Monday, May 26, 2014

Yasso 800s, a Rain Check, and Chuck E. Cheese

I shall not contain my Three Things to Thursdays! Last week was quite the week in training, with more than one "first". Let's check in.

First up, I did my first Yasso 800s. So what's all the hubbub about? Ultimately, I'm happy to report that y'all can calm down about these and run them like a boss when the time comes. They are essentially similar to any other track workout, they just happen to be the workout that you use to gauge your likely marathon finishing time. How do they work? A Yasso 800 is an 800m (half mile) interval followed by a 400m (quarter mile) recovery. You do this 10 times, and the time you hold for the intervals is the reduced version of your marathon time. So, if you do them at 4:03, you're likely to run about a 4:03 full marathon. For a half, generally divide your full marathon time by half then subtract about 10 minutes (or, to go the other way, multiply your half time by 2 and add about 10 minutes).

My training schedule was written for a 1:45 half finish, even though I'm aimed closer to 1:50, so the times are a little bit faster sometimes than what I think is realistic for me. So I knew my Yassos might be a little slower than the schedule read. Splits (intervals only): 3:35, 3:58, 3:39, 3:51, 3:41, 3:49, 3:46. I averaged 3:45, only 9 seconds slower than my too-fast schedule. I'm good with that!

A rain check: A bunch of girls from my training group are continuing to meet up for races and training runs (love that we're doing this!!). I'd planned to meet up with a friend on Saturday morning to do my 15 mile long run, but when I got up it was pouring. I was getting dressed thinking, the running clothes are totally for show. No one's actually running in this, right? But she didn't text to cancel and I didn't want to be our resident quitter, so off I went. We ran 5.5 miles before deciding that we were soaked and cold and deserved a yummy breakfast instead.
At Miner's Cafe in Midvale

I did the full 15 miles early early Sunday morning instead, in the quiet, gorgeous dawning sunshine of a sleeping city. This is the first time I've done a 15 mile long run before a half-marathon. Am I alone here? Do people do this more often than I'm aware of? How do you feel about it? Incidentally, the weather lately has been gorgeous

Chuck E. Cheese
Later on Saturday we had my older son's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. If you're like me, you remember this place as dark and smokey with a somewhat creepy mouse wearing gold lame (pronounced lamA) shorts. I'm happy to report that it is no longer dark or smokey, and the mouse has changed his shorts. But, whoa, over-stimulation and poor nutrition. The kids had a blast. And I found this. See, Chuck E. Cheese is here to support local athletes!
I present to you, the "Marathon Runner: Great Run! and Fun!" An honest-to-goodness human hamster wheel.

Total for last week: 44 miles. I think this month might shape up to be my highest mileage month ever, but I'll have to double check the logs about that. How'd your week go? Are you loving this spring weather? Are you jazzed about the human hamster wheel? I knew you would be.

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Long] Run Away!

I had the pleasure of attending a friend's wedding reception this weekend back in the Midwest. I'm going to get to the running part, hold on (!), but 2 things happened that I can't let pass unmentioned. First, I saw a friend's MIL in the Denver airport. Random, right?! Now, I've only ever met this MIL once, several years ago, so I wasn't 100% sure that's who I was looking at. I texted my friend, who confirmed the sighting, but by then the MIL had gotten away from me. Rascally, that one. Second, I landed in Indy, went to the car rental counter, and got all my paperwork taken care of. I walked to the parking spot where they said my car was waiting. I think the Thrifty Dollar rental people must have gotten the toilet paper companies to do their marketing, because this is what I got as my "economy sized" vehicle. Seriously?!?
I actually laughed, audibly, in the parking garage when I found this.  My "economy sized" Xterra.
Back to the running part: Like the good runner that I am, I planned to do my long run while there. Since I didn't know the area very well, I looked up various 13 routes near the hotel using MapMyRun. I found a few and saved one of them to my phone for Saturday. I mentioned this to my friend, who recommended the Monon Trail instead. Commercial/industrial suburbia or a paved rails-to-trails trail? Trail FTW, every time.

So I put Monon Trail, Carmel, IN in my phone's GPS. It tells me it's a 14 minute drive. Fine. I follow its instructions. Right up until it says "You've arrived at your destination", and I'm here.
Maybe the party supply people encourage running in the aisles?
Fairly certain that my phone is trying to get me lost or thrown in jail, I look around for signs for any trail nearby. Across the parking lot, I see a guy loading a bike onto the back of his car, so I lumber the ol' Xterra over there and sure enough, there's the trail entrance. I asked the guy which way I should run, and apparently the trail goes on more or less forever in either direction. But he vaguely pointed right, so right it was.

WHAT A FANTASTIC PLACE TO RUN!! I ran through charming Broad Ripple, over rivers, canals, past playgrounds. Most of it was shaded, it was almost perfectly flat, and the few road crossings were well marked. There were tons of runners, walkers, strollers, and bikers out using the trail.

I turned around at 6.5 miles and hit 13 just as I returned to my school bus car. Just for fun, I tacked on an extra 0.1 to say I rounded out the half-marathon distance, and I did it in 1:59:04. It felt amazing to casually run a sub-2 half-marathon distance. Hell, it was delightful even. I'm not sure I've ever done that during a training run. Love, love, love. 

Fortunately, I was parked in front of a grocery store, so I went in and picked up some chocolate milk and a few healthy snacks for the rest of my trip. But, something about having just stopped running, combined with the fluorescent lights of the store and being hungry left me mildly disoriented for a minute. I realized I was standing unnaturally close to people. And still sweating, natch. I pulled myself together, clearly drank the chocolate milk, and headed back to the hotel to get pulled together for the reception. 

The reception was lovely. I got to hang out with Dr. Ears and her new husband (they were married in December, but waited for spring to have the picnic reception), and meet a bunch of their friends who I didn't previously know. They had all sorts of costume pieces so guests could take silly pictures.
I tipped my hat to them! There's a picture of me dressed as a pirate somewhere...
But here's where I need some feedback. I spent a good chunk of time chatting with another guest who has spent years getting healthy, staying healthy, and getting strong. She's a strong advocate of the Adkins diet. I mentioned that I just.stay.hungry, all the time. This launched an hour-plus discussion about how I almost certainly do not eat remotely enough protein. I'm feeling a little unsure about making dietary changes, and would love some feedback. She recommended:
  • Ditching my long time morning staple, Mini-Wheats, and replacing it with a whey protein shake and 3 hard boiled eggs (fewer carbs, way more protein)
  • Eating 3 entire meals, rather than 3 small meals and 3 wimpy snacks through the day. 
  • Eating about 1 gram of protein for every pound that I weigh, per day. I'm probably shy of half of this, currently. 
  • There was some guideline for fat consumption, too, but I've forgotten what it was, except, a lot (I believe the words "no upper limit" were used). 
  • Cutting way back on carbs during breakfast and lunch, on the belief that they provoke me to want to eat more, rather than filling me up. This includes fruit. 
  • Actually doing weight training, which we all know runners suck at. 
What do you guys think? Does this work for runners? Is it really possible to lose weight and not starve all the time? Do I really not eat enough protein? Please chime in!! I'd love to make some nutritional changes before marathon training gets into full swing next month. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Internet's Latest April Recap

Ok, ok. I wasn't going to do an April recap. Then I had to go through my stats anyway to figure out how old my shoes were (400+ miles old!). Then it seemed silly not to write one. So, I'm posting the world's most ridiculously tardy-to-the-party April recap.

Total miles: 103.7, making this I think my first ever set of back-to-back triple digit months!

# runs: 16

# other workouts: 2. I went to yoga two whole times.

Favorite run: The Salt Lake Half!! A new PR! A race with new friends! Beautiful weather and got to see my family mid-race.

Setbacks: Part of the reason this post is so late is that I had to put together mileage from two different Garmins and miles kept just on paper. I'm thankful that I was able to get a new Garmin when the old one died though, so it's not a complaint!

An update on the Achilles: it continues to hurt some, but I've been better about foam rolling and that seems to help a lot. I'm going to keep at it and hope it continues to improve.

House projects completed: It's not exactly a house project, but I did finish a baby sweater. And now I'm working on a Christmas stocking for one of my nieces.

Significant progress has been made on our bathroom and some other projects, but nothing is finished yet. Hopefully I'll have updates by the end of May!

April also saw both my birthday and my younger son's 2nd birthday. In case I've never mentioned it, I love cake. 

Training update: After Salt Lake, I more or less took off the following week (I ran twice). Then I completed the workouts Monday through Wednesday of the following week, then promptly got sick, missing the Thursday through Sunday runs. The following Monday I did part of my scheduled workout, and have been back on track since. I have a little under 5 weeks to go until the Utah Valley Half!! (note: I replaced my shoes before my 5/10 long run)

My training schedule is way more aggressive than what I'd been doing, and I'm loving it. I've surprised myself by being able to hit my training paces consistently. Fingers crossed for a new PR!

Things I'm enjoying/looking forward to in May: 
  • First and foremost, to have our bathroom and closet finished!! I'm so over the dust and disorganization that accompanies home renovations.
  • Also, early May brought the end of the semester and my release from grading jail--woohoo!! 
  • The grandparents are visiting for my older son's birthday later this month. 
  • Focusing on the next two weeks of training, as they are the peak of the training cycle for Utah Valley. 
At long last, there you have it. April in review. I'd say I'm looking forward to reading everyone's, but I think I already have!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A time to run and a time to not run

Last Wednesday morning I very nearly asked my husband, for the first time in our marriage, to give me a shoulder massage before I left for work. This should have been my first clue that something was amiss. By the time I headed home (a little early), I knew full well I had a fever and was quickly descending into full-on sickness. I went to a work-related party for about 10 minutes, went home, and was in bed before 7pm. I remained there, almost continuously, until 11:15 Friday morning at which point I re-commenced grading on my couch. By Friday afternoon I was feeling somewhat better, and after coercing myself to attend convocation, I was decidedly on the upswing. Friday evening we attended a lovely barbecue at our neighbors' house (our former neighbor's sister who is our current neighbor--random and confusing!). I felt well enough to be sociable and not worry about being contagious, though I didn't really eat.

So that leaves us at Saturday morning and my having consumed about 1200 calories total since Wednesday at about 1pm. And you know what the means? No long run.

Also, my husband had contracted a somewhat milder case of whatever I had. Which also means, no long run.

So I slept as long as the kids would let me (8:15). I got up. We got dressed. Ate breakfast. Watched some cartoons. Walked down the street and got them haircuts, bought a graduation card for a friend, and picked up a loaf of bread. Walked home. Let them play in the yard while Mr. Joanna and I did some yard work. I took my older son on a gorgeous drive to buy a new pair of shoes (and clearance ski gloves!) and we randomly stopped at a yard sale on the way home, where I purchased a toy car garage for my younger son for $2 and a toy tape measure for my older son for fifty cents.

It was all unimaginably wonderful. And I didn't run.

Does this mean I long to give up Saturday long runs? No. Don't be ridiculous.

It means that doing long runs like clockwork every Saturday makes me more grateful for an unexpected morning at home.

It means that after my marathon in September, I will savor a few Saturday mornings with my family. 

It means that we have a family unit that is flexible to each other's needs and wants. 

It means that I'll be happy to be back on my training schedule next week, and I'll hope to stay on it. But a temporary derailment can be perfectly wonderful too. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Shifting Gears

When last I posted I was just coming off of my new PR at the Salt Lake Half. Since then I've been shifting gears & moving forward. Here's what's been going on.

Gear Shift #1: Changing up injury prevention strategies
After the half, I took off basically a week (I ran twice). I hadn't intended to take off so many days, but my Achilles were bothering me more, and my legs remained sore and tired for longer than usual after the race. After a while, I started to suspect that part of the trouble with my Achilles was tightness in my calves. I busted out the foam roller, "wished I'd never been born" (in the words of my group's coach), and got to work. OUCH! However, there has been improvement in the Achilles, so I'll take it. Foam roller FTW!

Gear Shift #2: More intense training
I used the Runner's World sub-2 half training schedule for Salt Lake. By my count, this was the 4th time I'd used that training plan (and the 4th time I've gone sub-2!), and as such, it felt way less intimidating than it used to. This time around I knew I could do the runs even even a bit faster than the schedule suggested.

With my new PR at 1:53 and wanting to take a few more minutes off that, it's time to switch to a new training schedule. The RW sub-1:45, with training paces adjusted to be slightly slower (aimed at a 1:50), is the next step up in training plans. It is much more intense. The schedule adds a run on Tuesdays (which I've never done), includes longer easy runs (6-7 miles), and keeps more long runs at double digit mileage. It's exciting and just a little bit intimidating, which is exactly the buzz I wanted. Just a little over 6 weeks until race day!

Gear shift #3: Switching from a Forerunner 405 to a 220
As I chronicled on Daily Mile, my beloved Forerunner 405 finally went to the great charging clip in the sky shortly before the Salt Lake Half. Just in time for the race, I got a Forerunner 220 and have been learning its ins & outs since. Mostly this has been just fine, but a few days ago I was messing with it to get it synced to various accounts and must have screwed something up. Yesterday when I went running, the screen was alternating between "screen 1", "screen 2", and the clock. Fixing that required 2 pit stops. Then, my run was a 2 mile warm-up, 4 miles @ 8:00/mile, and a cool down. In the first mile of the 8:00 pace, I was running what felt like land speed records and the numbers on my Garmin weren't budging. Only after the mile did I realize that the auto lap had turned off, so my time was still averaging with the warm-up miles. I didn't stop to turn auto lap back on, opting instead to just press the lap button at each mile.

Overall, I really like the 220 a lot. I love the back lighting option for early morning runs. I love its slender profile (much easier with jackets/long sleeves), and I especially love that I can turn it off to save the battery. I've also become a fan of the Bluetooth sync option with my phone. Once we've gotten to know each other a bit, I see a long and happy relationship here.