Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sep 23-Sep 29: Tender Legs, then TRAIL RUN!

Sep 23, Sunday:
The day after the TROAD, I had to make up some miles, since I had subbed a bike in for a run earlier in the week.  I didn't make up for them all... about 3 short, but that's ok.  The bike session's good.  Did 9.6 in the park in 1:28:02, 9:07 ave.  Finished my 3/4 scoop of Sustained Energy+ water blend within the first 4 miles b/c needed the fuel.  The 1 bottle of water was plenty on the hydration front, though, since it was 57 degrees.  I don't normally see runners at the park... it's a softball park that ocassionally has football or soccer players.  There were 2 young XC runners doing laps in the opposite direction as me... 1 in middle school and 1 in high school, I think.  The MS boy was faster than me, judging from the fact that we'd always meet up a little bit earlier in the lap every time, and the girl was a bit slower.  It's inspirational to see other runners out there, getting it done.

Sep 24, Monday:
Felt kinda banged up after 2 days of fairly hard running, so I really needed the 60 min strength session to re-set my muscle balances... it always does a good job of working out tightness and imbalances.

The next day, though, my lower leg ligaments were tender, so even the strength session didn't fix whatever either the 5 mile race or the park run had done.  I didn't do anything that differently during those two runs, so I don't know what it was.

Sep 26, Wednesday:
Treadmill time.  Tired at work today, so it was tough to force myself to go out to the gym.  Run went by very slowly for the first 2 miles, then it got better.  Modern Family!  Had to use the bathroom really bad during the last mile... another kind of endurance.  7 in 57:33, 8:13 ave.

Sep 27, Thursday:
Treamill again.  Super tired again - 12 hr day.  Tough to get out again.  First mile went by slowly again, but then The Office started, and just the theme song caused a release of endorphins... that show makes me happy.

Heard about plans to go hiking with friends from church on Saturday.  Had to get in 16 miles by the end of the week.  Too tired on Friday to get in the 4 miler.  Considered waking up at 4am on Saturday to do the run before the hiking trip, but too tired, so I figured I'd do it on Sunday or something.

Sep 29: Saturday:
Woke up at 5:30.  I was soo looking forward to the hike.  A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling a bit weary - work has been non-stop.  I suddenly realized, as I was driving and happened to focus for a moment on the trees on the side of the highway, that I missed seeing trees and being in nature.  I packed my usual workweek lunch (mixed greens, tortilla chips and 75% light cheddar, raspberries, banana, protein powder+decaf+coca+cinnamon, peanuts) and packed gear.  There was like a 30% chance of rain forecasted, so I packed a rainjacket.  I was surprised that the hiking trip was still planned despite the weather.  After I took a shower, I watched this:

That is SO AMAZING.  Hearing him breathe, seeing the incredible vistas... how could someone watch that and not want to go trail running, right then?

Then, 7 minutes before I would head out to our meeting point, I got a text - cancelled.  I had kind of already made up my mind that I was going to go no matter what though.  I had considered driving on my own so that after the group hike, I could get in a run. 

Drove to Pisgah National Forest.  I was sooooo happy on the drive over.  It was cloudy (= good running weather), and I had an adventure ahead of me.  There's also just something about mountains that just tugs at my heart.

Went to the Ranger Station to look at a map and plot out a course.  Found a ___ loop that strung together a number of trail sections.  It was complex, so I copied the map... took a while. 

Drove out to the trailhead, then fueled up.  I tend to eat every few hours, and with the drive and the prep time, I needed fuel.  Had the protein shake and the salad, with a few Goldfish and peanuts.  I packed a GU and I brought my Nathan Quickdraw hand-held, which I'd be trying for the first time.  Didn't really want a big backpack with a heavy Nalgene bouncing around for miles and miles on uneven trail.  I drank before leaving, and since the trail was just 11.3 mi, I figured I should be ok with just the hand-held.

Started off... trails tend to start off with little elevation gain, then it picks up quickly.  There were some fun stream-crossings, although the logs were narrow and wobbly.  There was always a hand-rail, though.  I stuck the map in my hand-held's pocket.  I also had a compass+whistle around my neck, in case of emergency.  No cell signal, anyway, so I didnt' bring that.  Brought my camera for pics.

I could kind of tell how tough the trail would be based on whether it was designated as "hiker only" or "hiker and biker allowed".  I personally don't see how bikers could go on some of those trails in any case.  They were all marked as medium.  I tended to have to power-hike the steep parts, and stretch it out (such a free feeling after trudging uphill slowly) on the flats.  There weren't very many flats. 

After the first mile, settling in, I started to turn on my iPod shuffle, but immediately, I shut it off because it ruined a beautiful thing.  I almost always listen to podcasts, but I had no desire to here.

Here's the first vista I hit, at about 30% of the way into the run.

(Colors are only starting to pop up with select trees.)

Continued along.  Started encountering some light downhills, too.  On the way up, I actually saw one couple, and one guy... alll three of them also seemed to be trail running, and all just had a single hand-held.  I wasn't the only oddball!  There was a dog, too.  The dogs always impress me.  They climb and descend some steep stuff, and they're little and low-to-the ground!

Here's the half-way point, where I turned around on a somewhat parallel trail back.  Someone had very gingerly constructed carins!

(I picked up a hiking stick about 40% of the way through.  I got a hiking stick medallion from Valley Forge, and I bought Pisgah and AT ones today.  It may be a nice display piece/collection holder.)

On the way back, much more downhill.  Sometimes very steep.  Trails tend to be like that, since the cars will go part of the way up the mountain, and you continue to hike up.  You still tend to go faster on the downhills, though, even if it is rough on the legs.  I got to practice hill running techniques today... I found power-walking uphills (sometimes, small steps helps) most efficient, and small steps low-to-the-ground tended to work well for me on the downhills, to prevent excessive uncontorllable momentum from building up.  I was careful about steep parts, though, and I'd essentially be stepping down step-by-step slowly.

About 65% of the way through, a wasp or a bee flew onto my hair, a little behind my left temple.  I hoped it would fly away, and I tried speeding up to get the wind to blow him off.   Leave... leave... leave... then, I started feeling it.... no, no, no, don't do it, don't do it.... but it had made up its mind.  It stung.  and kept stinging.  and yet it stayed in my hair.  I think it had gotten caught.  I kept running, but it stayed. 

I got stung by a bee on a run once before... on my tongue, 1 mile into a 6-7 mile run.  After stopping by a gas station that happened to be right there and getting help from gas station attendants in tweezing out the stinger, I continued.  My tongue was numb, and a bump developed, but it was bearable.  No pain, only numbness.

This time, it kept stinging.  It kind of felt like the bee or wasp was still in my hair... it had stopped buzzing, with the buzzy dying down in three long buzzes.  I figured (and was hoping) that it was dying... I think sometimes when a bee stings someone it dies.  I still felt something, and it kept stinging, as if I was getting stung constantly... maybe the stinger or the entire bee/wasp was still stuck in my head.  I finally decided to stop and to try to get it out.  Didn't want to continue on with a bee/wasp stuck into my scalp.  I finally figured out that it would be wise to let loose my hair, which had been in a pony-tail.  Waved my hair around.  Didn't see any bee/wasp fall out.  Used my front-facing-dual-screen camera to try to see if I could see a bee/wasp still in there.  I tried taking some pics, too, since the display screen on the back is larger than the front-facing screen.  And now you get to see what it looked like...

It wasn't easy... trying to take pictures of the right spot with one hand, pulling back portions of my hair with another, and grimacing because of the sting, 4 miles from my car.  I tried using the hiking stick to push out any bee/wasp that might be in there... didn't see anything fall off.  Oh well... tied my hair back up and continued along.  Just bear it.  It would throb a bit, and the stinger might still be in there... at least it felt like it as the sting would re-sting along with the throbs every so often.

I found myself getting into a rhythm... stick in one hand, bottle in the other.  Balanced... going on in auto-pilot... I would have to remind myself to try to put in surges every now and then to challenge myself more than I naturally would on the uphills sometimes.  And it does require a lot more concentration going down the steep downhills.  Your feet have to react very quickly to the slightest uneven-ness, to counter-balance whatever you need to to not roll ankles. 

I did come across people and cars at sections of the trail that met roads during the run back, but the sting was fine, so I just kept on.  Got hungry towards the end, but the trailhead was close.  Could've eaten the gel if I wanted to, but I preferred to wait for tortilla chips and cheese and raspberries.  MMMM.  My water situation was still fine, in any case.

Had to do a good bit more uphill, then downhill.  Finally, happy to see the trail's end.

If you want to try it, too:

After eating (so good) and changing shirts, I drove a mile up to a waterfall (Looking Glass Falls) and just took in the beauty for a while.

What a pleasant day, huh?  And not a drop of rain.
But the adventure wasn't over yet.

It was National Park Day or something, so a couple of attractions that typically cost money were free.  I decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity and drove an extra 6 mi to go to the Cradle of Forestry.  It's like a museum + trails that teach you about forestry.   It had some pleasant surprises, like a tunnel that you can crawl into to see what animals underground look like, a forest fire-fighting helicopter simulator, and trails with some activities/attractions along the way.  It's geared towards kids, but I'm very much kid on the inside.

They close at 5, and I got there at 4, so I nearly ran my way in flip-flops through the Adventure Trail.  Got back with minutes to spare.  On my way home, I was hungry, so I stopped by Zaxby's.  I had never been before.  I had been craving Subway (specifically, pickles... my post-run treat), but I came across Zaxby's and had a gift card that would start expiring soon. 

Fried Chicken Fingers and Fried Mushrooms... gotta say, I think I'm more of a Subway person than a Zaxby's person, but the chicken hit the spot and was a rare treat after a day of adventure.  11.3 in 2:32:28, 13:30 ave (excluding stops for pics, bees, map checks)


Signed up for the race because it was one that I didn't do before (and it was the first year that they offered an 8K in addition to the innaurugal year's 5K), because I had a pull-back week scheduled (4x6 mi over the course of the week), and I was curious to see where my fitness was.  In the lead-up week, I planned to take the usual 2 days b/f the race completely off.

Tuesday, Sep 18:
6.1 in 53:05, 8:42 ave, at the park.  Legs were still kinda recovering from the 20er from 2 days ago, so I took it easy.

Wednesday, Sep 19:
Legs still recovering today, so I biked instead of running.  50 min.  Took it easy again.  My hunger levels increased this week, maybe because the 20er kicked up my metabolism.

Thursday and Friday, off.  Even though I only biked Wednesday, my legs were still feeling like they had run on Wedesnday.

Saturday morning...

Woke at 5:15, took my warmup shower, had dry Cheerios and a banana.  Normally, I like a good combo of carbs, protein, calcium, and healthy fat.  But oddly, on race day, I'm always feeling more like carbs.  That's a good thing - it knows what works.

I drove out early so that I could get a good t-shirt size... 2nd one there.  Nice porta-potties with the portable-sinks, too.  Sat in my car, studying the map, which I drew out on a piece of paper.  Didn't record elevation, although a note during packet pickup warned that there was a big hill, with hills in the back half, too.  "Don't Croak!" it warned.  Also assembled my number, iPod shuffle, socks, etc.  Had 1 chocolate-covered expresso bean 1 hr before the race start... studies show that 1 hr is optimal.

Ran into a couple of friends while warming up. 

There were bagpipes at the start - cool.  We started off.  I think I paced pretty well, although in the mile, I might've slowed.  It's hard to tell, because of the hills.  The course went down a main road, turned into some residential areas, went through a cemetary, went around office buildilngs, finished with like a mile of moderate uphill on a medium-sized but deserted road, then a sharp downhill.  It even went by one of the offices of my company! 

I passed 2 girls at about the halfway point, and I was mostly alone after that.  In the last mile and a half, the volunteers along the course and a couple of cyclists told me that I was second and cheered me on - that was nice of them.  At the very end, in the last 0.3 mi, we intersected with the 5Kers, who had started at the same time as us.  A guy from that group gave me a good run at the end for the finishing kick, and he outkicked me.  It was exhilirating because of the steepness of the downhill.  It was a "screaming downhill finish", just like the pre-race notes promised.  I finished in 35:03, 7:01 ave.  If it really was 8K, that's a good time for me - near my potential (which would've been about 6:53 pace), given the warmth (67 degrees + some sun) and the hills.

The race website (which is one of the best I've seen for a 5K... videos and lots of info available) showed a pic of and described last year's prize... a giant concrete toad.  They were back this year!

They also had a fun game involving a rando guy named "Jack".  It's called "You don't know Jack".  If your 5K split (for either 8Kers or 5Kers) is faster than Jack's, your name gets put in a lottery for a prize.  That's cool.

I get squirmy and jump and run away at the first sight of snakes, frogs, and the like.  The TROADS were laid out prior to the race, so I knew what I had a shot of winning... kinda wanted to win, to get my very own TROAD, and kind of didn't want to win, so that I didn't have to get a TROAD, haha.

My friend's boyfriend had an awesome time, finishing in 31ish, I think.  He got 1st AG.

The TROAD was 30 lbs.  It was funny to see the winners get their TROADS plopped into their arms.

There were a few winner's pics taken after the ceremony (and the great raffles sponsored by Fleet Feet).

I realized when people were getting TROADS that it was just like Harry Potter 3, during the choir performance!  I soooo hoped that we would be able to do that too.  The 5K pics were taken first, and they decided to put theirs on the ground.  #WASTEDOPPORTUNITY.

By the time they got around to the 8K pics, only 2 of us were left... so it was also somewhat of a choir fail.

It was a fun day.  I don't know what I'm going to do with the TROAD. 

On the way home, I put the TROAD on the floor of the passenger side of my car.  I stopped by a shop afterwards, and when I came back to put the merchandise in the car, I audibly gasped in fear when I saw the TROAD.  It was funny.  When I was little, one time, I think I saw a bullfrog that was probably 75% (at least in my mind) of the size of the TROAD.  The first day the TROAD was in my apartment, it scared me a few times.  I think I'll see if I can give it to my dad.  Or, I'll hide it somewhere for my dad to find next time I visit my parents.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sep 9-16 : First 20+ for Philly - p

Sunday, Sep 9:
The day after Saturday's LR, my leg felt surprisingly good.  I attribute that to good sleep (well, 6 hours at night + a 2 hr nap) and lots and lots of produce and some quality grains.  My inner upper top quads were a bit sore, but that was the only evidence of the previous day's run.  It felt great walking around, so I decided to try an easy run on the treadmill at night.  I considered going all out with a 7.7 miler to reach marathon distance over 2 days (18.5 yesterday + potentially 7.7), but that would've been over-reaching, so I settled with 5.5, which brought me to 35.1 miles for the week, which is something I've done maybe only once or twice before.  (For reference, during non-marathon training seasons, I have trouble getting 15 miles per week done.  During marathon training season, I tend to do about 25-30 per week.)

I hoped it wasn't dumb to push as much as I did, but I felt good.  5.5 in 44:32, 8:06 ave... went pretty quick, even.  Splits> 8:35, 8:16, 8:01, 7:59, 7:53, 3:46 for 0.5.

Monday, Sep 10:
My bones had felt a bit pounded during the da, but after doing some stretching and foam rolling in the evenng, they felt fresh again!  Only a 3 miler was scheduled, and I didn't want to do a speed session, for sure, because that added stress would've been risky after the past two days' runs.  I felt like putting on the Newtons and doing hills again.  For some reason, my legs kind of like the idea of that combo... works the calves in a delicious way or something.  It ended up being a challenging session.  1 mile warmup at 1 degree in 8:25, then 3x[ 1/2 mi @ 5 degrees, 0.3 mi @ 7 degrees, 0.2 mi @ 1 degree] @ 7.2mph = 8:18 pace.  There's a 0.3ish mile stretch of 7 degree incline (and an accompanying decline later on) during the Philadelphia marathon, so I want to get my body used ot it a bit.  I didn't think I'd make it through the last rep at 7 degrees and figured that I'd stop after the 5 degree section, but once it was time, I pushed on and made it!  4.0 in 33:29, 8:22 ave.

Wednesday, Sep 12:
This was an odd run.  I was rushing, like I usually do in the evenings, so make it to the gym after dinner and sometimes a nap.  I quickly looked at the training schedule and saw 6 mi, with 4 at 7:07 pace.  Went to the gym, where there was a group was holding a get-together in the table section of the gym.  I considered not going, to not disturb their party, but I figured that they could've had the party in someone's apartment (this space is smaller than a 1 BR apartment's living/dining area anyway), and they chose to have it in the fitness/laundry building, and I gotta get this done, so I went with it.  The room smelled heavily of ethnic food, so I ended up cutting the run shorter than I would've normally done it.  Anyway, I started doing the run, and I was wondering if I had read the plan wrong... was it really 4 at 7:07, or was it 4x 7:07, with 800 jogs after each mile rep?  4 at 7:07 is probably near my race pace for a 4 miler.  I kept wondering, and I figured that I'd find out soon enough, as I attempted it.  I went through 3.5 before calling it.  I stopped without a cooldown, to get out of there and the awkwardness of crashing the party and the food smells and my desire to see what the real workout was. 

I actually have 2 sheets where I have plans and my actuals listed.  1 plan was from Runner's World Smart Coach last year (where I ignored the required paces and only worried about hitting total mileage), and 1 was from this year.  For some reason, this year's includes an extra run and has slower paces across the board.  I don't know whether I chnaged a setting, or if they updated their formulas.  6 with 4 @ 7:07 was correct... but for the old plan.  The new plan that I've been going on, with the extra run, which I hadn't checked (b/c I thought it was the same pace-wise), was 6 with 4 @ 7:37... big difference!  I guess going 4.5 with 3.5 @ 7:07 is somewhere in between the two, so good enough.  4 @ 7:07 would'v been a bit crazy.  4.5 in 32:59, 7:20 ave.

Thursday, Sep 13:
Another interesting run.  It was midnight by the time I woke up from my post-work/dinner nap and did some chores.  I had woken up stiff and tired in the legs, but the chores loosened them up, so I wanted to get some blood pumping.  At that time, there was no choice but an outside run.  A 6 miler was scheduled.  I thought I'd go on my fartlek route, but going at a slow pace.  I could use the opportunity to get my legs used to running on pavement in my race-day shoes (Saucony Kinvaras), since I usually stick to grass and soft surfaces as much as possible.  I decided to run all the way to the park where I normally do my grassy loop weekday runs (when there's enough sunlight time), which meant having a 7.1 mile run.  It was worth it, though.  It felt so odd to be running where I normally drive, and it felt odd to be there at night, without my car.  I typically do looped courses, wherever I run... at least here in the city where I live now.  So I normally don't have to worry about being stuck somewhere without a way to get home.  Not so at Princeton, where I'd go as far as 8 miles one way and come back the same way.  I'd bring a phone in case something happened, so that I could get someone to pick me up.  3.5 miles isn't too far, but it's just something I haven't felt in a while, especially at midnight. 

I really noticed the car fumes today... don't know why.  Even though there weren't too many cars (and less than normal on my other midnight runs on the same road), it was worse today, and it always made me feel like choking a bit.  Yuck.  7.1 in 1:03:57, 8:59 ave... a very slow run, although it was a progressive run.  Splits> 10:00, 9:19, 9:11, 9:24, 9:33, 8:17, 7:40, 0:38 for 0.1.  There were hills, so the splits don't exactly match the effort.

Saturday, Sep 15:
60 min strength session.
I had planned to do the long run this morning, but I was probably still recoverng a bit from the midnight run on pavement, and I was tired from the week, so I ended up sleeping a lot.  Wasn't motivated to do much else.  Saturday night church, and restocking on groceries.

Sunday, Sep 16:
Slept 4 hours.  Had enough extra from the previous day, but I was still tired.  Woke at 5am so that I could drink up and let my legs wake up.  I hoped to get out at around sunrise to hit the coolest parts of the day.  It was supposed to be mostly cloudy all morning anyway, which was good.  I did consider delaying the run until later in the morning or until the evening because I was tired and just wanted to crawl back into bed.  I managed to convince myself to get out, though.  Morning runs are easier to time than evening runs, where, if you go too late, you will be running in the dark, which is tough for footing.  It's hotter in the evening, too.

I filled a soft flask with Hammer brand Sustained Energy that I had opened probably a year ago.  It also expired 8 months ago, but I'm happy to report, no issues.  It was good, too.  It's normally used as a drink mix (with 7:1 carbs:protein), but I prefer to concoct a concentrated gel-form so that I can get the quick hit of energy without having to lug around water.  The extra pounds of water weight feels like a big burden to my legs and form, so when I bring water, I put it somewhere on the course and just pick it up for a little bit while I drink, then I stash it somewhere else along the course until I pick it up again later.  That's another reason why the looped course works out well, despite the monotony factor.  I also brought two vanilla Gus (non-caf... don't want to become reliant on it during trainng runs... save the effect for race day). 

I started with a standard lap on my looped course.  Because it was still early and cloudy, I decided to go over to another section of the trail, which was also foamy.  It requires doing a section on concrete first, which is why I don't normally go there.  The foam there is actually very cushiony compared ot the foamy section I normally do.  It's the same distance of foam... 0.9 mi, but it's all flat.  I ended up doing 3 laps of that part, bringing my total up to about 10 miles, before I headed back to my usual course.  Up until then, I didn't have any water, but the Sustained Energy concoction (like 2 oz of water + about 150 cal of Sustained Energy powder) was sufficient. 

I had 2 bottles of plainwater and a gel as I finished the remainer of the run with 2.5 laps on the usual course.  It was a negative split run.  I had started out really slowly, but that allowed me to feel pretty good the entire run... probably the best I've ever felt on a 20 miler.  Afterwards, my heart maybe felt a little bit tired, and my legs were a little bit stiff, but the rest of my body felt fairly normal!  I was eager to refuel, though, and was glad for the nice spread that I had prepared in the morning:

I ran out of clean Oxysocks (compression socks), so I wore cotton soccer socks instead.  Both socks get wet in the dew, I supposed, but it was a bit more uncomfortable in the cotton socks.  Last week, I brought my wet shoes and socks and Nathan Shadowpak and visor into my shoe area just inside my door... I can still smell it, haha, even after opening my widow a couple of nights.  Oh, man.  I left the shoes and socks outside this time.  I love the cotton Adidas visor that I've had since early high school, but it really needs to be retired soon... or else, it needs to be washed every time I wear it.  I think it cost me $4 originally, and I guess it's been about 10 years now that I've used it!!!

Here's a picture of me with the visor in Junior year of HS:

My Garmin had an odd malfunctioning where it went from being 6.99 miles to 6.00 miles instead of 7.00 miles (happens a couple times a year), so I used later to confirm the distance.  It was only that 1 mile off overall. 

Here's me recounting my route to understand my splits.  The green path is what I usually run.

Good day!  Not tired at all!  In the process of trying to re-fuel.

So far:
> Cheerios + Organic Chocolate Cheerios + Skim Milk
> bit of Almond butter
During run:
> 2 bottles of water
> 1 scoop of Sustained Energy 7:1 carb:protein powder + 2 oz water
> 1 vanilla Gu
Immediately post-run:
> Whole Wheat Pretzel sticks
> Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese Wedge
> Raspberries (once spelled this wrong in a 3rd grade spelling bee, just within my class, not in front of a huge audience)
> Slim Carrot
> Whey Protein + Cocoa + Decaf Powder + Water
After a shower:
> Pickle (my favorite post-LR / post long race food)
> Cheerios + Organic Chocolate Cheerios + Skim Milk, a few peanuts
> Sauteed Onion + some of tomato sauce + bit of feta and tofu and garlic
> Green Tea

I'm really interested in what other runners and elites eat to fuel themselves.  Elites fuel for optimal performance, where every 0.01% of better performance is critical to their careers and their ability to put their stamp in history.  Plus, for everyone, we only get 1 body, and with this body, we serve others, move about on this earth, explore the world, and do things that make us feel alive like running.  I understand the enjoyment factor, too, and I enjoy some snacks with questionable nutritional value, like Whole Grain goldfish and chips and Slim-a-bear ice cream sandwiches, though.  There are many, many schools of thought about what kinds of food are optimal, though, so I'm not saying that my current way is better than any other way.  That's why I'm interested to learn about what others like to do.  I was in a vegetarian co-op in college for the last 2 years, and even within that group, there were many different reasons people chose to join: ethical for animals, environmentally responsible, health (me), cheap (me).  Health and the cost were the biggest attractions for me, but I also very much like the environmental part, and I do have some desire to not hurt animals.  If the meat is already prepared, I don't think much of eating it, but if I had to kill the animal myself, that might change things.  I don't know.  Maybe my thinking about that will continue to change over time.  Today, I have chicken or fish only a few times per month, mostly out of laziness, because of having to cook and make sure to clean up well afterwards to avoid germs.  I mostly have dairy and soy products.  I had a strange dream one night while I was traveling in China with a group that included 2 vegetarians, and in that dream, I was holding a tiny baby piglet and a baby duck in my hands, and I decided to become a vegetarian.  They were too cute.  Strange, huh?  I like animals a lot.

Other strange dreams lately:
In 1 week a couple of weeks ago, I had two sports dreams.  In one, I was doing my weekly strenght session, pushing through the usual tough spots to get it done.  Then, I woke up from my nap, only to realize that I hadn't done the workout for real, and that it was time to do it for real now... it was like having to do the workout twice, it seemed so real!  In the other dream, I was racing in a triathalon for the very first time.  I was using really bad equipment that I scrounged up to do the race, and the race course was really poorly marked. 

Ok, enough rambling for now. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sep 3-8 : LR Redemption

Monday, Sep 3:
Back on the Atlanta treadmill early the next morning, looking to make up for some of those missed miles from yesterday's DNF LR.  Took it easy, since my legs were still recovering from the long run.  I guess it was kind of a recovery run.  I had originally kind of planned on taking advantage of the spin bikes there, but my legs felt decent enough to run, so I went with it.  I didn't manage to go farther than 4.1 miles, though - legs were tired.  4.1 in 35:11, 8:35 ave. Splits> 8:56, 43, 33, 12, 0:45 for 0.1.

Tuesday, Sep 4:
1 hr strength session.

Wednesday, Sep 5:
Still trying to follow the Runner's World Smart Coach training plan workout-wise, as much as I can.  Exceptions are easy day paces, where I tend to go harder, and long run paces, where I tend to go slower.  Again, I wasn't sure how I'd handle the tough workout... mile repeats.  But I made it!   1.5 mi warmup at 7mph (8:32 pace), 3 x [1 mi @ 8.5mph (7:05), 0.5 mi @ 7mph], 7:41 cooldown.  7 in 54:30, 7:47 ave.  During the second rep, I had to use my arms in the last 1/3 mi to pump hard and make it easier on my legs.  The last rep felt easier and didn't require that strategy, though. 

Thursday, Sep 6:
2 miles were scheduled, but it wasn't worth doing, so I substituted it with a longer cardio effort on the bike.  I love riding gym bikes while reading running magazines.  60 min.

Saturday, Sep 8:
An opportunity for redemption.  18 miles scheduled... my last 2 weekend runs were 6 miles and 11.5 miles...  I had done 15.2 the week before that, but even that was the longest I had done in a long time.  The night before the run, I was really feeling pumped for it.  Waking up is another story... tired.  I packed, drove out, and got started at about 8am, an hour after sunrise. 
I knew the key would be taking it easy from the start, so I just took small, slow steps... chugging along.  After even 3 miles, though, I was surprised by how hard even that slow pace was.  How was I going to get through?  Didn't ever get too much easier.  Grass was wet with due.  Fortunately, it was cloudy for the first two hours.  Both my iPod shuffle battery and my Garmin batteries died after about 2 hours, but the songs that play in repeat in my head and my wandering thoughts are fine, so I didn't miss the podcasts.  Had a Powerbar vanilla gel that hit the spot and a Soyjoy bar.  Also had 1 bottle plain water and 1 bottle of lemon + salt water. 
Played mind games to get through the last of 5 laps.  I call them laps, but they're really out-and-backs, where I take an alternate path for one segment of the back, which helps to make it feel more like laps, and which breaks up the monotony of the course a bit.  I sometimes dread the course because it's always the same-old-same-old, but it's a good course - grass and foamy sidewalk.  It lets me go by my stashed water bottles, too. 
Anyway, the mind games... each lap is a bit over 3 miles, with 1 mile of running from my car to get to the starting point of the laps.  During the last lap, I was excited that this would be my last, and I thought "I won't have to repeat this section again" and "this is my victory lap... just keep taking it easy and get it done".  Got more dehydrated and the sun was out late in the run, though, so it got tougher.   Counted down the miles.  Counted down the distance until I would reach my water bottle.  In the last mile, counted down the tenths and hundreths of a mile left (estimated).  In the end, made it.
18.5 in 3:01:50, 9:50 ave.  Slow, but got it done.  This is laying the foundation for future LRs.

I could wring the sweat out from my shirts afterwards.

Aug 27-Sep 2 : Did Nothing Fatal

It's the second cycle.  My left plantar started flaring up, maybe from the technique drills I did on the grass.

Monday, Aug 27:
For the first time in weeks, I had a night of sleep that felt fairly normal.  I had been back from China for 2 weeks already, so it took long enough!  I only slept 4 hours, but at least it felt like normal tiredness.  It made me feel so much better at work. 
Did a progression run.  4.5 in 35:28, 7:53 ave.  Splits> 8:23, 7:56, 7:46, 7:41, and 3:40 for 0.5.

Tuesday, Aug 28:
1 hr strength session - 4:15 plank felt ez and is probably a record for me!  The strength session felt good - it loosened me up, and the movement helped to work out kinks.

Thursday, Aug 30:
Following the training plan's tempo run.  1 mi warmup in 8:11, 4x7:30, 1:38 for 0.2 for a cooldown.  Didn't know if I could handle 4 miles at that pace.  I exceed it during races, I guess, so maybe I shouldn't have been so concerned.  Helped to be fresh from 2 days of not running.  5.2 in 39:50, 7:40 ave.

Friday, Aug 31:
4.4 in 35:18, 8:01 ave.  EZ run to get in the miles.  Only 3 mi were scheduled, but sometimes, it doesn't feel like the run's worth doing unless you go at least 4.  The exception is when you're coming back from energy and craving running again so much, that even 1 mile is bliss.

Over the long weekend, visited my sister in ATL.  Saturday, we went to the art museum.  We didn't have much time to look around, but it was fun messing around a bit.  My mom had taken a picture of my sister in front of a big paining of foggy woods, where she was posing like you normally would.  To me, though, it looked like she was lost of the woods, so we took a bunch more pictures pretending to be lost in the woods.

My sister likes the contemporary art, but I'm more of a fan of Naturalism, with big landscapes.  I get lost in the beauty of it. 

Sunday, Sep 2:
The day for the week's long run.  16 were scheduled.  I was traveling, and between the sun being blazing outside, and wanting to avoid the trouble of finding some kind of trail in the new city, I opted to use the treadmill instead.  I actually thought it was 15 scheduled, so I went with that in mind, but it really was 16.  Doesn't matter, though.  I had some trepidations about being able to complete it, only because of the left plantar.  The first 7.5 mi went by pretty easily, though.  Then, it got hard quick.  At about mile 10, my left hip started tightening up a bunch, maybe from compensations, and I decided tht it wasn't worth it to keep going.  I pushed through 11.5 mi, but that was it.  Disappointment.  Oh well.  I told myself that I DNFed... "did nothing fatal". 
Afterards, I was doing a post-marathon shuffle, even though I hadn't really run that much.  Looking back, maybe my pace was too agressive.  Maybe, maybe not.  I had also been alternating 1 degree and 3 degree inclines every 2.5 miles, so that probably made it harder.  It was supposed to help provide my muscles with some relief from consistent angles.  People just aren't made to do LRs on treadmills, unless they have good symmetry and form.  Maybe I hadn't fueled well enough during the day before the run.
We went to the park, where I walked somewhat slowly and tenderly.