an extra day of running? No problem. Long runs on consecutive days (Saturday and Sunday)? Easy peasy. Throwing in a couple of hilly trail run/races? Slow and steady, but successful. In addition to the slow trail runs and moderate weekday and long runs, I had some good tempo runs and track work, three half marathons under, at, and just over two hours, and a sub-25 minute 5K.

I guess it all had to end somewhere. (Well, it didn't have to end, but it sort of did.)

After a pretty good 10K on July 4 (52 minutes, I was happy enough with that), my legs (and other parts of my body) apparently decided they were done. On July 5 I went out for an "easy" run and my piriformis started screaming. It didn't shut up for probably two full miles, after which it quieted to a sort of whimper for another four miles. Whether it was the discomfort of running or something else, I could barely run under an 11 minute mile. I think I managed to get my average pace under 11 by the end of 6.2 miles, but just barely.

A couple days later, on Saturday, I did a 20-mile trail run at Lord Hill. There were hills. I survived, but it wasn't pretty. Here I am coming through the parking lot at the end of my first 10-mile loop. It's not the most flattering picture.

I followed up with an 11-mile road run on Sunday. Eleven miles at eleven minute pace...good thing I knocked it down from the thirteen miles I originally considered.

I dragged myself back to a 10:30ish pace during the week that followed...and a sort of taper for the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon on Sunday, July 15. Maybe it was a good thing that I was feeling less than par because it did force me to back off a little during the week. I think I did my usual three weekday runs but I took Saturday off entirely (except for a short bike ride in town) before the marathon.

And then, the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon. The entire marathon is a gentle downhill grade from near the top of Snoqualmie Pass to North Bend. It is known for fast finishes and lots of Boston qualifiers. I would expect it to be right up (or down) my alley. I haven't ruled out running it again (maybe even next year) and actually trying to get a good time.

At beginning, before the tunnel. I am in the hot pink jacket and black shorts. After the tunnel I left my jacket in a drop bag with my head lamp and flashlight.

That said...I thought I could finish around 4:30 with an easy effort. That would be just under 10:30 pace (10:30 would give about 4:35). In the first half I actually was running around 10:30 pace. The first three miles (2.5 of which are in a railway tunnel) averaged just about exactly 10:30. Then I had a few around 10:15, 10:20, but mostly around 10:30. I took a bathroom stop in about mile 10, which was a 12-minute mile (consisted with my 1:30 minute typical marathon bathroom stops). But in the second half, without even really feeling like I was slowing, my pace dropped to 11-minute+, up until the last mile or so.

The mountain scenery along the way was very pretty, and I would have taken some pictures if that wouldn't have made me even slower. I could have sworn that the trail flattened about halfway through, but my Garmin shows even descent. So that excuse is bunk.

In the last couple miles I did make a stronger effort to pick up the pace. I would have finished a little stronger than I did, except that I saw my dad alongside the trail at the finish and grabbed him to cross the finish line with me.

My dad finishing his first marathon!
 His legs were stiff from standing so long waiting so we shuffled across the finish line. I figure that probably added a minute to my time...but we still crossed under 4:50. (My official time was 4:49:24...the chips failed at the start so I might have been a few seconds faster in reality.)

Despite my unimpressive finish time, I thought this was a good marathon to run and at least I didn't knock myself out too much. I took two days off running afterwards (Monday and Tuesday) and was back out on Wednesday with few repercussions. I didn't even have trashed quads from the downhills!

The following Saturday I ran a 5-mile race in Snohomish. Last year I PRed at this with a sub-40 time...not so much this year. I don't remember my exact time, but it was about 44 minutes. They did change the course this year, and it was a little longer than last year, and had two wicked hills, so there's that! On Sunday I ran 13.1 miles easy (10:30 pace).

The only notable thing about my three weekday runs is that each one was 7.25 miles long. Not by intent, that's just how much time I had to run on those days.

Finally, this last weekend in July I had an Olympic weekend, staying at my parents' and watching the opening ceremonies Friday night (Rowan Atkinson's bit was my favorite!) and then driving up to Anacortes for my sixth running of the Art Dash Half Marathon. It went...okay...but a little slowly (2:05). (I did do two miles of warm-up before hand, so that made a 15 mile day.) On Sunday I ran eight miles on the rocky beach at my parents' house. It is like a very flat trail run, lots of obstacles, tripping hazards (I fell down twice) and very, very slow. Afterwards my mom made pancakes and bacon, then I borrowed my dad's bike and took a 6-mile bike ride to Starbucks! My mother picked me up afterwards and we went shopping.

My 7.1 mile run this morning put me at 198.62 miles for July (give or take a few hundredths). Yes, I know, only 1.4 miles more to make 200! (I was over 200 in June.) But there is no way I am going to put on running clothes and go out after work for a short run. I forced myself to get out of bed this morning and run so that I wouldn't have to consider running after work. Of course that mileage does not include a half mile walk home from Starbucks after at least a couple runs every week, or two long walks I took, totalling 7.1 miles between them. I'm not counting that walking mileage in my run totals. But it happened.

And so ends July. Welcome August, the month of my birthday, and the final peak month of training before McKenzie River 50K!


Marie said...

I just love that photo of you and your dad!

Cathy said...

Thank you so much for following me. I am excited to browse your blog more. I walked the Tulip Run this year with my sister (I saw you ran it) and I saw that you have done many of the runs in my area that I have looked at but have been nervous about joining. When I have more time (I'm at work right now) I will definitely come back and read more. :-)