Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week 3: "Fast-Twitch No More!"

It's been a busy week! On Wednesday I relocated from DC to WI. I'll be living here with my step-mom for the next several weeks while I finish up some schoolwork and take a summer course. And log lots of miles, of course. Fortunately her house is right near a great system of running paths that intersect with some great trails - so it'll be a great place to run. Looking forward to it.

Had some fun yesterday running a local 10K. It was a teeny tiny event (at least for someone like me who is used to big city races!) Even compared to events in Duluth, this was tiny. There was a 5K and a 10K and there were 170 total racers. I was a bit hesitant going in - 5Ks and 10Ks HURT. Because you run them FAST. Yes, this perhaps sounds silly coming from me, the former 100 meter dash specialist. (As my friend Kei punned on my Facebook page when I whined about the difficulty of short, fast racing: "Fast twitch no more!") But I've been logging lots of really slow, low-HR miles lately. I knew what that burn was going to feel like. And did it burn. It was tough!
Before the Race

I went out WAY too fast and completely died. I was toast by the third mile. I thought I could hold a faster pace because I ran an 8K in early I was using that as a gauge. Well, a lot has happened since early March. My body was just not in the same place. It HURT. It was a major exercise in mental toughness, though, which Wendy LOVES (because I am a wuss and I don't like pain) so I was proud that I hung on and toughed it out.

The best part of finishing, other than finally being able to stop the madness, was having my step-mom and grandma there cheering me in. My step-mom had the cowbell that she and my dad used to ring to let us all know when it was time for dinner when we were kids. (Yes, I am serious, there were 7 kids and we lived in a really big 3-story house.) Since I live away from where most of my family lives, I rarely have "fans" at races. So this was a total treat. 
Finishing the race - totally spent!

Today I ran a 10-miler and it was definitely a challenge running on my tired legs from the 10K yesterday. But it's great to be getting up in mileage as well. On short runs you can't get into the same groove and mental space you can when you're out there for more than an hour or so. So though I was tired, I really enjoyed being back in the saddle of real distance training.

Training Mileage Summary
Week One: 30 miles
Week Two: 31 miles
Week Three: 36.2 miles (the 0.2 from the 10K, of course!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week 2: Patience and Jefferson

I just finished my last run of Week 2 of JFK training. All of my runs felt great this week - mostly because I decided to return to low heart rate training. I've done this in the past, it's worked every time, I am starting near zero, I've got plenty of time: ideal opportunity to return to what works.

Now, for me, this type of training takes two things: (1) patience, and (2) massive pride swallowing. Why patience? Because in the beginning I have to run so slow. The program I follow is (very) loosely based on the methods of Phil Maffetone (MAF). And I mean loosely. Basically, I use the 180 formula and, in these beginning stages of training, when I am just trying to get my fitness back, I stick to my number as best I can. For me, that number is 146. Basically, I try to stay at 146 for my entire run, give or take. I am healthy, so I can basically use a range from 146-151.

This may seem arbitrary and stupid, but like I said: it works. I was first introduced to low heart rate training sometime around 2007 or 2008 when I was working with my former personal trainer and good friend Melissa Simmens (runner and completer of many ultras). She had tried every training plan - Higdon, Pfitzinger, etc. - but she couldn't get her Boston Qualifier. She spent one training cycle doing MAF and BOOM: BQ.

It works, because it forces me to slow down and gradually build my fitness. When I don't do it, I tend to go out, run too hard, get tired, get frustrated, get burned out. And, actually, it's REALLY fun to see my progress. Within a matter of a week or two you see changes. My paces drop almost daily as I continue to run at the same heart rate. Being able to actually see my improvement in a concrete number is really fun! Especially during a long training cycle.

Now, the MAF program, when actually followed, includes a lot of additional things that I don't do. Why? Because I don't want to and I don't enjoy them. And because simply using that number has proven useful for me in the past, every. single. time. I. have. done. it.

It does take pride-swallowing though. Especially in these early weeks. I am out there on the National Mall at 6am with all the hard core runners and I am plodding along about 3 minutes per mile slower than I'd prefer to be running. It can also be a HUGE challenge to stay slow enough, especially in the beginning. But, alas, it works.

This week I enjoyed running around the Tidal Basin quite a bit. The water is really high (lots of dead fish on the path!) and everything smells so fresh (not the fish, but the stuff in bloom).

And who knew there was a George Mason monument hidden on the other side? Not this girl.

Been enjoying visiting this guy:

Jefferson Memorial

In other news: My wonderful coach and dear friend Wendy finished her first 50-miler yesterday! It's wasn't her first ultra, she ran a 60K last year. Anyway, I won't reveal her results because she will likely blog about it and I don't want to steal her thunder. Let's just say I am exceptionally proud and confident that I am being trained by someone who knows how to prepare to run 50 miles! We're going to have a fun journey together between now and November. Congrats, Wendy!

Training Mileage Summary
Week One: 30 miles
Week Two: 31 miles (yeah, I cheated and added one)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Week 1 of 30!

Well, my first week of JFK 50-miler training is in the books! Interesting, because I didn't even know I was running the race until Tuesday!

That said, Wendy and I had already started working together again, just to get me back into shape for whatever goal I ended up choosing for summer and beyond.

I got 30 miles in this week which is actually pretty impressive, considering I was pretty much starting at zero. Longest run was 7.5

On March 16th I ran the Rock 'n' Roll USA half marathon, just for fun. I wasn't well trained or really in shape at all, and I didn't have a particularly great race, but it was good to get back out there. I ran 2:05 something which was solid considering I had some major nausea problems and had to wait in line for a potty stop. 10 minutes off of my PR isn't bad all things considered. I was feeling good about the effort.

Then that night my dad had a heart attack. Over the next three weeks my life would change completely in a way I could have never imagined or even feared. During the time while he was sick and up until he died, I didn't run a step. Not one.

The next time I ran was 4 miles on April 14th with a good friend who knew that getting me out running again would be a good way to help me deal with my grief. She was right. That said, I didn't run again until April 25th. I've been completing some short runs consistently since that day and it is starting to again feel like something I want to do. Since it is something I need to do, that's a good thing. Every run feels better than the last. Alas, I am getting in shape. It's good to be back.

I ran more miles this week than Wendy wanted. But they were feeling so good that I just kept extending runs. I am not a very good listener when it comes to coaching, but she already knows that!

I've been dealing with some minor injuries with big names: Trochanteric Bursitis of the hip and Femoral Acetabular Impingement. They're not awesome but they aren't tragic either. The first one means that the outside of my hip hurts, the second one means the front of my leg near my groin hurts. (Both are hip injuries, just different parts of the hip.) They seem to alternate. Both are just mild, if concerning, pain. Funny enough, for anyone who has followed my running for any length of time, my hamstrings have been completely fine. My hamstrings haven't been fine since the 10th grade!

Lincoln, inside his Memorial
So, here we go! I still don't even know my plan for next week but I think we are going to try to keep the mileage pretty similar. I am in exams, so that's no fun. But the runs are a nice relief, even if it is tourist/school group season here in the District.

I like to have pictures in my posts, so I'll leave all of you, my three readers, with this:

For most of my runs this week, I visited this guy at dawn. He's about 2.5 miles from home. It was pretty spectacular with the sun just coming up and the steps still a bit damp from the dew. I even got my workout on by sprinting up the steps each time I visited.

Lincoln Memorial

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fifty for my Thirty-Fifth

I posted this on facebook, but I felt the need to do a blog update too.

I am running the JFK 50-Miler! I GOT IN!

It's 2 days after I turn 35.

It's finals time right now so I don't have the time to elaborate or really write much of anything else. But I want to get this blog going again. So here it goes.

Fast-Twitch girl is gunnin' for 50.

Bring it.

More to come, including my motivation for running this race and how I want to make it about more than just a personal accomplishment.

In the meantime, here's a couple of pics of me at a trail race back in March.