Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The throw-down on the track

Cycle 2 of marathon training has commenced! And with a bang - today was mile repeats. I wanted to get them done before work and the heat, which meant the alarm sounded at 4:45. There is something about pre-5AM that seems, well, dark and obscenely early. I did my 2.5 mile warm up slowly, because there it can be so unfortunate to rush through a warm-up and discover halfway through that you used up too much energy then. Arrived at the track and it was time for my throw-down. Hadn't been on the track for intervals in 2 weeks (last week was fartleks on the road), so there is always something exciting about returning to it.
Today's task: 5 x1 mile repeats starting at 7:20 pace and knocking 5-7 seconds off per repeat. I had the track to myself (yes!), and so I took off. First one, 7:19. Alright, very close. Second one, 7:13, but admittedly, I slowed down a little so that I wouldn't knock off too much time. Third one, there was someone walking in lane 1 (my lane), so I had to dodge around them. 7:01. Aah! 12 seconds faster - this was really going to make the last two intervals really hard (and surely sub 7 minute miles). At this point, I am trying to go slow on the recovery lap in order to regroup and face the last two intervals. This is when my track workout turned into a wrestling match.
I am a grown-up - I take complete responsibility for running that third interval so fast. But now, I cannot back down and wimp out for the final two intervals. If I do and not hit my expected splits, I only have myself to blame, and I know I'll beat myself up for the rest of the day. So, it is a throw down: me vs. me. 4th interval: 6:55. Felt so fast, and it definitely freaked me out about my ability to do the final one. But lo and behold, 6:50! I did it! I was exhilarated - I beat myself! Even though I pushed hard, the later me pushed right back!
This is why I love track workouts. When they go well, they are a jump start to my day, and a small victory that no one can take away from me. So, I got an A for the day, and then did my 4 mile cool-down, which totaled the run to 13 miles. It's hard not to feel victorious having run almost a half-marathon before work, and that I won my throw-down.
Here's what the rest of my running week entails:

Wednesday, June 30: 6 miles easy.

Thursday, July 1: 9 miles easy.

Friday, July 2: OFF

Saturday, July 3: 18 miles; First 8 miles easy, 10 mile tempo, start at 8:25 pace and work down to 8:10.

Sunday, July 4: 8 miles easy

Total Mileage: 54 miles

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Running on low

A few months ago, Tera Moody, one of the top American female marathoners, wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about insomnia and running performance. She speculated whether it hurt or helped that she is "running on low," given that she runs 100+ miles per week but insufficient sleep. It hurts when the body needs that sleep to recover after such mileage. But isn't the last 10k of the marathon running on low fuel? Is she getting more prep for that final 10k feeling? Because you're running low at that point and need to fight through the waves of exhaustion that happen after running for hours on end.
I don't have an answer, but I do think I understand where she's coming from, to an extent. At least once or twice a month, I have that night (generally before a track workout or long run - when I really need good sleep) that is spent tossing and turning and I'll only get between 2-4 hours of sleep. And whilst I toss and turn, thoughts start to run through my head... Will I hit my splits tomorrow? Will I make it through the final interval? How will I feel in the last 3 miles if I haven't gotten enough sleep? Why didn't I go to bed earlier? Why can't I sleep now?-I really need it! Maybe it won't be so bad, maybe, maybe...
And then the next day rolls around, alarm goes off too soon, and it is time to lace up for the run. Throwing back coffee or tea, hoping that the caffeine will reach my muscles at the key points in the later stages of the run. Hoping that my Kix cereal fuels me for the run. But the questions still continue. One time, I got back from a run that felt a lot harder because of the lack of sleep, and received the following e-mail from Jenny,
You completed your run and that is what is great! The time although important to you is only as important to know that even when you are not at your best you were still able to run. Even when life throws you a curve you are willing to stick to your plan and battle it out. Your rewards were many. You had many milestones today. I hope that you will always feel great when you run; but if you don't , you will push right through it! You can and will.
I try to remember that when I'm starting on "low" - that there are still many victories that you can accomplish. We're at the beginning point of opening our summer camp - which takes up a lot of time. In order to fit the runs in, they often cut into sleep. Last night I got about 5 hours, but ran 14 miles this morning. Slugged through it (with better ease than expected), but surely would feel better now had I rested more the night before.
Ironically, this week is a recovery week in my training:

Tuesday, June 22: 2 miles warm-up; Fartlek on roads, 10 fartleks at 90 seconds with 2 minutes easy run rest between each hard effort. 2 miles cool-down. Total mileage: about 9 miles

Wednesday, June 23: cross-train (swim)

Thursday June 24: 4 miles easy

Friday, June 25: OFF

Saturday, June 26: 14 miles easy

Sunday, June 27: 3 miles easy and strides (6x150 meters)

Total Mileage: About 30 miles

Not bad, right? Tomorrow 250+ kids come to camp and Monday starts cycle 2 of marathon training. To be continued...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Last year in this age group

Just celebrated a birthday - 24. Now, there is nothing of note with 24, but it gives me one more year in this age bracket for races before I move up to the 25-29 bracket with all of the fast runners. Hopefully that gives me a good solid year to prepare for that.
Anyways, my birthday kicked off with a HOT run with my 2 triathlete buds: So spoiled to be in the company of not 1, but 2 great guys! Plus, ice cream cake, a new Garmin, and calls from my friends and family all amounted to a great day.
I did a bunch of reflecting on the past year - not just because I've aged, but because I am back in Saratoga Springs for my summer job. Stepping on campus, it feels like I've never left. I've been doing this job since 2006, and I always love coming back. Coming back means starting a new season, and it made me pause and account for the past year.
I've grown up a lot. At this point, you'd think that the growing up was over, but that is not the case. This time last year, I told my good friend Jenny that I was entering a time of uncertainty and unknowns. It was the end of a relationship, among other things, and to say I felt like I was just stumbling. And after months of struggling, I started to come out on the other side of the tunnel. Training for and running the Boston Marathon helped -- I felt on top of the world, and I got to the marathon because of my efforts, and no one else's. It was definitely a big turning point and a great step in a new direction.
This morning I was re-reading a wonderful book, The Present, which I first read last summer when I was trying to figure things out. It taught me a lot and gave me a great sense of perspective -- I highly recommend it. Re-reading it was wonderful - it reminded of how I felt then and how I feel now - big difference. I can stand on 2 feet, can stand tall, and run with a stride. Amazing what a difference a year makes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Training with the big boys

Well, week 3 of cycle 1 of Rochester marathon training is here. I am very fortunate to be able to train with a few great guys while I am at home. These are my triathlete buds: Manuel (the one who looks like a superhero), Adam (with the sweet sunglasses), and Mark. Mark lives closest to me, which means we are able to get more runs in together. He is amazing - he has 5 kids under the age of 8 and is training for his first Ironman. We've been doing speedwork together on Tuesdays, and it is really helpful to have a partner there. First of all, if you do it alone (as I've been doing for the past 16 months), it is a long time (10-14 miles) to be training alone and running around the track. Second, it is really helpful to have someone pace you/push you. I am really good at reigning in Mark on the longer intervals, like mile repeats, and he can push me on shorter intervals. Yesterday's track workout was long - 3 parts - a 2 mile cutdown, a moderate 3 mile run off the track, and then a 1200, 800, and 400. So good to have a buddy for that., and we hit our splits very well.
Week 3 is a big week - my mileage goes up to 56, which is just about where I peaked when training for Boston. Not sure how high mileage will go (Sarah keeps me in suspense, and I only see one cycle of training at a time), but it is good to stretch my limits and keep slowly upping the mileage.

Monday, June 14: Weight training

Tuesday, June 15: 2.5 mile warm-up; 2 mile cut-down on track, start at 7:20 pace minutes for first mile and then drop to 7:00 minute pace for the second mile. 3 mile run; 3 lap (1200), 2 lap (800), 1 lap (400). Jog 1 lap between each rep and aim for 5:10, 3:28, and 1:39. 2.5 mile cool-down. Total mileage: 12.25 miles

Wednesday, June 16: 4 miles easy, swim

Thursday, June 17: 6 miles easy

Friday, June 18: Tempo Run; Run first 2 miles at very comfortable easy run pace; 8 mile tempo run; start at 8:25 pace then try to work down the last few miles to about 8:10 pace. Run 2 miles easy for cool-down: Total Mileage: 12 miles

Saturday, June 19: 6 miles easy

Sunday, June 20: 16 miles easy

Total Mileage: 56 miles

And that sort of training gets 2 thumbs up...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Victory in the 5k - RR

Until a local 5k last year where I placed 2nd, I never envisioned winning a race. Perhaps that's because in 9th grade indoor track meets,I would get lapped. Not really the confidence booster I was looking for. But in the past year, I've realized maybe, just maybe, I could win. Yes, there are lots of women who can run a 5k faster than me, but I've had a couple of close finishes...maybe it was my turn.Today was the Meaghan's 5k (to benefit Lung Cancer) and my mom's second 5k. She was very nervous because she wanted to set a new PR (her first race was 36:21). I was nervous too - 5ks often freak me out more than a longer race. The forecast predicted thunderstorms - but no rain today! It was cloudy and humid, and the sun held out from coming out until after the race. Isn't this picture cool? The jumping guy ended up winning in 16:10.
I lined up in the second row at the start - next to one other girl and behind all of the fast-looking guys. And the gun went off! Girl next to me
(skinny little high school girl - definitely a cross country runner) takes a 50 yard lead. I decide
to let her stay there for now, and hang onto second for a little bit. Girl stays in first for the half mile, but I slowly gain on her. We ran side by side for about 20 seconds, then I surged and never looked back. That is a lesson learned from last year - I ran a race, looked back while I w
as in the lead, and then got passed. I've learned (thanks to this great article on racing tactics from Running Times) to only look back when turning on a corner - then you can check in and figure out where people are without showing that you're checking in. I didn't see her on the corners (the course was a square), so I felt like I comfortably had the lead. At this point, I was just running with the men. It became a back and forth game at this point. I would pass a few guys, and then go back and forth with a guy. I felt a lot more comfortable during this race compared to the Police Week 5k I ran in May, even though I was running the same pace. At the water stop (halfway), it was confirmed that I was "first lady," which was how they worded it. Okay, hang on, hang on. I did go out too fast (first mile 6:40 - not ready to run at that pace yet), but was hanging on (but not for dear life this time). It is always nice to see the 3 mile mark. However, .1 sounds so small as a decimal, but there are still 200 meters to go. People started clapping at this point (the pink visor was fairly visible at this point) and yelling "first woman."
Very cool feeling, but it was so much cooler to actually break the finish tape - something I've wanted to do for a while. Woo! My brother Ryan and my grandparents were there to watch me finish. 21:53 - a tie with my 5k PR. After I caught my breath and grabbed something to drink, I headed back to the finish line to watch my mom come in. She surprised us all (she wore a pink top, so it was also easy to spot her), she came in 33:08! A new PR by over 3 minutes! She did such a great job - definitely a victory for our family today. Mom couldn't believe how much better she did, but she kicked with .3 to go! I am so proud of her!
They had an award ceremony afterward, and I
got a gift certificate to Medved (running store) good for a pair of Saucony shoes! Pretty excited about that - will have to go get the pair before I head off to Saratoga on the 20th. Any recommendations on favorite Sauconys?
Overall, it was a great race and a victory for both me and my mom.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Guilt goes a long way

I never want to be standing at the starting line wondering if there was more I could have done.

Today, my brother Ryan planned on going to the gym. I only planned to do a short run in the afternoon, but I knew if that if I didn't go to the gym in the morning, I would lose my only chance of the day. The guilt kicked in, and I hopped in the passenger seat to head to the Y.

To train for a marathon requires more than just logging miles. Yes, it is possible to "just" run and complete the marathon that way. But it is the ancillary things which can make a significant difference, not just in your finishing time, but how you feel in the final miles. Once I added weights, I found my quads handled miles 20-25 of the marathon a lot better. When I added swimming, my muscles relaxed and it gave them a chance to heal after long runs. I've slowly been adding core work, which is hard, and why I think most people (myself included) are reluctant to do it.
The bird dog is a great overall core exercise that not only strengthens the abs and back, but also involves the glutes and improves balance and stability.
I did the bird dog at the gym, holding the pose for 90 seconds at a time on each side. It's quite tricky, especially as the abs start to "shake." But it's hard to deny the positive effects of such exercises, especially when it's proven that the abs can help a lot in running. More guilt, but ultimately more good effects, too.
Perhaps there is more guilt than necessary, but the marathon is an investment. The way I do it, I only get a few chances each year to do it, so I want to make sure I am prepared on those few occasions. So, even if I grudgingly start a new regimen or take on other forms of training, I know in the end it will help.
What has guilted you into good?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chills in June

As a runner, I tend to get fairly sweated, even during long runs in the winter. I heat up quickly, within a mile or two, and that's that. Today was a bit different. Today was an 8 mile run, and as far as my route was concerned, standard. It was in the high 60s and humid. Around mile 5, I was starting to get really hot, but then the opening from the "Spirit of the Marathon" soundtrack came on. Chills. From having sweat all over, my body cooled down. Goosebumps on my arms and legs. The music from "Spirit" is quite beautiful and inspiring. I even played it in the car driving to the Boston Marathon on marathon morning. It helped calm me down and focused on the day ahead. So, I think the memories of that came flooding back today. Once the song ended, I figured that was it. But about a mile later, "I've got a feeling" by the Black Eye'd Peas came on. How does that cause chills? They played it in the Athlete's Village as we were walking to the starting corrals. That was the final thing that both relaxed me before the race and what got me excited. Since then, whenever I hear it, I always think about Boston. It was back on today, and as it came on, my strides grew bigger and faster, and the chills were back. It's amazing how good music and memories can do that.
On a different note...
What is it about track workouts? The endless circles? Whatever it is, IT'S WORKING.
Mark (http://tridadoffive.blogspot.com) and I went out on Tuesday to do mile repeats. I was supposed to start at 7:25 pace and knock off 5-7 seconds per repeat (4 in total). But in reality:
7:20 (oops)
7:11 (slow down!)
7:03 (this was the hard one)
6:57 (hurry, hurry!)
So fast! But managed to successfully knock off time with each repeat, even at a pace faster than expected. It's amazing what you can do when the conditions are right. Mark did very well too. We were both really happy with how it went, especially given the heat that we had when we did mile repeats the last time.
It definitely kicked week 2 of training off to a good start:

Monday, June 7: swim, lift

Tuesday, June 8: 2.5 mile warm-up; 4x1 mile, 500 meter jog between each mile repeat. Start at about 7:25 minute pace, try to cut-down each mile by 5-7 seconds. 2.5 mile cool-down. Total mileage: 10 miles

Wednesday, June 9: 6 miles easy

Thursday, June 10: 8 miles easy

Friday, June 11: OFF

Saturday, June 12: 15 miles easy

Sunday, June 13: 7 miles easy

Total Mileage: 48 miles

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ode to the Kettlebell

O Kettlebell, 10 pound kettlebell,
Didn't know you were going to give me hell.

"Just swing and lift,'" the instructor said
As I lifted the kettlebell over my head.

"It will work your core, and your lower body too,"
She left out that climbing stairs would be hard to do.

My quads are asking "Why?!" and screaming,
Feels like a nightmare, but I'm certainly not dreaming.

It's almost like post-marathon ache,
But with no medal or glory - this is hard to take.

Despite the soreness from the weight,
I've got a feeling I'll be seeing the kettlebell for another date.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Naked Run

On Thursday, I went out for a naked 8 mile run through Spencerport.

No, not that kind. I did not wear a watch or play any music. No technology whatsoever. Just me and my shoes. There was no reason to time myself - it was an easy run - no reason to speed. It was pretty freeing, to not be attached to any technology. I do recommend it, every once in a while. It's like going on vacation without bringing a laptop. Nothing crazy or major will happen if you leave it behind.

Added bonus: it's the kind of naked run you can do without seeing this guy:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In my dreams, I'm a Kenyan

Dream race to run: Boston was my first dream race. Even when I wasn't running, I knew I wanted to do it someday. Now that I've done it, it would be fantastic to run in the Olympic Trials.

Dream time in marathon: I would love to break 3 hours some day. And to run in the Olympic Trials, you need to run a 2:46. I know that would incredibly hard, but that would be amazing. The way I look at it, I've only been running for 1.5 years continuously. I think with more coaching and more mileage, I can slowly work my way down to a sub 3, and hopefully 2:46.

Dream running achievement: To run in all 50 states and on all 7 continents.

Dream job: I would love to teach medieval history at a small liberal arts college. If Runner's World wanted to hire me as their medieval runner columnist (every magazine needs one), that would be cool too.

Dream destination: Italy - I was there for 10 days in college, but it certainly wasn't enough time. I've studied so much Italian history but actually want to be able to explore the churches, piazzas and castles where the history happened. I would love to live in Lucca (a small city in Tuscanny which still has medieval walls around it) for a year.

Dream athlete to meet: I've already met Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers, and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Next up - Deena Kastor and Kara Goucher!

Dream date: Going through museums in Paris, and then a picnic in Parc Monceau. There will be lots of cheese (including compte - my absolute favorite), and then a walk along the Champs-Élysées.

Dream achievement: To raise a family while balancing my life as a professor and runner.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kicking off Fall Marathon Training

Today kicked off marathon training for the fall. For what marathon, you may ask?
I will be running the Rochester Marathon on Sunday, September 12th. It is my hometown marathon, and I am very excited about it. This will be the chance for my grandparents to see me run a marathon, and so I am very determined to train in the best way possible so I can have a great race. But there's more...
I will also be running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 31st. Last year, a deal was struck between me and my friend Jenny (of Florida fame): if I qualified for Boston, she would run a marathon. So, she is running MCM as her first marathon, and I will be pacing her through it. Some friends go out to dinner - we're running a marathon together! We work together in the summer, so I will do a lot of runs with her. While running is not her first sport (she was a collegiate swimmer), she is a great athlete and will do will in the marathon.
But I digress...fall marathon 2 is so far away.
Today kicked off training for the Rochester marathon. My friend Sarah is designing my plan again, which means 4 week cycles. This is the first week of cycle 1:

Monday, May 31: Swim and weight-lifting

Tuesday, June 1: 2.5 mile warm-up; 2 mile on track; start first mile at 7:35 pace, cut-down second mile to 7:20 pace. 2 lap jog. 4x800, 1 lap jog between each repeat. Start first 800 at 3:35, try to cut-down by 5 seconds or so for each 800. 2.5 mile cool-down: Total mileage—10.25 miles

Wednesday, June 2: 6 miles easy.

Thursday, June 3: 8 miles easy.

Friday, June 4: OFF

Saturday, June 5: 14 miles easy

Sunday, June 6: 6 miles easy

Total Mileage: 44.25 miles

My track workout this morning went well - I hit all of my splits. Felt great to get back on the track. It was pouring rain, which can often be a deal-breaker in a run. I loved it - it pushed me to go harder as I was splashing through the puddles on the track. The 800s were tough, especially the last 2. The lactic acid started to build up, and and the following phrase started to come to mind in the last lap of each interval "When the body says "No", the mind must say "Yes." Because that's what you need to do - mind over matter, right?

I am at home until the 20th. Until then, I have two main tasks at home - training and studying for my master's exams (which are in July). 60 books to master - and I am well on my way. If anything I feel like Rocky in Siberia (again). He went there just to train, and that's what I'm doing. Running and reading about medieval things - that's the name of the game.