Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lake Union 10k 2012

And just when we didn't think we'd get one, Summer arrived for a couple weeks.  Finally we had to get the fans and cats in the house flopped about as flat as can be.  Gardening slows at this point as the plants mostly slow in growth.  I have to stay on top of watering and I finally removed the snap pea plants.  Wow, those were the best!  I felt like i was saying goodbye to a friend when i yanked them out.  Sadly, the green beans aren't doing as well.  Something is gnawing at them and some of the leaves are looking a bit disgruntled.  With the hot weather though, they seem to have bounced back. 

Of course, late summer is also when my birthday hits.  I took advantage of the good weather to take a random day off from work and give myself a b-day present of running on trails.  A couple friends were able to join me and it was a perfect way to celebrate.  This was a planned long run for the week (on a thursday) so i could still get in miles and do a local 10k which I like very much. 

The Lake Union 10k is in it's 4th year.  I skipped last year but otherwise have run every year.  It's a well known course around Lake Union which means it is mostly flat except for some bridge approaches and a last mean little but extremely steep hill in mile 5.  Training has been great of late and I've been hitting some excellent workouts so I was really looking forward to seeing how this would go.

What type of workouts?  I've been adding in back to back longer runs on the weekend (at a much slower pace) and enjoying the chance to just relax and get some miles.  During the week, I've had speed and moderate paced workouts.  The last speed workout I did was probably the hardest workout I've ever completed. 

8 x 2:00 hard hill repeats with a jog back down and then I went to the track to run 4 x 400s at a slightly faster pace than I've been doing them.  And really I tried to quit.  My back was tightening up and i was worried about tweaking things.  But with some encouragement, I kept at it and finished the workout hitting every thing just right. I was still thinking of this workout days later.

Why?  I'll admit I've been afraid to push things the past couple years.  I'm afraid of getting injured and being tired.  Tired? Of course I'm tired, I'm adding mileage and still keeping in quality workouts but that is ok.  It's ok to be tired and have your body adapt to the training.  The difference is that I'm not having any injury issues.  I'm tired but I recover quick and really look forward to the next challenge.

So Thursday's long trail run left me rather tired.  And that was ok.  I did my normal warm up and lined up fairly close to the front.  Even though this race is now starting on the road instead of the trail, I thought it would still be a bit crowded.  Good call!  I thought I was in shape to get close to 48 flat.  I planned to go out around 7:50.

That 7:40 mile went quick!  And I was actively slowing myself down and feeling good.  In previous years, I've thought at the 5k mark that it would be much better to do just a 5k but not this year.  I hit the short uphill section towards teh University Bridge and was still feeling strong.  I was pretty nervous about the very short and very steep section of road that came at you around mile 5.  These sorts of hills have been the bane of my running.  Remember those hill repeats you hit!  Remember that track workout you completed AFTER those hill repeats.  Keep your form.  Keep engaged. 

And I did. I didn't lose any ground to any of the people around me.  And I was trying to convince myself that it was just a very short section.  Obviously I had tried to forget it because there was one section that was very short but then you turned the corner and EEK it climbed again.  Then a fairly steep down and then right back up.  No worries.  I had this. 

I came across a great little video of Pacific Northwest Ballet practice the other day.  If you've never seen professional ballet up close, then you may not be aware of what atheletes those dancers are.  I've been lucky to see studio rehearsal and have seen the sweat flying off of bodies, the legs and arms shaking and the panting like they've just run a um 10k! And then they are in costume, under hot lights making those dance moves look easy and effortless.

There are some great quotes in here. 

"When fatigue sets in, think efficiency."  A straight line and keep that form as efficient as possible.  What is efficient for me is using those glute muscles effectively.  And I worked on keeping that happening.  I tend to want to swing my left arm across my body as I get tired.  I kept is moving straight.  I tend to sit back a bit and my gaze goes up which leads to some back problems.  Keep the gaze down and moving forward!  Honestly this applies at work too.  Get it done as efficiently as possible. 

"Remember, your body it's a dictatorship; there is a no democracy.  There is no vote. No one gets a vote. It's your way.  But you have to enforce that."  I started telling myself "this is not a democracy" and "NO voting" the last couple miles of this race.  I WOULD keep moving and I WOULD stay focused and I WOULD move!  And it worked. 

Woohoo!  That's a Master's PR on not so fresh legs.  I think I can approach under 48 on the right day.  I ended up with an Age Group win becasue those who were faster than I in my age group ended up winning either the overall or master's division.  I will happily take medaling up!  

And did I mention this race has tasty pancakes with a wonderful cooked raspberry spread?  Awesome! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Relay Recovery Orange Ogres finish strong!

The first time I did a relay such as this one, I have never been so sore after the event.  Why? I hadn't been running much because of injury, I didn't understand or know how to eat or drink during the relay and I'm pretty sure I was clueless about things that can help speed recovery.  All of those things (plus just years more running at a higher level) means I have been amazed at how easy recovery has been from this year's event.

I've been at a consistent high mileage (for me) for a couple of months with no injury issues besides the occasional tweak here and there. I get how I have to bring and then eat foods which appeal to me at odd times even when I don't really feel like it. I have extra food too and generally people bring enough extra snacky items to share.  This is much better than when i had a PBJ sandwich which I could barely choke down and then promptly lost in the van the first year I ran a relay such as this.  Yep, experience counts on so many levels!

And I'd had some excellent running in this event.  17 miles total @ 8:06 pace overall. I'd had a very sucessful third leg too.  I knew what I wanted for pace going into my third leg but from experience I didn't expect to be able to hit any faster for the harder effort. I was really surprised to see a sub-8 pace overall for my last leg.  I honestly felt like I was working hard yet just maintaining and I was delighted to be going faster than I thought!  Generally at the end of races when I am pushing the pace, it feels extra hard and my legs will  not move.  I hope that this new experience will translate to other goal events!

As an aside, the last leg is also where I had the best laugh.  Our other driver of Van 2 (GVB) had taken to shouting "faster, faster, faster" at a couple of our runners as we were passing them in the van.  It was purely in fun jest, or course and accompanied with much cheering.  I started running and they must've piled into the van because not too long afterwards I got cheered and GVB yelled "faster, faster, faster!" at me as they went past.  It did make me laugh because at that point I was still warming up on the uphill first mile.  But the van got stuck at a long wait for a left-hand turn onto a busy highway.  Aha!  I could see them stuck there with a line of cars and was delighted as I caught up, climbed the hill and could yell, "faster, faster, faster GVB!"  Relays are just full of fun moments like these.  

Anyway, the funny thing is that I really do much, much less aided recovery now than I used to.  No ice baths, no icing of anything unless it's an obvious tweak like a rolled ankle.  I do make sure to eat well after most runs.  Since i never have any problem eating directly after a harder effort though this is not the issue for me that it can be for others.   The interesting thing is that recent research is showing that aided recovery in the form of ice baths or anti-inflammatories may be counter productive. 

How so?  Your bodies response to hard efforts is inflammation which triggers the body's mechanism for healing and repair which makes the muscles stronger.  Take out that inflammation and the body's adaption to the hard workout is lessened.  See here:  article

Of course there are instances with aided recovery would be useful.  I wore compression socks in-between each of my legs at the relay.  In that instance, i needed to run hard again almost immediately and my lower legs feel better after wearing them. 

I recovered quickly enough that I was pretty seriously considering jumping into a half marathon this weekend.  However the timing of my cycle has been so uneven of late, I decided against running that this weekend. Good call as Seattle hit record breaking temps!  I'm happy to be back up to my usual 40 mile running weeks and looking forward to a 10k in a couple weeks.  Meanwhile I am totally enjoying the heat.  I know it won't last.