Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's that time of year again...

Busy Season!  Spring!  Running!  There is so much to do and not quite enough hours to fit it all in. 

Work has been busy but good.  I was stupid and did something at work to tweak my back last week.  Fortunately, it's a known issue and I know if I'm just careful with work responsibilities (still need to lift things) and running/stretching, it'll settle down.  The previous week was a pretty good cut back week from running.  30 miles and a little bit of bike riding.  I get so stiff with the days off from running but hesitate to put in too much biking.  It IS supposed to be a rest week and I want some of the extra time not running for sleeping!  I could tell as the week went on that my back was getting tight and had planned on getting into chiro to settle things back down.

Too late!  Tight back, gardening and stupidity at work will get me every time.  On the other hand, I'm really pleased that I can tell what is going on and could predict what was going to happen.  Next time, I'll call for an appointment earlier.  I can't promise not to be stupid though. 

I've been loving the Olympics and watching hours every day.  It really doesn't matter which event either.  There is something about all those determined faces who are at the peak of their sport vying for a medal which gets me all stirred up.  It fits very well with what's been going on with marathon training. 

There's been a lot of doubt this week.  Marathon pace.  I used to do almost every run at marathon pace or faster.  Now that I'm following a set plan, i do my easy runs all at 30 to 60 seconds slower than planned marathon pace as prescribed and marathon pace comes up in my workouts.  I get nervous about hitting this pace.  It usually goes pretty well and is fun to run strongly and faster.  26.2 miles at this pace though?  Yikes! 

I've reached that point in training (the marathon is two months away) where I just have to trust my training.  I get the miles in even when I don't want to and try not to think too much.  Determined.  Yes.  That describes it.  Yesterday was 17 miles on a rolling hilly course and I got 10 miles at planned marathon pace just 5 seconds off marathon pace because of hills.  This morning, i really didn't want to run but dragged myself out for at least 4 and ended up happily running 6 miles. 

53.4 miles for the week.  It's a new weekly mileage record for me (by .3 miles :-p).  Plus all the downed branches in the backyard are now cut up and in the yard waste bin.  Another week to come and I'm ready.  Determined. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happily Tired Legs

But with those tired legs comes a sense of accomplishment. 

Training is ratcheting up for Lincoln Marathon.  I dithered and dithered over marathon plans.  Remember, I've done the past two marathons while being coached.  I had a schedule provided by me and tailored to specific running courses and efforts to hit.  I am a type of person who really needs a set schedule so that I'll know when to plan for long runs and when big running weeks are.  Some of the tried and true marathon plans seem like a good idea. 

When I really started looking closely at them I'd get completely overwhelmed by a few different details.  The biggest issue is that I just don't run that many miles per week and I do not like running 7 or even 6 days a week.  How the heck do you fit in a well rounded marathon training plan then? 

And I really was not sure what paces I should be aiming for when doing specific workouts.  I ran 2 miles in just under 14 minutes in December.  You put that into the various running calculators (search for mcmillan or merv) and the marathon pace is ridiculous.  I can do shorter workouts at a faster pace but should I when I know my marathon pace and easy runs should be much slower? 

Oh I was a mess debating all this in my head.  I felt like the clock was ticking and May was just around the corner.  then I found this training plan on the boston marathon site:  link

The rookie plan seemed just right.  A range of mileage and easy to follow workouts.  I liked the look of the speedwork and liked that there were specific marathon paced runs.  I mulled it over a bit and asked for a bit of feedback from runango marathoners and decided this plan would work for me with some modifications. 

So that's what I've been doing.  the past three weeks have been a good physically and mentally as I finished my first long run on roads today strongly and happily.

The most amazing thing about this?  This week is the third week where I've hit just about 50 miles per week.  THAT is high mileage for me and I've not been consistently in that range since 2006/2007.   I talked to former coach about scheduling and fitting in miles and he had a good idea of scheduling a "double" in order to maintain full rest days from running. 

It's hard for me to get more than 8-10 miles in mid-week right now and being able to run 8-10 in the am and then a few in the evening is one way to get in more.  I've done this a couple weeks now and it seems to work.  I don't plan on it for every week but so far I'm liking it. 

Oh sure.  This marathon plan, I'm realizing now, just doesn't quite fit in with my running schedule so I'm always having to move workouts around.  for instance, I prefer to generally do my long runs on Saturday instead of sunday.  that plan calls for speedwork on tuesday just two days after the long run.  That totally will not work for me.  I know I need more recovery time from a long run.  Wednesday evenings is the best day to do speedwork for me because I like to do them with the group but that means I might need to do marathon paced runs on tuesday instead. And like was suggested on the marathon forum, i think longer tempo workouts need to be incorporated later in the plan. 

the best part of this is that after running two marathons and understanding what the point of each run is, I have a better idea of how to move runs about and what to focus on. 

It did mean that I decided to skip the two-mile track race last weekend and instead focused on an excellent half marathon distance run with a few miles at marathon pace.  I nailed this workout and was really looking forward to my first long run this weekend.  but the running group I run with for long runs was doing a course that I really didn't want to do a long run on.  What to do? 

Well there was this little 5k race around the lake I run at multiple times a week.  Could I race that 5k and then get in a long run?  yes, i decided. 

And I did.  I need the races.  I need the mental effort but those two mile races while fun are just too short.  And a 5k is so long you ask?  Well yes!  I chose to start out at a pace that I thought would be doable if I'd been rested and trained at 5k pace for.  Of course, I am so not rested nor trained for 5k pace so I expected this to hurt and that was going to be fine. 

5k - 23:30.  14th in my AG and I did get passed by PN right at the end who is 20 years older than I am.  Haha!  I hit my first mile right where I wanted but then gradually slowed.  The legs felt encased in sludge.  I battled mentally though and stuck with it which was really the point.  You want a good article to read?  Read about Kara Goucher in the March 2010 Runners World article about confidence boosters. 

And then I chose to do my first long run this cycle the next day.  yep.  I'd been worrying about this all week.  18.7 miles at a good long run pace.  My feet are sore this evening and my hamstrings feel rather tight but that's about it.  I had to keep reminding myself that I'd raced a 5k the day before when I was running.  No, i didn't feel great but I didn't feel terrible either. 

the best part of the run (besides being done)?  At mile 9, I was on magnolia bluff contemplating the view of West Seattle which looked very, very far away.  This was a bit demoralizing as I was feeling a bit tired and West Seattle (alki) was where my run was going to end.  could I do this?  I'm just coming to the descent off of Magnolia and I see two swooping and soaring bald eagles riding the thermals off teh bluffs.  They were amazing to watch and I kept craning my head around to catch sight of them for as long as I could.

Oh yes I can do this. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lincoln, Nebraska

Last weekend with all the fun, running just had to take a back seat.  And truthfully, i was feeling stressed by trying to get in miles and still enjoy my friends' visit.  It's not like they are in Seattle everyday.  I still got in some good workouts but decided to cut short the long run and then take an extra rest day as I was just tired when running anyway.

I figured out why I was feeling rather blah when running this week.  Ahem.  Female issues and I'm guessing my iron is a little low right now.  We had a pot roast this past weekend!

This week has been a complete turn around.  We were busy with lots of activities last weekend plus eating and drinking and wandering about Seattle.  I went back to work Monday for a full and busy week of both work and running.  It's been a completely different week.  I feel great and running has been wonderful this week.  And work hasn't been half bad either. 

I had a really good track workout in the dark.  Have you ever done that?  it's very odd running along fast in the dark on a track.  It's a dirt track so the footing can be a bit off in places.  The next day, I tested myself by running a group run at my very easy pace.  This is tough to do as in a group format, it's easy to get going too fast but I had fun chatting with people I don't normally run with and I was pleased with my discipline.  I needed to keep it easy as the next day I was planning a marathon paced workout.  I nailed that workout too much to my surprise.

And today, I had my first long run as I start to prepare for a marathon in May.  Which one?  umm...Lincoln Nebraska.  Really?  yes, really.  I am tempted by Eugene but I've run Eugene and I'm not dying to repeat it. It was good but not great.  What is the draw in Lincoln? I know a lot of people who will be running it and I've never been to the midwest so why not?  I actually prefer to fly to an event rather than a 6 hour drive.  Driving is terrible for my back! 

The run today was so nice.  15.8 miles on trails in the Redmond Watershed Preserve.  There were a lot of runners out there.  I was running as part of a group but no one else was at my pace or going as long so I did run by myself the whole time.  I did like waving hello to everyone as we passed.  I brought out my ipod for some tunes and that was really pleasant.  I don't normally run with music but every once in a while it really helps.

it's a random selection on the ipod and the first tune up was Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's blues" which starts with the lyrics "when you're lost in the rain in Juarez..."  Now I wasn't lost (yet, i did get off course a bit) and I wasn't anywhere near Juarez but it was raining.  It made me laugh.

Other musical highlights: 

Aretha Franklin - Chain of Fools
Banco de Gaia - Drippy
Regina Spektor - Real Love
Cowboy Junkies - Lay it Down
Christina Branco - Fado Das Sedes
Fatboy Slim - Don't let the Man Get you Down
Johnny Cash - big River
Paramore - Let the Flames Begin
Beth Orton - Feel to Believe
The Beatles - Nowhere Man
Sarah McLachlan - Dirty Little Secrets 
Chuck Berry - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (I had to listen to this one twice as it had such a good beat for running on a very runnable section.)


Rachmaninov's Variations on a theme of chopin.  This went on for so long but really builds and it was just so pretty out.  I was enjoying myself.  I was shocked to check iTunes and see tahis "song" is 27 minutes.  it didn't seem that long.  I must've been in a the running zone!

Plane tickets and hotel reservations are booked for Lincoln.  I'm excited!