Friday, February 27, 2009

Halfway to 26.2

Tomorrow marks the end of week 8 of my 16-week marathon training period. After taking most of the week off, I ran on my ankle, and it felt..... fine! It is not 100%, but pretty close.... I'd say 90%. Thank goodness. This was the 2nd blip in my marathon training period--the first was the knee cap issue from week one. I'm hoping the next 8 weeks go smoothly. (But I won't hold my breath!)

As far as runs go, today's was ok. We ran the first 4 miles at a conversational, easy pace, then upped the speed for the last 3. Those last miles were between 5K and 10K pace. Looking over my NEGATIVE SPLITS later, I was very happy. Negative splits are so rare in my running. Speeding up and finishing strong in the last few miles was recommended in one of my training books and I hope to continue to work on that.

My recovery week will finish with a six-miler tomorrow. Snow is in the forecast, so it might be a good opportunity to try out this:

My Sole F80 treadmill came in last week and now occupies approximately 1/2 of my bedroom. My husband is in the process of finishing out our basement (and a workout room for me!), so it's only temporary. I have run exactly 1.5 miles on it this week. I'm looking forward to listing to the Sirius XM radio stations on my tv and watching shows while running in shorts and a jog bra in the privacy of my own bedroom. Yay!

I'll also be giving these a try---Shoe #4 on the Ultimate Shoe Quest:

I got these Asics Gel Kayano 15's after the Mizuno Nirvana's didn't work out. I think they were the cause of the extra-colorful (soon-to-be-missing) toenail that I am sporting. I hope these work out because I am tired of shoe shopping (never thought I'd utter those words).
On the home front, as of today, I'm the proud owner of a three-month-old kitten from the animal shelter. My eight-year-old wore me down over the last six months begging for a pet. She's tiny, gray and white, and so gentle. She allows herself to be carried around by a two-year-old without hissing, scratching, or biting said two-year-old. That's pretty rare in kitties. I need at least one easygoing member of this household!
My son is her official owner, and he said he wanted to name her either "Buttocks" or "H.R. Puffinstuff." Gotta love that eight-year-old humor. We settled on Magnolia, Maggie for short. My two-year-old is giving her no peace, however. "Maggi-nola! Where are ju?" If she's smart, she's having some quality time under the bed.....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just a Little Update...

On Friday, around mile 12, I rolled my right ankle when I ran off the road briefly. I left that out of my post because I didn't think it was a big deal. It hurt for a minute, but I kept going for the last four miles. I didn't realize it hurt until I stopped at the end of the 16th mile. I think I was operating off of adrenaline and fumes by then. Of course, at that point, everything below the waist kind of hurt!

On Saturday, I was still a little sore in my knees and quads and that darn right ankle. I never dreamed that I had injured it. I cycled for 3 miles on Saturday for active recovery, then walked 1/2 mile. On Sunday, everything felt pretty much back to normal.

Monday, however, I learned the truth when I ran 4.5 miles. My ankle went from not hurting at all in mile 1 to hurting a lot in mile 4. When I stopped at 4.5, I knew that seemingly insignificant ankle roll was, actually, pretty significant. I immediately iced and elevated it, but within two hours, I could barely walk on it. I had to pick up a few groceries, so while I was there, I bought an ankle support/brace. I've been alternating that with icing today, accompanied by Aleve or Motrin.

So far..... not much improvement. I need to be off of it, but I'm home today with a two-year-old and a sick child. (Strep has made it's way back into our household---this time it's my 8-year-old son, who doesn't even have tonsils. Sigh.) Not exactly a put-your-feet-up-and-relax kind of a day!

I'm taking off from running until Friday. Then, we'll see...... It's not bruised and not really swollen (well, maybe just the tiniest bit), so it's clearly not broken or sprained. I guess if it doesn't improve in a couple of days, I'll stop self-diagnosing and go to the doc.

Anyway, I'm not totally freaking out. I've got 8 weeks until the marathon, right??

Friday, February 20, 2009

Not So Bad!

About three and a half hours ago, I finished my first 16-miler. I had to be a creative mommy to get the miles in. The plan was to get my big kids on the school bus at 8:05, and immediately head to the YMCA with my little one for the first three miles. We got to the Y at 8:16 a.m., I signed her in to the nursery (kicking and screaming), and I got in three miles. I took it slow and easy, warming up and running at a 10:40-11:00 minute pace. I knew that keeping my pace down would be CRITICAL for the later miles. My race plan called for an 11:09 pace, but I went faster for lack of time!

Then I hopped off, signed her out of the nursery (now totally happy and fine), threw her in the car, and rushed her to her 9:00 a.m. preschool about five minutes away. I dropped her off there and went to meet two friends who planned to run the 11 middle miles with me. I guess there was about a 20-minute gap between my first 3 and my last 13.

We started out at a 10:00-10:30 pace and kept it there for almost every mile. During the second mile, they both decided to go the whole 13 with me instead of leaving me on my own on the difficult last two. I felt fresh, the weather was good (mid-thirties to mid-forties and sunny) except for the high wind, and we were going along at a great pace. Around our 3rd mile, we took a slight detour and another friend joined us as we went past her house. Amazingly, she was just our pace, too. The four of us took turns leading and pairing off for conversations. It really made the time pass. At their 5-mile and my 8-mile point, we took a little break for gels/water at a service station. Then we were off again. We ran all over the Sango community in our little town--through subdivisions and condominium neighborhoods and on fairly busy roads and small ones.

After I'd gone around 13 miles, I really felt tired. I took a short walk break and it helped. I felt like I was slowing down, but actually, I was maintaining a pretty consistent pace. The last two miles were pretty tough. One of my friends talked me through them. I wanted to walk SO BADLY, but I didn't want to be the only one walking, and both of my friends were still running really strong. I felt those extra three miles pretty intensely at that point and had to push to keep up with them/maintain pace.

Overall, finishing 16 today felt no harder than the last couple of miles in the race last weekend. According to my Garmin, last weekend's average pace was 10:27 for the half-marathon (but my pace was all over the place from 9:29 to 11-something), and today's average pace was 10:27 as well (BUT a pretty consistent pace).

So, after three gentle miles on the treadmill, I ran the last 13 at race pace (unintentionally!). Both routes were hilly, but a big difference was last week involved 3 miles on gravel. I knew that took a lot out of me. But maybe I'm just that much stronger after last weekend. Doesn't every run make you stronger? I didn't expect 16 to feel like 13. I wonder how 18 will feel???

Body Check
Feet: Good. No blisters. One toenail is purple and lifted up. (I know what that means in the near future....)
Knees and legs: Sore. Steps are difficult. Right now I'm trapped in my bonus room.
Back: A little sore.
Mind/Heart/Spirit: Very good. I think I'm going to be a marathoner!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Fine Line...

I think there is a fine line between overtraining and undertraining and between rest and recovery and "active recovery."

When I look at plans other than my Smart Coach plan, I think I am undertraining mileage-wise. When I run out of steam in mile 8 in a half-marathon, I also think I am undertraining. However, those same plans emphasize the importance of rest days, active recovery, and cross training. It's hard to figure it all out.

This is a confusing week training-wise. After my hard effort (at least for the first 7 miles!) on Saturday, I'm technically supposed to take it easy for 13 days. The school of thought is one easy day for every mile raced. But do I have 13 days to spare? I don't think so! On Sunday, I took the day off. On Monday, I ran 3 very easy miles with still sore quads. Yesterday, I chose "active recovery" over rest and biked for 10 miles.

(It's actually a funny story. I was a spin-class dropout. I finally got my courage up to try spin, but had no idea about adjusting the seat height and tension and RPMs and such. The class wasn't for beginners-- it was called "spin endurance." That should have been my first clue! The teacher taught the class pretty much drill-sergeant-style. She was yelling orders left and right--it felt like mostly at me.

"Get your head up!!"
"DON'T lean on the handle bars!!"
"STOP BOUNCING! If you can bounce, you need to add more tension!!"
"STOP leaning on the handle bars!!"
"Bend your elbows, Fool!" (OK, she didn't really say fool, but she was thinking it.)

I can see how that toughness can be motivating, though. I just don't think I was ready for it! After I got to 10 miles, I got off my bike and waddled right out of there. I felt like a chump, but these legs are meant for running, and I knew I had a mid-length run on Wednesday. I'll be trying the "beginner spin" or "spin for dummies,"--whatever it's called--next time!)

Afterwards, I did abs and arms for about 20 minutes. But now today, I'm kind of tired. My legs are a little sore from my "recovery" day. Shoulders and chest, too. And I get to go run six miles in a few minutes.

I want to build endurance, but I don't want to be tired all the time. I guess sore muscles and fatigue ARE signs I'm stretching the limits of my body, so that's a good thing, right?

Like I said, it's a fine line......

Update: Two words: DEAD LEGS. I just eeked out 5 miles with dead legs. (I had run one extra on Monday, so running one less today will still allow my mileage to work out.) The first two miles were ok, but after that it was seriously slow going. I just had a protein shake and hope to rest up the rest of today and tomorrow for my long run on Friday. 16 miles. Scary.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Frostbite Half-Marathon Race Report

I had a good race overall. I'm not totally thrilled with my finish time, but I can't complain either. One huge difference from last October's half--I felt happy to be out running today. I didn't hate it or get mad at running (again) or say I was going to find a new sport (like last time). It just took it for what it was (difficult!) and was thankful to be out there.

First of all, the race course was much tougher than I expected. Then, as usual, I went out too fast. My first three miles were my fastest of the day at 9:30, 9:29, and 9:43/pace. I've got to figure out what to do with that adrenaline rush at the start and run the first two or three miles at a more reasonable pace for me! I always pay the price for those too-fast starts later in the race.

The first 6 or 7 miles were the best part of the course. There were a few gently rolling hills including one long downhill in mile 2. At the midway point of 6.55 miles, I was feeling good and on track for a 2:09 finish--a six-minute PR. I was rocking it and I knew it! Then the gravel road happened. Three miles of loosely packed gravel with LOTS of hills. Running uphill in gravel? Kind of tough. I slowed from a 9:30-:10:15 pace to an 11:15, 10:15, and finally, 11:49 pace on those three hard miles (including more walking than I want to admit). I was unable to rebound from the effort on the gravel, so my last few miles were all around 10:30/pace. I finished in 2:15:10, a 39-second PR. (But a PR nontheless!)
I had a few realizations today:

1. I should have started closer to a 10:15/pace for the first two miles at least.
2. I need to do more work on hills. I see one and give up and walk (especially in the last miles when I'm tired).
3. I need to do longer tempo runs at race pace.
4. The full marathon is going to be very, very.... VERY painful.
5. Strawberry Clif Shots taste like strawberry Pop Tarts. Just sayin.'

I have a PAVED, flat half in exactly one month. I have a sub-2:15 half-marathon in me, I KNOW I do! Maybe that will be the one. Today's run will help, next week's 16-miler will extend my endurance, and hopefully I can get in a few 8 or 9 mile tempo runs. I run out of steam in mile 8 every time.

After all, it's a journey, not a destination.

P. S. I ran/walked/hobbled a final mile to make it to 14 since my training plan called for it. Fourteen feels a lot like thirteen. Good to know.

P.S.S. There were NO port-o-potties on the course. My biggest victory of the day was running 14 miles without going to the bathroom. I have given birth three times, you know, so this was no small feat.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Zumba and Taper!

I guess I'm sort of tapering for Saturday's half-marathon. I ran 6 on Monday and 1.5 today before doing an hour of ZUMBA. Have you seen zumba? It's so much fun! I needed some fun today. Check this out (That's me in the front. Ok, not really.) Be sure to stay in for at least 42 seconds....

Zumba certainly uses muscles that running doesn't. There was lots of lateral movement, jumping, and more squats than I've ever done. I'm sure I looked a bit ridiculous. But I had fun. I hope I don't regret it tomorrow. My knees were feeling it a bit at the end.

I have a GOAL for my half-marathon on Saturday. It's a lofty goal---taking into account runs that have gone well lately and runs that have not (ok, ignoring the ones that have not....), but for some reason I'm cautious about posting it on here. Just in case. It's embarassing to have to come back later with my tail between my legs.

There are two big differences in this half-marathon and the last: this one has 3 miles that are on gravel (and I've never run more than one mile on gravel) and my longest run was only 12 miles. For the last one, I ran two 13-mile training runs prior to the half-marathon at 4 and 2 weeks out.

I guess a third difference is that I don't feel like there's as much pressure for this race. In many ways, it's just a training run for the marathon. It's not THE FOCUS RACE. And if I don't make my time goal, I've got another half-marathon in exactly a month. Maybe going into a race with little or no pressure is the way to go?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coach Runnermom?

I just signed up for something cool--- the Road Runner Clubs of America Coaching Certification class! It's a two-day, sixteen hour, all-about-running seminar. From their website:

The RRCA Coaching Certification program seeks to provide trained individuals to work with adult road runners at all levels, beginner to advanced. The RRCA program focuses on issues specific to adult road running and racing, including coaching fundamentals, scientific background and the establishment of training schedules and goals to help athletes reach their running potential. Whether the goals are race specific or general fitness, this program will provide the background and training to work with individual runners.

Typically, I'm more the "be coached" type than the "coach," but I see this as an amazing opportunity to learn more about running--even if I never coach anyone. I really enjoy going to school, taking classes-- I LIVE TO LEARN. Plus, I LOVE to talk to people about running/getting started, I was a teacher in my former life, and I love to run (most days), so it seems like a good fit.

Maybe someday I'll lead a Couch to 5K group. There's nothing like those first few months of running, stumbling along.... learning what you are made of... and then you pin that race bib on and you are CHANGED. Or at least I was.

Sunrise Saturday

One of my running friends really, really wanted to run at 6:40 a.m. this morning. I tried reasoning with her, but she was pretty adamant. "Get your run over with." "You'll have the rest of your day to do whatever you want." "Once you get up and get out there, you'll be fine." "It'll be warm at 6:40 and might get hot later in the day" (we are having 60 degree weather---weird!)." I finally gave in. But I wasn't happy about it.

It actually worked out ok. I went to bed at 9:00 p.m. on Friday evening (so sad). I woke up before my 5:30 alarm at 5:08 a.m. feeling well-rested for once. I like it when that happens, and I'm not jolted out of a deep sleep by the alarm. That just makes me mad. I'm not one who can roll out of bed and just hit the road. I have to have coffee, breakfast, take care of, um, other business. I need an HOUR.
The house was quiet and I had my coffee and breakfast and read the paper in complete peace and silence (rare!). It was a little dark when my friend picked me up, and we watched the sun rise on the way to meet our running partners. Seeing a Saturday morning sunrise--even rarer!

We settled into our little pace groups after the first mile. There was the fast group, and there was me and my friend. It's ok. We've come to accept it. :-)

We did 5 miles at a peppy 9:29 pace, so I was pretty happy. I got home and took a shower and actually didn't miss my daughter cheerleading this week. I was glad because they performed a half-time dance for the first time. So fun!

Ok, I guess I do technically have the rest of my day ahead of me..... but I don't plan to run before 8:00 a.m. for a while!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Shoe Quest Continues and I Found My Mojo

I got the new shoes I had ordered from Road Runner Sports, ripped open the bag, excitedly placed them on my feet, jogged around my kitchen.... and they are going back. Both pairs. I tried on the Asics 2140's and they hurt-- actually hurt. They pinched around my Achilles. The 2130's don't do that. The Brooks Adrenaline were, well, ugly. They were red and rather dark gray with these glaring white shoelaces that looked totally out of place. I simply cannot run in ugly shoes. Oh, and wearing them around the house made my right foot hurt just a bit, too. (I'm sorry if you run in the new Brooks Adrenalines and I just insulted you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think it was the shoe strings anyway.)

So, the quest continues. Next, I think I will try the Mizuno Wave Nirvana and Asics Gel Kayano. Unfortunately, each of those comes with a $140 price tag instead of my usual $85 to $90. But they are both "stability plus" shoes for runners who overpronate and run more than 25 miles a week. I haven't had a 25+ week YET, but I know it's coming. They have more cushioning than a regular stability shoe. I guess if they soften impact and give me less knee and ankle pain, they are priceless.

I am no longer mad at running. We made our peace sometime yesterday on my Day of No Exercise. Today, I didn't totally dread my 2 miles on the treadmill. I even did some speed play on the last one. With some encouragement from the fellow runner on the machine next to me, I managed to finish that speedy mile strong at an 8:20 pace (7.2 mph) for the last tenth of a mile. That felt great. I'd never ventured above 7 mph.

I'm even looking forward to my next two runs. Tomorrow, I'm meeting my old training buddy from last spring for five easy miles. We haven't run together much lately, and I'm excited about catching up. Then on Saturday morning, I'm doing five more miles with a new running buddy at a challenging pace.

I think my shorter runs this week did so much for me mentally. I'll be ready to run long again next Saturday when I'm doing the Frostbite Half-Marathon in Lebanon, Tennessee (plus one mile for 14 miles). It's at a state park and 3 of the miles are apparently off road. Cool. I'll be ready.

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Shoes To the Rescue.....

First, THANK YOU ALL for the encouragement. I'm not quitting. My spirit was bent a little, but not broken. This quote I saw on The Meaning of Stonehenge was also encouraging:

Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they can go. -T.S. Eliot

I'll just see how far I can go!

After that horrible run the other day, I checked out the tread on my shoes. It's really worn down in places. I was conscious today as I wore my running shoes around that they've definitely lost some of their spring. I did a little research (by reading my archives), and I've had those shoes since July. The life-span of a running shoe is 300-500 miles, and mine seem to peter out closer to 300. It may be because I do most of my miles on the road or on concrete. These have somewhere between 300-400 miles in my estimation.

So, I got on Road Runner Sports and ordered not one, but TWO new pairs of shoes. I ordered the Brooks Adrenaline and the Asics 2140's. I currently run in Asics 2130's for stability, but I've had my first blisters in these shoes and even have developed a corn-type thing on the top of one toe. (It's lovely.) Clearly they are rubbing in some of the wrong places.

I've never tried on the 2140's or the Adrenaline, but at RRS, you can try a shoe for 30 days---and I am running 70+ miles a month--- and send them back if you are not satisfied. I'll just try both and only keep the ones I like.

New shoes make EVERYTHING better. Seriously, I feel better already.

I'm also making one other significant change in future runs---I'm going to drink Accelerade or Cytomax before, during, and after the run. I had forgotten I drank Accelerade when training for my half last spring, and it really helped. It is supposed to increase endurance and also aid in muscle recovery. I drank it throughout the Country Music Half-Marathon last year and I felt awesome during and after, and that race was way hillier than what I ran this weekend. I know I need to avoid mixing it with GU's, so I'll carry water in one of my hydration flasks and Accelerade or Cytomax in the other. The CMM switched to Cytomax this year, and I know I'd better make sure it works for me BEFORE marathon day.

I may look into some Gu Roctane (caffeinated Gu), too. It's got a cool name anyway.

Today, I just couldn't bring myself to run. I'm still mad at running. So, I biked 8 miles at the Y (didn't even break a sweat---probably should have gone faster or used more than 3 resistance), but hopefully it helped get rid of some of the soreness that was still lingering in my quads. My legs just feel kind of dead. I'll try to get in 4 or 5 easy miles tomorrow...... maybe.