Tuesday, January 22, 2013

RACE REPORT: Run Downtown 5K 2013


Sunday, Jan 13: 60 min bike session to get a workout while letting my legs recover from the previous day’s race + easy run. Felt easier than it has in a long time, due to some good bike training over Xmas break.

Monday, Jan 14: 40 min strength session. Inspired by the workouts demoed by Jenna from the Today Show. They were no joke! That’s cool that she became a certified personal trainer on top of being a show host. I’ve thought about doing the same, although getting clients would be the tricky part. I normally do the same set of strength exercises weekly, with small variations only (like triangle pushups vs. divebombers vs. fast pushups vs. normal-paced pushups vs. pushups with dumbbell rows, or dumbbell rows from a plank position vs. from a leaned-over-on-a-bench position). Jenna had a crazy mix of exercises and variations that I hadn’t seen before, though, so I tried them out during this session. It was fun, and I was pleasantly sore for the next couple of days. Good to shake things up, so that your body has to adapt.

Tuesday, Jan 15: Still wanting the inclines. 4.3 mi in 36:14 (8:26 ave), at an average incline of 4 degrees, making it equivalent to doing it at 7:30 pace at 1 degree on the treadmill / 0 degrees on land. I varied it between 3 and 5 degrees, based on what I could handle at the pace.

Wednesday, Jan 16: Still kinda recovering, so started easy on the 5.1 miler, went for 42:51 (8:24 ave). Went 1 degree the whole time for the first time in a long time. Wore clunkier shoes that gave me more support, and in those, I didn’t feel the need to increase the incline. Interesting. Progressed the speed because I loosened up> 8:46, 8:30, 8:29, 8:18, 8:01, 0:45 for 0.1.

Thursday and Friday, tapering for the race!


Cold morning, low 30s. Wore a singlet instead of a sports bra for the first time in a long time… it’s cold enough to do this like once a year. I even wore arm sleeves! Even after doing my usual warmup and dynamic stretching, I kept jogging around a bit to keep warm, although its efficacy was questionable. Once the starting line started gathering, I went in looking forward to the warmth. I had 3 small chocolate-covered expresso beans an hour before the start, but no gel this time… didn’t really need it. I didn’t feel like I was about to start racing though, but ready or not, my body was about to be revved up and pushed!

We went out. My right ear-wrapping earbud wouldn’t stay securely in my ear, and I spent the first 1/3 mi trying to get it in there until I kind of gave up. That probably slowed me down a lot. I never had trouble with it before, and I couldn’t tell why it wasn’t staying… maybe some of my hair was blocking the part that goes around my ear.

This is the area’s largest 5K or something, so there were lots more people than I see at most races. Too many competitors to keep track of, and based on last year’s results, many of them are way out of my league anyway. I would be lucky to be an age grouper.

In last week’s race, I had a big negative split, going 6:46, 6:46, 6:30, so I intentionally put in a couple of spurts in mile 1, knowing that I had it in me, even though the pace felt comfortable where it was. The course has minor hills, so the splits didn’t match effort. I ended up chasing down people the whole time… like passing 100 vs. being passed by 5… impressions can be skewed, but that’s what my impression was. Mid-way, the cold got to my feet, and I couldn’t feel them, so it was like pushing off of two bricks. Probably not as efficient, when you can’t feel the road and time the activations of all the little muscles correctly. My biggest concern was banging my feet hard against the pavement unintentionally, and causing metatarsal stress fractures. I wore compression socks, but even that didn’t provide enough warmth. My exposed thighs were getting a little numb, too, but they did better than my feet. The numbness passed, though, and it only l lasted for maybe ¼ mi.

Since there were so many people, there were continuously more women to chase down. Pass one, and there are a couple more up ahead. Pass them, and still more. Good for motivation… reason not to slack off and keep pushing, all the way through to the end. In the last mile, there are turnies. The course map looked almost like a simple rectangle, but there were turns that I didn’t expect, and I got disoriented a bit. I could tell based on time about how much longer until the finish would arrive, but when I finally saw the finish, it caught me by surprise, big time. Fortunately, it was on a long downhill, so I still had decent notice and started kicking immediately. It was a really big downhill, too, so you had good momentum kicking it in. Passed a bunch more while gasping for air, though one guy who decided to sprint at the end when he saw that I was passing him edged me out. That’s always something kind of fun.

Ended up getting 2nd in my age group. Last week was a 20:40 PR… this time, I did 20:42. Shows that the PR is legit. My take-away last time was that I need to get used to hurting again, since I could’ve pushed harder at the end. On that front, I did better this time. I think I have one more gear, though, and with the right earbud debacle, plus the hills, I think I could’ve improved my time by another 15s, even without additional training. Oooh, 20:2X would be sooo nice. And at that point, 19:XX would feel soooo close. I think to do it, I’d need to go much harder from the start. The neg split approach gives me faster times overall, but if I do want to get to the next level, I’ll have to go all in up front and take the risk of blowing up.

My Corporate shield teammates all ended up doing well.  The tall guy's wife won 1st for Masters Women, and the tall guy won 3rd in his competetive AG.  His time was 18:XX vs. her 21:XX, but the size differential of the awards was funny.

Day after: Felt good enough to run. Did 6.1 in 50:57 (8:18 pace) outside, on the grassy park. It was nice, and I could’ve done a few more miles had it not gotten dark. I did the last lap with a headlamp, but even with it, it felt too risky to do it once the sun had completely gone down. I don’t know how ultrarunners do it!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

3 Resolutions for 2013

I've had a couple of weeks to think about it, and I feel good about my list.  I don't normally do anything formal about resolutions.  The one from last year (or was it the year before?) about memorizing Phillippians didn't go past a few verses.  For me, at least this year, these are just items that I want to keep in the back of my mind.  I could make SMART (specific/measurable/attainable/relevant/timed) goals, but I really don't want another to-do item to have to worry about.

So, here they are...

1) Reconnect with old friends.  It's been too long.  I'm the worst about keeping up.  I think it's out of fear of losing them, seeming boring, seeming depressing.  This bad habit probably ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It's soo hard for me, though.  Gotta break the cycle, though.  Maybe I'm just avoiding making a SMART goal around it because I'm so scared about actually doing this goal.

2) Read a few Bible verses at least once a week some time during work.  That's actually decently SMART.  Everything, even going to a normal job, can be an act of worship when it's done with the intent of honoring God.  I want to conduct myself in a way that honors him by working hard, being kind and looking out for my co-workers in the process, and doing everything with integrity.  The verses can help to re-focus me periodically amidst the craziness.

3) Move more.  I realized late last year how bleh I feel after sitting non-stop for a few hours at work.  I want to incorporate standing up every now and then.  After work, I normally veg in front of the tv to eat and then decompress.  I want to do a bit of weights or cleaning up around the apt while watching.  Aids in digestion and keeps all of the metabolic processes humming like they should. 

And that's all, folks.  3 is simple, and it's cool that they happen to cover all 3 areas - social, spiritual, and physical. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

RACE REPORT: Race for the Grasshopper 5K 2013

Training Update:

This would be my first race since the Philadelphia marathon in mid-November.  I had a decent rest period, and then I moved back into maintenance mode for a couple of weeks (~15mpw).  My birthday was coming up in January, and there were two race options... a half marathon and a 5K.  After marathons, there's usually a long period of many months when I can't get my long runs back up in distance.  Didn't need the pressure of getting mileage up quickly, so I decided to go for the 5K.  It would be nice to be able to do races from which one can recover quickly, and the training itself is fast and good bang-for-the-buck-y. 

So... I had about 3 weeks to get my speed back up.  I did one week of FIRST-style training, with a speed day, a tempo day, and a long[er] day (still relatively short @ 7mi).  Then, to kick off the new year, a less structured week, but still with some fast training (1 strength session, 1 bike session, a 5er @ 8:18 and a 4.4er @ 7:56).  Then, this week, with almost no running, because Monday's workout was so tough, and work was busy, too.  Monday's workout was a mix of steep hill and speed intervals... I planned on doing a speed interval workout, but my knees weren't able to do speed reps for every rep, so I replaced every other speed rep with a hill rep.  The workout: 1 mi warmup in 8:17, 2x[ 3/4 mi @ 9mph @ 1 degree (6:42/mi), 1/4 mi @ 7.5mph @ 1 degree (7:59/mi), 1/2 mi @ 7.5mph @ 7 degrees (=6:31 effort), 1/2 mi @ 7.5mph @ 1 degree (7:59/mi)], 0.2 mi shakeout in 1:29.  After that, I did 2 complete rest days, then a strength day to loosen up everything that had gotten tighted up on Monday, then another rest day for the day before the race.  The night before the race, I was rested up at last, and I even felt good enough to run a half marathon. 

The Race:
Did my usual pre-race routine, and added a caffeinated gel right beforehand, because I needed a little kick of energy (mostly the sugar). 

(Visitor Center / Packet Pickup in the morning fog)

(My Saucony A4s with nice treads were great for the post-rain roads)

Gun went off (looked like a real gun!)  At first, 6 girls were ahead.  Caught 1 in the first mile, and then things settled in.  2 were in sight, and over the next mile, I reeled them in liiiiiiiiitle by liiiiiiiiitle.  Paced well.  First two splits were 6:46 and 6:46... perfect.  Skipped the water station... would've splashed myself to cool down, but every second counted, and I was ok.  In the last 1/3 mi, I finally caught 2, making me what I thought was 4th.  There was one more girl ahead.... a good bit ahead, but her stride looked small and not so quick anymore.  I kept wondering if I could muster up the guts to push it and go for what I thought was third.  I didn't know if I'd have enough distance left.  She got closer, though, and we were getting close to the final stretch, so I started charging a little bit, and it was working.  I finally passed her with about 0.08 mi left in the race... it was pretty close... gave everything I had to hold it, and didn't look back. 

20:40, a PR!!! In my last post, I said that I had PRed in every distance from 1 mi to 26.2 that calendar year (1 mi, 8K, 10K, 13.1, 26.2), exept for the 5K.  But now, I have the 5K, too, if we go by "past 12 months".  Yay.  Shaved off 4 seconds.  I ended up actually being 4th, not 3rd.  There had been someone else.  The real 3rd came in at 20:33, but I didn't see her because I had made up some ground at the very end.  7 seconds seems small, but it's big when you've been hovering around a certain time for a while.  Splits> 6:46, 6:46, 6:30, 0:38 for 0.1.  Yay for neg splits. 


(Green Trail, where the British and the Patriots fought)

I like visiting national parks, and getting my national park passport stamped is fun, too.  Cowpens National Battlefield is actually quite interesting.  The main trail is right where the British and Patriot battlelines were, and you can literally follow what happened in each step of the battle as it unfolded.  There was also a 2-mi nature trail, so I tacked that on to my post-race exploration run, too.

(Not a medal from the race, haha... the Park had an activity where if you walked along Green Trail out to a historic house and back, you got to become an honorary member of General Morgan's team) 

(Nature Trail)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Year-In-Review


1. 4 Continents (North America - Philly & DC, South America - Brazil & Argentina & Paraguay, Asia - Shanghai, Europe - London). Favorite city: London.  So much history and culture; so much to see and do.  Easy to get around on the Tube.  Pre-olympics excitement!

(Buckingham Palace)

2. Experiencing the Philadelphia Marathon with some of my Closest Friends

3. Iguazu Falls - Re-visiting Niagara Falls had been on my lifetime bucket list.  I went to Niagara when I was little, and I've always wanted to go back.  Iguazu was a good substitute.

4. Pisgah National Forest Trail Run - My first adventurous training run.  I had done a trail half marathon before, and I ran a bit on a trail before, but this was the first intentional trail run.  It was super-exiciting, experiencing carrying a hand-held, figuring out the best ways for traversing the terrain, and dealing with a bee sting.

5. 4 Lifetime PRs (Marathon - in Albany in 3:37:49 in March, Half Marathon - in iRecycle in 1:35:43 in August, 10K - in Run2Overcome in 45:54 in August, 8K - in TROAD in 35:03 in September, Mile - in Mary Black in 5:48 in May).  Most dramatic improvement in my mile, which had previously been at 5:59.  Phew!!!  I didn't realize how many there were this year.  The only distance where I didn't PR - the 5K.

6. Winnings - Albany Marathon gym bag, $175 in cash, and the TROAD.  Proudest of the gym bag.  Most freaked out by the TROAD.

7. Hunger Games Hysteria - Visiting Dupont Forest where some filiming was done, watching the movie with my sister, buying a bow & arrow, going to the midnight DVD release and getting an autographed card, sewing my own training shirt... I was obsessed.  I don't know why that story resonated with me so much. 

8. Hanging out with a Dog - Babysat Stella a few times.  We went hiking together, she pooed on my carpet, I fed her obsession with food, and I tried to teach her to read running books.

9. Froyo

10. Shows: Elementary, Modern Family, Biggest Loser, The Office, Amazing Race

11. Grace Church - Awesome sermons

12. New Dish in my rotation: Lentils cooked in chicken broth, mixed with sauteed onions and garlic, with loads of black pepper.



Finally met my goal of running 1,000 miles in a single year!!!  Exceeded it by a lot, actually.  It helped that I crammed 2 marathons in this year, and that my second marathon training plan was higher volume than usual.    I did 1094.0 mi this year.  On Dec 31, I considered doing an extra 6 miler, just to make it an even 1,100.  I could've done it, but it wasn't worth the extra trouble. 

I ran 6 days, 7 hours, 8 minutes, and 19 seconds this year.  Therefore, the average pace of my runs was 8:17/mi.  On average, I ran 3 miles per day, or 24 minutes and 52 seconds.

I did an additional 2 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, and 15s of cross-training.  That's about 10 minutes per day.  So total, I exercised for just under 35 min per day, on average.

Here's my weekly mileage:

Yellow - Marathon week
Pink - Half Marathon week
Orange - 8-10K week
Green - 5K week
Light Blue - Mile week

My Shoe Rotation:

Favorite shoes this year are highlighted in different colors.  Based on the average distance per run on the shoe and my preferred surface type for that shoe, you can get a feel for when I like to use each model.  It looks like I have a lot of shoes in the rotation, but some of them are duds that I ended up not liking much (Newtons and the New Balance 858), or they may be very specialized shoes that I don't get to use often (track spikes, racing flats).

Ok, I think that's good for now.  In summary, it's been a good year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dec 29 - Jan 1 : New Year's in CHS - p

Dec 29 - Arrived in CHS.  Lower legs still sore from the tempo work.  Could've used a shakeout bike session, but I wasn't feeling particularly energetic that night and didn't bother.

Dec 30 - Did a psuedo LR to finish off the 3-part FIRST-style training week.  It was only 7.2 mi, but it was the longest run of the week.  I did it in 1:00:56, 8:27 ave, which was actually pushing it a bit.  Did the mostly grassy loop around the neighborhood.  I was still a bit sore prior to the run, but it was fine.

Dec 31 - Super-session at the gym.   40 min on the elliptical, followed by 40 min on a recumbent bike, all while reading Running Times.  MMM mmm, Good.  I actually had planned on doing only bike, but when I first arrived, the elliptical was the only equipment available.  My knees did surprisingly well on the elliptical, which I get a chance to venture out on maybe once per year.  The last 10 min of th eworkout felt kinda glycogen-depleted, and I was ready for lunch and re-fueling afterwards.

Back at home, I happily re-fueled on Overnight Oats with granola and nuts.  While doing so, I also logged my last workout of the year.

That night, party!

Jan 1 - No particular resolutions, but it was my last day in CHS, and I had really hoped to get to do a track session, so after sleeping in a bit, I ventured out.  It was cloudy, and I had a great session with the pyramid... 800 warmup, 4x100, 3x200, 2x400, 1x800, 2x400, 3x200, 4x100, with jog distances after each rep equivalent to the sprint distances (other than doing only 400 after the single 800).  It was the easiest that this workout has ever felt, which is awesome.  5.7 in 42:05, 7:23 ave.  Felt really good all day afterwards. 

After that, drove back to GVL, after stopping by the outlet mall.
A good start to the year!

Dec 22-29 : Gym Time and Christmas in ATL - p

My sister had to work on Christmas night and the day after that and the day after that, so my parents and I visited her in ATL to keep her company over the holidays.

Dec 22 - Travel to ATL.  Planned to work out, but I was tired by night-time.  No big deal.  I'm not training for anything anyway.

Dec 23 - 6.0 in 50:03,  8:21 ave.  Did it at a 3 degree treadmill incline, my third 2-3 degree run in a row.  I've been loving how the incline feels, since it reduces pounding and works my muscles a bit differently.  3 degrees at 8:21 is the equivalent of 7:42 at 1 degree.  Splits> 8:38, 8:38, 8:30, 8:28, 8:19, 8:12, 7:54.  Morning run.

Dec 24 - Our family went for a walk in a neighborhood trail in the morning. 

In the evening, worked out right before Xmas-Eve dinner with my sister.  Spin biked for 40 min, then did strength training for 40 min.  Decided to tack on the strength because I hadn't done a session in 2.5 weeks (usually start to lose fitness after about 2 weeks).  My equipment choices were a bit different, but I did exercises that were equivalent to my usual collection.  It's fun to work out with my sister!

 Dec 25 - Treadmill intervals.  1 mi warmup in 8:19, 3x [1/2 mi @ 9mph (3:20), 1/4 mi @ 7.5mph (2:00)], 0.35 cooldown in 2:37.  68 degrees, 11am.  3.6 in 26:55, 7:29 ave.  I decided that I'm going to follow the Furman FIRST Run Less Run Faster training plan for my next marathon.  I do better with high-intensity, low-volume training.  For Philly, I tried higher-volume, lower-intensity training, and it didn't seem to help.  My muscles fatigued.  I had read the book before after borrowing it from the library, but once I decided to do FIRST, I bought the book.  The revised edition has plans specifically for the BQ times, so 3:35, here I come, most likely in Fall 2013.  I considered going for the Eugene Marathon, but that's in April, and I'd need to start the 16-week training program on Jan 6th if I wanted to do that... I don't think so.  Still just getting back to normal after Philly, so I'm happy to stick with shorter distances for now.  In any case, I thought it would good to give the FIRST strategy a try, so this was the speed portion of the speed / tempo / long run trifecta.  It was good to get in some speed anyway.  I decided to sign up for a 5K on Jan 12th.  Post-run, I felt great and felt like I could run again, but by night-time, the DOMS started setting in.

Dec 26 - Spin bike session.  45 min.  My mom joined me at the gym.  She did some weights and stretching.  I tried doing 3 short stand-up pedaling spurts, but my left knee didn't handle it too well, so I didn't do it for very long.  My HR at the 1/3 and 2/3 points were 156 and 166bpm. 

Dec 27 - Treadmill tempoy session.  5.3 in 41:13, 7:47 ave.  Splits> 8:07, 7:48, 7:42, 7:41, 7:39, 2:14 for 0.3.  Took until 11am for my legs to feel re-energized and capable of running.  Tempo work would help me get my speed up for the 5K.  Felt like I could run again later that day, just like I did after the interval session.  A good feeling.  Left ATL afterwards. Swung by my apartment for a night, then off to CHS.