Thursday, August 30, 2012

I ran a 10K on my lunch break!

That’s something I didn’t think I’d be able to say in this lifetime.

By my plan, I needed to get in five miles today.  Since I’m sorta drawing from three or four similar training plans, I reviewed them all to see what the goals ought to be 2.5 weeks out from the race.  One plan had “6 miles total, 4 @ HMP”, which intrigued me.  Hmm… my half-marathon pace is slated at 10:15… I could do five miles at that in an hour, easy… and I think I could maintain that time…okay, that’s the plan. 
Then I thought – is there a way I could do six?
I checked my calendar.  Bookended meetings, to be sure, but there was a lovely 90 minutes free between morning and afternoon.  I’ve got the flexibility to make up time before and after official hours, so if I added a mile, I’d have some buffer time built in… why not just decide on the fly?
I’d already been managing my food all morning (that’s been an issue past few weeks, so being VERY CAREFUL to eat a good amount of run fuel), so I thought I’d be okay.  Chowed a cheese stick while I changed, and stuck a Gu in my skirt pocket.  Chose not to carry water, since there’s four easy fountains on this route.  Okay, got Gu, got a water plan, got hat, got watch – GO!
I set my watch to show lap pace for the first mile, to try and get a handle on the going-out-too-fast issue.  That helped me be aware of it, but it was calculating wild swings as it locked on to satellites (I assume – or it was just having a day. Whatever.) so I switched back to the regular display.  It’s easy enough to gauge 10-minute-mile pace in the first couple miles from a total time and a distance display, right?  Even so, with trying to pay attention, my first split came in a bit too fast.  But it didn’t feel awful – that’s a good sign.  I dialed it back for a little bit and that worked.
Almost to the three mile mark, I ran into a colleague I hadn’t seen in years.  Loved the chance to stop and catch up!  (She retired!  How had I not known?  Must pay attention more.)  Quick sweaty hug after a few minutes’ chat, then back to it.  I was only about 50 feet from the water fountain, so I pounded my Gu while I walked that bit.
Next up was The Hill Mile, but I felt good.  My pace was still super-fast, so I knew I’d be fine to take the extra minute on this mile.  Except – I didn’t need it.  I RAN THE WHOLE THING.  First time!  No stops, no walks, just kept moving forward.  I teased myself  out – you can walk when you get to the corner.  No, you can walk when you get to the bridge.  No, you’ve gotten this far, you can make it to the stoplight. 
So now, it’s decision time.  Five miles, or six?  I checked my watch – I only needed to add about .6 miles to the straight-in route to hit six.  Time was still really good – no danger of being late.  Okay, go for six!  Detoured into a neighborhood to add some distance.  I thoroughly enjoy watching the houses in the area go through their seasonal changes, watch the enhancements, the new paint jobs, the gardening projects, all of it.  I hadn’t run through this area in several months, so the differences were obvious.
Almost done… and it occurred to me – wait, just need two-tenths for a 10k.  You don’t have  a time for a 10k.  Why not?  I started looping through the last few blocks like a playlist on repeat, watching the distance on my watch until I saw it turn to that magical “6.20”.  Timer off, gasp, walk, check the time – NO WAY.  I really just did that in 59:38?  LESS THAN ONE HOUR???
Cue major giddiness.  Cue coworkers asking where the bear came from that must have been chasing me.
Lots of wins in this run:
  • The Hill Mile?  Yep. I’ll say it again: RAN THE WHOLE THING.  Didn’t stop even once.  Yet another first/PR!
  • Didn’t get distracted at the running store when I grabbed water, either.  ;)
  • I think this qualifies as my first (accidental) tempo run.  And check out those last 2 miles!
  • Not to mention, since I have no 10K races under my belt, that makes for an instant – if unofficial – PR!

So.  The morning after.  Ouch – I’m super-sore and my legs were twitchy all night, so I gave up on sleep at 4:00 am.  I REALLY must take the time to stretch or cool down or something after runs.  However, the particular logistical shenanigans required to use an only-slightly-extended lunch break to run for a full sixty minutes AND still clean up (thank you, baby wipes) and be on time to the post-lunch meeting don’t really bode well for any after-sixty-minutes-running ramping down, unfortunately – so I don’t see a lot more six-mile lunch runs in my near future.  But it felt important to get this one in, to make the miles for this week, and also to clear my head after a particularly challenging assignment (note to self – brainstorming sessions are aptly named, they can be of varying strength from showers to hurricanes and usually have a lot of aftermath to clean up).
But what strikes me about this run is that I set a stretch goal, with several truly-legitimate opportunities to reduce it, and I chose to hit it.  CHOOSING to hit the goal I set, especially in athletic endeavors, has never been my strength.  The giddiness I had from hitting this run lasted ALL STINKING DAY (just ask my co-workers) and through the night. I’m still giddy, actually – just a tad more tempered in my expression of it.
Today, I will run three very-slow very-easy miles on that lunch break.  And I will savor every minute of it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Training recap – August 19-26

This was supposed to be a relatively high-mileage week.  This was supposed to be 18-20 miles all told.  Unfortunately, if you looked at the last few posts, you saw all that went to pot pretty darn quick.

The plan was:  A 5-miler, a 3-mile or two, and a 10-mile long run – my longest run prepping for the half-marathon.

The reality:

Monday – 3.0 miles, 32:00
I’d taken the day off of work, so I was free to go out in the afternoon while my kids were at their practice.  I took off with every intention of four miles.  But… mid-afternoon and 82 degrees clearly did not agree with me. Neither did my gear. I could not stop messing with my bottle belt – it kept riding up toward my ribs rather than staying where it was supposed to on my hips (it apparently doesn’t like my running skirt. Boo.). I struggled hard to find a pace, I struggled hard to remember to breathe.  And then I just gave in and walked the last mile back.  And while I walked back I began obsessing on why my Monday runs were so rotten the past few weeks…

So I lost a night’s sleep on this.  And then I looked up “insomnia as overtraining symptom”.  Yep, I did.  And then I wrote a post, begging for input from the blogosphere.  And then I lost another night’s sleep.  (Because, yeah, my tendency toward insomnia far predates any running experience… grrr….)  And then, after some point, I clicked on my training log on Dailymile.

Oh.  Huh.  So, I went from averaging nine-to-eleven miles per week, to two weeks no running, to two straight 16-mile-plus weeks.  Think that might have something to do with this? (duh.)

Wednesday – 3.0 miles, 30:21
So I still wanted to keep some running this week, but I knew I had to step it down just a bit.  Wednesday’s schedule didn’t lend itself to a mid-day run, so instead I ran after work – eked out two laps and willed myself to keep moving.  I still prefer morning or mid-day runs, but it seems like I can make it through these evening runs without completely dying. 

Saturday – 5.0 miles, 59:24
So I took the rest of the week off from running, rested, ate, lost my car, yada yada.  On Saturday when I met up with the Math Teacher I had a hankering to run – a good feeling after two days off.  We had originally agreed to five miles together, and stuck to that plan.  It was chillier than I’d expected, and I was glad I’d decided on a long-sleeve shirt.  We kept near 11:30 miles and only walked The Hill and only partway – success!  When we finished I felt like I could have run longer, but I chose to stick to the plan for the day.  And I had fun playing dress-up in my new capri running skirt and my new shoes – how much better can it get? J

Planned for this week:
I think the low-miles week did the trick – I’m better rested, and longing to be out in the air on a run.  Since last week’s plan went south, I think I’ll repeat what I had planned for it – two three-milers and a five-miler during the week, and then get my 10-mile long run in next Saturday.  It’s less than three weeks to the race!

Friday, August 24, 2012

what running does for me...

(as noted by its absence, anyway)

So, I've been good.  Didn't run yesterday, didn't run today.  Focusing on resting my body and eating (yeah, forgot about that a little bit too).  All for the good, right?

Mmmm... notsomuch.

My brain is fuzzy.  My concentration is off.  I'm easily distracted.  And I keep thinking, Hm, maybe I should go for a run.

The best part?  (You'll love this one.)

Left work tonight and headed to the parking garage.  Exited the stairs on the second level and pressed the "unlock" button on my key.

No sound.

Press it again.  Crickets.

Walk over to my "usual" parking area, saw all the other "usual" cars, but not mine.

Was my car stolen?

Standing stock still in the middle of the driving lane (!!!), I'm trying to retrace my morning steps.  Dropped the kids, skipped the Starbucks... got on the highway... so if I got on the highway, I would have come in through...


Back to the stairs.  Down to the third level.  Step out of the stairwell and hit the button.

beep beep!

Yes, people, I was on the wrong floor.

I think that's enough data for a correlating relationship between running and memory, as demonstrated by lack of both.  And this, my friends, is why I run.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

of mileage and misery (and new shoes!)

Wow.  I think I figured out what might be going on…

I suppose bumping my average from 10-miles-per-week to 17-miles-per-week will take a toll, huh… {facepalm}
The scratchy throat, sneezy nose, and general headache/bodyache could either be my fighting something, my fighting fatigue/insomnia, and/or the goofy weather swings (yeah, highs of 95-on-Friday to 68-on-Saturday will do crazy things to a body).  So all that’s being paid due attention, along with plenty of fluids and vitamins.  I might even go crazy and just wear jeans the rest of the week. J

New plan:

·         This week – lower the volume, maybe 11-12 miles.  Did three today, plus my three on Monday.  Not sure if I will run again before Saturday (we’ll play that by ear) and then Saturday’s run will be five miles – more only if I’m really feeling good.
·         Next week – 18-20 miles, with the ten-miler long run over Labor Day weekend.
·         Week following – start taper – maybe 15 miles-ish, long run at 7-8 miles
·         Week after that – RACE WEEK!!!  So a couple three-milers earlier in the week, then get ready to go!

(Wow.  It’s really that soon.  I need to get my energy back so I can get excited!)
Today was slated to be a five-miler, but after a nutty day of back-to-back-to-back meetings and the aforementioned sneezy-scratchiness, it took every ounce of energy to go change into running clothes.  I stopped at the lake on the way home and eked out two laps (and again, it took everything I had to start that second lap).  So, 3.00 miles, 30:21.  Nothing overly special.  (and yes, I cannot believe that I’m referring to 10:07 miles as “nothing overly special”.  Wow, my running expectations have changed in the last year!)

And in other fun news – new shoes! 

My pretty purple Asics Gel-Landreth 7 arrived today!  Bummer that I found them as I got home from my run (on the neighbor’s porch, no less – really, UPS?) but I’m sooooo excited about the shoes.  (Don’t worry, I know better than to think I’m going to wear them for this race.)  Back in about 2006 I began beating a pair of Gel-Landreths into the ground – I still have them, with Speed Laces, and they’ve got about a gazillion miles on them (they are now my gardening shoes, recently retired from being my under-the-desk walk-around-the-block shoes at work).  My absolute favorite ever pair of running shoes, and the new version feels lovely and cushy-soft on my feet.  I’m packing them in my run bag for the rest of this week! (along with a broken-in pair, just in case.)

So, that’s my (running) life right now.  How’s yours?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Whazzup with Mondays???

I don't like to complain, but I've got a quandary - and I'm CERTAIN that this is a typical newbie thing that I just don't know yet.  So, throwing it out to the blogosphere...

Not sure what it is about Mondays, but that first run of the work week has been predictably rotten the past few weeks.  If you just look at numbers, they're fine - good pace (average, anyway) over predictably easy three-mile distances.  Yea to all that.

The reality, though?  That "good pace" is an alternating sprint/gasping walk because I can't dial in a consistent pace to save my life.  The three miles is my absolute limit - I've often got something longer planned (not much longer, but nonetheless I might actually like to get back to where I started, eh?) but once my Garmin chirps that third-mile split, I quit.  Any other day of the week (well, almost - more on that in a second) I can settle on a pace within a mile and I can power through whatever distance I've got planned, but not Mondays.  (And, if it so happens that the first run of the week is on Tuesday, it's as though it's a Monday.  So delaying a day doesn't seem to help.)

My schedule usually includes a long run on Saturdays, then a rest day on Sunday, and I have noticed that the bad-Monday-run pattern seemed to start up when my long-Saturday-run broke five or six miles.  It could be that this is the first time I'm doing any weekly mileage of note - I did just in the past few weeks break the 10 miles per week barrier, since I'm in the last few weeks of training for the You Go Girl! half on September 16th.  (So sad - third time I've run a half, and the first time I've been consistently running more than eight miles per week in my LIFE.  Chew on that a minute.)

Here's the thing - if it's a matter of rest days, I can live with that.  I know my body will adjust to this stepped-up mileage pretty quickly, AND I know there's only about three weeks left until the race and then I'm not tied to these 8-10 mile weekend runs (don't worry, I'm not abandoning them, just figuring I can approach them at a more reasonable pace and be better prepared for the next race training cycle).  My only real goals for this training cycle were (a) consistency and (b) base-building, two things I've never before actually accomplished in my running life.

My real fear, and what kept me up last night, is that it's a sign of overtraining - which I DO NOT WANT with only three weeks left to the race.  And I'm not even sure, if it were overtraining, whether that would make any difference at this point.  What would I do, just rest more?  Cut miles?  I'm about to get there when I taper anyway, right?  Would I do any lasting harm by powering through?

Or... maybe this is the effect of running eight miles (longest ever non-race run, by the way!) early on a Saturday morning, then following it with a straight day-and-a-half canning five dozen jars of peaches and apricots and assorted jam.  That's a lot of standing, which is killer on my legs (WAY worse than running).  So, maybe it's a case of just being stupid less than intelligent about timing my activities. 

Help me here - am I freaking out with cause, or over nothing?  Or do I just need a good night's sleep? (why yes, yes I do.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Training recap – August 13-18

Well… back to reality, I guess. This week felt like the routine was back (yea!  I love routine) with a few surprises thrown in – namely, HEAT.  We had our once-per-summer foray into the high-90s for a couple days this week, sandwiched between some mid-80s day.  Substantially warmer than our usual 75 degree average high, and much hyped, but short enough to be manageable.

What was NOT manageable, however, was running in these temperatures with no acclimation.  So deviating from the plan was necessary: one of the short runs was dropped, another advanced a couple days.  Regardless, it still was a 16-mile week, which is a success in my book.
The plan was:  Whatever the weather would allow for, but hopefully a 5-mile, a 3-mile or two, and an 8-mile long run.

The reality:
Tuesday – 5.0 miles, 50:41
This was the run I pushed up a couple days.  Tuesday was the last day of “normal” temperatures before the heat came, so I cleared out for an early lunch hour.  Oh, man... this one just hurt. The longest stretch I could run without stopping or walking was 1.4 miles (so that 50 moving minutes took more like 65 actual clock minutes, at least seven of which passed while I got sidetracked drank water at the running store). I was glad for a slow work day – when I returned, my face apparently matched the neon salmon color of my shirt. 
Friday – 3.1 miles, 29:08
So Friday was the second-hottest day of the stretch, but it still cooled down well overnight, and I’d arranged for a day off of work.  After dropping the kids at camp I headed out for an easy three miles.  It was warming up quickly, but the pace and path were familiar, and after not having run in three days it felt pretty good.

Saturday – 8.1 miles,1:26:17

Met up with the Math Teacher and her daughter for the first three miles – the adults kept a nice easy pace and watched the teenager bound away from us, gazelle-like… less than halfway through the first of two laps, it looked like she’d lap us before we were done.  But she waited for us a couple times, before we lost sight of her (love that girl!).  Kept Math Teacher at some fairly assertive splits:  11:07, 11:15, 11:20.
Parted ways after two laps, and I continued for the five-mile loop.  Sidebar – it was SO nice breaking it up like that, and especially having company for part.  This was the longest non-race run I’ve ever attempted, and I’m not shy to say that I find the distances mentally daunting.  The numbers look so big!  Even though I know next year, when I’m working on my marathon training, an 8-miler will just be what I do at lunch.  Yikes, who am I becoming?
Off on my own now, I took the pace up near my “designated” half-marathon pace and worked to keep it there.  At first I thought my splits were too aggressive, then I realized I was running comfortably and what did I have to lose?  Miles 4 (10:27) and 5 (10:21) were flat and easy, Mile 6 (11:35) was The Hill*, I recovered quickly on Mile 7 (10:05) and as usual LOVED the downhill-mile-to-Starbucks for Mile 8 (9:17) – ah-MAY-zing how I run faster when there’s coffee at the end of the run!

The nice part?  If I run like this at the half, I will make my A-goal with time to spare.  Yea, confidence!
Now the one thing I have to add to all this is some stretching – I typically grab my coffee and head straight home.  Yesterday I followed my longest-ever-non-race-run with standing in the kitchen cooking all day and I tell you, my legs are STILL furious with me.  Might some stretching have helped?  Might it still help?  Maybe once I get this posted I should grab the foam roller and figure out what I’m supposed to do with it.  Hm.

*I’ve whined about The Hill enough, but this time it didn’t seem quite so bad.  One of these days I’m going to have to do a pretty detailed comparison of how much I’ve improved on that mile.  That could be a good thing to see.

Planned for this week:
Last week’s plan worked pretty well – I’m settling into a pattern of a mid-week five-miler, plus a couple 3-mile sanity runs for the workweek.  And then I’m getting my long runs up – next week I hope to do ten miles – my longest run preparing for the half-marathon in September.  The weather this week is supposed to be much nicer (just 70s) so that ought to help.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Training recap – August 6-11

(Heh… yeah, notice how I skipped a couple weeks there? Vacation – gotta love it!  We went to Washington, DC, where the overnight low temperatures were higher than our average July high temp back here, and the weather for the week was somewhere between sweltering and Hades.  Absolutely no running was attempted, but with no car we figured our walking at about a 3-4 mile per day average.)

After taking a two week break for vacation (!!!), I was a little worried about picking the running back up this week.  I don’t have enough of a habit of running yet; the idea of once again restarting is a daunting one to me and provokes substantial anxiety.  Of course, it’s mixed in with the other anxieties of how-many-unread-emails-will-I-find-tomorrow-at-work and how-many-unpleasant-surprises-are-going-to-be-in-those-emails and what-did-I-forget-to-do-before-I-left-that’s-gonna-haunt-me-tomorrow… gee, think I’m anxious much?  This, friends, is why I run.

The plan was:  Just get running. Anything. Any distance, any pace. Just get moving.

The reality:
Monday – 1.53 miles, 17 minutes
The day was, as expected for a first-day-back, crazy insane.  (For the record: 284 unread emails.) Only had time for a fast ten-minute clear-the-brain walk before a series of afternoon meetings, but it was enough to get to late afternoon without a brain breakdown.

So, the run was after work, about 6:00 pm.  I parked down at the lake and started off on the path.  My legs felt like stone pillars – no flex, no bounce – but I figured I’d loosen up pretty quick.  A quarter mile in, it still felt like that.  “Seriously, did I forget how to do this?”  Yes, I said that OUT LOUD and earned a couple stares from my pathmates.  Got to a mile, kept moving to about 1.25 miles, then stopped.  Walked the rest of the way back to the car, went home, and sat on the deck with my husband and a glass of wine.

Remember all that anxiety?  Yeah, gone now.  The “bad run” is done, now it’s time to move on.

Wednesday –2.40 miles, 30 minutes (approximate)
Soozan arranges weekly workouts for her office, and sweetly includes me in the invites even though I left that office several years ago.  Today’s adventure was ambling about a local wooded park.  Not only did I get to see colleagues I haven’t seen in quite a while, Sooz and I just jogged around the trails, getting totally twisted around.  My Garmin died ten minutes in – oh well! – but we were just chatting away and catching up on our summer so far.  The run felt easy, even on rolling trails, and my legs felt completely fresh.

Thursday – 4.27 miles, 41:40
So my biggest challenge when running alone has been in initial pacing – I am finding that I run WAAAY too fast in the first mile, then suck through the second mile before I start to get my wind back.  Now, when I’m just running 3-5 miles, this can be recovered – but what about when I want to do tempo miles mid-run?  Yeah, this needs work.

Today I started out consciously pacing slow.  I found myself sprinting a bit up a bridge, but caught it and slowed back down. But I tried not to actually look at the watch until I was close to the first mile mark. Success!  Splits: 10:00, 9:44, 10:09 (hill section), 9:19, and then an 8:58 pace on the last quarter mile.  The run felt good, didn’t walk ONCE outside the two water breaks.  (Though, I will admit, I stop at my friend’s store at the 3-mile mark for a cup of water and tend to stay a few (say, ten) minutes.)

Saturday – 3.20 miles, 36:34
I was sooooo glad to see the Math Teacher at 6:30 this morning!  I’ve missed our early-Saturday runs, and it was wonderful to squeeze one in this morning.  We both had early commitments, so we kept it short – though I did goad her into running ALL THE WAY to the Starbucks entrance rather than stopping when my watch chirped our third mile split.

Sunday – 7.05 miles, 1:13:37
I got nervous about not having anything longer than five miles so far, with the half-marathon coming up in 35 days… (oh, wow…)  So Saturday night I mapped out a seven-mile run that tread along my familiar paths.  I stayed up WAY too late last night, but my darling husband kept me on track this morning to get up and out the door (thank you, love!).  There was a group doing a twelve-hour run at the lake today, and I fell in with them for a couple laps – they were about an hour into their day when I joined up, and still feeling fairly good about it.  Made my plan for seven miles seem a bit puny, but I just kept my mouth shut.  After a couple laps, it was south to the Brewery, then back toward the Capitol.  I was able to keep an easy pace throughout – still a little fast in the beginning, but recovered okay and finished with a nine-minute mile.  It felt REALLY good to break through that mental five-mile barrier!

Planned for this week:
I’ve sort of abandoned slavishly following the running plans I was referencing, but I think this week I’ll get in four runs – two 3-milers, a 5-miler mid-week, and next weekend add an extra loop to the route I did today for about 8.5 miles.  The weather is supposed to be quite warm this week, so it might be a matter of what’s doable when I finally get out the door.