Monday, November 29, 2010

Why Do I Do This to Myself?

During the race last Thursday as I watched the average pace on the Garmin tank during the third mile, I caught myself thinking, "Why do I do this to myself?!" And no, I wasn't asking why do I go out like a bat out of hell only to die a miserable death in an uphill windy middle mile. I was asking why do I race. Why do I train? Why do I search for a By40 goal? What's the point?

I let it go during the race out of self-preservation--I wanted to get to the finish line as quickly as possible and pondering such heavy potentially imponderables is not conducive to that task. But since the race I've been pondering.

I guess on paper, competitive running is a pretty selfish endeavor. You spend gobs of time and money to mold and shape your own body to do one thing: run faster. There's no saving starving children or catalyzing world peace or curing cancer or giving much back to society at all. It's kind of a strange ocd exercise: to what extent can I control my body and will it into what I want it to be? How much pain can impose upon myself and live to tell about it? How self-disciplined can I be?

While there is some truth behind those feelings, I know there's a lot more to it than that. I know running makes me a better person: I'm happier, less stressed, stronger, more self-disciplined and more confident because of running. Fo sho!

I feel like I need more of a reason to do it. If I want to go for some lofty goal, I feel like I need a higher purpose than just achieving for the sake of achieving. Why do you run and train and go for it? Is it all about you or is there something bigger than drives you?

And with those deep thoughts, here are last week's numbers:

M: 4.25 with the 2x BOB averaging 8:21 pace. Had to take both kiddos to the pediatrician for shots in the morning and it was pouring so opted for a shorter afternoon run once the rain passed and the kids calmed down.

T: 8 with Parsley and our BOBs.

W: 6 including 6 x :20 pick-ups with the 2x BOB. Pick-ups with the BOB are fun.

Th: 11 including 5 mile race in 32:50.

F: 4 very slow with my sister pushing just #2 in the 2x BOB. Super windy. Legs super crusty.

Sa: 12.12 with Z, averaging 7:48. Very lack-luster, but got it done.

Su: 7 alone with no watch. Glorious day! Started slow and finished fast. Great run.

Total: 52.37

Weight: Lost .5 more lbs despite the holiday. So close to my favorite jeans!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Turkey Trot Challenge

I am not above smack talk. Well, at least when it comes to mrp. It's all in fun of course! Now that I'm running 50 miles a week and mrp's down to about 10 on a good week I thought it might be fun to see if I could finally take him down at the local 5 mile turkey trot this year.

Of course, I'd love to be in shape to challenge mrp the holder of a 27 minute 5 mile pr. However, upon further reflection I realized that even though on paper I'm running a lot more these days mrp could almost certainly beat me just on the fumes of the 10 hard years of training he put in before his recent hiatus. Plus the trot would be my first real race post-baby and I've done next to no real speed work and am just not there yet. I'm not practiced in pacing or pushing myself hard or any of those things. So, I backed off a bit and we loosely called a truce and figured we'd pretty much run the same time.

We woke up this morning to the beautiful sounds of howling winds and pelting rain drops hitting the house. But we would not be deterred! My sister was running it too, straight off the plane from NYC. Grandma came over to watch the critters and mrp and I headed out first to the airport and then to the race downtown.

We sat huddled in the car procrastinating and putting off the inevitable exposure to the elements. 40's, crazy wind and driving run. My favorite race weather! Luckily, the rain more or less stopped so it was just crazy windy and a little slippery. We all headed out for warm-ups. I ran about 1.75 miles, came back to the car and put on my Brooks Green Silence racing flats and did some strides for about a 2.6 mile warm-up total.

Mrp and I lined up together next to my friends CV and Z. The gun went off and I went nuts. I went through the first mile in 6:06 and the next .5 had a big downhill so I came through 1.5 miles in 9:00. Big oops. It felt kind of good, but I am not in shape for that kind of pace. At that point we headed uphill straight into a headwind. Mrp passed me and I tried to tuck in but that never seems to be worth the bother for me. Mile 2 ended up being 6:20, so that means I slowed down A LOT in that last .5 mile. Uh oh.

Unfortunately things never got better. Mile 3 started uphill and continued into a thick and nasty headwind. I had to really work to keep it under 7:00 pace. Not good. 6:58. Mile 4 wasn't much better: 6:43. I basically tried to reign mrp in over the last mile. I was toast by then and pushing to the finish and sprinting head to head with mrp over the line gave me a 6:35 for a finish time of 32:50. According to the clock, I beat mrp by .02 seconds, but he chip-times me by .3 seconds. So, I would call that a tie. It was pretty neat crossing the finish line together like that, even though mrp swears I was throwing elbows and trying to run him off course. (I wasn't! I swear!)

CV ran a whopping minute faster than me, but waited to get in a cool-down. We ran about 3 miles and caught up and hopefully I've convinced her to train for a spring marathon with me too. I'm telling you. This is going to be a fun season of marathon training! On our way out we saw my sister blazing in with a 39:18--a huge pr! Go sister!! Despite the nasty disgusting weather, it was a good day to trot.

Going in, my goal was 6:40 pace for a 33:20, so I'm happy I'm clearly in better shape than that. I definitely ran a very stupid race, but a lot of that has to do with no race pace training or speed training in general to ingrain race effort. I have no idea what it's supposed to feel like. The 6:00 actually didn't feel bad at all--not as bad as I would have thought. Even with the horrid 3rd mile, I was super close to breaking 20 for the first 5k, which is something I wasn't sure I was in shape to do. So, despite the error in pacing at the beginning, I'll take it. There's a lot of good news in this race for me.

So that my friends was this years turkey trot and my first race post-#2. Onward and upward!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Flippin' and a Floppin'

I am officially insane. I am starting to ponder possibly maybe I just might decide to train for a spring marathon. I feel like I'm in a good mental place--I am confident, yet am too busy to be all obsessy mcobsesserstein about running. I can just run and the rest will follow, as I swore would in my resolutions post a couple of weeks ago. Of course it helps I have two running friends going for probably similar goal times who I can train with.

I've been thinking about it and I feel like if I do want to pursuit a fast marathon, I need to run more of them. I've only run 4 and I think a lot of my mixed success can be boiled down to inexperience (and being a freak, but I think my overthinking, nervous, anxiety-ridden freakness can be tempered through practice and demystifying the event). I also think that if I want to run a 2:45ish marathon I need to break 3 hours this year. If I don't do that, I need to seriously reassess my crazy goal. (I probably need to do that anyway, but I'm pretending to be confident. We'll just cross the reality bridge when confronted by it.)

A lot of my trepidation about a spring marathon has to do with spending so much time running. One thing I've found this go round is that if I get up super early I can get my weekend runs in guilt free. On Saturdays I can leave and be home before the kids are even awake and on Sundays I'm home right around when #2 wakes up and peanut is easy-peasy in the morning. When I ramp up my long runs I can just get out earlier. Instead of a 7 a.m. start time, 6:45 and then 6:30 and all the way down to 6:00. An added bonus is the crazy early a.m. wake-ups make it seem like I can sleep in the rest of the week!

This is all just a thought. I need to really consider all the logistics of the spring, but the only real difference in training would be the long runs. I kind of have in mind that I would do one harder interval or fartlek workout, one progressive run, one true tempo on Saturdays and then a moderate to almost hard long run. More intensity, less miles, more time with the fam! And a very different training plan than anything I've ever done before, which is really what I need.

Anyway, these are my current thoughts. I have until the end of the year to decide. In the mean time, call me flipper. Or flopper. That might work too.


In other news, peanut's birthday was a smashing success! He had such a great day! He loved the roller coaster and the small gathering of family and family friends was the perfect size to make him feel loved and special, but not overwhelmed. He loved being the center of attention (not sure where he got that trait) and it was an incredible joy to witness his adorable beaming face take it all in.

And with that beautiful picture, here are this week's numbers:

M: Easy 7 with the 2x BOB

T: Ran 8 with Parsley and the 2x BOB.

W: Met the girls at the national park. Did 4 x 800ish with Parsley. Did I ever tell you how easy it is to do intervals pushing two kids into the wind on a muddy towpath? But it sure was fun!

Th: Off. I had to go to the dentist, frantically prepare for peanut's party and the weather sucked.

F: 7.5 with the 2x BOB. A little cold, but a beautiful and fun morning at the park.

Sa: 8.6 with 4 mile tempo. I had to run from home at the crack of dawn and the only routes from my house contain monster hills. In the past I've always wussed out and not done tempos around here, but not today. I started the tempo with a mile of relentless crazy hill. And the split showed it: 7:34. But once up the hill I strung three sub-7 miles together: 6:54; 6:55; 6:45. Yeah! It all flowed very nicely.

Su: 13.1 at 7:41 pace (maybe slightly slower--Z and I have Garmin discrepancies that need to be investigated). I was dreading this run. #2 has been waking up every two hours all week, I was super stressed about the party the day before (on my feet cooking, cleaning, baby-minding and entertaining all day) and did a tempo the day before. Although I can't say I was peppy or feeling light on my feet, I managed to hang. Our splits (according to my possibly overly optimistic Garmin were: 8:33; 7:57; 7:45; 7:46; 7:45; 7:38; 7:33; 7:25; 7:30; 7:53 (up megahill); 7:19; 6:55 (around .6 in we were about 7:10 so we decided to push and get the 12th mile under 7); 7:48 (one mile cool down "jog").

Total: 51.1

Weight: Down 3 lbs this week! My fat jeans are much too big, but can't quite get the tiny ones on yet. Behold the power of not caring!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Speed Bumps

In my last post, I told you about my plans to come up with a by-40 goal. Before I had kids, picking a target for my by-40 plan would be so much easier. Just settle on a number and goooooo for it! Of course, there's always those little things called self doubt and fear of failure that limit so many of us from identifying an "it" for which to go for.

"Can I really do that?"

"Won't people think I'm nuts if I tell them that's what I want to do?"

"What if I fail and it doesn't work out?"

"I really don't want to look stupid!"

It seems to me that so many women, my self included, are afraid to aim high. Maybe it's the dawning of my mid-life crisis, but I'm over that (ok, trying to get over that)! Running is the perfect avenue to work on that. Come on everyone, let's pick a pie-in-the-sky goal and gooooo!

Of course, I have one more factor that makes it hard for me to do this; my family. I can't just goooo! I can goooo! to the extent I am not indulging in more than my fair share of the family's time, money and energy pies. There's only so much of time, money and energy to go around, and running, in fact running well need not take an overly large slice. But, it easily can. So, I need to be careful and cognizant of that fact as I determine my target for my by-40 plan. Whatever I decide, it will be to run xxx by 40 while being the best matriarch of my family I can be.


In other news, peanut's 2nd birthday is on Sunday. It really does go too fast like everyone tells you.

***Possible TMI. Breastfeeding discussed. You have been warned!***

This past weekend we decided that since he is a big boy now it was time to fully wean him (you know the talking in sentences thing kind of told us it was time!) We didn't want to rush him off the boobs just because #2 came along so quickly, so this was a well thought out and seemingly executed plan. He was down to just two nursings: one before his nap and the other before bedtime. We just sat him down the day before and reminded him that boobies are for babies and told him that big boys eat cereal and cheese and bread and apples and don't need to eat boobies anymore. He tested the limits of that the next day when we told him there was no more for him--he basically threw a 1 minute fit, pulled at my shirt and cried a little. He's done a shorter and less intense version of that just about every time he would have nursed, but he is fine with it. When I remind him that he can eat fun stuff like noodles he laughs, grabs his blanky and runs to his room. He's fine. And I have to say it was sad, but it's so nice to cross one little responsibility off my to-do list every day! Now I can focus solely on #2 in that arena. Yeah.

*** End of breastfeeding discussion***

We are going to have a little party for him and I cannot wait to unveil our gift to him. It's the little roller coaster in the picture. Woo! I want one! Anyway, I need to go so I can prepare for the big day. There will be much cupcake baking and party-prepping going on around here the rest of the week!

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Search of a by 40 Goal

Lately I've been thinking a lot about where I want to go with running. I've realized I've never had a long-term vision of my running. It's always about the next big race on the schedule and not a long-term plan. I've never looked more than 6 months into the future. How far am I supposed to go?

The logical point is to make a pre-40 plan. I'll be 40 in a little over 4.5 years (yikes!) Since, I'm a relative babe in terms of running (only training since 2006 with 2 years off to have babies, too) I think I can set pr's at least until that point, if not into my mid-40's.

Ok. So I have my timeline. Now what? Go for a number goal? Marathon? Aim for the trials? Some other distance? Something fuzzier? What?

I was thinking a catchy goal might be to take 40 minutes off my first marathon time by age 40. This would mean I'd aim to run a 2:45. (I am under no delusions that this will be an OTQ for 2016. I'm sure the 2:46 B standard is going down, down, down after 2012). I think 2:45 is a very challenging, yet possible goal for me. Far beyond that, I'm not so sure. Even 2:45 is daunting with the kids and my dormant career that will surely wake back up in the not too distant future. And the whole over-thinking self-sabotage thing I do with marathon races. But, what the hay (or is it hey)?

But, let's not etch this in stone just yet. I need to decide if I want to put all my chips on that number and in that race. I need to mull this and other possibilities over. What's the right "by 40" goal for me?

And with that, here are last week's numbers:

M: 7 easy with the 2x BOB

T: 8 easy with the girls and the 2x BOB (8:20ish)

W: 7

R: 8.5 alone with fartlek. Got up and out the door before the sun. Did 5 x 3:00\2:00 and 3 x 1:00\1:00 (to avoid careening down steep hills for 3:00) before going to the dentist to have my tooth extracted (fun times!) The first two 3:00 intervals were up steep hills and the pace sucked! I thought the workout was doomed. Rest of intervals ranged from 6:13 - 6:20. So not bad! I'll take it, anyway!

F: Off. Swollen face.

Sa: 7 easy with mrp and kids. Fun!!!

Su: 13-plus. Ran almost 3 easy alone:8:45: 8:02; 7:42. Then the rest with Z. 7:54; 8:01; 7:19 (down big hill); 7:35; 7:17; 7:45 (mild uphill); 7:54 (insane uphill); .5 recovery from insane hill at 7:49 pace and then we pushed the pace for 1.5. Of course my Garmin went nutty, but it looked to be around 6:40 pace. We trotted a mile cd and called it a day.

Total: 50.5

Weight: lost another lb. Happy I fit in some old (and very cute!) pants, otherwise don't care.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Early Resolutions

1. I will not sweat the last 12ish lbs of baby weight. I will trust that they will come off if I keep on running and eating right. No need to force the issue.

2. I will enjoy running. There is no race result worth ruining my joy for running. I will savor the process and not focus solely on the results.

3. I will believe and encourage myself. I spend so much of my energy encouraging my friends to reach their goals. It's time I started to do the same for myself. Go self!

4. I will not force it. I will train and run and enjoy myself and let the results speak for themselves. I can't will fitness. New mantra: just run. the rest will follow.

5. I will not get bent out of shape over a bad workout, bad mile or bad race. It happens to everyone. Move along!

Maybe because it snowed this past weekend I suddenly don't care that I'm still sporting 12ish extra pounds. I'm suddenly convinced and soothed by the notion that they'll be all gone by the spring racing season.

When I was contemplating racing this past weekend I realized I didn't feel like it. I've been enjoying running so much these last few months it seemed silly to race. I'm not in p.r. shape. I don't have any goal races on the near horizon. What would be the point. Why not save the money, the time and possibly the pride (frankly, it could mess with my happy running mojo to log a "slow" time). Instead I had a wonderful afternoon run in the snow on Saturday.

I'm not sure why I've been thinking about this, but I was thinking about coaching and why I would want a coach; I'm perfectly capable of devising a solid training plan for myself. No, there must be something more to it. I think I just want a champion. I want someone who believes in my potential. Then I thought, why do I need someone else to do this for me. Why can't I do this for myself. I do it for lots of other people. I see others' potential and root for them and encourage them. Darn it. It's time I did this for myself! I really don't need external validation. Right? (heh)

I was also thinking about all my goals. And then I started to feel anxious thinking about these goals and wondering whether or not I can achieve them bla bla bla. And then I started to realize I'm a freak and need to chill out and go with it. I love running and training and pushing myself. Period. Do that and results will follow. Nothing will zap the fun out of running faster than fixating on the results to the degree that I miss out on the scenery along the way. And I believe in myself and have faith in my abilities and potential. Just run. The rest will follow.

I was tracking a friend running the NY Marathon yesterday. She was kickin' ass through the half. And then I noticed her splits starting to slow. She still came through the finish with an amazing time, but I was thinking that if it was me I'd be rehashing those last miles and fixated on them to the point that I wouldn't be able to be happy with my time. F that. I'm sick of it. Who cares if I ran 30 seconds slower than my goal time or if maybe I went out too hard or had a bad day or wasn't quite in the shape I thought I was. No one. It's running, self! Get over it. You do it because it's fun, not to prove your value as a human being. Left foot. Right foot. Smile. Repeat.

And with that, dear readers, here are the numbers for last week!

M: 7 easy with the 2x BOB. Friggin' freezing out there, Mr. Biggelsworth! Thankfully peanut has called a ceasefire in the war over cold-weather accessory wearing!

T: After voting for lots of losing candidates I came home and ran on the mill during naptime. I did 2 x 2 mi @ easy progressive tempo pace. I upped the pace every .5 from 7:30 to 6:58 at the end. Not that hard, but an enjoyable and good workout nonetheless. Averaged 7:52 pace.

W: 7 with the 2x BOB and Jen C. We had a great chat which I totally needed. Not quite as cold as Monday, but still pretty cold! 9:02 pace felt super easy.

Th: 8 alone from my in-laws. I dropped the kids off and hit the crazy hilly roads for some fartlek fun. Did 3 x 3:00\2:00\1:00 with 1:00 easy between reps and 3:00 easy between sets. I wanted half-marathon effort\10k effort\5k effort. I was around 7:00\6:40\6:20 so that's about right. Not that I could necessarily race at those paces yet, but for workout purposes that felt good. Averaged 8:02.

F: off.

Sa: 7 alone with no watch. I went out super easy and just picked it up as I went along. Without thinking I started to really push the pace the last 1.5 and I just went with it. Felt great!

Su: 13.27 alone. I took advantage of daylight savings time and got to the park at 6:45. I ran about 1.65 alone and then met my friend Z for 6. Somehow 7:30's felt great. We were just clippin' along chatting away. We even managed a 7:51 up a huge hill. I was sad to be done with company for the run. My pace slowed to 7:40's while I was alone. I decided I needed to do something interesting so I ran down a huge hill on the roads and then over to the notorious castle hill with 2 miles to go. I started the ascent and my goal was to keep the pace faster than 8:30 on the trails with the humungous hill. Dudes. I ran this mile in 7:58! What's even cooler is that once mile 12 beeped on the garmin my pace showed sub-7! On the trails! At 12.25 I was in the 6:50's as I hit the road. I felt smooth and good and not at all like I was flooring it. I cruised in for my last mile in 6:38! And it wasn't super duper hard. Afterwards I trotted a quarterish mile back to the parking lot and by then trotting was 7:20's. It's funny how that happens.

Total: 50.27

Weight: Lost another .5. Not worrying about it.

Up next: The Salty and Mrp Turkey Trot challenge!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Switchin' It Up

So, that half marathon I was planning for this upcoming weekend sold out. It went from 200-something entrants last year to 1100-something this year and closed 3 weeks before the day of the race! I thought about groveling, but calmly accepted a spot on the wait list instead. Upon a little thought on the subject, I realized that other than hanging out with my friends a half really wasn't in my running plans right now. I pretty much wrote it off.

Of course, to complicate my life I just received an e-mail that I'm in the race if I want to be. Now I feel torn, but I think I am going to pass. It's $55, basically an all day adventure and I'm not in shape for a good half yet. As fun as it probably would be I just feel like I can't justify the cash or the time. I'd rather save it for fast legs. Instead, maybe I'll run a very small local 5k and sort of race under the radar for my first real race post-#2. It would save me about $40 and about 4 hours of time. Mrp and the kids could even come and cheer me on.

As for my running plans ... I am sort of not sure what I want to do. I know I want to focus on shorter races until I get my times down. I don't want to commit the time and energy to marathon training until I can cross off the sub-3 marathon off the bucket list. Finishing another marathon or even running a slight pr is not motivating to me at this point. Part of it is that I don't want to devote the time and energy to marathon training, but another part is that I have never ever done anything with running other than marathon training. It's time to switch things up in Saltyland.

But what exactly to do? I really want to switch things up and do 5k training. I like this idea, because my main short race goal is to go sub-18 in the 5k. However, I have no idea how to do this. I think I am going to write my own training plan and mrp will help me execute it. My rough plan is to run lots of 60 mile weeks (12-ish) through the winter with one faster tempo and one longer slower tempo, more moderate paced miles and a faster shorter longer run than I usually do. I think this will build a nice aerobic base. Then after that, I will start working on my speed and getting into more race specific stuff for the next 12 weeks. I plan on racing a couple of times a month from March through the end of my training cycle in May. I'll do everything from 5k - 10k, but my main focus will be 5k. If my times get down to where I want them, then I will train for a fall 'thon. If not, then I will reassess and decide where I want to go for the fall. I could keep working on the short stuff and see what happens in the summer and if things look good by the end of July, I could still jump in an October or November marathon or a half any time in the fall. We shall see!

In the meantime, I'm just building back up and doing a little up-tempo here and there. I'll probably run three or four short races between now and the new year just for fun and to see where my fitness is.

Here are last week's numbers!

M: Off

T: 9 with some friends and the strollers (2x BOB)

W: 7.5 with Evie and the kids (2x BOB). Another fun Wednesday run and play!

Th: 8 on the mill during nap time. Did 5 x 800 hard\800 moderate. Paces were 6:58 and 7:53. Not crazy hard, but not an easy workout either. 4 x 100 @ 6:00 after.

F: 6 easy with the kids (2x BOB)

Sa: Annual girls Halloween Run! Met CV for 4.5 and then ran 7.5 with the crew. Ran with a 2:44, 2:49 and 2:52 marathoner. Can I get fit by osmosis, please?! Super fun! Averaged 8:12 pace on the trails, which is very good.

Su: 7.5 alone. Averaged 8:19 pace. Did 7 x 100 strides during mile 7.

Total: 50

Weight: Lost another pound. Slowly getting there.