Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 4: Running Long and Strong

For a little recap on miles:
(19 week training schedule)

Week 1 (6/27-7/3): 35 miles (this was only one week after Grandma's on 6/18 - I think Wendy counts this as a recovery week, but I started my training log here).
Week 2 (7/4-7/10): 28 miles (cut one run due to work/holiday/logistics)
Week 3: (7/11-7/17): 45 miles
Week 4: (7/18-7/24): 39 miles (step back week moved up one week - from next week to this week...i.e. upping the miles next week).

So here we are. I missed one run this week due to scheduling/logistics with work and family visiting. It's early - and Wendy decided to just make this week the step back week instead of next. So we're fine. The challenge this summer is simply finding the hours to do the runs. I have lots of work obligations (stressful stuff like happy hours and receptions) that I need to go do - I'm trying to land a job for next summer and then my real life after school. As such, we've had to be a bit creative with scheduling.

If you've been following this blog since the beginning, you know that Wendy only wants me running four days/week. But lots of miles on those days...and sometimes doubles. But that is sometimes not feasible with this job because I can't get out there before 5am (too dark, not doin' it) and there are so many things in the evening. So we have been doing 5 days some weeks (to meet the overall mileage target). While I sincerely do not want to leave Minneapolis and am not really excited about going back to D.C. for the fall, I am looking forward to getting to make my own schedule again. Ah, school. It's good for that.

I can't believe I have already reached a 45 mile week. The most miles I ever ran in a week before this training plan was a 50 mile week. Once. In 2008, I think. I am going to have a lot of miles on my legs come November.

The runs have been going well and I am feeling really strong. The toughest runs have been my Sunday long runs. The pace work and fartleks are the easiest. I love running fast. Even if it's technically harder, it's not harder for me mentally because I am more focused, paying attention to a number and I get to get my legs turning in a way I love. But my LSD runs (long slow distance) have been the hardest this cycle.

I ran 8 easy miles yesterday and 18 easy ones today. Both runs were blah. Not bad...not necessarily hard, just blah. My legs felt dead. Fitness-wise I feel fine. I can definitely hold a conversation and I am not breathing heavy. But my legs are tired. They feel heavy. Now, part of it may be my diet, which has not been great this summer. I was doing well with it before Grandma's...but again, all this work-pampering hasn't led to the best stuff in my stomach. I have gained a couple of pounds and can feel it. I also think mentally it's just harder for me to go slow. I do need to remember, though, that I am going much faster than I used to for these runs. In past training cycles, my LSD pace (for my goal race pace of 10 minute miles) was 11-11:30 minute miles, or 60-90 seconds slower than race pace. That's what I was always told to do. I am running all of these slow, easy miles between 10:15 and 10:30 pace (sometimes with a few fast finish miles at the end). Not because Wendy told me to. She hasn't given me any pace - just slow and easy. I just can't seem to run them slower, even when my legs are tired. It's like this is just my natural LSD pace - for the most part. It's as if my heart rate, mind, and overall fitness are there but my legs haven't quite caught up. They will get there. I am not worried. I just have to buckle down and do it and I don't enjoy these workouts as much as I want to.

Still, I can't believe I've already logged an 18 miler! Happy face. I followed it up today by watching the final stage of the Tour de France and then taking a 2.5 hour nap. Again, happy face. 

Sorry - no fun tidbits or stories here! Just plugging along. Thanks for reading! And thanks - to so many of you, for responding with your bits of encouragement and inspiration. I need them. I value them. You're part of why I get up at 5am consistently and I'm grateful!

Bring on more miles.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hamster Day

End of Week 3 of 19. 111 days until the NYC Marathon.

It is hot in the Twin Cities. Too hot. I have been doing a great job of adjusting to the heat and have really been proud of how I've fought through some tough temps to get my workouts in. But today it was just going to be too much. As of last night, the high was going to be 97 (before heat index). I first decided I just had to start today's 16-mile long slow run at 5:00am to beat the heat. Then I looked at the hourly. At 5am, it was already going to be 81. And it's just so darn steamy here. I talked to coach, and we both decided my best bet would be to hit the 'mill. Problem is, I don't have a gym here. Fortunately, the friend who I am living with this summer has a membership to a fabulous health club and she volunteered to take me this morning. Perfect.

But I am a bit ahead of myself. I haven't reported anything I have done in the past 13 days. That's mostly because I have been terribly busy with my summer job. It's also because I have just had a series of stellar workouts. Really, really solid training. Last weekend I upped my long run to 14. It went much better than the previous week's hot 12 and though I was definitely spent at the end (because of the heat) I felt good and was happy with my pace. I have also been happy with how great my legs feel. I am just getting stronger and stronger.

Wendy has started adding some speedwork which I LOVE. She has to prescribe things relatively specifically to reign me in because I love running fast. I am a sprinter at heart, after all. For the first couple of weeks it was just some steady pick-up miles in the middle of my run. Not looking at pace, just picking up to a steady, marathon-like pace. Those are fun, because I never really know what pace I am running. It's always interesting to look at the data.

Last Saturday, we added my first more specific speed workout. It's slightly silly to say it was specific, because it was a fartlek - my very first one EVER. For those who aren't familiar:

I had heard of fartleks for years...all the way back to high school where I teased the cross country/distance runners on the track team about their funny sounding workout. But I always shied away from them because the lack of structure - which is the entire point of the exercise - stressed me out. How far do you run fast? How do you know? Which mailbox or light post or tree do I choose? Was that far enough? Fast enough? Wendy anticipated that this lack of structure and direction would be difficult for me, so she made a suggestion that ended up working perfectly. She suggested I use my music and pick up the pace during the choruses of the songs and then run easy during the rest. Brilliant. She had basically taken the exact thing that makes me love spinning class and put it in a running workout. I was in heaven. I have spent my entire life studying music and nothing feels better to me than being able to USE music to guide me. Whether it's a soundtrack I make specifically for a bus trip or subway ride, choreography for a dance, or the background music on a wedding video, I love using music to say more. A quote I've always loved: "I like myself best when I am listening to my favorite music." So true. So...being able to use music to guide my workout was a blast. It was still random. The music was on shuffle and I never knew what was coming next. Some songs have REALLY long choruses, as it turns out. And some very short. I had SO MUCH FUN. I can't wait until the next one.

Yesterday, I ran my first Pace workout. Pace workouts are intended to get my body used to feeling the speed we are aiming for as my average marathon pace in November. I have hesitated to say what our goal is, because I don't want to jinx myself. There was something about leading into Grandma's without ever talking about how huge a drop in time we were shooting for (after only 3 weeks of true training and 2 weeks of taper) that made that experience exciting and magical. But we've got about 16 more weeks to go here. And I want to talk about my workouts, my progress, and the other races I will be doing as tests along the way. So heregoes:

I intend to break 4 hours in New York City. Yup. On a way harder course, packed with 45,000 people...I plan to drop another 24 minutes from my time. And, minus an injury or other problems along the way, I am fairly confident that I can...I it.

So, during yesterday's workout, I ran 9 miles with 4 at Pace. I ran the pace miles around 8:50 and it felt great. It felt fun. It felt doable.

So back to today - hamster day. I ran 16 on the treadmill. Anyone who knows me, though, knows that I truly don't mind - and even like - doing long runs on the treadmill every now and then. And it's the hamster-ness that I like about it. Especially when I am training for a big race. I guess I just love the pure fitness of it. Sure, I like running outside in nature, over hill and dale, that's great. But I also kind of like just banging out some miles for the sole purpose of bettering my fitness. I recognize that it is not the same as running outside. But on a day like today, I am certain that I was able to complete a much better workout indoors. I ran 10:21 pace at 1.0% incline for 16 miles. Easy, fun, and even kinda relaxing to be in a hoity toity health club.

I am loving training right now. I am getting up at 5:00am 2-3 days during the workweek and loving it.

And, of course, I still love and absolutely adore my coach. Wendy's instruction, guidance, and encouragement has been good for me on more levels than I can articulate. She's changing me in ways far beyond my running. She just rocks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

12 going on 25

Today was the first "long" run of my NYC Marathon training cycle. It was originally planned for yesterday (Sunday, my long run day) but with the holiday and family stuff it was going to be hard to squeeze it in with all of the eating, etc. So I asked Wendy if we could move it to today. She said that was fine.


I had 7 easy miles on the schedule for Saturday when we drove from Minneapolis to Duluth. Because it had been so hot in Minneapolis all week, I saved this one for the afternoon so I could do it up north. Well, that was a mistake. It was just as hot in Duluth as in Twin Cities and I had to really gut out those 7 miles.

My runs for the past week have been relatively un-reportable. We are still working on recovery while at the same time starting to add on some easy mileage. My legs have been a bit tired, though not terribly so. I have more been using this time to adjust to (1) early morning, 5am runs before work and (2) the heat. I am NOT a hot weather runner - or person. I hate it. I would much rather be cold and bundled up than stripped down to the last possible piece and still overheated. A Duluth girl through and through I guess.

The good thing about the 7 on Saturday was that my legs felt fine. Back to normal. No residual soreness. But I felt tired and spent the entire way. My breathing was labored and I just wanted to get it done. I had tons of family (and food, and wine, and a grill, and a fire pit) back at my house and I just wanted to get there. I truly thought it was the heat that was killing me. Then I looked at my watch. I am still only looking at distance and just running by feel. I check the data after I am finished. I had averaged 9:29s on this run with my fastest one being 9:03. Well no wonder it felt labored. In my runs all week I have been averaging about 10 minute miles. Just fine for where I am in recovery, etc. I keep realizing over and over that I have absolutely no sense of pace. I felt like I was going fast, but I thought it was just because I was laboring from the heat. Alas.

Today I had to run 12. Just 12. That was my "long" run. It. Was. Miserable. So hard. I swear it felt worse than my last I will say it felt like 25. I got out at 8:30 but it was already hot. I pretty much knew it was going to be an annoying grind starting about .90 miles in when a bug got itself lodged in the bottom of my eye. I will spare the grity details of how I gutted this one out...but I really didn't enjoy it. After 6 miles, I stopped and bought a gatorade which was a really smart decision. It helped a LOT. I was back at my car at this point and the old me most definitely would have gotten inside, called it a day, chalked it up to the heat, and driven home. But there is no way I can get away with that when my poor coach's organs keep conspiring to keep her down and yet she still gets out and runs! At 8.75 I stopped again and used the loo. Also a wise pit stop. On this entire run, I really had to just decide that I was stuck doing this for the next however many minutes and that was that. And it was.


Song that got me pumped up the most on my run today? Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me." Go ahead. Judge away. I learned it in spinning class and it's a winner for me while exercising.

Most irritating thing on this run? Super stingy sweat running in my eyes. Why do I feel like this hasn't happened to me before? I mean, I trained through the summer in Washington DC! Perhaps I did not have my visor pulled tight enough. Not sure, but it stung like crazy and I was so covered with salt I was helpless to fix the problem.

Favorite part of this run? The end. But not because it was over. But because I saw my splits and was proud. Well, at first I wasn't. They kinda bummed me out. I want so badly to get faster. I averaged 10:28s which just seemed slow - despite how hard I was working. Then I remembered (1) this was my first hot long run of the season, (2) I am still only 2 weeks post marathon, and (3) a run like this during my past training cycles, for either one of the first two reasons, or neither, would have most definitely averaged b/w 11-12 minute miles - likely closer to 12 in this heat. I am getting faster. I just need to be patient and keep plugging away and leaving my excuses to the old me.

It's amazing how fast our accomplishments become the thing we want more than anything to exceed.