Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coach Says

So I asked Coach G what he thinks about going faster than prescribed for workouts and he basically said it's not too big of a deal as long as I'm close. He did say that past race performances dictate training paces and not how fast I can complete a workout, so there isn't really much advantage to running faster than what's called for.

Today I had a track workout: goal was 4 x 1 mile @ 6:17 with 2:00 rest. Beforehand, I intended to make it as close to the goal as possible. My first one was 6:11 and that was taking it out a bit too fast. So, I really wanted to slow it down and hit that target. I ran 6:15 and it just felt weird. I had to make myself slow down and it just felt forced. So with half the workout done I decided to just run what was comfortable and I came in with a 6:10. I pushed the last half of the fourth mile just a touch and came in in 6:06. I think if I didn't intentionally slow the second one and push the fourth I would have had a nice 6:10ish groove going on. This pace felt good and the workout flew by.

So, I am not going to sweat going a little fast. I will try to go the proper pace, but I'm not going to force it. If I am comfortable and not racing a workout to run faster I will roll with it, but if I have to work to hit the prescribed pace I am not going to bust my butt to run any faster. And I feel pretty good about this policy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Officer Mrp

I came home from my long run and sheepishly admitted to mrp that I averaged 7:17 for my 14 miler, rather than the 7:30 pace I was supposed to. He wagged his finger at me and warned me it would all catch up to me. "But it wasn't that much faster I argued!" He wasn't buying it.

Especially because he's already gotten on my case about the same thing this week. After going a little bit faster than prescribed for my track workout on Tuesday, I went a lot faster than prescribed for my tempo on Thursday and then significantly faster on my moderate run yesterday. Here's what I was supposed to do this week versus what I actually did.

Prescribed Track Workout: 5 x 1000 @ 3:48

Actual Track Workout: 4 @ 3:46 and the last one at 3:43

Prescribed Tempo Workout: 5 miles continuous with 3 @ 6:45; 1 @ 6:35; 1 @ 6:30

Actual Tempo Workout: 6:46; 6:44; 6:34; 6:26; 6:17

Prescribed Moderate Run: 10 @ 7:05

Actual Moderate Run: 10 @ 6:59

Prescribed Long Run: 14 @ 7:30

Actual Long Run: 14 @ 7:17

So, mrp has a point. But I have been feeling great and adequate recovery doesn't seem to be an issue. I have never really been one to go too fast in my workouts. Typically, when I have it's only because my fitness was there. I am just worried that perhaps I am deluding myself and that I want my fitness to support these paces, but it actually doesn't and I'm cruising to overdo it. What do you all think? Is it ok to run faster in workouts or should one always stick as close to the prescribed pace as possible?

For what it's worth, this felt like a great week and I am feeling really strong and happy with how things are going! Yay for that, at least!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Doing the Dishes

Finally, after years of trying to figure out how to cultivate that GET IT DONE attitude mrp kept harping on me to cultivate, I think I might have finally done it. Before, I kept trying to just take on a GET IT DONE attitude for myself, but it never seemed to stick. No matter how hard I tried I'd still hem and haw about workouts and chores and work and all kinds of stuff. I'd feel paralyzed not knowing where to start mundane projects. Scared I couldn't adequately complete other tasks. I'd make excuses for myself: I didn't get enough sleep; I have so much other stuff to do; I'm too busy; etc. etc. etc.

This time I did not intend to force a GET IT DONE attitude on myself. No, the GET IT DONE attitude was a side-effect of a different change in perspective. One thing I've realized about myself recently is that I never took a long view of my running. I was always focused on this week's workouts or the one goal race lurking immediately around the corner. I never viewed a training cycle as a means to some greater end. Each training cycle was an end onto itself. When Coach G agreed to take me under his wing he asked me what my goals were. He said, "Don't just say you want to get faster because you can get faster on your own." Hmm. That got me thinking. And then I remembered my by40 goal talk and thought, what the hey? Let's go for the 2:45 by 40. And in going for a 2:45 by 40, I sure as heck know that it's not going to happen in one training cycle. And thus my conversion to big picture thinking.

It's not much of a revelation to say that running is the perfect laboratory for solving life's problems. Rather than viewing nailing a particular workout as an end in itself, I view each workout as a part of the means to a bigger end. And that end, the half marathon in May is a a means to an even bigger end: a fall marathon. This fall marathon, in turn, is a means to an even bigger end: a faster spring marathon. And so on and so forth. It's great, because I hardly sweat the workouts anymore.

And then one day I realized how this perspective might help me elsewhere. I've been practicing keeping my eye on the big picture rather than focusing on the day-to-day muckety muck. Sure, if I bother to do the dishes now, 30 more dirty dishes will soon fill the sink back up. But that's ok. Cleaning the dishes is not an end in itself. Cleaning the dishes is a means to general household maintenance. If I look at my goal as general maintenance and establishing a sense of discipline in myself and my children it feels a whole heck of a lot easier to get the dishes done today.

Same with these hard workouts. Suddenly 10 miles @ 7:05 pace is way less scary than I ever thought it would be! In fact, it felt downright comfortable to average 6:59 pace for 10 miles this morning. Who wudda thunk it? And my tempo on Thursday was the fastest tempo I have ever run: averaged 6:32 for 5 miles (closing in 6:17). And it felt good and dare I say, fun? I never ever liked tempo runs before, but lately I am loving them. I never liked doing dishes before, but lately I'm even enjoying that. Crazy what a little change in perspective can do!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

So Worth It

2010 was a rough year for me as a runner. While I slowed down during my second pregnancy, many of my friends sped up and left me in there dust. After the birth of #2 I was up 35 lbs and slooooow. I plodded along with my running comeback and endured frustrating weeks of pushing two kids in the stroller for every run when the weight seemed like it would never go and my pace would never ever quicken. During these times I often wondered why I bother. Why even try?

Finally, after 8-plus months I feel like I am fitter than I have ever been. I am right back at pre-pregnancy weight and fitting into my old clothes. I feel like I almost look like an athlete again! My kids are amazing and I feel like the luckiest woman alive that I have a wonderful family, my health and the strength to better myself.

Despite the weight gain and toll of back to back pregnancies and nursing for more than two years straight and getting old and hardly sleeping, I am running better than ever! After last Saturday's race and Sunday's quick long run I feel great and have been nailing my workouts. I have never ever felt this good and this confident about my running. I used to plot and plan every run and now I just GET IT DONE when I can and rarely think about it beyond that. Yet, I enjoy every mile so much more than I ever did. Even better, I feel like it's not a matter of if I pr at the half in May, but by how much I pr. I have never really been all that confident in myself as a runner, but for some reason I am now. I just know this is going to be a big year for me. That's why I do it: to prove to myself I can be better. Not just faster, but better. Faster times are certainly one goal, but being a better balancer and being more confident in myself are also goals. And I think I am well on my way to achieving all three.

For those interested. Here's what week 2 of Coach G's half marathon training looks like:

M: easy (5 miles around 8:20 pace)

T: 9 with track: 10 x 400 @ 88 with 90 sec recoveries; 1 x 1600 @ 6:20 with 3:00 between the 400's and the 1600 (85; 85; 85; 85; 86; 85; 85; 85; 85; 84; 6:10)

W: easy (5 miles around 8:20 pace)

Th: 10 with tempo: 6 @ 6:45 (averaged 6:44)

F: easy including 6 x :30 @ 6:00 pace with full recovery (averaged about 8:10 pace)

Sa: 10 @ 7:10 (averaged 7:04--last mile felt amazing and ran a 6:27)

Su: 16 @ 7:45 (we'll see how it goes!)

Total: 60 miles

Long run went great! 7:29 pace for 16 miles. I do have to say I am looking forward to a nice short easy run tomorrow, though.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Got a New Attitude!

Mrp chalks this all up to my new improved attitude. Now that I have a new coach and the feeling that I am accomplishing more and fitting running into its proper place in my life, I am feeling really optimistic and excited about my future as an amateur athlete.

To cap off my first week under Coach G's guidance, I lined up (along with 3500 of my closest friends) to race the local St. Patty's Day race. It's a 5 mile race and usually features a semi-hilly course through Cleveland's Flats. This year, that all changed. There is lots of construction in the Flats so the RD changed the course. It started at the bottom of the Flats and then went up the nasty hill the course used to finish on and then over the Cuyahoga River to Downtown around and back. This sounds nice and to be honest, I really appreciated the better scenery. However, it's a pretty tough course. There is more up than down. It's way less insulated from the wind and the RD was so nice to include a stretch along an icy brick road capped off with a hairpin turn around an orange cone around mid-way. Nice! The best part of the course (sarcasm), is that the 2 mile race started at the same time as the 5 mile race and we got to weave in and out of and pray not to mow down oblivious walkers blocking the last .5 miles of the race! But even with these challenges, it was a great race for me!

I warmed up with my great pals DD and Evie. It's always so nice to run with friends! We all had similar goals for the day so we lined up near each other and fully expected to be within each others' sights for most of the race.

My goal was to go out fast, but not crazy. The gun went off and I went out right behind DD. It felt good and not crazy! We chugged up the hill and right before we hit the top I passed DD and fully expected to see her again soon. We hit the bridge to head downtown and I saw two women ahead of me. SI and a woman in white I did not know. I caught SI and we ran together and caught up to the woman in white together. MZ, the buddy I have been running my long runs with, caught up to us too and we ran in a little pack. We were closing in on the first mile marker. The woman in white was on the inside of the pack and I was next to her. The mile marker was in the street and was blocking the woman in white. She said to me, "Move over." I said, "What?" And she replied, "The mile marker's in my way." I said, "And?" I was kind of shocked she would insist I move. I did move--I had to run out around the rest of our pack, but I thought it odd that in a race she wouldn't take the responsibility of ensuring her own clear path. I have to admit, it fired me up and got my competitive juices flowing!

The first mile came and went in 6:22, which was perfect since it was mostly uphill. The second mile was almost all downhill. SI and MZ pulled away after the first mile. I was right behind the woman in white. I noticed the pace on my Garmin said we were running in the 5:40's now and even with the downhill I was slightly nervous I was going to blow out the engines a little early. Just as I was fretting and letting the woman in white get a few steps ahead, who should pull up along side me, but Evie! Sweet!

I trust Evie and knew we were very similar fitness-wise so I rolled along with her. It was great! We got to the bottom of the hill and to mile 2 with a 5:49 split. The woman in white was a little ahead of us, but it was all good. Evie and I motored along. We made the turn onto the icy bricks and navigated the turn around the cone. As we were headed back we saw the other runners behind us headed our way. I saw mrp (he has not been running much so went out for a leisurely 6:35 paced run!) and he looked at me and said, "Go now!" So, I did. As nice as it was to run with Evie, I was feeling good enough to cheer for friends so I quit it and hit the (icy) bricks.

I came through mile 3 with a 6:20 split (not bad with the ice and the bricks and the hairpin turn). I was at 18:31 for my 3 mile split and this was on pace for a 5 mile pr for me. I knew it would be really tough since the last two miles were mostly uphill, but why not go for it, I thought!

A little after mile three the course starts the climb. I was starting to close in on the woman in white and excited to pass her up the hill. I figured if I passed her up the hill and looked strong she'd just let me go. About halfway up the hill I motored by. I could hear her trying to stay with me and instead of disengaging and getting nervous about the competition, I welcomed it. I just pictured taking off at the top of the hill and leaving her in my dust. And that's exactly what I did! At the top of the hill my Garmin crapped out on me because of the buildings downtown. No matter. I would just push the last 1.25 all the way home!

I was feeling great as I cruised the downtown streets and excited to hit the bridge to finish this baby up. The uphill portion of the bridge seemed to take forever and just as I crested and was looking forward to hammering the downhill to the finish I saw that wasn't going to happen as the walkers from the two mile were very dense and strung out across the course. CRAP! I screamed LEFT at them, but most didn't get it. I had to weave in and out of them and couldn't put the hammer down until the very last few meters. It was annoying, but I think it probably didn't even cost me 10 seconds.

I ended up in second place and squeaking in under 31:30 with a 31:29.99 finish time, which was 14-15 seconds slower than my pr. The woman in white came in third and rolled in seventeen seconds behind me and Evie was fourth three seconds after that. The best part was I felt totally fine. No lactic build up in the legs or anything. I felt great cooling down. I just felt great! On Sunday I managed 14 averaging 7:31 pace and still felt great. I can't remember ever feeling that good after a race!

I have no doubt I have lots of pr's on the horizon in 2011. Mrp's right: Salty has a new attitude!

Friday, March 04, 2011

The Verge

I feel on the verge of a breakthrough. On several occasions lately, I have felt good and just had to push the pace. It felt right! At the end of last Sunday's long run after climbing a monster hill (Oxbow Lane for the locals among us) my training buddy MZ and I started a mile and a half push back to our cars. Prior to said push we speculated about how crappy it would be: "7:20 pace? Nah, come on. We should at least get it down to 7:10." Usually MZ 5-steps me all the way to the parking lot, but this time I felt goooood! I motored in averaging 6:27 for the 1.5 miles.

Sure, this gooooood feeling was not present during my track workout on Tuesday, but by Thursday it had returned. I had been running 2 x 1.5 or 2 x 2 miles with E-Speed and MY who are considerably faster than me just to switch it up and push myself. Typically when I've run with them my tempo miles are between 6:07 and 6:20. (It's not that impressive considering I'm doing relatively short and few repeats!) This week in preparation of big changes to my training that are set to occur on Monday (I'll get to that) I decided to slow down the tempo and do 6 continuous miles. Goal pace was 6:50. I warmed up with E and MY and then they went on to their fancy 6:20 paced tempo and I trotted along.

I was into a headwind for the first half and it felt fairly easy, but I was worried about forcing the pace too early and making the last half of the workout torturous. It was hard to tell if the effort was right given the wind in my face, so I just ran relaxed and let the pace fall where it may. I ran 6:53; 6:52; 6:52. Then I turned around and since I was on the lakefront I did not get the benefit of a tailwind but a fun variable crosswind. Yay! (kidding.) It wasn't that bad, but just annoying after telling myself I'd be out of the wind at the turn around. I kept up the same effort, or at least it seemed that way and ran 6:45 and 6:47. I picked it up over a little hill and through the last half mile and came in with a 6:41 split. I went right into a jog and felt great. I can't remember ever feeling like that after a tempo!

Yes, but what's this big change on Monday, you ask. I am joining E and my friends BB, NC and CV and beginning a new journey under coach G's guidance. Salty has a new coach and a new team of bad ass babes! I am so excited!!! I feel like I am in a good place with running. I have more or less figured out how to get it in with minimal impact on the fam and I have used my desire to run to fuel my continued quest to improve my domestic skills, time management and the like. It's a great motivator and being more disciplined in other areas of my life helps me be disciplined with running and vice versa. And now that I have some direction (coach) and purpose (making me a better person, yo!) I feel like I am embarking on a path to something great. Stay tuned!