Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oct 14-28 : 10,000 Pageviews! Hiking; Spinx Volunteering; Last bit of Philly Training!

Big recap; lots to catch up on.

Before I begin, though, here's a rave for post-long run re-fueling.  Stuff tastes sooo good after long runs.  Sometimes, I get into moods where even though I think my body may be ready for refueling, nothing seems particularly appetizing.  After very long runs, everything seems delightful, and it's like a kid going to Disneyland, deciding what ride to try first.  I did my final 20 miler today, and I finished stronger than I normally do, I think, but I was feeling kinda run down afterwards as I refueled a bit with a pear and 1/2 a protein shake and drove home.  On my way home, though, I remembered that I had pickles, and the anticipation of getting home, having a hot shower, and eating pickles gave me a big buzz.  After my shower and the pickle, I had smoked salmon and garlic on tortilla chips and lentil and onion soup.  Oh man, soooo good.

Ok, going back...

Oct 14th, Sunday:
The day after the iRecycle Half marathon PR.  Still feeling really strong.  Did 9.0 in 1:16:28, 8:30 ave, in the park in 67 degree cloudy weather.  Legs were still feeling like they were recovering, but it felt good.  Just cranked it out, without needing any fuel or water (was a big hungry at mile 2, but could manage fine without fuel).

Oct 15, Monday:
Upper arms are sore, from the race, maybe, but that's good conditioning for the marathon.  I had started on the treadmill and ran 2 minutes, but I was feeling just a bit too bangy, so I biked instead.  I did 45:30, and I would've gone on longer, but the gym closed.  Legs are a bit sore from the past 2 days, but still solid. 

Oct 16, Tuesday:
60 min strength session.

Oct 18, Thursday:
6 on the treadmill in 48:48, 8:08 ave.  It was cardiovascularly tough!!!  Is it because I'm kinda tired?

Oct 19, Friday:
7.5 in 1:03:00.  So tired during the drive to the park and during the run that I was afraid I'd fall asleep while driving or running.  Ok once I got going, though.  The first lap, I was clumsy and stumbled a few times - seems to happen when I'm tired and not paying attention to footing.  Company coming later that night.

Oct 20, Saturday:
Minor hiking (1.4 mi) with family friends on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Craggy Pinnacle trail.  One of the friends has a really cute dog who's obsessed with food and spins around to get your attention so that you'll give her food, whenver she sees you eating or opening a package or the fridge.  We carried the dog along the trail in a little basket house.  We also went on walks with the dog.

(Cooked carrot)

(Looking up to the summit of Craggy Pinnacle)

View from the summit (~6K feet of elevation)

View from the summit (~6K feet of elevation)

(LION KIIING!!!  - for all you The Office or Modern Family fans.  Lion King used to be my favorite movie as a kid)

We also went on walks around the city.

(Mice on Main - it was really hard to get Stella interested in the brass mouse - we had to put food on the mouse to get this picture)
(Had to dangle turkey jerky for this picture)

Oct 21, Sunday:
Had to do a midnight run because the gym's 1 treadmill was occupied.  Bother.  Fartlek, as usual, for this course.  Wore a light jacket, since it was chilly at 54 degrees.  Got a bit warm later, but I just unzipped halfway down and tolerated it.  4.4 in 32:35, 7:24 ave.
Week's recap:
Man, this week, night calls for work mess up my schedule (very tired) and make runs hard to get in.  Just gotta get it done, though.  Home stretch.
Oct 22, Monday:
Did a mini marathon-simulator hill workout on the treadmill.  1 mile warmup in 8:22 at 1 degree, then [1.5mi @ 3 degrees (actual will be 1.3 mi of 2.5 degrees); 0.25 mi @ 1 degree recovery; 0.5 mi @ 7 degrees (actual will be 0.3mi); 0.25 @ 1 degree recovery; 1.1 mi @ 3 degrees] @ 7.5mph.  Had to cut that last rep short because the gym closed on me.... bother.
Oct 23, Tuesday:
6.4 mi in 52:53, 8:16.  Left knee's been acting up a bit for over a week now.  Landing under my body and not overstriding seems to help.  I think I compensate for it, which isn't good. 
Oct 25, Thursday:
60 min strength session.  Performance was very much lacking.  I don't know why I was so sapped today.  I lost strength!  Was it because of lunches I had to skip during the past 2 days b/c work was so busy I had not time even to eat while working?  Was it because of recent races?  The knee thing?  Don't think it was sleep... that's kind of as poor as usual.
Oct 27, Friday:
Carefully executed the 5 mi, with 3 @ 8:20 pace that the schedule called for.  My knee is still kind of wacky, and it started at mile 1.5.  Good form still helps, but it's still scary.
Oct 28, Saturday:
Because I had my last 20 scheduled for this weekend, and because I wouldn't be able to run in a race without trying to be competitve, I decided it would be a good opportunity to volunteer.  I've never volunteered in a race before, but it's been something I've always wanted to do.  For a long time, I thought that it would be very difficult to volunteer because the whole time, I'd be really wishing that I was running too, but I had good reasons not to this time.  It was good, anyway, because I was in no mood to race that day.  Still feeling a bit banged up; don't know if it's a result of compensations for my left knee.
I got to try lots of different race activities, actually, so it was a really well-rounded experience.  I got there at 6:20.  I was actually so excited about getting to volunteer that the night before, I breifly considered camping out at the parking lot, so that I could be there early and soak more of it in.  Anyway, they were going to start me off with starting line activities, since that was what I signed up for.  I like pre-race excitement, with everyone walking around in their gear and getting ramped up. 
There was some time before the race starts, so I helped to loop medals around their medal keeper, for easy access later on during distribution.
My job was to check that peoples' bibs were in the front, and if it was on shorts, that it was on the right leg and not the left leg.  Don't know why that's the case.  Don't understand the technology enough.  The readers looked like they were positioned flat overhead... maybe it's the placement of the chip or something on the bib.  Dunno.  I saw off the marathoners at 7:30, the halfers at 8:00, the kids' run (helping to make sure that the kids did a u-turn at the traffic light instead of running loose into the city) at 8:15, then the 5K at 8:30.  

(Half Marathon)

(Kids' Run - the little kids running around in costume were ADORABLE)

After that, I helped to hand out bracelets for the 5K finishers.  Before the halfers started coming in, though, I volunteered to help marshall at the last turn, where they had run out of cones and needed people to help point the way. That ended up being my favorite part.  One of my pet peeves during races is marshalls who don't point the way.  They just stand there, and you have no idea where to go, and you have to actually stop or at least slow down to ask them.  Ideally, they point it out even while you're kinda far away, because you want to be able to run tangents, and finding out if you should go left or right when you're 10 feet from the turn is waaay too late.  So, I waved my hands wildly for about 2 hours (fortunately, without back strain), and even recruited my red-socks legs just to make it more interesting.  It was fun to see in the back of the pack of the 5Kers, most of the halfers, and the front of the pack of the marathoners.  I wonder how far my arms ran, if you had put a gps or pedometer on my arms...

As I was leaving, I saw runners who had gotten caught behind a train... ouch.

Oct 28, Sunday:
Time for the last 20!!!  I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to run at all the night before and the day of, with how my left knee was whenever I tried to extend my lower leg.  But, somehow, praise God, I was able to run.  On long runs, you run slowly, and your legs stay more under you instead of over-striding, so it worked out.  I had 1 strawberry Clif Blok at mile 5, another at mile 10, and a Powerbar vanilla gel at mile 15.  I had water + lemon juice + salt at miles 2, 10, 15, and 18ish.  It rained for a couple of miles... way outer bands of Hurrican Sandy, I think.  It was also much windier than normal at times... not too bad, though.  It did get chilly during the rainy/windy part, but the sports bra was good the rest of the time.  So happy just to finish.  I also felt stronger at the end than I normally do.  Main bulk of training, DONE AND DONE.  Thank, you, God.

20.7 in 3:10:45, 9:12 ave.

And that brings us back to the pickles and good food.  The end.

In other exciting news, the stats tracker on Blogger showed exactly 1,000 [10/30/12 update - haha... read it wrong... it's actually 10,000 pageviews. I think it must be counting web crawlers, then] pageviews since whenever they started tracking.  Dunno what counts as a pageview.  Thanks for reading, everyone!  (all 5 of you, haha)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

RACE REPORT: iRecycle Half Marathon 2012

Training this week:

Monday, rest day to recover from the 5K race on Saturday and the 20 miler on Sunday.

Tuesday, Oct 9:
6.2 in 51:10, 8:15 ave.  Tired and kinda unintentionally tried to nap during the run.  I don't try to nap while I run often, maybe only a few times per year, but normally, it's kind of intentional, and I close my eyes and try to rest a bit.  This time, I'd naturally close my eyes for moments to try to sleep.  Night-time calls for work (after the usual work+ day).   It makes you appreciate nights where you don't have to continue to work after work.

Wendesday, Oct 10:
Another night call.  Thought I'd just have to miss the workout.  My legs were kinda recovering anyway.  I figured I'd get it in the next day.  While I was taking out the trash, though, I noticed that the gym hadn't been locked up, so I did a bike session, 60 min, at midnight.

Thursday and Friday, planned rest days.  I skipped this week's strength session because I wanted this to be a somewhat tapered race.  No speedwork or hills, either.  The only non-taper factor was the 20 miler.

Night before:
Trouble sleeping, because I had a decent amount the night before.  Continued to fuel.  Glad that I didn't overfuel.  Eventually, got about 4.5 hours.

Morning of:
Most of a Cool Mint Clif bar, several cups of decaf.  Warmup shower.  Packed the morning of (didn't work well last time, but it was fine this time).

Drove out to S-burg.  They have one of the nicer race packets, with a drawstring bag and mini-face towel from Academy Sports, plus a long-sleeve cotton shirt whose logo looks like a race number.  Pinned my number to my sports bra.  Mid 50s were expected, and sunny.  Sunrise was only 30 min before the race, though, so sun wasn't too big of a factor.  Went to the bathroom 3x - nice.  1 hour pre-run, I had one choc-covered expresso bean, and I had a second about 30 min pre-run. I wanted an extra boost, so I had a caffeinated Powerbar gel 15 min before the start, too.  12 min before start, ran a wee, wee bit, and super-quick dynamic stretching.   I put off the warmup this time, because it was a longer race.  Just wanted to make sure my muscles were loosened up a bit. 

Chilly at the start, but that's perfect.  The start would be a big downhill.  Miss SC started us off, and out we went.  For the first 0.1, I was second (among women).  Over the next mile, I was passed by another 5 women.  The top-three spot was slipping away so quickly!  The runners in this race all looked really fit.  I hung at around that spot for a while as we did some up and downhills.

(Photo credit: iRecycle)

There was Powerade and water every 2-ish miles, which was nice.  I tended to want to alternate between the two.  Powerade for blasts of energy, and water when I just wanted a bit of hydration.  This race allows me to practice and figure out what works for race day in Philly.  The only difference would be the pace, most likely.  My legs felt a bit sapped/dulled even in mile 2, and I figured that it was leftover from the 20.

At about mile 4, I realized that about 4 women were strung out across about 1.5 blocks ahead of me, and I seemed to be gaining ground bit by bit, which was encouraging.  We still had 8 miles to go, so there was still time to pac-man through.  It took about 4 miles to work through 3 of them.   Then, it was about 4 miles of leap-frogging on the hills with one fit girl.  I'd think that I had her, then she'd be right there.  We were gaining on the guys ahead of us, too, so we weren't slowing down, either.   I think we had put up a gap on the others, so that provided some piece of mind as the miles ticked down and we continued to battle it out.  I started wondering a bit if I'd be able to hand, or if I'd blow up at some point, because I had put in a faster mile at one point when I was feeling good and warmed up and starting to pass people (at about mile 5-6).  Could've just been faster from an elevation change benefit, though.  Dunno.  If I wondered what it felt like for elites to race side-by-side in the Olympics or big city marathons, I figured that this was something similar.  Running alongside your competition, who also kind of became a friend in the process.

Anyway, at about mile 10, wondered if I could hang in there.  I figured that if the others had slowed already, then the gap would protect me if I started slowing myself.  Mile 11, and still chugging along.  Mile 12, and I was feeling strong, maybe stronger than ever, since I still had a good chunk left in the tank, and now I could feel free to spend it!  Passed a couple of guys in the final mile.  Then, the final 0.3 was a big downhill followed by a big uphill, as a grand finale, haha.  During the hills, I had shuffled up to conserve energy, and I seem to have the advantage on downhills.  I knew that I'd have to put up a gap towards the end if I wanted to make sure I wasn't overtaken on the last uphill.  I was still feeling strong, though, so I was able to turn on the burners for the last half-mile of the race.  I finished in 1:35:43, about a 17s PR!  On a hilly course, 1 week after a 20!  Good stuff.  Weather was perfect.  On-course support from the marshalls, townspeople, and fuel stations were great.  My new friend wasn't too far behind, and we exchanged congratulations afterwards.

(Photo credit: iRecycle)

(Photo credit: iRecycle)

 (Photo credit: iRecycle)

Extra story:
When I was picking up my number early in the morning, I must've had a strange expression on my face, and maybe the volunteer wondered what was wrong.  But it's because the number seemed very familiar...

Haha, it turned out to be the exact same one from last year!  Even having duplicates from different races would've been special, but I had a feeling that the prior 85 was from this race.  I think it was coincidental.  But maybe, like the Comrades marathon, they retire your number and permanently allocate it for you if you place, haha.  Not.  But it's a funny coincidence.

Actually, I ended up getting the same place both years, too.  (2nd).  $150 instead of $75 this time, though!  Sweet :)

Also kind of funny, last night, while I was not sleeping, I was kind of hoping for the rare chance that they would have a rectangle-shaped medal, instead of a duplicate of last year's circular one, just to have something different.  And it turned out to be just that!

(yes, my apartment is messy)

The mens' winners were wearing Boston jackets.  I hope to join them officially soon. 

I want this kind of dog (a running kind):

Memorable finishes:
A woman was finishing on the big uphill, and her son ran about 10 yards out to her from the finish line to where his mom was.  They were both so happy as she scooped him up and continued towards the line.  Then, her daughter, who had been handing out medals, ran out to her, too, to finish with her mom, clutching a medal in her hand.  It made everyone go "awww". 

There was also this dad, and his kids were all there at the 0.3-to-go turning point, screaming "run, Dad, run!".  And the dad, who was probably pretty tired at this point, chuckled "I am running!" and his kids ran to the finish next to him as he finished.  So sweet.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

RACE REPORT: Benson Twilight 5K

Training the previous week:

Sep 30, Sunday:
I had to make up some miles for the week.  The 16 mi long-run was replaced bya 11.3 mi trail run at 13:30 pace, so I did 6.7 in the grassy park in 1:02:06, 9:11 average.  Felt almost slightly sore from the trail run in my lower legs.  Started slow.  It was somewhat of a recovery run.

Oct 2, Tuesday:
65 min strength session.  For goal races, I'd do my last strength session at least 10 days out.  I decided that I needed a re-set of my muscles, and I didn't feel like running.

Oct 3, Wednesday:
Only able to get 4.2 miles on the treadmill.  The girl who was on it before run/walked for an hour while I watched the presidential debate, and then the guy who came to lock up at closing time came 10 minutes early.  It was frustrating, but I forced myself to look at the bright side... it maybe forced me to take it easy a bit so that I could have more stored up for the race.  4.2 in 34:06, 8:07 ave.

Oct 4, Thursday:
I normally like 2 off days before a race, but the race was in the evening, and I had to get in some miles for the week.  I ended up doing a mini-hill simulator for the marathon.  The marathon has a 2.5 degree for 1.2 mi and a 7 degree for 0.3 mi.  I held 7mph steady and did 1 degree for 1.5 mi, 3 degrees for 1.5 mi, 1 degree for 1 mi, 7 degrees for 0.5 mi, 1 degree for 0.5 mi, 3 degrees for 1 mi for good measure, and 1 degree for the final 0.2 mi.  Hill workouts are no way to taper, but other than the 7 degree portion, it wasn't too intense.  I figured that after the trail run, my legs were more used to hills than normal anyway.

It was a 5pm race.  In the morning, I had WW pasta with tomato sauce, feta, and garlic.  I had a veggie burger pattie.  And I had most of a Cherry Almond Clif bar about 2 hours before the race.  I think I had a nap before the Clif bar.  Less food than normal, maybe, but I didn't want to feel too full during the race.

Drove over... at first it was sunny and hot, hot, hot.  After picking up my number, I waited in the car.  It got cloudy quickly, and I encouraged the cooling down by splashing water on myself.  I was eager to start the warmup (always am), so I started with about 20 min to go.  Lots of people were already warming up, and I was getting antsy.  I figured that as long as I kept it light, that starting 5 min early (or doing 5 min extra) wouldn't hurt.  Jogged a bit, did a bit of dynamic stretching and RoM stuff, a couple of strides.

There were cash prizes in this race ($250 for 1st, $100 for 2nd, $75 for 3rd, $50 for 4th, and $25 for 5th).  In 2010, 1st for the women was a little under 21:00, so going in, I thought I had a shot, but once everyone was there, I could see that there was a lot of good competition out there, including 2 super speedy girls who ran and won the mile race that I did earlier this year.  There was also Brooks ID gear woman, the TROAD winner, and another woman who looked fast.  Not to mention a number of others who looked fast. 

A group of people I know from work actually helped to organize the race, so it was good to see a number of them out there, too, to walk, to cheer, and to support the Greer Food ministries. 

(Photo credit: Pace Running Magazine, who's awesome about taking pics at races and supporting the running community)

There were some little, little kids at the start who lined up at the front, but it worked out ok.  We were off, and after 0.1 mi, I counted 12 women in front of me.  I could have a lot on my hands, but if I pace as planned, I could probably reel a number of them in.  So, I started counting.  It's kind of like Pac-Man.  Gobble, gobble, gobble.  Down to 6 ahead after about a mile.  It was a fairly flat course, with only minor grades, and the first and last mile were along a straight road, so that you could see everyone.  In the next 0.5 mi, I caught up to another 2.  With about 2/3 of a mile to go, I caught up to one last girl.  She had been holding her side, so I think she probably got a little stitch.  She was really nice, though, and she encouraged me as I went by. 

There were a few men ahead, but no more women in sight, even on the long stretches.  Before long, the church came into view, and I knew the finish was close.  Long stretches are really awesome, for judging placing and distance remaining.  Finishing kick.  I barely tucked under 21:00... with 20:58.  No PR, but I'll take it.  The weather was 79 degrees, but the clouds made it feel cooler. 

(Photo Credit: Pace Running Magazine)

Afterwards, I enjoyed oranges and cheering people in at the finish.  I especially like cheering for the little kids, and this one woman who was pushing a jogging stroller with 3 kids in it!!!  Haha.  I also got to catch up with Lindsay from, who clocked in an awesome time in her comeback.  Afterwards, I took a peek at the Oktoberfest festival a couple of blocks away before heading home.

20:58, 6:46 ave.

Oct 7, Sunday:
My second 20er in the training plan.  I used the race to substitute the speed session that I was supposed to do this week.  I was supposed to do 4x7:03 with 800m jogs, but 3.1x6:46 is a fair trade, I think.  In the morning, I was a bit stiff, but by noon, I felt ok enough to head out.  Cloudy again - yes.  Started slow, on the super-spongy section of the Swamp Rabbit trail.  Did 6 laps (of the 0.9 mi stretch), then I did 2 laps plus a bit of padding of my usual out-and-back loop, for a total of 20.4.  I was feeling good and easy until the last 2 miles.

I ate a bit of dried apple and 4 Strawberry Clif Shot Bloks that I got as a sample (166 cal for the Bloks).  A bit too sweet for me, and I was wishing I had something not so sweet.  I drank lots of water.  I left my big bottle next to a rock next to the trash can when I did the spongy out-and-backs, and on my final lap, the bottle was gone, because a good citizen had put it in the trash can, haha.  So I fished it out, drank, and continued on with it, carrying it to my next drop-off spot along the usual loop.  Good thing the stuff in the trash can was fresh and harmless. 

20.4 in 3:05:13, 9:05 ave.  It was cool today (60-62-63-65), with the heat picking up a bit at the end.  But I actually kind of welcomed the heat, so that I'd be prepared in case of fluke weather in Philly.  The coolness, and maybe better fitness following the trail run?, helped me go 30s/mi faster this time around, compared to 3 weeks ago.  It was hotter then, though, with 67-69-70 degrees.  We'll see!

I'm racing a HM next weekend, so I was careful about recovery, trying to move a bit more post-run to flush stuff out and to not get stiff.  I also refueled with a carrot, 1/2 an apple, a homemade chocolate banana bread that's more like plain bread because of the meager amounts of agave nectar that I used, and a protein shake.