Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still (Friggin') Sick.

Thursday I was optimistic that three days of illness was all I'd get; it is now Sunday evening and I am just now starting to feel a bit better.  No eight miles Friday because me fever was back and I couldn't breathe.  No eighteen miles today because I haven't had a real meal since Monday and have officially lost all the holiday weight.

I've never gotten a flu shot before.  I always said it was because I've never had the flu.  Now that this fact has apparently changed, can I go ahead and sign up for next year's flu shot now?  Pick a date, any date- I will be there early with a sleeveless shirt.

I now have 53 days left until the marathon and have yet to run over 15 miles.  I have seven weeks to prepare, and two of those should probably be a taper.  So five weeks to go from 15 to 20, five weeks to have really solid weekly miles, five weeks to make my legs, lungs, and mind ready for this race.  I will probably not be able to run a 3:40 this time, so I will play with the numbers a little this week to find a better goal that fits where I am at this point.  It's only my second marathon, and it won't be my last.  I can qualify for Boston another year.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The flu/virus/cold that's been going around my school (15% absent yesterday?  yikes!) caught me Monday afternoon and did not want to let go.  I went to school Tuesday but could barely speak; Wednesday I laid on the couch all day, napping.  Today I was so excited to be able to get out of bed and shower without being out of breath.  I returned to school, but my voice stayed away; maybe it'll come back tomorrow.

Instead of running 18 miles tomorrow, I will try to run 8.  If I can do that without collapsing in Country Park, I'll try for 18 on Sunday.

I know that there's a lesson here, and I think I even know what it is: you can plan all you want, but life will sometimes force you to change course.  I haven't ever had a running injury (perhaps because I don't run all that much?), but this little bout of nastiness teaches the same lesson.  Sticking to the plan while ignoring the current situation would be stupid and counterproductive.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two Birds, One Stone: The Long Tempo Run

After a sub-par running week (after Monday's 15-miler, only a short tempo run Tuesday and 1.5 miles Friday) and standing around while administering the SAT yesterday, I did not have high hopes for today's run.  It had to happen after church because that is the little one's nap time, but I'm not as fresh and it's hard to know what to eat.

We went to the car wash (James' new favorite thing) immediately after church, and the line was so long that I trekked through the mulch and down a hill (in my church shoes) to buy a burrito at Taco Bell- dangerous before a long run, I know, but it was close by and I was starving!

I explain all of that because this was an awesome run.  I started of under at 8:50 pace and never looked back.  I put in a few speedy miles but realized I wasn't slowing down enough in between to not die at the end.  So my 12-miler turned into a great tempo run.  The pace fluctuated between 8:20 and 8:30 most of the time.  The last mile was right at 7:30, and I still felt good.  It was 40 degrees, and after the wind, snow, ice, and frigid temperatures of the last few weeks, this was teeshirt weather.  The sun was shining, there was no wind, and the Greenway wasn't an ice-packed obstacle course.  I didn't feel hungry like the last time I tried to run long after lunch.  There were lots of other runners, walkers, and bikers around, too, and I love to wave to people. It breaks up the monotony.

The other momentous part of this run was that it was my first long run with music!  My little blue iPod shuffle kept me motivated, but I might have been singing along to songs without being able to hear the volume or pitch of what was coming out of my mouth.  Oh well...

Long story short- It was a good run and I know that music kept me from getting bored.  It made me pick up the pace, but I could handle it.  This was big confidence booster for the marathon.  If I can run 12 miles at marathon pace now, I think I'll be able to run 26.2 at that pace in March.  I'd never run more than six miles at race pace before the last one, and it exceeded my expectations.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

15 Miles and I Got Tagged!

I had planned a long run for Sunday, but the weather was so nice that we decided to go to the zoo instead.  Monday's chill and drizzle sounded fine for a long run but not so great for running around looking at animals.  We made the right choice; here are a few highlights:

James really likes to throw rocks.

As always, the zoo was amazing.  It's a large zoo with lots of walking paths, and even on a cold winter day the animals come out to play.  Because there were very few people there, some animals were much more active and entertaining, like the polar bear and gorilla.  James is still talking about poe-bears (polar bears).

I had my long run Monday morning.  The only problem was my choice to wear shorts instead of tights, but it wasn't that bad.  I prefer shorts, and the top half of me was very well layered.  I started at a 9:05 pace and fifteen miles later had whittled that down to 8:58 in spite of black ice patches and long swaths of Greenway still covered in snow.  My legs felt good and I didn't feel hungry like last week.  I know I run better in the morning, so that really made a difference.  I think I won't do any more afternoon long runs, even though the timing is more convenient.

I cannot believe that I only have 9 weeks left before my marathon.  I have completely fallen of my original plan, but it'll be okay.  I need to get up to at least one twenty miler.  Perhaps the long runs will look like this:

  1. 16
  2. 18
  3. 14
  4. 20
  5. 14
  6. 20
  7. 16
  8. 10
  9. RACE
Or maybe it'll be like this:
  1. 16
  2. 14
  3. 18
  4. 14
  5. 20
  6. 14
  7. 16
  8. 10
  9. RACE
I'll try to figure it out this week.  The issue is not whether I'll be prepared to finish the marathon, because I know I can do that.  I just need to see if it's feasible to beat my last time and even (possibly) run a 3:40 which would qualify me for Boston.  This week's pace certainly gave me hope.

Also, wonderful runner (and pull-up diva) Abby tagged me, so today I will share seven random things about myself.

1. I love to play rugby.  I played in college and tried to play after graduation, but without a women's team in town I stopped.  I am drawn to rugby because my hand-eye coordination is really poor.  There are positions in rugby where you pretty much hit people, and I was good at that.  I played hooker (yes, I know, hehehe) for three years and then played inside and outside center, which require a little more ball handling.  I loved tackling someone and making them fly through the air, with me attached, and then landing on the ground and doing it again.  It's a brilliant game.
2. In high school my mom and I did Jazzercise together.  It was awesome.  Neither of us have a lot of dancing skills (to put it mildly), but we had a lot of fun and made a point of finding a spot in front of the one woman who invariably wore a thong leotard with tights (yes, tights) every week.
3. I like all vegetables.  Every one of 'em.  Haven't met one I don't like.
 the little one eating raw hot peppers from the garden.  yikes!

4. The first team sport I ever did was soccer at the YMCA.  Memories: my socks were so big that they went to my thighs and still had room to fold them over for an attractive contrasting color effect; my team won zero games the entire season, and the only one in which they tied was the only one I didn't attend; I taught the other defense players to do the can-can, which we did during a game at least once and may explain why we didn't win.
5. My dad and I have done two half-marathons together, although I'm pretty sure he'd put that in slightly different terms ("My daughter made me run two half-marathons").  I've already chosen our third, and it's in October, and he's not getting out of it.
6. My son is getting interested in running.  He says "Mama run!" with a big smile and likes to run, too.  I can't wait to sign him up for a kiddie race so that he can run with other tykes and get a little medal.  He also thinks Kara Goucher is cute.  Good taste, no?  
watching Mama at the Baltimore Marathon

7.  We live on a farm with chickens, goats, one sheep, a turkey, a duck, and the normal cats and dogs.  We have a big garden with fruit trees, berry bushes, and grapes.  It's a lot of fun and also a bit of work.

berries from the garden

feeding the birds

So, that's that!  I'll be tagging someone else in the next few days.  I hope you enjoyed the randomness!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Long Run and New Toy

The Toy
Before getting into the snowy, windy, numb mess that was my long run, I want to brag about my new toy- an iPod shuffle!  I've never run with music before, so I am so excited to have a soundtrack other than my own thoughts and footsteps.  They are great some of the time, but I look forward to having a choice.  And the shuffle is so little!  I like that I can clip it on and ignore it.

We went to Ed McKay's, a great used book store in town, and they had some iPods in stock.  (I am cheap and also like the thrill of finding stuff second-hand that fits the bill.  There was no way I'd pay for a new one!) Mine is blue and holds 2 gigabytes, which is more music than any sane person would ever need on a run.  I only filled it 75% up and it was counting the time in days. days.  That's a lot of music!  I can't wait to run with it.

The Run
Today's long run was bitter cold because of the wind.  It took me about three miles to feel most of my toes, and by then my face had gone numb.  At least I was adequately dressed!  My legs felt so heavy today.  From the beginning my pace was sluggish.  I usually run faster the longer I run, but that did not occur today.  I started out at a 9:00 pace, but this quickly felt challenging. After mile 7 I slowed down by 20 seconds per mile, and I took numerous walking breaks.  If I had planned for that pace or for those walking breaks, I would be happy, but it was pretty disappointing.  Long runs are one of my strengths; I usually start easy, feel good, slowly speed up, eat my chews, drink my water, and finish strong.  Not today.  Despite eating a gel and two packets of double-serving chews, I felt empty, hungry, and tired.  Grrr.

I'm not beating myself up over this, but I do want to make sure that it doesn't happen again.  What could have made me feel so out-of-sync?

  • It was really cold and very windy
  • I ran at 12:00 and hadn't eaten since 10:00
  • At 10:00 I ate leftover Greek pizza
  • I'm fighting a cold
  • I ran fast (for me) two days this week, and I haven't done that in a while
  • I haven't done a long run since December 18
When I look at all the evidence like that, I marvel at the fact that I got through thirteen miles at all.  Next week I may still have to run after lunch, but I will hydrate and fuel better before and I will take my tempo run down a notch or two.  This week's tempo pace averaged out to 7:37, which wasn't smart.  I should be running those workouts at around 8:00, or 15 seconds faster than my goal marathon pace.  I can't control the weather either, but I'll work on fighting this cold with heavy doses of sudafed and claritin, adequate sleep, and chocolate.  Chocolate always helps.

So, there's week 5.  I'm behind for long runs, but I'm not going to panic yet.  Next week I'll do 16 instead of the scheduled 14 and then I'll be on track.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where have all the long runs gone?

First, the good: I went to the track last night for the first time in a long time.  We did mile repeats, and Anna the Speed Rabbit pulled me to three miles @ 7:00 or under (6:54, 6:58, 7:00).  I'm very proud of that accomplishment.  I am also proud of not jumping out of my skin at the sight of the coyote decoy that resides on the track.  He freaks me out.  A lot.  The camaraderie of the track really appeals to me; no matter what pace you run, what workout you need, you have people there who support you, cheer you on, and sympathize with your pain and success.
the super-scary decoy coyote.  yikes!
The other good: I made my goal of working out 20 times in December and am ahead of the curve (so far) to hit 100 miles in January.  I got in a good little run today on the treadmill (I planned to run outside but forgot a key part of my running wardrobe... whoops).  It's getting easier to make time for running without sacrificing family time.

My problem seems to be (okay, is) making the time for long runs.  I haven't had a long run since before Christmas.  There are a load of good excuses: we went to visit family for Christmas; I wanted to save my legs the week before New Year's for the 5k; I couldn't really breathe; I have a work commitment this Saturday; I have church this Sunday.  I also have less than 80 days until the marathon.  No matter how well the weekly miles go, the race will not go well without actual long runs.  I know this.

Where does it end?  I know I'm in control of my life, but I am not in control of the fact that Band Auditions happen this weekend and that I have to be there 7:45-6:00, pretty much the exact hours that the sun will be around.  I'm also not in control of not being able to breathe well enough to even think of a long run, which is what happened last Sunday.  Must be your garden-variety wintertime funk.  It's better now, thank goodness.

My plan right now is to run Sunday afternoon while the little one naps, between church and youth group.  I'm getting better at afternoon long runs: what to eat or not to eat, what shoes to wear that morning.  I also love that it's a good ten degrees above freezing and sunny.  I need to run 16, but I haven't run past 12 since the marathon.  14 may be more realistic.  

Realistic should be my goal for the next 11 weeks.  Set realistic goals.  Find time to run long at least every other weekend.  Put family ahead of running and running ahead of sleeping in and vegging on the couch.  That's the plan.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolution Run PR!

I did not start off the morning feeling very hopeful about the 5k.  This may be because my throat was a little scratchy, but it probably has more to do with the marathon spades game I played last night.  We have a running game going with my parents- there are tee-shirts and talk of a trophy for next year.  The game lasts all year.  The last game of the year had to start before midnight.  My mom and I were ahead by 10 points, both teams had 9 sandbags... it was fierce.  We lost the 2010 game by 11 points!  Of course we had to get the new game started, and as of this posting we are ahead by 130 points (!!!) and won't get to play again until March.  All of that to say I didn't get much sleep, but it was so worth it.

We woke up latish this morning, had a nice breakfast, and realized that the jogging stroller was at my school.  Oops...  After driving only a little out of the way to get it and discovering that its tires were flat and that there was no bike pump in the car, we got to the race in the fog with about 10 minutes to spare.  We found a pump to fix the stroller, which was for spectator purposes only; James is too heavy and squirmy and dare-devilish to push on a run.

I lined up near the front, which I never do, and took off.  My throat was soar and I was also scared of the Sudafed I had taken doing crazy things to my heart.  I am a little paranoid...  But I ran and felt good.  I passed some people, some people passed me.  The weather was great and I was perfectly dressed.  My trusty Brooks Ghost shoes felt like air.  With a mile to go, I knew I wasn't going to make my goal of finishing under 22:00, but I also knew I was running pretty fast.  With about .5 miles left, I caught up with a woman and we ran together for a little while.  Maybe .15 from the finish I heard Jenn yell "You have 15 seconds left!" and knew that meant I might possibly make my goal, so I kicked it, passed the woman, and crossed the finish line at 22:09, 22:05 chip time.

Here's the kicker- that woman I passed?  She was the first woman.  So by passing her, I was the first female finisher!  Holy Moly!  So I didn't make one goal (sub-22:00), but I attained something that had never occurred to me before- first overall female!  Yay!  I even won a pair of free Vasque trail running shoes which I will pick out tomorrow.

It was such a fun race, and I did set a new PR.  I knew a lot of other runners, so it was fun to cheer for people as they ran and as they finished.  My family was really nice about staying around for the awards, and James enjoyed the post-race oreos.  I feel a little weird about passing someone rather late in the race, but I didn't do it out of malice or even competitiveness with her.  I had a goal and wanted to see if I could make it.  The rest was gravy.

So, here's to 2011, another marathon year.