Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Master Plan 2011 (Draft 4)?

Calling all marathoners! 
You are needed immediately at The Average Woman Runner's Blog!

Remember the Master Plan 2011 (for kicking ass), Draft 3? Well, the Master Plan began in February with training for the Indianapolis Mini Marathon in early May, followed by a couple months of "fun" running/racing time, then starting up again in late June with training for the Portland Marathon in early October. A whole 9 months of planning. Phew!

I'm happy that the half marathon training is going quite well thanks to blogland support and the Furman FIRST program. 

Last week I actually got out the calendar and laid out each week of the Portland Marathon training, beginning in late June. THEN, I noted on the calendar every weekend that we are traveling for weddings, have family commitments, etc. It didn't look good. I know that in some of our travels, there is no way I can pull out a 10-mile run, let alone a scheduled 20-mile run based on locations. I would have to miss or skimp on at least three key long runs. This, after coming off two months of light running post-Indianapolis Mini Marathon. 

This totally freaked me out. 

If I'm going to put all the effort into training for a marathon, I want to do it to the best of my ability, especially if this is going to be my one shot at running a marathon for a few years. 

What to do?

I started thinking about how good I feel now (a 1:52 training run half marathon this past Saturday - VERY NICE! I'm such a believer in the Furman FIRST program!) with my training and counted out the number of weeks until the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon in late June. If I trimmed out a couple weeks of the plan, I could potentially run Seattle RNR. What's the minimum number of weeks needed to adequately prepare for a marathon if I've already been training pretty intensely for a half? How many 20+ mile runs should one complete prior to the race?  

The Seattle RNR is 13 weeks away, the Furman FIRST marathon plan is 16 weeks long. I would be able to get three or four 20+ mile runs in, based on the Furman FIRST plan. 

  1. Lighter travel schedule now = fewer training conflicts compared to summer season.
  2. Cooler temps = better for long runs.
  3. In total, I would have 20 weeks of training pre-Seattle RNR. 
  4. Friends running Seattle RNR = more training partners (I have one training partner for Portland). 
  5. I have to admit, with everyone gearing up for spring marathons, I'm just plain impatient & have marathon fever.
  6. I can still run Portland after taking a little rest time, but the pressure will be off because it won't be my "first" and I can allow myself to train as best as my schedule allows knowing that I can walk-jog. It won't be my one and only chance at running a full.
  7. The break between marathon training programs coincides with a trip to Michigan/Illinois when I would have a difficult time training anyway. 
  8. Mixing things up and switching directly over to a full marathon training program gives me goosebumps. 

  1. I've been following the Furman program for 8 weeks, longest run to date is 13.1 miles.
  2. I'm going to have to S L O W down. Mentally it will be tough to make myself switch to the slower paces that need to accompany longer distances. 
  3. I told a very important friend I would do Lake Padden Triathlon the same day as Seattle RNR so I would have to back out on her (I've already told her I'm thinking about this). Yes, I feel bad about this one.
  4. I would miss the Lake Padden Triathlon, which I LOVE to do (plus M @ The Daily Sweat will be there!). 
  5. Of the 20 weeks of intense training, only 13 would be specific to the marathon (first 7 weeks for the half marathon). 
  6. I would only have a few weeks off after the Seattle RNR before starting up with the Portland training...but I will at least be in good shape at that point. 
So here is what the revised Master Plan 2011 (draft 4) would look like if I throw caution to the wind and start training for the Seattle RNR (details of key workouts not listed):





Sunday, March 27, 2011

Boring race re-cap

Average Woman Runner & M
Saturday I got to meet up with M @ Daily Sweat and C @ Running is Mama's Midlife Crisis for the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. Rain was predicted but we got lucky & had perfectly cool, clear weather. The course was flat gravel rails-to-trail, point-to-point. M & C both got P.R.'s, which is awesome. I was very pleased in that I stuck with my training plan and ran right on pace (1:52). Happy faces around after the run:

Average Woman, M (in her cute Oiselle outfit), C
I was pretty damn hungry before the race started (late start! 9 a.m.) and was looking forward to the post-race pizza that would be served but by the time I finished, pizza was the last thing I could stomach. VERY sad!

What's more sad is that I don't really have much else to say about this run. I'm very happy to have met M and hear about the triathlons she is focusing on this year, but the rest of the weekend has been so busy I'm just beat and I'm having a difficult time remembering yesterday morning's race. It already feels like it was LAST weekend.

Also...I have something else on my mind that is consuming me. Contemplating a complete change in the Master Plan 2011...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Treadmill intervals - I am shown up by Forrest Gump

The Run Less, Run Faster/Furman FIRST speed intervals have been killing me on the treadmill. I seem to get by better (mentally, anyway) when I do them on the track but the treadmill...Ack! I'm too hot, my belly aches, the treadmill dies (really!)...I have lots of excuses.

This week, despite my dumb low-grade cold that is in steady-state condition, I rocked my treadmill intervals. Maybe because they were longer intervals? My head was still struggling with the boredom, but it was easier to maintain my pace. This was me before jumping on the machine:

NO, not DREADMILL intervals!
I wish I had an after picture because I was SMILING after my 1x1600, 1x3200, 2x800 meter intervals. Really, I swear! I hope these intervals are getting better for all the other Run Less, Run Faster folks out there? I think we're all a little over half-way through our programs for our spring half/full marathons. Time flies!

So, I was just finishing my 3200m interval when...

Picture an older white guy, crew cut, all white (shorty shorts hiked up, tight white shirt) clothes. 
He gets on the treadmill and starts running in place, REALLY fast, flat feet slapping noisily on the belt. 

Nothing funny about that? 

Well, it's REALLY DAMN FUNNY when you don't even turn the treadmill ON! 
Just running like Forrest Gump on a belt that was completely still. 


Next up this week: tempo run, hopefully some cross-training & yoga, and I'm looking forward to my 13-mile long run on Saturday that I'll be running as the "Lake Sammamish Half Marathon!" This course is a point-to-point and it will be all new scenery for me and I'm hoping to meet up with a fellow WeROKC lady. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm a looper

My brother-in-law is a UP'er.

My childhood friend's husband is a state trooper.

Me, I'm a looper.

This past Sunday, I went running with Kerrie, Zoe, Sally, and Patty (WeROKC - Women Runners of King County) on the Cedar River Trail. Kerrie & Zoe went out & back 16 miles; Sally, Patty, and I went out & back 8 miles. While we were running 10 abreast, so Kerrie noted, I realized that it's rare these days for me to run an out & back course.

Zoe, Sally, Kerrie, Patty

So what type of runs do I usually do?


Not just loops around the track but real loops. All my runs are some type of loop with crazy dog-legs, rotini curves, all kinds of crazy things. I just really like loops, especially if I can run around something BIG. For example, I've been itching to run around Lake Union:
This is a great 6.5 mi loop, made even better by tagging on a trip around Portage Bay, to the east.

and the south end of Lake Washington (during upcoming marathon training). This one would take me through FOUR towns (Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Renton) and involve public transit to get home:

This loop is 23 miles, I would get the rest of the way home via light rail. 
Running around that island in the above map (Mercer Island) is fun too. There was actually a half marathon there this past weekend. Scenic & hilly.

Last weekend's long run was a loop around the city, much like the Seattle Half Marathon course:

I took the light rail home from downtown for a 12.8 mile "loop."
One of my all-time favorite loops is my 12-mile Alki Beach/West Seattle loop that I haven't done in years:

This is almost entirely on Elliot Bay with stunning views of the Olympic Mountain range.

From home, I have the 2-mile "V.A. loop" that is great for tempo runs, my 3.3 mile "golf course loop," and my 5-mile "Mt. Baker lid loop" that takes me to Lake Washington & back for a serious hill workout.

And the list goes on.

Are others out there out & backers, loopers, point-to-pointers? All of the above?

If anyone has some great Seattle loops to share, please let me know!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest blogger

Hi! I wrote a guest blog entry over at Bob Mauer's, "Diet, Nutrition, and Wellness Journal." Bob's blog can be found at

My article is based on a recent talk I heard by Dr. Maya Angelou and how she encourages us to "be a rainbow in someone's cloud." She also talked about how we, as a people, are more alike than we are different and I think the blogging world sets beautiful examples for both of her themes.

Please check out my guest entry and let me know what you think...and let Bob know too! Also, check out the link in my sidebar to health foods for lowering cholesterol.


The Average Woman Runner

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tox Tip #4: The dose makes the poison

So last Thursday after my XT2 workout, I decided to treat myself to a coffee at the Frontier Cafe on 3rd & Cherry (their oatmeal, apricot, pecan, choc chip cookie is the BEST). I had just ordered my coffee when this random guy walked up behind me and asked...

"Is coffee bad for you?"

"I mean, is it BAD for you. Like, if you have health problems, should I not drink it?"

And since we all like to give unsolicited advice, this was great actually being asked by some random person for advice. And health advice at that! Of course, I am not a medical professional but why would that stop me from responding? So I turned around and smiled at him...

Quick, Visual Assessment: No, he's not homeless, doesn't appear to be crazy, drunk, or high, and he actually seems serious. I look back at the barista and he's not making any motions to respond. Ok, here goes...

"No. Coffee is fine for you," spoken in confident, matter-of-fact tone, "but it's like anything else, man: It's all about moderation."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's the dose that makes the poison." I didn't make up this brilliance. It was actually Paracelsus who said something along these lines back in early 1500's. He's one of the fathers of toxicology and I'm a toxicologist, which makes us family and OK for me to quote him.

"But, what do you mean?"

Deep breath. "I mean, a little bit of coffee is probably OK but if you have too much, it's going to be bad for you. Like water for example, you drink a few liters and your body is happy. You drink gallons and gallons and it could kill you. It's all about moderation in what you take in. You can say the same thing about aspirin. About ANYTHING! Everything is a poison, it just depends on the dose, or how much you take in!" 

Isn't toxicology cool? EVERYTHING is a poison! Just think of the possibilities!

"Uh, but I'm not a doctor and if you have serious health issues you should probably check with your doc."

Nice disclaimer, right?

"Oh, OK, cool! I'll have a large latte but with skim milk. That's good, right?"

I saved his life. He could have overdosed on coffee if I hadn't stepped in. Or maybe would have forgone the coffee completely and been so groggy, stepped in front of an on-coming car while crossing the street. You just never know.

Is it just me, or was the whole situation quite funny? I chuckled to myself all the way to my office. How random is that to ask a barista if coffee is bad for you?

Quite random.

And it just goes to show you, my years of post-graduate education can come in handy once in a while outside of work. Once every 10 years or so, anyway.

Moral of the story? Well, I think it is told in my previous two posts. The Paracelsus concept applies to everything. It's all about moderation. Too little and you derive no benefit, too much and you can hurt yourself. The trick is finding that "happy medjum" and learning to "let things go" when the dose you've poured yourself is too great.


Ok, so in FUN news, today is DAY 1 of the CUPCAKE MARATHON!

I actually didn't run and missed my XT1 workout but will be running tomorrow morning, bright and early. At the culmination of this two-week event, I hope to be administering to myself quite a large dose of cupcakes! Anyone else out there running this? I know of:

Keyalus, Blonde Ponytail, Average A, Giraffy, RunnerGirl Training, Elizabeth...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Letting things go

THANK YOU for the comments on the last post. It's so comforting to know that I / we share the same struggles. This is a big reason why I put time into reading blogs, to get inspiration and support from all the other people out there like me who are trying to juggle responsibilities and still carve out some time for personal challenges. When you feel like you're having a hard day, go to that post and just read the comments from all the ladies out there and you will be comforted.


At 5:45 a.m today, I had a little revelation. My alarm went off and I was supposed to roll out of bed without thinking, don my clothes, and run down to the high school track for my 6 x 800m workout. But...

Bed time the night before was 11:45 p.m. because I had stayed home all day with a sick baby and there were some work-related tasks that I absolutely had to get done after baby went to bed / after dinner / after chatting with Mr. F about his day but before work started on the east coast this morning. [BTW, this meant I missed my XT1 swim workout and had to sub a yoga-DVD, not quite the same.]

So early this morning when the radio alarm turned on, I was tired. It was dark and rainy outside. So I did something crazy...

I turned my alarm off. 

An hour later, I woke up and pulled on my running clothes, accepting that I was going to get into work an hour later but would make up that time through the rest of the week. I thought, I don't have time to get a track workout in but it doesn't mean I can't get ANY workout in.

It seems I constantly fall into this mind set that it's "all or nothing" with these workouts, especially since I started the Furman FIRST Run Less / Run Faster program. (The FIRST appeals all too well with my obsessive compulsive side.) My initial thought was that if I couldn't get my track workout in, I was doomed. One workout missed, my whole week and program thrown out of whack, I suck, I'll never get my PR, I'll never be able to finish this program, etc.

But you know, I realized that I could at least just get my tush out the door for a short run. ANY kind of run at any pace, any distance. ALL WAS NOT LOST! Sheesh - when did I get so uptight? 

So I ran. I headed out the door and after I warmed up, I realized that I was feeling ok. Ultimately, I decided to push myself and turn this "just get out the door for any kind of exercise" run into my weekly tempo run.

Ok, so still a lot little bit compulsive but the only reason I got out the door is because I realized that I could just let go of these high demands I was placing on myself and just simply get out for some exercise. And it worked. I didn't defeat myself.

Do you ever just abandon a workout completely because it isn't going to be the workout you had planned? 

Do you ever give yourself permission to let go, just a little even? 

This is something I need to put into practice more often:

Let go of the details when situation calls for it, loosen up, and remember the point is to get fit and have fun, not beat myself up and wear myself ragged.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Happy medjum

Although this was Week 4 of the Furman FIRST half marathon training program, it was the first week that I actually completed all five of the prescribed workouts: tempo run, track workout, long run, XT1 (bike), and XT2 (swim). Plus, I got a couple yoga sessions in on my "off" days. I feel like this was nothing short of a miracle - it took me 4 weeks to pull this off!

And you know what? By Friday, I was totally exhausted.

In order to get my workouts in, I was getting up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. so I could get to work by 8 a.m. At the end of each work day, I had to be home by 5:45 to relieve the baby sitter, then it was feed little guy, play a little, then put him to bed. By then, it's 7:30 or so and then it's time for our dinner, cooking dishes for the week, preparing lunches, cleaning, paying bills, whatever. You know the house chores are never done. This makes it difficult to get in bed in time to get enough sleep for those early wake-up times.

Can I really keep this up for another 13 weeks? And then, after a month "off," can I do it all over again for a 16-week marathon training program? Is this Master Plan for 2011 really sustainable for me? Am I trying to do too much? Where is that happy medjum?

I wish I could take my hours at work back down to 24 hr/week just for my current and upcoming training cycles...maybe things will lighten up soon and that will become a possibility? But, as my Abuela says, "I never felt sorry for anyone who has a job." Indeed.

It's very important for me to make the most of 2011 to run my heart out, because 2012 will have other adventures in store for me that will make running on a real schedule difficult. it's tiring doing everything.

But hey, my microwave interior is as spotless as the day it was installed, my boys are happy, and my utilization/billability at work is > 90%! Am I loony thinking I can tear it up in my running shoes, too?

I want to ask all the moms out there, "How do I find that happy medjum, where I figure out how to let go of what's not important and have the time/energy to do what makes me happy?" but I feel silly. It's the question everyone asks and there is no single answer.


Well, all I can do is give it all I've got. I WANT to do it all, or as much as I can handle and I'll just have to keep going until I succeed or am forced to scale back. It's just so much damn fun doing all this stuff, I just wish I had more hours in the day.

For example, this morning I met Kerrie and Zoe for a long run at

and it was SO NICE getting to run with the ladies. The gals were going 14 miles whereas I was "only" going 10 miles, but it was great having those first 5 miles to chat. You know, you would never guess Zoe just had a baby a few months ago!

So anyway, I'll be looking to other inspiring moms out there (see blog roll) for inspiration each day, showing me that it's possible to for us to be responsible but also have some fun for ourselves, kicking some ass in our running skirts.

Cheers, moms (and dads), & RUN ON!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I take back all those mean things

...that I said about track intervals.  I'm fickle, what can I say. I've always loved speed work on the track but I had a momentary lapse due to my treadmill interval effort last week.

After this morning's workout in 40-degree darkness at the high school track, I'm convinced my treadmill woes are tied to my temperature. I was hot even this morning running in a short-sleeve shirt! Of course I'm going to feel sick running in the hot, top floor, exercise machine room at that intensity! Sheesh!

Partially lit on the street & school side but dark in the far corners. 
Anyway - I headed out before 6 a.m. this morning for my 1-mile jog to the track. I have to say, regardless of how I run, if I can get UP and OUT the door before 6, it's already a successful venture. That for me, is a huge accomplishment right there. So, tearing it up on the track was a bonus.

I got to the track and realized I had forgotten my list of target paces. I could remember the first one was supposed to be 5:##-something. Oh well. I figured I would just run hard. Sure enough, after that first interval, I knew it didn't really matter what my little paper said, I could only run so hard and that would just have to be good enough.

Here's the deets (200m RI between intervals):

  • 1200m = 5:28 That hurt! But it turned out that was right on pace. I gotta run 1000 next? Oh wait, from here on out, all the repeats get shorter. That means, this workout will get gradually easier, right? Except for the part where each repeat is supposed to be at a faster pace. Anyway...I can do this! I'm channeling Arthur, I won't be last! 
  • 1000m = 4:41 Whoa. That was actually slower pace than the last repeat. I gotta pull this together. Only two laps for the next one, again, I can do this! 
  • 800m = 3:38 Half-way done! It's starting to get a little lighter out, nice. Hey - there's a guy on the track over there. Is he going to take up the inside lane - WALKING?
  • 600m = 2:42 Oh, I'm liking these shorter distances now. I can totally do this. Two more baby!
  • 400m = 1:44 How did I manage to do 12x400m during week 1 of this training plan? Holy cow that was a brutal sprint! Ok, just a 200 left. I'm going all-out on this one. I will be channeling my 15-year old, 200m-runner/long-jumper self. Look out Flo-Jo, I'm DOING THIS THING! 
  • 200m = 0:40. Kick ass! It's a wrap (and it's my Friday - woot!).

And there you have it. A successful track workout a la Furman FIRST.

Looking forward to a long run Sunday with WeROKC (Women Runners of King County, organized by Kerrie of MomvsMarathon).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Detroit Runner Virtual 5k

Jeff @ Detroit Runner is hosting a virtual 5k from now through March 12th, though the official day is Saturday, March 5th.

Since I'll be completing my long run this weekend, I thought I'd kick this 5k mid-week during my 5-mile tempo run. The re-cap:

Who: the Average Woman Runner
What: The "I just felt like running" virtual 5k hosted by Jeff @ Detroit Runner
When: Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Where: Downtown Seattle waterfront, Olympic Sculpture Park, Myrtle Edwards Park. As close as you can get to 0% grade in Seattle.
How: Incorporate my 5k race into my 5-mile tempo run

Courtesy of USATF.ORG

It was a cool (43 degree F), rainy day - typical Seattle March weather. Not too bad, really. I headed north from work along Alaskan Way for my Furman FIRST 5-mile tempo. After 1 mile (7:56), I officially started the VIRTUAL 5k. The first mile turned out a bit faster than I wanted so I reigned it in so I could actually finish the whole distance without walking.

No mountain views due to the clouds but I did snap this foggy image of the Port of Seattle/mouth of the Duwamish River after I hit my turn-around point in Myrtle Edwards Park.  

South-bound on trail, Myrtle Edwards Park
 After leaving the Olympic Sculpture Park, I was headed back into downtown via Alaskan Way. Froggy city!

Nice buns!
 I finished at the Bell Street Pier #66 (where you catch the ferry to Victoria, BC or the cruise ships to AK). 5k time: 23:23. Good for a first place finish! The prize? Dinner & drinks on the Mr!

I wrapped up the last mile in 8:25, a bit off-pace but overall, nice 5-mile tempo time of 39:50. Back at the office I changed back into street clothes (still sweaty, gross!) so I could meet Mr. F and Baby F for post-race libations at...

Pyramid Alehouse is about < 1 mile from my work, slightly > 1 mile from my house
Mr. F = Pale Ale
Average Woman Runner = seasonal Imperial IPA (mine was better + over 8% alcohol, ouch!)
Food = not healthy but quite tasty! 
It was nice to see what I could do for a 5k at this point in my training (week 4 of half marathon training) and I look forward to trying another in a month or so to see how I improve.

THANKS DETROIT JEFF for hosting this 5k and getting me to push a bit harder than I would have during a regular tempo run!!