A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Illinois Half Marathon Race Report Preview

Three medals, two races, one huge PR.

Yes, my friends, I ran the Illinois Half Marathon in 1:57:33! Sub-2:00 hour goal DONE!

And, yeah, we ran a 5K on Friday night, too. But we did that in 26:30. You know, as our warm-up.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Track is Back

Last night was our first "official" track workout of the season. A mixture of old and new faces showed up to learn how to get smarter, swifter, and stronger. Coach Holly put together a workout to get the newbies accustomed to the stretches and drills some of us had been doing all winter.

Of course, I parked at the track entrance that was locked so I got a short warm-up jog as I made my way to the open entrance to rendezvous with the group. We have quite a diverse assortment of runners. From an ultramarathoner who runs 50 and 100 mile races down to former college 800 meter runners we have it all. On the plus side, if Maribeth has to miss a session I'm bound to have someone else as my rabbit. On the downside, I feel for our Coach who is being bombarded with a plethora of needs, expectations, and personalities. Still, I have faith in Coach Holly and am excited for this year!

After doing all our stretches, we started out with a 12 minute warm-up done in a 5-4-3 fashion. That means we ran 5 minutes easy, 4 minutes a little faster, and 3 minutes even faster.

Next it was on to 20 minutes of running drills. Side gallops, karaoke, high knees, butt kicks, and strides. I like strides. My right knee and left adductor/hip flexor didn't love the running drills. Or at least that's what they told me later. I may need to back off next week. We'll see how I feel after my races this weekend.

Anyway, after all that it was almost 8:00 PM and I needed to get home. I wish I could have stayed for the cool down but I got a few minutes on my own as I ran back to my car.

Overall I did about 4.5 miles (if you count my jog from the car to the track for which I forgot to turn on my Garmin). A nice way to ease back into speedwork after a few weeks off.

OPRC Speedwork by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Can't Trust That Day

More Pics @ MySpaceAntics.com

Man, Mondays have been rough the past couple of weeks. I'm still not feeling 100% but this time I think it's definitely due to a combination of hormones and whatever I ate for lunch on Monday. My whole GI system felt really "off" by the time I got home from work yesterday and I almost didn't go running. But it was our "Run of the Month" which meant earning participation points and then going out for dinner afterward. So I sucked it up and went out.

I felt pretty good for the first few miles. There was a light rain that was just enough to cool me off without soaking me to the bone. I was easily able to keep a sub-9:00 pace while chatting.

But as we closed in on the park where we all stop for water, bathrooms, and to decide who's running 8 miles and who's running 5.5 I could feel my stomach start to rebel. Thankfully the bathrooms were open so I could take advantage of them.

The last mile and a half were slower because my whole midsection felt crampy. Still, we managed an average 8:55 pace for the whole run. My friend Jacob and I were chatting at the park about how we're no longer the last people to finish. When we started running with the club we were both lucky to run sub-10 minute miles. Now we're running sub-9:00s and talking! Of course, we're still towards the back of the pack but we're proud of the speed we've gained.

Oh, and my knee felt fine the entire run. A little sore on the stairs up and down to the bathroom at the shoe store where we start and finish our run. And, yes, I went up and down several times before we left for dinner. Where I also visited the bathroom a few more times.

My system is still not 100% better today but it's getting there. Let's just hope I don't end up on the flat ginger ale and Saltines diet for the rest of the week.

Monday Night OPRC by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

April 18th - April 24th

Apr 18

5.5 mile run that felt good during but not so good afterward. Stupid knee.

Apr 19

I went to the gym to do the real and true last workout of Stage 1 of NROLW. This workout went FAST. And was quite fun. Again, the idea was to take the weight I used during the very first workout and do as many reps a possible for one set. I actually could have done more on some of these but I was getting a little bored!
1 set of 35 deadlifts @ 45 pounds
1 set of 30 dumbbell shoulder presses @ 10 pounds
1 set of 45 wide grip pulldowns @ 15 pounds
1 set of 35 lunges @ 15 pounds
1 set of 35 Swiss ball crunches
So, essentially I've doubled the number of reps I can do in one set. And all those weights felt freaking light! Seeing progress like that is so amazing!!

Plus, my knee actually behaved itself during the deadlifts and the lunges!

Apr 20

I took an epic nap instead of doing anything resembling exercise. Hey, sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

Apr 21

Because the PT told me Thursday morning that I'm not supposed to run for a few days I ended up at the gym even though it was perfect running weather. Sigh.

Anyway, I did a 5K on the elliptical in under 21 minutes. Too bad elliptical speed doesn't translate linearly to running speed! Then I attended a 30 minute abs class. Those 30 minutes went by really quickly. And I definitely broke a sweat. Whew! Finally, I foam rolled per my PT's instructions and then, at a loss because I don't want to/can't do squats or deadlifts right now and my current strength training plan REALLY likes those things, I did 3 sets of 8 dumbbell shoulder presses with 20 pound weights and then did 8 (real) push ups. I'm totally counting this as a strength training day.

And, I admit, I did run for a few minutes on the treadmill just to test out my knee. It held up okay for the three minutes I was on there. I thought about running a whole mile but decided not to push it.

Apr 22

Rest day! Actually, this was a travel day. And a spend-some-quality-time-with-the-foam-roller day.

Apr 23

10 mile race!. Rae kicked butt, my knee held out just fine, and I had a wonderful weekend. Definitely a success.

Apr 24

Another rest/travel day.

Well, the mileage this week was less than stellar. And my strength training wasn't exactly what I wanted but, hey, better than nothing. My knee issues are definitely IT band related so the foam roller and I will continue to spend some quality time together and I'll be scheduling a massage ASAP. However, I'm encouraged by the fact that running 10 miles, albeit slower than my normal pace, didn't cripple me.

Total mileage: 15.5
Total strength workouts: 2

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hermes Cleveland 10 Mile Race Report

The Top 10 Best Things About Pacing Someone Slower Than You Through Her First 10 Mile Race

10. You have plenty of time to think of a list like this.

9. You can high five all the little kids you want.

(My favorite part? When some kids hand their hands out but as soon as I came by they put them down. "No love for me?" I asked. I got my high fives then.)

8. You can read all the signs held by spectators.

(Such as: "You're kicking asana")

7. Your knee doesn't hurt at all thanks to semi-frequent walk breaks.

6. You don't care that you have to stop and wait for the mile 6 aid station to fill a cup with Gatorade for you.

5. You have lots of energy to make stupid faces at your husband, the photographer, even at mile 9.

(And at the official race photographers. I bet those photos turn out pretty good.)

4. You get good practice moving for almost two hours.

3. You get to pass on your hard earned race knowledge about things such as attaching race bibs.

2. You have plenty of breath to scream encouragement as you approach the finish line.

(Side note: holy shit I have arm muscles)

And the number 1 best thing about pacing someone slower than you through her first 10 mile race....

1. Sharing in her joy and excitement at finishing her longest distance run ever.

In case you hadn't gathered, Rae and I successfully finished the Hermes Cleveland 10 Mile Race on Saturday. What with my knee issues and Rae having several monkey wrenches thrown into her training we weren't sure how we'd do. Thankfully my knee gave me zero issues and Rae managed to run more than she thought she could.

We ran the first 3.5 miles with no breaks and then started a run-walk pattern of run half or three quarters of a mile, walk .1 to .25 of a mile. We finished with an average 11:30 pace for an official time of 1:54:21. Rae's original goal was either 1:50 or under 2 hours. We were pretty close to Goal A and we definitely hit Goal B. And Rae was even running during mile 9 which she originally didn't think she'd be doing! All in all, I have to say it was a success.

Cleveland 10 Miler by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stupid Knee

Last night, instead of running or lifting weights or really doing much of anything, I came home from work and took a two hour nap. I basically got up to make and eat dinner, watch some tv, foam roll my IT band, stretch, ice my knee, and then go back to bed.

The nap was glorious. My knee, not so much. I definitely have the beginning stages of a recurrence of patellar tendinitis. Of course, right? The one year I have already signed up for a multitude of races.

I know. First world problems. But they're still my problems!

The PT told me no more running until Saturday when I'm scheduled to pace my friend Rae through the Cleveland 10 Miler. Hopefully my knee will hold out for all 10 miles and I won't screw it up worse. My goal race, the Illinois Half Marathon, is in two weeks!

In the mean time, in addition to the rest, I'm supposed to foam roll my IT Band, stretch my hamstrings, and ice before bed.

And ask all of you to think good thoughts that this clears up quickly just like it did before the marathon last October.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Even though I ran an awesome race on Saturday I've been feeling a little "off" since last Friday. Upset tummy, dark circles under my eyes, slight heartburn at random times, exhaustion.

And, no, I'm not pregnant. I think it's just PMS. And the fact that my right knee is starting to act up again.

Anyway, to move away from "too much information" land, this essentially means that I almost didn't want to run on Monday night. I decided, though, that I always feel better after a good run. I'd go out easy and just enjoy the cool evening and not worry about my pace.

Good thing, too, because apparently my Garmin decided to rebel. It only logged 4 of my 5.5 miles and then refused to upload them to the computer when I got home. Ooookay.

But because I'm a running data junkie, I know I ran negative splits for those 4 miles with the last one at 8:27. I'll take it.

My knee actually behaved itself except for when going up one slight incline. I iced it before bed but I'm definitely going to have to implement the Icing and Stretching Protocol ASAP. Same one as before the marathon last year. I also had my PT look at it (feel it?) this morning and she said it's definitely irritated. Joy.

Also, other than a random ravenous moment at lunch yesterday (veggie burrito! Yum!) I haven't been all that interested in food since after Saturday's race. And when I finished Monday night's run I drank a small cup of Gatorade and immediately felt queasy.

I don't know what's up but I'd like my body to get its act together. Sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

April 11th - April 17th

Apr 11

7 miles on my own. Been awhile since I ran by my lonesome. I didn't even take my music. Started out as one of those "bargaining" runs and ended up with me wishing I had more time to run further.

Apr 12

I almost managed to squeeze in a strength training session on Tuesday but in the end decided to give my left hip flexor/adductor a break. Instead I ate pizza, drank wine, and discussed the running club's website.

Apr 13

Instead of me running I joined a group from the club in order to cheer on a friend at the Wheaton Twilight track meet. She was trying to qualify for US Track and Field National Club Championships in the 3K and she did it with 9 seconds to spare. We were so proud of her. And it was my first time officially attending a track meet. Who knew they were so much fun?

Apr 14

A short 3.68 mile run at lunch just to remind my legs what they were supposed to be doing on Saturday.

Apr 15

Rest day! Had to get ready for Saturday.

Apr 16

A one mile warm up and then the CARA Lakefront 10 Mile race! I'm still in awe of how well I ran on Saturday, to be honest. Although, I was pretty darn sore afterward. I tried to go for a cool down jog and I could barely move. Thank goodness my physical therapist was there (the company she works for is the main race sponsor) to give a good stretch post-race. Running hard is hard work!

Apr 17

After generally being a lazy bum (except for a short trip to Target and the grocery store) I dragged myself to the basement for a weight workout.

I'm on the last workouts of Stage 1 of the New Rules of Lifting for Women which is where you back to the weight you lifted in the very first workout and see how many reps you can now do at that weight for one set.

Unfortunately, the workout I'm on right now is the one that aggravates my hip flexor so I lifted conservatively instead of going all out like I would have wanted. Still, there has definitely been improvement. For reference, the first two NROLW workouts are listed in this year's first Weekly Workout Wround Up. And here's what I did on Sunday:

1 set of 20 squats @ 40 lbs
1 set of 10 push-ups & 1 set of 10 45o push ups (look, ma! No modifications1)
1 set of 30 bent over rows @ 5 lbs
1 set of 25 step-ups (body weight only)
1 set of 20 prone jackknives

I also threw in a bunch of my PT exercises as well. I remember the first time I tried this workout the step-ups about killed me and I couldn't do more than 5 real push ups in a row. Thanks to diligently lifting weights (and a month of Crossfit) this workout felt much easier. I'm really looking forward to doing the other final workout in Stage 1. That one doesn't aggravate my hip flexor so I suspect I'll see a lot of improvement there.

And now it's Monday and friends from my running club are running the Boston Marathon! I'll be thinking of them, specifically Maribeth and John, all day and waiting to hear how they did.

Total mileage: 21.68
Total strength workouts: 1

Sunday, April 17, 2011

CARA Lakefront 10 Mile Race Report

Early Saturday morning, in the dark and the rain, Jason and I picked up some fellow OPRC runners and drove to the lakefront for the CARA Lakefront 10 Mile race. In the car we debated clothing options. Tank top and arm warmers? Short sleeves? Jacket? Pants? Capris? Shorts? When it's 50 and rainy and there's a possibility of wind one never quite knows what to wear. I ended up pinning my bib number to my capris so that I could wait until the last minute to decide what to wear on top.

I settled on my new OPRC tank top, and arm warmers. I did one last portapotty stop before realizing I'd forgotten my Clif Shot Bloks at home. Thankfully Helen was kind enough to share hers. After looking at the course map I'd decided that there would be enough water stations that I wouldn't need my fuel belt. But I wasn't sure I was ready to give up the Shot Bloks.

We gathered around Jason, looking like the Gorton's fisherman, our beacon in his yellow rain gear and our own personal gear check. Finally, about 20 minutes before the start, I went off for a one mile warm-up.

Lakefront 10 Warm Up by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

My stomach felt a little off during the warm up and I wondered if I was going to be able to meet my goal of running 9:00 minute miles and hitting 1:30 as my finish time. Both my friends Helen and (Coach) Holly told me I'd definitely finish under 1:30. I hoped I could.

I bumped into a former coworker in the starting corral and we chatted about the icky weather. I really hoped the wind that was predicted wouldn't be blowing us all over the lakefront path and that the light rain wouldn't devolve into the pouring mess I encountered at the March Madness Half Marathon.

We started with an anticlimactic "GO!" and soon we'd hit the one mile mark. I noticed I'd gone out a little faster than I'd wanted but it felt okay so I decided to see how long I could hold that 8:55 pace.

We wound round and round the lakefront path sometimes running closer to the city and sometimes running right next to the beaches. What I didn't see, though, was a water station! At one point I heard a woman in front of me yell to a volunteer "Where's the freaking water station??" Amazingly, I was doing okay. I think the cooler weather and the rain really helped. And the wind no where near the conditions I encountered on my Thursday lunch time run so, to me, it was imperceptible.

"You're pretty brave to be out here in just those arm covers," I heard a fellow runner say to me. Actually, I felt great. Even a little warm. My left hip flexor had started out tight but had loosened up. My left shin felt good, too, once I was a few miles in.

Around mile three another OPRC member who wasn't running cheered for me. And near mile 4 we passed under a pedestrian bridge where Jason was standing taking photos (that's the photo at the top of the post). I was still holding to my sub-9:00 pace and feeling good. When we finally got to an aid station I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and swallowed a mouthful.

Most of the miles were a blur. I glanced at my Garmin every now and then to see how I was doing and was pleasantly surprised to see I was doing better than expected. Near the halfway point, though, I had a moment of doubt. "I have to hold this pace for another 5 miles??" But I quickly changed my train of thought. "I HAVE to hold this pace for another 5 miles. I WILL hold this pace for another 5 miles."

At the aid station between miles 6 and 7 I took my Shot Bloks and drank some water. I then powered up some short hills and started playing mind games with myself. "When I get to mile 7 then it's just one more to mile 8. And then I only have one more mile before I have to pick it up for the finish."

Yeah, oxygen deprivation makes your brain do some weird things.

Still, I was keeping my pace sub-9:00 and although it was starting to feel tough I just reminded myself that it's supposed to be that way when you're pushing yourself. That if it was easy everyone would do it. I grabbed a sip of water at the last aid station and settled in for the push to the finish.

When I got to mile 9 I tried to push it harder. I'd run part of this course before during the PAWS 8K when another OPRC member, Robert, paced me. During those final rolling hills to the finish I distinctly remember him telling me to take it easy on the uphill and pick it up on the downhill. Good advice.

As I closed in on the finish line I saw Holly standing off to the side. "Come on, Erin!" she screamed. "Fast feet! Fast feet!"

"I'm trying!" I grunted as she started running next to me. She pulled ahead to give me something to chase.

"Just one more turn to the finish line! Catch that girl in purple in front of you!"

That's all I needed. I put my all into it and not only passed the girl in purple but I think two or three other people. I was flying for those last 10 yards.

I passed the finish line and promptly doubled over trying to catch my breath. I'd done it. I'd run sub-9:00 minute miles for 10 miles. I'd actually run slightly faster than my 10K PR pace for 10 miles. And I'd finished with an official time of 1:26:40.

That means that if I can repeat this performance on April 30th I can break 2 hours in a half marathon!

Club members thanked Jason for all his support during the race on Saturday. Holding bags, taking pictures, being a meeting spot. I'm thankful for him, too. But I wouldn't be the runner I am today without all of them, either. And I'm proud of all my friends in the club. PRs, age group places, and great times were plentiful on Saturday. There's nothing like sharing the joy of a great race with other people.

Except maybe the hot shower and the nap I took on Saturday afternoon.

CARA Lakefront 10 Mile Race by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Official time: 1:26:40.2
Average pace: 8:41
Overall place: 147/688
Age group place: 36/160

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wind Beneath My Wings

I managed to get out for a short run at lunch time on Thursday. Thankfully the rain they had originally predicted stayed away. Unfortunately the wind was blowing in from the lake with a vengeance.

We went south along the lakefront path, past the aquarium and Solider Field. The first mile went by quickly and I was pleased that my pace was around 9:00 without feeling like I was pushing it.

Turns out that the wind had a hand in that. I slowed down so that the other woman in the group could keep up and when we turned around at mile 2 I realized why that first mile had felt so effortless. I was being propelled by the wind.

That last 1.6 miles were straight into the wind. I put my all into it because I just wanted to be done. Originally I'd planned to run 5 miles but I'm glad we turned around when we did. I couldn't imagine being out there for longer than I was already!

I pushed myself hard for the last half mile trying to catch up to the guys who had pulled away. I felt bad for leaving my female running companion but my body just didn't want to go slow. When I made it to the intersection where we turn off the path I decided to wait for her and then just walk leisurely back to our starting point. Meaning I only did a total of 3.68 miles instead of 4 but, hey, almost half of it was into the wind so I think that counts for something.

Lunch Time Run South - Short by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And it Begins

Note: Those are not my feet. At least not yet.

The warmer weather we had on Sunday and Monday meant it was time to break out the shorts! And since I had the day off work on Monday to entertain my in-laws it also meant running in the morning. When I got home after my 7 miler (at a 9:10 pace) and stripped off my running gear I realized I already had a sock tan line.

Last year I didn't realize just how bad my "runner's tan" was until I went on a trip to the Mississippi River in August with Kim. When I looked at the photos afterward I was horrified to see this:

Look at that shorts' tan line! Whew. The downside of running, huh?

And now this year the return of the crazy tan line is already beginning. Maybe I need to get one of these?

Actually, on second thought, I think I'll just take pride in my weird tan. And maybe up my SPF...

Monday Morning 7 Miler by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

April 4th - April 10th

Apr 4

Another speedy 5.5 miler with the running club.

Apr 5

3.38 mile run at lunch with the other gal in our lunch time running group.

After work I headed to the gym for some strength training. This is definitely my favorite of the two workouts I've been alternating between.
Warm-up stretches
4 sets of 8 deadlifts
3 sets of 8 dumbbell shoulder presses
3 sets of wide grip lat pulldowns
3 sets of 8 lunges
3 sets of 15 Swiss ball crunches

Apr 6

I forgot to turn my Garmin on for part of our workout on Wednesday night so I'm just going to round up and say I ran 5.25 miles with some awesome intervals.

Apr 7

I went to the doctor Thursday afternoon for a follow-up appointment for my shin. While the shin has been behaving nicely lately my right groin area (adductor and adductor tendon) have been painful for at least a week. Rolling it out with a tennis ball and stretching seem to help as does the crazy things the PT does to my leg.

At first the doctor was concerned I might have a stress fracture in the bone in that area but changed her tune when I told her it doesn't hurt to run and actually hurts more after sitting all day or when I try to pull my knee to my chest while sitting. So now I'm being sent for a running gait analysis so they can figure out if all of my various aches and pains are related somehow.

In the mean time, she told me to avoid things that make it hurt. So instead of squatting 85 pounds like I did last week, I stuck to 45 for my Thursday evening strength workout (which I managed to squeeze in after the doctor's appointment and before a hair appointment).
Warm-up stretches
3 sets of 8 squats
3 sets of 8 push-ups (I can almost do all of these without any modifications!)
3 sets of 8 bent over rows w/the barbell
3 sets of 8 step ups
3 sets of 15 prone jackknives
By the way, if you skip the entire 60 second rest between sets (and don't have to wait for people to be done with the weights), you can bang out this workout in less than 30 minutes. Pretty cool, huh?

Apr 8

I had an unexpectedly free Friday evening so I went to the gym to get in another strength workout.
Warm-up stretches
4 sets of 8 deadlifts
3 sets of 8 dumbbell shoulder presses
3 sets of 8 wide grip pulldowns
3 sets of 8 lunges
3 sets of 15 Swiss ball crunches
My groin/adductor tendon attachment area were still sore so I was glad I didn't have to do any squats. I would have to have skipped them and then I would have felt guilty. I should probably work on that.

Also, I'm totally supposed to ice my shin after every run. You know what would make that 10000% times easier? If I won these awesome shin/calf sleeves Beth at Shut Up and Run! is giving away. See, you wear them while working out and then you just slide the ice packs into the sewn-in pockets when you're done. Voila!

Apr 9

Eleven miles with the running club and then wandering around the city with my in-laws. My dogs were barking by the time I got home! My left leg was a little achy, too. Come on, left leg! Get it together!

Apr 10

Rest day! Well, unless you count strolling around my neighborhood giving a tour to my in-laws. We probably walked two miles or so at a leisurely pace. It was a great way to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather we had.

Total mileage: 25.13
Total strength workouts: 3

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not an Exact Science

Well, it had been awhile since I ran a long run on the weekend and the last time I ran double digits after taking a few weeks off I was in such excruciating pain the next day that that's when I made a doctor's appointment for my shin.

Yesterday went much better, thank goodness. I've been having some weird groin pain but it didn't act up on the run. And while it was achy afterward I was still able to play Chicago tourist with my in-laws later that day.

Speaking of my in-laws, the photo at the top of this post is a wall hanging my mother-in-law sent me recently. Pretty neat, huh?

Anyway, the run itself was great. The weather was also great, if a little humid. Still, with air temps in the upper 40s and overcast I cranked out 11 miles at an average pace of 9:24. Faster than the last two times I ran 11 miles back in January.

Saturday Morning OPRC Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

The first seven miles went by in a flash and then we slowed down for the last 5. I was running with a friend who is training for his first marathon and another club member chided him for running too fast. Which is why we slowed down for the last bit. He was running his first 20 miler and had to keep running even after I headed for home.

We took a few breaks for traffic, trains, and to wait for other club members. And to search for water fountains. I didn't bring my fuel belt with me but, interestingly, I never felt thirsty. A testament to the weather I guess.

For once I didn't feel like I was totally dragging on a morning run. Who knows why. I don't think I got more sleep than normal. I didn't eat anything substantially different (maybe slight more protein than normal for dinner). I only got up 20 minutes earlier than usual. I wish it were a more exact science.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stable Syndrome

Last year at track I was accused of having "stable syndrome". What the heck does that mean, you ask? Basically it means that I hold back a little bit until the last leg of the last interval and then go all out. Apparently some horses do this when they're racing. As soon as they can see the stable they go all out. I know nothing about horse racing so I have no idea if that's an accurate statement but I do know that it seems to be true for me.

Last night's workout, however, took full advantage of this tendency. After some stretching, a mile or so of warm-up and a half mile or so of drills we started our workout. 3x1000 meters with the first 800 meters of each at 5K pace and the last 200 meters of each FAST. Breaking the workout up like that really worked for me!

My goal was to start out a little easy and then make each rep faster than the previous one. Here's how I did:

Rep 1
800m - 4:07 (8:05 pace)
200m - :55 (7:16 pace)
(600 meter recovery jog @ 10:11 pace)

Rep 2
800m - 3:53 (7:45 pace)
200m - :53 (7:03 pace)
(600 meter recovery jog @ 10:17 pace)

Rep 3
800m - 3:42 (7:28 pace)
200m - :50 (6:35 pace)

I did it! I ran negative splits!

I really liked this workout. It was fun but challenging. It played to what I think are my strengths and was broken down into mentally manageable chunks. The goal was to teach us how to "change gears" like you do at the end of a race when you're getting close to the finish line. I think I'm pretty good at that (hence the stable syndrome comment) so now I just need to figure out how to do it earlier. Obviously I store a lot in my tank. Just need to learn how to tap into it even when I can't see the stable.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This is the Zits


Runners talk about a lot of things that non-runners would probably find horrifying. Blackened toenails, being rubbed raw in compromising places, and emergency pit stops are all acceptable topics of conversation when you're with runners. But the one I don't hear about all that often is the topic of acne. Zits. Huge red or white spots on your face, back, chest, or other inconvenient spot. Is this because I'm the only one with this issue?

Yesterday I went out for a run at lunch (3.38 miles at a 9:28 average pace) and realized that I couldn't put my visor down as low as I wanted on my forehead. And why not? Because I have a huge, painful, red zit right in the center of my forehead, exactly where my visor usually covers.

I actually noticed it on Sunday after my 5K race but it wasn't quite so painful then. Since it appeared in a spot that my visor sits I can only assume it appeared in part due to the sweat that accumulates and gets held there by the visor.

So don't wear the visor, you say. Very funny. Have you seen me sweat? Even yesterday, when I was almost underdressed (capris, tank top, arm warmers) and I stayed relatively dry the visor had soaked up enough sweat to have a nice dark sweat line on it. I sweat. A lot. I need the visor to keep it out of my eyes. Which I guess means I have to deal with a zit that makes it look like I've converted to Hinduism.

Except mine is higher up than that.

Please tell me I'm not the only person who suffers the pain and agony of unfortunately placed pimples!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Morning vs Evening

Last night was another Monday night of sub-9:00 minute miles. Not quite as fast as last week but still pretty fast. My average pace was actually faster than my 10K PR pace. And a 10K is only about three quarters of a mile longer than what I ran on Monday night.

Mile 1 - 8:57
Mile 2 - 8:39
Mile 3 - 8:58
Mile 4 - 8:22
Mile 5 - 8:49
Mile .5 - 7:25 pace

Average pace - 8:38

There were a few pauses for traffic in there but, really, I think this just goes to show you how much of a non-morning person I am.

I've been running consistently for almost 4 years and I don't think I've ever run my best in the morning. Maybe once or twice. But for the most part I hit my peak in the evening.

In the evening I've had all day to drink water and ingest calories. I think I'm blessed with a pretty fast metabolism. That's great for keeping off weight. It's not so great when trying to keep myself fueled for a run. For an evening run I have two full meals and some snacks under my belt. For a morning run I have a little bit of the dinner from the night before and whatever I eat that morning. If I don't eat something before a morning run I feel sluggish and light headed almost immediately.

And no, I can't drink caffeine before a run. Baaaad idea. I actually avoid caffeinated beverages as much as possible unless caffeinated tea is my only option for something warm to drink in the winter.

Basically, I'm still trying to figure out the sweet spot for feeling good on a morning run or race. Eat a HUGE dinner the night before. Go to bed stuffed. Get up at least 3 hours before the race start. Eat a white bread bagel with peanut butter. That's my current routine. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes I wish all races started on Monday at 6:30 PM.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

March 28th - April 3rd

Mar 28

Awesome 5.5 mile run with the club where I kept all the miles sub-9:00.

Mar 29

Rest day! Although this was yet another evening I spent doing things for the running club 5K. This time it was labeling bibs for packet pick-up on Saturday.

Mar 30

Assorted running at the track for a total of 6.5 miles or so.

Mar 31

5 mile slog of a run at lunch. After work I got in some strength training. I had to wait while some guy did 800 push-up variations in front of the squat rack but otherwise it was a pretty smooth workout.

Also, my brain was apparently fried. I meant to do squats at 65 pounds but after the first set of 8 I thought "man, this feels harder than last time." It was then that I realized I'd put two 10 pound weights on each side of the 45 pound barbell instead of one 10 pound weight on each side. Yeah, that adds up to 85 not 65. No wonder it felt harder!

Warm up stretches
4 sets of 8 squats
3 sets of 8 push ups (hardly any modifying those puppies this time!)
3 sets of 8 seated rows
3 sets of 8 step ups (still my least favorite exercise)
3 sets of 15 prone jackknives (going from 12 to 15 was tougher than I thought it would be)

Afterward I had a smoothie made with bananas, strawberries, apple juice, and vanilla whey protein. My gym makes the best smoothies. I know it's bourgeois, but I love it anyway.

Apr 1

Rest day! Although I did wander around town hanging "No Parking" signs for the race on Sunday.

Apr 2

I had grand plans of hitting up yoga before spending the day doing race-prep things. However, I ended up choosing to sleep in and then lounge in bed until the last possible moment. I've been feeling pretty wiped lately so I think this was the best choice. Although later, I admit, I regretted skipping yoga.

Apr 3

2.16 mile warm-up and then my first race in April for another 3.1 miles.

Total mileage: 22.26
Total strength workouts: 1

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Race That's Good for Life 5K Race Report

These are my ladies. These are some of the ones in the running club who make me smile, who make me laugh, who make me strive to be the best runner I can be. They're some of the ones who encourage me and who tell me when I'm being too hard on myself. They're some of the ones that make running and racing with our club fun even when I don't run a perfect race.

Really, my main goal for this race was to run even splits. Preferably 8:00 minute miles. I didn't want to go out too fast and struggle at the end like I usually do during a 5K.

Note our new club tops. They have the logo on the back between the shoulder blades instead of on the front.

We did a 2.1 mile warm-up just to get the blood flowing. The temperature was much warmer than predicted and the rain they forecasted was nowhere to be found. I totally could have worn shorts and, as you can see, I ended up ditching my arm warmers before the race even started. I was a little worried, though, because the warm-up felt rough and when I tried to speed up it felt even rougher.

I am NOT a morning person. But I try.

When the gun went off I tried not to sprint out of the gate. I tried to find my happy 8:00 minute pace but it was eluding me. I managed to tough it out and finish the first mile in 8:03. Okay, pretty close. Not as easy as I would have liked, though.

The second mile went by in a blur as I struggled to hold onto my pace. When my Garmin beeped and said another 8:03 I thought "Yes!"

But I couldn't keep it there. I felt myself fading and when I glanced at my watch I saw paces between 8:15 and 8:30. I knew I had to pick it up. I swear I tried, but I just couldn't do it. It didn't help that on the straightaway to the finish the wind was blowing right into our faces and for the last quarter mile I felt like I was going to vomit.

I wasn't planning on sprinting to the finish. I wanted to just run steady. But when I saw the clock close in on 24:50 I wanted so badly to at least tie my 5K PR from February. So I tried to remember "fast feet" and picked up the pace.

I crossed what I thought was the finish line and hit "Stop" on my watch only to hear Helen yell, "NO! Keep running!" Turns out I'd crossed the preliminary mat designed to record our names, not the finish line mat designed to record our times. I hit "Start" and punched out the last few feet. Did I manage another PR?

Sadly, it was not to be. I finished in 25:01. Seven seconds slower than my PR. And while my first two miles were 8:03 even, my third was 8:12. So close but yet so far. When Jason found me panting at the finish line I'm not ashamed to admit I shed some tears into his coat. But then Coach Holly found me and told me I was allowed to be bummed for one hour and then I had to focus on the positives.

And there were some positives:

1. I didn't go out too fast.
2. I ran the first two miles at a dead even split meaning I have some ability to pace myself.
3. I set a personal course record by 22 seconds(last year's time was 25:23).
4. I learned that I need to be more disciplined and consistent in my running if I want to increase my endurance.

Some races leave you feeling exhilarated. Some leave you with lessons learned. This one was one of the latter. However, I also left with a few other things:

All female 5K finishers get a rose. I also won a free 1-hour massage and a tube of BioFreeze in the Volunteer Raffle

Official time: 25:01.8
Official average pace: 8:04
Overall place: 109/456
Age Group place: 20/76

Race That's Good For Life by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Wrap Up

I ended March with a 5 mile run along the lakefront during my lunch hour on Thursday. It wasn't the best run ever. The temperature was hovering just below 40 but with the sun shining I was too hot in my jacket but a little too cold in my short sleeves. Should have gone with the arm warmers.

Also, the wind was blowing in my face for most of the second half of the run and I just wasn't feeling like pushing it. My legs felt like lead. I guess it's been a few weeks since I ran twice in less than 24 hours. At this rate, the Madison to Chicago Relay is going to be an adventure for sure.

Lunch Run South Route by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

So, how was the rest of March?

I ran a total of 90.26 miles and did 5 strength workouts. Plus I ran a hilly, rainy half marathon where, without even trying, I came within 30 seconds of my half marathon PR.

So the monthly mileage is pretty awesome considering I had two sub-20 mile weeks. The strength workouts not so much with the awesome. I barely managed to get in one a week when I really would prefer at least 2. I wish my work gym had free weights.

And how's my injury after three weeks of physical therapy? In some ways it's better and in some ways it's not better. My shin aches less and less but my adductor hurts more. The tendon on the top of my left foot is staring to get irritated so I see lots of foot massages in my future.

But I'm running and I'm running decent distances. Which is exactly what I want. So, overall, I'd have to say March was a good month.