Friday, October 30, 2009

The Crave

Something new is going on with my running. I've been on a five-day-a-week running program for 14 weeks now. I never thought I'd be more than a 3-days-a-weeker, or maybe a 4-days-a-weeker when training for a specific race, but I'm really getting into running 5 times a week. Sometimes I wish I were running on that 6th day!

If I haven't run, I crave putting on my shoes and heading out the door. Even if I only run 2 or 3 miles, the need to run is firmly entrenched into my being. (When did it become a need?) I know running is a healthy addiction when not taken to extremes, so I guess it's ok. (Some might say that running 5 days a week and training for a marathon ARE extreme.... but I digress.)

Some runs are better than others. Some feel free and easy and even joyful, while others are difficult and painful and make me question why I do this. But I guess even a bad run is better than no run at all....

Speaking of "no run at all," I visited a podiatrist this week who prescribed a 10-day hiatus from running. On my 18 miler two weeks ago, either my right shoe was too tightly laced or my foot swelled from all the pounding, but I developed a painful area on top of my foot. I babied it (and everything else) with a light week of running the following week in preparation for my 20-miler on Saturday. The foot was fine (in different shoes) until mile 13, and at that point, the tongue rubbing on the top of my foot became so painful, I seriously considered taking my shoe off and finishing in just my socks. (But it was my expensive Ininji toe socks, and I think I paid like $18 bucks for them, so I kept my shoes on.)

I took Sunday off and on Monday tried to put on my running shoes. Ouch. I couldn't even walk in them. I decided I'd better call in an expert. A local podiatrist had a cancellation and could see me that morning. I was thinking stress fracture.

However, an x-ray of that foot was clear and he diagnosed tendonitis or inflammation in the soft tissue on top of my foot. (It's very subjective, this podiatry thing.) He told me to take 10 DAYS OFF from running and to avoid wearing shoes that aggravated the condition. Here I am 5 weeks from the full marathon and 2 weeks from the half. TEN days off? I got my anti-inflammatory meds filled (both oral and a gel) and rested my foot for all of ...... Monday.

Since I'd just read Born to Run about a tribe of barefoot running people, on Tuesday I decided to give a quick shoeless run a try. After only ONE DAY OFF, I was jonesin' for a run. I ran an easy 1 mile in my sock feet completely pain-free, then went to the Y and rode a bike for 8 miles. I wore my running shoes to the Y, I just unlaced the first two eyes on the shoe. (Thank you for that idea, Runners' World message board, where someone has experienced every injury out there!)

On Wednesday, since the shoes had felt fine the day before and I was still pain-free, I went on a 3.5 mile run. On Thursday, I ran 4---two on the treadmill without shoes and two with. Today, my feet hurt slightly on the bottoms (apparently this barefoot running thing takes some getting used to) during my 2.5 mile run.

So, rather than OFF, I took it EASY.

It was weird. It was like the doctor was asking me to stop breathing or something.

I know I *should* listen to the doctor, but this time, I listened to my body instead. Mistake #1 was panicking and rushing off to the doctor instead of giving it a couple of days' rest myself.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seriously???

Wow, 20-milers suuuuuuuuuucccccckkkkk. Or at least mine did today. It may have been worse than the one I did last spring on the same route. Just like last time, miles 14-20 were brutal. But in terms of physical pain, it was worse this time. My ankles. My knees. My right foot. My hips.

I realize that the hilly course I did the two terrible 20's on is probably not the best course for a 20-miler. One of the training books I read says that you should avoid a hilly course for the long runs. Hills on medium and short runs are great. I'm not training for a particularly hilly race anyway.

Running that half-marathon 6 days ago HARD was probably a mistake. (A personal record-breaking mistake, but a mistake still.) And running the 5 extra miles probably wasn't my smartest move, either. It left me pretty beaten down for my 20 today. My mileage for the week was a ridiculous 49 miles, technically. It just happened that 2 long runs fell within 7 days.

Anyway, I got them done. I just hope there isn't any permanent damage. It's a little late to get stupid about my training!

Do I REALLY have to do another 20-miler in 3 weeks? Seriously??

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How I Spent My 5.5 Mile Run Today

I was not feeling really motivated to run this morning despite the nice weather. I'm still recovering from my 18-miler and race on Sunday, and I knew I'd better take it slow and easy. So, I....
  • Walked. Alot.
  • Took one phone call.
  • Sent 3 text messages.
  • Stopped to sign a petition to stop the local post office from being closed down
  • Admired my neighbors' Halloween decorations
  • Tried my best to catch some falling leaves (unsuccessfully)
  • Wrote this post in my mind
  • Planned a Turkey Day 5K for my neighborhood or my running club--don't know which
  • Just enjoyed the feeling of freedom
It was a good run.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coach Thyself--Half-Marathon Race Report

I coached myself to a new half-marathon PR today in the Music City Half-Marathon! 2:09:44 (That was for 13.23. I was around 2:09 at 13.1, but the course was a little long or I didn't run on the tangent.) I was 8th out of 23 in my age group.

I didn't train for this race, per se. It just happened to be in the middle of marathon training. This high-mileage, easy pace training REALLY works. I'm logging between 30 and 36 miles per week, mostly at an easy, conversational pace. A few intervals with my half-marathon group a couple of times and one tempo run is what my speed work has consisted of over the last few months. I didn't taper. I actually had to run 18 miles this week, including 4 miles the day before the race with my training groups! (What could I have done if I were actually rested???)

I didn't think I'd be a convert to high-mileage training, but it is really improving my cardiovascular system, lactate threshold, and VO2 max. Those improvements were enough to knock nearly 2 minutes off my time from March on this same course (2:11:41).

The race itself was great. I slowly jogged a mile before the race began because the training schedule called for 18 miles and I needed to warm up anyway. It was sunny and about 38 degrees at the start. I hoped to keep the pace between 9:50 and 10:10/pace. At the end of mile 1, I thought I might be having a good day. (And I realized that I had overdressed for the temps in a long-sleeved technical tee and technical lightweight jacket over it.) By the end of mile 2, I was fairly certain it was going to be a good day. My first two miles were a 9:50 pace and 9:49 pace, right on target. I had planned to walk through the 4 water stops, but I decided to keep going at the first one and jogged/drank/spilled through the stop at 2.8 miles.

Around miles 3 and 4, I was feeling really good at a 9:45 pace, which is unusual for me. In the past, that was my lactate threshold--- if I were running faster than 9:45, I knew lactic acid would build up in my legs later in the race (at miles 8+) and I'd be wanting to walk. But today, 9:45 felt right. The negative splits continued (to my dismay--I still a little worried in the back of my mind I was going out too fast) with a 9:47 mile, 9:40 mile and 9:41 mile. Miles 4 and 5 would be my fastest of the day.

I finally reigned in the adrenaline a little and starting logging 9:45-9:59 paces, including walking for 5-10 seconds through 3 water stops--the only walking for the race. I took gels at miles 5 and 9 DRY, which I know is "against the rules," but there were no water stops there. (Note to self: memorize where water stops are and plan accordingly.)

Eight miles is often a turning point in a half-marathon for me. In my first half-marathon a year and a half ago, I felt good at 8 miles with proper pacing and lots of Accelerade, which really works for me, and had a great race. In the last 3 half-marathons, the 8-mile mark was when things started going down hill. But, suddenly, I was at the 9-mile mark, then the 10, and my miles were all still coming in under a 10-minute pace. I was running consistently. Yes, I had to work harder in miles 10, 11, 12, and 13, but I maintained a sub 10-minute pace. Mile 12 was my slowest at 9:59 pace. Mile 10 came in at a happy 9:47 and mile 13 was a 9:48 pace! Then I was at 13, then 13.1, then 13.2......

I knew the distance would be off because the last time I ran the course, it was longer than 13.1 due to winding paths with runners coming at you---so you have to run on the edge rather than the middle, which would be the shortest distance at which the course is measured. My chip time comes to a 9:55/average pace (but that's averaging me for 13.1 miles when I ran an extra .12 for a total of 13.23 if my Garmin is correct), but my Garmin clocked me at a 9:49 pace. That makes more sense considering my splits. I only had 3 miles above 9:55/pace and several in the 9:40's.

It helped that the course was almost completely flat. There were maybe 2 gentle inclines and one small hill.

Afterwards, I realized that my biceps hurt so much. I must have been clenching my fists and really holding my arms flexed for the entire 13 miles! I feel like I did a hundred bicep curls! And a pretty hard effort for 13 miles left me with achy knees and lower back and a tingly piriformis and a few other ailments. Sports massage, anyone? Then my husband met me for a PAINFUL 4 more miles to get me to 18. I walked all of the last mile and a lot of the other 3, but I'm at 18 for the day and 36 for the week. Ouch.

Splits and such:
Mile 1 9:50
Mile 2 9:49
Mile 3 9:47
Mile 4 9:40
Mile 5 9:41
Mile 6 9:52
Mile 7 9:49
Mile 8 9:58
Mile 9 9:50
Mile 10 9:47
Mile 11 9:57
Mile 12 9:59
Mile 13 9:48 2:07:47 at 13 miles....might have sneaked in under 2:09 for 13.11. I can usually finish the .11 in about a minute. Wish I'd glanced at my Garmin!
Mile .23 8:52/pace

13.23 miles 9:49 average pace. It was a GOOD day. By the way, my A. goal (best case scenario) was 2:10. And I beat THAT.

Monday, October 12, 2009

And Then When It All Falls Apart....

Nothing makes you appreciate the great runs like a REALLY, REALLY BAD one. (Did I mention it was REALLY bad?) I knew the minute I titled last weeks' post "When Things Come Together" that today's title was in my near future. That's just how the runner's life works.

Everything fell apart on Saturday's 12-miler that wound up being 13 miles. It was pathetic. After 5.5 miles, I took walk breaks CONSTANTLY. My hips hurt. My knees hurt. I was nauseated. I was exhausted. (And I didn't even go out too fast or anything.) I had a bad attitude. I guess it was good for my training group to see that everyone has a bad day from time to time. (Many of them ROCKED their first 12-mile run! I was so happy for them despite my own misery!)

I have many REASONS/EXCUSES as to why the run was so bad:
  • First, I set myself up for failure by running stupidly all week. By "stupidly," I mean I did speed intervals with people from my training groups on Monday and Wednesday, then a tempo run on Thursday. Instead of taking a rest day on Friday, I ran 2.5 more miles. Oh, and to add a dash of crazy in there, I did all those runs in OLD shoes. In an effort to save money, I decided to save my good shoes for the marathon and do my training runs in my old shoes. I need to just pay the $85 that Road Runner Sports has my New Balance 1225's on sale for!
  • I also got lazy with my diet this week. I skimped on protein and iron and fresh produce. I ate junk.
  • I forgot to make sleep a priority and fell into my old habit of staying up too late.
  • It was a SERIOUSLY hilly course. Up and down. Up and down. For 13 miles.
  • I got a flu shot on Friday. Could that have anything to do with it?
After finishing the first 11 miles, I went back out to find the last few runners from my group to make sure they were ok. (Everyone else had finished.) I continued to run/walk. I found the last runner 1 mile out and ran her in, which is how my 12 became 13. Twelve horrible miles, thirteen horrible miles---what's the difference?

By the end I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Definitely flu-ish, but it's hard to go to the doctor and say, "I'm having body aches. Oh, incidentally, I ran 13 miles before I came here." So I went home and climbed under the covers. After an hour of rest, I still felt pretty bad.

I developed a terrible headache and noticed my upper teeth hurt as I was eating lunch and dinner. Finally, at 7:00 p.m., I went to the doctor. Turns out I had a sinus infection. I got some Augmentin, and I feel much better.

So, what caused the REALLY, REALLY bad run? Probably a number of things. Hopefully the next long one will go better----especially since it's the Music City Half Marathon next Sunday!

I was going to treat it like a training run and do 3 before and 4 after for my first 20-miler. However, now I think I'm going to run 1 mile before to warm up, 13 during, and 4 after for a total of 18 instead of 20. That's going to put me down to only 2 20's before the marathon (instead of the 3 I'd planned), but I'm ok with that. I'd rather be able to run the race as a RACE than a training run since I paid $50!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When It All Comes Together

Wow. My 18-mile run yesterday was AWESOME. Pace? 11:00 min/mile average including bathroom stop, refilling water bottle, and gelling. Walk breaks? Very few and far between. Maybe 4. My last mile? 10:20 pace. For. Mile. 18. Unbelievable.

The Tylenol at mile 8 helped. My left knee was a bit achy. My hips didn't hurt at all this time. At the end, nothing hurt (other than the knee) as compared to the end of 16 last week. The gummie bears I munched on during miles 10-12 gave me a little boost. The 1/2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich at mile 13 made a difference, too. The good company of the 4 other runners I talked to during the middle 10 miles kept things interesting.

I had been dreading this 18. I thought about just doing 16. But for now, everyone in my house is healthy. I can't count on that every weekend between now and December 5. So, I figured I had better get the 18 miles done while I could.