Monday, August 24, 2009

No Witty Title, Just a Summary of Recent Training

My training the last couple weeks continues to go well. I had a slight down week of 65 miles the week of the 10 mile race, but this past week I ramped right back up to 79. Sometimes the ramp up after a down week can be tough but I felt great this week. I recovered fairly quickly from the race and had lots of company for my runs this week which helped. Hopefully I can do the same this week! If you're local and want to get a run in, just let me know!

Yesterday I had a great long run with E. I finally made it down to the big group she often runs with on Sundays. Since peanut is doing better with his sleep and he and mrp have their little date on Sunday mornings I figured it would be good for me. We did an easy 5 mile loop with some other folks and then hit a 15 mile loop to close out the run. E had to do a standard 20 miles + 5 mile MP push. I had something a little more complicated on tap: 20 with a fartlek of 10 x 2:00 at ~6:30 with 3:00 easy in between. I needed to start this at 13.

E and I kept up a brisk, yet comfortable pace. We were averaging high 7:40's and feeling good. She warned me the course would get hilly just as I started my fartlek, but I didn't sweat it knowing it would be good for me. We tried to figure out who would finish her run first. I had a feeling it would be her with her steady and moderate 5 miles over my 7 miles of hard/easy intervals. I was right!

My first 2:00 was totally fine and felt good. I was at 6:17 pace and it felt surprisingly comfortable. As I finished it up I saw the big hill E had told me about. I knew the next one would be slow. It was. I ran 6:57 and had to fight hard for that! The recovery was still way up hill and I was still huffing and puffing. I grabbed some water E stashed for us and cheated a tad on this break--probably 3:45 instead of 3:00, but was quickly on my way. The next one was still headed uphill and was 6:40. After that I thought I was done with the hills. I managed 6:24 and 6:19 for the next two and was feeling fine. The 6th one started up yet another hill and it wasn't too bad, but at this point I was feeling any little incline. 6:34. Number 7 was back to flat at 6:17. And then number 8 was just evil. Straight uphill for the entire 2:00. At this point my legs were TOAST! 6:49, but it felt even slower. I thought I'd be lucky to crack 8:00 on this one! The last two were flat, but man I was pooped. My garmin randomly changed screens and I didn't have the pace anymore, which I thought was saving me from the misery of knowing. Turns out I was fine: 6:24 and 6:33.

Man did this workout kick my butt! I think it was really good for me though because it's teaching me to mentally and physically breakthrough that long run fatigue. I think if the run wasn't hilly it would not have been nearly as hard. But I'm glad it was.

Here are the last two weeks of training:

8/10-8/16

M 8 with peanut (no watch)

T 12 on trails and xc course: 45 min w/u + 8 x 2:00 @ 10k with 1:00 easy paced rest + 20:00 c/d

W: 8 with peanut (no watch)

Th: 11.5 mix of roads and trails: moderate run for an hour and then 8 x :30 @ 5k before heading home.

F: 7 with peanut (no watch)

Sa: 4 very easy alone (no watch)

Su: 15 including 10 mile race in 1:05:21

Total: 65.5

8/17-8/23

M 6 easy with peanut and (no watch)

T am 4 on the tm (8:40) and 8 pm with peanut and Evie (no watch)

W 6 easy with peanut and (no watch); 4 pm on tm (8:25)

Th 13: 20 min w/u + 4 x 12:00/3:00 at MP (6:50-7:04 from the random 1/2 mile snippets I timed) + 4 x 1:00/1:00 @ 5k effort + 20 min c/d

F 10 hilly miles easy with JP from home (8:20's)

Sa 8 easy on trails with E (probably around 8:45)

Su 20: 13 with E (and others from time to time) then did 10 x 2:00/3:00 (avg 7:41)

Total: 79

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When the Dust Settles

So now that the dust has settled and I've had some time to think about it I realized that a 1:05:21 10 miler is actually my best long race performance ever. I ran a 1:28:39 half in very similar conditions 7 weeks out from my last marathon, while the 10 mile result from Sunday is equivalent to roughly 1:26:45 (according to the Mcmillan calculator).

Even better still, this translates to about a 3:03 marathon. I am running Akron, so I'll take the prediction with a grain of salt (the course is on the tougher side). Since it's about 5 weeks out now, I have been thinking a lot about marathon strategy and I don't think mine is going to involve a time goal as much as it will involve a plan of attack more within my control. The key ingredient for me to have a successful marathon is to relax and trust myself. I hope to relax and handle the race as it comes. I haven't really mapped out my plan in any concrete way yet. But I am pretty sure I will not be focused on a particular finishing time. Although, I'd be lying if I didn't admit I really really really want a pr!

In other news, I am night-weaning peanut. I thought it was going to be hellacious, but he has been totally fine about it. And even better is he is almost sleeping through the night. Just last week he was waking up 7-8 times and demanding to be nursed to go back to sleep. The first night he woke up a lot, but mrp was on duty the first half of the night and got him back to sleep each time until 1 am. Then by the time I was on duty I think his will was broken and he only woke up twice and was pretty easy to get down both times. Then the second night he slept from 7:45-2:30 and then woke up again around 4, but both times he went down easily. Last night he just woke up at 2:30 and mrp handled it. I am so excited for all of us to start catching up on our sleep!

Speaking of sleep, peanut is napping now so I better get something done while I can (i.e. clean my filthy kitchen!) I'll come back soon and post my training for the last couple of weeks. Bye!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Friends, Competitors, Countrymen

I said this last post: it's hard to compete against friends. It's hard to stay objective and detached, especially when under pressure in a race. We all work very hard to compete at our highest level and every race means a lot when we're at the peak of training. The races are our one opportunity to capitalize on all our hard work. It's easy to take these races too seriously.

Someone commented on my last post and said once racing isn't fun it's work. This is a little over-simplified: it's fun and it's work. But I think the crux of his point is helpful here. At the sub-sub-sub elite level (tm JPW) us runners take our running very seriously. We have to to be here. But at the same time, when we race our livelihood isn't at stake. If we stink up a race our kids still eat. We don't lose an endorsement. We get a smaller trophy. So what? Running is a hobby. It's a source of personal satisfaction, but it's not the be all end all. Things like friendships are more important than race results. Trite, yes. But true.

So with that, I'd like to say E-speed, I owe you a beer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Bittersweet Victory*

I had my last pre-marathon tune up race on Sunday. It was a 10-miler. I had been looking forward to it for a while. I've been feeling really good in my training and ready for a mini-breakthrough. After much thought and discussion with mrp I decided that my A goal time was sub 1:05:00 (6:30 pace) and B goal time was sub 1:06:40 (6:40 pace). I knew on a good day I could go under 1:05, especially because E would be racing with me. We are right at the same fitness level these days and have been pushing each other to race well. It's weird being great friends competing against each other. We always finish close, but we have never really raced-raced each other to really really push it to the finish. I was hoping we'd have the guts to work with each other to push each other to a break through performance at the 10-miler!

But it didn't quite turn out that way. It was hot and humid--low 70's and 70% humidity. At the starting line, E's friend was there and there was chatter about E pacing off of him. I had about 5 seconds to react and decided that if E should pace off of him, so should I! So, I did. We ran in a pack with 2-3 other women and about 4 dudes. Two of the other women were sort of playing games with each other ahead of us, but E and I kept our cool and let them wear themselves out. I was kind of disoriented because I had planned to run my own race, but at the same time it was nice to run with my buddy and it felt like we were finally working together in a race. At mile 4 I was in the middle of the pack and when we hit the water stop I got shut out of water. I said a bad word, but I rolled with it. What was I to do? Around this time we lost one of the women from our pack, so it was down to three of us: E, me and the "other woman," one who used to always just beat me!

Around mile 5 I got an itch to break away from the pack, but I knew at mile 6 the course starts to veer back downhill and my plan had me picking it up at 6, so I decided not to go. I should have gone.

Then around 5.5 I started taking a gu that mrp insisted I needed. It was a new flavor and I haven't been using gu in training and I have to say it didn't sit well. Just before the 6 mile mark, E's friend peeled off. Wha?! I realized he had just jumped in to pace E. Hmmm. Oh well, seems like a bunch of us used him so no biggee. I hit the water stop at 6 and needed a few seconds to let it settle before picking it up. However, E and the other woman started to inch away from me. Then the other woman started to gap E. "E, get up there!" I yelled. I really wanted me or E to win over the other woman. One of my goals this year has been to beat that other woman and if I couldn't do it I wanted E too! At that point I was still confident I was going to catch them, but just in case if E stuck with her it was a little insurance. (PS I like the other woman. This is race talk).

E did get up there and they got a good gap on me by 7, but I started the claw back. Every race lately, I come from behind and have to ungap myself. So, there has been a time in every race where I have to ask myself how bad I want it. Is it worth the effort it will take to close the gap and make the pass? It takes me a couple of minutes to resolve this inner conflict most races.

Just as I was going through this thought process I saw ahead that pacer friend jumped back in with E. Wha?! Great! I thought. There I was struggling with that inner dialogue and she had a friend to fill her head with positivity. And then pacer friend looked back. He looked back to see where I was! At that moment I felt like he was there just so E could finally beat me once and for all (I had come in ahead of her in every race to this point). Normally when I race someone and come from behind I watch them for cues that they are tired and then I use that mentally to go after them. This time I just saw the pacer friend--I was so distracted by that. I did not expect him to jump back in the race. If I would have known I could have decided to stay with E so I could use him too.

I know having someone setting the pace is very helpful late in the race and what is even more helpful is someone giving you encouragement the whole way. Mrp ran with me in a race once and he kept me so calm and encouraged me while hardly saying a word. Just having that kind of support helps tremendously. But here we were, three of us battling for first place and one of us had a clear advantage.

I made another mistake. In arbitrating my inner dialogue I said, "You know what, if she's going to have help what's the point. Screw it. She can have it." I take responsibility for this. I used the pacer friend as an excuse to back off. But. BUT! Would I have backed off if he wasn't there? Would we finally have raced each other to push each other to that big break through? We will never know.

Shortly after pacer friend jumped back in, he and E passed the other woman. Some time later up a small hill I passed the other woman too, who had seemed to have given up. I was just cruising at this point. Sort of numb by what was transpiring. Just when I had resigned myself to a second place disappointment, with about 1 mile to go a woman came blowing by me! It was my friend LM. Where'd she come from?! I let her go for a few seconds before gathering my wits back and then I fought to catch back up. I did with about 600 to go. At that point I was reengaged in the race and suddenly realized that I had bent over and given away a win that should have been hard fought. I saw E's coach and I felt him smirk to see E ahead of me (at least that's how it seemed at the time in my race-induced paranoid brain). I saw the owner of the shop I race for and I felt like I let him down. I suddenly felt the RACE bug bite me, but it was much too late. I saw pacer friend peel away. Then I saw E make the final turn alone. I pushed to the finish but E had already beaten me there by 13 seconds. I came in second with a 1:05:21.

It's really hard to compete against a very close friend. It's even harder when something like this happens. It's such a gray area. I wanted to be happy for her and feel like she beat me fair and square--I've been the first to say I'd be happy for her to beat me for a long time now! But, this victory left a bad taste in my mouth. Right after the race I still hadn't processed it or made sense of it. E joked she should be DQ'd and I said that's silly. I wasn't overjoyed for her like I wanted to be and I definitely felt very disappointed in my own race.

It really didn't start making sense until later in the day. I started to wonder what would have happened if pacer friend wasn't there. Would E have run as well as she did? Would I have given up the fight? Would we have both run faster? Would the other woman have run better too? Who knows. But I longed for the race between all of us girls. The way it should have been. The 4 top women were within 45 seconds of each other without one man in between us. That's very unusual. We were all very close. Was it a coincidence that the woman who came out on top had help while the rest of us didn't?

In the end I take the blame for not reaching my A goal or getting the win myself. I let myself off the hook and I was weak. I made a few tactical errors and let something bother me that I should have been strong enough to ignore.

Late last night while I was waiting out peanut's crying spell I wrote E and explained how I felt. I felt like we lost out on a chance to race fair and square and that the race was plagued with an asterisk. I wrote how I felt that she had an advantage, even if it was minor and it bugged me. She's my friend first and I didn't want to resent this.

Ultimately she chose to DQ herself. I really didn't want her to do that. That was not the point for telling her how I felt, but she felt that was the right thing to do for a variety of reasons and not solely because of me (not even mainly, it seems--I hope!) and I respect her decision and I love her for being the kind of friend that I can talk to about this kind of stuff and who I can look forward to beating the pants of me in many races in the future, but doing so with only her own talent and skill to rely on.

So, yes. The question of having a personal pacer. What do you think about that? Is it a DQ-worthy offense or perfectly acceptable? Am I just a whiner who took it too personally? Please, don't hold back!

To read E's take on this, go here.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fartlekin'

Another nice week on the books. I have been feeling really really good lately. I've switched to doing fartleks on the trails over timed track workouts and tempo runs. I'm pushing myself in my workouts for sure and ran my 5 consecutive week in the 70+ mile range. Last week I clocked my pace for some harder stretches of my long run and I was rolling out high 6:50's no problem and mid 7:20's in between harder stretches and felt good. This week I clocked three miles towards the end of my long run at 19:50! So for the little bit of pacing I have been monitoring, my training seems to be going really well. Even better I have found myself beaming with positivity lately. I am so grateful to be able to run on these beautiful summer days and so grateful I have friends and family who support me to make my training happen. And of course I have the most delicious little peanut to run home to, so yeah things are going swell!

I still need to find some source of income. I have a lunch date on Thursday to discuss working as a contract attorney for my county's family courts. I hope I find something to bring home some bacon soon, because my piggy is getting really really skinny!

In peanut news, the kid is a physical machine. Last week he started crawling and standing up and this week he's cruising (walking while holding on to stuff). He also cut his 7th tooth and started eating fingers foods that he picks up, puts in his mouth and chews. This is all within a 7 day span! The down side is that his sleeping has been atrocious. He practices crawling and standing up in his crib and gets stuck in a corner or stuck standing up (he's still working on figuring out how to sit down from standing) and then cries for a rescue. He is almost 9 months and has not once slept through the night. I don't think I've had more than 4 straight hours of sleep since he was born! Surprisingly I feel ok. Sure, the half-asleep me mutters my way up the stairs in the dark at 2 am, but overall I don't feel too sleep-deprived.

I could go on and on. Lots going on, but it's a beautiful day and the nap is almost over so I leave you with the past week's training. Enjoy!

M 8 easy with peanut

T 90 minute fartlek: 45 min easy then 20 x 1:00/1:00 @8k; 5 minutes easy

W 8 easy at the park alone!

R am 90 min fartlek: 35 min easy then 6 x 5:00/2:00 @ HMP; 15 minutes easy; pm 7 easy with peanut and Evie

F 6 easy with peanut

Sa 18 with 20 (from 1:40-2:00) at MP with new friend *N*

Su 8 easy in the hot hot heat alone

Total: 78.5!


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Wake-up-a-thon

I really should go to bed while I can, but I would like to quickly update on the coaching situation and post my training for the last two weeks before I get so far behind with this blog that I feel guilty and never show my face around these parts again! So, without further ado and so that I might get some amount of decent sleep before peanut's wake-up-a-thon commences, here is update and the much anticipated previous two weeks of training:

I talked to the kid after the race on Saturday (I cheered him on extra loudly!). He was sad (I saw tears well up!) but he seemed to understand. His mom was there to so I talked with her and told her what a wonderful son she clearly has. Seriously, the kid is so hard-working, smart and has tons of leadership potential. I offered to help him (and the team, but I don't know how willing they are to continue on without a coach) with his training between now and when the team gets a coach and he took me up on the offer. It's the least I can do to help and it really won't take me more than an hour to do a little research and write something up for two weeks of training for him. I know I made the right decision, but I am still struggling with it!

Anyway, enough about that sad stuff. The training has been going well. Last week was a blur with camp, but I got some quality miles in the bank.

7/20-7/26

M 4 slow miles with peanut

T AM 6 easy with peanut; PM 6 easy with peanut

W AM 12 including farlek: 10 x 4:00/1:00 at 15k effort + 4 x :30 hard; PM 4 easy with peanut

R 8 easy with Evie and peanut

F 6 rushed with peanut before road trip

Sa 20 in State College, PA mostly on trails except for some exploring around campus. Only timed run of the week! 7:57 average pace.

Su 7 easy--part outside, part sprinted back home to avoid certain death from crazy thunderstorm and part on treadmill (ugh).

Total: 73

7/27-8/2

M 11.5 including fartlek: 5 x 4:00/1:00 at 15k + 4 x :45 hard.

T 11 with girls at camp

W 12 including fartlek with kids at camp: 4/4/3/3/2/2/1/1 with equal rests run out and back on grass xc course. Very fun, but HARD! workout. Afterwards did 20 minutes at marathon pace effort.

R 9 with the girls--high 7 pace.

F 7 with the girls easier

Sa 4 made up of warm-ups and cool-downs with the kids and running around the course screaming at my team at the camp race! Ran around the course holding peanut so I should get extra credit!

Su 17.5: ran 1 hour+ easy and then did 3 x 15:00 at MP (mid to high 6:50's) with 5:00 floats in between (mid-high 7:20's).

Total: 72

Uh oh. The 'thon has begun. I better go tend to the crying babe before he really gets wound up and I'm up for two hours trying to get him back to sleep. Yeah, that was my Thursday night. Not tonight, though!