Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's all relative

This time last year, my total mileage for the week was 6. My "long" run of the week was 3.5 miles at 10:16 pace. And, I was about 15 lbs heavier.

This time last year, I had been thinking about how I used to run 8:00 miles and thought I'd NEVER get back there again.

Previous years, I thought I could never successfully train for a marathon. I thought I'd get injured; my body couldn't handle the mileage.

This week, I've put in about 31 miles, including mile-repeats at 7:30 pace, an 11-mile tempo run at 7:44 pace, and a 15-mile run at 8:38 pace.

This week, going out for a 15-mile run was an "easy" long run, a nice reprieve from last week's 22-mile run and my 20-mile run coming up next week.
A little over a month ago, running 15 miles was a BIG DEAL. Today, it was a nice outing. When I got home after being out for 2+ hours, my husband commented, "That was quick!"  You see, even HE is used to the longer runs now.    

This is how marathon training messes with your mind and even the minds of your loved ones!

Distances, paces, it's all relative.10 minute miles felt fast to me a year ago and a four mile run was a struggle. This year, I'm cranking out 11 miles at sub-8:00 minute pace! It's so, so very strange. I vacillate between being giddy with excitement and being absolutely terrified at the mileage and times.

I'm running better than I ever have and better than I'd ever hoped. So what does that mean? Does it get better or is this it? Do I dare try to get faster yet or is this all I can do? I'm scared to try for more. Surely, something will go wrong.

It's scarey to think about because I already have a certain mind-set that tells me "This corner over here is where you belong, this is what you're capable of doing." Don't try to do anything better than that.

It messes with my whole reality to be blowing up the little box I had put myself in.

Shouldn't the Furman FIRST (Run Less, Run Faster) training program offer free counseling to off-set the whole reality shift their program causes, when people suddenly start performing better than they had ever dared to hope?

Am I a freak? Wait, I shouldn't ask questions I don't want answers to.

Ok, how about this, have you had any breakthroughs in your training that made you completely re-evaluate your goals and self-image as a runner?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Purple it is!

Last post, I asked what everyone thought about the magical powers of the Sparkle Skirt and if I should get the turquoise, green, or purple. I was equally torn between the three colors.

The verdict was...7 votes for purple, 2 for turquoise, and 1 for green. And one vote for all three, which was my favorite vote but not something I can justify right now :)  Green would have been great for St. Patty's Day runs as well as Christmas runs but I do love purple!

Should arrive in the mail by week's end.
This decision plagued me for a good portion of my long run on Sunday so I'm glad to have some resolution. (I was out for 3+ hours by myself, what can I say?) 

Learning from you colorful ladies out there, I've decided to back off on the NINJA garb and put some color into my runs. A few weeks ago, I picked out some colorful tops from Road Runner Sports along with a new skirt and capris. 

You know what you didn't tell me I didn't know about wearing color? It shows the sweat more! I was thinking of Rose and how she documents her sweat marks. How come hers are cute and mine were...weird? Somehow, I ended today's speed workout with sweat marks in the exact shape/silhouette of breasts (Nike orange tank). I haven't noticed other women leaving with boob imprints on their workout tanks but I guess I never thought to look. Anyway, I was quite embarrassed. 

The power of color didn't help me today. After completely tapping out my legs during Sunday's 22-miler and only one day off, today's speed work was a challenge. In fact, I really didn't hit my mark at all. I did 3 x 1 mile and only the first repeat was at target pace. The other too were closer to a short tempo pace. Double drat. 


Leaves me to wonder...

How much time do y'all take off after running a marathon? I need to start training for Portland shortly after the Seattle RNR. I've heard you should take off one day per mile raced but that's just TOO LONG. I need to start training again pretty soon, is one week adequate? Two weeks? Is it ok to do a lot of cross training during that time? 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The upside of running around a lake

This weekend's long run was around Lake Sammamish, for a total distance of 22.3 miles in 3:13. YOWZA!
Nice & flat for the first half. The hills look worse than they actually were.
I started/finished at Lake Sammamish State Park. Perfect for a post-run "ice bath," a benefit of this lake run. Right after finishing, I waded into the lake to ice my sore feet and legs. Ahhhhh!

60-degree water was quite frigid but refreshing.
There was even a swimmer out doing laps, which made me cringe. I don't care how thick your wetsuit is, that was one cold swim. Brrrr!

I feel so proud to have completed my second 20 miler and also glad I went a little beyond that 20-mile mark. I have one more 20-miler scheduled before race day. I feel like I could run a 20-miler every other weekend and it would still hurt. 20 miles is a LONG freakin' way!

The first 10ish miles were on crushed gravel (same route as the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon that I ran with Megan & Carla) which was nice for the cushion but it was pretty flat & boring. I saw a few runners out and chatted for a while with one guy who was training for RNR half.
Beginning of trail, nice & pastoral
 Art along the route...

This guy was actually closer than he appears. He came barreling up behind me and sprinted past, only to slow down and run the exact same pace as me about 30 yards ahead. Silly boys.

Ok so you can barely see him, but I swear he was right in front of me for several miles.

Lesson Learned: See that scratch on my chin? Yeah. Well, that's from texting & walking (across a street no less), missing the curb, and falling with my face landing on my phone. I gave myself a fat lip and cut. Dumbass! Don't worry, my phone is fine!
Just took this action shot to prove I've given up Ninja Style
As I approached Marymoor Park at the north end of the lake, I ran directly INTO the 5k Big Backyard Race. A fish going upstream. This was a good place to refill my water bottles and continue the journey down the other side of the lake. This was all road/shoulder running and much of this was banked which made me nervous about the torque on my ankles and knees.

Nice scene in Marymoor Park
This side of the lake is pretty much all private shoreline so no parks for water refills. Ug! Eventually, I came upon a convenience store where I zipped in and used their sink to refill.

Thank you, Little Store!

The last HOUR was rough. I had to really focus to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It was a struggle and humbling after my great half marathon race two weeks ago, but I'm so proud to have finished and proud that I didn't stop to walk (only to refill water and snap a couple photos).

I have two more intense weeks of training then it's the downhill taper. I feel like the time is going to FLY by and race day will be here before I know it. Right now my big pre-race question is:

Do I buy a Sparkle Skirt to give me super powers again and if so, what color? I'm equally torn between the turquoise, green, and purple. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just fanatical, not maniacal

That's right! I'm a HALF FANATIC! #1059!

and I got a cute singlet too.

I'm not sure when I'll wear the singlet though. Do you wear them only for races or can you wear them for workouts too? This local MOM also just became a half fanatic (#1067) and is thinking of wearing her shirt everywhere! Maybe I should follow suit? 

I'm just an entry level player now but am scheming to get 5 more half marathons in this year to bounce up to the next level. And guess what? It just so happens that one of my girlfriends just got engaged and wants to do a bachelorette party in Vegas, AND (because she's so cool) liked my idea of going in December for the Las Vegas RNR Half!

Does anyone know who is headlining the concert at RNR Vegas this year?

And in other random news...

This is the end of my work week, so I was relaxing with some treats that my Indy friend brought out this week (Mmmm....chocolate!).  I totally got bitch slapped by: 

Read the label on the left...yes, it says this chocolate will bitch slap you.
They really weren't kidding. I love spicy chocolate and didn't take their warning seriously. I took a healthy bite and then almost started crying. That stuff is hot. I think it's going to be saved for a mole or chili but definitely will not be consumed straight up.

And back to RUNNING news...

My treadmill interval workout today was great. I was kicking ass, the workout felt EASY even! Sadly, I checked my paces at the end only to realize it felt easy because my pacing was totally off (as in, 30 sec slower per repeat than planned). Darn! I will have to make up for that next week on track Tuesday. 

My calves have been getting very tight lately which worries me. This is how they felt before I tore my calf muscle during my last attempt at training for a marathon. So, I need to be sure to get my yoga in tomorrow and stretch, roll, and stick

Saturday or Sunday will be my second ever 20-miler. I'm getting excited to do another long run but need to figure out a route yet. 

Anyone racing this weekend?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tempo time on Lake Michigan

Last minute travel stresses me out: I found out middle of last week that I had to make a trip to Chicago for meetings Monday - Tuesday this week. Coming from the west coast and not having time on my side, I had to leave Sunday to make the Monday, noon start. Grrr!

GRUMPY: I lost a whole Sunday with my guys (+ I missed them for 4 days last week while in Indy).

Room with a view: My downtown hotel gave me an awesome view from the 21st floor:

LAST MINUTE travel means: No time to try to organize a possible run date with local bloggers (though I know tricky during mid-week) AND no reservations at any of the Rick Bayless restaurants. Double drat!

A SILVER lining? Aside from getting Priority Club and United points and meeting co-workers who I talk to almost daily but have no idea what they look like, I got to participate in a favorite running activity: 

My hotel is only ~1 mile from Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. After recommendations from Mr. Bob, Sister Bison, and Jess, I decided to head south along the lake from the Pier.

On the books: 6 mile tempo (1 mile easy, 5 miles @ 7:47 pace). Thank goodness the lake shore is FLAT. Even still, I sorta canned the tempo thing and just ran hard inbetween taking photos. Also, I took the first couple miles easy to run with a coworker.

And now Chicago tempo run in pictorial:

Our office building!
The stats:
6.0 miles in 47:23 (7:53 pace).
6 hours of sitting in meetings the rest of today.
45 min stationary bike planned for tomorrow morning.
10 hrs of meetings tomorrow (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
4 hour flight back to Seattle at end of day tomorrow.
= Lots of sitting.

Thank goodness for this great run today! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger bungle & race pics lessons learned

I guess during the recent mess-up, Blogger lost my last post. Grrr! Anyway, I had noted that I revised my Furman First/Run Less, Run Faster plan (i.e., the training plan for kicking ass) based on my recent race results. So, for the next 7 weeks before the Seattle RNR Marathon, my training just got MUCH FASTER. YIKES!

Check HERE to see training log updates. (Yes, I just did a 10+ mile "tempo" run. Crazy!) Someone had asked about how I made my little calendar and I have to say it's nothing fancy, just good old fashioned Excel.

In the meantime, Brightroom just came out with Indy Mini photos. I just don't take good running photos, unlike this girl HERE (Baby Weight My Fat Ass) who got some really nice photos from a recent race but you can't see them now because Blogger lost her post too!

This is the first time I've actually purchased race prints. What have I learned?

Don't tuck your tat sleeves in your waistband. 

Don't look down because it looks like you're sleep-running.
Try to avoid getting your pic taken with big dudes in bright orange who have peed their pants.
Ok, and one last one...

What's this guy doing? 


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Marathon training - REVISED

Ok, so I'm ALMOST not sore after Saturday's race. Legs hurt. Body tired. I've been really taking it easy this week and am really wondering if I can pull off tomorrow's 11 mile run.

Based on my results from the Indy Mini, I have revised my remaining seven weeks of marathon training. The Furman FIRST program training paces are all based on a recent race result and since my recent race was quite a bit faster, my training paces have suddenly gotten MUCH FASTER.

Do I really have the energy for this?

Click on me to see the crazy paces this lady has to run

No one said it would be easy. OY! I hope I have the energy for this...

Anyone else running Seattle RNR? If so, contact Tall Mom Mel, who is organizing a pre-race bloggy dinner meet-up. Woot!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dumbfounded race re-cap

I am dumbfounded about today's results. FIRST, I must say that I LOVE the Furman FIRST program and am definitely going to use it FOREVER, or, as long as I want to train for a specific time for a race, anyway. I've been getting the feeling for a while now that this training program was working some magic, but I HAD NO IDEA how much magic!

Or maybe it was just the sparkle skirt that made me feel like super woman today? (See Team Sparkle Blog entry HERE.)
Pre race: Hanging out, staying warm

Post race: Very happy & hungry

I'm just going to get to it - I ROCKED my "A" goal (1:45) and ran my fastest half marathon ever: 1:44:14. This is a 3 minute improvement over my all-time PR. INSANE. I am in shock. Where did this come from? What more can I do?

I started out with the goal of running about 8:20 pace to start then would cut down to 8:15's to get me a 1:47 finish. That lasted for the first mile. Then, I just felt so good I picked up the pace and went with it. I was afraid I was pulling my classic maneuver of going out fast only to bomb at mile 9 but my heart rate was fine, I could hold a conversation, and I was just having so much fun that I didn't want to slow down. So, I decided to ignore my watch the rest of the race and just listen to my body.

At mile 11 I checked my watch and knew I had my A goal bested. I almost peed my pants. Then, I straightened up and concentrated on avoiding something ridiculous like falling into a pothole and pulling a DNF.

I have never run so strong in 20+ years of running and have never felt so good all the way to the finish. 

This was easily the most enjoyable race I've ever run. The event was very well-organized considering there were 35,000+ half marathon runners, there were bands at every mile, water stops at nearly every mile, the course was FLAT, and I got to run a lap around the Indy 500 racetrack! I definitely recommend this to folks living in the area, though you need to sign up EARLY as it sells out early (January!).

Big bling!
I fly home to Seattle tomorrow with a big smile, sore legs, and full belly. Today, I replenished my glycogen stores with Indianapolis' finest: Maxine's Fried Chicken and Waffles (sweet potato waffle, that is), with sides of mac & cheese and collard greens. Oh yes we did!

YUM yum

And no race finish is complete without a local microbrew (Flat 12 Bierwerks and Sun King Brewing Co.).

Recommend: Pale Ale, Amber

Recommend: Pale Ale

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

VFF / PT update

Sad to say, the Bikilas are going back. I decided that my 5 minutes of barefoot running per week just don't justify $100 shoes. Especially when you're in the middle of a major construction project at home and costs are mounting! 

BUT that doesn't mean I won't buy them in the future once I've increased my barefoot endurance. I had asked my physical therapist what he thought about the VFFs since he is the one who recommended that I start incorporating barefoot training into my routine. 

Here is the D.L. (My question to Brian, P.T., D.P.T. after a lot of long, unnecessary babbling):

Do you think it's not a good idea to run in these types of shoes or do you think it's just not a good idea to jump into them without slowly building up to using them? Or is it just unwise to use them all the time?  

In short, do you think I'm asking for trouble if I transition to running in these embarrassing-looking shoes (but not because they're ridiculous looking, which they are)?

Dr. Brian's response:
First, thank you for your update, congrats on all your hard work. It is so nice to hear how you’re doing! Second, please let me know how the race goes next week. [Yes, he's super nice.]

You are being very thoughtful about progression, which is huge! Going to minimalist shoes is all about progression. If progressed slowly enough, it might be the right choice for you. So yes, increase your miles in them, but not with long runs. The best option in the meantime, is to slowly progress to more neutral traditional running shoes, and slowly away from motion control shoes like your current shoes  (sounds like this is exactly what you’ve done!).

So you can basically progress simply by going to a slightly less supportive shoe. If you get pain in your calf, top of foot, bottom of foot, etc, then it’s back to supportive shoes because your foot needs rest due to too fast of a progression. (make sense?). I see no problem changing shoes, especially if you’re wearing a minimalist shoe for your short runs. The vibrams would be fantastic for trail running as well, when you have the cushion of the soft ground instead of the hard pavement. What I wouldn’t do, is switch up shoes for your long runs. Basically whatever you’re racing in, you should use for long runs.

As long as your aware of symptoms, I’d continue the progression of less support in shoes. Just remember, foot or calf pain means you progressed too fast (either with mileage, frequency of running, or with shoes). It would be wonderful if at some point you’re in a completely neutral shoe for long runs, and in the vibrams for regular runs, I’m a definite supporter of that. Good luck in Indianapolis!

So there you have it. The green light for moving into VFF's but really, I may as well wait until my barefoot running duration justifies the expense.

And in other news...

In a nick of time (I fly out for Indianapolis tomorrow)...

My Traveling Sparkle Skirt arrived today in the mail! And guess who was even MORE impressed with the sparkliness than me? Who was most anxious to wear it and threw a fit when I removed it?

Yes, my almost-2-year old little guy.

Is this future blackmail material or what? Or evidence of a good sense of style?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Indy Mini Marathon goals

My first "A" race in the Master Plan for 2011 (Indianapolis Mini Marathon) is NEXT weekend!

I registered for this race back in December when my "long" run was a mere 4 miles and I was nervous that I'd be ready to run 13.1 in early May. Who would have known that before this race, I would log my longest run ever, 20 miles? Not me! 

I'm really excited to see my friends in Indy and this race is just icing on the cake. So far, the weather is looking good for running through town and AROUND THE INDY SPEEDWAY:

May 07
Partly Cloudy 66°/55°

I've been debating about a few things for this upcoming race:

I think I'll pair it with ?? My tat sleeves - probably. Cool BondiBand - likely. Top - I looked for an IndyCar / NASCAR-themed shirt but struck out. I guess it will have to be a last-minute decision surprise! 

  • How to hydrate?  
For my upcoming marathon in June, I've been debating about whether or not I should carry my water or use water stops. I'm very dependent on having my fuel & water with me whenever I want it so I decided that for this mini, I will use water stops to see how I do. The weather will be warm, so I'll definitely be needing more water than normal. A good test for late June?

  • What are my pace / time goals?

My last two half marathons (RNR NOLA [Feb2011, 1:54], Lake Sammamish Half [March 2011; 1:52]) were fun runs and I had surprisingly good times for being early in my training. So, I want to beat my last half time and hit 1:50, which will be my "C" goal.

My pre-baby PR was 1:47 and I'd be pretty damn happy to tie that PR this weekend so that will be my "B" goal. I will start the race with the intent of meeting this goal, running about 8:15 pace. This will definitely be challenging but given my speed workouts and the science behind the Furman FIRST program, I think it's achievable. I need to trust the training, right?

In my pre-baby life, I had the goal of running a 1:45. I'd like to make that my "A" goal but it seems totally unrealistic to drop 7 minutes from my current time. Or, isn't the "A" goal supposed to be almost unattainable anyway? Ok, fine. I will only chase after this goal if by mile 6, I am keeping my B goal pace and feeling like I have a LOT left in me. My only fear is that I'll get overexcited (like always) and burn out before the end.

BONKing is my forte. Sad but true.

Indy Mini Goals
A: 1:45
B: 1:47 
C: 1:50

Ok, so I'm setting myself up for some ambitious goals at all the three levels, but this is what I've been training for over the last three months, right?! The Furman FIRST program has been making me speedy so now it's time to see what these legs can do - I'm going all out baby!

Trust the training. Trust the training. Trust the training. Trust...

Sunday, May 1, 2011


CONGRATULATIONS to all the runners out there who competed in their big spring races this weekend. We had lots of PR's in blogland, very inspiring! Thankfully for those in the PNW, we had amazing weather.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I was preparing for my spring "A" race this coming weekend (Indianapolis Mini Marathon). Saturday, I went into my local FleetFeet store to pick up a waist pouch to carry my too-large Droid. I thought I might get crazy and get a new running hat or visor! But instead I started looking at the new running shoes (I have 3 pairs of "new" running shoes in my closet right now, clearly the last thing I needed to be looking at).

FleetFeet carries the Vibram Five Fingers and I've really been wanting to try them on. What could it hurt? (Besides, oh, about $100 + 9.8% sales tax.)

With a fair amount of effort, I donned those ridiculous looking Bikilas and ran up and down the block a few times. They felt GOOD.

How serious am I about my new running technique? Am I going to transition to running barefoot completely? It certainly isn't worth spending $100 on "barefoot" shoes to run 10 minutes once per week!

Would I really use these? Will they become the new BFF for my feet?

What to do? $100 is not insignificant for me. And I am NOT a spontaneous shopper! I mean, I've been courting my first Garmin for over a year and still do not see a marriage in my future!
Wouldn't you know, I walked out of that store with those Bikilas under my arm.

I'm nervous and excited. I can't decide if I should keep or return them for a visor! I emailed my physical therapist to get his advice so look forward to hearing him. In the meantime, I'm NOT wearing them outdoors and I'm looking for advice from folks out there on how to break these in.

Other thoughts? Should I just stick with the socks on the treadmill and smooth sidewalks and save the $$?

Do you ever get over the silly appearance? Or does the odd appearance become a badge of honor?

My almost 2-yr old took one look at them and exclaimed, though questioningly, "Feet! Feet?"