Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Little Break

I know, I know! It's been a whole week. How could I deprive you of my wit and insight for all this time? I'll answer that. Well, there really hasn't been a whole lot to say. I could go on and on about this workout and that workout, but cataloguing workouts is not exciting to read. Every once in a while it's ok I guess, but not as a general rule.

So how have things been going? Eh, not bad. It was crazy hot at the end of last week which made for a miserable 7 mile tempo and pretty much zapped me of all pep and enthusiam by the time I got to my first 20 miler of this training cycle on Sunday. Although, the long run was saved by splendid company, my friend *E* who is just tons of fun to run with and talk to about all kinds of crazy things. I did reach an all time weekly mileage high of 78 miles last week too. And I didn't feel too bad about that. I'm at 1900 miles for the year! That's even with a month+ in the 0-35 miles per week range. Also, this will be my first month ever to break 300 miles. I'm doing all that and feeling pretty good. Can't complain about that!

I've also switched now to my marathon specific phase of training. I'm down to just two hard runs a week, but they are both long. One will be 19-21 miles alternating miles at marathon pace and easy pace. The other will be 13-14 with 6 x 1 mile at half-marathon pace. I did my first run like that yesterday and it went pretty well all things considered.

I now do not have to run hard until Saturday and that makes me so happy! I need a mental break from workouts. I have had several days recently where I pull in the driveway afterwork and fantasize about not running! I think about crawling into bed and taking a nap, or planning that wedding I should be planning, or taking up a new hobby like paper airplane making, or running around my house chasing my cats with the vaccuum, or sitting on my butt and watching Wheel of Fortune (well, not really that last one because I think I rather sit in a chair and stare at the wall to be perfectly honest). When these kinds of thoughts are tempting it makes it a little more mentally difficult to haul my ass down the road with lactate filling my muscles and my heart rate reaching for its max and lord knows this lady does not need any extra mental barriers to completing a hard workout! So, the three uninterrupted days of trotting easily down the road or through the woods will hopefully recharge my brain and make running 19 miles with 9 at marathon pace seem like the greatest thing in the world on Saturday morning--even better than sleeping in!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Plan C

So yesterday I was all excited and a little nervous about the time trial when I received an e-mail from coach. Coach advised that it's better to not race or do a time trial this week, but if I chose to do a time trial I should do it for 3200 meters rather than 5k. Well, that changed everything. It's one thing to run a 5k at a suboptimal point in training because it's convenient, but it's another thing to run a time trial that I can run any time at a suboptimal point in training. So, I just did a boring old workout last night.

Actually, although it wasn't nearly as exciting as a race or even a fake race, it wasn't really boring. Since school is back in session over much of the land, we decided to forgo the certain hassle of finding a free track and headed to one of our favorite parks. We don't run at this park very often because it's pretty far from where we live, way on the west side versus way on the east side. But since we were way out west, we made an event out of it and even had dinner at one of our favorite west-side restaurants.

Anyway, I did the same workout I did last week: 3 mile warm-up including 4 x 150m strides; 6 x 1000 meters @ 3:57 with jogged 200m recoveries; 6 x 100 @ FAST! with jogged 100 recoveries; 2 mile cool down. Mrp and I started the warm-up nice and easy and steadily picked it up on the bridle path. I did my strides at the start of the third mile and we finished in just a little under 24 minutes. Then we moved onto the paved path and started the intervals. After last week's lesson in how to be a good pacee, I gave Mrp the garmin this time and I dutifully ran right behind him. It was a totally different workout off the track. It didn't feel as fast to me--I could actually picture myself comfortably racing at that pace. I noticed that it was really just hard at the start of each one to readjust to the relatively fast pace, but once I settled in I was pretty comfortable. Oh, and finishing the fourth one up a hill kind of sucked! But, we got through the 6 intervals relatively easily and after marking out a 100 meter course on the paved path, mrp left me to my 100's as he headed for the confines of the wooded bridal path for a longer cool down run of his own.

I probably looked like some idiot old lady running super duper hard on the very populated bike path. People probably thought I was a a) some weird overzealous freak; b) on fire; or c) showing off. In fact, commenter number one, a man on a bicycle ride informed me that I was making him look bad as he passed me and I was sprinting down the path. Commenter number two took a different approach and gave me a thumbs up and a gleeful smile. If nothing else, I am glad I can entertain!

I felt great throughout the whole workout and even had a nice cool-down. Sure, I was tired, but it felt good. I would have liked to race last night. I would like to see some concrete evidence that my hard work is paying off, but really I should trust the way I've been feeling over the last week or so and trust that it certainly is.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Learning to Play with Others

So, of course just two days after I wrote my last pathetic post I had a great tempo run and then two days after that I had a fabulous long run. I think my body just needed to adjust to the new workload and now it has. Even my last few easy runs have been 20-30 seconds faster per mile with seemingly the same effort.

Part of the reason for my bounce back is that I had fun. Mrp ran both my track workout with me and my tempo run with me last week. This is funny. Apparently, I am awful to pace for a tempo! If I would have known what makes a good pacee, I swear I would have followed all the rules, but I had no idea. Anyway, I run the same two mile section of rolling road for every tempo run. I just run back and forth until I get all the miles in. I know this road very well. In most places the road is nice and even but in some spots it's very slanty or a little rough and I like to move closer to the middle of the road to be on more even terrain if possible around these spots. Well, to mrp it seemed like I was weaving all over the road. I had the garmin too, so only I knew how far we had gone and how long it took us. He could only go by what I said and most of the time I didn't say the split until 5 seconds or so after we hit it. Sometimes I wouldn't even say the split and just say too fast or too slow which apparently to a pacer sounds like the pacer is going too fast or too slow. But really, I was just saying I was going too fast or too slow.

I guess I saw mrp more as company and in that it would help me hit my paces and mrp saw his job as running right in front of me at the proper pace to demonstrate to me the proper pace. Heh, I didn't even know he was supposed to run ahead of me! He kept going ahead of me and I took this as a sign I was going too slow, so I'd pick it up and try to run even with him! Poor mrp. He was so frustrated by the end and I had no idea why!! I was happy and I felt like we had been successful. To me I was so happy to have the company and to finally have a workout where I felt good. I had no idea there was a pacing protocal for these types of things. Now I know. It's funny what long-time runners take for granted and how much I still don't know three years into my little career!

Anyway, after my nice tempo on Thursday, a decent 8 miler on Friday, I headed down to CVNP to meet a new running friend for my long run on Saturday. The plan was for me to do 19--15 easy, 3 close to long tempo pace, and 1 including 3 x 100 strides and a cool down. I met *T* and off we went. *T*'s quite an accomplished runner and I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with her. But, it was a beautiful morning and I felt great. The 15 miles together flew by and seemed pretty easy. Except for a hilly rougher terrained section we were clipping along in the 7:40's or even the 7:30's and chatting the entire time about this and that. *T* shared quite a bit of insight about marathon training that I appreciate immensely and it was just plain old fun to chat about all kinds of girly stuff on the run. After 15 miles, *T* turned around to push her last of her 16 miles for the day and I headed out another mile to start my 3 mile push. I picked it up comfortably and finished the last three in 6:58, 6:58, 6:54 feeling very relaxed. The strides are always tough but I got them done and then jogged back to say goodbye to *T* and get mrp to head on home to do yucko chores. We had to go to a pre-marital retreat thing all day on Sunday so all our normal weekend stuff had to be crammed in on Saturday. The retreat thing was nice, so that makes up for the fact that we missed out on a nice local race on a day with just about perfect racing weather! Oh well. Really, there are more important things than running

In other news the weather has been just rain and rain and rain the past couple of days. Perfect for the cross-country race I was planning to run tomorrow!

PS I was talking with mrp at lunch about tomorrow's race. He suggested that since my goal is the marathon that running a cross-country 5k race after three straight days of rain might be counter-productive to that goal so we are going to do a time trial on the track tomorrow instead. So, I'm going to try to break 19 minutes for 12.5 laps tomorrow afternoon instead. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Break Me Down

No brave face today, dear readers. I'm not going to lie--I just straight-up feel like poo. A worn down, ground down tired runner lady, is what I am.

Last night mrp and I headed to the track. It was not insanely hot for a change. Still hot, just not insanely hot. Mrp was so kind to run my workout with me and I swear if he hadn't I wouldn't have had the mental strength to do it. We warmed up separately, I ran up to the ball fields, where there conveniently are bathrooms and water fountains. I passed my running friend *E*, who had just finished her own workout, on my why which was a nice little surprise (good luck on Saturday, by the way!) I then trotted around for three miles and did my strides and then met back up with mrp to start the 1000 meter intervals.

I was to do 6 x 1000 meters at 3:57 with a jogged 200 meter recovery (~1 minute). Off mrp and I went. I felt pretty good for the first one. We pretty easily came in in 3:52. Oops. We did our little jog and then on to the second. I knew I needed to slow them down to my proper pace, so I worked a little harder and maintaining control. We did a better job, but I zoned out a bit in the middle and we were a second slow coming in at 3:58. Starting in the third rep mrp did a great thing by running a little ahead of me. This helped me maintain focus and not zone out. I came in 3:56 for this one. After the third one and during my 200m jog I started to dread having to run fast. I wanted that 200 to go on forever! But it didn't and off we went for four and five which were both 3:57. I really didn't want to do the last one, but because it was the last one I also didn't want to ruin the workout so I sucked it up and busted my butt to come in on time in 3:56. It hurt. 6:19 pace should not hurt me. I feel kind of pathetic.

After the 1000's it was time for 6 100's. These are pretty fun. Hard but fun. Mrp and I each picked our lane and took off. As always the first couple were tough, but then they get easier and easier. I ran as fast as I could without feeling like I was going to literally break myself and managed to run them in 18.5-19.5 seconds. Not bad for a broken old lady.

I still had two miles to go when I was done. Normally, I feel a sense of satisfied relief at the end of a workout. Last night I was even dreading the 2 mile cool down I was so tired! Seriously. I had to gut it out. I just wanted to stop running and curl up and take a nap in the lush green grass of the football field. I wouldn't have even cared that band practice was going on. I could sleep through sloppy formations and trumpet blurts just fine, believe me.

So after all this, mrp reminded me in the car on the way home that the half marathon I'm planning to run is in just a little over three weeks. I'm not shooting the messenger. Mrp is so unspeakably wonderful for hanging with me during my workout and being my live in the flesh coach. Sure, I have a coach coach who plans my workouts, but mrp offers the coachly advice and support on a day to day basis and when it's all said and done I owe mrp everything for helping me to be the best runner I can be and I love him to pieces. Ok, mushy tangent done.

The point was, I signed up for the half today and as I did, I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. How am I going to run 6:30's for 13.1 miles when I can barely run 6:19 pace for 6 x 1000 meters without feeling like I'm going to puke. And as I type this my eyes are heavy and I just want to crawl into bed and wake up tomorrow morning with a nice refreshing fourteen hours of sleep. My legs don't hurt which is all kinds of great, but they and I are just so so so so tired. It's hard for me to believe I'm getting faster right now. I guess that's the point. I just need a little reassurance that all this time and energy is working it's magic. If I push through, will my body really adapt and I'll be the marathoner I hope to be?

This reminds me of law school. In each class there is this period in the middle of the semester where nothing, and I mean, nothing makes sense. You read an assignment and you have no freaking clue what it has to do with anything else. You feel like a total moron. You keep at it anyway, worried about failing the class. You show up and your eyes glaze over during the lectures because it just doesn't make sense. The professors would ask questions that would leave you stupified. Yet through it all, you hang in there and the weirdest thing happens. By the end of the semester you look over all your notes and you see this outline of the course and it all makes sense! Law professors would refer to this process as breaking you down to build you up. Please tell me I'll be built back up!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Frozen and Tough

Since the middle of last week I've been mopey. My mileage went up and so did the heat and humidity. I went from feeling all zippy-legged and great back to heavy-legged and sluggish. Even on a day when my legs felt strong, my brain was heavy and sluggish.

On Friday I had to go to the park for my long tempo run. My heel was a little sore after the xc race, so I wore my heavy trainers for extra cushioning instead of the zippy light weight jobs I usually wear for faster runs. Even on my warm-up, I was having trouble getting up to my slow pace--instead of the rock-bottom pace of 8:40 that's supposed to be my slow pace, I was having trouble cracking 9:00 pace. Of course this did not bode well for el tempo. Whatever. After my 4 mile warm-up I picked it up and got cracking. I felt clompy and heavy and slow even though I was working hard (partly the shoes, partly my wussitude). I was supposed to run 7:01 pace, but I only managed 7:05 for the first mile, which is exceptionally lame considering the 1st and 5th miles are the easiest miles of my route. I picked it up a little bit after this but only manages 7:05, 7:06, 7:06 through the fourth mile. I was annoyed so I switched from the road to the bike path to change it up and ran a slightly better 7:02 for mile 5. I took out my frustration with the slowness on the last mile and clomped out a 6:48. I did my 8 strides and finished out my cool down feeling pretty lame.

I went home and picked up mrp and we headed out for burritos. We talked about it some and he made me feel better. I'm training for a marathon. It's supposed to be hard! Training is about adapting our bodies. If we don't push them, what are they going to adapt to? With no pushing they will just stay the same and we will plateau in our performance. Plus, mrp always says that pushing through bad workouts do the most good. That always helps me deal with the bad ones too.

On our way home we stopped at the gas station to get ice bags. It's time for Salty to start her weekly ice bath ritual (yes, I just referred to my alter ego in the third person--again!). I wasn't sure what to expect. "It will probably feel refreshing," I thought. I decided to buy two big bags of ice. That should be enough. So we hauled the 44 pounds of ice (!) home and filled up the tub. Mrp was pretty amused at the idea that I was going to sit in a tub filled with freezing water and 44 pounds of ice for 15 minutes. Actually, I think he was a little worried about me doing that by myself!

Anyway, I put my foot in. "Ow!" I howled. "It's SO COLD!" Mrp laughed. He called me a wuss. Them's fightin' words to me. I was hell-bent on doing it now!! So, as hard as it was I climbed in, the whole time shaking with cold and wincing in pain. I finally sat down. I started my stop watch. I asked mrp to hand me some catalogs to look at to take my mind off the pain. I tried flipping through them but it wasn't enough to keep my attention off my agony. My toes hurt so bad! I asked mrp if I could get frost bite. He assured me I couldn't because the water was warmer than freezing (you know, since it was water and not ice). To ease my suffering, Mrp and I started to sing songs. That helped. We yowled some cheesy Phil Collins song and Under the Boardwalk which was playing on the radio when we pulled in the driveway (well, I chattered and yowled, mrp just yowled).

Finally! 15 minutes. See ya suckers! I jumped out of the tub. Well kind of unkinked myself from the huge frozen knot I was in and stiffly got out of the tub yowling some more. Mrp was laughing. I wasn't. It hurt worse to get up at this point!!! I dried myself off and dressed myself in warm pajamas and my winter bath robe. I started to shake and shake to get warm. I ended up shaking for about 1/2 an hour!!! Mrp insisted I was being wussy for whining. So, I insisted that HE also take an ice bath. So in solidarity he agreed. Of course, by now, my body had melted most of the 44 pounds of ice, but it was still damn cold!! So he put his foot in and "OW!" he yelled. Heh!! He had a harder time getting in there than I did!!! He whined and winced and tried to get out of it, but finally settled down for his 18 minutes (because he had to redeem his tough street cred after the whining--heee!)*

Besides learning that 44 pounds of ice is probably a little much (I did another bath yesterday after my long run with 21 pounds and it was just as effective and much less painful, though still mildly uncomfortable), I learned I am tough. I might think something is impossible--like running the right pace one day when I'm tired, but if I insist on not being a wuss I can toughen up and get it done. And to be a good marathoner that's exactly what I need to do.

*In case your wondering, the ice bath does wonderful things for recovery. My legs are feeling great since and mrp said his run after the ice bath was the best run he's had in a long time.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Needs Transmission Work

I just cannot run a good 5k! It is driving me crazy. Anyway, last night's race was just a sea of hormonal teenagers and a handful of other crazy adults like me. I felt almost silly at the starting line with all of these young things.

The bell sounded and we were off. I knew going out too hard would kill me with the heat and the higher mileage and I much rather finish strong that start strong, so I took it a little easy. This kind of sucked because I got stock in a mob of overzealous high school girls who boxed me every which way and stepped on me and elbowed me, but that's what's so fun about cross-country! Anyway, my first mile was 6:27 which was right about where it should be given the tough terrain and the 105 heat index.

I have to say it was so funny. As soon as we came to the 1 mile marker this whole mob of girls just started breathing hard and slowing down and I picked it up and started wizzing by girl after girl. I felt really good! I probably passed 30 girls within half a mile. Craziness! At about the half-way point I could see the woman who I raced with during my last 5k and who I almost caught up to during the Johnnycake jog (she beat me by 5 seconds). I was slowly gaining on her--again. There were a couple of stronger high school runners in between us and I slowly picked them off. We came to the turn around and I was feeling great. But then I looked at my watch and we were well over 13 minutes and still no 2 mile marker. The hell? Finally, at 13:42, there it was. Geesh! I ran the second mile in 7:15? No way! That had to be way long--like 200 meters long. I was a little disconcerted by this. Maybe I was running a lot slower than I thought.

Anyway, with only a mile or so to go I picked it up a bit. I was afraid to really hammer it though. I had visions of the last 5k and sprinting and getting beat again and I didn't want that to happen. I also knew that there would be a big crowd watching us finish and I had this fear that I'd be this ridiculous old lady running so hard she puked and just totally mortify myself. In the meantime I seriously was feeling strong. I was so surprised by that. I guess I just didn't know what to do with it, so I didn't do anything and never down shifted to get that extra speed. Back to the race. We made the turn to come out of the woods and into the crowd. There was only about 1/2 a mile left and I was right behind the other runner. We made a turn and I made my move. I surged and passed her. Mrp said I got some distance on her, but then she came roaring back and sprinting up to me and then past me. I sprinted after her, but my sprint is pretty wimpy and she beat me by 1 second--again! UGH.

My last 1.1 was 6:54 (final time: 20:38). That equates to a 6:12 mile. That's more than a minute faster than I supposedly ran mile 2. It HAD to be long.

So, I am annoyed that I didn't just go nuts that last 1/4 mile and bury her when I was feeling strong anyway. I have that lower gear. I just need to find it and use it! On the other hand, it was crazy fun to run elbow to elbow with all those girls and wear spikes and get muddy and sweaty--oh so sweaty. I'm looking forward to doing it again in a couple of weeks, but this time doing it better and maybe finally run a 5k up to my potential!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Auto-Pilot

* So, the ridiculous amount of running is going ok. Definitely not great and definitely not horrible. Just ok. I really didn't expect 70 miles to feel much different from 60, but boy does it! It's just 10 miles, but it's a huge difference, at least to me. I think a lot of that has to do with this hellishly muggy weather we've been having. I've been risking dehydration just running an easy 4 miles in the morning, it's so muggy. But I've been very good about hydrating and taking my electrolyte tablets and I think I shall persevere! My legs do not hurt or anything and that is the most important thing. They are very tired though. They are just worn out and I am worn out generally. I almost fell asleep eating dinner last night! I ran 9 miles after work and then got home late. I cooked up some corn from the garden (mrp is the man!) and in between delicious bites I caught my head jerking and my brain totally zoning off! But it's a good feeling, like an I've-worked-really-hard-and-now-bed-will-feel-SO-GOOD feeling.

This morning I had to wake up early to get in a morning short run. I assumed I would feel Crappy (yep, with a capital C). But really, my legs are kind of on auto-pilot. I press the run easy button and they do their thing and before I know it I've run down my street, said hi to some neighbors, grimaced at cars speeding past, and gazed at adoreable twin fawns, and come home again. Tonight I'm running a 5k cross-country race so hopefully my 5k cross-country race button is working properly! I don't have very high expectations for this race. I'm not a seasoned cross-country runner and I'm kind of toasted right now, so we'll just have to see. But, I'm really looking forward to it. They race the men and women separately so it will be fun to race with just women and to wear spikes and get muddy too, of course!

*I hate using pictures from ads, but I really couldn't think of anything wittier. See, even my usually incredibly witty brain is tired!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Up Up and Away

Did I ever tell you about my original career aspirations? When I was in kindergarten we had to go around the room and say what we wanted to be when we grew up. After the teachers, the firefighters, the policemen, and doctors, came me. "I want to be a hot air balloon driver," I said very assuredly. Well, a lot changes in 27 years!

Anyway, I was remembering this for some reason this morning as I trotted along in foggy mugginess on my morning run in the valley. I'm not sure why. Perhaps, it's just the time of year to think about hot air balloon driving?

Actually, I was contemplating how I am going to handle my mileage increases over the next couple of months. For the past two marathon cycles my mileage peaked in the 60's. Last cycle, there were some weeks where I ran a long run on Sunday and then one the next Saturday so it looks like I ran 75 or so in my log, but that's not really true. I pretty much topped out at 67 or something.

This week will be my first legit 70 mile week. The plan is to get up to the mid to high 70's by the end of this month and then peak at 80 by the end of next month. I am excited about it for the most part. I obviously really enjoy running and training, so having an excuse to do it more is cool. However, I know what it's like to train right along the edge of a breakdown. It can be pretty uncomfortable at times. Anticipating discomfort is not my thing. Once I'm in the situation I can handle it fine. It's the same with races sometimes. I get a little freaked right before the start but once I'm in it and running hard, I'm fine and actually enjoying myself. You know how it is--the minute or so before the doctor gives you the shot is always a million times worse than the actual shot. I think it's that I think I'm a wussy, but when push comes to shove I'm really a complete and total masochist!! Heh. So yeah, I'm a little anxious about upping the volume, but pretty excited too--especially if it means I'll be in the kind of shape I hope to be in by October!