Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ticking along

I feel a bit more confident to mention what my goal race is this fall.  I've been training for the Duke City Marathon on October 21st in Albuquerque, NM. 

I know.  I've said I hadn't planned on doing another marathon.  I think the long runs take a toll on me. However, this past year I have managed to increase my weekly mileage to 40 miles per week with no run longer than 12-14 miles. 

This plan has agreed with me and I've felt stronger and very solid.  The hip issues which have been such a problem in the past have dissipated (I do some basic maintenance which helps). I know I've stayed on top of low iron issues. I'd planned on trying for a master's half marathon PR but that stupid trip and fall derailed that plan in Vancouver in June.

Why Albququerque?  K was raised there and I've visited once a year since I was in college.  I've always wanted to do a race there even with the altitude.  This year, a whole bunch of running friends are running the full marathon there in their quest to run a marathon in every state.  I could run the half there and had initially planned on that.  then I started looking more at the Hanson Marathon Plans where there is no long run over 16 miles and at the course (flat!) and thought some more.

Hmm.  I put the Hanson Marathon Plan all into a excel spreadsheet (let me know if you want it!) so I could better see how the miles play out in this plan.  And it seemed right for me and at the right time.  The plan is interesting. 

If I were a first time marathoner, there is no way I'd do this plan.  I would feel the NEED to run 18 or 20 miles.  I've run 3 marathons total and some longer trail races so I know I can cover the distance and the time.  The plan appeals to me too in that weekends are spent on back to back runs of moderate distances.  I like that a lot instead of planning for 28-22 miles and having to take a rest day before and after to protect myself because I'm concerned about injury. has of course been helping me modify this plan and helping me set paces too.  It's been very enjoyable overall and has helped my focus and strength.  that 10k a couple weeks ago definitely proved that.  Only the race will tell however. 

I am trying not to think of altitude.  There is nothing I can do about that!  And the other nice thing is that Duke City does allow for change of events with just a fee if I need to change to the half distance for whatever reason.  I am excited about the marathon and feel like everything is going really well.

It all reminds me not to take it for granted though.  Last year at this time, I'd planned on my first 50k but life got in the way.  Someone I knew and thought was a really neat person died suddenly of a stroke at work.  I ended up with a weird virus in the days before the race and I ended up DNFing the full 50k but finishing (unofficially) the 25k.  This year?  The race was cancelled because of widespread fires and smoke in the Cle Elum area. 

Dear friends are visiting in consecutive weekends coming up.  I can't wait to see them and have fun exploring Seattle.  I'll still get the training in (easier since I won't have a long run) and I like the distractions. 

The heater kicked on for the first time of the season this morning.  I guess it's Fall! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Remind me again.

It's true.  I have to keep reminding myself of the hard workouts that I am hitting.  The mental side of running is as much a part of running as the physical.  I've been doing the training.  I'm hitting my workouts and it shows.  The Lake Union 10k a few weeks ago went great!  I felt so much stronger overall.

The goal event is in six weeks. One more 10k would be helpful to practice pacing and mental focus before heavier training takes hold.  The Iron Girl Seattle 10k is a nice event and I do actually like that it's a women's only event.  It's a very big event though.  Over 1500 do just the 5k and just over 500 participate in the 10k.  It's a 5k course that the 10k-ers run twice and everyone starts at the same time.

I know what this means.  it means those doing the 10k are going to hit a lot of 5k traffic.  I'd heard this from a faster runner last year as she was super frustrated with trying to maintain pace.  I need the 10k effort though so I signed up for the longer distance.  It ended up being an easier running week and I felt very ready for the race.

My goal?  It was the same as the Lake Union 10k. AT that race, i'd wanted to be under 7:50 pace but was pretty sure that I was more in 7:40 overall pace shape.  The hills there scared me though so I was happy to come in under 7:50.  And I did. My garmin pace showed 7:46.  Race pace results show 7:48 because the course is always a bit longer than GPS measuring.

I did my longer warm-up with some strides and fought my way towards the front of the line up.  And ran into JCB which was a nice surprise.  She was doing the 5k and I expected to pull away quickly but she's been less than 100% since a tough Ragnar Relay and ran a steady PR (and AG placing!).  I felt like I was lined up too far back though as I got into some traffic and had a hard time getting onto pace.  Finally after a half mile, I was where I wanted.  first mile: 7:43

I could see JCB swinging farther out on the course to avoid traffic.  I was really trying to maintain the shortest course line I could for the first lap as I knew I'd hit traffic the second.  I felt great overall.  The weather was perfect.  Mile 2 & 3:  7:36, 7:40.

And it was interesting in mile 3 to listen to the runners around me who were mostly going to be finished. They were breathing hard like they were at the end of a 5k.  I still felt very comfortable.  yes, I was working but comfortable.  I'd kept drifting to a faster pace and would slow it back down to the 7:40 and tried to remain focused and calm.

I was afraid of falling apart.  I reminded myself of the 10k a few weeks ago which was harder.  I reminded myself of the hill repeat workout that had been followed by a track workout. I've done the work.  I am putting in the miles and getting the training done and I know I'm faster and stronger and recovering better.

The 5k finishers turned towards the finish line and I went along my lonely way.  There were women scattered ahead of me.  I worried about hitting a headwind but then welcomed it once it came as it helped keep me cool.  I passed the area where friends would be cheering if they were in town.  Instead they were a thousand miles away cheering for friends at IM Wisconsin and I thought happy thoughts for all those participating and supporting that event.  7:35.  Eeks.  Two more miles.  Would I hold it?  Better slow down.

I passed EO's 81 year old mom walking the 5k with a police escort at the water station just after mile 4.  I didn't realize this was EO's mom at the time but nonetheless, I was really happy to see her out there.  How awesome! My mom and I walked this event a few years ago together.  My mom placed first in her age group (F 75-79) and beat out EO's mom then.  What a hoot! 

And even though I started having to dodge traffic and groups of kids and moms and those still very new to these types of events, I was happy to see so many girls and women out there.  7:43

One more mile and the crowds got thicker.  The street is closed in one direction for this race.  For the first lap, I'd run right on the curb and cut the corners to maintain the shortest line.  This last mile, I swung way out onto the other lane of traffic to avoid all the walkers.   I knew this would happen so I didn't get frustrated. I just maintained my pace and kept focused.  i'd occasionally hear a mom tell a kid to move over a bit to make room for the faster runners and gave a silent nod of thanks.

I wished I'd been able to wear one of my colorful running skirts for this event.  i think those girls would've liked to have seen such cute running wear! 7:40

And with that I saw the final turn to the finish.  I hoped the curb and dodged around 5k finishers onto the grass and pelted in.  Woohoo!  My garmin had 48:06 and showed an average pace of 7:39. I was delighted as this was 15 seconds or so faster than the Lake Union 10k and had really felt so much easier.  All the other CoachLesley athletes had had good runs as well.

I was really bummed to see that the official results had me at 48:03!  Dangit!  If i had known, I could've made up those 3 seconds and come in under 48 minutes.  So close!  I know the last couple of miles cost me some time with traffic.  Truthfully, the other hold up was my mind.  I kept drifting faster but slowed it down because I jsut wasn't sure if I was faster than 7:40 overall pace.  Remind me again.  I'm doing the work, hitting those workouts and good things will come. 

I believe in the training I just have to keep reminding myself of it!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Revisiting & The end of Summer

Llandover Woods
There are a couple posts I'd like to revisit.

Recovery:  I think I forgot to mention the most important part of recovery for me.  Sleep!  Mess with my sleep and I notice.  That happened this previous week.  It was a super busy and stressful week at work and I just couldn't sleep that well thinking about getting everything done.  And I'd be up early most days to run and also because the cat-assisted alarm clock (two of them!) were quite active.

I'm pretty lucky in that I don't think I need as much sleep as the average person.  I do fine with 6 hours but do like to sleep a little longer on the weekends (7 hours).  I have always been a freakishly light sleeper and I wake multiple times during the night and consider this normal.  I can usually tell when training is taking a heavy toll because I sleep a lot sounder and longer and love it!

By the end of the day on Friday, I felt physically ill I was so tired.  It does not particularly affect me at work.  I don't really feel sleepy and I'm lucky in that my job is such that if I do feel sleepy sitting at my desk, I can always get up and go take care of other responsibilities.  That really helps.  I take short snoozes on the bus commute home if needed.  One full night of solid sleep is enough to make the difference.  With that, I can easily get right back on training and other life business.  If i have multiple days of not sleeping well, it becomes more important to me to rearrange my running schedule so I run in the afternoon (run commute is perfect for this) and can sleep in in the morning before work.

Weight:  Oh yes, the other part of training is eating enough but not too much.  How am I doing in changing my diet and possibly seeing my weight (or more likely body fat) drop?  Great! And it happened without much fuss actually. I noticed that right before Ragnar Relay that I was at a low for body weight (by about 2-3 pounds only) and more noticeably a lower body fat percentage. 

Remember I'm using a particular scale which may give consistent body fat percentage results over time but may not be accurate (ie my real laboratory measured body fat %) and that is just fine.  it's more the trend of reducing that I was looking for and I achieved.  The 2% drop I managed is noticeable to me.  I feel much more muscled and stronger.

I was still looking to improve the diet though.  Work is a typical office.  It seems that there are snacky items everywhere, all the time.  I know because I do a lot of the ordering for the office.  I'm always looking for "healthy" alternatives.  I'm sorry.  I do not think whole grain baked chips are really a good healthy snack and neither are those "healthy" granola bar.  It's still processed food beyond all recognition.  I know. it's easy!  I've lost my taste for them truthfully.  I'm lucky in that work does do fresh fruit at work a couple times a week.  I would often have a piece of fruit and some nuts.  Too many nuts.  They are so tasty and it's hard to stop at just a serving.  and breakfast was becoming a challenge.  I love eggs so i'd have those probably 5 times a week.  No problem.  But what to have on those other days.  Oatmeal?  Love it but honestly I am sick of it and it doesn't last.  A couple hours later, I am starving.

Smoothies!  That's what I've been trying.  It's a great way to use up a fair bit of the fruit which doesn't get eaten at work (i cut up the too ripe fruit and stick it in the freezer so it doesn't go to waste) and a good way to get some random veggies in as well.  I've been experimenting with a plain yogurt base but also really enjoy almond milk. Add in a fresh banana (or frozen banana if they were getting too ripe) and whatever fresh or frozen fruit (Trader Joe's has some great fruit for this) plus almond butter for healthy fats.  I like some spinach or arugula (boatloads in the garden right now) or celery and it's an easy, tasty meal which I really look forward to for breakfast.

I just have a stick blender which does the trick well enough.  I also make some batches of this and freeze and take to work for a snack.  Fun and endless possibilities and particularly nice after longer runs on the weekends.  After a big post-run breakfast of pancakes, eggs, coffee and fruit, I always need to eat again soon but nothing appeals.  Smoothies appeal.

After setting a master's 10k PR, I was able to run 45 miles the week after and that is amazing to me.  Recovery seems to be working pretty well!  With the Labor Day Holiday, Summer seems like it is ending.  The temps are cooler in the morning and it is so much darker in the morning and evening.
"South Loop" is the only loop in Llandover Woods
There are lots of things to look forward to in the fall though so that is just fine. Summer has been great.  It's been fantastic watching everyone achieve their summer racing goals and beyond! 

I had a reminder of that this weekend while on a group run.  I was marking a course that I probably learned as one of my first in-city runs many years ago.  When I was looking at a map just to make sure where I was going as there are different possibilities for both starting and ending to add on miles, I noticed a little park up on one section that I'd never seen before.

After some googling, I found the Llandover Woods Greenspace. It's a small forested area with a small loop trail which goes straight down and straight up.  Deeply forested and deeply peaceful, it was a lovely addition to a city run.  The trail is a solid gravel path and in good condition.  There is a pretty impressive set of stairs which would probably be slippery when wet. I'd run this loop counter clockwise because of that.  I look forward to seeing this woodsy oasis throughout the year.