Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In the Morning

I gotta say there is nothing better than finishing up a run before it's even light out and walking up the basement steps to peace and quiet to start the coffee. It's even a better feeling than sleeping, which is why I keep doing it. Heh!

Today was a slow 8:26 paced slog on the mill. Usually I do hill sprints or strides after my Wednesday run, but my sprinty stridey mucles are pooped! I ran a helluva workout yesterday and my legs are feeling it today!

It actually wasn't that hard, overall. My plan was to run 1600; 1000; 800; 400 with 200 rest progressing from 10k pace down to 3k pace or even faster. For these reps I ran: 6:17; 3:51; 2:53; 1:20. After that set I ran 1 mile at goal half marathon pace (rolled in at 6:27). And then 4 x 200 HARD (38; 37; 36; 36). Each piece of the workout alone wasn't a big deal, but put it all together and it was tough and exhilarating!

My first two reps were a little slower than I had hoped. I wanted to run 6:15 for the mile, but I ran 6:17. For the 1000 I wanted 3:50 and I ran 3:51. It's just an issue with pacing for me. For both reps my first 200 was a little fast and then I over corrected and didn't want to mess with the pacing once I grooved in. For the 800 I just wanted to go under 3:00. I was a bit surprised I pulled out a 2:53. It felt good. I was excited to let the 400 rip! I went for it and ran even 40 second 200 laps for an 80.

I was toasty after the 400. I jogged for 3:00 and then headed off for the hmp mile. I am hoping to run around 1:25 for the half so I was going for 6:30 or so. The 6:27 pace simultaneously felt easy and hard. It felt way slow and I was surprised it was on pace!

I haven't done hard 200's in a looooong time. I always liked the challenge of them. Only once have I ever gone under 37 and that was about 1.5 years ago. I didn't have high hopes for the indoor track, but I went for it. The first one was 38. Ok. That's about right. But I thought I could do better. I was right, the next one was 37. For the third one I focused on really pushing the straights and not worrying about the turns. I really focused and managed my second 36 ever! And then I managed to repeat the performance and end the workout on a very high note.

So, the moral of the story is that there is some speed in these legs. With some hard work and a little work on my mental game, I have high hopes for my spring races!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Shoulds

I am an ambitious type-A by nature. This is generally a good trait. However, it often manifests in dissatisfaction. I tend to say things like this to myself: I should have run faster; I should have done more in the day; or I should have lost those extra few pounds of baby weight by now. I always struggle with the line between ambitions and expectations: wanting more out of myself (which is fine) and expecting more out of myself (which may not be realistic and sets me up for disappointment). There is a point where I need to accept myself and want more rather than expecting more.

Instead of I should have been tougher and raced better, it would be more helpful to say I want to race better than I did and will work towards that goal for my next race. It's a minor difference, but should is judgmental. Should sets me up for feeling like a failure. Identifying what I want, on the other hand, formulates a goal and provides a foundation to make improvements. Basically, the difference between should and want is the difference between disappointment and hope.

So yes. I want to do better. I will do better. It will take time to improve my fitness and it may take longer than I want it to given what's going on with the rest of my life. It will take time to get those racing sensibilities back and improve upon them. So, as always the answer is to keep plugging along, but leave all those shoulds behind.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vini. Vidi. Wussy.

I came. I saw. I wussed out.

It's so frustrating to know that there is speed in there, yet mentally being unwilling to go get it. There was a point in today's race where I calculated what I needed to do to go after the win and I consciously decided not to do it and just coast along where I was. Why do I even bother?!

It was crazy windy and cold again. And I woke up with a sore throat. I didn't worry about it though, because it was that day before the onset of a cold sore throat and figured I'd be fine. (Now I feel like crap, but this morning I didn't feel too bad). But it was sunny and the sun usually gets me pumped up to run. My plan was to go out fast since it was a downhill first mile. My plan did not consider that that entire mile would be straight into a 26 mph headwind. Seriously, the wind was so loud right before the mile marker we turned and suddenly it was almost silent and I could hear people breathing and footfalls. Craziness! Even so, I ran 5:52. My goal was between 5:45 and 5:50 so this was pretty good.

What wasn't good was that another woman, TM (who is truly a lovely person in real life!) was running with me (one who used to drive me crazy and just beat me in every race!) and I let her distract me from my race. Shortly after the mile the course turned to go uphill. I surged past her and hammered up the hill. As soon as I crested she came charging back and passed me and instead of answering I just let her go. I hadn't totally given up yet. I delusionally told myself that I would go after her later. Yeah right!

I knew there was a hairpin turn and it came up way faster than I expected it to, which was a nice mental boost. Mile 2 went by in 6:10 and this wasn't too bad and also a positive. But neither was enough boost for me. TM hadn't made any progress on me in a while, but she was far enough ahead of me that it would take a lot of work and a concerted effort to catch her and pass her. Plus we were back into the wind and there was a big hill looming. I had more or less put my legs on cruise control and given up trying to change gears. I turned up the hill and my good friend CV passed me. Cool! Now she can go beat TM and I don't have to, I thought.

I basically sat back the last 1.1 and watched CV try to catch TM. I finished in 19:24 and felt like I finished a tempo run or maybe did 5k at 10k pace. Lame. CV ran 19:20 and TM ended up winning in 19:14.

There are some positives. I have some speed in there. On such a shitty day 19:24 and 35 seconds off my p.r. isn't that bad. And hello! It's my first race back after resuming training. Plus, it was nice to get out and mingle with friends and acquaintances. It was crazy fun warming up in the crazy wind with CV and fun rehashing the race cooling down with CV and TM.

There is no excuse. But at the same time I need to figure out what the deal is so I can improve. I feel like I was just too tired. Tired from lack of sleep and too much day-to-day stress and hard training these last few weeks and from being sick on and off since Thanksgiving. I just didn't feel like making myself more uncomfortable and tired. I flashed back to those races in 2007 when I battled it out with TM and she out-kicked me and I just didn't feel like dealing with that. But again, why do I do this? What's the point in racing if I'm just going to do a 5k fast tempo run and not, um, race! I need to find some motivation and really decide if I want to improve and just flipping do it. As mrp says, I need to cultivate a "get it done" attitude. That's always been and continues to be my weakness.

Anyone know any good tips on how to de-wussify and get tough?

Friday, February 18, 2011

5k Effort

I ran my fastest track workout ever on Tuesday! I'm not sure it's that impressive to anyone, but it is definitely an accomplishment for me. And even that accomplishment is probably more mental than physical, but whatevs!

The plan was to do 6 x 800 @ 5k effort with 400 jogged recoveries. Two weeks ago, I did this workout too. That workout was my first visit to the track in about a year and a half! It went pretty well. I ran basically the same times I was running the last time I hit the track for 800's, averaging 3:03. Since then I've been doing my tempo workouts in the 6:15 range, so I figured I needed to run the 800's a bit faster than 6:06 pace!

I didn't disappoint myself. I managed to run 2:55; 2:58; 2:58; 2:56; 2:59; 2:54! I looked at my log and I think I've ever only run one or two 800's under 3:00 before, so this was good. Very good! Sure, it was hard. Ain't going to lie about that, but the 3:00-plus workouts felt hard too.

I'm going to race a 5k tomorrow. Hopefully, my performance in the race will reflect my workouts. This race isn't exactly on a fast course or anything, but I think I can race well. My goal isn't to run any particular time, but to race the best I can given the course and conditions--basically keep up the intensity over the last uphill windy mile! Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Watched Pot

Sometimes I feel frustrated with my fitness. I feel like I've been at the same level since 2007. Sure, I've had two kids since then, but still. It kind of drives me nuts. I have to be able to get faster than this 18:4x; 39:0x; etc. fitness level I've been at for the last almost 4 years now.

After peanut, I got right back there within about 6 months after he was born. This time, I feel like I'm definitely back there. But maybe faster? I have no idea. I want to be faster, but does that mean I am? I haven't done a lot of faster workouts, but my easy paces are a good 20-30 seconds faster than ever. I've never run as fast for a tempo workout as I have these last two weeks. Today after three harder runs in a row the pace just naturally went down to 7:00 and felt easy(ish)--this used to be tempo pace not that long ago. These are good signs ... maybe. I have to wonder if I could have always pushed myself more over the years during my day to day runs and never did?

In the past I always operated under the idea that less intensity more miles was the way to go. Now I'm doing the opposite. Will I end up in the same place under this new approach? I think I need to not think about it, just run and let it happen. As they say, a watched pot never boils.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Plan B(oob)

Mastitis again! UGH. After a pretty darn good week of training--long run averaging 7:45 on sloppy roads with last two at 6:47 and 6:42; first track workout in a looooong time; great tempo of 2 x 1.5 averaging 6:15 pace--I was knocked on my @$$ over the weekend. I should have known. #2 is eating more and more solid food and nursing less and less. I should have been more careful, especially since I've been dealing with a cold for almost 3 weeks now. Oh well. I think it will just make it an easier decision for me to do the half marathon in mid-May rather than the full. I think I can run a big half pr and that's exciting enough!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Escape Hatch

So between teaching and contract attorney-ing and column writing and wife-ing and mothering a terrible two year old and an on-the-move 7 month old* I'm starting to think marathon training might need to go out the window. Or at least my expectations of hitting all workouts and the pressure I might otherwise put on myself to run a certain time have officially left the building. And I now have permission to switch to the half if by March 31 the thought of a full marathon is too much.

In other news, Mrp and I have discovered Lost. What a great show to unwind to with my lovey in the evenings and get through winter treadmill runs at 5:30 a.m. All the metaphysical questions! The melodrama! The suspense! The creepy weirdos! On to Season 2!

*Not in order of importance!