Thursday, April 28, 2011

A mile marker

This night 30 years ago, my mother wasn't falling for a third round of false labor. Right up until her water broke. Very soon thereafter, in the dark, with no drugs, while my father drove them to the hospital, she gave birth to me on a raincoat in the back of a 1979 Chevrolet Citation. She will always be my hero for this. 

This picture with my Grampa was taken about 2 weeks later. For the next 20 years, he and I would be inseparable. (it's the earliest pic of me I could find, I guess my parents have the others)

When my Dad holds babies he always wonders aloud what's hidden in them. What skills, gifts, ideas will they grow up to share? Who will they be? I think by a year and a half or 2, personalities start to emerge. Drool and all. And awesome t-shirts I wish still fit me.

But I look at my son now, and there's still so much to wonder (at almost 3), as there was for me then. So this is my moment of reflection--more public than most for me. It's been a great 30 years. Way too much to even consider in a blog post. But specific to running, I can tell you this: 
I am faster, stronger, and leaner now than I ever have been. 

Even though I ran CC in high school, endurance running is still relatively new to me. I started training for my first half-marathon, coincidentally, on my birthday 4 years ago. It's become more than a passing hobby--it's become something I love and something I identify with. Talk about an amazing birthday present. Seriously. So today begs the question: what will I say about me + running at 40? Or 50? Or 80? I hope the answer is, running and loving it. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The mantra of NO

Do you ever find yourself trying to avoid explaining to non-runner co-workers that you have 7:30am track practice? By yourself. With rain forecasted. #awkwardmomentsinrunning.

Today was my last hard workout before Cleveland. I can't believe we're here. It seems like just days ago I was staring down a long training plan and wondering how I was going to fare over the many, many weeks ahead. Not much more to go!

Today's workout was:
1 m. warm-up
6 x 800m. w/ 200m recoveries
1 m. cool-down

I wasn't sure what pace to target, so I checked the McMillan calculator and the RW training calculators and picked a 3:55-4:00 time for the intervals. I thought this seemed slower than my old time (and now, looking back, I see that it is), so I decided that if it felt easy, I'd pick up the pace after the first interval.

At almost exactly the half-way mark I realized I was doing (and had done all the math in my head for) 400m recoveries. Damn! This meant I was basically resting for too long between intervals. But at this point I decided it was too much to try to re-figure all the distances and everything in my head, so I just kept going.

The pace never felt easy exactly. I had to stay focused and keep on it. A few strides into the last repeat I checked Clepsydra and saw an 8:06 pace. I heard myself say "NO" out loud, and I dug in, determined not to let my pace go in the last interval. I think my times are slower than a year ago because I run in a rolling to hilly park rather than on a flat track (according to Garmin, my total ascent today was over 1000 ft! Not sure I believe that, but that's what it says). That's what I'm going to choose to believe anyway!

Intervals: 3:57, 3:58, 3:49, 3:56, 3:56, 3:57 (at least I'm consistent!)

In other news, the butt pain is back (yeah, I know). Def need to get another trip into the sports massage therapist this week.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Come on a springtime run with me!

I mentioned yesterday that I recently took some springtime pictures of my every day running route. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel by having such a great place to run, especially in a central city. I just love, love, LOVE it. I'm going to take one picture from each season and put them together in one collage frame later this year. So, come run with me! 

First I run to the corner and round the block and head down the street behind mine. Here we go:

Over the course of the next mile I run through the business district that serves our neighborhood and two others. It is awesome. We can easily walk to restaurants of all flavors: American, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Persian, Ethiopian, etc. There are also a bunch of little shops. It's a huge part of what makes our neighborhood so great! Just shy of a mile I turn off the main drag and head down another residential street.

Not even half a mile down this street and I turn onto another, larger street through this neighborhood and start heading toward the park. As I run through here I can't help but get some Ke$ha in my head, since I'm lookin' down every alley (all the garages are behind the houses, with access by alleys that run between the streets). Nearly become someone's hood ornament even once and you learn.

Just a little farther and I turn into the park where I run on a nicely paved path and immediately start appreciating the flowers and architectural features.

I follow the path for a little over a mile (now about 3 miles from home) before I come to my favorite spot. It's a little higher in elevation than what's around it, affording it a great view of the lush, green grass, trees, and flowers. 

Part way through the next mile I pass a garden house (it's sort of part of the Botanical Garden, I think?), where lately on Saturdays I've seen lots of weddings. The path runs between the garden building and a small pond with lots of landscaping and sometimes some public art (like you see here).

From here I finish my loop through the park (about another mile, mile and a half), then go back through the check-every-alley stretch, then the residential area, back through the commercial stretch, then back into my own neighborhood. It's a 6.3 mile loop. 

Thanks for running with me! One other thing--I forgot to mention yesterday that last week was easily my highest mileage week ever, and it went really well! Almost read to taper!!
I have a lot to cram into this post. It may sound silly, but I didn't want to post earlier in the week because I just didn't want to interrupt all the Boston recaps.

The recaps got me all choked up pretty much every day last week. It's hard to communicate to non-runners the excitement of the day. It's like our Super Bowl, except most of us know at least one athlete participating, and we actually participate in the sport ourselves. running love

So all that stuff to cram into this post? Well, some of it is going to have to wait. Clearly. Here's a sort-of recap of my week in the meantime.

5 miles easy. I decided to finally take a camera with me to get some spring pictures of the park. Here's a pic of my favorite spot in the park. Sometimes I forget to look up when I run (just ask Meg). But I never miss this spot. I am so incredibly blessed to have all of this at my feet in the middle of a big city. It is such an incredible freedom to be able to run in this gorgeousness. I have a whole set of "come take a run with me" pictures from this run, appearing soon.

I just absolutely had to get some sleep. It was becoming non-negotiable.

My fave, fave, FAVE speed workout. It sounds so freaking innocent. It's not. I love it.
1mi warm-up
4 x 1mi @ 5KRP with 800m recoveries
1mi cool-down

3 miles easy

5 mile pace run. I bumped it up to 6.3 just for funsies. I'm having a hard time running pace at marathon pace and not half pace. Problem? I think not.

By far the more interesting part of Friday was the evening weather. This happened. Oh yeah. My MIL was scheduled to fly in at just about exactly the same minute that a tornado was ripping through Concourse C of Lambert Airport. The Southwest website said she landed. What it didn't say was that she landed AT MIDWAY. You know, in freaking Chicago?!? She buddied up with another passenger and rented a car, getting here about 3:30am. Today while I was running I just kept thinking about all the blessings in my life, including our safety here during the storm and hers while traveling into it.

I reeeeeally wasn't sure how I was going to get everything crammed into my day. We were forecasted for an Easter Egg Hunt all morning and rain all afternoon.
{mid-post rant: our hourly weather forecasts are damn near useless. For my zip code, the forecast is actually for a place 25 minutes from here. It's not exactly helpful. Sometimes the current weather conditions are even wrong.}
I got hopeful and optimistically ate a bagel at the Egg Hunt. Carbs, you know, in case the weather forecast was wrong. Shockingly, it was. Wrong. I had just enough time between easter eggs and rain to run 20 miles. #WINNING. (sorry, couldn't resist)

There were some tough spots in it, but overall it was a GREAT long run. I averaged a 9:35 pace and felt good through most of it. And it made me SOOO happy that when I stopped at the Panera for my recovery smoothie, the barista recognized me and asked if I'd been out running (clearly). I told him I'd just finished 20 miles. When I turned to leave I heard the other barista repeat the number 20 incredulously. :) I just smiled.

Next question: picking a race pace. Stay tuned. I'll need some input.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A welcome curse

I think I've come to a conclusion about me + marathon training: the 16-miler in my 16-18-20 cycle is cursed. And I am OK with that. Evidence:

Detroit Marathon, 2009: shooting pain from an ITB injury, cut the 16-miler short and limped back to my car frustrated, defeated, sad (read that anti-pep talk here). I repeated the 16-miler the following week and went on to a huge personal victory with the race (here).

Lewis & Clark Marathon, 2010: The 16-miler was a total disaster. I didn't hydrate properly and waited an hour too long in too hot weather to start the run. The 18-miler the following week went really well and I went on to PR the race by over 27 minutes. (now I'm just bragging)

Cleveland Marathon, 2011: Last weekend's 16-miler didn't go badly, it didn't go at all. Thank you all for the comments. You made me feel so much better about it, and convinced me to be easier on myself. I still wasn't convinced that I could spread my 13.1 mile success from Martian into 26.2. My workouts went well this week, but I was still apprehensive. So when I started out today's 18-miler, I wasn't at all sure how it was going to go. Here's how it went:

Mile 1--9:34 (whoa lady, slow down! You know from experience not to run long runs at race pace! What are you doing?!?)
Mile 2--9:40 (well, this does feel easy, but cool it, lady. Cool it.)
Mile 3--9:55 (ok, slow-down enforced. But I wanna go fast.)
Mile 4--9:36 (I might pay for this later)
Mile 5--9:54 (now KEEP IT HERE)
Mile 6 & .3 (end of first loop)--9:45 pace

Second loop: 9:38, 9:36, 9:37, 9:31, 9:35, 9:28.
Holy consistency, Batman! By this time (total, 12.6 miles), I'd decided that the pace was fine and I probably wasn't going to pay for it. But I've never pulled a pace like this at this distance. I was sort of in disbelief!

Third loop: 9:31, 9:28, 9:33, 9:23, 9:31.
I felt awesome. AWESOME. I felt as fresh at mile 16.5 as I had at mile 2.

I don't want to get cocky here. Believe me, I'm still terrified/excited/terrified about race day. But I'm really pleased with today's run, and I got a little confidence back. One more (very) long run to go--20 miles on deck for next weekend.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Post-half training

I noticed that JoannaRuns got a few new followers this week--welcome, and thanks for joining my journey!!

I learned a lot this week. Primarily, that I left too much on the course last Saturday. But it took me a few days to figure this out. Going into this week I had 40 miles on the schedule, which is a first for me, ever. I kept telling myself, "Sure, it's 40 miles, but it's an easy 40." Um, right. Just because there was no speed or pace work doesn't make the distance any shorter.

  • Monday: 5 miles, easy. My legs felt like J-e-l-l-o for about 1.5, then it was fine. 
  • Tuesday: our yoga instructor didn't show up...again. So my yoga buddy and I went out to breakfast instead. Yeah, I'm hardcore like that.
  • Wednesday: 8 miles, easy. It was pretty unremarkable. Average pace 9:46. 
  • Thursday: missed the 6:40am text from my neighbor saying she needed more sleep. So I waited 10 minutes then headed out to hit our usual route. Soon thereafter I went to the airport to pick up The Beastie for our epic scrappy weekend, which included this:
  • Friday: due to a scheduling conflict I decided to switch my rest day from Sunday to Friday, then run Saturday and Sunday. So I rested. 
  • Saturday: Friday night I stayed up late eating cake and drinking wine, so an early morning run wasn't happening. That left me 6:30-7:45pm to run. Conveniently placed right after dinner, I wanted to puke every.single.step of the way. It was a really bad decision. I finished 6.3 of my 8 mile run before it got dark and I *really* wanted to hurl. Gross. My stomach hurt all night up to and including,
  • Sunday: at 4am, when I woke up to take The Beastie to the airport. I got home at 5:30am, crawled back into bed, and just fell asleep before The Kiddo awoke at 5:45 demanding chicken nuggets. WTF. Even though Sunday is my weekend day to get up with him, Mr. Joanna took the bullet and let me stay in bed. i love that man so much. 
I really never did recover enough today to be productive. It was hard enough to walk to the park and sit on a bench while the kiddo played for an hour. And grocery shopping was almost torture. It was only this morning that I accepted the truth: I PR'ed by a bigger margin than I expected last weekend. Then I didn't decrease mileage at all (just intensity). Then I ran 6.3 miles about 20 minutes after eating dinner. Then I got up at 4am and slept in snippets through the morning after that. The outcome:

the 16 miles just wasn't happening today.

I've accepted that life got in the way of my best laid plans. I also acknowledge that I have a tendency to over-schedule myself, but honestly, that's how I'm happiest. Even so, I've accepted all of the following about today's FAIL:

  1. I'm afraid. I have a marathon in 5 weeks. I only have 2 more really long runs, and I've only hit 16 miles once so far this training cycle. So I'm afraid. Am I really going to be able to PR by the margin I've imagined?
  2. I'm relieved that I allowed myself to rest. I needed it, and it was the right decision. 
  3. I have no idea what time I'm going to pull at Cleveland. 
  4. The recent heat wave (90? In April? Really?) has me scared about weather on race day.
  5. I now understand what it means to "leave too much on the course" 
Tomorrow begins a new week of marathon training. I'm going to nail this week. It's another 40 mile week, and it includes speed and pace work, and I'm determined. The next 2 weeks are absolutely critical. Stick with me. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Race recap: Martian Half

The kiddo and I flew into Detroit on Friday night. Landing after 6pm, I was focused on getting out of the airport ASAP so we could go pick up my race packet. I got into ODP's car to discover that he'd picked it up for me; I was sad to miss the Expo but so relieved that it was in-hand and we could just go eat dinner. We headed to his place for a yummy pasta dinner with the fam. And to take this picture. Just so there's no question here, this is K-dot flipping off my shirt (which I only own to spite her) and I'm wearing a ribbon that I pulled off their birthday present to me and put in my hair to be silly.

It took a while to get the kids settled into their sleeping arrangement, and not long after, we all headed to bed for the night. I had everything all laid out so morning went pretty smoothly. Just a few minutes behind schedule, ODP, the kiddo and I were off to the start line, thanking God for the glorious weather! It didn't take long to find The Redhead, decked out in signage and sparkle as promised. She had an awesome goody bag put together for the meet-up. I'm ganking her pic from pre-race.

I pre-Gu'ed and headed to the start line with ODP and the kiddo there to see me off.

Miles 1-4
After reading good reviews online, I'd decided to use a Pace Band for this race, since, as I'd told Meg, I was going to audibly cuss if I didn't break 2 hours. Using their modified warm-up strategy, I forced myself to take it easy in the first and even second miles, settling into the race. I totally looked like a newbie with the pace band though, manically checking my left wrist to read the band and my right wrist to read my Garmin.
mile 1: 9:13
mile 2: 9:03
mile 3: 8:57
mile 4: 8:58

Miles 5-8
The pace wasn't supposed to vary much since the course was pretty flat. So I held the pace and attacked the rolling hills and felt awesome. My Garmin kept chirping away at each mile marker. Well before the turn-around I started seeing the fastest runners coming back toward us, which is fun. There were some hoots and hollers of encouragement when the first chick passed us coming back. Then this happened:
Mile 6--Garmin chirped, ran past mile marker
Mile 7--Garmin chirped
Me: "Huh, I must have missed the mile marker."
About 0.3m later, the mile marker.

I had no idea what had happened. I couldn't figure out how I'd lost more than a quarter mile between miles 6 and 7. I thought maybe the mile 7 marker was misplaced, but when markers 8 and 9 came 0.3 later than my Garmin, I was just confused. And a little worried. If I was off 0.3 miles, then I was also off pace by just shy of 3 minutes, and how in the world was I going to make that up?
mile 5: 8:55

mile 6: 9:00 (Gu)
mile 7: 8:49
mile 8: 8:44

Miles 9-12
I kept running sub-9 minute miles and I kept feeling great! I couldn't believe how easily the miles were ticking by and how much energy I still had. I had a brief moment of fatigue around mile marker 11. I backed off a few seconds then found I was ready to attack all over again. After that moment passed, I knew the remaining distance was short enough that if I felt good, I should just go for it!
mile 9: 8:41
mile 10: 8:38 (the extra 0.3 on my Garmin is in here somewhere, I'm just not copying it)
mile 11: 8:46
mile 12: 8:45

Last 1.1
I felt great! I kept looking at the total time on my Garmin, sort of in disbelief that I was going to finish under 2 hours even though I'd somehow tacked on an extra 0.3 miles. Thinking of all the times I'd envisioned finishing this race this way--under pace, in gorgeous weather, feeling great, and thrilled. 
mile 13: 8:19
mile 13.1: (0.12 actually), 50 seconds, or 6:51 pace

About that extra distance
The turn-around was in the wrong place! I wasn't crazy--the race really did measure 13.4 miles. Race officials are handling this appropriately and will issue adjusted finishing times soon. 

All the stats
Gun time: 1:59:39
Chip time: 1:58:37
My totally unofficial adjusted 13.1 time: 1:55:56, a 10:13 PR 
Overall place: 624/1836
Age/gender division: 33/136

The Blogger/DM meet-up was a blast. I got to meet some new people and some people whose journeys I've followed online for a while, including my bloggy friend and co-conspirator for the Martian Invasion in the first place, Jess!

The trip home
This morning. The kiddo was tired. I was tired. We were both a little cranky. It was not fun. So why mention it? Because just after we got home, ODP called asking if I had his....wait, let me look, oh I did, how did that get there? Seriously?!?

His keys. Car keys. House keys. Office keys. All his keys. Hitched a ride to MO in my purse. One overnight mail envelope to Detroit, please!