Saturday, February 26, 2011

Imitating the Olympians

I am learning that if I want to truly imitate how Olympians live and train, it is not enough to just embody their attitude and passion of the sport. It is not even enough to focus on the running, but the other ancillary things:
  • Rest. I am a full-time graduate student with 2 jobs. So sometimes, it is easy for rest to be the thing that gets ignored with training. During the week, the alarm goes off between 5 and 6. So I try to not set an alarm at least one day on the weekend, at least to catch up a bit. Yesterday afternoon, a nap happened, and I had a full night's sleep (Deena Kastor would be proud). Based on how today's tempo went, I think it made a major difference.
  • Strength and core training: My IT band stretches fall into this category, and doing them 2x a day every day has certainly made my legs a lot stronger. But I try to get in weights/core work twice a week too.
  • Nutrition. I have been gluten free for almost 7 weeks now, and I do think it is making a difference. I can't necessarily feel it in my stomach, but I think knocking out gluten has made me able to start tolerating harder workouts much easier, and subsequently recover from them. Pamela's Products and Udi's have each been kind enough to send me some products to try, so expect some reviews soon.
I really worked hard this week with training:
Monday: 2000 yard swim, 1 hour elliptical, weights.
Tuesday: Track workout (10.25 miles)
Wednesday: 45 minutes on the elliptical, 4800 meter erg
Thursday: easy 6
Friday: 1 hour elliptical, 45 minutes erg (7500 meters), weights/core work
Saturday: 10 mile run with 6 mile tempo (average 7:29 pace)
Sunday: 17 miles (8:39 pace)
Total miles for the week: 43.25 miles
Total miles for February: 161 miles - highest in 4 months

Friday's workout was tough. I had really enjoyed my rowing experience on Wednesday and thought I would give it a go again. Apparently, the machine has activated muscles in my forearms that I never use - this is definitely a total body workout. But I pushed through, found my rhythm, and added almost 3000 meters (and 15 minutes) as compared with Wednesday. Then I taught (Gregory the Great as a missionary), and then lifted. It ended up being about 135 minutes (2.25 hours) of training for one day. And that is why I believe that intense XT is good - that is a lot of time to train, especially when you think about how much ground you would cover running for that long. There was a reason why I needed that nap at the end of the day!

And I did not set my alarm for yesterday. I busted out a great tempo run - averaged 7:29 pace for 6 miles on a very hilly course. Amazing what a full night's sleep can do! I was worried that Friday's XT would've beaten me up more, but I don't think it negatively affected my run. And I felt strong the whole time, and that I could've gone faster.

And then today I ran 17 miles. That is the longest I've gone since Halloween at MCM. I decided to bring along 2 GUs - to take one at each hour. It was amazing how much 100 calories/caffeine/carbs can help. Just when I felt my energy flagging, an hour had passed. Within 10 minutes of having one, I felt my energy come back. There were a ton of hills: the course didn't exactly mimic Boston, but included lots of up and downhills, including the last few miles. I definitely felt a little tired from yesterday, but kept at it. Averaged 8:39 pace for 17 miles and was pleased about that. I got about 7 hours of sleep last night and I think that helped too. I felt fairly focused during the run, but still relaxed enough to enjoy the process. Most of my thoughts were daydreams about Boston and thinking about training.

Does anyone use visualization during training? I think that it can have a positive impact during runs, and even to think about it throughout the day: on the train, at the store, running errands, etc. This is a really cool video about Billy Mills and his preparation for the 1964 Olympics (he won the gold in the 10k). Obviously, it worked for him. It has also motivated me to be better about keeping a training notebook, in order to record how I felt during various workouts. I don't think I will be an Olympian, but it certainly can't hurt to think like one!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marines, Rowing, and German

First of all, I am in for the Marine Corps Marathon! I can't believe it sold out in under 30 hours. Jenny and I will be teaming up yet again in a marathon friendship run on 10/30.
Wednesday morning, I did a 45 minute elliptical workout, which was fine. But I still had to do a second workout (double days on MWF - my cross training days), and for some reason I couldn't get pumped about the pool. It is in a different building than the cardio machines, and it just seemed like a bigger process than an enjoyable activity. So, I returned to the fitness center in the afternoon, and looked at some of the other cardio machines. Bike? Not today. I could do the elliptical again, but no, I need a break from that too. Aha! Then I saw the rowing machines. Hmm. Have never used one, although I knew a lot of people on the crew time in college. Why not try it?
So, I sat down, turned on the timer thing, and started rowing away. My dad and I have gone canoeing and paddling, so I figured it wouldn't be too much of a brand new experience. And it wasn't! Lean and pull, lean and pull. It took a little while to get a rhythm going, but then it started to feel more natural. Ended up rowing 4800 meters in 30 minutes. I can feel it a bit in my shoulders and arms today, just a bit of soreness, but it was a good workout. Does anyone use the erg? Any recommendations? I don't know sort of time or distance to aim for. But, I think I am going to try to make it a part of my XT regimen. Always want to change things up!
Interestingly enough, this was one of the sentences I had to translate for my German homework:
Durch anstrengende Arbeit werden die Muskeln eines jungen Menschen immer kraftiger.
The muscles of younger people become stronger and stronger after strenouous work.
I agree!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back to being Track Head Med again

First of all, I need to give a special shout-out to the Marine Corps Marathon forum on Runner's World. I've been posting there since Summer 2009, when I started training for my first MCM. They are great - very supportive and funny - always able to keep everyone in check with some sass, spunk, and even encouragement! I have met a few of them, both at MCM and at DC meet-ups, but still feel connected to the ones who I haven't met yet. After all, we all post daily and write to each other - it is definitely a friendship, albeit a digital one.
Anyways, today is registration day for the Marine Corps Marathon (in honor of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima). I am signing up, marking it my third year in a row doing MCM, and will be the 2nd time I pace my friend Jenny. Very excited for 10/30 - one of my favorite races.
On the forum, we have developed nicknames for each other. The forum calls me "Track Head Med" because of my crazy track workouts. In training for previous marathons, I have done track workouts that total 14-14.5 miles. These entail long warm ups and cool downs, and generally 2 segements (a 2k cutdown where you go faster and faster with each lap, and then either mile repeats or 800s that get faster and faster). I love them - they are a great check to get for the day, and can teach a lot about pacing/how to push at the end.
It will be a while before I get up to 14 miles on the track again, but yesterday I got to return to my favorite stomping ground. I hadn't had a successful workout since early November, before all of the ITBS stuff. But now it was time to revist the track, especially with cycle 2 of Boston training starting at the 3:30 goal in mind.
2.5 mile warm up. Then, did a test lap around the track (we had some freezing rain Monday night) to make sure the track was useable. All clear! Then 2000 meter cutdown, starting at 2:00 per lap pace and getting progessively faster. Finished in 9:04, and happy to successfully finish the first part of the workout. Then, 2 laps of recovery. I had the track to myself, and was very excited about that. Then time for 5 x 800, starting at 3:40 and aiming to knock off 3 seconds with each one (and 1 lap recovery in between). End result: 3:38, 3:34, 3:31, 3:27, 3:24. 2.5 mile cooldown. Total mileage: 10.25 miles. Yes!! I was a little fast with the 800s, but felt strong the whole time. Quite literally, I am back on track and excited about the marathons to come!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hope Springs

Hope springs with the rising of the sun
A breath of fresh air inspires and provides vigor
The feeling of interior warmth, mixed with the chill of morning air
Blends together an enticing concoction.

Music of yesterday plays and brings about a smile
The turnover of strengthened legs up a long hill
Gaining momentum as the climbing continues
Heart beats both out of enthusiasm and exertion
Thoughts of inspiration and the reality of perspiration.

There is a sense of newness and promise
Of what has been, what is, and what is to come.

Of gratitude and relief
Of purpose and belief.

The road that lies ahead
Does not have to be filled with dread
A plan is in hand
One that I now understand.

My run is never quite alone
For hope is by my side.

Taking a leap of faith: 2 months until Boston

Okay, enough about the BQ changes and time to think about the Boston Marathon that is actually next - which was 2 months away as of Friday. With 2 months to go, I always set down and assess/reflect where I am at.
Boston 2010: Big big butterflies for my Beantown debut. This was the first time that Sarah had coached me, and I was just getting used to the high mileage, longer runs, and tempo runs. Ultimately: 3:38:51.
Rochester 2010: Mileage was high and I was doing killer track workouts. Sleep deprived and was preparing my master's comps. Ultimately: 3:35:54
My mileage obviously is lower than "usual." But as far as total time that I put into training, it is much higher than normal. I am still completely stoked about my 5k/10k PR experience during my 8 mile race last weekend. And also, the shower and bacherlorette parties were a ton of fun:
This week's training was interesting:
Sunday: 15 miles at 8:45 pace - not sure how I went that fast, seeing as I felt fairly sore from Saturday's race:
Monday: Off. First rest day of no running, no cross-training, since January 17th. Felt a little strange, but probably needed it.
Tuesday: 10 mile run with fartleks of varying lengths thrown in.
Wednesday: 45 minutes on the elliptical, 40 minute walk. Just couldn't fit the swim in, and I figured a hilly walk was better than nothing.
Thursday: Beautiful 6 mile run. That was the inspiration for the "Hope Springs" poem. Lately, I haven't been doing morning runs during the week, and this was a great one.
Friday: 2000 yard swim, 1 hour on the elliptical, weights.
Saturday: 20 minutes easy, 20 minutes moderate, 20 minutes harder, 20 minutes cool down = 9.5 miles (7:15 pace during the tempo part)
Sunday: 12 miles
On Saturday, I also met with my coach/training guru Sarah. She designs my training schedule (she is also another medieval graduate student in my program), and has been doing so for a year. I have had good results under her guidance, not just in marathon training, but she also helped me with some 10k focused workouts in the fall. Anyways, she had pushed for me to do the 8 mile race last week to see where training was at, seeing as cycle 1 ends this weekend. Sarah says sub 1:37 is definitely attainable for the National Half Marathon (3/26), based on last week's time. Then we got to talking about Boston...the big one, the one that all of this crazy cross-training is about. She thinks I should aim for...
sub 3:30
Holy cow. I was thinking low 3:30s, but no, she thinks 3:29:xx is within my grasp. We'll have a better idea after the half, but I could be going for a big PR. So, I am going to take a leap of faith. I will have my first track workout of the season on Tuesday, and the next 8 weeks will be
geared to this new goal. There will need to be some trust and hard work, but it would be amazing to see a 3:2x:xx on the screen on April 18th. This was from last weekend's race:
I don't know how clear it is, but Heather and I are both smiling a lot for really hammering away at the pace. If I can take that approach into Boston, and make that leap, dreams really can come true!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How I know the new plan is working: Freezeroo 8 miler Report (5k, 10k, 8 mile PRs)

I flew home last night for the weekend. Primary purpose: Kathleen's bridal shower. But, I am also 3 weeks into Boston training, which was preceeded by 2 weeks of base training. Sarah wanted me to do a race to see where I am at pace-wise before we go back to track workouts in Cycle 2. So, I signed up for the Freezeroo 8 miler to do this morning before the shower. I did my warmup at home this morning, and it was snowing a lot and windy. I had my doubts at this point about breaking an hour, but I had to remind myself that I tend to doubt myself the most is during the warmup. I just always wonder if I can really move that fast during the race. But time to push the doubts aside and turn to positive thinking. At check-in, I bumped into Heather, who posts in the Boston forum and is also from Rochester. We've been at a few of the same races, and we even figured we would finish around the same time. And then it was time to begin. We fell into stride together quite quickly, and thought we ought to try to run the whole race together and see what happens. We went through the first mile in 6:53. Oh my goodness - that is faster than my 5k pace. 2 miles in 13:155. At this point, Heather said, "Well, we are either going to run a killer race or have a killer crash-and-burn." We decided to see if we could keep it up, and push each other through the hard parts. We went through the 5k in 21:46. For those of you keeping score, my 5k PR is 21:53. Did I just break a 5k pr in an 8 mile race? Heather was close to hers, and we started to wonder how long this pace would last. Going into mile 4, the wind started to pick up. But, once we went through 4 miles, we were halfway through, and it started to feel like a hard run. Really hard. And 4 miles still felt like a long way to go. We got to mile 6 in 42:40, and while there was no marker for the 10k, I know PRed there too (old PR was 44:45). At this point, Heather said "I think we have our sub-hour." No kidding. But how long would it take? The wind started to pick up, and I started to just want to be done - I was pushing really hard. And...there was NO mile 7 marker! As we got into the 50 minute area, I started to wonder, "Have I really slowed down that much?" Then at 52 minutes, I realized, "There couldn't have been one. Just keep going and hopefully you'll hit the finish line soon." Heather had about 5 yards on me at this point, and I just could not push any more to catch up. The minutes went by slowly, and finally, the building complex appeared. This is me with a few yards to go. And then I finished, what a relief, in...
57:40. 7:12 pace for an 8 mile race. Here is me and Heather right after we finished. Big grins for sure - neither of us were expecting to do that well (Heather is coming off an injury too and also getting ready for Boston).
It was a phenomenal race and confirmation that my new form of training is working. 4 days of running, and double days of cross training 3 days a week = a great new method. And the bridal shower was also wonderful - my best friend is getting married in 3 weeks! Bacherlorette party (aka drinks with a few friends around town) is tonight - going to be great! Talk about a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turning into a Hungry Hungry Hippo can be a good thing

Reason 231 I know I am ramping up my training: I had a big breakfast at 9AM on Tuesday morning, and I was hungry again by 10:30! I am taking that to be a good sign. I am not going to lie: ther is something satisfying/rewarding about a big meal after training. I ran 13.1 miles (had to throw in the .1 for good measure) on Sunday, and was pretty excited about the Super Bowl food that accompanied it. This is week 3 of Boston training: less than 10 weeks to go now.
Monday: 2000 yard swim to Modernity, 1 hour on the elliptical, weights
Tuesday: 2 mile warm up, 4 mile tempo (started at 8:13 pace and worked down to 7:19 pace), 2 mile cooldown = 8 miles, 45 minute spin class. Incidently, not having a lot of junk in the trunk makes for feeling sore sitting and reading 2 days after spinning.
Wednesday: 35 minutes on the elliptical
Normally I double up on Wednesdays, but since I doubled up on Tuesday, I took yesterday relatively easy. Will run 8 miles this afternoon.
*In random news "Lovefool" by the Cardigans is playing on my pandora, bringing me back to...5th grade? The simple life.
I am going home this weekend! My best friend is getting married next month (I am a bridesmaid) and we are throwing her shower on Saturday. I am also doing an 8 mile race that morning (part of the Freezeroo series in Rochester), which will be a good opportunity to test my fitness 9 weeks out from Boston to see where I am at. I am hoping to run it in roughly 58-59 minutes - we will see on Saturday. No word yet on goal time for Boston - I will have a better idea once I do the National Half Marathon at the end of March.
Anyways, I am excited about going home - I can see my parents, friends, and run in a race! Sounds like a banner weekend! More to follow...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unexpected Gifts + Baby Steps = Big Leaps

Thank you to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center! They sent me this gift basket yesterday! It is full of delicious GF products to try, as well as a GF shopping guide. Pancake and brownie mix, cookies, chips, some condiments -- all very useful things to have in my pantry! It was very thoughtful, and now I understand why they wanted all of my medical info - this was an expensive giveaway. But very much appreciated. I have also been writing to some GF companies asking if I can review their products on this blog - I figured some of you readers would appreciate to know which ones are the A-listers.

Thank you to the Safeway near my house! Within the past week, they have added a great GF aisle with some of my new favorite products!

My training this week has been going well:
Monday: AM Swim to Modernity (2000 yards), PM elliptical (60 minutes), lifting
Tuesday: 10 mile run with 5.8 miles at 7:30 pace
Wednesday: AM Swim to Modernity (2000 yards), 45 minutes on the elliptical
Thursday: Easy 7 miler - it feels good to have that feel like an easy distance again.
Today: Will swim, do the elliptical (we need a real verb for using the elliptical), and some weights.
Saturday: 9.5 mile hilly run with 10 x 90 second fartleks
Sunday: 13 miles (will add the .1 for good measure) - pretty excited about a long run on Sunday (and Super Bowl food Sunday night).

Sarah said that I might emerge from this new training routine a lot stronger, and that I would notice it the most on the runs. I was really blown away during Tuesday's run. The plan was to run 2 mile warm up, then a 40 minute tempo, and then a cool down. I have found a new road to use during my runs near campus: well lit and little traffic. Plus it is good to change things up a bit. I added 4 more minutes (wanted to finish at the end of a particular road) for good measure, and when I clocked it in, it was 5.8 miles in 44 minutes. And I felt strong! This is only 7 seconds slower than goal half marathon pace (hoping to run 7:23 pace in March at the National Half), which is reassuring that I have maintained a high fitness level during my recovery/comeback. This has definitely taught me to trust the process - it really works. Patience and smart training has really made a major difference. Yesterday marked 5 weeks of PT - and when I started, I could only run 2 miles without pain. Baby steps lead to big leaps!