Saturday, August 23, 2014

Best run ever?

Saturday's forecast was hot and sunny, with a likely heat index well above 90. It was also the first of only three really big runs the Hansons have me doing (each 16 miles). I could sleep in and risk the likelihood of gross weather and suffer. Or I could wake up super early and do it before the sun was at its highest peak. Neither option excited me.

I set my alarm for 5:30 and made it outside ready to run a few minutes before sunrise. It was already warm and humid, but very peaceful. There were virtually no cars and I only saw one person who wasn't running (he was watching his dog tinkle lol)

My time plan was to go slow enough that I could run for miles without walking. I ran around home because I could arrange a route that would be mostly shady, and that had ample places to stop for water that would be open that early (Helloooooooo McDonalds :D

My first mile was 11:40 - slow. Whatever. The second mile was 11:00. Better, but still not great, yet I hadn't walked any. It was definitely hot and humid, but aside from sweating buckets, I felt really good and just kept going. In mile 9 when it was really hurting, the clouds and a little fog rolled in. It was like watching a movie - I was running into the sun and could watch the clouds cover the sun quickly and completely. Aaaaah! The temperature immediately plummeted!

Well past halfway I still hadn't walked! I got to 13 without walking, 14, 15, then finished the entire run without walking!!!! Granted, I stopped three times to refill my water and a few times to cross the street, but no walking!!!!!

Towards the end my thighs had chafed a little but I could have kept going several more miles. After showering, I was happy to tell my friend that I was tired and worn out, but nothing hurt! I spent the afternoon wearing my compression sleeves and I feel great!

Not only that, I negative split by 2:21! The last two miles were both under race pace :) Overall I averaged 50 seconds slower than race pace, but I'm not too concerned because I was alone and had to manage my own water, which added about eight pounds of weight and bulk to my waist.

Best run ever? So far!!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Humidity!!!! Grrr

This summer has been super mild. Virtually every day I've been able to sleep in then run whenever I want, without having to run too early or too late. Granted, it's more comfortable to run when the sun isn't at a peak, but it's been tolerable all summer.

That dreamworld ended fast! Today is the oppressive heat and humidity we've come to expect from summer. It's mid-80s, but 80% humidity, so it feels like 91. I was sweating just walking from the car into the house and the air is so thick it's more difficult to breathe. The Hanson brothers want me to run 8 miles today...

What to do? Run on the treadmill? Wait until the sun is going down? Complicating everything is that tomorrow is one of my biggie 16-milers and the forecast says I need to wake up as early as possible and get it done. If I wait until later to run, I'll be doing 24 miles within 12 hours, which I'm sure isn't exactly what the brothers intend. I just don't know.

Any tips for dealing with humidity? Or staying dry in the face of such humidity? When it's so humid and I sweat so much the wetness leads to blisters and chafing. The wicking material doesn't really help when the air is already so heavy with water :(

Monday, August 18, 2014

A terrible 10 :(

Saturday was an "easy" 10 miles, yet it was my worst 10-miler ever timewise. Grrr that was frustrating!

It didn't help one bit that I ran in the middle of the day. I like sleeping in so I didn't go super early, then Bill wanted to go to a party that evening, so late running was out. Unfortunately that left me with the middle of the day. I went to Ann Arbor for a chance of scenery, but it was hot and sunny so the different view didn't distract me or help any. The breeze felt good, but the weather wasn't on my side. It was one of the few really hot runs I've done this summer, so it could have been so much worse.

I wore my water belt, which makes me uncomfortable, but it was necessary. With the heat it didn't last more than 4 miles and after 5 I had to stop at an assisted living facility for a refill. More water would have helped, but there were seemingly zero water fountains.

Also problematic was my lack of protein before the run. I had eaten a bowl of Kashi cereal and a few cookies, so not much of substance. So I learned from that.

Within the first half mile I started cramping so my slow pace became glacial. After 2 agonizing miles the cramps passed. By that time I was sweating like crazy and my headphones were bothering me, so I tried to run with just one, but that was bothersome as well so I did the second half without any music. I was so bored, however, that I sang kids songs to myself lol

It got done. Sometimes that's all I can say.

The run had an unfortunate postscript. A few hours later, Bill and I were enjoying sangria at Dominick's with his friends, and looking at the menu. I was ravenous, but couldn't decide what I wanted to eat so I had him surprise me. When he returned with a barbeque chicken sandwich - something I would normally gobble up - my stomach turned. Within a few minutes my heart was racing, my forehead was gushing sweat and I went to the bathroom, hoping a little vomiting would make me feel better. Instead I shuffled to the car and laid down in the backseat while he had dinner and said goodbye. It was probably massive dehydration that felt like flu :(

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Zen Run

Friday was another 8-mile day. I have great routes around my house, but I've done them so many times over 4 years that I'm bored with them. I debated where to drive and run - Grosse Ile? Lake Erie Metro Park? I figured Hines was still flooded, but I'm bored with that anyway. I waited until early evening so I wouldn't have to contend with the full sun then just stayed around home. I did my normal route, but in reverse and it made a huge difference!

Like every run now, the strategy was to go as slow as I needed in order to run without walking. There were 2 places I'd have to stop to cross the street at the light, so each segment was 2-3 miles. I could manage that.

It was great! I somehow got into a Zen state where it didn't hurt! I would go so far as to say I enjoyed it! There was nowhere else I'd rather be and nothing else I'd rather be doing at the time. The miles passed easily and I finished with a 10:38 average, which is just about perfect for a training run.

Now I need to figure out how I got into the mental state and duplicate it every time!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The hardest run yet

Tuesdays are becoming my favorite day of the week because they're the one day the Hansons have absolutely nothing scheduled lol After the mini break, however, comes the hardest run of the week for me - the tempo run! The goal of the tempo run is to run AT race pace for the whole time, not averaging race pace, but maintaining the exact pace. The pace stays constant, the perceived rate of exertion (PRE) does not...

This week was the hardest run I've done in a long long time. Since I've only been doing the tempo runs for a few weeks, I still do them on the treadmill so my pace is exact. Maintaining an exact pace isn't particularly a strength of mine, so I let the TM do it for me.

I drove 15 minutes to the gym, pulled my headphones out of my bag and realized my iPod was at home on the charger! Noooooo!!! The plan was 8 miles and the TMs shut off automatically after 60 minutes, so I planned to run 60 minutes and 24 minutes. I made sure to do the 24 first, because if I did the 60 then stopped to reset, I probably wouldn't do the 24.

I did the 24 without music. It was awful. The TMs do have headphone jacks to listen to the overhead TVs. I wasn't sure how I'd like being tethered to the machine like that, but it was worth a try. My headphone cord is sufficiently long so it was ok. Unfortunately there was nothing on tv! I alternated between TMZ and SportsCenter at NFL training camp. TMZ was mildly entertaining - I'd never seen it before.

The first few miles were easy enough, the last few were really difficult. I wanted so badly to slow down for a few minutes, knowing I could speed up at the end and still make the time. But that's not the purpose of the tempo run. No, I had to maintain the consistent pace. I wanted to quit after 6 miles but I got through it. It was just under 1/3 of a marathon and it was difficult. The actual race will be easier mentally because I'll have visual distraction and company.

When I use the TMs, I have definite favorites, generally those on the ends because I don't want people on either side of me. Most people observe the "courtesy rule" and leave an empty TM between runners, when available. I was in a mini row of 4 TMs so hopefully no one would be in my row, right? Not so much. An elderly man in jean shorts and khaki socks walked on the machine right next to mine! Grrrr After he finished walking, he turned to me and said "Good luck on your 10k." ????? "Thank you," I replied.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slowing down to hit goal time

My first long run with the Hanson program was a 10-miler. The next day was 5. Hal never made me run the day after a long run and I'm not sure I've ever done it. Yet the new plan isn't about being comfortable, but doing what will get me a PR, so I dragged my tired legs out of the house and got it started.

I ran in the evening and it wasn't especially hot so I didn't carry any water. It was "only" 5 miles so I shouldn't need water, right? Without breaking for water, my plan was to run the whole time, regardless of how slow I went. The important thing was getting the miles done and getting my legs accustomed to being tired but still running.

I wore my watch to keep track of the distance, but the time and pace were completely irrelevant. The first mile was a 10:49, next was a 10:48, then an 11+. It didn't matter. Every time I felt weak and wanted to walk, I slowed down even more just to keep going.

Somewhere around mile 4.1 it started to feel a little easier and my legs felt a little lighter and I was able to go a tiny bit faster. Mile 4 was in the 10:20 ballpark then the last mile was a 9:22. My final average time was a 10:35, just a touch above my marathon pace of 10:30.
Hal who? Keith and Kevin Hanson are helping me this year

Hal always said to start slowly enough that I can maintain it forever and it's finally setting in. Every run I've done since then has used the same approach - start slow, keep it slow but consistent. When it stops hurting, speed up a little. Good things are happening with the Hansons.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I don't plan to just finish the Chicago marathon. I expect to run it and destroy my PR in the process. I still debate the goal time pretty much every time I run and have excess thinking time. I don't want a simple PR but a huge one, like 20-30 minutes. I'm training for a 4:35 finish but I know there will be so many people that it'll be impossible to hit the corners and tangents exactly so I'll be over mileage. Do I add 5 minutes allowance for that? 10?

In the quest for a big fat PR I've changed plans, going from 4 runs a week to 6. I'm trying to lose weight so I have less to carry around, or at least not gain any. Nancy asked if I wanted to do the Akron marathon as a trial run, but after a little thought I had to decline because the marbles have always been solely in Chicago. I read an article in Runners World about a woman training for an Ironman. A lot of what she said is completely apropos for Chicago - the bigger the goal, the more flexible your ideas of what is "normal." Not to mention that the closer it gets, the more willing you are to do just about anything to finish the goal. Cortisone? Bring it on! (just an example, not personal experience) Veterinary liniment gel? Got it! I follow an 18-week training program and as early as week 2 I told Bill I would be DEVASTATED if I failed to PR in Chicago.

When I toe the line, I'll be the best prepared I've ever been and there will be no luck involved, but careful preparation and laser focus so I can hit my PR and promptly retire*. See you at the finish line!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ditching Hal

The first seven week of Hal's program went well, then came to a crashing halt when I realized I'm BORED with his program. I've used it so many times that I can recite the entire program from memory and I don't want another ten weeks of it!!! I noticed on Thursday that my bones, joints and muscles all felt great, but I was limited cardiovascularly, so that was problematic. Running hasn't been fun the past week or two because it's soooooo boring.

So I changed it up and switched from Hal to the Hanson training method. It's going to be a huge change. On the positive side, no single run is further than 16 miles (there are four of those). On the negative - running six days a week. Individual runs are shorter, but total miles are greater. I'll see how it goes. At least it's different and has an emphasis on speed training.

I figure I'll have one of three outcomes:
(1) Run huge PR at Chicago
(2) get completely burnt out and give up on running altogether
(3) injury

Switching programs mid-way is unorthodox, but I'm not going to say it's a bad idea per se. I think even Hal would agree that the best training program is the one that works for me this year. At least it'll have variety.