Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #9: Tuesday Speed


I woke up at 4:45 am this morning.  In the middle of the night I was a little wound up waiting for the alarm to go off after trying desperately to find my sleep. On top of being a light sleeper, I was a little excited: I have a date with the running divas in the morning. The fast ladies are back on schedule so our Tuesdays and Thursday morning runs are on again. I’m so delighted because now I have a purpose in getting back into the habit waking up and getting my run out of the way. I love it when it's done and I don’t have to keep thinking about it the rest of the day.

One nice thing about running with a group, is that you are committed. You can’t just bow out. People are waiting for you. Once I make a decision that I am going, that’s it. It’s hard to break it. I would have to have a good reason not to show up like if I am really sore or if the kid is sick.

It was pitch black at 5:30 in the morning. I couldn’t find my headlamp so I dashed out hoping the other girls have theirs. Luckily they have theirs. In the middle of the run, I got a little worried. These girls are fast, if I fall off pace, I have no light! So I had to work hard with sticking with them. Just how fast are they? Let’s just say, they're the top finishers of any local races they enter. Aeron is a miler who just got back from the USATF Championship in Oregon in June for the Master’s 3K, Jill is a 2:34 marathoner and Jennifer, she's Coach Joe Rubio’s better half, and lightning fast. All three gals are gnarly fast. What a great opportunity it is to be able to run with them! They're so fast that their mellow run is my 5K pace. Yes, I rolled out of bed today to run a 5K. Three miles was the extent to which I was able to hang on to their pace. I was trying to wait until there was more light before separating from them, but I also didn't want to do too much. It My goal is to be able to stay with them longer each day, little by little, as time progresses. There went my mid-week long run; I guess today was speed work.

The plan was to run 9 miles. For the rest of the run, after the running divas dropped me, my plan was to run easy. That didn't quite materialized. I was still gleaming in excitement over running fast that I just ran according to to how the legs want to go. I ended up running a 9:19 pace for the 9 miles at 85% of my max HR. It was a great workout. I just hope I didn't do any harm for my 6-Yasso workout tomorrow night. I took a little bit of risk running fast today. However, I am willing to take the consequences. That means I can't get mad at myself, if my performance dips come tomorrow night. I knew going in, that if I run with the Divas today that meant a long slow run would not be possible. I must say that taking it nice and slow on Sunday, gave me more energy to be able to run comparatively stronger today. There is definitely something about slowing down the pace on a long run which makes you better able to handle more challenging workouts for the rest of the week.

I will let you know how I do on my Yassos tomorrow night. Until then, happy running!

Monday, August 29, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #8: Saturday & Sunday Long Runs

Week #8 is done! I can't believe it. This training is going by so quickly I feel like my window for improvement is quickly diminishing.

The training runs for this weekend was on the easy side. Since I was well rested from Friday, I guess it would be no wonder my resting HR was back to normal, at 55.  I haven't seen that since the beginning of the month. I've been training with 3-4 beats higher most of the time.  It was alright to go on with the training.  If it were 10 beats higher, I would definitely take the day off.  That's a huge sign my body is clamoring for a rest day.

Saturday was a done at my perceived effort of very easy, maybe 65%.  I have forgotten to charge my Garmin so I had to do without it.  It was just as well since the watch makes me run faster than what I'd like to or supposed to. It was fine to run without any pressure, I had more time to appreciate the scenery and my music. It took an hour and 27 minutes, according to our wall clock when I got home. I also took my time to stretch half mile into the run, which typically takes about two minutes at the most. Taking that into account, my pace was approximately 10:37 for an easy day.  This has to be the slowest pace for long runs I've done this training cycle. This was all good though. After my run, I felt like I still had some more energy.  I kept this info in the back of my mind to see how this would play out for next day's 17 miler.

I woke up with my resting HR two beats higher than my normal heart rate. Normally I would have gone out to run first thing in the morning, but today, Hubs was invited to play golf with his buddies. Naturally, I stayed home to kick it with my kid.  We are trying to catch up with our Cheers marathon--we're now in Season 7.  Such a fabulous show. Great writing, no wonder it lasted for 265 episodes. Anyway, it was a great day for a run.  The fog hovered over practically the whole day.  I was not worried at all about the day getting away from me nor about the heat because with Coastal town's blanket of fog, you can run anytime of the day. No more planning around heat like I used to when we lived in North County. I finally got myself together after a quick lunch around 1:45 in the afternoon. It was still foggy and misty.

I wanted to keep my pace close to how I ran last week's long run, around 10:00 pace.  I started easy, stopped at the first 1/2 mile to do my stretching. I decided I was going to run LOVR, Turri Road and parts of Baywood June Fest course today for a total of 17 miles. That meant 11 significant hills on this course! I was ready for the challenge since my legs were well rested.  I must say, it is getting easier to run these hills.

Overall, this was a great run for several reasons. My pace for the whole run was 9:57. I ran another negative split. For the first half, my pace was 10:04 and the second half was 9:47. The last three miles were my fastest miles averaging at 9:24 pace. My goal today was to end the run with a fast finish. Mission accomplished! Also, my HR for the duration of the run was 141. That's 3 beats lower than last Sunday's 16 miler, running a much flat course. But then again, I didn't run a pace run this weekend, whereas I did last week.

Looking forward to Week 9. Here's what Hal Higdon has in store for me:

Mon ~ REST
Tues ~9 easy
Wed ~6x800 Yasso
Thurs ~4 easy
Fri ~ REST
Sat ~ 5K
Sun ~13 easy

On Saturday I will be racing for a tune up.  It will be great to see what kind of progress I've made.

Happy Running!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #8: Thursday


The tempo work last night was  great.My plan was to run one mile for warm up and run for 25 minutes of tempo, around 8:20-8:30 pace, then cool down for another mile. I set my Garmin to beep at quarter mile laps, to save me from having to look at my watch. With that, i anticipated I would complete about 12-13 laps sound the track. There were times when I missed the alerts because I was listening to my groovy music to keep my cadence pumping. In the middle mile, my mind drifted somewhere else but the run itself. I was in auto pilot. When I checked my stats later, I noticed my pacing was off on those particular laps and it made sense why. For next time, I will have to work harder on staying focused for the duration of the tempo and stay on pace.  Maybe leave the ipod at home? On the other hand, the falling off pace didn't do a lot of damage to my goal time since I was more relaxed. It was unusual for I was actually running with rhythm. I can only attribute that to my body getting used to that kind of fast running more and more. That would be a treat to be able to run my usual 10K pace and not have it feel like pushing it. I should have stopped 7 minutes sooner for the tempo, but I was in a groove and kept going. That's how relaxed I was.  At the start of the tempo, I told myself not to look at the Garmin, just run and get into the rhythm. It worked. I don't like counting laps that gets in my head too much and makes the run longer. So not looking was good; it got me to relax a bit, which proved that I could have kept going at that pace. These tempos are feeling easier to run now. Let's keep our fingers crossed. I'm hoping it makes a difference. I've been in a rut for so long. Maybe this is the a sign of things to come.  Knock on wood.

When I woke up this morning, the day after my tempo run,  I felt good. My resting HR was 59, up 4 beats from my normal of 55.  Not bad, considering I did a 92% effort last night.
A  4 mile recovery run was on the schedule today. My hope was as the day wore on, I would continue to feel springy. Sometimes it takes a few hours before the tired feeling on my legs creep up, where in the morning I would feel normal and later on in the afternoon that heavy legs feelings would start to sneak up. 

As soon as I got home from work I changed into my running clothes and was out the door for a quick 4. It is amazing how vast the difference in temperature was from one city to the next and only 12 minutes away. When I left the office in SLO, my car read 79 degrees and it was 59 at home. It was foggy and misty when I ran, just the way I like it!  Got the run done at 9:14 pace. I kept up the quick pace, even though it was supposed to be a recovery run. I had a great run, weather was perfect and it was a good decision to wait until the evening to do the run. Looking forward to a wonderful rest day tomorrow.

Happy running!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #8: Mid-Week Long Run & Tempo

Rest-Rest-Rest.  Today I woke up with sore hips from Sunday’s long run.  My abs hurt too, from fighting the wind on my return trip back at the turnaround from my long run. I never realized to what extent I use my core for running--and I only took notice because they are sore. It's a good sore, however.

Legs were still a tad bit worked from Sunday. So I thought I’d milk my rest and push my run until I got home from work. That gave me several more hours to recover before I tackled the 8 mile sorta-long-run. Also, it's been a lot warmer in San Luis during the day, so I've been opting to do my runs in foggy Los Osos.

Yikes! We are getting up there. I’m looking at a 42-mile week for Week #8.  I have to pay careful attention to the body now that I am facing unchartered territory: being this high of a mileage and only in the 8th week.  I can already feel how my body is reacting to the torture and stress I’m putting it against. I guess you can say I am dangerously teeter-tottering around my injury threshold.  I will figure this out as I go along with the program. I am hoping that it will adapt nicely.

I ran 1 mile of warm up and 1 mile of cool down and in between 15 x 400s around the track. 
It worked out that I ran 32 minutes of tempo instead of the 25 minutes. I was so focused on not looking at my Garmin and trying to pay attention to my pace by feel that I over shot my mileage by 3 laps and 7 extra minutes. In hindsight I could have pushed it just a little bit more, but this will have to do. The tempo was done at 92% max of HR, so I am happy with that. My pace was 8:31 and I will take that as well. We are halfway through the week and so far I am feeling great. 
Looking forward to the harder segments this weekend. The plan for Week 8 looks like this from Hal Higdon's Adv 1 Marathon Program:

MON –R-e-s-t
WED–40 tempo (5 mi)
FRI– R-e-s-t

Happy Running! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #7: Saturday & Sunday Long Run

The 8 miler pace run was hard to hit. I haven't been able to hit it these past two Saturdays. I've came close: 9:14 pace for 7miles and now 9:15 pace for 8 miles.  The course for these pace runs are on the hilly side. It's a challenging course and I want to continue running the same route for these pace runs so that I can push myself to do better. It's also a good way to compare the progress I've made from one week to the next.  I'm not beating myself  compared to last week's effort because I hit a negative split again. I am learning to start out slower and end the run with a fast finish.  The first mile I hit at 10:04 pace and the last mile was at 7:19 pace! The first four miles was an average pace of 9:32 and the last four was 8:48 pace.  I dropped the pace by 44 seconds in the second half.  My finishing kick was 6:44 pace for 200 meters.  The last mile, especially the last 200 meters, I felt like my lungs were going to explode. Basically I was redlining and I felt it. By the time I finished, I felt like I couldn't put one more step if I had to. I'm learning to finish strong. Overall, a good effort.

This is the longest run I have done since my Avenue of the Giants Marathon in May of this year. Needless to say I was looking forward to it.  The only hurdle was I had to wait to do the long run until we got home from visiting family in the Bay Area.  It was a four-hour drive home.  Sitting for long periods in a car and then running long right after, is probably not the most ideal condition.  My legs were not prepared for running.  Because it was a whirlwind visit, with lots of things happening, hydrating was put in the back burner. I forgot to keep drinking even on the drive home.  When it came time to run, I was dehydrated. I just had to roll with it.

I started about five in the evening, from my house to San Luis Obispo. My legs took a bit of time to get warmed up. I anticipated that so I used the first two miles to ease into the run.  A positive aspect of the run was my first mile was 10:18 and the last mile was 9:13 pace.  One of the negative aspects was that I did slow down by 16 seconds in the second half.  This was the first time in this training cycle that I felt tired in the middle of a run. I knew this was the after effects of the pace run from yesterday as well as sitting stiffly in the car for four hours.  I felt my hips get sore around the 8 mile turn around.  Those are not the only things I was fighting with.  The wind was pretty annoying also at the turn around just when I was tiring. I have to remember that going into San Luis Obispo on Los Osos Valley Road especially right around Foothill Blvd is always windy.  I was fighting hard to keep a forward lean against the wind.  (Note to self: For the next long run, avoid the last two miles of the turnaround at Foothill.)  By the time I got back to Los Osos, I was feeling pretty much spent.  I let my pace slow down and watched my HR go down to at least 65%. All I wanted to do is get home since it was getting dark fast and I wasn't wearing enough reflectors on me. I was on a major highway and you just never know when a car might lose control. I stopped  watching my Garmin. In my mind, I thought my pace was plummeting exponentially and I felt that I was okay with the slower pace.  However, when I got home my pace was only 16 seconds slower.  So I was pleasantly surprised.  What this taught me is to never give up on the run and don't think the worst. A marathon is long enough to make mistakes and there's time to recover when you've fallen off pace.

Week #7 wrapped up to be a great week. I am totally stoked for the Saturday 8-mile negative split even though I missed my mark with the goal pace. I was pretty happy finishing Sunday with a 10:00 minute pace for 16 miles, putting forth an honest effort, as well as incorporating back Jeff Galloway's 30-seconds walk breaks every half mile. I've been getting away with no walk breaks for shorter long runs.  But the 16, I feel it's long enough that it's going to warrant the breaks. I am looking forward to next week's long runs. No pace running. It's a regular easy run on Saturday followed by 17 miles on Sunday, also easy. By the way, when I say "easy" I'm referring to efforts between 65% to 70%.  I am not saying running 17 miles is easy. Just thought I make that clear for those readers who are new to running. Until next time...

Happy Trails!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #7: Wed & Thur

Whew! The week flew by so quickly. My girl is going back to school next week. I can't believe she's in 6th grade already. Hubs finally got his roster for the 12 and under girls' soccer team. I better hang on to my hat, the Fall season is going to be a busy one. I feel like if I blink I might miss something. Likewise, my NYC marathon training is passing way too fast. We're halfway through Week #7 and I haven't blog a word...here it goes....

Due to some unplanned event, I had to do some slight switcheroo. Monday and Tuesday became two full rest and recovery days. There was no way around that. I had to follow my doctor's orders. And I am happy to report that test results came back negative on the biopsy performed on Monday. Life is back to normal. Woo hoo!

I was given the green light to go back to my training on Wednesday. That was normally my interval day, but today's run was the 8 miles sorta-long-run. I ran it first thing in the morning since I've been itching to get out there. Two days of rest was enough to make me go crazy. At first step, the constant bouncing up and down hurt my sore spot. I started at 11:43 pace for the first half mile and increased the pace gradually. I did have two significant hills in this run which I am finally getting comfortable with. My splits were:

Mile 1 - 11:06
Mile 2 - 10:14
Mile 3 - 9:43
Mile 4 - 9:42
Mile 5 - 9:53 
Mile 6 - 9:46
Mile 7 - 9:39
Mile 8 - 8:31

As you may have already guessed, I ran yet another negative split. I ran the first four miles at 10:11 pace and the last four at 9:27 pace. That's 44 seconds faster in the second half. Lately I've been trying to hone my finishing kick, where I run either the last half to quarter mile at my best attempt at what you might call a sprint. I want to get used to feeling tired at the end of the run and still be able to push through the uncomfortable almost redlining effort to break through that finish line. I often visualize the last traffic light near my house as the last timing mat for NY. Yeah, kinda corny, but it works. So on this training run, my attempt at the last half mile was at 8:25 pace. What was funny was while I was pushing hard, I was thinking, "Boy, this sure feels like a 6:40 pace." The effort felt like so, but sadly, my Garmin brought me back to reality--Yes, turtle you were running at an incredible rate of speed. Nonetheless, I was happy with this outcome: 8 miles at 9:49 pace, 81% max HR effort + negative splits to boot! At 9:49 pace it feels like I have sweeter recovery time to move on to my hill work for Thursday!

Thursday - I was going to run at lunch to hit Lizzie Hill, sadly I forgot my shoes. Next best plan was to wait until after work and hit The Bay Oaks hill before dinnertime. I ran a 2 miler warm up at 9:52 pace 141 hr at 80% and then I ran my hill repeats.

1:25 0.18 mi @ 8:02 148 HR 84%
1:42 0.20 mi @ 8:36 150 HR 85%
1:21 0.16 mi @ 8:28 145 HR 82%
1:23 0.16 mi @ 8:39 155 HR 88%
1:22 0.16 mi @ 8:39 154 HR 88%
1:23 0.16 mi @ 8:48 157 HR 89%

You are probably asking, what's going on with the first two repeats? Why the difference in distance? I was fickle. At first I set my Garmin to do 2:00 repeats. But when I got over the crest, I still had 35 seconds left and no more hill to climb. So I restarted and decided I would do it by distance so I set it up for .20 mile or a 1/5 of a mile. I didn't like it. So finally I said I'm going to set it by time and hit it at 1:30. Surely I can climb it in one minute and a half. I was a bit more consistent with the minute and a half. I was getting tired by the last repeat.

After the repeats, I ran home for 1.61 mi @ 8:43 pace with 156 HR at 87%. Again, I worked on my finishing kick and tonight I just wanted to simulate the last tenth of a 5K. So for 46 seconds I ran for  0.11 mi @ 6:44 pace with 166 HR 94%. My perceived effort matched reality this time. I really was going at 6:44 pace. Imagine that. Happy with the results.

I am resting tomorrow yippee!  Happy running!

Monday, August 15, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week 6 - Sunday Faith

Coming into the close of Week #6's weekend training runs, I was a bit out of sorts for one reason or another. It seemed that I was more nervous anticipating the pace run of 7. So much so that I disturbed my sleep, causing me to wake up later the next day on Sunday and then missing a good breakfast.  I had a plan, but everything came at me holus bolus.  Or maybe not, it was more like a domino effect.  I better figure out a way to relax quick! I don’t want this to be a trend for the rest of the training or I’d be in big trouble.

Sunday was the first time in my weeks of training for the NYC marathon-that I've adhered to the slow pace of the long run. Early on, while the mileage was still considerably low, I was overzealous and ran both the pace runs and long runs much faster than what Hal Higdon prescribed.  But in the 6th week of training, when the weekly mileage increased, the pace run on Saturday did its magic: it slowed my pace down for the long run the next day. Hal’s ingenius plan to make me run the long runs slow worked this time. He’d be happy to hear that. The combination of already being tired, and making a conscious effort to run at a much slower pace, according to plan, made me realize one thing. That running the long runs at a much slower pace allows my body to be not so much beat up. I have more energy, recovery is much faster, therefore chances of compromising future workouts are greatly diminished.

One previous workout that comes to mind where I can draw comparisons with different results was Week #1. Too excited, I ran the 5 mile pace run at 8:48 pace and the next day, I ran 10 miles at 9:32 pace for the long run. At the time I didn't consult my pace from my Garmin. I ran according to how I felt that day. Since it was early on in the training, of course I felt great. Afterwards, I didn't want to admit it, running the two days hard, back to back, made me too sore to complete the mid-week long run. I didn't care as long as I ran the long run at 9:32 pace, I was happy.The bad habit started there, because I started using that 9:32 as the benchmark for subsequent long runs. I had pushed the 60-90 seconds of slower than goal race pace to the back burner. That left no room for the next workout.That was the bad part. I knew it, but I wasn't totally sold on the idea of running slow for the long runs. After all, how else is the body going to get used to running at a faster pace if I don't hit it at all in training? I guess I have to have faith in the training plan.

Let me elaborate. Before I've come across the RW Break 4:00 or Bust Plan, or Hal Higdon's Advance 1 Marathon Training program, I completed my long runs at around 10:20 pace. That time was well before I knew what a "tempo", "interval" or speed workout paces were. I ran the SAME pace day in and day out. I had no clue what 10k or 5k paces were, I just ran. I had never set foot on a track, so I didn't know how long 400 meters was, let alone, 800s or that 4 laps around the track equated to a mile. Hills? I dreaded them. So when it came time to my marathons pre 2008, my times usually hovered around 10:20-10:30 pace range. I've had one marathon in the 9:50 pace, but that was a mere fluke--we had great weather, I had eaten a good breakfast and the stars aligned. I guess what I am saying is, since I trained at one pace, my body knew to default to that pace when race day came.

Only after a dear friend introduced me to the San Luis Distance Club where we did weekly track work, and trying out the RW and HH plans, did I learn to incorporate speed and interval training to my daily regiment. However, now my trouble is letting go of the faster pace for the long runs. Going back to the 10:30 pace for the long run seems very hard for me. It feels like it is a step back. I am trying to convince myself that the difference between then and now is that speed work is intertwined with the 10:30 long runs, where as before all my long runs were devoid of tempo runs, Yasso 800s, strides, repeats, or any hill work. Again I must have faith and that I should apply speed only for the days I'm supposed to run fast and leave the long runs slow. Am I finally convinced? The long run yesterday did.

With yesterday’s prescribed long run of 10, (I ended up with 11.78 actual miles) I hit the hilly Turri Road, rather than the flat Los Osos Valley Road(LOVR), or the quad burning trails of Montana de Oro.  My Turri Road loop is still generous with 8 hills--four on Turri and another four on South Bay Blvd.

This biker had scissors on hand and was cutting off weeds growing from the bridge's edge.

I’m certain the rolling hills a were grand contributor to my slower pace. I also took it to heart that I must do them conservatively and at the same time, it was hard to push the pace considering the workout from the day before. Even if I wanted, I couldn’t run it any faster than possible with my timber legs. You bet, I wanted to, simply because I’ve done it before, like I mentioned earlier in Week #1, with my overzealousness.

Yesterday, I cruised at 10:00 pace. The difference was, the day after, I have so much more energy. The soreness I felt today is something that you can easily shake off with a recovery run. Which means by tomorrow I will be fully recovered. (But for personal reasons, I will have to push all the rest of the training this week by one day. Tomorrow will be a forced recovery day that has nothing to do running. Suffice it to say, Doctors orders.)

On that note, as I embark on Week #7, HH Advance 1 Marathon Training Plan looks like this:

Tues  REST
Wed  8 sort-long-run
Thurs 5 x hill
Fri     REST
Sat    8 pace
Sun   16 long run

Happy Running!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #6: Saturday's Negative Split over Pace Run

I missed it.  I could not hit the pace. Somewhat disappointed today because I was off by 4 seconds and I tried my hardest in the last 2 miles to catch up to reach for that pace, I just didn't have it.

I need to relax and not think about this pace run so much.  I couldn't sleep last night tossed and turned. Finally I decided to get out of bed do some stretching and core work at midnight. Silly right? Eventually I finally found my sleep.  I was supposed to wake up at 6 and planned to be out the door by 7am. Didn't happen. I woke up at 7:06, took my resting HR and it was at 55. A good sign.  I was ready to tackle this run today. As soon as I confirmed with Hubs if I need to be back at a certain time.  Rats! I did. My HR went up 4 beats faster! I thought that was pretty funny how my HR reacted to a minor stress.  Anyway, I needed to be back home before 9 so that he can go to his soccer clinic today.  Did I mention that before? Yes I will be helping the Hubs, who's going to be coaching  the 12 and under girls team this season. His first coaching gig. We're all excited. Mainly I will help out with the girls warm-ups. So anyway, he was crimping my style and I was all right with that. That just meant, no time for a shower, no time for coffee (argh!) and no time for toast with PB and my plain oatmeal.   I shoved an orange down as fast as I could for a mere 100 calories.  I was hoping that would keep me from bonking. It did, but the energy was low.

I got out and after a 1/2 mile of slow run, I found my usual spot to do some more light stretching for the hammies, the glutes, the hip flexors, calves. And I was off.

One thing worth mentioning, is that hitting a faster pace first thing in the morning is a lot harder to do than if I were to wait later during the day. Muscles are still cold, you just roused up from an 8 hours (hopefully) of sleep  and to bring a cold engine to rev at top speed is not as efficient and takes more effort.   If I do the pace runs or speed later in the day, when I've already walked up and down the stairs, had my coffee, hydrated well enough and fueled enough, the results are more positive. It's a known fact that more world records and personal bests are broken in the late afternoons than mornings.  My 4:12:25 PR in NY came knocking around 2:50 p.m!  I'll remember this for my next time trial.

The first half of my run today was at 9:38 min/mile.  I was 29 seconds slower.  I gave myself the 2 miles to warm the body up before hitting the supposed 9:09. At mile 2.5, I hit my first hill. I glanced at my split and it was a disappointing 10:24 pace. I thought I was in trouble.  Darn it.  I just said forget the splits just run. After the second hill, I thought maybe I can push it since the flats are all that's left. The hills are in the bag just look forward. When I hit mile 5 with 2 miles left to go, my pace was 9:35min/mile. I was dubious, how the heck can I bring the average down to 9:09? Do I have enough real estate to catch it up? Freak, Freak Freak! That's the PG version of what I really said.

So I pushed and pushed.  I didn't red-line which was good because it meant that I was managing the speed in a controlled manner.  My pace for the 6th mile was 8:22 min/mile  and the 7th mile was 8:06min/mile. My last half mile was 7:38 min/mile.  My pace for the second half of the course was 8:50 min/mile.  That meant that I ran  negative splits. Even though I missed the pace of 9:09, I should be pleased that I shaved off 48 seconds per mile in my second half. I would love to replicate this in a real race. Also, those elite runners who break world records, if you analyze their miles splits, you'll find that more often than not, they run negative splits. Not that I am trying to break any world record here, just striving to get better.

MDO here I come...maybe...
My overall HR was 150 during the run.  That equates to 85% of effort which is perfect for marathon pace as far as training zones goes. I haven't honed in on a route for tomorrow yet.  It will depend on what my resting HR is--how tired I am. If I have less energy I will probably run the trails. I can rationalize more and walking/hiking breaks than I can with Turri Road.  Plus, I need to practice faster leg turnovers on the downhill.

Trail run tomorow perhaps?

Happy Running!

Friday, August 12, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #6: Friday Reflection

Friday is officially my rest day, a time where I can sit back and reflect on what I've done so far this week. I've patted myself on the back for allowing my body to rest on Tuesday and not fret at all about missing the midweek long run. On one hand, I did feel like I was a slacker, but I had to remind myself that I would only be putting the rest of the week in jeopardy if I push it, where I would be guaranteed lackluster performance for subsequent workouts. Glad I stuck to my gun because the reward was satisfying Yasso workouts with surprising two sets of 400s at 6:40ish pace. Believe me, that was a first. I thought my watch malfunctioned when I saw my splits. I still can't believe that I did two of those puppies after my Yassos. I was still on a high next day, I was so eager to see what my time trial would look like. I can't expect two great workouts back to back though.  I ran a time trial the next day for a mile. Since I was working on fatigue legs, all I can manage was a 7:56 pace. The slowest mile I've ever posted. Admittedly, I was disappointed. Honestly, I could have waited until next week to run the mile, but I underestimated the effects of speed workout the very next day.

The harder training is reserved for tomorrow, my longest pace run thus far at 7 miles.  I've decided I will run my route from my house to the cemetery and back. It's my usual 7 miler however, I've only run it as a recovery run and as a moderate run before. Tomorrow I will be tested to see if I can maintain a 9:09 pace for all of the 7 miles. I think the trick is to relax for the first few miles and put no pressure on myself. When I approach it that way, I seem to have better results. I don't know why, but pace runs never fail to give me the jitters.

Sunday will be a fun long run. I'm looking at two very different routes I can take. The first one is my favorite hilly Turri Road. It's a 9.5 loop.  To get to the start of my loop takes an extra 1.5 mile so I know I will be overshooting the mileage by a couple of miles. My thought was to use the extra miles to warm up and cool down. The other route would be about 7.5 miles and would take me about the same time as the Turri Road course.  The difference is, this is a mountain trail run that goes all the way to the top of Valencia Peak. It's much steeper that the 10K I ran this past weekend and there is much more hiking involved especially in the upper 4K just before the turnaround at the top of the mountain. Needless to say, the downhill is going to be super gnarly. Last time I accidentally came across some stinging nettles. If I do decide to run this course instead of Turri Road, I will be more cautious this time, although it did make me run faster....hmm....maybe I don't mind getting stung again...

I used to be afraid of hills. I didn't like the way they made my calves, achilles and quads feel. I shudder at the thought of that burning sensation that inevitably precedes a slow crawl. I know now that hills make you stronger. It's like speed work in disguise, in moderation that is. Too much can wreak havoc to your Achilles or calves. But again, consistency is the name of the game. I feel that I have gotten stronger and maybe just a tad faster due to my hill workouts. I can run my neighborhood hills all the way through without walking nor heavy breathing. The burning sensation is kept at bay now. These are signs that I've improved and it will only get better, I hope. I am embracing these hills workouts. They are a key component to my improvement. You should try it.

Happy running!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #6: Yasso 5

It turned out that Sunday's mountain trail run took more out of me than I had expected. The next day, I felt tired, my resting HR was 60.  That was 5 beats higher than normal, so I knew I was beat. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) took me down Tuesday, two days after the race.  That was expected, I was waiting for it. I usually feel that after a hard race. Tuesday my resting HR was 59, still tired. Today it was 57, still 2 beats faster than normal.  I had two choices: either rest up or do my planned 5 x 800s Yassos tonight. I felt like I  should since I haven’t run a day since Sunday and had to nix Tuesday's long run because of DOMS.

All in all, I was smart about not doing anything after the 10K. It was a good decision to rest up for 2 days.   I am listening more to my body’s aches, pains and slight twinges most especially when it clamors for more rest.

Because I chose to rest yesterday, I did well on my Yassos tonight. I was all over the place but I consider it a success since my goal was not to go over four minutes. I even had enough in the tank to do two more 400s after my Yassos. I felt a difference from three weeks ago when I first ran 4 Yassos. The effort tonight was easier, breathing was under control and the pace was faster yet comfortable and manageable.

3:55 (7:51) 156 bpm

3:43 (7:27) 165 bpm

3:48 (7:37) 161 bpm

3:57 (7:55) 163 bpm

3:40 (7:21) 163 bpm


1:44 (6:38)  162 bpm

1:46 (6:41)  160 bpm

Back to the topic of step back weeks. Stepback means pulling back on the mileage to give the body the chance to recover, get stronger and prepare for the harder weeks to come.

It worked out that the medium long run that I canceled was in my eyes, the least important of training for the week that I can afford to skip.  Having said that,  the Sunday long run is the most important. That’s why I was gung ho about tacking the miles at the end of my 10k last week.  Mind you, I broke up the long run into two. It’s not the same as doing the whole thing at once like I am supposed to but, what makes up for it was the 10K was a race. In that sense, the trade-off was a wash.  

While we are at it, let’s just go down the list. Let’s see what components of the training  week are expendable, if you have to drop a training day for whatever reason.  This are my thoughts only, you should follow what works for you.

Next to the long run, the second most important component of the training week is the pace run on Saturdays.  This is what drew me into Hal Higdon's program.  It is strategically placed the day before the long run on Sunday for a reason. Why? To hopefully tire you out and force you to run the long run slower than marathon pace (MP).

Let's talk about pace runs. If I want to succeed in running my goal pace on race day, well I have to practice that pace in the training runs. Makes sense right? Instead of leaving it to fate and hoping that I can miraculously hit that pace on race day, after all the adrenaline will carry me through. That’s what I used to think.  If I keep practicing the pace in which I hope to run my marathon then the body will not be so surprised come race day. My hope is that it will remember that pace and maintain it to the end.  So why not run all the training runs at MP? It is not a good idea to run MP for the long runs. The stress is too much on the body.  So running it, reaching  a max of 10 miles sometime in the duration of the training cycle will be enough, every 2 weeks or so with a stepback week.  The training program prescribe it to be done the day before the long run, so it forces you to run the long run at 60-90 seconds slower than MP. The more important aspect of the long run is time on your feet, not so much speed.

The 3rd most important important component I think is REST and recovery. It allows the body time to heal, regenerate and get stronger for future stresses you are about to put it up against.

The 4th is the speed, tempo, hill workouts. If you want to get faster or improve, this is probably your #1. But if you are like me, sort of afraid of injury which is connected to speed, in my eyes, you can drop this workout if need be.

The 5th is the mid-week sorta-long-run. This is just ‘one more for the road’ type thing. Take it or leave it, since you already have the long run in the weekends. This is just what I  call my "vitamin". You don't really need it, but it's there just in case.

Week 6 is well underway. It is shaping to be an enjoyable week. I have to learn to enjoy these kinds of easy weeks since, I've played hard last week and next week is going to be a challenging week.

Happy running!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #5: Sunday 10K

Oooh mama! Wow! That was one exhilarating motha' of a mountain. When I said I run this course at my lunch hour, I thought I knew the course like the back of my hand. I didn't realize there was another hidden challenging climb on the backside of mountain. I mean I knew it existed, but I underestimated the long ascent. All this time, I've only been running, half of the mountain. Therefore half the challenge. Madonna Mountain, or properly known as Cerro San Luis, brought me to my knees!

My race started at 9:10 a.m. My plan was to get up at 6:45 a.m., eat my grapefruit, oatmeal and coffee and leave the house at 7:45 a.m.  I would get there with an hour to warm up, visit my favorite room, kick the jitters off and mingle. That didn't happen, I got there at 8:45 and was only able to do 3/4 of mile warm up before they called us at the start. Hmm, slow as molasses this morning.

I was okay with it however.  The weather was 59 degrees and it was a shorts-and-tank-top-kinda cool overcast day. I didn't carry my water belt, just a 8 oz. bottle.  They have 3 water stations up the mountain and I was able to refill my flask.

I was walking anyway, so might as well take a shot of the climb.
The fog felt nice in the beginning, until it lifted and the sun beat down on us.
Lots of folks charged up the mountain, I let those folks pass me. The backside of the mountain was uncharted territory for me.  I was running this part for the first time and the steepness took me by surprise. My Achilles were burning so I was forced to a walk up the first few hills.  I tried to stay relaxed and not get too rattled with others passing me. I knew there were more ascent waiting around the corner. I wanted to reserve my energy for the downhill, my strength. As I was climbing up, my thoughts were, gee I hope this is the same way we go down. If that was the case, I can float down fast and maybe catch some folks. It was just like that. I may be weak on the climbs but once we got past the steep parts and once the course started to look familiar, I started to push it.

Most parts were single trail and a lot of these runners doing this for the first time are a little unknowledgeable about the etiquette of a trail running. Especially the one about letting faster runners go ahead of you if you are the cause of bottle-neck. It doesn't take but two seconds to step to the side and let them go.

I witnessed two major spillage on that mountain. The first one, she looked like her legs were tired and didn't pick them up on time and she hit a rock and down she went. She got up right away to assess the damage and looked like she was okay.  I kept going and so did the people behind her.  The next gal who went down, it happened so fast.  I have been eyeing her as she stayed within 15 feet ahead of me. I closed the gap finally as we walked up a steep ascent. When we reached a "runnable" segment and we started to run again, that's when she missed the rock.  I stopped briefly to see if she was okay.  She was grimacing in pain and couldn't answer me. But when I saw both her knees with strawberries, I thought to myself, oh she's fine. I would have stopped had she had a bigger injury, but I knew she would be okay so I continued on with the race. Later, I found her at the finish with her significant other as they are figuring where to go to get aid.  I've had my share of spillage on this very mountain and I still have my scars to prove it. Yes I did say scars: two on my palm, both my elbows and both my knees.  It comes with the territory.

On the way down I passed some folks. It was a confidence booster to know that I can still hang on to the pace. Eventually I would finish at 1:10:14 with a pace of 11:14. I am very pleased with that time since I walked a heck of a lot. I didn't want to be disappointed, so I never once looked at my Garmin. After all,  I wanted to make sure my foot landed right, not twist an ankle, or worst, add another scar.  I have enough of those.

My plan was to do a total of 14 miles today.  To compensate for the shortage, I was going to tack on 8 miles after the race. However, the fog lifted in the middle of the race and the sun beat down on us pretty hard. I decided it was not a good idea to run back up that course. Plus, I would be risking hurting my already tired Achilles. I decided that I would go home to my foggy cocoon and run my 8 there.  It turned out to be the best decision.

After I got home, I was going to rest first then do my run. After my shower, I was swept by this jittery light-headed, low-energy burst of whatever. I felt weak like near collapsing if I didn't eat at that instant. I realized I was bonking. This was the worst bonk I ever felt in my years of running. I ate everything on the counter: some of my kid's Puffins cereal, peanut butter, hard-boiled egg, burrito with ham and cheese and coffee. I must have looked crazy eating everything in sight, as my kid asked, "Is Mama okay?"  Hubs answer, Yeah, she's just bonking. So this is what it feels like to be low on sugar.  There was nothing in the tank.  It's a good thing I decided to go home first, because it crossed my mind to drive straight to Turri Road to do my 8. I can only imagine what would have happened.  The lesson learned: what I had for breakfast would have been okay if I were running a normal training run. The calories required for a trail run is much more than that as the exertion is far more intense.

I finally ran my 8 in the evening and finished at 9:41 pace.  That completes my 14 miles for today as the long run. Week #5 is a huge success.  I am ready to face Week #6.  There are 90 days left until NYC.

Week #6 from Hal Higdon's Adv. Training 1 looks like this:

Mon  X-Train, but I will opt to rest instead
Tues  7 miles sorta long run
Wed  5x800 Yassos (my fave)
Thurs 3 easy
Fri     R-E-S-T
Sat    7 pace run
Sun   10 easy

Happy running!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #5: Thursday, Friday & Saturday

First thing in the morning upon waking up, especially the day after a significant workout, I take stock of what hurts, or what part of my body is sore.  Quads, hammies, hips, ankles, achilles…check, check, check. Oh good, nothing hurts. That means I may proceed to the next level.  I passed! Hurray!
My plan for Thursday was an easy, slow three, where I would run the first 1.5 miles of the SLO marathon course as an out and back.  However, I got an invite from some of my old training budds Kristi, Anne & Merilee.  I haven’t hooked up with them in a while since I’ve been focused so much on my training. With our different work schedules, it’s been a challenge to sync our workouts. I thought their company might be good for the soul.  There was only one hitch. Their plan was to run hill repeats on Lizzie Hill! It is easier to run hill repeats when you can share the agony together with your friends. Plus, when there's other people around, you tend to push yourself just a wee bit more. I was hooked.  So I went along, but not before I put in my recovery run.  I ran a slow 10:39 pace because I knew the hill repeats were comingsave some for lata'.  Yes, I know this was not on the schedule, but I was careful about it. After my recovery run, I met them while they were already at it. They’ve completed two sets and I joined them for their third set.

Lizzie Hill is between 5-6% grade, which took me one minute and half to crest. It is less steeper and shorter than my usual hill at home (7%-8% grade and two minutes long to crest), so it was much easier to hit a faster pace. My average was 8:06 pace for each of the two sets. I stopped when I reached 0.12mi (close to 200 meters or ½ a lap) or 1:00 minutethat's as far as I wanted to push it. I didn’t want to risk injury—I do have a race on Sunday—more on that later. The last repeat I cruised the full length of the hill at an 11:13 pace concentrating on even efforts, smaller strides and higher knees. I was glad I joined my friends and had a chance to catch up. It turned out a good workout.  I put it my recovery run as well as squeeze three short hill repeats without compromising future workouts.

About the race I mentioned—I’ve decided that I will do the Central Coast Cancer Challenge2011 (http://centralcoastcancerchallenge.com/). It’s for a good cause.  It’s also a  time to remember and honor those close to us who have been affected by this formidable disease.  I think about my Hubby’s grandfather who passed away from prostrate cancer in August 2007. I will be honoring him as I run up that incredible mountain.

I said earlier that I was not going to run this race, but the more I thought about it, the more it made good sense. It would have fit better in my schedule had it been on a Saturday, as I've mistakenly assumed all along. 

It was my fault, when I first signed up, I should have verified the date. On Thursday night just before going to bed, on a whim I thought I check the race start time. It was then that I realized the race was on Sunday!  What?!? My hair stood out like I was electrocuted and my eyes bugged out. Can you say freak out? Needless to say, this threw a wrench on my running schedule. How was I going to fit the 10K race, the Saturday run, the one day of rest and finally the 14-mile long run in a span of 3 days?  Had I found out even just a day earlier, that would have given me Thursday to play with. I would have had one more day to fit into this puzzle.  But this kept me up and I couldn't sleep. My heart rate was elevated. I tossed and turned until about 2a.m., but not before I watched another episode of Cheers.   I am definitely not as happy go lucky about this program as my attitude was on previous programs.  A year ago, had I missed a workout due to a race, I would have been, so what? I'm taking this more seriously.  Uh-oh could it be that I'm turning into a serious runner?!?

There's nothing I could do, but do the best I can, to fit it all in.  Here's the wonderful plan: 

Early morning Friday: run the 7 miler originally set for Saturday.  That would allow me to recover the rest of  Friday thru Sunday before the race. That means being able to rest for 48 hours. That's plenty of rest and its better to be well rested than be over-trained going into a race. On Sunday, after a one mile warm up and the 10K,  I would have 7 miles under my belt. I would still need to do 7 miles to complete the 14 miles required for the long run.  I can do either of two things: Loop back and run the 10K course one more time or run the 5K course twice more. Either way, I will be short one mile. I won't fret over the shortage because the level of difficulty will make up for it. Depending on how I feel after the 10K, that's when I'll decide which course to take.  Completing a training run after you've already raced is both physically and mentally draining.  I've done it twice before and each time I vowed never to do it again, yet here I am.  I have no idea how this one will be like since the course is quad-burning difficult.  It will definitely slow my pace down for the tacked-on-miles afterwards and simulate running on tired legs as in the marathon. 

I’m going in with no lofty pace goals. I’ll do the best I can to hold a steady pace.  One thing on my side is that I’ve run part of this course as my lunch routine during my downtime, pre-marathon training.  I know what to expect somewhat. The plus: the course reverses my usual route, which to me, will seem easier.  What might be the stickler however, is the flat 5K start. I will have to consciously work on holding back and save some for when the course gradually winds up to the open reserve and then the trail wraps around the mountain. Gosh, it's tiring me out just writin' about it.

I  hope my plan goes well. Planning disaster averted...I am no longer freaking out. 'Will let you know how Sunday goes.

Happy Running!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

NYC Marathon Week#5: Superb Tempo Night

Wednesday's training schedule required completion of 35 minutes of tempo work. The plan meant 10 minutes of warm up and 20 minutes of easing into the tempo pace and then 5 minutes of cool down.  What actually happened was: 10 minutes of warm (I mile @ 9:48 pace) + 21 minutes of tempo (2.58 miles) +10 minutes of cool down (1 mile @ 9:55 pace).  What’s with the fraction, you ask? I had my ipod on and didn’t realize I already went over. So that was my delayed reaction.  That’s a sign that I wasn’t pushing it tonight, yet I achieved what I wanted to do. In the past, when I’ve done tempo, I would grimace in strain of pushing it and then couldn’t wait to reach the end.  Last night’s experience was totally different. I was more relaxed. If I didn’t know any better, I think this is progress here.

I joined my distance club in their warm up and form drills before embarking on my own workout. I was mighty tempted to do their workout. They did, 1000x2, 800x2, 400x3, with lap recoveries. I stayed behind and waited until all of them took off so I won’t be pulled into their fast paces.   I had to stick to my plan which was to complete 10 laps (400m) between 2:00 or 2:07.  That equates to a 8:00-8:33 pace.  I know it was a huge range, but I was giving myself time to ease into it. I had to stay relaxed and focused while fast guys lapped me once or twice.  This is good practice for racing—to be unfazed, just do my own “thang”.

When all was said and done, my average pace for each lap came to 2:06 or 8:23 pace. Very happy about that. Moreover, I wore my heart rate monitor. It stayed at 85%.  But I can’t use this as a benchmark since I was the big dummy.  I recently had to do a master reset for the watch since it was going nuts. Since then I had never reset the user profile to fit my statistics. That meant, that it was calculating the HR using the default, whatever that may be.  Next time, it will be ready.

Ah yes, another workout done! 93 days to NYC.

Happy running!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #5: Tuesday Sorta-Long-Run

I decided to run my 7 miler first thing this morning--my midweek long run or as Hal Higdon calls it, the “sorta-long-run”.  I was reminded by my Daily Mile buddy, Rich, about wearing the HR monitor so that I can better gauge my perceived efforts.  I was glad to be reminded to use it because it is a very useful tool and it ain't helpin' me much by sittin' in a drawer. After the run today I can see its intrinsic value.  It showed me how I've learned to ease into my run.  I used to just run out without getting my muscles warmed up.  I can see how my heart rate increases as my perceived effort also increases, most notably on the hill climbs.  There were three today.  On each climb, my HR would increase about 2%; it registered 82%.  It showed that I was working hard on the uphills. When I was all warmed up, my HR leveled to about 80%. That's good information since I was supposed to run it between 80 percent to 85 percent.

One thing about monitoring HR, I was surprised that in the middle of the run, it felt like I was just running along my normal effort, but the HR showed that I’ve increased my pace.  However I did not feel as if I worked harder to achieve that increased pace. In the end, my overall pace for the run was 9:28. I would say that is pretty good for being the first run of the week, and being stiff first thing in the morning and rolling out of bed.

I ran the 7 miles early so that I have all day today until early evening tomorrow night to rest. I want to give my tempo at the track my all.  The track is a mental barrier for me since I am going round and round in circles.  My goal is to run it at 2:00-2:07 per lap for 10 laps. That will give me the 20 minute tempo workout that I need.

See Morro Rock in the middle? It's right there!
In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful pictures I took tonight from Cayucos, looking in at Morro Bay. It was unusually clear and sunny. Typically it is foggy where you wouldn't be able to make out the famous Morro Bay Rock.

The lovely Cayucos Pier: the finish line for the Miracle Miles 10K

Cayucos is a quaint little beach town 6 miles north of Morro Bay

Happy Running! 95 Days until NYC Marathon!

Monday, August 1, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #5: Monday Rest & Recovery

I work upstairs on the second floor. Usually an indication of how the day is going to play out, as far as exercise is concerned, depends on how my legs burn while climbing the said flight of stairs. They did. Cross training today will be nixed to allow my poor legs to recuperate.

I’ve learned that rest is important. It is through the resting period when repairs to minute tears in the muscles takes place. Running breaks it down. Synthesis happens when you allow the body to rest.  I am listening to the body, more so now, than ever before. I’d rather take one day of rest than 3-4 days. My hammies are yelping, my quads are burning and my achilles are barking. Yes today is definitely a rest day.

Week #4 of training was pretty packed last week.  On paper, it looks easy. However, pile on intense days of training on top of one another and what do you get? Sore, timber-stiff legs ala Frankenstein. The combination of the middle of the week long run, the recovery run, hillwork, the weekend pace run coupled with the long run was the perfect recipe for fatigue.  The first  three weeks was easy. It was so easy that I added workouts here and there, because it didn't seem enough.  In retrospect, I should have enjoyed those “easy” weeks since, now we are into the nitty gritty. The real training is underway.   I face this 5th week with a little bit of trepidation.  For instance, I’ve never a done a mid-week long run past 6 miles. The 7 miles tomorrow is unchartered territory, and it’s only going to increase from here on out.  I have a 35-minute long tempo run the next day.  Without the warm up and cool down, that’s 20 minutes of running at tempo pace which is  about 90% effort. I would be extremely happy if I can pull between an 8:30 to 8:44 pace.  So glad that there is no pace run this weekend, just back to  back long runs done at a moderate pace.

There is a 10K trail run on Sunday that I have thought about running. However, the entry fee is steep—I know it is for a good cause, but still, in this economy, I have to be choosey. I have to look at the bigger picture. If I race this weekend, I woud be knocking off two days worth of training and that is a high price to pay.  If I want to see how well Hal Higdon’s program works, then I’ll have to stick to the plan.

Happy running!