Saturday, September 29, 2007

Smiles

Today I think I had the most fun I've ever had at a race! Somewhere there is a race picture guy laughing at my geeky grin as I charged down some street in downtown Akron.

I ran probably the stupidest race I have ever run, gunning it from the getgo at a sub-6 pace. That's downright slow for some, but utterly idiotic for me. That's ok, though. It felt so good! But payback got me and it got me good. After 2 blissful miles hauling my ass through the city, I careened like a mack truck with no brakes down a huge hill to the relative roar of the crowd and then turned onto the towpath. Cue crickets. Um. Where'd everybody go? Man, I was all by myself all of a sudden and running on a surface that absorbed my energy to boot. It was just me, my watch, my lactic filled legs, and of course the crickets. I tried to hard to keep running fast, but every split got progressively slower. It was almost comical and I think I might have even laughed.

Then the worst thing--I got passed by marathoners. People running 26.2 passed little old me who was running 20 miles less! Yikes! But I looked over at the first of the little pack and it was Ron from The RunZone. That made me happy. At least I felt good to see him do well! Then it occurred to me--other people! Woo. Use them. So, I tried to stay with them and I at least didn't fall back too much more. Anyway, as we ended our stay on the towpath I started to get excited. Just a 1k left and I'll give it everything I got! We made the turn off the dirt and there stood a steep 800 meter long hill. JEEZ! Twist the knife, why don't you! I chugged and finally I saw my 4th legger and I hit my watch and handed her the bracelet.

Of course the first thing I did was review the splits to see how I did (after I thanked rootsrunner for being my man-on-bike supporter for the first few miles--Thanks, roots and nice to meet you in person!). My watch said 38:57. Woohoo! But then. Then I remembered that I didn't get the bracelet (or hit my watch) for a few seconds after our second-legger hit the mat. Bummer. But, the 39:05 is a respectable pr given my idiocy, so I'll take it!

My fab coach was waiting to see how I did today before finalizing my peaking schedule. I finally know what I'm doing between now and Columbus. Contrary to popular belief, my mileage is eeking up to almost 90 this week, then down to the low 70's next week, and then mid 50's the week of the race. Part of me wanted to cry when I realized that and part of me is excited to really push the envelope and go for it. I might not blog very much in the next few weeks though. With my job, and that thing called a wedding that's happening in 6 weeks, I might not have much time to be a good blogger!

Great job out there everyone today. It got pretty hot out there the last 10k of the marathon or so and I really felt for everyone out there. I did my best cheerleader impersonation on my cool down and I hope I helped rather than hindered (or made too much of an ass out of myself--heh). Congrats especially to *G* who finished her first half marathon. Woohoo G! Also, I am so unbelievably proud of *E* who might not have made her primo-awesome goal, but she hung in there in far from ideal conditions, got a nice pr, and earned a little cash to boot. She did amazingly well pushing those last 2+ miles when I know the heat, sun, and relentless hills were bearing down on her. Congratulations!!! I hope you smiled!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thoughts of 10ks Past and Marathons Future

I am getting so excited!! Marathon season is upon us. I can't wait to see how all my Fall marathon running friends do in the coming weeks. I am racing one of the legs in the Akron marathon 5-person relay tomorrow, but I think I'm more excited to see how my friends do in the marathon! Running a shorter race accompanying a marathon has to be the best way to tune-up for a marathon--watching those people run the full should get me in the mood and psyched up for my marathon (which is just a hair over 3 weeks away now).

It's kind of funny. I am running my first 10k in about 7.5 years! I picked up running back in 2000 for a few months and ran the Cleveland 10k in a blistering 49:3x. I was so happy to average under 8:00 pace at the time and thought I was such a bad ass. I ran the same race in 1991 (and still have the threadbare t-shirt to prove it). It was a week or so after my first season of high school track. Back then I had this idea of "long distance" and "long distance" meant you ran slow. I think I ran 52:xx. I know it was 50-something. A few years later, in 1994, I spent a few months bumming in Boulder, CO being all cool and ran a few times a week after my shift at McGuckin Hardware. I even ran the day after getting my belly button pierced. I remember that was a tad uncomfortable (for the record, that piercing is long gone and there were no others as I learned my lesson after realizing it's really stupid to pay someone to hurt you very very badly--ok, my nose was pierced too, but that hurt WAY less than my belly button, is also long gone and doesn't count). Anyway, I huffed through 10k at high altitude, running the famed Bolder Boulder (also still have that holey t-shirt). I ran another blistering 54-something. And that, my friends is my 10k past.

And what does my 10k future hold? Well, I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Good luck Akron full and half-marathoners! I'll be cheering especially hard for my friend *E* who is going to run a fantastic marathon and I cannot wait to witness it!! Also a special shout-out to *G*, running her first half-marathon. Go *E* and *G*!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Little Extra Sleep and---Bam! Optimism!

Did I ever tell you that sleeping is nice? Like super nice? Super duper nice? I cannot tell you how much better I feel right now than I did a week ago, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, etc. It's amazing what an extra half hour here and there can do for a girl. I haven't cried all week for one! Can you believe it?! I also haven't quit a workout or dozed off at the dinner table. Progress!

I have to admit that on Tuesday I even got 9 hours of sleep but I stole an hour from E-speed who I was supposed to meet at 7AM for a short run downtown. I overslept an entire hour! Thanks E for understanding (and for the inadvertant gift!) I missed our morning run, but was able to fit in my AM run in the nick of time by heading out at 11AM and catching 5+, with 4 of those in the company of DaisyDuc. It has been great to have a little extra company on these easy runs. Normally as I run them I just want to finish and not hurt anything. But when I have nice company I hardly notice I'm running at all. Thanks ladies! I even did the workout from heck last night and it went pretty smoothly. Well, as smoothly as a workout can go in 90 degree humid weather. We were about 10 seconds off the ideal pace, but I finished every rep feeling good and didn't get dehydrated. I'll take it!

So, things are looking up. I am getting super excited about my 10k relay leg this weekend. I can't wait to get out there and unleash the speed I have pent up in these old legs. The coach doesn't really advocate balls-out speedwork so I haven't really had the opportunity to go nutso lately. So, I'm due for a nice uptempo effort. I am also actually getting really psyched up about the marathon too. I was reading a little bit about the course and it just brought back memories from last year. I am so much stronger, I really can't wait to see what I can do. Maybe I've finally turned the corner out of that god-forsaken training tar pit. I think I'm going to make it!

Off topic, but probably on a more interesting note, Quinto Sol posed a question in the comment to my last post: what's the purpose of the wave workout--why not run a continuous goal paced effort instead? I wondered the same thing, actually. I can ask Tinman, but here's what I think based on my experience. I have spent much of the summer on threshhold training--long tempos at a little slower than threshhold pace and long intervals at a little faster than threshhold pace with short recoveries. At this point in the training cycle, I don't really need continuous miles at goal pace (which is a little slower than threshhold pace). What I do need is to learn to run the right pace at various stages of the race.

During the wave workouts I have to run goal pace fresh. I have to run goal pace when I'm getting bored in the middle of a long run. And I have to run goal pace when I just want plop down under a tree and be done! It's a way to get me as close to as tired as I'll be at the end of the marathon without breaking me down too much. Also, I have to keep those "rests" at a good clip, so it's not like I run goal pace and then jog. It really is a long continuous hard effort--just some parts are harder than others.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Wave

I am a bipolar runner, I swear. I go from craptastic weekday slogfest to happy weekend cruising. I've given up trying to analyze the ups and downs. Feeling good or bad cannot be predicted these days. It really is a day by day thing. One thing is consistent and gives me hope though--my long runs have been just terrific! Good weather, a good pacer, and pretty good running on my part! Here's a little background.

My coach gave me two workouts to do each week for September.


1. A midweek workout of 17.5-19 miles: AM 4-5 in the morning PM 13-14 including 5 w/u, 6 x 1 @ HMP with 1:00 jogged recovery, 6 x 100 strides @3k pace within a 2 mi c/d.


2. A weekend wave workout long run of 19-21 alternating 1 mi at goal pace and one mile easy followed by 6 x 100 strides @ 3k pace and then a 1/2 mile jogged c/d.


You pretty much know about the midweek workouts. They've been kicking my can all over Northeast Ohio. Because these have been so difficult and since my half was a little underwhelming, I thought the first very successful long run workout was a fluke. But then last Sunday I did the second one and it was even better than the first. Then this Saturday I did the third and it was even better still. Mrp paced as usual and he is so funny--he doesn't really see the need to drink water. He's some sort of camel I swear. I need to stop at least once during a 18+ miler, especially in 70+ heat and sun! We did the whole thing with no water at all and by mile 17 or so my abs were cramping really bad. I had a horrid side-stitch by the end of the last easy mile and stretched it out before finishing the last hard mile. I was happy that it was even close to on pace! Anyway, here's how they've gone:


Wave Workout #1 9/1


8:16, 6:49, 7:51, 6:55, 7:54, 6:52, 8:04, 6:48, 7:44, 6:49, 7:53, 6:48, 7:26, 6:47, 7:41, 6:43, 7:54, 6:49


Wave Workout #2 9/16


8:15, 7:45, 7:00, 7:49, 6:49, 7:29, 6:48, 7:53, 6:43, 7:58, 6:47, 7:49, 6:47, 7:37, 6:47, 7:43, 6:47, 7:39, 6:45


Wave Workout #3 9/22


8:18, 6:45, 7:37, 6:43, 7:47, 6:44, 7:53, 6:45, 7:44, 6:40, 8:13 (turnaround and hilly mile), 6:45, 7:29, 6:44, 7:49, 6:41, 7:53, 6:49, 8:00, 6:54


I have felt pretty solid. The hard miles are hard, especially the last half of the workout, but not killing me or anything. It's just funny to me that these workouts have gone so well, while my midweek workouts, even the ones on pace, seem so much harder. Maybe I'm a morning person? Maybe I am working so hard on these that I'm toast for Tuesday or Wednesday?

I asked the coach and he said I would probably feel better if I slept more and to make sure I'm hydrated and my glycogen stores are as full as I can get them. It's hard to plan a wedding, work a professional job, run 80 miles a week and get more than 7 hours of sleep. I have been so proud of myself for getting 7.5 on weeknights lately, I'm not sure if I can squeeze in more. I'll try, though. As for hydrating and eating--it's tough. Really, the last thing I want to do at 9:00 after running is eat a heavy, calorie-laden meal. I drink a lot of chocolate soy milk, but maybe it's not enough. I also notice that I zone out at work and go a long time wothout filling my water cup. I swear, coach, I'll be better!! If it means I'll be sane again, I'll do it!!!

Anyway, I'm still struggling with deciding on a goal for the marathon. Someone asked me the other day and I said, "low three's, like 3:03." I felt fine saying that. At the same time, I just want to do the best I can. If that's what it is, great. If it's slower, fine. But if I can run faster, damn it, I want to do it!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lightly Toasted

I'm wasted. My brain is toast. My body is beyond toast. After my workout last night I blubbered like a moron. I had an existential crisis. Why?

I don't even know how I finished the workout. I made it half-way through the reps and quit after the third one in a row was a couple seconds slow. I felt like I was running to my capacity and each time I was sure we'd hit the mile at 6:30 or even faster and here I was finishing the rep slower than 6:40!

Mrp ran it with me and when I gave up he demanded my watch and asked if I trusted him and then led me off the bridle path onto the paved path and we headed off. I was like a zombie running. My brain was just scrambled eggs sloshing around in my head and my body was numb. Time passed strangely. It went fast. It went slow. The only thing that saved me was mrp running ahead of me which allowed me to focus on catching him rather than focusing on how much I didn't give a sh*t about running the workout anymore. After my strides and the remainder of my cool down in the dark I made it back to the car and cried. Not about anything in particular, but because I was so beyond wasted my emotions were all wonky.

Mrp did deliver some good news. After I "quit" the workout I managed to run the last three miles right about on pace and each one getting progressively faster. So, I suppose in the marathon after I want to quit I can then dig deep and run a little faster maybe? I would be all cynical here and say, "or perhaps actually do the smart thing and really quit this time" but that is so negative it's not just Eeyore, it's goth Eeyore and just plain stupid, counterproductive, and just not me. But I had the impulse.

Thanks to everyone for the awesome advice and support regarding yesterday's post about my marathon goal, which coincidentally is the perfect segway back into Sunny McOutlooksville. I really believe that it is possible for me to run a 2:59 and not in the anything's possible! sense, but in the realistic sense. I would not however go so far as to say it's likely. I think 2:59 lies way at the upper end of my spectrum--if everything goes just right, bingo! If not, I do believe I'll hang in there for a substantial pr and that's ok with me.

Like JPW, I believe micro-managing pacing will lead to a bad result. But, as QS suggested, I do think the best races happen when you start conservatively and then listen to the old bod to figure out what it's capable of on that particular day under those particular circumstances. And you have to be patient. If I do go sub-3 I have always believed it would be just barely and would be a negative split. So, I think that if everything goes according to plan, something similar to QS's scenario will play out naturally.

I can't even believe I'm talking like this when I could barely run a 6:40 mile last night!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Night Light

Why do I insist on living so far from the equator? I am getting sick of feeling like I am cramming miles in before (or after dark). Stupid Earth's rotation.

Really though I need to start figuring out what the heck I'm doing. I expected the half-marathon to give me a clear picture of what my marathon goal should be. However, it really didn't. I feel like I have no idea what my goal should be. I feel much stronger than I did just a couple of months ago, but without those all important numbers I just am hesitant to pick a very ambitious goal. Of course I'd like to aim to eek in sub-3, but is that really realistic?

The only things that make me think sub-3 is a possibility is my mileage/workload, running the half untapered in crappy muggy weather, and the fact that I am handling my long workouts at that pace very well. Two long runs in a row now I've done fine alternating easy with marathon pace miles for 19-20 miles. But then again, my pr is 3:18. Granted that was in Boston, I felt like total crap, and in horrible weather, but still. It's a big leap from 3:18 to 2:59. I was in shape to run a 3:10-3:12 last spring in the right conditions but I trained pretty haphazardly and well, we all know about the Nor'Easter. So, I would be happy with anything under a 3:10 and very happy to be under 3:05 and simply ecstatic to be under 3:00 to be perfectly honest. Maybe just go for the sub 3:10 and see what happens?

Hmmm. But that's so...so... safe.

Anyway, it's just so hard to tell what kind of shape I'm in now because I am feeling beat down and beat up from this summer's workload. I haven't had a day off in so long and I haven't had a cutback week since May. Maybe I should wait until taper to figure it out?

I don't know. You guys know what I've been doing all summer. What do you think is a good goal?

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Butt is a Fickle Fickle Thing

Just when I thought I was a broken mess and saw all my weeks of hard training and the marathon I was hoping for flash before my eyes, my butt just needed a gear shift to untie its very tight knot. I had the day off of work on Friday: a personal holiday for a girl who needed one. I headed out to a nice park on the other side of town to get in a CV workout. I was worried about it all week, what with the super ouchy tight butt thing and all. I was worried about it also because it was to be 2 1000 meter reps longer than any previous CV workout and some of those previous and significantly shorter workouts were pretty tough to get through even when nothing in particular was hurty.

Anyway, I arrived at the park with the idea to run the workout on a mile-ish loop of the bridle path using the GPS. However, when I tried to power it up it wouldn't go. Oopsy. Someone (um, that would be me) didn't charge it. So, I decided to just do everything by time and effort instead. Since my CV pace is 3:57 for 1000 meters I did 4:00 reps instead. I started my warm-up and checked out the loop. It seemed nice enough. After that I headed to the main 3+ mile bridle path section for the rest of my 5 mile warm-up. I ended up liking it there better so once my 5 miles was up I started the workout and just did it out and back on the main bridle path. Once I started running hard my butt initially tightened up but then relaxed more and more as the workout went on. I had no problem completing the 8 x 4:00 with 1:00 recovery jogs. I felt great really! It was a refreshing change of pace to be focused on maintaining effort for time rather than focusing on meeting split targets. I probably even ran the workout faster out there. I worked hard to keep the pace up and to push the last 90 seconds or so, just like I'd push the last 1/4 mile on the track. I finished up with strides and a cool down for 14.25 miles and I felt better than I had all week! And this carried through and I had a great 20+ mile wave workout yesterday.

I guess the point of all this is is that a runner's body is a fickle thing. As is a common theme on Tuscaloosarunner's blog, It is so hard to tell where the line between disciplined and smart training ends and overtraining and moronitude begins. I was worried that with the marathon so close now that I am so focused on getting there that I can't make good decisions about backing off when I need to. If anything I am probably lucky that the butt thing turned out to be not that big of a deal. I did work very hard to diligently coddle the muscle with stretching and tennis ball massage. I am still going to see my ART guy tonight to just double check and maybe see if we can hasten the complete loosening up a bit (it's still a bit tight). But, it is funny to me that just when I think my body has abandoned me, it hooks me up in a big way.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Catalog of Bad Form 2.0

I did this after the River Run last year and I thought it was funny (I don't care if you don't) and so back by no demand whatsoever:

Look! I'm beating the old guy (who apparently ran the course backwards and forwards--go old guy)!

I'm doing a fine Popeye inpersonation. Too bad there's no audio.

That would be the wonky arm. As is this. This. And this.

And this wouldn't be a complete collection of race photos without the one displaying an incredibly pained look on my face and scary hulk quads.

Enjoy!

Slanted and Disenchanted

So, my butt hurts. Sure my legs were feeling pretty crappy before the half on Sunday, but since the little muscle in the middle of my right cheek has been oh so tender and oh so prone to tightening up the last few miles of my runs. I have been stretching and massaging and poking and prodding and it just won't quit annoying me! And it sucks because just when I am tired and looking forward to the last hardest weeks of training I am dealing with extra discomfort on every run, not to mention the fear that it's going to blow up and put my training to dead halt.

And what do I have to blame. That damn course! The course is supposedly this fast net-downhill course. Well, I suppose if you just look at the elevation change you might think that. But I was there. There is one big downhill on the course and it happens very early on in mile three. After that, the course has a gentle roll to it with a largish uphill in the middle of mile nine. But what sucks about it, is that the road is like a roller coaster track. It goes up and down to accommodate the little hills but then it twists and turns and with every twist or turn comes a huge slant in the grade of the pavement. I looked at my log from last year and I had the exact same pain the week after this race last year as this year. Go figure. Stupid cambered road.

Anyway, so now I have a very tender piriformis muscle and I'm not sure what to do about it. Generally these little soft tissue injuries pop up because of some minor trauma occurring in training only to fade into the injury ethers after an ice bath and a recovery run or two. I kind of like the idea of doing nothing and letting it work itself out. But, that only works if it will work itself out and I don't know that it will. I am very hesitant at this point to proceed with my CV workout tomorrow. I'm supposed to do 13 miles with 8 x 1000 and 8 x 100. If I run them on the track I can rely on a soft even surface, but the turns might aggravate it. If I run them on the paved path at the park I'll have to contend with a slightly slanty or uneven surface every so often which might aggravate it. Or I could just stop worrying about it and just run the damn workout. I made an appointment with my ART guy for Monday so I just need to make it through--hmmm, let's see--53 miles with just 15 at a faster than easy pace (5 at 6:20 pace and 10 at 6:50 pace). I can do it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who Are You?

I've been thinking. Who are all these runner people? What makes running so appealing to some of us and laughable to the other 99.9999% of humanity? Is it just competitive people? Driven people? Physical people? All of the above? From what I've noticed, there are the running info geeks who get all excited about stuff like heart rate and VO2max and lactic threshhold and stuff like that. Then there are people who just like to live on the edge and just push the envelope. You know, the I-ran-a-10k-and-a-half-marathon-on-Saturday-and-then-did-my-scheduled-20-miler-on-Sunday or the I-ran-50-miles-and-only-took-in-roadkill-for-fuel types. There are the folks who want to hang on to their glory days of college/high school athletics. Then there are the over-achiever type-A people who like running because running provides many opportunities to achieve greater and greater success.

I admit I am something of a hybrid, maybe a little (ok, a lot) heavy on the last personality type. When I was little, if there was an award to be won, I was out there trying to win it! Heh. I bet all the other kids secretly hated me. I remember busting my little 9 year old butt to win the mile run, the sit-ups per minute, and hold-yourself-over-the-bar challenge during presidential physical fitness week. In 5th grade my teacher mentioned that no kid had ever gotten a 100% on every spelling test in a quarter, so guess what I did! It's kind of silly. I was like a little trained seal that could easily be manipulated into do anything by offering up a gold star. So funny.

Obviously, I am little more evolved and a more complex person (at least I hope!) So, running is appealing to me for other reasons too. I like the insane focus I get into. Sometimes I get in this weird mind/body jedi state of being while I'm running. At the end of a long hard run and I so want to crawl to the car and take a bath in cold gatorade but I still have 3 miles to go, my brain just does what it has to do to get me there. Running is also very systematized and offers me structure and a very specific plan for achieving success. I like that. I never had any high school or college running glory days so it's definitely not that! I like pushing the envelope to some degree but I like training smart more. I like the intellectual side of running. I like learning about smart training and implementing what I learn and being disciplined and persistent. I like that training is this big science experiment. Hypothesis: do x y and z for three months and you'll run faster. Conclusion: maybe, maybe not.

Anyway, there's your deep (and random) thought for the day. I'd love to hear why you all like running if you feel like sharing in the comments.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Numbers

Instead of the usual, woke up at 5:15 AM race report I'm going to do one of those 10 things about the half yesterday.

1. The weather was, um interesting. There was a light rain which can be nice. But there was 90% humidity and the temps were about 68-70. Eww. It's deceptive because it's not the kind of weather that you feel like, "oh crap. It's hot I'm going to run like sh*t." You start running and you look at your watch at the mile marker and you say, "really?! I don't feel like I'm running that slow!" The humidity makes you sweat like a hog and elevates your heartrate and there's just not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.

2. I almost missed the start. I did my warm-up with mrp and we finished our strides and were trotting a long to the start when all of a sudden I heard the guy say "Ready!" and then he shook the bell. Oopsy! I was a bit far back so I hustled and fumbled with my watch. I messed up and missed timing the first minute or so. I think my first mile was 6:30 or so. A little faster if anything. Mile two was 6:40 something and by mile three I knew 6:3x pace wasn't going to happen. Like I said in #1--the weather just wouldn't let it.

3. I raced others but maintained focus on my own race. By mile 1 I was running with a little pack of women. There were about four of us running closely at any given time. (One of those people was my friend *P* and it was nice to have her company for a mile or two.) There was a lot of jockying for the lead of our pack. I really tried hard to ignore it and run my own race. I knew what I should run and I was sticking to it. At about mile 3 there is a huge downhill. I think this is where I lost two of the pack members. One was still hanging with me. As we made it to mile 4 or so we were catching up to another woman. As I got closer to this new woman I lost the old one too. I passed the new woman and never saw any of these runners again. But, I didn't pick up the pace either. I was holding steady right around 6:50 even and that felt like the right effort, even though it was disappointingly slow.

4. I hung in there in no man's land. After I left those women I was pretty much alone. It was a bit mentally tough to keep the pace when I knew I wasn't going to achieve my goal time, especially when there was nobody around to focus on or to distract me. At mile markers and water stops people told me I was 3rd woman, so this made me happy. I wanted to place overall so this was the one thing that motivated me to hang on and see it through. Somehow, I managed to hold a very consistent pace.

5. I conquered the hill. In the middle of mile 9 there is the one big uphill of the course. My race strategy for this course is to hang out until after that hill, hit the mile 10 marker and then hit the last 5k hard. So, I look forward to that hill. If I make it there strong, I'm in good shape. Again, even though I was slower than I wanted to be I felt strong as the hill approached. As I made my way around a bend before the hill I saw some people up ahead. One of them was female! Woo! Maybe I can get second?! As I got closer I realized it was my friend *T* running with a couple male friends. I knew she wasn't racing, so she was probably finished with her tempo. Yep. Right after the hill I passed her and her group. As I passed she said, "don't mind us, we're just jogging." "Thanks," I said sarcastically. Heh. At that moment as I was huffing and puffing I did not want to hear about anyone jogging. She said I was second and looking strong. She said first was about two minutes ahead. She didn't know who it was but she wearing pink. Hmmm.

6. I found help! I reached the summit and then the 10 mile marker knowing I was second. I knew it was probably not going to happen but there was a chance the woman in first could slow down so why not go after it? I decided to push on in the hope of spotting our pink mystery woman ahead. So, off I went. Within about a minute or so a guy passed me but then hung right in front of me. I realized it was one of *T's* friends who had come to help me push it home. Cool! It was great because I was still in noman's (or woman's) land.

7. I finished strong and felt good doing it. I felt pretty tired but I managed to keep dropping the pace over the last 5k. I ran something like 6:40, 6:27, 6:20 the last 3 miles and then ran for my dignity over the last .1. I accidently erased my splits from my watch. I know. I have 8 years of post-secondary education and I can't work a digital watch. Anyway, I missed my pr by 1 second. Argh.

8. I came in second and that was great. This race hasn't had the strongest female presence the last few years, but it's still a bigger race so I'll take it! First place, pink mystery lady, beat me by 1:45. Not bad. She was from about 2 hours away so that's why no one knew who it was. She was very sweet and told me she had thought she would run a 1:23 and instead just barely broke 1:27. That made me feel better. I wanted to run a 1:25 or 1:26 so I'll take the 1:28:39, I guess.

9. The numbers messed with my head. It was one of those races where I think I knew deep down I raced very well, but the numbers said otherwise and made me doubt myself for a second. That's hard for this girl who minored in math in college. Numbers mean more to me than they should. I was driving home from the grocery store hours after the race and I almost shed a tear thinking about all the work I've done over the past three months and I run 1 second slower!!! ARGH. But then again, I couldn't have hung in there yesterday if I was in the shape I was in May. I've come a long way whether the numbers say so or not.

10. I ran a good race, did what I needed to do, and had fun. Really. I can't ask for more than that. I got to see some friends and meet new ones. I got to run hard and race. I felt pretty good and strong. I did great with the water stops. I took a gu and it went down fine. It might not have been the time I hoped for but, you know what. I'll take it!

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Wrinkle in Time

Oh. This is sad. Madeleine L'Engle died. I loved A Wrinkle in Time when I was little and I wrote to her in fifth grade. She wrote me back and I felt all cool and super special when I received her letter. I haven't read that book since, but maybe when I have a minute I'll pick up a copy.

Hang on to Your Breakfast

*I was so beat down on Wednesday, I actually cut my run short that evening. I haven't done that in a long long time. I went into it thinking 10 and then I let myself aim for 9, since my schedule calls for 9-10 but then at 8 miles the back of my right leg just above the knee got this weird tightness/pain thing that I had last week after running 43 miles in 3 days with no recovery. I suppose it makes sense after running 57 miles in 4 days with no recovery. One word. Say it with me now. Duh.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll start doing the recovery runs the day after the workouts from now on. It's just that these past couple of weeks had appointments after work, so I wanted to put my short recovery runs on those days so I didn't have to run after work or wake up in the middle of the night and run in the dark. From now on instead of moving the runs to accomodate appointments, I'm moving the appointments to accomodate my runs. With one more month of hard training to go, it's the right thing to do lest I blow all these months of hard work.

The other thing I need to do is be consistent about going to bed on time and getting the sleep I need. I didn't quite get to bed early, early the past couple of nights but I did get to bed on time and had a very good 7 hours and 45 minutes of sleep two nights in a row. That extra 1/2 hour to 45 minutes makes a HUGE difference in how I feel. (Oh, and for the record I also made the cats happy by picking up the cat food on Wednesday night. No, they don't get fancy feast. Like their momma, my cats are low maintenance, subsisting on dried food plus a splash of cow milk in the morning and a few crunchy kitty treats at night--that's not to say that's my diet, but you know what I mean! I also picked up burritos for dinner on Wednesday containing fresh tomatoes, peppers, and corn with plenty of vitamins to keep me from having to suck on limes. Last night we got to taste our wedding menu so our caterer took good care of me!)

Anyway, the point is I'm feeling much better. I did a slow and short recovery run (and although I was oh so tempted to add on that extra mile or two I shaved off the night before, I'll have you know I didn't do it). I felt a faint tightness in the back of my leg but it wasn't nearly as bad as last week or anything to worry about really. Tonight I'm running 10 as easy as I need it to be with 8 x 100 strides and then going home to a refreshing ice bath to loosen these puppies up for Sunday. Then one more short little 5 mile trot and I'm all set for my half-marathon on what's looking to be a rainy Sunday morning. I really can't wait to see my hard work pay-off.

Heh. This is funny. Last year at this race I wasn't feeling so hot. I ran it ok (1:35:11, if I recall correctly which was just about where I should have been at that time), but just a few steps into the finishers' chute and I puked all over the place!! It was pretty mortifying. I was miserable that whole entire day afterwards. This time I have a time goal in mind of course, but my secondary goal is to keep my breakfast down and finish with some dignity!

*How cute is this?! I have not been very inspired with the photo choices lately, so if in doubt I'll go with shots of cute elderly people or fat bored looking cats.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

How Many Daily Servings of Vitamin C are in a Can of Fancy Feast?

I am at that point in training where running has more or less sucked every possible ounce of energy out of me and made me one of those zombies dancing in the video for Thriller. Running is going well, but my performance at work is mediocre at best. My ability to remember simple things like picking up cat food on the way home is pretty much shot and my cats are surely hatching their plan for mutiny as I type (although I remembered just now, so there's hope for me yet!). I don't answer the phone when my friends call because every minute I talk is one less minute of sleep. I can't remember where I left off with wedding planning. A simple thing like calling the dry cleaner to see when they're going to reopen and give me my clothes back just sounds exhausting. I lose count of how many servings of fruits and vegetables I have eaten in any given day and am now worried I will develop scurvy. For all the things I used to be on top of, I now feel like I am buried alive under them. I feel useless.

So, I think what this means is that it would be nice to go to bed early tonight--after I pick-up the cat food and eat my veggies, of course.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Where Do We Go from Here?

I think it's hard to find the middle ground between being excited and ambitious about running and somehow staying in touch with reality. Lots of runners way underestimate what they can do because they're afraid to get hurt or afraid of being disappointed. They are afraid to go for it! But at the same time there are other runners who unrealistically expect this or that time when really they just aren't there yet. They are focused on this or that time goal and not so attuned with what is within their capacity. Me, I want something in the middle. I want to go for it and do my best and achieve the best I can in the time I dedicate to this sport. I want to work as hard as I can and dedicate myself as much as I can to do it. So, when it comes time to decide on a reasonable goal pace for an upcoming race, say a half-marathon in 5 days, how does someone like me figure out a reasonable target?

I asked my favorite running guru, mrp. Mrp said that it's not wise to first pick a time you want to run and then figure out if it's doable. He said it's better to start from where you left off--you're last race at the distance. Ok, so say I ran a 1:28:38 a little over three months ago. What have I done since then? Consistent relatively high mileage? Check. Quality workouts? Check. PR races? Check. Any reason to think I've gotten slower? I could come up with some, but it's silly. The answer is no! The only reason I might be slower is a bad day, bad weather, huge pacing error, injury, illness, hangover, possession, alien abduction midrace (although I think I have that one covered), etc. I KNOW I'm in better shape!

There's no way I could have successfully completed this past Saturday's workout in May. Before Saturday, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried that I wouldn't be able to successfully complete it now! Anyway, I told you how I switched to a more marathon-specific training schedule and I was a little worried that my new and improved long runs were going to kick my butt! Don't get me wrong, the run kicked my butt but it felt so good.

The goal was to do 18 miles, alternating between easy pace (~8:00) and marathon pace (6:52 because I'm an optimist like that). I was worried it was going to be one of those workouts where no matter how hard I try the goal pace just doesn't come. You know, where you feel like you're running your @$$ off sure you must be WAY under pace only to cruise in 10 seconds over. What a bummer those are!

But no, this was not one of those workouts. On Saturday morning at 6:15, mrp and I hopped in the car and headed for CVNP. Mrp was kind enough to offer his pacer duties and I was so happy to accept! We were off bright and early and it was cool enough that I could see my breath. A nice change of pace! The first mile was 8:16 which is about normal for my first mile on a morning run and the the first hard mile came and went in 6:49. But the kicker--it felt so easy! And on the workout went. 7:51, 6:55, 7:54, 6:52, 8:04, 6:48, 7:44, 6:49, 7:53, 6:48, 7:26, 6:47, 7:41, 6:43, 7:54, 6:49.

The hardest one was the third to last hard mile. It was more rolling than the others and had a long slight uphill section. This was the only one where mrp got a little distance on me, but after I recovered from the hill I focused on him and slowly and steadily caught back up to him just at the mile mark. Phew! By mile 17 my legs were pretty sore but the momentum of the workout carried me through and I pushed on and hit my last mile no problem. It was a great exercise in pacing, focus, even racing.

It's funny because in all my long runs I do a push at the end. I always feel like I'm putting in the same effort but some days the legs only give up a 7:20 and some days they give up a 6:50 (in their defense, they have given up far more 6:50's than 7:20's!). It's hard to trust them when they're this finicky. That's the one thing that keeps me from being too excited about Saturday's long run. Next time it might not go as well and there might not be much I can do about it. At least I know they can do what they're supposed to and they can feel good doing it. It is possible.

So, how much have I improved since the end of May? Stay tuned.