Thursday, June 30, 2011

Survivor

My baby turned one on Tuesday. That had to be the fastest year of my life! I can't believe she's entering her toddler years already. I have been busy trying to finish my work so I can blitz the house in time for her big bash on Saturday. Can't wait!!!

In the meantime, to celebrate her birthday I went and got myself almost injured. It's the same ol' pain in the butt that plagues me every now and then. It was really sore after my long run and then it was REALLY sore after the track on Tuesday. I was really worried about getting in today's tempo, but managed to survive. The goal was 5 @ 6:25 and 1 @ 6:20 and I managed to be close. I kept going back and forth in my head committing to the workout and pushing myself and then being convinced I was an idiot and backing off. I decided to not look at my watch for the last mile because the biggest hill on the route and a headwind were waiting for me, so I was super pleasantly surprised to see what I rolled in with for that mile! Here were the splits:

6:24

6:28

6:41 (uphill and into the wind and mentally checked out)

6:27 (rally!)

6:31 (um, am I an idiot?)

6:16 (screw it! If I did any damage it's already done!)

So, not too bad all things considered. The butts feeling ok. Still tender, but dealable. I just need to make it until Wednesday when I have an ART appointment. In the meantime, whoa am I busy!!!

Time to get crackin'!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Almost O-N-E

On most Saturday's Coach G has us do a second slower longer tempo run. Today's was 12 miles @ 7:05 pace. I met up with NC and we had a really nice run through the beautiful Chagrin Valley. We engaged in some girl talk and while listening to NC's 25 year old life I felt excited that she is right on the edge of so many wonderful things. And then, in the middle of this run through the luscious green river valley, I realized how lucky I am to have such a great life. I remembered where I was at 25 and where I am now 11 years later. I have an amazing partner in mrp who is my compliment in just about every way. We have two beautiful children who wow us everyday. We have the perfect home for us in the perfect setting. Mrp has a good job, and I have a great career I can fall back on at any time really. And we are healthy and strong and ambitious enough to pursue our hobbies passionately.

And then a few hours later I took both kids clothes shopping at the mall with NC and about lost my mind.

Ha!

Anyway, life is good. Very good. As we count down the days until Miss #2 turns the big O-N-E, I guess it's a perfect time to take a moment of reflection on a good run. And I've been lucky to have a lot of those lately. I met up with NC and E-speed on Thursday for a 5 mile tempo. I wasn't in quite the appreciative mood I was on today's run as life stress seemed to get the best of me that day. But E and NC, ever the good buddies took my mind off my little problems and helped me log a great tempo. E and I had 5 @ 6:25 on the schedule and NC had 5 @ 6:20. We decided to go for 6:20 as long as no one was straining. No one strained! We had a great run averaging 6:18 for 5. It was definitely work, but it never felt out of tempo effort range. I am super stoked to log my first sub 6:20 tempo and to run just 3 seconds per mile slower than my 5 mile pr on a training run. I think things are really coming together and I have a great back half of 2011 to look forward to! The front half is ending up pretty darn wonderful!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jumping In

At the track on Tuesday Coach G told me to go find a short race to jump into over the weekend. He still wanted us to get our workouts in, but have one of them include a race. I had 11 @ 7:00 on Saturday and 14 @ 7:25 on tap for Sunday. I poked around the internets and found a 5k race I ran a couple of years ago was happening on Saturday. It's not the most scenic area to get in 11 miles, but it would do!

I was totally excited about racing a 5k after the track workout last week, but when my tempo was rough I started to worry. Never fear! Running Within is here! I picked up my trusty mental training book and heeded its advice to visualize, visualize, visualize. Before I went to bed the night before, I visualized my entire morning before the race: waking up @ 6:30; hearing the coffee percolating; smelling the toast in the toaster; the feel of the waistband on my shorts; brushing my teeth; getting the race an hour early to sign up and then going to my car before doing an early longer faster warm-up; lining up and feeling excited and happy.

The morning went almost exactly as I visualized the night before. I arrived at the race early and signed up. I then went to my car, dropped off my number and headed out for a run of the course around 7:20 pace. While running the course I visualized racing on it. I imagined myself relaxed and happy and enjoying the small hills and the headwinds and the freeway fumes. I imagined the sun in my eyes felt delicious and was like a beacon calling me to the finish. When I arrived near the finish at the minor league ball park I visualized feeling excited in the knowledge I was running a pr. I imagined spectators speckled about the parking lot cheering for me as the first woman. I imagined kicking it in as I entered the stadium and I counted down the clock and visualized finishing in 18:12. Not sure why that number, but it sounded good to me!

I was done with my 3 miles and still had 20 minutes. I stopped at the rest room and had a drink of water. I walked to my car and calmly pinned my number to my bra and laced up my flats. I fixed the display in my Garmin and turned off autolap and then I walked casually over to the starting area with 10 minutes to go. I jogged about .5 miles and then did 4 x strides. I saw a friend and congratulated him on his baby due in a month. I enjoyed watching the young guys nervously warm-up, and the group of children in their red t-shirts stoked to run their first 5k and hobby joggers not sure where to line-up. I enjoyed the early morning sun illuminating the scene and the excitement in the air!

When I lined up I felt a sense of community with all of them. I felt so happy that all these people gathered together in this sparse suburban landscape to push themselves and better themselves. I felt so lucky to be so fit and strong and able to be there too.

Ready! Set! GO!

And we were off. It was a bit shocking to the system to run 5k pace at first. I felt a little queasy and weird, but I knew this was normal. Some guys around me were talking about me as if I couldn't hear, but honestly I don't even remember what they said. I was happy and excited. I was a little tentative to go nutso though. I have never run under 6:00 pace in a race (at least not intentionally!) so this was new territory. When I was at around .3 miles the garmin settled into about a 5:52-5:53 pace and I rolled with it. It felt right. I got to the mile marker in 5:50 and hit lap. My plan was to settle in and keep up the effort for mile 2. I knew there was a hair-pin turnaround so I knew that would cost me a few seconds, but otherwise I wanted to keep the pace as close to mile 1 as possible. I came to the mile marker in 5:40. My Garmin was displaying average pace and showed 6:03 (we ran under a bridge twice and after the turn around the pace really tanked, so I think that didn't help) at this point for the whole 2 miles which I knew wasn't right, so I switched screens so it would just show time and not bug me out. Anyway, even with the garmin not telling me I knew that 5:40 was short. I guessed 15 seconds and I think that's about right. Although I used that info to motivate me to go for it convincing myself I might have a shot at sub-18!

I was totally alone after the first .5 - 1 mile. I had to push myself and I think I did. I ran with the sun in my eyes and used it as the beacon. I glided up the small hill before the intersection and made that sharp turn back to the stadium and happily listened to a couple of spectators cheering for me. I started to kick after the second to last hard-turn. I had a lot left. I zoomed up to the stadium entrance and made that last jack-knife turn and ran down to the warning track, my toes digging into the dirt. I was sprinting and saw the clock tick down 18:11; 18:12; 18:13! PHEW!!! 18:13!!!! A 36 second pr!

I was pumped! And in my excitement I totally forgot to hit stop or even lap on my garmin so I don't have the data. Oh well! I talked to some dudes after the finish and tried to find someone to run 4 @ 7:20 pace to cool down, but no dice. (They all looked at me like I was nuts!)

I headed out and did my 4 miles which wasn't too terrible (although I was definitely tired when I was done). I headed back in and stretched and waited for the awards. I collected my first place trophy and headed home elated with the mental victory and the p.r.!

Later, I checked the results and the race has me @ 18:15. It's hand scored and with no one finishing close to me it looks like they rounded up. Oh well. I'll take it!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Great Track Workout and a Good Enough Tempo

Besides visualization, other new tools I'm learning to use are relaxation and affirmation. Now, these areas of weakness for me. I tend to tense up easily and then engage in negative self-talk and self-sabotage, or I tend to engage in negative self-talk and then tense up and self-sabotage that way. (Chicken or the egg?) Either way it interferes with my running success big time.

Well, I now am learning how to quit both acts of self-sabotage. On Tuesday before my track workout I took ten minutes and did some deep-breathing and visualization exercises while the kids napped. And then when I was on the track, I focused on the word 'glide' and repeated my new mantra, "Working hard is fun, that's why I run!" Both concepts worked beautifully. E and I ran a stellar set of 6 x 800's all between 2:46 and 2:48 and then followed that up with our fastest 200's ever! "Glide" helped to remind me not to force the pace and just let it flow. It's a good relaxing motion word and it also has a nice confidence infused in it. And then the "Working hard" mantra came in handy when the workout got tough. It reminded me that I like pushing through and getting the job done and it's supposed to be a little hard (that's why it's called a workout out, duh!)

Then today was my tempo day. I had 7 @ 6:30 on tap. I was worried a little because my Garmin has been funky at the park. I decided to change my autolap to every .5 instead of every mile so if I had one bad split here or there I wouldn't sweat it as much. Maybe this was a mistake? After fighting off a stitch on the warm-up, I kept repeating to myself "I am a talented athlete and I nail my tempo runs." It sounds Suart-Smalley-esque and it is, but it definitely helped me avoid the negative thought creep today. It also helped me not worry about the stitch. And I didn't.

On the advice of NC I started the tempo on a loop around an office park near the park. It started off well. The first .5 was @ 6:28 pace which was perfect. However, I then turned into a stiff headwind for the next .75 and the next split was at 6:41 pace (and I was happy with this because the Garmin said 6:50's for way too long into that split for my liking! It did this for most of the splits--starting off saying I was going anywhere from 6:50-7:10 through .25 miles which despite all the mantras and comforting affirmations I through at it, kinda freaked me out). But since the average was 6:34 I felt ok about it at that point. The next mile was pretty much the same. Right on out of the wind, slow in the wind. I ran 6:33, but thought after the third mile I'd try my luck in the park to get out of the wind. Third mile was 6:35 and the same deal. Of course I got into the park and instead of getting easier, the splits got slower. Suddenly I saw a lot of 7:xx paces at the beginning of splits and had to fight way too hard to get the pace out of the 6:50's! Even so, I really felt like the effort was right and I was not going to worry about it. I ran 6:38; 6:44; 6:47 (ugh) and then 6:35.

I actually stayed fairly positive through the whole workout. I flirted for a second here or there in the park with quitting since I wasn't hitting the pace, but those thoughts didn't last long at all. I decided I would run the tempo as it was and just accept that tempos at the park are harder than the tempos I used to do downtown for whatever reason. I know it is better to get the workout in 8 seconds per mile slow than a mile or several short or not at all. But, after the high of the stellar track workout I feel like my head is back down to earth today!

I picked up Running Within during nap time today and read a chapter called, Gaining without Straining and it really made me feel better. A successful athlete trusts the messages from her body and knows the proper effort. I was beating myself up a little bit before I read this for not trying harder to hit the goal paces. I think I am doing the right thing. But I am going to try to do my tempo some where else next time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Imagine a Clean Kitchen

I know I haven't talked about it much lately, but I'm still working hard on mental training. A new technique I've been practicing is visualization. As I mentioned in my last post, I've had a rough week struggling through both my track workout and tempo run. In the past having two back to back bad workouts would really beat up my confidence.

Of course, I can't say that wasn't true going into my weekend runs. I was really nervous worrying I would biff my Saturday long tempo run. The goal was 10 @ 7:00 pace and I was going to be on my own for it. I recently borrowed an amazing book from the library, Running Within by Jerry Lynch. So far, I LOVE it!!! Both that book and the USOC mental training workbook I have suggest using visualization to achieve running goals. At first, I thought this just meant to use visualization to meet racing goals, but I now see how visualization can help me with my day-to-day running (and other aspects of my life as you shall see!)

Before the run I took 2 minutes and visualized the run. I pictured running the first mile in 7:15 and the second mile in 7:02 and then 6:57 for all the rest. I pictured looking at my garmin after the run to see my 6:59 average pace. Before I even started the run, this exercise calmed me down and removed a lot of anxiety about the run.

Then the crazy thing is that I pretty much ran just as I imagined! I ran 7:08; 7:05 and then 6:52-6:59 for all the rest of the miles. I felt relaxed and enjoyed the run a lot. When I finished I looked at my garmin to see the 6:58 average pace and felt triumphant that I successfully used visualization to achieve that small goal.

That evening I was tired after putting the kids to bed. I walked into my kitchen and saw a big mess. I didn't feel like dealing with it. But then I did something weird. I stood there and visualized a clean kitchen. I pictured a clear clean table, all the dishes washed and in the drying rack and clean counters. I pictured mrp waking up in the morning and happy to prepare and serve breakfast to the kids in the clean kitchen while I was out for my long run. And before I knew it I was busy cleaning the kitchen and feeling proud when I went to bed with that chore accomplished.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Still Out There, Just Hot and Busy

I wilted under the summer heat this week. I had a crappy track workout and then a crappy tempo. Thank goodness I had two good runs this weekend: 10 @ 6:58 yesterday and 14 @ 7:21 today. I wish I had more time to blog, but I've been busy mommying and finishing up some work I needed to get done. I also recently interviewed for a temporary part-time lawyer gig with a large firm. I am supposed to receive the verdict tomorrow. According to the headhunter that hooked me up with the opportunity the firm is going to go with either me or another guy and it will just depend on availability. I assume that means I'm not going to get it, what with the 2 kids and need for babysitting and general lack of schedule flexibility. I am not sure what I want to happen. Part of me is really happy with the current summer schedule we have going on. The kids are happy, mrp and I are happy and life is good. Not sure I want to mess it up! But at the same time the money would be great and it would be nice to sharpen my lawyer knives. So, I guess I can be happy with a yes or a no. In other news, I'm planning #2's first birthday party already! Time sure flies when you're up to your eyeballs in babies having fun!