Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lessons Learned from CMHM

"The five S's of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit." - Ken Doherty.

I'm so glad I'm not mad at running after my sub-par performance in the half on Saturday. I'm mad at myself because I KNOW BETTER than to start out too fast like that and I know how my body responds to heat and humidity--it slows down! Plus, did the two or three weeks of bad runs prior to the race not give me a clue that I was going to have to take it slower than I'd like to?

Some lessons I've learned from this experience (because if you don't learn from your mistakes, what's the point??)

1. Run one race at a time. Don't focus on past experiences--- you have to run the course you're on, in the conditions you are dealt, at your level of fitness that day.

2. Listen to your body. At mile 6.8, I got lightheaded and a little dizzy. That is when I really let go of expectations and dialed it back. Last year someone died on the course on a hot day. I didn't want to take any chances. Before that point in the race, I was pushing along even though I wasn't feeling it. I was checking every split on my watch and berating myself when the mile 4 and 5 splits were too slow. After mile 5, I never looked at another split. I did, however, see at least 6 people on stretchers or receiving medical help.

3. You can still be excited about running even after a bad race. YAY! Especially when you just got new shoes. I'm looking forward to a 5K in a week and my next half-marathon!

4. Everyone has bad days. I saw an interview with elite Deena Kastor on www.Runnersworld.com from this Sunday's London Marathon and she had a terrible day, too. It said,

"Kastor's 18th place 2:36:20 at the Virgin London Marathon was the slowest 26.2-miler she'd ever completed.... "I did not have it today and I have no idea why." I feel ya, Deena! And yes, that makes me feel better. (Even thought her MARATHON time is only 15-16 minutes off my half-marathon time!)

5. It's all relative. I still finished in the top half of Country Music Half-Marathon finishers and the top 1/3 of women. (Lots of walkers, apparently!) My half-marathon times now range from 2:09:41 to 2:20:56. That's not a huge range. I was only about 10 minutes off my game on the most difficult half-marathon course I've ever run on a very humid day. (When I ran it 2 years ago as my first half, it was easier. They changed it to make it more scenic, adding about 3 more hills at the beginning.)

6. Running in the middle of the pack doesn't make me less of a coach. I think coaching is more about being an encourager, a teacher, and knowledgeable on how to take a runner from point A. to point B. It's not about being the fastest runner. I teach beginners who need the structure of a training group and a training schedule, not an elite racing team. That would require a different kind of coach!

Ok, I'm done wallowing and with all the self-analysis! Is it just me, or is this how everyone works through a bad race??? :-)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Outrunning the Storm: Race Report

Today's Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon was fraught with weather drama! All week we'd been warned about possible thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes on race day. Yesterday, they decided to limit the marathon to a 4:30 finish because the storms were supposed to move in during the early afternoon. Glad I wasn't doing the full!

I awoke to pouring rain and lightning at 4:00 a.m. My husband and I got in the car at 4:45 a.m. and left my mom and our 3 kids sleeping at home. About 5:15 a.m., a loud clap of lightning woke up the kids and sent them scurrying to find Grandma, and then high winds picked up and it began to hail! (My mom took all 3 into the basement.) Somehow, my husband and I missed all that while on the road to Nashville.

During the 45 minute trip, we made a quick pit stop at a service station and there was so much lightning that I thought, "Am I really going to do this?" It was pouring big, fat, hard drops of rain.

This year, despite road closures for the 32,000 runners, my husband somehow dropped us off directly at the start. Last year before running 26.2, I had to walk a mile to the start. Surprisingly, at the start, it wasn't raining at all and the sun actually came out! I was the first of the training group to arrive, and pretty soon we had about 9 of our people there. We had a group prayer and all went off toward our corrals. Unbeknownst to us, they had decided to start the race 15 minutes early-- at 6:45, so we jumped into our corral just in time.

Two of the gals from the group and I started strong--too strong for me! I ran a 9:50 first mile. That is about what I did in my PR race in October, so I thought it might be ok. (However--big difference--that was a flat course and it was in the 40's!) We got separated at a water stop early on and mile 2 came out at a 9:29 pace for me---way faster than it should have been. It was the fastest mile of the day. I had one more fast mile in the 9:30's and then the hills and too-fast start caught up to me. On an extremely hilly course and with high humidity and upper 60's temps, it just wasn't my day to be running fast.

The rest of the race I struggled. My heart wasn't in it. I really wished I had someone to talk to. I got slower and slower! I let go of any finish expecations and decided to just get. it. done. Preferably, ahead of the tornado!

I finished and it was my 7th slowest half-marathon. Out of seven--aka personal worst by a minute and a half. Nary a drop of rain fell on my head the entire race, other than the 3 water cups I poured on there to cool off. It wasn't as hot as last year, but it was still too hot for my taste.

I hung out for a while and tried to watch for some of my training group at the mile 13 mile marker. I saw only one. Then the rain and lightning I was trying to out run came and hubby and I headed to the car. I felt so bad for the marathoners today. The race was cancelled early. My friend made it to mile 21 and had to stop. Soooo close. But the area was under a tornado watch and there was severe lightning on the course, it was the safest decision.

I am ready for my DISTANCE BREAK. My body is talking to me and telling me I need it! I'll rest up and race smarter on September 25! I think I left it all out on the course in the Birmingham Marathon on Feb. 14, only 9 weeks ago. Perhaps I should go back there and get it?

P.S. I actually ran the first 13.1 miles of the Birmingham Marathon faster than I did the 13.1 today! And still held on for 13.1 more!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Getting Ready for Country Music Half!

I finally registered for the Country Music Half Marathon a day before pre-registration closed! I had a pretty good 12-miler on Saturday. Now, I'm just trying to train a little and rest a lot before Saturday's HILLY half. It's not a PR course, but hopefully I can beat my previous time on this course from two years ago.

I'm so glad I decided to run! It means a lot to be there to share that day with my YMCA training group and my running club. Plus, I always say the half-marathon is my favorite distance! This will be my first 1/2 of 2010 and my 7th in all. Maybe I have found my distance.

I'm still hoping to have the SUMMER OF SPEED in which I focus on faster, not longer. I will do a 5K a couple of weeks after the half and a 10K in June. Then another end-of-summer 5K to see if there's any progress. I'm also trying to organize a BIKE AND HIKE biathlon (or is it duathlon?) for my running club for July. It's an 8-mile bike ride, then a 6 mile trail run--sounds fun, no?

I'm off to spend a little quality time with Jon Bon Jovi tomorrow night. Oh, and my husband. We are having a major date night---dinner in Nashville, concert, hotel stay. Hopefully, it won't be too late of a night just 3 nights pre-race. It's nice that we can walk to the hotel from the concert. Since I'm in Nashville anyway, I'll visit the Country Music expo on Thursday morning to get my race packet.

Then this Sunday is a BIG DAY in our family's life. My older daughter is getting baptized! We have lots of friends and family coming to share this event with us.

Overall, I believe it's going to be a good week!

I'll be back with a race report hopefully Saturday!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Surprising Oneself....

I always like it when I surprise myself! Two surprises came up in the last 24 hours.

Number 1: I enjoy cycling! I've had a bike for about 13 years. It's actually a decent Scott hybrid I got for $25 out of an ad in the paper. I road it approximately 3 times before having children (my oldest is 9 and a half) and have ridden it approximately 3 times since then. :-)

Today was the first time that cycling was AWESOME! My husband actually stayed home from work to hang out with me. We only had three kid-free hours while the little one was at preschool. We decided to load up our bikes and drive down to a 4-mile paved bike trail in the woods, the same trail where I'm doing my 12-mile run in the morning. When we got there, I convinced him to go on the OTHER side of the trail--the 3-mile dirt and gravel side. It was such an adventure zooming down this gravel trail on my bike. I was pedaling sort of aggressively and it was just so DIFFERENT from running. It was exhilarating!

I'm apparently not exactly good at it yet though. I nearly went over the handle bars on a surprise steep downhill with a sharp turn at the bottom in loose gravel. I was using the front brakes. (Note to self--don't do that!) I hit a large rock and my top and bottom teeth clanked together. I didn't see a low hanging branch because I was watching for rocks and roots, and it hit me in the head. But it was all in fun!

We didn't know where the trail ended, so we just rode. I wasn't wearing a Garmin and have no idea how fast I bike so we didn't know where we were in three miles. It was just freedom. At one point the gravel trail turned into a narrow dirt path with tall grass on each side. Finally, it ran out at a campground by the river. We parked the bikes and sat on a bench overlooking the sparkling water before the 3 mile return trip. I learned today that there is other fun to be had besides running (or spinning in a dark room, going no where, listening to too-loud music while an instructor yells at you). Next time I go off road on a bike though..... I'll wear bike shorts!

Number 2: I think I've talked myself into doing the Country Music Half Marathon next weekend. I was going to take a little break from distance running, but I suppose I can postpone that for one more week! Reasons: I made enough in trainer fees these last two weeks to pay the way-too-steep $105 race fee. Weather forecast is looking about 20 degrees cooler than last year. I've put in all the training including a 10-miler, a couple of 11's, and a 12 (well, I will tomorrow). It's the single biggest running event in my area. I want to be there at the end to see how all the runners I've trained do (if I can find them among the 30,000 other people). My buddy I met during last year's marathon (and ran the last 12 miles with) wants to meet up and run with me again (we have kept in touch via Facebook). Lots of GOOD REASONS.

Yes, it will be hilly. No, I won't PR. No, I didn't do as much speedwork as I could have, but I did do lots of hills. Yes, the price stinks, but at least the shirt will be technical and the medals are typically good.

Letting go of expectations and just running it for fun will be a good learning experience for me. The Country Music Half Marathon two years ago was my introduction into distance running, something I've come to LOVE and that is a huge part of who I am.

I'd hate to miss out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Change Is in the Air and Girl Issues

I'm excited about some upcoming changes in my running schedule. After Saturday, I'll be able to leave behind the long runs for a while. (Saturday is my training group's longest run and last run--a 12-miler.) Throughout the summer, I plan to run an 8-miler twice a month, but otherwise, I hope to do short and fast runs. My body is so used to the long and slow runs, it probably won't know what hit it! I know it's important to not get in a rut and do the same thing month after month. My long runs started in August of last year and have continued for-e-ver it feels like, so I'm very much looking forward to relatively low mileage and short runs for all of May and June. I'm thinking 15-20 miles per week-- just 3 runs per week. I want to cross train for at least an hour at least one more day per week and continue with strength training. I want to take some classes like Pilates, zumba, yoga, and spin to mix things up. I've been in the all-running, all-the-time mode for too long!

In the spirit of change, I'm giving new shoes a try. I found a "performance stability" category on http://www.roadrunnersports.com/ and ordered some Nike Lunar Elites. No one I know runs in these, but they got rave reviews from several runners. They are lightweight and I'm looking for a less "clunky" feel than I'm getting from my Asics Kayanos. Just for comparison, I ordered the Brooks Launch, another performance shoe comparable to the Nike Free. They are really flexible and the heel isn't built up a mile high like the Kayanos. This type of shoe isn't going to necessarily be for marathon-training length runs next fall (I'm thinking about the Rocket City Marathon in December!), but it is more of a tempo run/racing flat kind of shoe.

I'm looking for a new "spring in my step." I think the technical term is ENERGY RETURN. I want shoes that do that. These are also a part of the movement toward less shoe, stronger feet, fewer injuries. (Not that I'm plagued with injuries.) Lately, the bottoms of my feet hurt. I think it might be time for new shoes anyway. The great thing about Road Runner Sports is I can run in them for 60 days and then return them if they don't work out. NO ONE else I know of does that!

On to the GIRL ISSUES: (stop reading if you are not a girl)
I have two other new products that have me excited about summer running. New bras! I have been running in C9 from Target sports bras. A problem with Target sports bras and very thin, lightweight running shirts is the headlights issue. It's just embarassing. You are sweaty, the wind blows, you get a chill.... and you know where the story goes from here. So, I finally broke down and bought two much pricier bras with built-in boobs, I mean cups. What a difference.
That's actually me. (Just kidding.) I bought the Moving Comfort Vixen in white from our local running store and a Champion one in black at Kohls. Small problem with the black one...
I wore it yesterday without washing it. I had on a cute orange Nike Fit Dry tank over it. I went on a hot 4-mile run from the Y and came back soaked in sweat. People kept looking at me funny as I went over to the weights area to do a few pull ups and triceps dips. When I looked in the mirror---gasp! The black bra had gotten sweaty and black dye had come through the orange shirt and I had two large black boob stains on the front of my shirt. Nice.
Maybe headlights aren't so bad.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Race Report--Dairy Dash 10K

Dairy Dash 10K Race Report: 59:57, 9:35/pace average on Garmin

I went out too fast. Mile 1 was 9:16 pace. Should have run closer to 9:25 or 9:30 for that. Mile 2 was 9:30, Mile 3 was 9:26, Mile 4 was 9:43, Mile 5 was 10:01 (???), Mile 6 was 9:37, .25 (race was a little long from ziz-zagging around walkers) was 9:15--- not much of a surge in that last .25!

It was not a fun race for me. It was a hard effort to run in the 9:30 range with the mid-60's temps. I had hoped to average under 9:30. Course was mostly flat except for one hill and there was a 1/2 mile segment off road in loose gravel.

My last 10K was a 9:23 pace with a few rolling hills for a 58:23 finish a year and a half ago. I was a minute and a half slower today. I guess 7 weeks post-marathon, I'm not totally recovered. OR all these 10-minute miles I'm running don't translate well into the race times I want! My legs never really felt energetic and springy today.

I didn't know at the time that I was going out too fast. I thought 9:16 might be a good 10K goal pace, but I do know to EASE into race pace. I just didn't! If I had gone out 10-15 seconds easier in mile one, I think I could have avoided the dreaded 10-minute mile in mile 5 when the accumulation of lactic acid caught up with me!

Oh well, sometimes it's your day and sometimes it isn't! On to my next race.... a 5K on May 8! And I will be running some 9 minute miles these next three weeks!

The COOLEST THING about the May 8 race is my mom is going to walk it. She's about to turn 62 and she's doing her very first 5K. She's training and everything! She walked 2 miles a day every day this week. I can't wait to see her cross the finish line!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

Spring race season is upon us! Tomorrow I'm running the first of several races for the spring/summer season. It's the Purity Moosic City Dairy Dash 10K in Nashville. I had planned to kind of run it for fun, no stress, maybe even... (gasp!) no Garmin, but I think I owe it to myself to see what I can do.

I'm still waffling on the Country Music Half Marathon in two weeks. I am struggling with the $105 price tag! Plus, I've already done the half and the full, so going back to the half this year seems.... somehow anticlimactic. After that, there are a couple of 5K's and a 10K before the season comes to an end.

I found out this week that Women's Running magazine is putting on a women's half marathon in Nashville on September 25, just a week after my 40th birthday. As one of the first 250 women registered, I got the special price of $50. That was pretty awesome. I've never competed in an all women's event. I'm looking forward to the women's fitted shirts and the medal on a hot pink ribbon with a removable charm, but mostly the comraderie of like-minded gals!

I plan to make a shirt that says 40 is fabulous or some other cute slogan. (I'm open to suggestions!) I may even run in a birthday girl tiara. Doesn't that sound fun?

I'll post a race report after tomorrow's 10K. I'm strangely nervous!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Kung Fu Is Weak

Running just hasn't been going well for me the past seven days, so to borrow a phrase from my bloggy/real-life friend Joel, my kung fu has been weak.

It started with allergies and antihistimines and decongestants. I forgot how difficult those medicines make running! Then the heat wave hit. We've had upper 70's and 80's (89 yesterday!) for about a week. It is like running through sludge. Breathing is labored, and it takes intense effort to get below a 10-minute mile. Now that I mentioned it, I don't think I have actually run a mile under a 10-minute pace in the last week!

I know I will adapt to warm weather running again. Last night in my running class, we just ran slow and easy on a not-too-hilly course. No Monday night hillwork, no speed work, just a slow, enjoyable run. It was 86 when we started, but there was a nice breeze. Apparently if you run above an 11-minute pace, the heat isn't so bad!

Yuck--I feel like I was just making progress at running sub-10-minute miles as my "regular," comfortable pace.

Last Saturday I made a big mistake with my training group, and I hope they will forgive me. We are training for a hilly race, and I planned a hilly 11-miler. Actually, I didn't think the run would be THAT hilly. We were running a 2.6 mile greenway with 2 huge hills coming and going. Well, by the time we did that twice, that is 8 huge hills! I advised them to walk up the hills, but I probably should have asked them to walk down, too. I think it was the downhills that got our toenails. Three of us (at least) now have one or more bruised toenails. Running steep downhills makes your foot slide forward and pound into the toe of your shoe, even when they are plenty big! I didn't have any sore nails in 26.2 a couple of months ago, but that darn 11-miler left me with two!

So, just in time for summer, I'll lose the 2nd toenails AGAIN. (I think you are more prone to that if your 2nd toe is longer than your big one.) Last summer, I sported only 6 nails, having lost the big ones AND the second ones in the April full marathon. It doesn't make for pretty feet, but WHO AM I KIDDING? They weren't that pretty before, either!

My toenails hurt when I walk, wear socks, or the covers touch them in bed--that's how sore they are. It almost feels like the toes are broken! I hope the soreness goes away soon because IT'S GO TIME!

I have a RACE this Saturday. I used to be a race-once-a-month kind of gal, but now I pick and choose. I have chosen a 10K since I haven't run one since October of 2008. At that time, I was being paced by a fast friend and didn't have sore feet, so I pulled out an unexpected 9:23 pace for 6 miles. How did I do that? Two marathons and four half-marathons later, I'm just not sure I've got a 9:23 in me. Maybe I can blame the toenails. :-)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bandwagon Jumping

I'm apparently a sucker for a hard sell. A week ago, I went to a running seminar put on by a representative from Newton shoes. If you don't know about Newtons, they are "the next big thing" in running. Allegedly. They are part of the movement toward less shoe, more natural barefoot-style running. The rep talked about Born to Run and Chi Running. He made us take our shoes and socks off and experience the floor in our bare feet. He explained that mid-foot striking is the WAY TO GO in terms of running. He even called them "PR Shoes." So what did I do? I bought a pair, of course. It wasn't that I needed new shoes. I think my Asics Kayanos have only 150-200 miles on them. It wasn't that I am plagued by nagging injuries and needed a CHANGE. Nope, I just fell victim to the sell. I jumped onto the Newton "natural running" bandwagon.

I had regrets right after pushing "place my order" on Road Runner Sports. What was I doing spending $150 for shoes I didn't even need? In this economy? When I only work a very part-time 6-8 hours per week?? Looking back, it was probably the PR thing that got me. He basically promised that these shoes would make me a better runner, a faster runner. If I could just change my form from heel striking to forefoot striking (which these shoes FORCE your feet to do with a built up forefoot plate), I'd finally be the runner I want to be.

For just a few minutes, I was a believer that these were magic shoes (cue Forrest Gump...). I was looking for a short cut, in reality. I wanted to become a faster runner overnight without all that pesky speedwork. I typically dislike tempo runs. Intervals aren't much fun, either. But give me a slow, easy pace and I can run ALL DAY.

Sometimes I wish I were less driven in this running thing. I keep setting more and more goals. I want to run a 10K in under 58 minutes, a 5K in under 28 minutes, a half in 2:05. I want a 4:30 marathon! But that's going to take hard work and perseverance. Not magic shoes.

I'm sending the Newtons back. They arrived today and I ran about a mile in them. They did alter my form, that's for sure. But I think I've decided that if something's not broken, why try to fix it? I've run 2 marathons and 6 half-marathons injury-free in the past 24 months. I may struggle with speed (or lack thereof), but a quick fix isn't the answer.