Sunday, February 22, 2015

The great fear

I think I've finally figured out why I keep entering both spring and fall races every year. I know how easy it'll be to fall out of the training mode, and I'm worried that if I don't train one season, I'll never get back to it. Getting out of training mode is a whole lot easier than getting into the training mind-set. So long as I'm constantly training, I never have to get back into it.

Although I've been invited to visit Vietnam with a former student this summer, and I applied for a 6-week job in Virginia, so either of those might make me forget all about training. We'll see. At this point I have no fall races planned, but I'm entering the lotteries for the Marine Corps and Chicago and will know about those sometime in April.

Toward the end of the half in Myrtle Beach, all I kept thinking was how much I like the half distance :D I fear if I focus on that distance, I'll never run another full. Maybe an even 20 is a good stopping point?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hitting my goal weight

Yeah, not me
Several years ago, I was biking when Les (trainer) at the Y asked me why I gained weight. I was moderately insulted, then eventually realized it was a valid question. The answer was simple - I was bored at work, so I snacked, then when my friends asked if I wanted to have a "meeting" after work (ie a drink), that was always more fun than going to the gym, or coming home alone. Since I lived alone, I generally ate while there, rather than cook for one. Over a year or two, I slowly and gradually gained weight. I knew I had gained, especially after I bought "fat pants," but I was mostly in denial about how much, because I didn't weigh myself any more.

My best friend took me to Gatlinburg for my 30th birthday and I hated looking at the pictures because they showed that my arms were round, my stomach was full, and I didn't look like me. So in May 2009 I started tracking calories with The Daily Plate and was basically glued to a computer to track every single thing I ate.

Within 8-9 months, I had lost about 25 pounds - I know where I started The Daily Plate, but I think I had lost 5 before I even started that. Then with about 5-7 pounds to go, I started getting lazy with tracking, and making decision more based on what tasted good than on what was good for me.

I fluctuated within 2-10 pounds of my goal weight for over 5 years.

This January, I finally got serious about it. The first week I "lost" 5.7 pounds in 4 days. Yeah, that wasn't sustainable. After a few weeks I "gained" 3 pounds overnight, then Bill and I went on vacation. For whatever reason, we only ate twice a day, and no snacking, but I was enjoying those meals - bacon at every breakfast nom nom nom.

I came home and didn't weigh myself. I didn't want to see everything undone! I decided Friday would be weigh-in day, and when I stepped on the scale yesterday morning, I had hit my goal weight! My scale tends to fluctuate wildly, so I moved it a few times and weighed myself about 6 times, and it was always my exact goal weight, or 0.1 - 0.5 below goal weight. Nice surprise. I was this weight when I was 26 and somehow always had this idea that with enough discipline I could be this weight at any age. I guess so :)

Ironically, even though I've been chasing this weight since 2009, I don't look any different or feel any different than I did 5 pounds ago :(

The challenge now is to maintain it and keep eating within a healthy calorie range, focused on fruits and veggies. I've been eating mostly paleo and it works, even if I really crave a piece of bread sometimes. With weekly weigh-ins, and not daily, I can have that piece of bread, just not the whole loaf!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The new plan

My right quad had been sore and mostly feeling overworked. If the top of my thigh was 12:00, and my hamstring was 6:00, the discomfort was at 2:00. After the Myrtle Beach half, I felt great. Had a big breakfast, about five cups of coffee, and felt as good as new. Later that afternoon, we went to a sculpture garden and walked maybe a mile. After dinner that night, when I stood up, the pain had jumped to 10:00 and was sudden upon standing.

Wish we had this weather! Shorts!!!
For the next few days it didn't hurt to walk, it didn't hurt to rest, it didn't hurt when I poked at it, but upon standing, there were a few uncomfortable seconds, which went away with movement.

I tried all my home remedies - ice, massage, rest, compression, menthol. Nothing helped. I didn't run for four long days and don't feel any better. (Although thankfully my cold is almost gone, just a few coughs at bedtime.)

Today I wanted to test it out, so I went to the gym and rather than use the TM to force a speed, I used it to force myself to stay slow. I started at 4.8 mph and increased to 5.7 mph, where I held it for 4 miles. My heart and lungs felt amazing - didn't even feel like I was working hard. The woman next to me was running at 7.1 mph though, and I was crazy jealous!

My leg felt fine during and after, so the new plan is to get back with the Hansons program, but do the miles sloooooowly as long as I'm trapped inside. Although 5.7 mph was my goal pace last season, so it's not that slow... Perhaps change the first speed and tempo runs to regular slow miles.

Somehow I'll still manage a sub-2:00 half in March, yes? The most amazing thing about the MB half was that I hit the 10k (6.2 miles) timing mat at 1:03:07. The second half was 6.9 miles and 1:01:55, and I could have kept going. As averages, the first part was 10:10, and the second was 8:58! Every mile felt stronger than the previous. So even though I won't be training at pace, I feel good about my prospects!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Myrtle Beach half race review

A few weeks ago Bill and I decided we wanted to go on vacation to somewhere - anywhere - warm to get away from winter for a few days. The cheapest flight we could find was to Myrtle Beach, so that was reason enough to go there. Like any runner would, I thought "hmmm I wonder if there's a race while we're there..." It turned out to be not just any race, but the Myrtle Beach marathon (and half, relay, 5k, etc.)

It worked out perfectly because the brothers Hanson wanted me to do 6-10-6, but as a compromise, I did 0 - 13.1 - 0. I wasn't necessarily in half shape, but it's not that much more than 10 and I'd be done running by 9am so it wouldn't interfere with our limited vacation time. After I registered, however, my quad started feeling overworked, but it was too late to change my mind.

Then on Thursday morning, my first thought when I woke up was "I'm getting sick." grrrrr!!!!! Worst timing ever!!! When I woke up at 5am for the race, my ears ached and I was full of solid snot, but I've never not done a race. Besides, my 4th best marathon was under similar conditions. So I took two DayQuil, one ibuprofen, slathered menthol gel on my leg and tucked tissue in my sleeves. Had to try! I had already been justifying my time though. "It's my best winter half...." or "It's my fastest out of state half...."

It was cold, in a relative sense. Compared with Michigan, it was a downright balmy 30 degrees at start time. Bill stayed with me until the last minute and let me wear his jacket, then I knew I'd warm up as I ran. My strategy was to go slooooooooow and let my leg dictate my pace. It was a training run, and I just wanted to log the miles.

It's funny. Once I stopped trying to force a specified pace, and just let my legs go free, great things happened. My first mile was well over 10 minutes, then they kept getting faster. Around the halfway point, I saw a woman with 2:15 pinned on her back and thought if I can just stay with her...

The sun came up, we ran toward the ocean, and I stopped noticing my leg. The weather was absolutely perfect for running - mid to upper 30s and sunny. I drank water on the even miles, but I was never dehydrated because I wasn't sweating so much in the cool temps. My strategy was to walk through a few sips of water, blow my nose, then keep going.

10 miles felt great. With a 5k to go, I started to entertain thoughts of a possible pr. I had roughly 33 minutes to finish and pr, so I told myself to hang on to 10-minute miles, even though everything after the first had been significantly faster than that.

It felt amazing. I kept going and kept feeling stronger with each successive mile. In the finishing chute, I knew a PR was happening and I had a huge grin on my face as I passed runner after runner after runner. I passed Bill on the sideline, raised both arms and yelled "PR!!!!" My pace in the last 0.1 was under 7-minutes and I could have kept going. It's only appropriate that I crossed the finish line to Pharell's "Happy."

2:05:02!!!!!! (official time - I wasn't positive where the start/finish lines were exactly so my watch is a nibble off, in both time and distance). My previous best had been a 2:08:49. It's not the sub-2 I'm training for, but it's also 6 weeks earlier than the Rock CF half, which is the target to break 2 hours. Had I known I was that close to going under 2:05, I would have skipped blowing my nose once lol That's all the difference in time between +5 and -5.

It was really expensive. Since I did so well, it's worth it :) It was very well organized, and runners got some nice goodies - a heavy duty drawstring backpack, a long-sleeve tech shirt that's pretty generic looking. I certainly have nicer, but I definitely have much worse as well. It's ladies' cut, I like the color and it fits so I can ignore all the sponsor logos on the back. The best goodie was a super sweet medal shaped like flip flops. Plus we got to run next to the beach in February - what's better than that?
Photographer said ok to share thumbnails. Look at my raised leg - I'm flying!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

All this speed work is catching up to me

January is miserable. We all agree, right? The lousy weather makes it extremely difficult to run outside between the snow, ice, cold, and early darkness. This year I managed 4 runs outside and 18 on the treadmill. The outside runs have been slightly under 10-minute miles. The TM runs have been between 9:00-9:20.

A few weeks ago my right quad started feeling a little twingy. Not terrible, not pain per se, but it wasn't quite right. I kept running through it. Last weekend I managed 20 miles on it (8-8-4). The discomfort subsides in about 3-4 miles, so I've been using menthol gel to get through the early miles.

I took my scheduled day off this week. I took the next day as well and I still don't feel 100%. I can run on it, but the Flying Pig is suddenly feeling a long way off.

Lesson learned: Just because I can do something doesn't mean I should. I was using the TM to force my legs to do speeds they never would have managed outdoors, at least not that consistently. I was inadvertently doing 5-6 speed workouts a week, with only one day off. I'm understanding now why all the training programs emphasize slow, easy runs.

Yesterday I changed 5 miles at race pace to a half hour of extremely slow jogging, including a walked warm-up. My leg felt so-so. It didn't seem any better or worse from having done it.

New plan (and it pains me greatly to write this): Do one run all weekend because I already paid for the race, but take it slow and easy, then nothing until Tuesday or Wednesday, or when it feels better, bike if needed so at least I'm getting a little cardio. I hate taking off training time, but I can't run with this gimpyness until May. Besides, I switched to the Hansons program mid-way through when I used it in the summer. I'll manage.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The $7 run

Saturday's temperature wasn't terrible - mid 30s and dry. The brothers Hanson wanted me to run 8 miles again and my soul cried a little at the thought of going back to the gym, so I started really thinking where could I run outside? Anywhere around home was out because enough people don't shovel, and some of the streets still haven't been plowed. I was going to see Bill in Ann Arbor, so I could run there downtown, but then I'd be dodging people and I wasn't sure if laps around the Diag would be any better than the gym. I had asked a woman at work about Hines Drive, but she said it had only a narrow shoulder cleared.

Then I thought - MetroParks!!!! If I was driving to Ann Arbor anyway, maybe, just maybe, one of the parks on the way would have a clear place to run. I called and asked about the trail conditions, about the trail length. I must have asked 4 different ways if the walking path had been cleared of all the snow, and hallelujah! it had been!!!

20 minutes and $7 later, I had a place to run outside!!!!!! It started off a little cool, but by the end I was sweating and wishing I had worn something lighter. I don't really know the path and whether or not it loops back, so I did a 4-mile out and back. It felt soooooo good to be outside and actually running! The TM works in a pinch, but it's not the same.

My final time was 1:21:37, which is a 10:12 average. It was 31 seconds slower per mile than on Friday, but I have several very legitimate reasons why:
1. it was unpredictably hilly
2. there was wind
3. I was powering myself, not reacting to the TM
4. it was the second time I had run 8 miles within 18 hours
5. I didn't have a meathead racing me

Well worth the entry fee! Although I know pedestrians can follow the trails into the park and not pay the entry fee. I need to find out where these paths start!!!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cranky... Killer

Friday was "warm" at 30 degrees and sunny, but I don't have any viable options to run outside. I thought about driving down to Elizabeth Park in Trenton and running 8 mile-long laps, but after I stopped by a used book sale, it was gray and windy and just wasn't happening.

Back to the gym for another torturous TM run, this time 8 miles. Physically, it wasn't all that hard, but mentally it was brutal! No part of me wanted to do the run and I was cranky as a result. I told myself it was fine to be cranky, it was ok if I whined and complained the whole time, but it was going to happen no matter how much I hated it.

Being a Friday night, it was pretty empty and my preferred TM was free. I started slooooooowly. The first mile was over 10-minutes, then I settled in at 6.3 mph. I sang along to my music, I counted down the mileage, I kept going.

With 1.1 miles left, a guy got on the treadmill next to me. The gym was pretty much empty and he could have any TM he wanted, and decided to be right next to me???? When running on a TM, you can just tell when someone is racing you, and this guy definitely was. It may as well have been my brother, or the stranger who randomly told me in 2009 that I wouldn't be able to complete a marathon. No matter how tired and bored I was, my competitive side kicked in immediately. Homeboy didn't know who he just challenged! Every time he stopped, I cranked up my speed, and after 7 exhausting miles, I threw down an 8:31 final mile. Hu-ah! Anytime he wants to race again....!!!! :D

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sacrificing speed for safety

It snowed 16.4 inches last night. My quad has been sore. Do I need any more reason to skip my scheduled speed session? By late afternoon, the main roads are surely good enough to drive so I guess that's no longer a valid excuse. I'd rather be safe though and stay in, do some core work and focus on rolling out this knot in my quad. Missed workouts are bound to come up now and again. It happens. I get over it and get back with the program the next day. This is ONE workout out of exactly 100 in the program. It's ok!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January by the Numbers

January is over. It was really cold, and a little snowy, far less than we had last year, so that was good. Not so good was running on the treadmill so often because the temperature never really went above freezing, so the snow that my neighbors neglected to shovel three weeks ago is still there.

Number of runs: 22
Number of runs I downgraded or skipped: 0
Number of runs outside: 4 :(
Number of treadmill runs: 18 ugh!!!!
Total miles: 96.76 in January!!!!!!! I've never ever gotten anywhere close to this in January
Shortest run: 2.0
Longest run: 6.46
Average distance per run: 4.39
Money found running: $1.06

Not too shabby. Could I have pushed a little and gotten to an even 100? Sure, but I had already increased the mileage on the majority of my runs. Today's run broke 100 for the year already. Crazy!

If anyone missed the great girl-power commercial immediately after halftime of the Super Bowl, here it is:
I often wear a sweatband that says "I run like a girl." I wish it said "I run like a woman," because how else could I possibly run???