Thursday, October 25, 2012

Back on track

And back to the track this morning, for the first time since before the Twin Cities Marathon!

I think that my plan to restore a little moderate speed to my legs before the Honolulu Marathon is proceeding well. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am incorporating some of the Run Less Run Faster elements to work toward a 4:15 marathon pace. Obviously, I will not run a 4:15 marathon in Honolulu, barring a miracle of some kind, because:

  1. Using some of the RLRF methods for a few weeks is not the same as following the whole plan for 16-18 weeks, or even 12 weeks, which I think is the minimum to realistically making it work.
  2. The heat and humidity of Hawaii is going to play a big part, especially as I am now getting accustomed to running weather of 40s and 50s, and expect it to get colder by December.
  3. I am not actually achieving the paces recommended for a 4:15 marathon...I am working towards them.

But as I also said a couple weeks ago, I am training for a faster marathon to try to avoid a further increase in slowness, and especially, the horror of a 5-hour plus time. (I honestly think that 5 hours is a perfectly respectable time, but I know I can do better. Some people would find 4 hours shockingly slow...I would be thrilled with that.)

Last week (as opposed to this week) my plan called for three tempo miles at 8:11-8:15 pace. I think I already wrote that I did them around 8:30. That tempo run turned out to be a good test run for the 5K I did on Sunday, though.  I had great fears of not even breaking 30 minutes (again, the horror!), but I did manage to blow that basement goal out of the water and even break 27 minutes (about 26:45). Isn't it great that I had set my expectations so low that sub-27 made me almost happy? That was about an 8:30 pace. So there you go.

On Saturday, though, I did a long run of 12 miles in just under two hours--that's a 9:59 pace. I call that great success, as I had 10:14 as my goal pace for that run. (The original RLRF plan also called for that run to be 18 miles, but I am ramping up to the long distances still.)

This week my speed work was supposed to be 6 x 800 at 3:58 each. Thanks to laziness and the horribly dark mornings, I didn't get out early enough and I had to knock it down to 5 x 800 (half miles). I didn't really have time for even that many, but that was my compromise between getting it done and getting to work. Once again, didn't meet the set goal, but did do okay (in my estimation)...4:14, 4:15, 4:11, 4:07, and 4:02. It's tempting to think that the next one (had I done it) would have been under four minutes, and maybe it would, but that last one was done with an extra kick knowing that it was the last. I was exceedingly happy to even get that close to four minutes. Next time!

On Saturday I have another 5K. My goal is sub-26. I know that a minute improvement over a week is a lot, but my other 5Ks earlier this year were sub-25, so I'm not asking for anything that I'm not capable of. So we shall see....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Slow is the new fast

I have become shockingly slow this fall. It's not new, it was developing all summer, and I am pretty sure it is greatly influenced by all the trail running and volume running and long slow distance I did preparing for MRTR. I do subscribe to the theory that when you train slow, you're training to be slow. Not that I could do anything else in a 50K. It's okay. I accept this.

It is a little galling, of course, to have that transferred over into shorter distances where you have certain expectations of being average, rather than below average. Ahem, Twin Cities Marathon, I'm looking at you! Then the following Sunday I did the Pouslsbo Half Marathon in 2:12:57, which is about three minutes slower than last year (when I ran it one week after 4:15 in the Portland Marathon). It's okay, though! My only goal for Pouslsbo was to be under 2:15, and I rocked that. Hurrah.

I suspect I may be experiencing a bit of running burnout. Or training burnout. Or both. I did cover a lot of miles over the summer. I hate that it is getting harder to run at the same time as we get dark, cold, wet mornings...which make it harder (for me) to run.

But wait! Doom and gloom begone. I have a Plan. Well, maybe it's just a plan. Here is my big picture plan (subject to change, of course).

1) I will train for the Honolulu Marathon (December 9) using some of the Run Less Run Faster plan. I will try to train for a 4:15 pace marathon. I do not plan to run a 4:15 in Honolulu...I just hope that my efforts will get me closer to a 4:30 than a 5:00. Right now I do not know if I can manage the speed work paces recommended for the 4:15 time...I would actually be happy if I managed to get close to those paces.

2) After the Honolulu Marathon I am going to take some running rest for the remainder of December. I have no idea what that will look like. I don't want to give up running completely (except maybe I will take a full week off after the marathon). I am also very leery that this rest time will coincide with the holiday season. I don't want to completely eschew yummy food to accommodate a reduction in running! So, details remain to be worked out. But I think I need a little training break.

3) My spring marathon will be in May or June (haven't picked one yet). That way I can do some base building in January, maybe even February, and do the bulk of my training in the late winter and spring (instead of the dead of winter!). I will probably use Run Less, Run Faster, and really try to successfully execute the 4:15 plan.

4) The further out in time I go, the more tentative this plan gets. But I do have some wanna-do marathons and half marathons in September and October. That means I may go back to volume running and weekend doubles over the summer. But NO 50K and probably less trail running. Although I really enjoyed those shorter (half marathon) trail races and I'm not ruling out doing a few. Maybe I could even try to run faster on trails? Dream on.

So I am transitioning into the RLRF stuff even as I finish recovering from TCM. Based on the "plan," I should have done the Poulsbo Half at a 9:59 actual average pace was 10:09. That was with about half the miles under 10 minutes, half around or just over 10 minutes, and one bigass hill mile at 11+.

This morning I did my first little stab at speed work. I didn't want to get up, I didn't want to go out, and I didn't think I could eke out any kind of speed whatsoever. But I did force myself out of bed and out the door, and told myself just to run hard (during the speed miles) and we'll see how it comes out.

I will say right now I didn't hit the RLRF pace. The speed portion was supposed to be 3 x 1600m at 8:11 (I figure about 8:15 for a mile). I did about 2.3 miles warm-up at slug pace, then switched into "speed" mode. I ran those three miles as hard as I possibly could. My heart hasn't pounded like that for a long time. I did about 2-3 minutes recovery in between miles, which is more than the plan calls for but it worked for my route. I didn't run 8:15 miles.

But I did the first two at just over 8:30, and the last one at 8:40. (Confession, the first two miles were slightly downhill, and the last was slightly uphill. Hence the times.) So, I was 20-25 seconds off pace. But I'll take it. I haven't seen a lot of miles in the 8:30 range for a long time (since the July 4 10K, probably). Yes, it was a little disturbing how much work it was. Yes, that is the pace I ran for my PR half marathon three years ago. was kind of good to feel the hurt. (The lung hurt, that burning gasping feeling of running fast.) For single mile repeats, that was not fast. was not nearly as bad as I feared (like I didn't know if I could go under 9-minute miles). I consider it a baseline. I have another set of 3 x 1600 on my plan later on (late November, early December), and we'll see if I can get a little faster by then. Maybe under 8:15...a girl can dream, right?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

TCM - what happened?

Well...4:59:21 happened. An 8-minute personal worst, and way off my most reasonable goal time of 4:30. Damn.

I am making peace with it, although it will always rankle. One thing though--I still haven't gone over five hours. I say that with great caution, because I have the Honolulu Marathon coming up in December, and if I don't improve somehow by then, and you throw in the heat and humidity of Hawaii...who knows what will happen.

There were some good things about Twin Cities Marathon. Actually, almost everything was good. The problem was me.

The weather--just about perfect. After four days of crazy wind which made the cold temps feel even colder (and would certainly be a problem for running), the wind was practically non-existent. The overall temperatures warmed a bit, starting at 30 but into the 50s by midday. It was sunny enough for sunglasses after we left the buildings of downtown Minneapolis, and that combined with very light wind, made it a great atmosphere for running. It was cool enough that I kept my throwaway jacket on to mile 13, though.

I started out well. I think the first eleven miles went pretty much as I wanted (could have been a bit faster, of course). I was running from 10:05 to about 10:30, though my bathroom stop at around mile 8 slowed me to an average of around 10:30.

A word about early bathroom issues. I easily got in my three times before the race, first in a portapotty then twice inside the Mall of America Field stadium (yes, we got to wait inside!). But I drank a whole grande Americano that morning, and the cold works voodoo on your kidneys, so....I already felt like peeing in the first few miles. All the potties on the course had lines, though, and I couldn't bear waiting, so I plugged on for a while. Luckily around mile 8 I saw a single PP off course, and the non-running lady there let me go ahead of her, so I had a quick (and very satisfying) stop. Maybe two minutes, maybe a bit more running off and on the course. My next stop would not be so easy.

At the start I was pretty near the back of my corral, but although it was really crowded I didn't really have a I said, my first miles were my best.

The course itself was great. It wasn't just pancake flat (which I don't love). There were periodic small hills and a couple pretty long ones, but all the uphills came with downhills so that was fine. We ran through downtown Minneapolis, through some nice residential areas (beautiful, big, expensive older homes), and alongside four lakes and the Mississippi River. I probably didn't take in the scenery as much as I should have--I was too wrapped up in running. But luckily we had driven twice around Lake of the Isles on Friday, so I got some lake scenery and fall foliage in already. Also, it made that part of the course feel very familiar to me!

Above--three views of Lake of the Isles, not necessarily where we ran though. We definitely didn't go past the Lutheran Church, above.

After about eleven miles I slowed down a bit, as I mentioned. I was running a little under eleven-minute pace through mile 15, and about 11:23 in mile 16. The reason it was over was because I was contemplating another bathroom stop. I tried another single off-course PP, but after waiting a bit for someone to come out, with no result, I moved on. I thought I blew a minute there, but if so, I was going faster in that mile than I thought.

The bathroom was a pretty strong need, though, and after the mile 16 marker I made the bad (in retrospect) decision to wait in a line. During that wait I sent a text to my mother and took a picture to commemorate my bad judgment. (Not a picture of the potties.) That mile was a horrifying 17:46. I only knew that when I checked my splits afterward. I had not been looking at my watch much because I thought it would just make me feel bad. The really unfortunate thing was that there didn't seem to be lines anymore after mile 18. I probably could have held out that long. In hindsight.

I was kind of in the slow mode by then and was running 11:30s through mile 20. But it got worse. Miles 21-23 - over 12. I picked it up (ha) in miles 24-26 back to the 11s, and I will say on my behalf that each successive mile was faster (11:48, 11:18, 11:01). Of course this was mostly downhill. And my last half mile to the finish was at 9:48 pace (which was an all out effort).

So I was super slow. I never felt especially tired (except mental fatigue with running), my legs never hurt (they just felt leaden), and I had none of the achy back and hips that sometimes develop after mile 18 or so. I assume my extra gentle pace minimized pounding.

I guess there are a few factors that could have played in.

For one, I am just four weeks after the 50K. I feel pretty recovered, but at the very least my long, slow 50K training has really had a dampening effect on my pace.

Two, I am a lot slower these days in general.

Three, I have had a cold for the last week. I am definitely on the almost-recovered side of it, but it is possible that my body is a little weakened. Also, I have been blowing my nose a lot, and probably not rehydrating well. Despite my multiple pee stops, my body may have been a little dehydrated.

Four, my weight. I'm not going to dwell on this (right now), but I know that the 5-10 extra pounds I'm carrying (and maybe more, who knows? I seem to be gaining on a daily basis) are not doing me any favors with running. I hesitate to blame this alone, though, because I think it's possible to be at least moderately fast at a less than ideal weight. Plus, the "2 seconds per pound per mile" does not begin to cover the slowness of my pace.

Finally five, fueling. Maybe I didn't do a good job of it? I don't know, I am sort of lax with fueling and I've still had plenty of good races. I had a pretty good breakfast, so I didn't take a Gu until mile 9 (which is about right for me anyway). Then I started feeling a little nauseous around the halfway mark, and Gu didn't appeal. I accepted a piece of banana around mile 15. Then I managed another Gu around mile 18 or 19.

Soon after I took a Jolly Rancher from someone, and that bit of genius got me through the race. Spectators were handing them out along the way, and I grabbed enough to suck on one every mile (they lasted about a mile). It was a little bit of sugar and something to make the miles go by. I ended up with three leftover, which I ate later in the day.

I really pounded hard down the hill at the finish (though my pace barely reflects it) in order to finish under five hours. My total distance was 26.58 miles, thanks in part to my veering to bathrooms. That extra .38 mile made all the difference, I am sure! Ha.

After the finish I was less happy than I usually am, and felt almost teary as I made my way to pick up my finisher shirt and drop bag. Then I met my dad at the "T" meeting point. He took a picture to commemorate my finish, but unfortunately couldn't manage to include the dome! (He did get plenty of sidewalk, though.)

Well, this one has the dome, but a lot of strangers as well.

After that we hobbled back to the hotel, where I collapsed on my bed and ate salty potato chips. After a while I took a shower and ordered some nachos for a late lunch/snack.

And so ended marathon #10.

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