Monday, September 26, 2011

Capping Week #12: Sunday 10K tune up race

I woke up at 4:50 a.m. only to hit the snooze button three times. Finally I dragged myself out of bed to get ready for this much awaited 10K. Using The results today, I will be able to gauge my progress with my marathon training using Hal Higdon's plan. I know it's not specific enough for a 10k training, but I should see some improvement. A PR would be very sweet, but any kind of improvement would prove the program has done wonders for my training already.

I was reading the night before on some blog, that for a 10k there was really no need to eat too much beforehand. My routine has always been, coffee, banana, oatmeal, a toast with peanut butter. I chose to have only coffee and oatmeal today. Bad decision. I ate at 5:30 a.m. while the race was not until 8am. By the time I warmed up, I felt hungry! Aaaargh! I learned my lesson. Can you see where this is going?

The weather was a cool 55 degrees with cloud cover the whole time. The RD blew the air horn at 8:02 and we were off! I consciously paid attention to my pace. In the first mile I planned to go about 8:10-8:15 pace. I placed myself at the back of the pack to get the fast people away from me and also so that I wouldn't be tempted to run fast. This was good. When looked at my Garmin, my pace still showed 8:03. Somehow it didn't feel like I was going fast however. So I slowed it down. The pace felt good. I was relaxed and not huffing and puffing by the first 1/2 mile, right around the first and only hill, compared to all other times that I've raced this course. I was happy and proud of myself for sticking to the plan this first mile, the second, and then the third mile. Increasingly, the pace felt harder to maintain when I got past the halfway mark. Then out of nowhere, an incredible side stitch popped up. It was hard to breathe with each landing of my foot. I knew I was in big trouble. The only way I could tolerate the pain in my diaphragm was to slow down to a 9:00 minute crawl! I was mad. There was nothing I could do. I wished I could blame it on the weather, or the course. But it was all me. I wasted so much time and felt helpless as people I passed earlier were now hunting me down. It became a matter of surviving the run and just finishing. At one point, I even thought of walking over to the side and quitting. I had a good pace and now it was gone. After a while, I managed to just keep it together one step at a time. There will be another day where I can redeem myself. With 1/2 mile to go, I dusted myself up and focused on chasing down the final gal in pigtails who passed me last as I struggled through my side stitch. With two blocks I overtook her and made the final turn to the finish. The clock read 52:23. I missed my goal by 24 seconds! I was disappointed that I never once checked my watch to see how close I was.

This was not a PR, but a course record for me. This is my second best time for a 10K, having shaved a full minute from my old best time from the same course in 2005. From the most recent time I ran this course in 2009, I chopped of a minute and twenty seconds. So I guess I should be happy about those facts. But it stings knowing I let it slipped away and only 24 seconds shy of 51:00. Back to the drawing board. I don't know what I did different to get that side stitch. I've had it in training run, but never in a race. I sure would like to know how to prevent it from happening again. Hopefully it won't happen in NY!

Well, that is it for this week with just under 29 miles for the week #13 It was a pull back week so the mileage dropped a bit, about 50%. I needed more rest so I dropped 10 miles to recover. I am sure Hal Higdon is fine with that. Next week, I go back up to the 55 mile zone.
I feel like I've gathered more strength to face Week #14.

Wed-7 x hills

Happy Running!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #12: Tuesday & Wednesday

Tuesday was a recovery run with a friend. I left my watch charging at the office so I had to go without it this morning. I also ran unplugged. That gave us a chance to talk. Well, my friend talked while I listened. It's hard for me to talk and run at the same time. I don't know how others do it.

From time to time, it's nice not to have anything stuck in your ears or glued to your wrist. I must say it was kind of liberating. But old habits die hard, I still had to ask what time we started and ended...I needed some kind of idea what our pace was. Hey I am a sucker for data, what can I say?

Yasso repeats are my favorite workout for speed. I was a little dissapointed when I asked the Coach what was more important to do tonight. She told me to hold off on the Yassos and do the following workout instead: 1000, 2x800, 4x400 each with lap recovery. She said that I would benefit more from this workout for my planned 10k this Sunday. I trusted her knowledge. I asked and I got my answer.

At the end of the night, I was so happy to see the numbers that I produced. I went out like a bat for the 1000m. I was trying to hold on to the leaders. I knew I should have backed off a little to save some gas for the 800s. The excitement got to me. I was not quite recovered yet when the first 800s started. Then after a lap recovery, I was back on track. At the start of the 400s, I kept telling myself, it's short, push it! The uncomfortable pain is only temporary. I wanted to stay close to the pack. I knew I was going fast, but I just stayed with them as best I could. The 3rd 400, I felt like calling it quits. My mind wandered off to saying, let this be your last one. After the lap recovery, I felt better and my legs were cooperative. I pushed it and it was nice to have another girl to push me when I needed it. She came up to my side with 200 meters to go. I was afraid she was going to pass me like she did in the 3rd 400, but I managed to turn the legs over faster. I felt like I was flying and barely touching the ground. Mind you, I can only run like this for less than 200 meters. I can't imagine those who can fly like this for 26.2 freakin' miles! Boy was I glad it was over. I had a huge side stitch at the end. Below are my results:

1000 4:27 (7:03 pace) 169 bpm
800 4:15 (8:27 pace) 163
800 3:55 (7:46 pace) 168
400 1:38 (6:23 pace) 165
400 1:40 (6:31 pace) 166
400 1:51 (7:32 pace) 159
400 1:43 (6:39 pace) 162

Feeling awesome! I thought the pace for my 400s were a fluke. Did my Garmin malfunction? Are those 6's for real? Shut up! Somebody pinch me!

Looking forward to my 10k race on Sunday! I'm looking to PR. It's been a while that I've done a personal best for a 10k. but my training has been going so well, I would very much like to see how much this plan has helped me thus far in the training with 8 weeks left to go. Stay tuned...
Happy Running

Monday, September 19, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #11: Going Long


Topping off Week #11 at 55 miles with long run of 3:24:56 in the dark at 9:30 p.m.  This has to be one my more toughest weeks so far. The two weekends with back to back 19 and 20 long runs coupled with 9 miler pace run and a 10 mile on Saturdays was definitely a challenge. Adding to the challenge was other life interruptions and finding a window to run.

1st half 1:42:14 (pace 10:13)
2nd half 1:42:46 (pace 10:16)
28 seconds slower in the 2nd half.
Best mile was last mile, fast finish  at 8:52 pace
Average pace was 10:15 (66 seconds slower than my goal pace of 9:09)

The day was tough.  We had a busy day the day before with the soccer game for Little Bit and having to run to the Bay Area and back in the same day to visit my sick uncle.  We got home at 2:30 am.  Needless to say we slept in. I woke up at 9 am thinking I was ready to go, but my stomach had another idea.  I must have eaten  something that didn’t agree with my system. I had to wait around to see if it will cure itself before hitting the road—just to be safe. In the meantime, I was out of my gels and needed to get some before the run. I also need my recovery chocolate drink. On top of that my ipod didn’t charge right.  There was no way I was running the 20 without my music. Seems like everything was working against me today.  I was worried that I may not be able to complete my long run.

When the going gets rough, just work with it.  Little Bit has been wanting to play tennis, all morning she’s been asking me if we could play. Since I couldn’t run anyway, I decided to spend some time with her.  We decided to do a mom and daughter time: shopping at Target.  I got a chance to get my nutritional stuff for running, get some lunch at our favorite Chinese Restaurant and then we were off to the tennis courts.  We’re no pros, but it was fun hitting the balls around. I might have tweaked my Achilles and ankles a bit from running side to side. Note for next time: not a  good idea to play tennis before running a 20-miler.

By the time I got out there it was close to 6 p.m. I knew I was going to be caught in the dark so I brought my headlamp with me. I decided to run a tougher course with lots short hills. I ran the Baywood course in the first 6 miles and headed towards Los Osos Valley Road (LOVR).  I like this because it is a straight. There is a long gradual incline that stretches out to one mile and two steeper hill inclines.  My ankles were none too happy especially after  tennis. But I was paying attention to my footing in the dark.

It was a hard night. Somewhere between mile 14 and 15, I was thinking I need to just call home and get Hubs to pick me up. My mind was totally made up. I thought, what am I doing here in the dark? I missed my window, I still have 2 more 20 milers on the schedule anyway, I can do it then.  Make this one a short 16 and call it a night. Then I realized, I hadn’t had a gel and it was my left brain taking over.  A quick swig of water and I emptied that gel in my mouth. A few seconds later,  I started thinking, if Mike W. can whip out a 24 miler in 1,800 elevation gain, why couldn’t  my sorry ass finish this run, with only 5 more to go? Pretty soon the 15 turned into 16, then 17, then 18. When I got to 19, I knew there was no need to call Hubs, although I knew he must be worried about me.  So I did call him on my cool down to let him know I was 3 blocks away from home. While walking home, I was exhilarated that I think that I almost quit was something else.  All I was, was tired, cold, wet and hungry. After a while it felt like my shoes lost its cushion.  I felt gravel under my feet. Sure my ankles and the bottom of my feet hurt (my orthotics slid to the side, causing my arch to hurt), but other than that, I had no injuries to nurse. I had no excuses to cut the run short. I had my ipod, my gels, and my chocolate milk waiting for me when I got home.  I needed to finish this run and I am glad I did.

While contemplating about cutting the run short, I thought about missing the 55 miles for the week. I was kind of excited that I have the chance to prove to myself that I am capable of running this mileage. I’ve never come close to it. I may have run 45 miles last year during the peak of the training period for NY. This is the first time that I am running strong with no injuries to hamper my quest to reach 55.    Also, cutting the miles short would have meant that I wouldn’t be able to finish the b2b long runs.  This was sort of the last piece to the puzzle. I needed to string two long runs together with success. If I quit now, that would be it, there was no other back 2 back scheduled in the long run. This was the peak in my eyes. Everything else from here on out should be smooth sailing.  Sure I have another 2 sets of 20 milers coming up, but they are sandwiched between pull back weeks with lower mileage.  No more back to back.

It turns out that this 20-miler is one of my more consistent even pacing run that I’d ever done. I don’t know if the factor was darkness or my body being tired that was the result of the slowdown in the 2nd half.  When I got to the 19th mile, I was back in the lights of the town so I was able to pick up the pace, also because I could see better. There is no feeling to describe when you reach that last mile knowing you almost quit and here you are crossing that boundary.  Pushing it while you are tired and hurting is only temporary, crossing that line knowing you completed however many miles it maybe--two or a hundred--is a memory that lasts forever. This is why I live to run, the hard days are ever so sweet and rewarding. I cherish it even more so knowing I could have quit but pushed through the negative thoughts. When the body says “it’s time” and the brain negotiates “little bit more” and then finally the brain wins, you win.

For week #12, Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Advance 1 looks like this:

Mon —Rest
Tues  —6 easy
WED —6Yasso
Thurs — 2 easy
Fri—12 easy (moved it to Friday since I have a 10K on Sunday)
Sun—10K Heritage Oaks  (this will take the place of my 6 mi pace run

Happy running and I hope your training is going as well as mine! We have 47 days left!

NYC Marathon Training Week #11: Thursday, Friday & Saturday

Thursday-Recovery Run

The latter part of Week #11 was heavy duty.  Miles were piled up big time. On top of that life, of course, got in the way. First my computer at work blew out. I had the blue screen of death. At first, I was cool about it, I've saved everything on the network folder, right? ALL MY WORK including my templates, gone!  There was nothing that could have been done to retrieve any of it.  I'm at peace with it now.  Thank goodness for Fears for Tears, that was the first thing that consoled me after my computer snafu. My friend treated me for an 80's concert down at the Chumash Hotel and Casino Resort.  Those guys can still sing! It was wonderful! For a few hours I had forgotten about my computer issue. Thanks Heidi!
Notice everyone sitting down? Everyone but the #1 fan who stood in front of me...happens all the me.

Something happens and I'm head over heals...Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, still rockin it!

The 80's rule: Everybody Wants to Rule the World....opening song!

The Encore: Shout! Shout! Let it all out!
Before all my computer drama, I got my run out of the way. It was a simple 6 miler through the Cal Poly campus.  College kids were back in town so the campus was a bit busy. The first 3 miles I took it easy. Then the last three, without even thinking, I dialed into my marathon pace. In the 4th mile, seeing that I was close, I thought I might as well try to see if I can pick it up a bit. In the end, I ran a negative split. Another good workout done.

Friday-Time Trial
I totally forgot about the time trial that I postponed from last Friday.  Today was the day. I rushed to the track at lunch to see what I can produce.  It was hot and I didn't prepare so well. had I remembered I would have dialed it back some from Thursday so that I would have a little bit more gas in the tank. I did the best I could and even forgot about the strides.  I ran for a mile to warm up then ran 4 laps. I ended up with a 7:44 minute/mile pace with a 12 second improvement over my last time trial in August at 7:56. Another good workout.

Saturday-Long Run 10 miles
Busy Saturday indeed. We had a soccer game in the middle of the morning on top of having to drive to the Bay Area to visit my uncle who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It's been a whirlwind kind of day. My daughter's team, the Green Extreme had two tied games for two weeks in a row now.  Hubs is not complaining: his team looks like the Bad News Bears compared to the other team, but they held their own. That's way better than losing the game. But we're hungry for a win.  Little bit scored a goal by the way.

Before the soccer game, I snuck  in a 10 miler and got it done with another negative split.  First 1/2 was at 10:13 pace and the second 1/2 was at 9:43 pace. I was faster by 2 and 1/2 minutes on the second trip. My overall pace was 9:58. I'll say this was a good workout.  The only thing I was a little worried about was the long haul of sitting in the car.  I needed to stretch the legs before I stiffen up for the long run the next day. We shall see.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #11: Tuesday & Wednesday

Tuesday Midweek Long Run

I ran with a friend at six a.m. today for 5.5 miles. I was afraid that my legs would feel the lingering effects of my long run from Sunday. But to my surprise, all was well. They had more pep in them than I had expected at fairly early in the morning. However, I wished I was able to run slower in the first mile or so and then do my usual stretching. But I was too timid to let my friend know. To stop, I was afraid, I might hold her back. I went along without stretching and hoped that I would not damage anything for this week. I was taking a huge risk. Bad Aileen!

After the run, my Garmin showed a pace of 9:10 min/mile. I was glad to see this since I have just hit my pace run on Saturday. This is very close to my pace effort. What a way to start the day! However, I was still short 4.5 miles which I ended up finishing at lunch. In the heat of the day, I did not push the effort at all. I just wanted to finish my 10 miles. I must have been relaxed not caring about the pace because low and behold, with hills and all, my pace ended up being 9:18. I was very happy with the results. This day has been great and I am so proud with the quality of my workouts.

Wednesday Tempo Night

Today I ran my tempo on the track. I needed to do a total of 45 minutes with 10 minutes of warm up, 30 minutes of tempo work and 5 minutes of cool down. To get my body to learn pace, I needed the track where it is flat and easier to get visual cues as far as distance goes. Prior to the run, I calculated that I needed to do 15-30 seconds slower than my 10K pace to get to my tempo pace. Based on my recent 5K race performance, I calculated that my 10K pace would be somewhere around 8:05. So adding 15 to 30 seconds to my 10K pace would yield, 8:20 to 8:35 as my tempo. That meant hitting each quarter or lap around the track between 2:05 to 2:09. I set my Garmin to 14 laps or 3.5 miles. If I run according to pace, I should be able to finish the 3.5 miles in under 30 minutes.

I must say my calculations were right on. I finished the 14 laps or 3.5 miles in 29:09 with a pace of 8:19! That's a 2:05 average for each quarter. As I've been trying to do lately, I end the run with a fast finish. No matter how tired I may be, I force myself to dig deep. My last quarter was the best at 1:53 or 7:34 pace. The first lap was my second best at 1:57 or 7:49 pace. The rest hovered between 2:01 to 2:10 quarters. I would say that was pretty good for not looking at the watch at all. I also made sure that my cooldown was proper. I know Hal Higdon said 5 minutes, but I needed 2 miles of cooldown. All in all I completed 6.5 miles tonight. Another successful workout.

Earlier in the week as I was looking at the schedule for Week #11, my first thought was, could I pull off a tempo run right after a 10 miler? And before that, 19-miler long run and the 9-mile pace run? I assumed that my legs would likely feel the lingering effects of the previous hard efforts, that the tempo effort might not look so good. Tonight, I was pleasantly surprised. I have to learn to trust the plan.

The week is still young. I have 3 more hard workouts left unchecked. I can't allow myself to celebrate yet until the week is over.

By the way, I just got my bib # info for NYC last night: I'm #24529. Corral #24, Wave #2, 10:10 a.m. start,  I can't help but feel excited. This feels like it's on now! These next 5 weeks are all about the 20 milers--all three of them gunning for me!

Happy running and keep training smart, my friends!

Monday, September 12, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week 10: Mid-Training Analysis



My HR was 6 beats higher on Wednesday, the day I was supposed to do my hill work. I planned to do it after work in cooler temps but when I got home, “Little Bit” greeted me with, “Mama, you left early in the morning and I didn’t see you. Now you're going running? I don’t want you to go.” That was all I needed to hear so I scrubbed my workout. Seldom do I hear Little Bit making such a request. It was just as well since I felt like I needed one more day to recuperate. I felt pooped.  My legs felt okay, but my mind was exhausted. My heart wasn’t in it this day. I lacked motivation, maybe because of the heat, I don't know. It was 90 degrees in SLO whereas when I came home, it was a cool 65 in Los Osos and it was only a 20-minute drive between work and home.  Hill work was therefore pushed to Thursday and my window of opportunity was limited to my lunch hour.  Again it was hot, but thankfully for the Eucalyptus trees which offered great shade.  The training called for 6 x hill repeats of between 200-400m long.  I opted for the shorter 200m. But before starting, I ran 2 short hills about a tenth of a mile long to fire up the muscles before hitting the lactate threshold pace. After those, I started the 200s.  I was slow and sluggish as soon as the lactate crept up. By then end of the workout I completed 7 repeats instead of 6.  I must have lost track! Really? I couldn’t believe it.

In analyzing my hill workouts, I should have stuck to one hill so that I could compare notes from one week to the next. I should have also stuck with a certain hill distance. Instead, I ended up running 3 different hills on 5 different occasions, with varying distances on each weeks. Hard to make a comparison that way when so many variables are accounted for.   On the other hand, I did mixed it up. One good thing about that, is that the variances allowed my leg muscles to be introduced to varying pitch, distance and gradient.  I did run Lizzie hill in August and I do have one good data that came out of it where my pace was around 11:13. This time around my average pace for the 7 repeats were 9:58 pace—so in that sense I will take this as progress made.

Thank God for Friday, my rest day!

Saturday Pace Run

It went well. Finally I hit the pace I needed for the marathon at 9:09. It took this long, but the journey was awesome. I actually did not do a negative split. That would have been sweet had I done that! I was 19 seconds slower on the second half.  I had 2 huge hills on the way back so that accounted for the slow down. First four and a half miles was done at 8:59 pace while the last four and a half miles was 9:18 pace. Like I said before, when I run relaxed going into the run and feel no cares about the pace, I end up with a faster second half. When my brain knows I have to hit a certain pace, I end up tensing up and going out too fast. Much of my glances in the first half from my Garmin revealed paces in the 8:38s. I got to learn to relax!

Sunday Long Run

I was so happy with how I ran Saturday’s goal pace run that on Sunday, I didn’t care too much about pacing. In fact, the slower the better.  It was humid. I started early in the morning since Little Bit had a sleepover at our house.  Word on the street was, her friends love my banana pancake for breakfast so I was eager to get back home before they all woke up.

I started off at 6:15 am and headed out to San Luis Obispo. I started out very slow since it was still dark and I paid attention to potholes—I would hate to be this close to the marathon and twist an ankle.  The ol' body was a little creeky, muscles were too cold and sore.  I didn't have the desire to hit a negative split this day, I just wanted to complete the run. As far as I was concerned I had my cake yesterday. Poor planning though: I only had 4 water bottles with me, and had to ration it.  I also had 4 energy gels and I thought I lost one, but it was shoved way down my pouch that I went the last few miles wishing I had one more.  When I got back to Los Osos, I was short one mile. I ran one in my neighborhood to finish at 19 miles with a 10:17 pace. Compared to the olden days, I used to run a 10:25 for a 20 miler sandwiched by two full rest days! Today I ran this pace behind a 9 mile pace run! I think I have improved! 

Mid-Training Analysis

I’m well beyond my halfway point in Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Plan-Advance 1.  So far it’s been great. For the most part I was able adhere to key work-outs.  I crossed off easy days sometimes when my body clamored for more rest. I squeezed in tune up races when I needed.  One time I participated in a race where I didn’t need to  which cause me to miss the "sorta long run".  In hindsight, I could have probably sit this particular race out. 

The reason I picked Hal Higdon's marathon plan was because of the inclusion of the medium long runs in the middle of the week and the pace run behind the long runs on the weekends. I also like the interchangeability of the yasso, hill and tempo runs every third week. I knew it was going to be a tad more challenging than my previous "Break 4:00 Training Plan" from Runner's World. But I was ready to push myself. Only thing though, I had little bit of trepidation about  Hal's recovery days. They were iffy for me, because I was used to a complete rest days from previous training plans. I wanted my full rest. I was not sure whether I would be beating the body more if I didn’t get my complete rest days.  There were weeks were I trusted the plan and ran the recovery days. I was fine after running it and was surprised. But then again, there were other weeks where I knew I had to rest thinking that there was nothing an easy 3 miler can do but tire myself even more and hamper the next workout. On the whole, I was careful with listening to the body.

My goal this training plan is to be able to stick to the plan without injury. Stick to the plan so that I can go on to the next training stronger. So far, I’ve had no problem with the knees, I’ve been religiously taking my glucosamine chondroitin for the past 3 years! I am swearing by this.  Also, I have had no problem with the piriformis, I’ve been stretching every night before bed and also within a ½ mile after the start of my runs. The Achilles have not been no problem.  There’s an occasiocal twinge, but I’ve been keeping an eye for it. I take a rest day if they are starting to bother me. I am so okay with one day off now rather than 3-4 days to let it heal. Learned my lesson--can’t ignore it.

As far as mileage goes, so far I have succeeded. I stuck to the majority of the key workouts and the ones that I missed were the less prioritized long runs in the middle of the week.  I may have  missed a couple of paced runs but the actual races made up for it.  I moved days around to accommodate other priorities happening in my life and it worked out. After 10 weeks my cummulative mileage is 343, that averages about 34 miles a week. Hal’s plan has 369 miles approximately at the 10th week mark. I am not too far off, considering I mostly scratched off the recovery days of 3 miles.   

When it comes to training paces, I’d like to think that I have done my best to stick to it.  Early on, the pace runs were easy. I hit the paces, but when the weekly workouts ramped up, the pace runs for the weekend got harder to hit. I struggled with the 9:14 and 9:15 in the 7 and 8 mile pace runs. It wasn’t until week 10 that I was able to hit the 9:09 pace and I had to monitor my Garmin much more to make sure that I was on target.

In the next 8 weeks of Hal's Plan, I would very much like to continue to push myself and at the same time listen to the body even more so. Toeing the line 110% healthy on Nov 6 is the utmost goal.
For Week #11, the week looks like this, slightly modified as we will be out of town for the weekend:

Mon –4 easy REST 

Tues –10 easy

Wed –45 Tempo (6 miles)

Thurs –5 easy  REST

Fri –Rest 10 easy

Sat –10 easy 20 easy

Sun –20 easy 5 easy 

Total 51 miles

As you can detect, there are a lot of easy days piled on top of one another with the exception of the tempo workout on Wednesday. That is the only speed workout scheduled for this week. What’s hard is keeping up the mileage. I’m on the 50 mile zone here, so technically this is not an easy week! If I can hang, that’s the most I would have ever done in my marathoning days. Whew! Keeping my fingers cross and hoping for no injuries!

Here's to happy running with no injuries!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #9: Sunday 12-miler

Sixty one days until race day! This training is happening waaaay too fast--closing the books on Week #9.   This week was an easy week with the mileage for the long run pulled back by 30% and ending with 33 miles total. I still have to learn to accept the easy pull back weeks and not make it any harder. I should enjoy the low miles to get ready for the next two weeks which will be challenging.

That said, a third of the way through my long run this morning, I convinced myself to cut my road run into 8 miles and finish off the rest on the trails. I had this bright idea since I've been missing running on trails and it will give me a bonus hill workout. As I was mindlessly climbing my second hill today at mile 6, I felt a slight twinge on my left Achilles. Yes, that's the body telling me, not so fast, no hills today.  It was good that I paid attention and realized that my Achilles are probably tired from the race yesterday so it wouldn't be a good idea to push through a harder workout.  With that, I continued on with my normal road running through my neighborhood.  I had a chance to see the course in daylight where the running divas took me on our usual dark morning runs. The eucalyptus grove is so pretty and hard to appreciate when you can't see them. It's so peaceful running through it now that I can see it in its glory. It is unnerving running when it's dark and you have no idea what could be lurking in the darkness behind the trees.

I am still feeling good about my PR from yesterday that today I set out with no particular pace in mind.  I wanted to do the run as easy as possible so I started it very relaxed. I noticed that when I run relaxed, paying no mind to whatever pace, I end up with a better performance. I end up doing the first half slower and am able to dial into a faster pace at the second half, thereby allowing myself to run another negative split. That is exactly what happened today, another negative split. I completed the 12 miles in one hour and fifty-three minutes at a 9:34 minute/mile pace. The pace for the first half was 9:58 and the second half at 9:10. That's 48 seconds faster. Not only that, the second half is almost my marathon pace! How sweet is that?

Week #10 from Hal Higdon's Advance I Marathon Training Program looks like this:

Mon~ 3 easy
Tues~ 9
Wed~ 6 x hills
Thurs~ 4
Fri~  R-E-S-T
Sat~ 9 pace
Sun~ 19 long run

The 9 mile pace run on Saturday and the 19 miles on Sunday will be quite the challenge. The longest back to back hard days will be a first for me--I've never ran long two days in a row like that. I haven't decided yet where I would run the 19.  I've got this week to decide.

So far the training is going well.  Happy running!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #9: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 5K PR

Thursday was all about nothing--absolutely nothing.  I woke up with my resting HR at 55. This meant I was well rested.  I was surprised since the night before, I ran some quality Yasso workouts. I was so stoked that I had recovered so quickly. I was supposed to run a 4 mile recovery run, but the day got away from me. However, I was okay with that, since it was a little too warm for me to run in San Luis anyway.  I planned to run at home but soccer practice took over and by the time we were done, I was too hungry to run. I guess I could have ran in the dark, but something else came up. Yeah, the kid wanted to watch our nightly installments of our Cheers episodes. Yes, there are days where I am a slacker...this was such a night and no regrets.

Friday~Shake-out/Recovery Run
I was so excited about the 5K the next day in Cambria.  I was well rested and this was the first time in weeks that I felt like my legs were fresh and ready to go.  I felt prepared for the challenge. If all worked out, I would meet my 5K PR. I've heard that the race was flat, fast, and cool--these are record setting conditions. I've never ran this course before. From what I heard, there is one slight hill just before the turn-around and downhill for the rest. I've prepared well this week with not doing too much and holding back on some workouts. I ran a quick two-mile shake-out run to loosen the cobwebs at lunch. I made sure I didn't run it fast. I listened to more mellow music to aide in the slow down.  It was a little warm too; that helped to keep my pace at 9:57 pace. I ran just enough to wake up the leg muscles to remind them that they are going to be called upon to work hard tomorrow.

Saturday~Cambria Pinedorado Days 5K
I was preoccupied last night I didn't set up my running gear. Typically I would have laid everything out the night before: water bottle, socks, shoes, ipod, cap, jacket, sunscreen, Vaseline, hair ties, shorts, set up coffee, oatmeal, banana, and gel.  I was too busy revising my ipod playlist that before I knew it, it was time to go to bed. I got to sleep at 10:30 p.m. I set the alarm to wake me up at 4:45 a.m. As soon as I heard it my heart started racing. It was funny, because I feel like I have trained Hubs to hand me what I needed. He handed me my phone, my HR monitor and my garmin. As if on cue, without being told, in his half asleep state, he drops everything on me.  Ugh-oww! Thanks? Well, upon waking up I was already Nervous Nelly. My heart rate read 60 bpm and I haven't even gotten out of bed yet.  Since the race started at 7:45 a.m. and it took about 50 minutes to get there and I wanted some time to warm up, I had to leave my house by 6:30 a.m. at the latest.  That gave me about over an hour and a half to putter around, get my breakfast and gather my clothes and gear and visit the restroom for 3,452 times--you know how it is before a race.  Also, it never fails.  No matter how small or big a race--whether a marathon or a 5K, I still feel the same kind of butterfly fluttering around in my stomach. Get a hold of yourself, this is just a 5K!

I got to the start with time to spare. This is what's great about small, intimate races. Everything is low-key and quick. You park close-by, you pay, get your goodies and warm-up. All the proceeds benefits the local school high school. The race has been going on for a number of years that the organizers have everything down. This is my first time here in Cambria and the town is warm and inviting.  Also going on is the Shriner's Parade. I've managed to catch some photos to share.

Pups with their Masters doing the hoe down

See the recliner on wheels? All he needs next is an ice chest on wheels filled with beer.

Pinball Wizard is hard to do, hard to recognize when these guys played it.
Buzzards. Why are there buzzards? Can you see them?

Perfect weather, perfect conditions for a PR. I'm feeling it today. After a few minutes of warming up, the RD gathered everyone to the start and a few thanks were expressed. While waiting, I glanced at my HR monitor and it was at 91! Man, I was already nervous, been nervous all morning. I showed it to one of my fellow Wednesday night track club member and he said, "Boy I'd love to see what your heart rate reads on a big race!" That made me laugh. I started chanting out loud, the word RELAX, over and over, and one head turned around and smiled at me. I think he knew what I was doing. Runners are so friendly! Then, we were off!

Mile One - 7:21
My goal was to RELAX the first mile and let the fast ones blow by me. I tried to hold back and it's difficult to do when everyone else is blasting past you. I had my slow music on and it didn't do much good. It didn't feel like I was going fast, but judging by my Garmin, I did get out there too fast. So far, there were no one on the road but runners here.

Mile Two - 8:01
I settled into my goal pace here. We ran through the Main Street in Cambria where people were getting ready to spectate the parade.  The hurdle here was the cars and Shriner's. We were dodging both.  There was a little hill just before the turnaround--nothing I couldn't handle.  I was counting the number of women on the turnaround to see where I stood.  I was pleased to find out I was third coming back! I was stoked yet I was running scared. I didn't want to be passed up in the last mile. I never once glanced at my Garmin.  But the thought that swirled inside my head was, this better be a sub 25.  This effort was kicking my butt and if it was not sub 25, then I don't know what. Also I asked myself, why does a 5K hurt so much?

Mile Three -8:22
This is supposed to be where I cranked it.  But not today. I just wanted to finish well without losing any more ground.  Eventually two men passed me on the very last half mile. It was a little disappointing that I couldn't keep up, especially seeing that they were both struggling to keep the pace.  To add salt to the wound, they were struggling and at the same time they were still  passing me, I can't imagine how slow I looked like.

The last tenth - 7:18
In my long runs as of late, I've been practicing my finishing kick.  With either a tenth of a mile or the two tenths of a mile left, I try to run fast and simulate how it is to have faster turnover on fatigue legs. I can say that it helped today. That's one thing I will continue to do.

I am happy to report that I did it! I finally broke 25 minutes. It's been over a decade since I've posted a sub 25 minute 5K finish. It goes to show that consistency and discipline does pay off.  It didn't come easy for me though. If you work on it, it will come. My time today was 24:25 at 7:53 pace. I am elated to have shaved a minute and 27 seconds off from my two previous 5K races this summer which were 25:51 qnd 25:52 Strawberry Stampede 5K and Pozo 5K.  Today I was third woman overall, and 1st place in my age group. (Thank you women ages 40-49 who decided to sleep in today. I love small races, don't you?)
24:25 5K Good enough for 1st Place 40-49 Age Group
I scrubbed my 9 mile pace run today. I'm okay with it. I'm going to bask in the glory for the rest of  the day.  Tomorrow is another day. I will reward myself with a well deserved rest...

Happy Running!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

NYC Marathon Training week: #9 Yassos

The first thing I did this morning upon waking up was to check my resting HR. I was a 'lil worried that I may have done more harm than good by dodging the slow run yesterday and opting for speed work. Thinking about this has got me all worked up. Rats! My watch was downstairs and I had to get up to get it, on top of that I had to pee real bad. Bad planning on my part not to keep my watch within reach.That meant I was already getting stressed and my HR was probably spiking, so I thought.  I was surprised that it was down to 54 bpm. That's the lowest I've measured it. Whoa! What's going on? Could it be that I am gaining fitness? 
That meant tonight might be a good night for Yassos.

I got to the track to warm up for a mile at a very slow pace of 10:28 and my HR was 136 bpm at 77% of my max HR. I did some form drills with the group and then I was off for the 800s on my own. My goal was 3:47. I ran 6 sets of 800s with 3:47 rest in between each set. The rest equated to 100 meter walks and 300 meters  of recovery jog. At the end of my 800, I ran one 400 for good measure. I was happy about that one. After the reps, I cooled down for a 3 laps at 10:30 pace. My splits are as follows:

800 @ 3:45 (7:31) 152
800 @ 3:40 (7:20) 166
800 @ 3:46 (7:33) 166
800 @ 3:51 (7:43) 162
800 @ 3:56 (7:53) 163
800 @ 3:59 (8:00) 162
800 totals 42:04 4.57 mi 9:13 pace
400 @  1:42 (6:42) 157 bpm

What happened in the last 3 reps of the 800s? I can explain! The mind is an incredible machine. The body does what the brain tells it. After the third set, I started thinking, maybe I shouldn't go too fast because I have the 5k on Saturday to prepare for. Maybe 3 Solid Yassos at 3:47 will do the trick. As I was lost in the thought, my pacing fell off, as you can see from the top. I felt like I was still keeping the pace. I didn't feel like I was even slowing down. But now we know because the Garmin tells another story. I didn't will my feet to slow down, but the mind took over. I don't know if I am making any sense here, but the lesson learned here was: if you want to do well in a race, you have to think positive and say to yourself "You can do it!" There is no time for maybe's or what ifs. This is what I'll repeat to myself come Saturday for that 5K, or any other time I reach a bad patch in any marathon.

Tonight was a great night for Yassos. As a treat, I decided to go easy tomorrow. I need to be smart and not tempt myself to run fast. That means not running with the divas. :-( I need a slow 4 miler since I've done back to back quality workouts. If I run with the ladies, the temptation would be too strong to keep up with them. I get to sleep in. 

Happy running!