Saturday, June 27, 2009

YAY for running groups!

This morning I am back from my first long run with the my neeeeeeeeew running group. Best $100 my husband has ever spent I tell ya. He had to cut the check since I'm not on them yet. Water stops, powerade, FIG NEWTONS at the end! Plus I got a new singlet to let every one know not to rumble with me cuz I got a gang now!

I ran 7 miles - some did more, some less. I finished with 3 others who did 7 with me. Most of the way out we were talking about the long slow distance and how it teaches the body endurance. I think I've been teaching my body to just run more because thinking back, I don't really vary my pace much for the long runs. It seems to average out that every run from 3-10 miles is the same pace. Which I learned completely defeats the purpose of the long run. You are supposed to be able to plod along for a looooooooong time. Come race day that is when you can 1. go the distance and 2. add some speed that you've been building on the other days.

With that in mind, I think I need to really hold it back to 11 minute miles for my long runs. Others throughout the week should be from 10-10:45. Today we ran 11 minute miles and I felt great the whole way. At 3, where the water stop was I was amazed at how good I felt. Even on the return it wasn't until about mile 5 that I started getting tired. But it was at this point, looking at my Garmin, where we started running 10:30 and the last bit even faster.

When I signed up for this I was thinking, 7AM runs on Saturday? Well it will be nice to get something done on Saturday and have the rest of the weekend. But what didn't cross my mind is that if the run is at 7, that doesn't mean wake up at 7. Today I was up at 5:45. ON A SATURDAY. I guess it's so long Friday night fun. I'm at a point though where this is what I want to focus on. I want my priority #1 to be my workouts. I know that is going to mean skipping out on some Happy Hours with work and social activities here and there, but I'm enjoying this so I'm ok with that for the time being.

This week is starting off right. Tomorrow it is supposed to be nicer, meaning not pouring rain (which we ran through today) so I am going to go for a long bike ride and then try to run a couple miles just to remember what it's like and get used to the feeling again. The triathlon is coming up quick!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I can't do this

Why is that ALWAYS the first phrase that runs through my head when trying something new? It's so annoying. I'm getting tired of that old feeling. That was my thought about marathons.

I went to the information class for marathon training last night. I'm still not sold on this whole marathon idea. ESPECIALLY since the marathon I was going to sign up for is sold out. Now I'm in a pickle. Here are the facts:

Factoid #1
I chose the Marine Corp Marathon because my dad was a marine. I have a special memory of running with my dad. I wear his dog tags when I run. It is in Washington DC and the course sounds AMAZING. It's a large race with lots of people. The fact that I would be running a marathon was second. I wanted to do this race and it happened to be the marathon distance.

Factoid #2
I want to run with the group from last night. I like running with groups and if I do that, I need something to train for.

Factoid #3
If all I cared about was the MCM, then I should be able to say, ok, skip it. Run it another year. But then this voice, and I honestly DO NOT KNOW who it is, says "But I wanted to run a marathon this year" Seriously! Where did that tiny little (evil) voice come from???

The Des Moines marathon looks like my next viable options. We have weddings to attend the 1st and 2nd weekend in October, so Twin Cities and Whistlestop are both out. But will it be meaningful? Remember Fact 1 was that I didn't want to run just any marathon for the sake of getting the distance. But Fact 3, nagging, annoying little Fact 3, tells me I do in fact want to run the distance. Will I find the willpower to continue when the race doesn't mean as much?

With the facts written out there like that, I think the choice is clear. Looks like its Des Moines in October as my first marathon that I never wanted to run. Time for a serious attitude adjustment. But I KNOW I am going to like being part of a group! A team. That isn't really a team. Cuz they would probably bench me.

What I REALLY want to run as the second choice is the Duke City Marathon in Albuquerque. Hold on Tara.......I checked the course map. Altitude: 5000. The course climbs 40 feet for the first 12 miles and then 80 feet between 12 and 13. Then you turn around and run back the same way you came. All downhill. It is was just the hills I would be ok. But it is seriously a different run completely when you throw altitude in there. I don't think I want my first one to be EXTRA tough. Although, it would be a really cool location, myself having friends and family in New Mexico.

That's were I'm at. Feeling a little apprehensive about involving myself with a goup. Basically saying I'm ready to bust my hump every weekend. Looking forward to and nervous for the first group run on Saturday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Some lighthearted sarcasm

I didn't feel like this belonged in my race recap, but I wanted to mention a few more things about the race. The fans in Duluth are awesome! Regular people put out bananas and water stops and food. And I don't mean they have a jug of water and offer it up. I mean, they have thousands of cups on the ready with a whole line up of people distributing water. And just because they want to. The marathon also provides cold sponges and ice at the water stops. Top notch really. One of the best managed races I have been involved with. Oh, and Dip and Dots at the end. In TWO flavors!

Here's my disclaimer: I'm not really terribly annoyed. Fan participation is awesome. Really. ANY fan participation. I'm not so much of a snob that if you're not doing it right don't come at all. I hope people come out to watch and maybe get inspired. I just thought this was a little humorous and runners might get a good know, the it's-funny-because-it's-true lines.

Please don't say things like "Pick up the pace, the elites are just up ahead". Yeah, I'm just about ready to make my move and close on the 4,294 people in front of me to win the whole race. Is my bib number less than 10? Then I am probably not in fact close to the elites. And when your saying it with your aviator sunglasses, your faux-hawk and sloshing around your cup filled with cold beer, it makes me appreciate it even less. If that's possible.

Know your 20 (that's trucker talk for location). At the 10k marker I heard "You made it - 1/2 way there" Basic knowledge of the difference between kilometers and miles will tell you that two 10k's does not a 1/2 marathon make. I am not 1/2 way there.

And probably the most famous - "X miles left" (In this particular instance X=3). I know that 3 miles is a little over 1/4 left which in context seems like a lot smaller amount to the whole, but it's like asking a woman if she's pregnant. Unless you see her delivering a baby, probably best not to ask. If I don't have a visual lock on the finish line, probably best not to mention the distance left.

I do like signs like "You look smart and pretty" (from a previous race) or "Nice legs". I also heard "Doing great, keep it up. You're ahead of those people." Haha - funny, but wait, what did he say to the people up there.......???

Race fans DO make a difference. It's fabulous when people can be supportive of one another. I heard a marathoner tell us at mile 25.95 "Thanks for coming out". Really, he thanked US! He'd been running for over 5 hours and he thought to thank the crowd. People can be amazing.

Grandma's 1/2 Marathon

The best way to talk about this run is by posting the splits like I did in the previous post. That way I can talk about all the complaints, er, less than positive thoughts I had.

Here was my race plan. Phase 1 - 5k go easy. Walk breaks every 5 minutes, leisurely pace. Easy.
Mile 1: 11:15
Mile 2: 10:54
Mile 3: 11:06

Perfect. Except I did 1 minute of walking every 10 minutes. I was excited. I couldn't stop. I had the optimistic outlook that it was never going to get any harder than this. (ooooohhhhh foreshadowing!)

Phase II - 10K Race time! Game on. I wanted to run at race pace (10:45) for the next 6 miles and then see where I was. It's hard though to tell what pace you need to go when I was walking for 1 minute every 10 minutes. That means running slightly below race pace to compensate for the walking. So, 60 seconds in one minute, if I run 9 minutes at 5.8 mph, and there is a train leaving Boston at noon, and there are 17 people and only 2 lifeboats.....yeah, I had no clue.

Mile 4: 10:15 (remember the walk breaks? This was way to fast for 1 mile)
Mile 5: 10:15 (if only this type of consistency was a good thing at this point)
Mile 6: 10:41 (PERFECTION. Now just hold steady......)
Mile 7: 11:17
Mile 8: 12:47
Mile 9: 11:03 (one last futile attempt to reclaim this race)

Leading up to mile 8 was tough. I thought I was going to throw up. Did I need more water? Less food? Or was I hungry and over hydrated?? I had no idea except that I was hot and uncomfortable and nauseated. Here's me at mile 7. I think I started walking immediately after this picture was taken.

Pause in the story for some factual information. My 6.9 mile time was 1:15. That left me 1:05 to run the final 6 miles. Reasonable. My 10k split time was about a minute above my 10k race time. For those keeping track at home that adds up to way to fast. You don't run 7 more miles at a 10k clip. Normal people have slower paces on longer races. And when you go out to fast.....well, stay tuned.

Phase III - 1 mile freestyle. I wanted to run what I felt. Maybe downshift and save up for Phase IV.

Mile 10: 13:12 (That is some serious downshifting. Did I drop the tranny??)

Seriously, I should have been an actress because look how happy I look. Lies. All lies. See that little bit of shade I am going through. Little did I know that it would be the last bit of shade I would stand in for the next 7 hours. Hey, Duluth, have you heard of Arbor Day? Plant a tree, will ya? On a hot sunny day the last few miles of Grandma's can DESTROY those with anything less than an iron will.

Phase IV - at this point I can't believe I'm even tracking phases but this was a race plan so I am publishing what was supposed to happen. Phase IV was supposed to be the last 5k. The final kick. Walk as needed, but throw your heart on the pavement and leave on the course type finish. I did revise this phase to accommodate though. All good runners have to learn to recalculate based on the situations they are running in. I renamed Phase IV to "Screw It".

Mile 11: 11:55 (this would be known as my last 'speed' lap - hahaha)
Mile 12: 12:10
Mile 13: 13:02

There were a few positive thoughts during this last 3 miles. At one water stop this kid - maybe 10 years old, short, wearing and over sized volunteer t-shirt that hung to his knees and an adult baseball cap that was tightened in the back to the smallest notch but still didn't quit fit. You know the look. Any way, I was going in for some water and he walked out to me a little ways out of line, handed me the water, looking in my eyes and said "You can do it" in a serious tone. Not like he was saying it to everybody, but he was saying it to me. Because I needed to hear that. I turned around as I passed and he was still watching me run away. I gave a nod. Thanks kid. Yes I can. And I thought of my cousin James who told me just the other day when I said "We'll never win" he said, "If you say that then you never will win". He's 6. It all brought tears to my eyes until I realized that when I get emotional when I run I can't breathe (and I get emotional a lot running). I chose running. I'll cry later. (like now thinking of it).

I finished in 2:32:07 or something, which, now that I have a calculator I can tell you is 11:32 minute miles. Absolutely devastating. And I think it's because I really was running the best that I could. It was really really hard towards the end. I lost a little hope with this race. If I try this hard and I don't make it, what does that mean? Where does that leave me?

They still give you a medal even if you cried, even if you lost your hope, even if you felt you didn't deserve it. Just for being a finisher. It's not easy. And it's not all happy, look what I accomplished, yay me. You have to experience those losses and then go out again because that's when you really win. You think you can't go on, and you've lost all hope in your ability, but if you keep going, you look back and see that despite all that adversity, YOU KEPT GOING. I think when you go through the rough spots and don't quit it, makes the victory so much sweeter.

This race was humbling. Not because I'm such an elite athlete, but because I put a challenge out there for myself - a real challenge and I failed. I didn't accomplish it. I wanted it, and in my mind I could do it, but I couldn't. Not this time. But you know what? There are 55 days until the Badger to Gopher 1/2 Marathon. There will come a time when I can no longer run. Today is not that day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I have to run how far???

I've been wanting to write about my 10 miler last weekend since it happened. I'm actually going to post splits this time in an effort to relive the run.

Mile 1: 9:56 <-- Waaaaaay to fast.
Mile 2: 10:26 <-- More like it
Mile 3: 10:51 <-- Aaaah just right
Mile 4: 10:46 <--I could do this all day
Mile 5: 10:25 <--What got into me, did I remember there were 5 left?
Mile 6: 11:56 <--Yup. I remembered and I got depressed
Mile 7: 10:58 <--Ok back on track. I can do this
Mile 8: 11:42 <--Hills. Crap. No I can't.
Mile 9: 11:43 <--Just don't die, just don't die......
Mile 10: 11:41 <--Tear. That was rough.

How many miles next weekend???? That's the 10 miles in a nutshell. Around mile 5 I headed to Lake Harriet and I HATE going there when tired because of the roller coaster hills. Lucky for me I'm good at hills. Um yeah. I walked, I jogged, I walked some more. I whined. I know; so unlike me. And then I said to myself "Sweetheart" - because that's what I call myself when trying to be encouraging - "you're only 1/2 way. If you dink around like this it's going to take forever to finish up" And with that I set time constraints to make myself run for periods of time. I don't think I walked a terrible amout. Maybe every 5 minutes or more, so my pace really slowed too during the last 1/2. Yikes. It was rough. This week though, I have been in mad taper mode which seems to work well for me. I skipped swimming and started eating. Aaaah - the good life.

I wish I could say I was looking forward to Grandma's 1/2 this weekend but I'm not really. It's not so much the distance, but I'm not looking forward to the race. Getting up early (4AM early), the crowd, the drive up north, the crowd. The crowd. Ug. I'm not excited about this race at all. Maybe it is in part for the distance, but for whatever reason this race seems more like a hassle than fun. But none the less, McMillan says I can do this race in 2 hours and 21 minutes because I can run 1 mile in 8:50 so I'm gonna give it a shot. That's 10:48 minute miles for you kids playing along at home.

That would totally rock to do that.

I'm going to schedule another 1 mile timed trial next Wednesday. We'll see how that goes. Excited to see if I have improved at all. Stay tuned.......

Sunday, June 7, 2009

9 Miles, but I didn't wanna

I soooooooo did not want to run today. I didn't want to be outside today. It's cold in our house, it's cold and windy and overcast outside. I ate a big brunch and was sleepy and it was about 3PM. If you can imagine then, try, how much I did NOT want to run 9 miles. I wasn't thinking when I put on my running clothes. I think I was still in denial that I was actually going. My body was moving in that direction but my brain refused to believe. In fact, on the drive to the lake, my brain seemed to be saying - best of luck, not sure how you plan on running 9 miles without me. My legs were clearly on their own. Sometimes I can visualize my run. I know the distance I am going to go and I can see me doing the entire thing. Even through the rough spots. Today, I couldn't see anything. I would have bet against me. Luckily, my legs took over and did it with no moral support. Thanks legs. You really came through.

I'm still not sure how I managed to do this today. I'm still bitter about having to go at all. That's about the dumbest sounding thing ever. But sometimes you don't have a choice. Or rather you decide you have no other choice.

We went to Punch pizza for dinner tonight. That made the evening WONDERFUL. I think I should have Punch pizza after every long run. Now that's a challenge I can get behind! Speaking of challenges, I've been doing the Jillian 30 Day Shred with a friend. We are 6 days deep and it IS actually starting to get better. I seemed to get weaker before starting to get stronger. Hopefully this upward trend continues. But seriously, I like the Punch challenge. I am going to see how many weekends in a row I can eat Punch Pizza after a long run. It might get difficult, but I think I can rise to the occasion!

Last Thursday I had the best swimming day to date. I swam 100 m in 2:15, 10 times. I was quite pleased for two reasons. 1) I always love a challenge I can feel successful at. What's the point of having a completely absurd goal that you won't reach for 7 years. Why not instead make smaller goals that still make you work but can make you feel successful when done. I couldn't believe I could just keep going. But I did, and I finally, for once, didn't feel overwhelmed at swim class. 2) It was a hard workout for me, but I did the whole thing. I feel like I am becoming a better swimmer (not to mention the wonders swimming has done cardiovascular wise with running) but also the workout was more within my reach. Someday soon I'll build up to the real workout he planned for us: 100m in 1:45, 10 times, but until then it's nice to be able to know you worked really hard and did the thing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

National Running Day

Yesterday, as many know, was National Running Day. Whatever your level, just get out there and go - I think that is the official motto. I decided to try a running group at my gym. I see them running all the time but have never wanted to join because, well let's be honest, I've never wanted to work that hard. I showed up and they gave me a sticker that said "I ran today" and I briefly considered going home since I already had the sticker. Then they made you sign in and put how many miles you were going to run. Dang. After that I was committed. It was in writing.

The leader guy for our group was explaining to me on the way out how nobody gets left behind. Usually there are seasoned groupies who can lead and he is able to follow and make sure nobody gets lost. I said, "Nice to meet you - I'm sure we'll be spending a lot of time together in that case." He was great fun. He'd yell out stuff like "HILL!" when we were already half up, as if I didn't notice. But then "DOWNHILL!" and also would tell us to walk over the train tracks and look both ways, and tell us when it was clear to merge onto the path so we wouldn't get hit by a biker. Like mama bear goes running. I liked it.

Beautiful day to be out on the trails. The sun was behind the clouds so it wasn't beating down on you in the open areas. But the running? The running was hard. I started out just going. Not looking at my pace. I don't want to know that I am going less than 11 minute/miles and think I better slow down because I can't handle this. I need to reset my pace clock in my head. Because remember, how I run 10 minute miles! You really can't get hung up on the numbers though. I mean I ran 6.2 miles on Sunday with avg pace of 10:13 and this 5.28 miles yesterday was tough to pull out in the end and the avg time was 10:19. So what the heck? Who really knows. That's why it's always best to gauge how much of yourself you left on the trail. Sunday, I gave it my all. Last night, again, everything. So two great runs at differing paces. But the feeling good for working hard, that's the reward! The pace always needs to be second I think. Sure it's important at times, but attitude is always #1.

I back to hitting the pool tonight. Looking forward to a good swim. And did you know that biking was part of a triathlon. Evidently I've been trying to convince myself otherwise because I haven't biked AT ALL this whole year. I really felt like I was a good biker last year during the tri and I wanted to nail it this year. But how's that gonna happen if I don't start practicing? Potentially, I'll amaze myself. Realistically, I'm just delusional. Here's the joke for which I based this comment.

A dad told his son to learn the difference between potentially and realistically by asking his sister and his mother if they would sleep with Brad Pitt for 1 million dollars. He asked both and both said yes, of course they would. When his dad asked if he learned the difference, the son replied "Yes. Potentially we could be millionaires, but realistically we've go two tramps in the family".

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Happy Place

Part of the reason why I wanted to run 10 minute miles is because the McMillan calculator told me I could...or should...or whatever. You plug in what you ran a certain distance at and it tells you what your pace should/could be at other distances. It even gives you the pace you should do your speed work out, tempos and long runs. Since I ran my mile at 8:50, and that seemed pretty official, that is the benchmark I used. Here is what I should/could run (theoretically):

In case that is difficult to read, it says 10K - 10:13 pace. I also wanted run 10 min miles because I feel like that is sort of an industry average. Like average runners can just do that pace.

I signed up for a 10K while on vacation this weekend because I really really wanted to make sure I followed my training plan and I knew it wouldn't happen unless I did something like this. Luckily, I found a nice little race for a great cause not far from our hotel. Awesome, awesome weather. About 53 and sunny. Absolutely perfect. I felt good - no pizza and beer pre-race meal in my belly - just the standard simple carbohydrate and coffee breakfast. My goal was to just run and run. Until I couldn't run anymore. I kept telling myself "your good for 7 and you only have to go 6.2". Secretly though I had to run at least a half mile to the start of the race because I was late and didn't quite know where I was going - so it was close. I just kept plugging away - step by step.

It was pretty flat, but there were 2-3 minor uphill areas. Enough to notice. I like to take pride in the fact that I am good at hills. I don't know if this is factual or not, but I always tell myself that I don't have to walk because if I have one thing, I have strong legs and I can always run up a hill. This thinking usually, propels me past runners as I charge on - at a slower pace mind you but I keep going. I don't know how I became so adamant about this fact; maybe it was from the TC 10-mile and that hilly course. I wish I was that sure about other aspects of running. Like I said, whether or not it is true - deep down I believe it is, I don't doubt. I can tell myself other positive things but if I don't deep down believe it, it's only encouragement. Maybe encouragement is the beginning of believing.

My plugging along paid off. In a BIG way. I ran the race in 1:03:11! Somewhere in my blog history I recorded that I ran an unofficial 10k (training) in 1:04 something and I could hardly believe that. Did I really do that? Well now it doesn't matter because the truth is (documented) that I ran 6.2 in 1:03! A pace of 10:11. I was so ecstatic!

Maybe I am finally coming into my own with running.