Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dec 31: First 20-miler for Albany 2012

FIT:
I just reached the top of the second mini-cycle wthin the marathon training plan.


Yesterday, I wasn't feeling the same enthusiasm for the scheduled 20 that I had felt for last week's 18.  There was a knotty, potentially stress-fractury spot on my right outer shin (vs. the left outer shin a couple of months ago), and I wasn't peppy overall.  Stretching didn't help fix things this time.  It could be monthly hormonal things or the stress that comes with knowing that winter break is almost over or the accumulation of fatigue over the past couple weeks' 16er and 18er. 

I signed up for a race a couple weeks ago for next weekend, so I also thought about taking this week easier than the schedule called for, to stay fresh and uninjured for that Half Marathon. 

I ended up going for the 20.

20.0 in 3:08:16, 9:25 ave.  1605 cal.

I intended to do the same pace as last week's run (9:15ish), but I ended up slowing.

Splits> 9:19, 9:05, 9:13, 9:26, 9:32, 9:44, 18:32 (9:16 for 2), 9:40, 9:30, 9:39, 9:24, 9:28, 9:51, 8:54, 8:53, 9:39, 9:41, 9:54, 8:44. 

FUEL:
For breakfast, I had some tortilla chips and Reduced Fat Gouda (from Trader Joe's).  I wanted salt.  I also had 2 cups of decaf and a successful trip to the bathroom.

Since I finished last week's 18.4 still feeling pretty good and not needing water at all, I thought I could maybe go for all 20 without water. I started getting thirsty at about mile 8, and I didn't drink until mile 16, since the water was back at the car.  I gulped down 2/3 of a liter in no time.  I also ate a low-sugar (3g only) Detour Bar.  I had 2/3 at mile 6.5 and the rest later on.  It has 170 Cal, 15g protein (protein intake during the run helps minimize damage to your muscles, at least when it's a sport drink like Accelerade, so I'm guessing it may help me here, too), 3g of sugar is all the real carbs in it, and 5g fat.  Delicious, but the carbs probably would've helped me overall.  It tasted like a Snickers bar. 

I did have a Honey Stinger waffle with me, but I wasn't hungry, and in the late, late miles, my tummy didn't want any food.  It just wanted me to finish. 

Afterwards, I wanted to replenish my carb stores and get a little bit of protein to help recovery so that I could still perform decently and safely at next week's Half.  I had an orange, a carrot (I always crave healthy food after hard workouts, maybe because my body wants good raw materials to work with for recovery), 2 pieces of multigrain toast with garlic (helps the immune system) and a bit of Laughin Cow Lite Cheese Spread, and a bowl of hot and sour soup (had some tofu and eggs, plus vinegar, which I always crave after long runs or long races). 

Next, a shower.  Then, a nap.  After the LR, I was so tired that when I got home, I thought for a moment about just taking a nap right in the car, since it would've been too much effort to walk into the house. 

My legs are a bit banged up at the moment, but I'm stretching now and it helps a bit.  I did try a bit of dynamic stretching immediately post-run, and I also walked for a while, but neither helped much. 

GEAR:
- Oxysox compression socks (which I almost always wear to work and whenever I run)
- Nathan compression/relflective sleeves (to keep me warm and to keep me visible... just got this particular one, with elastic around the top, which makes it stay up better than my other pair without the elastic, can)
- Visor
- Sunscreen (I was smarter this time, after feeling the sun on my shoulders too much last time)
- Tech tee with the sleeves cut off
- Nathan Shadow Pak with the Detour Bar and car key and uneaten Honey Stinger Waffle
- New Balance 1225 Stability Shoes with Sofsol Arch Supports
- Oakleys
- iPod Shuffle
- I found a pair of Silly Bandz on course, so I put those on.  I also found a quarter, which I put in the Pak.
- Timex Ironman watch, which has the timer set, too, in case I mess something up on the Garmin like hit the stop button instead of the lap button

Looking forward to dinner.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dec 28: Treadmill Intervals

FIT:
Still got it!

After not doing intervals in 2 weeks (not that that's long) and doing long, slow distance, I wondered if my speed was going to suffer.  Not the case!  Some people think that marathon trainng makes you slow, but I think for all the top 0.0000001% of runners, for whom specificity is key to pushing the human limits, increased training of any sort will help you get stronger at all distances.  You'll need to stay sharp in all of those areas by having a good mix of speed and endurance in your training plan, of course.

I was glad to see that I still got it.  I did a treadmill interval session because after my nap, it was dark outside, so no track.  I wanted to do a bit of treadmill work, anyway.  I've been used to running on lots of grass in the past week and a half, and the motion and forces are probably a little bit different, so I do want to keep my body well-adapted to that surface as well.

I either met or exceeded my previous difficulty level for treadmill interval workouts, which is cool.  The treadmill I used today was really good - very stable and heavy-duty and pretty user-friendly.  The only downside is that it had distances to the 10th of a mile, not a 100th.  So I tweaked my workout a bit.

The workout:
1 mi warmup btwn 7-7.5mph, 4 x [0.7 mi @ 9mph, 0.3 mi @ 7.5 mph].

5.0 in 36:30, 7:18/mi ave.

Glad my left knee is fine when running.  Walking, sometimes I can tell that it's not 100%, especially when turning, but it seems to be on the mend.

Dec 26: Beach Recovery Run - p v

Beach run!

My family and a few other families went up to Myrtle Beach on Christmas, the day after my 18er.

We bowled, played cards, watched TV, and after-Christmas shopped.

On the 26th, it was time to get in a run.  I went with my sister.  Since I just wanted to get back into it after the LR, and since beach running can be risky for your calves and achilles and my left plantar fascia was flaring up a bit again, I was ready to take it easy.  My sis normally runs 2-3 mi, so I was really excited when she made it the whole 5.5 mi without issues.  We were going slower than she normally goes, so she could handle it.  The run felt easy, since we were going so slowly. 



I chose to run without my iPod - it's not often that you get to enjoy the sounds of the wind and ocean and birds, the feel of the sand and wind, and the sights of the buildings and big sky and little shells, so I went sans iPod.  I couldn't convince my sister to do the same, but whatevs.


Looking at that now, I notice that there were people around, haha.


We were going to go from one pier to another, but there was a river-like thing running off into the beach that was too deep and wide to jump or walk through, so that was as far as we went.

The ground was firm enough to not worry me too much, once you got past the deep dry sand.  There was some camber, so we tried our best to stay on the flattest portions. 

My left inner achilles started bugging me with about 2 mi to go.  Still runnable, but it happened.

I massaged it and stretched afterwards.  The next day, my left knee started hurting sometimes when I would walk on that foot, once my weight was put on it.  Dunno.  Seems okay now, enough that I may try an intervals session today.

Risk... reward... eh. 


5.5 in 49:19, 8:58 ave.  I sprinted at the end to make it sub-9 pace.  I would've gone faster if I was on my own, but it was fun to run with my sis for a whole 5.5 mi.  I don't think the distance was that hard for her, either, since we were going slowly... so maybe she can do a Half sometime!

Dec 24: Second big LR - p

FIT:
I did the first "big" LR of 16.4 on Sunday, Dec 18th.  All the way through Thursday, I wasn't feeling particularly sharp on my runs.  I was feeling sluggish and stiff.  I was suprised by how long it was taking to bounce back.  How was I going to get in any quality workouts between my weekly LRs?

On Friday, I stretched, for the first time in 4 days (Monday), and it did wonders to loosen me up and make my legs feel fresher.  Before that, I kind of felt like I had been shuffling rather than running.  I'll need to keep that in mind.

Since I was feeling better on Friday, I was excited about the next day's 18er all day.  Instead of the dread that I'd sometimes feel, knowing how long and potentially difficult it would be, I looked forward to it, perhaps because the previous 16er had gone well, and I felt good even at the end.

I ended up having to do the LR on Saturday rather than Sunday, missing an extra day of recovery, because of travel plans the next day. 

I went out alone this time, and I didn't worry about not having water on the course, since I went through 16 last week without big thirst at the end. 

I focused on going at a VERY easy pace this time, since I figured out that the suggested paces of the SmartCoach plan assumed I was going to go for a 3:17 marathon, and I probably wouldn't be shooting that high on race day.  I don't want to cash all of my investment on workouts instead of race day anyway. 

The run was enjoyable.  I took no detours, since I wanted to get good distance estimates of the standard out-and-back course so that I would know how far it was between each landmark, so that I could figure out what legs I could repeat to achieve my target distance.  I ended up miscalculating somewhere and had to make up 2 missed miles by going back and forth on some shady patches of grass, but it's all good. 


My legs did get a little tired of the same motions towards the end, so I did some butt kicks and shorter steps to shake things up for them and to reduce the same pounding feeling on my legs.

I had 1 100-Cal mini-Clif bar at mile 9.5, and I had absolutely no thirst at the end of the 18.4er, which was cool. 

I wore a new Adidas singlet with a handy hole near the top for the earbud wire, which really helped to reduce bouncing of the long wire.  It ws chilly, at 43-52-58 degrees that morning, so the shirt was good.  It was sleeveless, so I was feeling the sun on my shoulders more than I would've liked towards the end.  I may go for sleeves next time.

Unlike during last week's LR, I  did use the iPod this time.  I love listening to race recordings (the podcaster records while he's doing the race), since you hear all of the cheering and breathing and racers and stuff.  It keeps you really pumped up during the run.

18.4 in 2:50:32, 9:16 ave.  I think that's a good pace.

GEAR GUIDE: Adidas CC Ride

Feels like the first run in a while. Inertia… once you stop for an extended period, it can be hard to get out the door again.

I got my sister new Adidas shoes the other day – the CC Ride. I saw some cool-looking Adizero shoes, but they felt way too uncushioned to run in.


Since we are the same height and have about the same foot size, I decided to give them a try.

Flexibility:
The zig-zag sole makes them really flexible, so I expected them to be more barefoot-like than the shoes I’m used to.

Footstrike:
I found myself naturally wanting to strike more forefootish, maybe because of a smaller heel-toe drop? One website estimated 6mm. I could feel it. It was different from what I was used to. If I did want to run in these long term, I’d need to move it into the rotation gradually, to make sure my Achilles didn’t get too stressed.

Stability:
The toebox is a wee bit smaller than what I’m used to in the Saucony Kinvara and the New Balance 1224/5 and the Asics Gel Evolutions, which are the main shoes in my rotation. I also found that running on the uneven grass, my feet tended to pitch left and right a lot. I had to be careful to not roll my ankles. I don’t know why that was the case. I was running on uneven, wet grass, but I run there often.

Upper:
It was very meshy and light, which I like.

I don’t regret not getting a pair for myself, since I have a history of rolled ankles and need something more stable. I did stick a pair of arch support insoles in there, which supposedly help with my overpronation, and that aspect of it was fine. As I mentioned earlier, I would also like a tad bit more cushioning. It could have a place in someone else’s rotation, but not mine. My sister likes it. She’s just getting back into running and does maybe 8-10 mpw. She likes that it’s so light.  However, she also complained that it was too wobbly left and right.  She also tries to run on grass whenever possible, so she'll save these shoes for treadmill runs.

So…. Those are my thoughts after a single 4.4mi run, in mostly wet grass, on a humid, pre-Tstorm day. It was 64 degrees.

4.4 in 35:58, 8:11 ave. 339 cal. It took me a while too warm up, according to the splits. 18:51 for lap 1, 17:06 for lap 2. Quite a difference. That’s a 8:54 ave pace for the first lap and a 7:31 pace for the second lap.

I don’t often run on wet surfaces, now that it’s winter and 2/3 of my runs are on treadmills. But going on asphalt, on older asphalt where the pebbles are exposed, you take a step forward and end up slipping like 1 inch backwards as you toe-off. On newer asphalt that’s all black, the grip is fine. Just something I noticed.

The next day, Dec 22, I did an easy 6.7 to try to recover from the previous day and the previous weekend's LR.   Splits> 19:20 (8:40 pace), 18:42 (8:17), 18:01 (7:59).  I started comfortably slow and picked it up a bit towards the end naturally as I got loosened up a bit.

Dec 18: First big LR of Marathon Buildup - p

FIT:
Looong run!

Long run actuals so far for this build-up (planned in parenthesis):

11.5 (10), 8.9 (12), 15.5 (14), 7.4 (6), 16.2 (16).

16.2 in 2:23:30, 8:51 ave. The Runner’s World SmartCoach schedule calls for a 8:33 pace, but it also plans for me to run a 3:17 for the marathon, which probably won’t happen. It assumes race pace is 7:31, and 8:33 is about a minute slower. I don’t try to hit the recommended goal times because I try to go with what my body thinks it’s safe to do while giving a good effort, naturally. If I think 3:30 is reasonable for my finish time, then MP is 8:01, and I should be going at 9:00ish for my LRs right now, assuming 1 min is right. So maybe I went too fast, but I wasn’t really pushing the pace or anything, and I was pretty much even the whole time, not fading at the end. I finished feeling pretty good.

My dad joins me for runs on his bike when he can. The thought of doing 7ish laps around our neighborhood for 16 mi wasn’t that appealing, so we went to a nearby subdivision instead, one that’s by the track I used over Thanksgiving break. I had thought about doing a run there, so it was worth exploring.

We parked at Publix and headed out. They had plenty of grass on the sides of the road, compared to the smaller strips of even yet somewhat cambered grass that I have at my subdivision. It was great. It was in the morning, so we had shade about 60% of the time. I had a whole wheat banana chocolate chip pancake, milk, and lots of green tea before the run, so even though my dad carried my Nalgene with him as we went, I didn’t need to drink the entire time. I wouldn’t have minded water towards the end, but I wasn’t uncomfortable.

The main road of the subdivision is long. I didn’t know how long, so I just kept following it. It ended up being like 5 mi long or something, with lots of smaller subdivisions branching off of it. We did a detour into one branch with the clubhouse and some apartments. After we hit the 5mi mark, we had gone through two big subdivisions, and we were at a highway. We decided to cross it and continue to a third subdivision. There, we went by the houses more. My parents were used to looking at houses on the market there, so my dad knew his way around.




We turned around after about 7.5 miles, which was early, so even if we made it back to Publix, without some extra detours of about 2 mi, I wouldn’t make the 16 mark. I got hungry at about 7 mi, and I had a 100-Cal mini Clif bar. I’m more into solid foods these days – it’s less messy than Gels when it comes to stashing the trash in your pockets, and it sticks less to your teeth and isn’t as excessively sweet as Chomps/Gummies. For races, I may still go with Gels since certain flavors give a caffeine boost, but we’ll see.

I wore a tech shirt, the one from the Camp Croft Half Marathon, the whole time, since it was windy and chilly enough, ranging from 40-43-50 degrees over the course of the run. I also had my handy dandy Adidas visor and Oakleys. The shades were a splurge that I justified by the fact that my old New Balance ones were great and cheap if you could get them at TJMaxx, but they’d break sometimes. Eyes are important, anyway.


When I got close to Publix, I made up the gap by circling the different fields at the recreation complex…. Soccer, football, baseball, track x 3, pond… eventually racked up enough that I could move on. I made it with 0.2 mi to spare. I did roll my left ankle (not the right this time) while at the complex. I think I normally roll my right one. It was a little slower to bounce back to normal during the run, but I could still run it off before the end of the run.

The first part of the run went by more slowly than the last half, where you knew you just had to go back. Especially on a new course, time is stretched because there’s so much to take in per step. On the way back, you know it already, and it flies by. The last 2 mi circling around did take a while though. Maybe because it was somewhat exploratory and meandering, and maybe because it was towards the end of the long run, and I was anticipating the end.

The next day, I did a strength session. I had to work that day, despite the fact that it’s my vacation. Boo. Same with the next day. My legs were still a bit in recovery mode 2 days after the run, but by night time, I felt like I could’ve gone for a run if I wanted to.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dec 16

FIT:
2 days ago, standard progression run.  My legs were still getting off of soreness from Insanity, followed the next day by intervals.  They wanted a good banging to work it out. 

5.0 in 39:43, 7:57 ave. 
Splits> 16:31 (8:15 ave), 7:51, 7:48, 7:32. 

I had misjudged how much time I had at the gym by an hour when I went out, so I had an extra hour after my workout.  I ice bathed in the pool, to just above my knees, for 10 minutes.  I don't know how much it helps because it caused me to get little kinks in parts of my legs as I was walking back home.  Oh well, I can experiment, if I get more opportunities.

Today, bike.  I drove to Atlanta and back last night to pick up my sis, so nothing yesterday.  I had scheduled a strength session yesterday, but I was tired after a 12+ hr workday followed by 4.5 hrs of driving.

45 min, 11.8 mi, 370 cal.  Read Running Times.  I haven't biked in a while, so the time went by slowly.  The past couple times I biked, my deltoids... at least my left one... didn't get sweaty for some reason.  Sweat's back.  Odd that my left sweats less than my right.  Maybe I work my right one more, and higher sweat rates are an adaptation to increased work and the need to cool down.  So it's not necessarily the case that I'm working my right one any more than my left when I bike, but when I get hot at all, the right one is more efficient at sweating?  Dunno. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dec 12

FIT:
Intervals!

I’m thinking about starting to list the type of workout next to the date. That way, you know more about what you’re getting into. I know that most of my posts are the same… every week… progression run most of the time. How tired I am. That’s it most of the time. Intervals and long runs occasionally. The redone title would at least provide a better overview of my training when you dig into the archive. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll even go through the 750+ previous posts and re-name them. Many of the early ones would probably be daily fuel recaps, rather than only workout recaps, so I haven’t really done 750+ workouts since the blog started. That would be a lot of workouts. It would be fun to do the re-naming, though. It’s like reading through your old diary. You see patterns. You remember good times. You look back on bad times and are thankful for how God has been faithful and has pulled you through times when you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face because the future looked so dark. We’ll see. Maybe over Xmas break when I don’t know what to do with all of the extra time. Two weeks of it!!! Aaaaah.

So… intervals.

Oh yeah, yesterday…

I did an Insanity workout DVD after taking 7 weeks off. I took the time off after I felt like I may be starting to get a little stress-fractury spot on my shin. Who knows whether it was anything like that. But I felt like Insanity might’ve caused it, and I needed to be careful. But I haven’t noticed that spot in the past 3 or so weeks. Plyos is proven to have very real benefits when it comes to 5K times, and a little goes a long way. It does stress tendons/ligaments/muscles, so I thought that if I was going to put stress on it, it’s best to get the stresses and major adaptations going early in my training cycle, before I got to the really long runs and got close to the race date, when I’d have to manage risks. Now, even in the early stages, is when I’m doing a lot of the work. When you’re up to weeks before the race, not much of what you do will help at that point. It’s what you put in now and in the coming weeks that are going to be paying dividends later on. So I’ll invest some now in plyos. Maybe once a week or every two weeks.

I did the Pure Cardio + Cardio Abs DVD. P.C. still gives me a good working. I wondered how it would feel to get back to Insanity after time off, but I think the muscle memory is still there. I’m afraid of annoying my neighbors with all of the jumping, so I’m very careful to land as softly as possible. I wonder how that influences the type of workout I get. Does it make it better? Worse? Does the extra work of trying to land softly get offset by my possible limiting of the height I go for in my jumps? No complaints from my downstairs neighbor so far, who happens to also be one of the managers of the apt complex. So I want to be careful.

Afterwards, I got in my Xmas light walk. It ended up being a walk, but it was a very good walk. A walk was less worrisome, since I didn’t have to carry a map or cover lots of ground or worry excessively about gear. Instead, I put on some reflective armbands and reflective gloves, wore just 2 thinner layers, and headed out. I got to chat on the phone with my old college roommate, which was really nice. The Xmas lights were also nice. No extreme houses, but any decorations, no matter how small, are enjoyable.

The next day (today), I was sore. My upper back, hammies (from squats), and upper arms (not biceps… more like deltoids, bit of triceps). I don’t get sore often. Felt this way all day. While at work, I felt like a run may feel good, to loosen everything up. It was a long, stressful workday. But I guess it’s satisfying.

Ok… intervals.

I thought that a slow 3-4 mi run might feel good for loosening up, but when it was getting close to time to go to the gym, I was feeling like intervals may be good. It was good timing, since I just had an off week, which marked the end of the first cycle within my training program. 3 weeks of build-up, then 1 pull-back week, which just called for 3 days of 6 mi easy (8:33 pace). So it was getting to be time to bring back some speed, and doing it early in the week would give me plenty of time to recover by the weekend long run day. It was maybe a little risky to do it the day after plyos, since sprinting is somewhat plyo-like. But I think it was ok.

Workout: 1 mi warmup in 8:27. Took me a little longer to move away from 7mph than normal. 4 x [1/2 mi @ 9mph, ¼ mi @ 7.5mph], ½ mi cooldown (progressively faster) in 3:53.

Good. Not the big 3 x [3/4 @ 9, ½ @ 7.5] that I hit two weeks ago, but the variation is good, and each variation probably has its own benefits. There’s probably one that’s better than the other, like maybe after X minutes @ 9mph, you get diminishing returns, and it’d be better to do more reps vs. longer reps. Or maybe it’s the opposite and keeping it going past Y minutes @ 9mph does a lot to make you even tougher. Dunno. So maybe it’s best to shake it up in my workouts. Keeps things interesting in any case. And keeps me from getting stuck in the comparison game all the time, putting too much stock into how I feel one week to another doing the same workout.

I was so tired before the run. It was a 11.75 hr non-stop workday. I forgot to bring my 75% light cheese to lunch today, and when I realized it this morning, I started panicking. I like cheese. It was okay. I at least had Goldfish.

Anyway…. I was tired, but I found training videos at competitor.com, and they’re inspiring. You watch how pro athletes live and approach their runs, recovery, nutrition, all of that.

As I was walking back to my apt after the run, I relished in how maybe I wasn’t a pro athlete, but working at a normal job but also getting to be hard-core about your running after work is the next best thing. I can’t run all day anyway, so why not spend the 8 hrs of not running and resting my legs with work? On the downside, with work, I don’t get as much sleep as I should, which hinders recovery and the ability to absorb better training. And I don’t have time to do all of the foam rolling, massaging, drills, etc. But it’s alright. I do a bit of stretching, maybe once every 1.25 days on ave, post-workout, normally, for 20 or so min. It’s good.

Oh, and coming out of the gym still with my body hot, makes clouds of steam roll off of me as I go back home. That’s always cool.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dec 10

FIT:
Outside run! at the park.

My body kind of wanted a good workout last night, but I was tired.  I thought about doing an Xmas light run, where I'd go to the fancy neighborhood across the street and look at big houses that are hopefully decked out.  And then I'd finish off with some short, steep hill repeats on the median of the road.  But I was tired, and when I googled a potential course, it looked like there was no loop I could really do, and there was no clear route.  I didn't want to get lost at night.  I don't like running on asphalt, either.  Maybe I'll go on a walk some night this week instead.  That whole asphalt thing is why I don't do any night or super-early morning running.  Grassy, easy-on-the-legs paths have roots and holes that require sunlight to run on safely, and asphalt, I don't do.

But I did get in a run today.  I usually try to avoid running in full sunlight, so that I don't get skin cancer.  I waited until near sunset and went to the park.

7.4 in 1:00:38, 8:09 ave.  586 cal.
Splits> 6:25, 6:14, 6:12, 6:06, 6:06, 6:00, 6:03, 5:58, 5:50, 5:41.

It's fun to discover new features on existing tech that you've had for a while.  I found the mile alert switch on my Garmin, so now I know when I hit miles.  I also got to use the back-light feature on my last run.

FUEL:
Dinner was Brown Rice with home-made Peanut/Garlic/SoySauce/ChiliPepper sauce, early grey tea, 2 boca burger patties, skim milk with cocoa and instant decaf coffee, mixed greens salad w/ soy-ginger dressing, and a chunk of dark chocolate. 

Now, I'm making a tofu chocolate cake, which I'll top with peppermint oreo insides as a sub for frosting.  Oreos are wayyy too sweet and oily to me with insides, so I always just eat the outsides with maybe a tiny amount of insides, usually with milk.  So now, I can make use of the insides, since I didn't add any sugar to the cake othe than 2 bananas... yeah, it's an interesting cake.  You can add a moderate amount of sugar to a cake but not even notice, so I just save it and not bother adding.  The flavor you notice usually comes from the topping or a small burst of chocolate chip, anyway.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dec 8

FIT:
Tired pre-run today.  Was a beast today at work, going 90mph.  It was kind of like one of those games where there are different lanes where some monster (plant zombies, angry chickens, battle bears, etc) are coming at you, and you have to keep shooting at them to knock them dwn before they get to you and eat you up.  My guns were blazing.  Stayin alive.

But I was tired after work.

Took a nap after dinner (leftovers from a P.F. Chang's work-team holiday dinner... mmm...), and it was 40 min til closing time at the fitness room.  My legs were a bit sore-ish (not that they're consistently sore, it just goes through phases), and I was soo tired, but I don't want only 1 day out of the past 5 with running, and since I was already feeling my fitness decline a bit.  So I changed and dragged myself to the fitness room, thinking that I could at least manage 3 or 4 miles... just get something to keep the fire burning and to not lose it.

It was a loooong first 4 miles.  Dragged on and on.  Maybe b/c I was so tired.  Never really perked up.  Had to start really slowly b/c my legs were not used to moving fast, but it got better after a mile.  Some progression the rest of the time. 

4.8 in 39:26, 8:13 ave.  (about BQ pace... 8:12)  72 degrees in the gym.\
Splits> 8:34, 8:26, 8:17, 8:04, 6:04 for 0.8.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dec 5

FIT:
Hills!

It's good to be on my first pull-back week of the marathon build-up.  It's low-pressure, not having to worry about hitting the weekday workouts (1 speed, 1 base) plus my weekly strength session, while saving something for the longer-than-ever long run.

The schedule calls for 3 x 6 mi for this week, and I'll throw in my strength session, plus either a bike or a shorter run session.

My legs were iiiitching for a run today because they were a wee bit x-sore from the long run and wanted to be worked out a bit.  Hills seemed like a perfect fit, because they work you while still being low-impact.  It would also allow me to stay at a slow pace to keep the run relatively easy.  Normally, if I do a treadmill run, I have to keep upping the speed so that I don't keep having to hit the same muscles at the same angles over and over again (b/c there are no naturall hills, uneven ground, speed changes).   I could keep at a slow and steady pace while varying the muscle action with the hills on and hills off.

5.0 in 42:05, 8:25 ave.  435 cal, 68 degrees.
The workout: 1 mi warmp @ 1 degree @ 7mph, 3 x [0.5 mi @ 1 degree, 0.5 mi @ 5 degrees] @ 7mph, 1 mi shakeout @ 1 degree in 7:51 (progression).

FYI, 5 degrees @ 7mph = 7:19... ooh, nice!  Sounds fast, though.  The effort wasn't that hard.  The first rep was hard, but it was easier after that once your legs got used to it.  Not that it was super easy, since I didn't do any more reps than 3, but it wasn't bad.

Good run.  I was looking forward to doing a run all day.  Although after I got home and had dinner (sprouted grain tortilla w/ tomato sauce, cheese, and fresh garlic... roasted pizza!  and tortilla chips with queso and a bit of carrot), I got less and less inclined to run.  Get it?  Inclined?  Oh boy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dec 3

FIT:
Long run.  Took it easy so that I could negative split and feel good the whole way.  It worked out pretty well.

My appetite's been flaring up, maybe because it's back to low-ish sleep (6 hrs every night).

I didn't get to my LR spot until 3:50, so I'd be doing a bit in the dark towards the end.  As I was parking, I saw some floats being prepared for a Christmas parade.  I later saw a sign that the big parking lot would be blocked until 8:30pm, so I might have a chance of seeing some of it.

I brought 1 bottle of water + lemon juice + salt for the run, plus a mini-Clif bar.  I wore a singlet b/c it was cold enough.

14.9 in 2:13:37, 8:58.  I thought I had been going at 8:33 right until the last lap, so I was suprised when the ave pace field on the Garmin started reading 9:00.  I don't know what happened.  Maybe the splits will shed some light on it. 

Splits> 9:05 b, 6:12 p s, 7:28 c, 7:28 p (perfect split), 7:30 b l, 6:14 p s, 7:35 c, 7:28 p, 7:21 b l, 6:18 p s, 7:43 c, 7:36 p, 7:26 b l, 6:13 p s, 7:28 c, 7:23 p, 17:00 car.

Hmm... the Garmin says that it took me 7:28 to run 0.2 m for that last trip from p to ...it should've been 0.85 mi, so maybe I really ran 15.5 mi... I think that makes more sense.

So... 15.5 in 2:13:37, 8:37.  Yes.  I wouldn't have run 15.5 if I had known, since the Garmin only called for 14.  I'm ready for 15, but the plan knows what it's doing.  Doesn't hurt, though, because I have lots of halfs under my belt.

Anyway... on my way back to th car, I ran into the parade and had to run upstream.  It was quite an experience.  It was dark.  I had just run the past 3 miles in relative darkness.  There were some people on the sidewalks, so I had to jump a bit between the road and the sidewalk.  Forutnately, it was just for a block.

Afterwards, I packed up my drawstring bag with all of my post-run food from the car and started following the parade to a good viewing spot.  I drank a vanilla protein powder + coca + instant decaf shake, and I ate a banana.  Good thing I chose to wear a singlet.  I started watching the parade about halfway through, and I got cold in the last third of the second half.  I started walking back, and I got to the parking lot right as the final Santa float was pulling out, so I was got to see the whole rest of the parade and get a jump on traffic.

I was happy to get back to my warm car, and once I got home, I took a nice warm shower to make my muscles feel better.  Then, black bean chili and an orange and some snackage (a bit of tortilla chips con queso and peanuts).

Now, I'm watching Rocky... inspirational.

I now have 2 weeks of 29+ miles (with weeks going Sun-Sat the messed up way it is in my log).  After being right at 15mpw the whole year, it's a good thing a rest week (3 x 6 mi) is scheduled for next week.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nov 30

FIT:
Yea-ah.

I was tired and not at all in the mood to work out as the clock ticked towards 9pm.  But I wouldn't get a chance to work out tomorrow, and I did a strength session yesterday, so I had to go today to not have 3 days in a row of not running. 

I brought racing flats in case the treadmill was free for an interval session and 300+ mi shoes and a running magazine to read on the bike in case the treadamill was taken.  The bike was free, so intervals it was!  And it was good.

It tied my best treadmill interval workouts... a version I've done maybe just twice before, 3 max. 

1 mi warmup 7-7.5mph gradually, 3 x [0.75 @ 9mph (6:40 = 5K pace), 0.25 @ 7.5mph (8:00 pace)].

4.0 in 29:18, 7:20 ave.
Splits> 8:18, 3 x [5:00, 2:00].

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nov 28

FIT:
Some redemption today from the 12 turned 8.9 on Saturday.

I wanted to get in the important LR, so I dd 10.3 today.  It was on the treadmill, 1 degree.  I went very slowly at first, and that allowed me to go farther with ease.  It's incredible how big of a difference 0.1mph is.  I usually start my treadmill runs at a minimum of 7.0mph, so riding 2.5 miles a 6.8-6.9mph felt awesome, like I was barely breathing much more than if I was to walk. 

I would've maybe tried to do another mile or two, but I was hitting against the gym closing time, so I opted to do the last bit of the run a bit faster. 

Laptop battery is running low, so I'm going to speed this up...

10.3 in 1:26:34, 8:24 ave.  855 cal.  68 degrees.
Splits> 8:46, 8:42, 8:38, 8:34, 8:34, 8:30, 8:20, 8:18, 8:06, 7:49, 2:10 for 0.3. 

I think I'll go slow on my next LR, too.  It felt good.  I think if I did easy runs at that pace, I could up my training volume safely.  I don't know that I'd experiment too much with that during this marathon build-up, but maybe next year.

FUEL:
This was 1.5 hrs after a big dinner (chocolate pita chips, tortilla chips baked w/ 75% light cheese and hot sauce, mixed greens with tuna and soy ginger dressing, laughing cow light swiss cheese wedge with more tortilla chips, dark chocolate, earl grey tea) and lots of fluids, so no water was needed during the run.  Not even really thirsty.

Post-run, a bottle of water+lemonjuice+salt that I didn't need during the run, warm milk with a splash of vanilla extract, oatmeal with PB, carrot, and half a small grapefruit.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nov 26

FIT:
Today's run didn't go as planned.
I was going to do my LR.  The schedule called for 12. 
I did 4.4 with my dad biking behind me.  Then, a bathroom and water stop when I saw my sister lacing her up shoes, too.  She and I ran at about the same pace for a while (she didn't want to run with me, but we were close to each other), but I was ahead after half a mile. 

I did 4.4 more after that, and even that was hard.  I haven't stretched in the past few days while I've been at home.  I felt like tendons/ligaments were pulling on muscles and bones and whatever in wrong ways.  It may be the stretching.  It could also be some muscular imbalance.  I haven't been able to do good one-legged squats in a while.  They've all been very shallow.  I decided to stop the run early.  I could've managed another difficult lap, but my body felt like it was working hard as it is, without the strains.  But with the strains, I just wanted to call it a day. 

I think it's an okay decision in this case.  I stretched afterwards, and I'll stretch more now.  I don't want to get injured at the start of the marathon buildup (I'm on week 2/16).  Didn't hit the target for this week, but I had extra mileage done last week, so it evens out.  The LR is the most important, but I had many 13-mi races recently, so I think it's okay to not do the full LR this time. 

8.9 in 1:14:13, 8:19 ave.  734 cal.
Splits> 18:29, 18:18, 37:25 for 2 (18:42 ave)

Nov 24 - Thanksgiving

FIT:
T-day at the track!


On Thanksgiving, my sister and I went to a nearby track.  She ran on the HS XC team but wasn't as into it as I was.  But she's recently started running fairly regularly again, and I'm so excited.  Her usual 5K pace is about at my LR/easy pace, which is great, and her form looks good. 

I have found a track back in GVL, but it's about 20 minutes away.  This one is only 5 minutes from my parents' house.  I was excited to get in some track work.  It seems way more epic than treadmill intervals.  Being on the track in general excites me.  I never did track in HS because I did socer instead.  In HS, we went to the track for XC practices maybe once every 3 weeks or something.  At first, I dreaded it because I usually didn't do as well compared to a couple of the other girls.  They could fly and looked awesome - I didn't know how they did it.  I would more often beat them on the last repeat... so maybe they had more speed, and I had more endurance. 

But I grew to like the track more during college.  The track at Pton was gorgeous, and I watched some inspiring races there.  It realized how fast it could make you.  When we had timed miles for Club Ultimate, I could basically guarantee that after every BM-pyramid workout I did, I could knock down 10-15s off of my miles time, at least up to a point.  It's a place to test yourself.

I attempted a BM workout.  The last time I did it (or tried it at all) was in May.  I only ended up doing 3/4 of it, maybe more from wimping out from the lactic buildup than anything else.  But it was still a good workout.



The Beth Massey Pyramid workout (with my actual paces where available):
It was from my friend's HS or MS coach, but I named the workout after her.

800 warmup - 2:04, 2:01
4 x 100 sprint, 100 jog
3 x 200 sprint, 200 jog
2 x 400 sprint, 400 jog - ?:??, 1:37
1 x 800 sprint, 400 jog - 1:41, 1:42
2 x 400 sprint, 400 jog - 1:34, 1:36
*** I stopped here ***
3 x 200 sprint, 200 jog

4 x 100 sprint, 100 jog

Similar to the 800 warmup's 400s, my jog 400s were pretty consitently 2:03.

I've never done Yasso 800s (10x800 with 400 jogs), but it would be very interesting to try some time.  5 miles of sprinting seems like a lot.  I listened to a podcast today on MarathonTalk.com (a couple days after this workout) that interviewed Bart.  He said that Yasso works for many people of all weekly mileage levels, although it does work better for those with higher mileage.  Makes sense.  So it may not work as well for me at my 25ish mpw. 

It was a little warmer here than it has been recently, and I don't run in full sun very often.  On weekdays, I hit the treadmill normally, or squeeze something in at the park near sunset at best.  On weekends, I'll also tend to go near sunset, but even if I do something in the middle of the day, there's usually a decent amount of shade. 

It was a good workout.

Afterwards, I played around a bit with my sister, showing her stretches and exercises, letting her try some of my shoes (she needs a new pair), etc.

It's my dream to have a running store some day.  It was fun to pretend today.



And finally, T-day dinner:
(Tofurkey with stuffing and gravy, butternut & spahgetti squash, green beans, cabbage casserole, fish, bamboo, potatoes.)

A walk with my parents at Riverfront Park - Mount Pleasant the next day:



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nov 23

FIT:
Home!  (parents' home)

It was getting dark, so I just squeezed in two 2.2-mi laps around the neighborhood.  It was sort of like a recovery run.  I had the past two days off running-wise to recover from the 3.7-mi race on Saturday and the 11.5-mi run on Sunday.  (I did my weekly strength session on Monday.)  My legs were feeling heavy, so a tough or fast workout wasn't in the books.

It was a good run, though.  Like drinking a refreshing cup of water.  Quick.  I went iPod-less for most of it, just to take in the experience of being back on my home loop.  When things got harder and after I had experienced the loop once, I turned on a podcast from MarathonTalk.com

4.4 in 35:23, 7:56 ave.  360 cal.
Splits> 18:21, 17:01.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nov 20

Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuf morning.
Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuf morning.

Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuf morning.

Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuf morning.


Took a nap after church, then went for my LR.
FIT:
Last night, I peeked at the version of the Smartcoach RW schedule where I would be willing to do 26-30 mi/week.  It adds an extra weekly run (a 4th) of decent distance, and I thought that it also added to the LR distance... I was looking at another week, though, so it didn't really.

The original schedule called for 10, but I thought that the souped up schedule called for 12, so I aimed for something on the higher end of the spectrum.  Just found out that even the souped up schedule called for 10.  Oh well.  I think next week may be tough after my big jump in mileage this week.

I was only partially in the mood to run and couldn't decide where to go, but I went with Falls Park, where I haven't been in a few weeks due to all of the racing.

I had found an open pack of Gu Chomps in my fridge te day before, so I took one before the run.  I started slowly, just interested in getting in the mileage and staying safe the day after a race.  I took in half a bottle of watere + lemon juice + salt after the 2nd of 3 laps.  With 1.5 mi left (after 10 mi), I started having GI issues.  It was unconfortable.  I thought about stopping and just walking the 1.5 back to my car, but after a brief stop with another swig of water, I saw that I could still run okay and made it back.  It was tough.  I slowed down.  That last hill is always tough anyway.

11.5 in 1:39:39, 8:40/mi.  927 cal.
Splits> 8:02 b, 6:02 p short, 7:21 c, 7:14 p, 7:08 b long, 5:56 p s, 7:17 c, 7:11 p, 7:13 b l, 5:59 p s, 7:13 c, 7:11 p, 7:20 c, 8:26 car. 
 
For the next 3 hrs, my tummy hurt a lot.  Very much.  But I took OTCs, and now I'm ok.  I had eaten a super-delicious Detour low-sugar protein bar after the run to aid recovery, but it probably didn't stick around.  3 hrs later, I felt okay enough to eat.  I was hungry.  I had 2 persimmons and tofu plus some tortilla and pita chips.  But it definitely wasn't within the recommended 30min post-run window.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

RACE REPORT: GE 6K 2011

My fourth race in 6 weeks!
I signed up for this one because it was inexpensive relative to many other races of comparable distance. Some of the 5Ks can be so expensive these days! It was also going to be nice to see where my fitness was after racing 3 HMs within a month.

Morning:
Even though I got less-than-ideal sleep this week, my body only wanted 6.5 hrs last night, maybe because I had okay sleep on the important night-before-the-night before. I woke up at 4-something, so I had 2 lox tortillas (delicious) because that's what I was craving. Took a warm-up shower without washing my hair, since it was too cold to want that.

The race started at 8:30am and was held at a new course at the not-yet-opened Lake Conestee Nature Park.  It was chilly, at about 40 degrees.
The Race:
The first 3/4 mi was on pavement, looping around the baseball fields.  I went out at a good pace, and according to the split (6:44), it was fairly fast.  It felt comfortable and sustainable, though.

Next, we entered single track that had room for maybe 1.5 people across.  Passing wasn't much of an option most of the time, but there were a couple of chances here and there.  I was glad that I did my first trial race the previous weekend, because I felt confident on the trail.  It was very smooth, with roots here and there.  There were minor, short hills.  Every now and then, there were boardwalks. 
I was glad that I had gotten the start that I did, because it was so hard to pass.  I was placed well, and there was minimal passing/being passed.  The miles ticked by quickly.  I guess I was so busy concentrating on footing and the windy turns.  Maybe some of it is also the face that the past 3 races were HMs. 

There were a few spots with two-way traffic on the narrow path, but it was okay, and everyone was courteous.  There was also a water stop, but it's not necessary when the course is short and the temps are cold.

We kept chugging, then we were back on the pavement for the final stretch.  I put in a good effort and probably couldn't have given much more - that's always a good feeling.  I also edged out a guy at the very end by half a step at the finish line.  Also nice. 

Results:
3.7 in 27:51, 7:28 ave.  2nd overall female. 

Not a fast pace, compared to my 5K PR (6:44ish), so I guess it was the dirt and the hills.  I was fairly happy with the pacing.  It looks like I might've gone out too fast, by looking at the splits, but the first mile was on pavement, so one would expect the second two miles to be slow.  I did probably fade some, but I at least kept up with the people on the singletrack in front of me, and it was a comfortable pace for me.

Splits> 6:44, 8:09, 7:58, 4:58 for 0.7.

I won a doorprize... a pumpkin.  And for finishing 2nd... 3 lightbulbs.  The race was hosted by GE.  I called my sister and told her that I won a pumpkin and 3 lightbulbs.  You couldn't make up something more random!

It'll be nice park to come back to once it opens.  It's not too far, and not too hilly, and smooth - maybe I'll mix it in to my course repetoire once a month or something.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nov 17 - p

FIT:
I did get the outside run in today.  It was after a nap that I had to drag myself out of, but the sun was going to start setting soon. 

With all of the leaves on the ground, I had to be careful about my steps in the first couple of laps, since roots and holes were hard to see, but I seemed to get used to it.  I guess maybe proprioception and the neuromuscular systems/connections take a little time to warm up.

It was nippy at first but fine within a few hundred feet. 

This week is officially the start of the Runner's World Smart Coach 16-week marathon plan, targeting the March 3rd Snickers Albany Marathon).  It calls for 6 easy, 5 tempo (3 fast), and a 10 for the LR.  I did 5 progression yesterday, and today's 6 was also progression.  I never treated the called-for tempos as tempos last time I did this plan.  I'm doing a 6K race on Saturday, so maybe I will fill in the 7 the next day.  I may be a little beat up immediately after the race. 

Looking back at last year's actuals, I did occassionally shuffle miles around from one run to another, but I hit the weekly targets.  And I did just do a HM, so it should be fine.

Last year's actuals:

I'm doing the same plan this time (again, not worrying about the required paces).  I think it was fine and prepared me well enough.  I just didn't execute perfectly.  I do think I was tired by the end, so maybe I peaked too early.  We'll see how it goes.

Plan, with RW's suggested paces, with actuals so far:


6.0 in 48:20, 8:07 ave.  475 cal.
Splits> 6:27, 6:18, 6:11, 6:06, 6:00, 5:58, 5:41, 5:34

I was tired, and I think it might've affected the run. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nov 16

FIT:
It's Wednesday, and it's my first run since Saturday.  My legs were really craving a run yesterday, but the treadmill was going to be occupied up through the fitness room's closing time, and I had work to do anyway. 

Post-race body report:
My arches and ankles were kind of useless for a day or two after the trail HM, but they're okay now, at least they were before today's run. 

I wanted to go outside for the run and get in some miles on the wet park course, since it's epic-y, but I didn't get home from work until it was dark, and that'll unfortunately be the case until some time in the Spring, I guess.  Although tomorrow may be an excepion... we shall se.

My arms go a really good working during the race.  Even within the first couple of miles, they were feeling... not exactly sore, but something similar to sore. 

Today's run:
Treadmill.  For the second time in a row, I forgot to set the incline to 1.  It's because whoever uses it before me sets the incline to something really big, and by the time I set it back down to 0, I forget to reset it to 1.  So I did 4.0 at 0 degrees, followed by 1.0 at 3 degrees.  I intended to do 2.0 at 3 degrees to maybe make up for the 0 degrees, but I sort of had enough after 1 mile and stopped.  I could've done it if I pushed and regretted it a little afterwards, but it's ok.  No need to push too close to the edge at this point.

5.0 in 41:24, 8:17 ave, although the effective pace is something lower due to the 2-ish miles at net 0 degrees, if pacing equivalents are linear like that.  I don't feel like checking.  Close enough.

Splits> 8:22, 8:19, 8:15, 8:16, 8:09.  Good to run again.  My heart wants some more working.  Can't wait to work out again. 

Back to not sleeping much... it was a good two weeks, but it's back to... I don't even know what to call it...  burning off glycogen stores day after day and replenishing over the weekends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

RACE REPORT: Camp Croft Half Marathon (Trail)

Lead-up:
Training - See previous post for last week's training.
Sleep - Best ever.  6-8 hours per night.  After months and months of lots of work, I can now ease off the gas pedal a bit for a few months now.
Attitude - Maybe a little burnt out from 2 HMs in a single month (with 2 weeks of a business trip in between).  Hard to tell if it was being burnt out from running mentally or physically, or just being burnt out in general.  I was really looking forward to trying my first trail race, though.  It's a nice way to end this season (before my marathon build-up, which officially starts tomorrow, according to the schedule), because you don't expect to PR at a trail race.  It would be fun, I could try something new, and I could enjoy running out in nature like we were meant to enjoy it.  No pressure, since I already did my hard road races and this was the last long race for a while.  I've heard of many people "discovering" trail running after gong on the roads for a while.  I've always loved running on grass as much as possible on all of my training runs, to protect my knees, and running outside is always mentally refreshing, so I could see myself liking it a lot.
There are different skills you need to do well in a trail race, so I tried to glean as much as I could from last year's inaugural run's race report.  Lindsay from chasingthekenyans.com offered some good advice and encouragement (and also told me about the race to begin with).  I was also impressed by how quickly the race director Seth Novak responded with my quesitons about the course, within minutes of emailing him!  Checking the race's facebook page for updates periodically was also a nice way to stay pumped up.  I like how many races are doing that nowadays.  It keeps you motivated to hear everyone getting excited, and to hear about swag and predicted course conditions and stuff.

Race Morning:
I had a granola bar.  That's what I was in the mood for, and it was good and light.  I also had my usual cocoa+ decaf coffee.  My bathroom run went very well in the morning, so I was ready to race.  I did my warm-up shower, but without washing my hair, since it was cold, and I did't want to have to worry about drying it completely by race time and staying warm enough. 

I got there early, went through a nice packet pickup in a cabin close to the field where we parked.  We got mini clif bars and powerbar gels to fuel us, and the RoadID sponsored race bibs also looked cool.  For swag, we got a nice drawstring bag with the camp croft star logo on one side and the race course map on the other - it was nice.  There was also a short sleeve tech shirt.  I may cut the sleeves off, and it'll be a nice shirt to bike or lounge in.  It's orange, my favorite.  Oh yeah, since we were in a state park, there were real restrooms in another building close to the cabin - sweet.  I went 3x.

Even though it was in the upper thirties, it was comfortable enough in my car (without having to run it), where I studied the course map some more and got my number and shoes ready.  I had drawn a mini map on a post-it note the previous day to tape to my race number.  But the act of drawing it burned it into my memory well enough, so I didn't need to reference it.  I also wrote down the times and paces of the previous year's overall women and 20-29 women winners, to keep the goals in mind.  On the map, I marked landmarks, aid stations, and course descriptions (hills, difficulty level).


With 15 min left, I did a super-quick warmup... maybe 100m of runnng, then dynamic strething.  I went to the bathroom one more time, and then I did some quick range of motion moves and went to the start.  Oh yeah, with 1 hr to go, I had a mini-clif bar, and with 20 min to go, I had 2 choco covered expresso beans.

The race was capped at 150.  The numbers are typically like that for trail races, since singletracks can't handle that many people, and we we want to keep the trail itself healthy.  I noticed that everyone at the race looked really, really fit.  I guess it happens when you have a trail race described as a challenging course. 

(photo credit - Seth Novak's album)


(photo credit - Seth Novak's album)

The Race:
The race started off on a dirt road.  Next, it turned onto a double-track road.  It was still pretty packed, and I was just getting into it.  It was new to me to have to pay extra attention to footing and to try to find the most efficient way of cruising over uneven ground while being prepared to leap extra distance or shorten a step as needed to avoid obstacles.  It was a good mental/neuromuscular warm-up for what was to come.

The first few miles were supposed to be the toughest.  They were tough, alright.  On the map,it was windy, which suggested elevation changes that required switchbacks.  The far end of this section of the course was a radio tower, too, which suggests a net uphill.  The course soon changed into single-track.  I didn't know the convention for passing, so what I went with was waiting for a wider section and annoucing "passing", and that seemed to work well.  I passed maybe two clusters of people during this section, so it wasn't too bad. But after you pass, you feel obligated to make sure that you really are ready for a faster pace, since you don't want to be the one slowing down the line, so I put in some extra distance.  While I was doing so, one of the people I passed asked if I had gotten a late start and said I was like a squirrel because I was leaping over ditches and roots, haha.  I was just wanting to put in a decent lead and to burn off some pent-up energy.  That was the second pass, and after that, my placement was comfortable.  Over the rest of the course, there would be occassional passing and occassional getting passed, but the path would be generally wider later on. 

So... the difficult first few miles.  Up and down.  Looking back, the last section of the course was hard, too.  Maybe less up and down later on, but it definitely felt hard at the end as well, maybe because your legs were so tired by then.  So I'd say that yes, the first part of the course is hard... probably harder than the last section, but the last section is no joke, either.  You still had energy at the beginning.  The climbs were all tame enough for me to still run up them, although I was grunting with the effort even in the first few miles.  What I was most concerned about was not turning my ankle, and that was fine.  That course tested me mentally, though.  In a road race, you manage your pace.  If it's a flat course, you know what to expect and can manage your effort.  You know when it's going to get hard, which normally doesn't come until the end of the race.  With hills, even if they are steep, you just take small steps with the same, even effort.  ith the hills here, they come frequently, and you never know how long it'll last.  You also have to contantly pay attention to getting the safest and most efficient footing.  It takes as much mental effort as it does physical effort.  By the time we got to the first aid station at mile 4.75, I was zonked.  Not totally spent, but those first few miles were tough and had beaten me down. 

I stopped for 15s at the aid station to drink delicious Gatorade.  There were only 3 aid stations during the entire course, but I go without water for 7+ miles all the time, and it's even easier in the winter.  Of course, ideally, more would be better, but what they had was just fine.  I didn't want to carry any water because when you're climbing, it's importnt to be light. 

The next couple of miles were bliss.  It was beautiful, flat, super-wide road.  There were many leaves on the ground and trees on either side.  It was so flat.  And wide.  And pretty.  For the first time, you could see people ahead of you, since there weren't any turns in the road.  I really picked it up here and started cruising.  It was awesome.  Ironically, it's during the pancake section that I rolled my ankle twice - they were ok because I've rolled them so many times by now.  But it's ironic that it's the only time during the whole race that I rolled it, and that I managed all of the much more technicall, windy uphill and downhill sections safely.  God's grace - I was praying most of all that I'd stay safe during the race and not roll my ankle or fall.  Then, a really small climb, where there were people cheering... and probably someone taking a picture... at least I think it's here. 

(photo credit - Seth Novak's album)

Yup... it's me, in a shirt.  It was comfy at the start.  I figured that since it was going to be in the upper thirties to lower forties and most likely shady, that a shirt may be ok.  It did get hot in the second half, and I wished that I could've been cooler then, but it's alright.  This wasn't a PR attempt.

Right after was the radio tower at about mile 6.  Then, some downhill to the lake at mile 7.  It was pretty.  I liked that this course had lots of diverse features... radio tower, single track, double track, windy hills, pancake-flat straights, a fallen tree to climb over, and later, a stream crossing, which I'll get to later.  A fun course and a nice intro to trail running, really.

At about this time, the occassional uphills and downhills started again.  I started power-walking up the uphills.  I don't know whether these were truly steeper than the ones from the first few miles, or if I was just tired by now, but I had to walk up them.  I learned that it was easier to go up via small steps, not long, lunging steps.  I'll need to remember that next time.

We hit the second aid station at mile 8.1.  Then, a water crossing at around mile 9.5, which was different.  There was a rock you could use to get over without stepping in the water, which was nice. 

I passed my first girl in the entire race a little after that (so did the two boys behind me).  Then, there was a place where the course wasn't very clear.  There were many foot marks up this steep, muddy wall (I'd call it a slope, but it was so steep that it was more like a wall), but once I climbed up, there was no clear trail.  Another guy came, but he couldn't see the trail, either.  We went back down to look around some more.  A third guy came, and he thought it should be up the wall, too.  So we went up again, but we still didn't see a trail.  Then, the girl came and pointed out a course on the bottom that went left.  And that was it.  I was naturally a bit frustrated that I had wasted about 2 minutes being off-track, so I was ready to get rolling again.  Thank goodness that girl came by to get us back on track, otherwise, the three of us would've still been lost.  There was more climbing, and we were all still kind of neck and neck for a while.  Losing time being off-track sucks, but I guess it's part of trail running.  It's not just physically being able to run, but it's also being mentally able to focus for long periods of times and to have good visual perception to see trails and mental quickness to find the trails quickly.  Oh man, it's tough.  You make a turn, and the trail seems to disappear, and you have to quickly find it again as your feet are still moving under you. 

At the next aid station at 11.5, there was another aid station... the signal that it was time to start pushing.  I was still right on the tail of the girl in front of me, so neither of us stopped for water - just grab and go.  Chasing a position.  At some point, the girl might've gotten too tired of having to look for the trail (it's so much easier to follow) or maybe was just being nice and let me pass, so I went and tried to build and keep a lead.  Since we had already passed the aid station, it would only be another 1.5 mi at most.  Oh man, that was the longest 1.5 miles ever.  I kept wondering if the next turn would be the last.  But there was another, and another, and another.  And I kept hoping to see pink ribbons to know that I was still on the right course.  I was paranoid after the lost incident from before. 

At last, a guy was there to cheer us on (must be close!) but moreso to make sure we took the sharp left fork.  It was uphill.  I asked him how much farther, but he wouldn't say... just said that it was one last hill. So I kept going as best as I could.  I was so tired by now.  A guy passed me.  We got to the top of the hill, and it was flat after that, but it kept going.  How much farther!?!  Finally, we could see buildings and cars through the trees, and the finish line was close.  Final push, and at last, the race/ordeal was over.

Oh man, that was tough.  After crossing the line, I let myself crumble to the ground a bit just to catch my breath and rest.  I really wanted water.  I guess I finished more dehydrated than usual... fine, but thirsty.  Delicious oranges at the finish.  I was tired.  I put on more clothes and watched the other intense runners finish.  I kind of wanted someone to just hug me, since I was so drained.  Haha... I bet boys don't feel like that after races.  I don't know why.  Must've been tough.  Maybe it's some evolutionary thing... like after a girl gives birth, she wants to be hugged.  I don't know, since I haven't given birth before.  But I've heard that child-bearing is far harder than a marathon, according to even the elites.




Post-race:Afterwards, there were raffles and age group awards.  There was a really fun group of ladies that had travelled from Chapel Hill, and they were really enthusiastic anytime any one of them won something.  There was also some nice music.  I finished 5th overall and 1st in the 20-29 AG.  I might've been able to shave off 3 min if I knew the course better and didn't get lost.  Oh yeah, it was muddy in some parts with deep footprints, but I survived that okay. 


(photo credit - Seth Novak's album)

// 11.15.2011 update - FYI, the AG award was a visor with the Camp Croft logo.  That's nice b/c I was looking into getting another visor anyway, and now I have one.  The one I've had since HS, I still really love, but it's just been through a lot (including getting run over by my car).  The one I'm wearing is my racing one.  I could use another to wear to non-sweaty events. 

Results:
25/109 Overall
5/48 F
1/9 20-29F

1:55:54, 8:51 ave.
Splits> 38:16 @ 4.75 (8:03... oh man, maybe I went out too fast), 1:05:23 @ 8.1 (8:05 pace for this leg), 11:55:54 @ 13.1 (10:07 for this leg, where I got lost)... so maybe I didn't go out too fast.  Maybe I lost more time than I thought... 2 min/mi, with 5 mi... I didn't lose 10 min there.  So maybe I must've faded as well, especially as I had to powerwalk up the hills at the end.  But I'll know better next year, and maybe they'll do a little more with the course markings next year.

Even though it was hard, I had a lot of fun.  Last night, as I was falling asleep, my legs felt like I was still running uphill.  I really have an urge to run and climb on uneven terrain and leap over roots right now.  It was envigorating.  It was a great race.  Even though it's only the 2nd annual, the people who put it on were very organized and put on a fantastic event.  It's a fun and varied course.  If there's anyone out there who's run road HMs before, I'd encourage you to give trail running a try, too.  I look forward to doing this again next year!

Nov 5, 6, 8, 9

FIT:
I guess I've lost my old eagerness to post immediately after each running workout.  It probably wasn't very interesting, anyway... how little sleep I got, how I did either a progression run on the treadmill, a park run (progression), or a long run... or what part of my leg was nagging a bit.  Before, each run seemed special and worthy of a post.  Oh well.  I'm sure the excitement will come back at some point.  I had just finished my second half marathon within a month, and maybe I'm just a little tired.  Maybe not only of running.  But I'm sure it'll pass. 

Nov 5:
Recumbent Bike session.  I had run the day before, and I thought it would be good training to have a two-in-a-row, to get a different kind of stress.  Normally, I need at least 1 day of not running after a day of running to recover and feel like I'm not risking injury.  But I do think I could handle occassional back-to-back days.  I wanted to today, but my upper left shin was feeling a bit stressy again, so I biked instead, to play it safe.  I did 45 minutes and covered 11.7 mi.  I did't sweat as much as I normally do.  I had 3/4 of a bottle of water plus lemon and salt and read a magazine.   Oh yeah, I've been reading this year's special Trail edition of Runner's World to learn more about rail running from a technical perspective to pick up some tips, as well as to learn how to fully appreciate this special kind of run.  So I pushed it during the bike session and got my heart working hard, but it was also pleasureable and relaxing to read while biking.  I always enjoy my running mag reading times on the bike.  During the last 15 minutes, my right butt was going numb.  Normally, it starts kicking in after the 45 min mark, not the 30 min mark like this time.  Ideally, I'd like to do LR-length sessions on the bike, but not on this particular recumbent bike.  I don't know it's an imbalance in my body or on the bike. 

Nov 6:
Park Run.  If I couldn't do back-to-back runs, I'd at least do a Run-Bike-Run.  Went to the park, to get some outside running in on the weekend, since weekdays would always be too dark when I wasn't at work.  5.3 in 42:41, 8:03 ave.  Splits> 6:37, 6:22, 6:03, 5:55, 5:52, 5:37.  When I first started, my left upper outer shin felt like something was loose in there, but it was fine within the first quarter mile.  My legs were still snapping and popping for the second day in a row after Nov 4th's outside park run (the first in 2 months).  One nice thing was that the slight uphill pavement part of the loo felt easier than it's ever felt. I wonder if it was due to the hill workout a week ago.

Nov 8:
Strength session.  550 crunches/side, 2:30 plantk, 115/115 abdcutor/adductor leg lifts, 50 dumbellrows, 2x90 shallow single-leg quad dips, 120 half-hearted lower leg extensions, elastic band 4-way leg exercises, resistance band arm exercises, 25 single-leg pelvic thrusts, 45 pushups, 55 superman arm sweeps.  I noticed that my left foot had to lean on its outside for balance during the single-leg quad dips.  It's probaly related to my weakened arches due to the plantar fasciitis.  The PF has been better.  I still feel it in the mornings, but it's not bad, and it goes away.  It has migrated to sometimes hit on the ball of my foot rather than the heel.  Anyway, back to the quad dips, I was able to mentally force myself to balance on my entire foot, rather than just the outside, so it could be just a subconscious thing trying to protect my arch by not using it.

Nov 9:
Treadmill run.  I forgot to turn it to incline 1 at the beginning (for the first time ever), so I went at 0 degrees for 1.5 mi before switching to incline 2 for 1.5 to make up the difference.  I finished with 0.1 mi at 1 degree.  Splits> 8:17, 7:47, 7:42, 0:43 for 1.  3.1 in 24:31, 7:55.  My left achilles was bugging me a bit, so I had to be careful to try to keep it relaxed as much as possible to not rupture it or something. 

A good week of training.  Using the treadmill on Wednesday was good because I wanted my legs to stay sharp for the race on Saturday...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oct 31, Nov 4

FIT:
On Oct 30th, the day after the Spinx HM, my legs were feeling sore, especially my quads.  I had been doing a post-marathon shuffle after a HM, and I'm normally just fine afterwards... tired, but able to walk fairly normally.  I decided to do a strength session, to work out stiffness.  In hindsight, maybe a day of rest would've been better, but it wasn't bad.  550 crunches/side, 2:45 plank, 90/95 adductor/abdctor leg lifs, 25 tricep dips, 100 lower leg extensions, resistance band for arms, resitance band for legs, 1:00 sie planks, 50 arm sweeps in superman position, 150 weighted dead bug crunches

The next day, I was excited to prep for the Camp Croft HM, which would take place in another two weeks.  I decided to do some hills, which had the added benefit of being low impact compared to the usual 1 degree treadmill run.  It would also help me be a better overall runner.  I was originally going to just go to bed early and have a rest day, but I ended up being too alert to sleep (at 8pm), so I decided to do that workout instead. 

The workout: 0.25 mi @ 7mph, 0.75 mi @ 8mph to warm up quickly (my mom was taking video, so I wanted to get sweaty and into workout mode quickly... I normally wouldn't hit 8 until the very end of my run), 2 x [0.5 @ 5 degree, 0.5 @ 1 degree] at 7.5mph, 1 mile progression run to finish off and give my legs a break from the hills.  It's a baby hill workout, but I gotta start somewhere.  I guess it all depends on how fast you're going...

Let's break out http://www.hillrunner.com/training/tmillchart.php
at 1 degree, 7.5mph = 8:00/mi, and at 5 degrees, 7.5mph = 6:54/mi, so it was a decent workout after all. 

The next day, Nov 1, my legs felt a bit banged up, maybe with the HM, Strength the day after, and Hills the day after that. 

The next two days, I wanted to work out, but I was too sleepy.  On the bright side, sleepiness = forced rest, which will help prevent overtraining, which is good because I'm very eager to get better.  Also, it's been a fantastic week for me sleep-wise, with about 7 hr per night!!!  Hopefully, I've been able to absorb the training from the HM and hills.

I really wanted to run, though.  Earlier yesterday evening, I was itching for a long run, but by the time I had my usual big dinner, I got sleepy sleepy.  I dreamed about being able to run, though.  You know you want to run when you dream about it.

Today, finally got in the run after 3 days of rest.  I really wanted to go to the park.  I haven't been there in 7 weeks!  It's normally my staple outside place to run on weekdays.  It's dark by the time I get off work and finish dinner, though, so I don't think I'll be able to go out there again on weekdays for a while.  Treadmill saves gas, but I will miss the variation in surface and the use of my stabilizer muscles.  I'll really crave my weekend runs outside, though, so maybe that'll help me want to go extra long on long runs. 

So today's workout...
I just wanted to get in some miles, knowing that I'd go again this weekend, maybe tomorrow, maybe Sunday.  I always tackle the park runs in the same way - progression. Nothing fancy.  Start, and I'll naturally go faster as I go along. 

~0.75 mi Lap Splits> 6:31, 6:25, 6:16, 6:11, 6:06, 6:07, 5:58, 5:54, 5:39.

6.7 in 55:13, 8:15 ave, 546 cal.  Nice pace given the terrain.  The cool temps certainly helped.

Looking forward to HP7_II coming out on 11.11.11!!!  If Walmart opens before I leave for work, I may have to get it then, even if I can't watch it yet.  It'll be a nice way to chill before the Camp Croft HM (thanks for the race suggestion, Lindsay from chasingthekenyans.com!)  By the way - how should I pace the run?  They don't provide an elevation map, so I don't know when the slower miles are supposed to be and when I can feel okay about pushing it a bit without burning out too early.  Judging from your time last year, since I'm a bit slower, I can expect an overall pace of ~10:00/mi, but I don't know when I should be going faster vs. slower.  Thanks in advance for the advice!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

RACE REPORT: Spinx (Runtown USA) Half Marathon 2011

Lead-up week:
I mostly followed my usual race week training patern.
Sunday: Intervals, to try to sharpen and peak at the right time. 
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Strength - Monday would've been better, to give more recovery time
Wednesday: 5.0 in 38:50, 7:46 ave.  I haven't done a 5er training run that fast in a while, so I wonder if I over-spent myself.  It didn't feel difficult, so I thought it would be okay, but 3 days before a race, I maybe should've taken the pace a bit easier.
Thursday and Friday: Rest

I stretched almost every workday this week.  Towards the middle of the week, my body felt inflamed/used... like it was busy breaking down and rebuilding from the strength session.  It had been 2 weeks since my last srength session due to the Mexico trip, so maybe it had more adpting to do than normal.  And who knows how going back to normal altitude after 2 weeks at 1.65 mi does to you.  I would've thought that your body would be stronger than ever back down, with higher RBC counts, but I think that it's possible that your body freaks out a little at the changes. 

Sleep this week wasn't ideal, either.  4, 4, 7, 4, 6, 3+4.  The 3+4 is because I tried to sleep at 8pm the night before the race, but I woke up a little while later, cleaned my apartment a bit, ate a bit, then went back to sleep.

Friday fuel... maybe more fibery than it should've been.  Soymilk, bit of broccoli, butternut squash for breakfast, hoping that the broccoli would have plenty of time to digest.  Apple, sprouted grain tortilla with PB, tofu chocolate moussse for lunch.  Tofu chocolate mousse, more butternut squash for dinner.  Granola bar late night.  Other stuff, too, that I probably forgot.  Lots of decaf and tea.  Not bad... no real issues the next day, but next time, a bit less fiber, just so that I can feel completely all set to go the morning of the race.

Race Morning:
The usua hot shower to warm up, although my body was already warm since it had been active 4 hours before that.  Had a bit of oatmeal for breakfast - not really hungry, since I had eaten a fair amount late night.  I decided to wake up 1.5 hrs before the time I wanted to leave the apt, rather than the usual 1 hr, so I ended up watching local news for 0.5 hrs... eh... 1 hr is best.

It was cold, "feels like" 36 degrees at the start, so I brought plenty of warm clothes, which was a move I really appreciated, especially post-race when my body temps dropped.   I parked and got on the Trolley.  I LOVE the excitement of seeing everyone on race morning with all of their gear and the knowledge that we were all prepared to do something great that day... warriors ready for battle, ready for glory.


I walked around the pre-race area a bit, went to the bathroom.  I might've walked around  a little more than I should've.  It didn't hurt to stay warm, I guess, but I was wearing plenty at that time, so warmth wasn't an issue.  I got there at 7am, and I watched the marathoners set off at 7:30am.



After that, I had maybe 20 minutes to strip off my extra clothes, drink a cup of coffee (for warmth and for the caffeine boost... I only drink coffee before long races... never normally), go to the start.  I was originally going to wear a singlet, but the air temp would be 41+, which is plenty fine for a sports bra, which I prefer even in sub-freezing temps on training runs, when my body isn't producing as much heat as it does on race day.  So I re-pinned my number there... lots to do, and I felt rushed.  Took off all my warm-up gear, ran a few steps and did a bit of dynamic stretching, downed the coffee, checked in my bag, went to the start.  There was plenty of room at the front of the start, thankfully (wouldn't be able to tarry that much at a big race).  Saw an old summer camp friend from HS years AA at the start, which was really nice.  She's super speedy, and despite not really training for it, ended up winning 1st in our age group and ran a 1:29 or something.
And we were off...

The Race:
I was fine with gloves and a sports bra (and my calf sleeves) temp-wise, although it was right at about when we started to run that my legs got cold and lost a bit of feeling.  So I could move them, but I was more moving my feet from my hips.  It was similar at my first half in Philly in 2008, where it was sub-freezing during the race (water stations were treacherous) and it took me a couple miles before I could feel my feet.  Here, it just took me maybe 0.6 mi. My legs probably went too fast... mix the numbness with the race excitement with the downhill.  One of my legs threatened to cramp up a couple of times (from the numbness?), and I thought "oh no, you don't", and it was fine, but man... never had that happen before.

Splits> 6:39, 7:22, 7:12, 7:03, 14:42 for 2 (7:21 ave), 7:25, 7:31, 7:46, 7:42, 7:35, 7:52 for 1.1. 

The race is downhill for the first half and hilly+uphill for the second half, so positive splits are somewhat expected if you're doing even effort.  But I probably still went too fast at the start.  It felt good the first mile.  I guess until I get the first split, it's hard for me to judge how hard I'm going at the start.  Eh well.

During mile 3, we could go on pavement or spongy rubber trail, and I normally prefer pavement during races to not lose energy return and to go faster, but I got boxed in a bit.  It was better for tangents, and perhaps saved my legs a bit, so I dunno.

During mile 4, I talked a bit to a guy who was aiming for around the same time, and I think he was looking to run together, but it didn't really work out, since I had gone out too fast, and my body needed to slow down. 

Mile 5 - some hills as part of the revised course that was supposed to remove another hill.  I don't know...

A colleage/ running friend from work who beats me at almost every race ended up being with me for the middle 10ish miles of the race, which was nice. 

There were water stops at the 3.1, 4.2, 6.2, 7.8, 9.5, 10.5, and 11.3.  I knew from last year that this would be plenty, especially since it was so cold outside.  One swallow per station was plenty, maybe even too much.  I took 1/2 a Powerbar Gel (double latte flavor) at the 6 and 10 or so.

Mile 7 is supposed to be the big hill.  It's part of my weekly long run course, so I know that part very well.  I didn't realize it was so uphill, and my up and downhill splits are always almost exactly even.  So I think it's really the part right at the end of and right after my turn-around point that it gets really tough.  On the course elevation map, it looked like that was the only real hill, and that once you got over that part, it was more or less even, but the remainder of the course has like 4 hills.

After 8, you're just ticking dow the miles.  I got passed by several for the rest of the course, and I caught a couple of people.  More passed than catching. 

In the last few miles in the race, you're just pushing yourself mentally.  It's a different feeling altogether.  You're going, you know you've got this.  Just keep pushing.  Last year, I hit a bit of a wall in the last 0.8 mi, and the last bit was tough.  This year, I was more or less doing ok right up to the end, not that it was easy, but I wasn't in great pain.

And the finish... there was a girl maybe 15 ahead of me, who had passed me at maybe mile 10 or 11.  Didn't have a reasonable shot at catching her at that point, but I did do as much of a sprint as I could at the end.

The chip time was not very accurate last year for some reason, and I think they had me at 1:35:15 when my watch time was 1:36-something.  I finished with a watch time of 1:36:30 this year, so who knows whether I set a course PR.  The official race results haven't come out yet.

// Results came out 10 minutes ago:
Chip time: 1:36:32
Gun time: 1:36:32... so it thinks I crossed the start line immediately, which I didn't.  I was close enough that it read my chip, but I think there was probably a 7s delay or so. 
Overall: 57/1266 (4.5%)
Women: 11/682 (1.5%)
20-24F: 3/63 (5%)
Post-Race:
I love the post-race food provided at this event by the Spinx gas stations.  It's healthy!  Whole wheat turkey sandwhiches and many kinds of fruit were my favorites.  They also had yogurt parfaits.  I wasn't super hungry, but I craved the turkey most of all.


I knew that AA had beaten me.   I saw her go out fast at the start, and her red shorts soon disappeared from my sight, even within the first mile.  So I wasn't going to do better than 2nd in the AG.  I didn't know if I'd place.  I ended up with 3rd in the AG, and Jeff Galloway came to give out the awards, which was cool.



Watching the marathoners finish is always incredible.  It's insane that they just pushed themselves through 26.2 miles.  Those guys are superheroes. 

After the race, I had to resort to doing a post-marathon shuffle.  I don't know why my legs were so used up.  They're usually fine after HMs.  Oh well, it was a fun race with a good effort. 

Reflections:
I seem to have plateaued.

Here is my history of HMs:
Nov 2008 - Philadelphia Half Marathon, 2:00:19, with almost no running in the 6 weeks before due to a sprained ankle.  No sleep and a good bit of walking the night before.  Longest run in my life up to that point - 11 miles.
Apr 2010 - Country Music Half Marathon, 1:46:09, finally with about 16 weeks of decent running after a 6-mo layoff from a hip injury.  Very happy with a PR.
Oct 2010 - Spinx Half Marathon, 1:36:01, we'll say.  I had no idea where 1:36 came from and was sooooo excited.  I had gone out too fast and kind of held it somehow.  In the early weeks of marathon training.
Apr 2011 - Greer Earth Run, 1:36:00.  Curious to see how much completing my first marathon had helped me improve.  Good to see that Spinx wasn't a fluke.
Oct 2011 - iRecycle Half Marathon, 1:38:53.  Not able to really do long runs all year since the marathon.  Finally able to do a couple, planned to do another this weekend, so signed up for this race for fun but couldn't help trying to be competetive.  A hilly course, and I hadn't trained much, so the time was good.
Oct 2011 - This one, 1:36:30. 

So I had bit PRs at the start, but now I've had 4 races within a year at what I'd say are exactly the same speed. 

How I can improve:
- More mileage overall
- More quality/variations of workouts? 
I do 1 intervals session every 1.5ish weeks.  I do 1 LR a week.  I do progressiony runs the rest of the time.  Not bad variation.  I don't do tempo, really, because I feel like it's about the same as race-effort, and I don't want to race my training runs and waste it there, or get injured.  I could do more hills.  I could try other types of training that are similar to the ones I'm doing now, like farleks instead of normal speed, part tempo/part LR, etc.
- Better sleep

I do pretty well on:
- Strength
- Nutrition
- Stretching

So... I can try more mileage and other workouts.  It's tough b/c you have to be careful not to overdo it, or to ramp up too quickly.  So we'll see.  But I want to do better.

Any other suggestions?