Saturday, September 29, 2012

CIM Training Week #3 Recap

61 miles this week - that's the most I've ever done.  I said I was doing 62.  I might just have to take the dogs for a one mile jaunt after dinner because I said I was doing 62.  Mileage junkie.  I know.

 This week I started doubles -- running more than once a day.  So while I max out at 10 miles in the morning, I get extra easy miles in the evening.  I can do these with the jogging stroller, which gives Susanna and I some chat time after school.  Her school is RIGHT on the W&OD Bike Trail, and it's pretty much exactly 2.5 miles to Whole Foods.  I can bribe her with a fruit leather, pick up anything we need for dinner, and get in my 5 miles all in one trip.  Nice.

Tempo pace on Thursday was about 7:35-40 and I felt like death.  I really really want to get that tempo pace down to 7:20.

I am forcing myself not to look at pace for recovery runs the  day after key workouts. It's pretty easy to do after work when I really don't need to be anywhere, but on Friday when I attempted to just go by feel I didn't make it home on time.  Granted, I was only 60 seconds late, but Jamie was in the car with it running and called me as I was turning onto our street. I guess I do need the Garmin in the mornings, though I know it probably makes me go faster than I should.

My long run today went pretty well considering I still felt like death from Thursday's tempo run when I went to sleep last night.  I started out pre-dawn to get in 5 miles before the group showed up and I got some fabulous photos:

Today was supposed to be 17 with 10 at Marathon Pace.  I did NOT keep marathon pace (8:12) for ten miles. My last mile was 7:50, but I was anywhere from 8:15 - 8:45 for the other 16.  The average was 8:35.  The issue I have with these plan-prescribed marathon pace runs is that I like to run with other people, and they don't particularly want to do what is on my plan ;)  Since I do all my other runs solo, and I really do like the social aspect of my Saturday runs, it's a training fact I'll have to accept.

I lost 2 lbs this week.  I think that losing another 8 or so is key to getting my pace a bit faster and really is the key to a BQ.  I did a great job of logging all my food M-Th but did not do so great this weekend.  I am going to track it but I know I went overboard yesterday thanks to my lovely husband who brought home luscious desserts from Whole Foods.

I also finally gave blood today, after putting it off during the heavy Ironman training.  I wanted to make sure I was fully recovered.  I felt pretty guilty going in there for the first time in 5 months... egads.

And now... if you were wondering how to improve your marathon time with hardly any training, please see below:

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Monday, September 24, 2012

CIM Marathon Training Week 2

This was supposed to be posted Saturday but Blogspot wasn't working.  Anyhow....

Marathon Training Week # 2 is complete.  55 miles in 6 days.   Here’s a quick recap:

Easy Runs on MTWF ranging 7-9 miles

Speedwork Thursday:  Mile Repeats at 7 min pace with half mile recoveries (4 of those)

Long Run:  17 miles, 2:29:40.  I ran with Tuan and Brittany.  I think my easy run pace is more like 8:50 – 9:00.  I did the first three miles on my own around 9-9:15 since they were only doing 14, and ran the rest with them.  They averaged 8:35, and were pulling out 8:15-20s at the end.  I was no longer in “easy run” mode – but it’s probably good for me since some of the long run should be within 30-60 seconds of goal marathon pace (according to the Pfitz book…)

One thing I have to address:  my weight.  I’m not sure how I managed to gain 8 pounds training for an Ironman, but I did.  Sure, I’m still in the healthy weight range, but I’d really like to get back to what I was last March – "racing weight" - since it will make the faster pace feel easier.   So how do I lose weight running 55-70 miles a week?  It’s tough because I’m usually starving.  Starting Monday I will be tracking everything on My Fitness Pal so I can get a better idea of what's going into my body.  I have a feeling I am eating pretty badly -- too much sugar.

All my runs this week were done before 6:45am (weekdays) and 9:30am (long run) – however, 5:15am is my limit for getting out the door, as I have to have a bit of buffer time for traffic lights and potty breaks, so next week when the mileage gets longer I will start doubles.  Heavier mileage in the morning and an hour or less right after work a couple days a week.

Somehow Jamie and I are managing to train for marathons at the same time.  He is doing Philly two weeks before I do Sacramento.  He runs right after work (3:00pm) and can get in 6 miles and still pick up the kids.   If he has to run longer I can pick them up.  On Saturdays I finish by 9:30am and take the kids to swim lessons (okay, I take Susanna to swim lessons, drop off Jack at the day care, and sit in the hot tub) while Jamie does his long runs.  We both get our 6 day of running in that way.  As a general rule Sunday is our family day.  I’m always jealous of people who get to run with their husbands, but without any family nearby it is pretty much out of the question for us.  

Grandpa (my dad) is coming the weekend of the Philly marathon and taking the kids because he is awesome.  I told Susanna he was coming so Daddy could go do his race.  She looks at me and says "Is his race a long race like yours, or a short race like mine?"  (She was referring to her Ironkids 1 mile run, and the Ironman I did the next day.)  "Well Susanna, his race is a marathon, so it's pretty long, but not as long as the race I did."  She says, "So he won't start when it's dark, and race all day til it's dark again, and then have to go to the doctor because the race makes him sick?"  I had to crack up.  I do try to set a good example of fitness for my kids.  Apparently ending up with in IV right after they cheer you into the finish didn't exactly make an impression of good healthy living on my three year old.  

62 miles planned for next week.  That will be the most I've ever done in a 6 day period.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Operation Choose A Plan (Fall Marathon Training Week 1)

My original idea was to go with the plan from the book Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfizinger. Everyone on the Runners World web forum swears by it and says that if you want to PR, you have to do it.
BUT it has a 12-15 mile run every Wednesday.  If it takes me over 2 hours to run 15 miles, and I have to be back to my house by 6:45am, that means I have to be out the door before 4:30am.  Um... no.  I just can't do that every week for 7 weeks (that's how many 14-15 milers there were in the plan.)

So then I put in a recent race time into SMARTCoach on the Runners World Website and it spit a plan back to me that looks pretty reasonable.

Then someone emailed me that he really was a fan of the Hanson plan, featured in RW.  So I checked that one out.  It has me running every day after the first three weeks.  Same mileage as the other two mentioned.

So... I think I've decided to do the Hanson plan, but with some modifications to get in some tune up races, and also start out with higher mileage on the long runs since I've just come off IM and have the endurance.  I'm using the core and weight training plan from the Advanced Marathoning  book which I love because it does not involve going to the gym.  Now that I'm back at work, I just don't feel great about sticking the kids in gym daycare much on weekdays.

I chose my tune up races -- Heritage Half Marathon on October 14 (7 weeks out) and the Potomac Valley Track Club 10K on November 17 (2 weeks out.)  I'd actually prefer the half marathon to be closer to the race -- like 3-4 weeks out -- but I haven't found one that's local and I don't feel like driving to Richmond.

Training went pretty well this week.  50 miles total.  I ran easy on M, Tu, W, and F, did a Tempo on Thursday (Tempo pace was 7:40ish, I think) and a 20 miler today.  Average pace for the 20 miler was 9, but I felt really crappy at the end.  All the plans I have looked at have a bunch of 20 milers, which is supposed to "get rid of the wall."  We shall see.

This is SO much better than Ironman training.  Every run this week was done before 9:30 a.m.  I actually have time to cook and do laundry.  :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Race Report: Virginia Happy Trails Running Club Women's Half Marathon

I almost didn't do this one.  My legs have felt like lead since the Ironman, and I was advised not to run at all for 14 days -- wise seasoned Iron People told me that racing 13 days after crossing the Iron finish line was not a good idea.

BUT I decided to do it anyhow.  I figured I would just treat it as a training run and not really race it.  Why the heck not?

I pulled into the Fountainhead Regional Park lot and saw what looked like a lot of hardcore trail running folks.  The men in the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club serve as volunteers for the race, and I think most of them have done the Bull Run 50 Miler that I hope I get into next year.    I asked if  there was a key drop, and people just kind of looked at me funny and one of the volunteers said "Don't you have a place you stash them in your car?  I put them in my gas cap."  Hmmm.....  Ok.  Mine is electric so that wouldn't work.  I took a deep breath and put them behind the passenger side wheel and hoped for the best.

I lined up at the start -- no chip time here, just everyone off at once.   They start the race through the parking lot and paved park entrance for nearly a mile, I think so that people spread out according to pace and the trail isn't so crowded at the beginning.   In race tradition, the men serenaded us, and then the clock started.  I took off at at an 8 minute pace, which lasted until we veered into the woods.  It is single track and for the first few miles a pack of us were right at each other's heels.

I hadn't really looked at the course elevation until last night.  Once we hit the "Do Loop" it was pretty much up, down, up, down, up, down.  The "ups" were steep.  Here's a course profile:

I was definitely still worn out from Louisville.  I ran the first "up" and decided I wouldn't be doing that again.  So I'd walk the "ups" and side shuffle the "downs"  Around this time a woman passed me on a "down" and then fell flat on her face.  This trail running thing is totally different than road racing.  Another racer and I helped her back on her feet and kept going.  I chatted to the three other ladies that were on pace with me, but then I got a horrible side stitch and walked for a few minutes and let them go ahead.

A few minutes out of the "Do Loop" I hit aid station #2.  Hmm... only 5.5 miles in and my stomach was not cooperating at all.  My right side was not happy.  I came to a full stop and checked out the spread -- maybe cola would settle me.  And jelly bellies.  I know they say not to try anything new on race day, but the Heed from aid station #1 hadn't done me any favors.  I topped it all off with some Swedish Fish and headed for Fountainhead.

The next couple miles went pretty quickly, and I caught up with the folks I had let go in the first half.  As I neared them, I saw two bridges that cross a steep ravine.  They don't have handrails, and as I crossed the first one I saw one of the women lose her footing on bridge #2 and I was terrified she was going to fall straight into the stream.  She grabbed the bridge with both arms and ended up spread eagle, but safe.  Phew.  She said "Oh my gosh I was sure I was going down."  Yeah, so was I.  Again.  Phew.

Everyone was complaining about how hot it was.  It was humid, yes -- 93% in fact.  But it was only 82 degrees.  Not 94.  Personally I was in heaven, temperature-wise.

Another mile in, and I could only see one runner.  I asked her if she'd ever done this course before, and she said it was her 5th time running it.  "So what's the Wolf Shoals section like?" I asked.  "It's hell."  she replied. And then she took off.  I was alone on the trail.

I looked down at my watch and saw that I'd been averaging closer to 10:30s for the past few miles.  I already felt like I usually do at the very end of a half marathon.   As far as I could see, there was no one behind me and no one in front of me.  Had I gone off course?  I have a really amazing talent for getting lost on trail runs.  I kept going, and then I saw a sign (backwards) that said "1 mile to go."  My GPS told me I still had five miles to go, so I figured it must be an out and back.  I hadn't seen anyone heading back yet.  I had no idea where the other 200+ runners were.  I just kept moving.

Somewhere around the time my GPS hit 9.5 miles, I finally saw another human being -- coming towards me. I recognized her from the website -- she was the course record holder.  "Way to go!" I yelled.

A few more people passed by, and I finally saw the other aid station.  "Number 110!" they yelled.  "You're in 25th place."  (might revise that later once the results are up -- I think I just made up that number.) (Okay, revised, at the time it was 26th.)  I still had that stupid side stitch.  I again stopped completely and started drinking cola.  "You know, you can keep running... people are going to catch up to you.  You've only got a half mile to the turnaround." said one of the volunteers.  Really?  Cause I hadn't seen anyone for ages. Well, I wasn't going to let anyone pass me.  I grabbed more jelly bellies and took off.  Ten miles down, three to go.

Up, down, up, down, up, down. Then I finally saw more runners - a lot of runners - heading the other direction.  Guess I wasn't doing too badly.  I could see no one behind me so I wasn't really motivated to run any faster.  I still had the cramp, and on top of that, an excruciating blister on my right foot.  (I guess perhaps I shouldn't have raced in the trail shoes I hadn't worn for six months, or at least given them a test run last week.)

Then at 11.5 miles I heard someone behind me.  I'd seen her nearly catch up to me on all the "downs" but then she would slow down on the "ups."  No more walking the "ups."  I only had a mile and half left.  I started running.  And then I saw more humans!  The last third of a mile was all up, and I managed to catch them.  I crossed the finish in 2:13:something-around-close-to-the-the-next-minute-since-my-watch-clicked-to 2:14-as-they-were-writing-down-my-number: 53.

Great finish -- they had homemade smoothies and took requests!  I had strawberry pineapple and it was fantastic.  There weren't that many people who had finished, so I decided to stick around for the awards ceremony.  I doubted I won anything but who knows?

And guess what?  I podiumed!  I was third in my Age Group ranking, although the overall winner was in my AG so had she been counted, I would not have.  I won granola.  So much better than a medal.  Out of 205 finishers, I was 24th (and 214 started - 9 DNFs.)

I loved the race.  I want to do it again.  I also really loved the course and think I will be using it for some of my long runs over the year.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why a 2013 Ironman Will Not Be On My Calendar (A Reflection One Week Post Race)

It has been a week since Ironman.  During the actual race, in the last third of both the bike and the run, I never wanted to do another one.  A few days afterwards I played with the idea, but at this point, I'm taking a break from triathlon.  Next summer I might do an Olympic or even a half, but a 2013 Ironman will not be on my schedule.

It just takes up too much of me.

It takes up time.  So much time.  I can train for a marathon with my maximum training day being around 3 hours -- I'm done around 10am and I can still spend the day at the zoo with my kids or head out to the swimming pool.

With Ironman I faced many 7 hour training days, which actually amounted to more time than that once you figured in water breaks and changing clothes.  Peak training season was ridiculous.  But yet the thought of skipping a key workout was terrifying because my body would not be prepared for race day.  There was a 14% DNF rate at last Sunday's race, and I believe many of those people were prepared.

It wasn't just time in actual training, though.  It started to take over my life.  Recovery from those big workouts wore me down throughout July.  I was exhausted and often fell asleep with my daughter after singing her to sleep... at 8:30pm.  I'm glad I wasn't working during July -- had I kept up my training and family responsibilities as well as the added work responsibilities, something would have suffered, and that most likely would have been time spent with my children and husband.

The recovery this past week has been more than I anticipated.  I wasn't very sore, but my body was absolutely exhausted.  I tried a quick 2 mile run three days after the race and that put me back at square 1.  I just have had absolutely no energy for the past 7 days.  I'm sleeping 12 hours every night.  No energy to the point that carrying my 15 month old around in the hiking backpack on our camping trip this weekend for two hours put me out of commission for the rest of the day.  The conditions of this particular Ironman - afternoon temperatures reaching 94 degrees and no shade- probably wore me out more than a cooler race would have, especially considering I spent at least two hours in a state of extreme dehydration (the combination of tingling limbs, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, double vision, vertigo, lack of urination, sweating and salivation, low blood pressure, and a pounding headache is never a good sign.)

When they put the medal around my neck on Sunday, I was so glad to be finished, but I didn't have that "magical moment" when they called out my name.  I just felt too sick.  And as I laid on the medical cot, I thought that doing an Ironman was actually a pretty ridiculous thing.  Obviously the human body wasn't really meant to do what it had just done, otherwise I wouldn't have ended up with said symptoms and hooked up to a bag of saline solution.   I had trained properly, I had hydrated properly, I took in calories properly, and I still ended my day with a fine team of doctors and nurses -- and so did close to 700 athletes.  I spent $700 to race nearly 14 hours and rip my body to shreds so I could call myself an Ironman.

But I don't regret doing it.  It is an achievement that has made me realize I can do anything that I put my mind to. My daughter sort of gets it -- she has seen how much training and effort went into this, and I think after competing in her own race last week, she sort of understands what it means to push yourself physically, even when it's no longer feeling good.

However, I don't need to do this year after year after year.  A couple days after I finished I started to wonder if I could find a cooler race and train a little harder and get closer to my time goals, but as others on my tri-team started announcing their Ironman plans for next summer, I realized I don't really want do do one. Next summer I plan to spend more time camping and hiking and less time worrying about if I'll be able to find a lap pool within driving distance or spending too much time away from my bicycle.

So what will I do with the rest of 2012?  I want to improve my marathon time, the biggest goal of all being to shave 15 entire minutes off my time and qualify for Boston.  My running has actually gotten slower in the past two months as I focused on endurance and keeping my heart rate in Zone 2, so I am excited to get back into speed training in the next few weeks.

In 2013 and beyond -- I also am hoping to get into trail racing, possibly doing some ultramarathons in the next couple of years.