Sunday, October 30, 2011

Marathon Checklist & Plans

Holy schnikes! Somebody stop the clock! I want to savor the moment. It's hard to imagine that it has been almost a year ago today that I was planning what to pack for the 2010 NYC Marathon, trying to imagine what it would be like to run with 45,000 friends and have no clue of what to expect in the biggest footrace of all. Now here I go again, one year older and one year wiser.

Just part of what I had a chance to pack...still not done...
This past week I’ve received daily emails from the NYRR club about racing tips and overall info about the marathon.  It is hard to contain myself from all the excitement.  Every time an email pops up, it stirs up the butterflies in my belly.  It’s less than 7 days away, I can hardly believe it is almost here.  To help contain my excitement, I’ve come up with a checklist I used from my past experiences and collected from my readings. I’ve never really shared this with anyone.  It may be too much info, but hey, this is my reality—so bear with me.

Aileen’s Marathon Race Day Checklist

• Shoes (w/orthotics)  & Socks
• Top if cold (under 50 degrees):  running bra + Marathon Maniac singlet + Under Armor long sleeves red shirt
• Bottom if cold: Skins Capri + Zoot shorties w/ pocket
• Top if warm (over 50 degrees): MM singlet over Sugoi Tank + arm warmers
• Bottom if warm: Zoot shorties + leg sleeves
• Fuel belt-2 bottles
• Bib w/ Timing Chip
• Pin on Fuel Belt 2 flasks if donning an LL shirt to tie around waist.
• Energy Gels  6:  45’ (mile 4.5), 1’30” (mile 10), 2’15” (mile 15), 3’ (mile 20), 3’45” (mile24)
• Advil
• Table Salt packets
• Garmin
• HR monitor
• Sunglasses
• Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
• Aveeno sunscreen
• Pre race clothes-charity garments
• Post race clothes-pants, jacket, long sleeve shirt, hat, undergarments, gaiter, mittens
• Baby wipes (to wipe off grimy salt after race)
• Skirt to use as a cover up while taking off wet clothes
• Money
• Lawn Bag – to keep warm & if raining​
• UPS check bag
• Cardboard or foam to sit on

2 Days Before – Friday
Go to the Expo at Javits Convention Center and pickup race packet.  Eat a light meal high in carbs.

Night before – Saturday
Start marathon ritual: Lay out clothing starting with socks orthotics, shoes, shorts, under garments, singlet, Heart rate monitor, watch, sunglasses, hat and then charity garments.
Get to bed early.  I already know it’s okay if I can't get much sleep.  This is normal excitement
before the race.  It won't affect my running. But I’ve taken Tylenol PM in my past 4 marathons (NY, Napa, Oakland, The Ave of Giants) to make sure I get my sleep. It’s just a matter of choice.

Morning of Race
Wake up 3 hours before (3 am.) Shower to wake up. Eat breakfast at least 2 hours before (5 am): coffee, oatmeal, banana, plain bagel.  Put on racing gear: bib, prerace charity clothes, socks, shoes, orthotics. Try to get a bowel movement out of the way before leaving for the bus. Keep drinking water to hydrate. Get to NY Public library to board bus at 5:30 am. Bring metro card emergency cash and stow away in the post race bag.

The Staging Area - Fort Wadsworth
Find porta-potties at the race venue and used them.
Find my corral and use cardboard to sit on. Try to relax.
Use lawn bag to keep warm. Keep drinking water. Eat 2nd Breakfast between 8:30-9:00
Find the location for the post marathon bag drop off.
Gentle stretching. Visualize the race. Review race execution list.
TP on Ziploc just in case they run out.

Post Race Bag should have the following: Metro card, money, w/driver’s license,
Subway map, baby wipes, beanie, mittens, flip flops

Moments before the Gun
Enjoy listening to Sinatra’s New York-New York—they’ll play it just before the gun.
Start casting off charity clothes.
Reminder:  Tell myself that it took me 18 weeks to get here and that I am “Higdon” trained.
Read my victory notes--all my training obstacles that I overcame to get here. Think about the early part of 2011 with the injury and how I overcame it and how I came out much stronger and wiser.
Run my race smartly.
Consult my split times. Think about hard areas and my strategy to overcome those obstacles.
Adjust watch and HRM.
Adjust shoe laces.
Last minute potty break? Always!
Mentally prepare for gun.
Have my Gu? My Gatorade? Clif Shot?

During the Race
Fuel belt w/ 2 bottles
Advil (if needed)
6 Gu
Cell Phone

Race Execution
Take Table salt after 1 mile
Gu every 45 minutes
@mile 5 or 45:00
@mile 10 or 1:30
@mile 15 or 2:15
@mile 20 or 3:00
@mile 23 or 3:30
Take water with Gu
Gatorade every other aide station
Take Table Salt after mile 13.1

There you have it, my race plans.  Even with the best intentions, I might miss a couple of things here and there because of the excitement and adrenaline.  It is very easy to forget once you are in the moment and racing. Your mind wanders to a thousand different directions that it is helpful to have a checklist in your mind to reign in and focus on your plan. It looks good on paper, we shall see if I can execute according to my plan.

It seems the last three weeks of my training came to such an abrupt end. It was as if somebody pushed the fast forward button and then here we are!  I’m not complaining at all. It just seems like it was yesterday when I first heard the news from my fellow blogger,, that I was in! I made it into the NYC marathon a second time, two years in a row. Why don’t I get this kind of luck at Vegas! Oh wait, you do have to play to get lucky!

I’m on the cusp of the 2nd to the last week of the taper period. I only had to do 4 miles on Saturday (negative split with the 2nd half 27seconds faster for each mile) and an easy 8 on Sunday (another negative split with the last half 30 seconds faster per mile).  That gave me 22 miles for the week.  I’ve cut down 44% from last week’s mileage. I’ve been very good about sticking to the program and not adding anything that might cause a last minute injury. In fact, I’ve even taken an extra day off to rest this week. To be honest, I had a minor scare last weekend.  At the end of my long run I felt my right Achilles twinge. I was a little concerned.  Then my right psoas started to tweak on top of that. I thought, "This is it, the other shoe finally dropped!"  No, I didn’t panic. It was a good thing it happened at end of the run so I went straight home, iced and laid low for two days.  I don’t know whether it could have been just the taper madness playing tricks on me, where every muscle twinge is amplified, or what. Now thankfully, everything is back to normal. The right Achilles is fine and so is my psoas.   The name of the game at this point in time is to stay healthy and not do anything stupid. I’ve been carbo-loading, watching what I eat, staying away from sick folks and washing my hands. The final week of my training program from Hal Higdon (Advance 1) looks like:

Week  #18  – Final Taper Week

Mon—3 mi easy
Tues —4x400 repeats
Wed—2 mi easy
Thursday—no running—travel to marathon location—keep drinking—get good sleep
Friday — no running—EXPO, pasta load—keep drinking—get good sleep
Saturday—2 miles easy @ Central Park—pasta load—keep drinking all day and eating—get rest
Sunday—ING NY City Marathon 2011! (Forecast: lo 46-hi 68, partly sunny)

Here’s to staying healthy and injury free!   7 days to New York! (Actually I leave Thursday so I only have 5 days to go!)

The biggest two marathon tips ever:
1. Don't try to do anything new this week.
2. No cramming for last minute speedwork.  Nothing you do in the last 3 weeks will make you anymore faster on Nov 6.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #16 Wrapping 1st Week of Taper

Sorry for the late post. Life's been so busy...

Saturday 4 Mile Pace Run
I got out a little too late at 9:25 am. It was unusually hot and humid.  I thought it was going to be easy whipping out a 4 mile pace run--but not so much. It was a most humbling running experience today. I was reminded not to be so cocky readily thinking it will be easy to run this.  No matter how good I feel, weather plays a huge factor. It can be miserable or perfect. Today was such an example. Please Running Gods, shower us with good weather on Nov 6th. Please save the high humidity, wind and rain some other day. Even then, my final overall pace was a 9:02.  Was so glad I only had to do 4 miles today.  Anymore in this humidity, I probably would not have lasted.
Sunday 12 Miler-Last Long Run
I was aiming to throw some MP somewhere along the end here.  Since my run Saturday was a little humbling I tried to get up earlier to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. I was bummed about the cancellation of the ½ marathon that I was going to use as a tune up race. However when this day finally rolled around, I was happy that I didn’t have this race. I realized it was much too close to the marathon. I may not have time to recover.  I’ll take that as divine intervention.
I was out of sort today maybe it was the pace run yesterday, I seemed to have lost a little bit of confidence about hitting my goal pace. I tried to run relaxed in the beginning telling myself that this is the final long run and nothing more.  I was a bit tentative, tense and worried about picking up the pace.  My breathing was erratic—started to suck air—not good. I was glad this was just a training run. This is what I do not want to do in NY. I have to learn to relax. The first mile was great. I slowed just enough but started picking it as the miles came by.  By the end of the run I was running an 8:17 pace for the last mile.  Overall, the first half was a 9:27 pace and the last half at 8:54 pace.  I dropped 33 seconds per mile in the second half.  My average pace was 9:11 for the 12 miles.  I missed my MP by 2 seconds, however I ran a negative spit—good enough for today.
I am so looking forward to a wonderful 2nd week of taper.  There is so much to do and so little time.
I still have to unpack.  Yes, I packed my suitcase back in May and now have to unpack to reassess what kind of stuff I really need.   I do have a marathon checklist that I am working on and will post soon.
Meanwhile, happy running and may you run healthy and injury-free!
Week #17 (Week #2 of Taper period) looks like this:
Monday --Rest
Tuesday —4 mi easy
Wednesday—30 tempo
Thursday —4
Friday —Rest
Saturday— 4 mi easy
Sunday —8 mi easy

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #16-First Week of Taper

Monday was thankfully a rest day. I woke up sore from Saturday and Sunday—quite the normal fatigue after two days of back-to-back long runs. I was prepared to scratch out the next day’s workout had it turned out that I was still sore. But I was glad that the soreness faded away by nightfall.  Recovery was fast this time.  Yippee!

Tuesday’s run was a midweek long run consisting of 8 miles. It was supposed to be an easy effort. I stuck to the comfortable pace from the first half and stepped on the pedal for the last half just a tad. Still fresh from the long run, the legs weren’t 100%, so it was a little slow going today. All in all, the pace was 9:48 (first half was 10:11, second half was 9:26) with a negative split, having shaved of 45 seconds per mile in the in second half. A good workout!

Wednesday’s run consisted of 6 x hills.  I went back to my usual hill approximately 6-7% grade and about a fifth of a mile long, near my neighborhood. I ran it after work to ensure cooler temperature. The recovery intervals were of the same distance. I walked a quarter of the way down and slow jogged the rest until I got to the bottom of the hill. The results of this workout surprised me again. My splits were as follows:

8:39 / 8:32 / 8:15 / 7:57 / 8:01.

I cut it short by one repeat because darkness came too soon. I thought I had more time and I didn’t want to risk my safety on the road.  I was two miles away from home and had no reflective gear on me. It’s starting to get darker much earlier.   Anyway, back to the repeats.  This was a great workout because this is the first time that I was able to start slower and crank it up as the repeats progressed.  My last hill repeat of 7 x hills, 3 weeks ago from week #13, was the total opposite: I started out fast and ended slow—because I was getting tired:

7:41/ 7:41/ 7:55/ 8:14/ 8:35/ 8:51/ 8:12

So far, in the last few weeks, I’ve been able to nail negative splits on almost all my runs. I was not expecting to do this on my hill repeats because it's just hard to do.  I still am on cloud nine. I don’t know how this happened. I can’t explain it. All I know is how good it felt to see my numbers. While I am running the hills, I didn’t feel any different. If you asked me how I was able to run the faster repeats, I can tell you I had no clue. One thing I did feel though.  At the end of the repeats, I felt I still had some gas left in the tank.  I felt good that I didn’t go all out.  Subconsciously, I must have the taper in the back of my mind. That was probably why the hesitancy to push through an all-out effort.  
My hill average in week #13 was 8:10 pace and tonight it was 8:15. I was much faster on the previous set but the execution this time was much better, even though I was slower. I wished I was able to do two more repeats last night to really make an equal comparison the ones 3 weeks ago with 7 x hills, as in apples to apples.  However, I am happy with the results.  I’ve never done repeats where I got faster in the end.  This was definitely a first!
Thursday-I ran with my running buddy at 6 am this morning.  It felt good to finally get into a routine of running in the morning at least once a week.  It’s hard to wake up at 4:45 and be out the door by 5:55. I’m glad I can do it once, maybe twice a week sometimes, but that’s all I am willing to give up.  I like sleeping in through 6:45 most weekday mornings and at the same time I do love the crisp morning air of the fall.  Our run today was 6 miles with a negative split: the first half was 9:29 and the second half was 9:11.  The overall pace was 9:20 min/mi, and I shaved off 18 seconds off in the second half per mile.  For a recovery run, this was excellent.

I was planning on running a ½ marathon as a tune up race on Saturday when it was canceled yesterday. At first I was a little disappointed for such late notice. The cancellation was due to some land issue. However, I got over it quickly when my best running buddy reminded me that my real race is in 16 days. I’ve been so focused on what’s in front of me that sometimes I tend to forget to stand back and look at the big picture.  I am so focused on what’s here right now, in this very moment that I tend to get sidetracked.  Glad she pulled me out of this funk. Maybe it’s a sign. I’m taking it as sign that I am not supposed to run a race two weeks out from my A race.  What I am going to do instead is to run my normal 12 miles and run it close to MP as much as possible.  I’ll try to run it as evenly as I can although I’ve yet to do that. I’ve been able to run it slow the first half and faster on the second half and do a negative split. We’ll see how it goes.

So far nothing hurts—my piriformis hasn’t barked since January. I am doing well with the training.  I haven’t gotten a cold or flu. I am a bit worried about that. What if I catch something on the plane?  I’ve been washing my hands, and hand sanitizer is within my reach.  Vitamin C is at my disposal. So far all systems go.
Tapering is going really well. I haven’t freaked out yet. I am surprisingly relaxed.  This will be my mantra this year: calm, poised and relaxed. Let the chips fall where they may.  The hay is in the barn. I am as ready as I will ever be.

Happy Running!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

NYC marathon training week #15: Sunday glorious Sunday

It's official. I've entered my taper period for the 22nd time, ending Week #15 with 62 miles. That's the most I've ever run in a week! The long run today was the best that I've ever completed. It's not one of my fastest, but the best executed. This was highly unexpected. I was worried that my sore legs would hold me back to an 11:00 minute crawl. It couldn't have turned out any better than this. This was a special run, indeed.

I woke up sore from the combination of the pace run I did yesterday, and the mountain hike from Friday evening. My quads were barking a little. I iced them last night with a solidly frozen turkey meat. Yes, you heard right. We will never eat this, but it's perfect size for my icing requirements. Anyway, the icing offered little help. So, knowing this, I thought, no pressure, just run the best you can and run for time. I also thought it was a good thing I decided against the hilly course of Paso Harvest Marathon. Logistically it didn't work out. There was no place to park my car and be near it when I finish my run. I would have had to run another 2-3 miles to get back to my car. After running 20, I can't imagine about walking for 3 more miles. Plan "B", as it turned out, ended up being just as hilly as Paso. I decided to run my usual: Turri Road route twice! However, I had the genius idea of running the second loop counterclockwise instead of clockwise on the second trip. I dreaded doing the second set of rollers so I thought a way to avoid them was just to turn around and back track. Wrong! It's funny how you don't realize that the downhills from one direction translate to uphill going the opposite way, until you're fully invested into the miles. Too late to go back! So much so for avoiding hills! I was pretty mad but then I cheered myself back up by saying to myself, this is the last long run, 10 more to go and you're done! It worked.

I thought Los Osos would be cooler to run in, but Paso had cooler weather and mostly cloudy for the majority of the marathon. Darn! Weather can be a factor and you just never know how it will turn out. I did the best I could.

In the beginning of the run, I had the told myself to relax since this won't be nothing like the long runs from Runner's World Break 4:00 Plan where sticking to a prescribed pace was crucial. When I don't have to think about pacing, I've mentioned this before, it seems like I do better. Today, I managed to increase my pace progressively faster every five miles, without thinking about it. (This was a repeat from my Saturday pace run, where I increased the pace every 2.5 miles for the 10 miles total: 9:30 / 8:56 / 8:56 / 8:40)

10:13 pace @ miles 1-5
9:50 pace @ miles 6-10
9:26 pace @ miles 11-15
9:09 pace @ miles 15-20 (last mile was fastest @ 8:45 pace)

I made sure I had gels at 45 minutes into the run, at 1:30, 2:30 (forgot it at 2:15), and at mile 16. I was too lazy to plant water at the route, plus I was not sure where I would end up. Luckily, there was a supermarket near the end with 4 miles to go where I filled up with water.

This long run is my best ever. I have never finished a long run with the last miles as the fastest. The best part is, I ran it with a negative split: first 10 miles at 10:00 pace and the last 10 miles at 9:17 pace. That's 43 seconds improvement for the last half. This is the plan for NY. I hope I can do this. I've had lots of practice this past few weeks with negative splits. I hope it carries over to when it counts.

This is it. I am beginning the great freak-out--I mean--the great taper period starting tomorrow. Week #16 looks like this with approximately 36 miles.

Tues--8 mi easy
Sat--1/2 marathon Guadalupe (tune up race)
Sun--4 mi pace

Happy Running!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #15: Tues-Sat

The Week in Review--Well Almost

This week has been one hell of a week!  Tuesday evening rolled around and all I could think about was my toothache.  I've had a crown put in 2 1/2 years ago. It has bothered me on and off.  It would hurt for a few days then would go away. Months would pass with no activity. Then it would come up again only to go away sooner than I could mention it to my dentist.  So every time the dull ache would come on, I would ignore it, thinking it would go away, just like the many other times that it did.  This Tuesday was the first night I had to take Advil to keep the pain at bay. This time however, the ache was much more intense and worst, it interfered with my eating. Totally bad, when you're in training.  The next day, I called my dentist and the soonest he could get me in was Friday. Great! Two more days of living on Advil. Such as life. What are you gonna do? I continue on with my training, wishing it was Friday already!

Monday: Rest 5.29 @ 9:41 (neg (neg split: 9:50 & 9:29)
Tuesday: 10 5.4 mi @ 9:21 pace (neg split: 9:37 & 9:04)
Wednesday: 8x800 Yasso (8.35 mi) 3:50 avg pace per Yasso
Thursday: 5 6 mi @ 9:21 (neg split: 9:31 & 9:13)
Friday: Rest 6.66 mi including TT of 7:37+ 4 mi hike up MDO
Saturday: 10 pace @ 9:01 (neg split: 9:13 & 8:48)
Sunday: 20 mi easy (Paso Harvest Marathon) LOVR or Turri Road 2 loops

Here I am almost done with Week #15.  The only thing left to complete is the long run tomorrow, Sunday.

As you can tell from my schedule, I've made a few changes.  Monday was a holiday so I had the pleasure of staying home and being tempted to run.  I was still sore from the previous day's long run which ended up being a pace run, but I gave into it.  Honestly I could have used one day of complete rest.  But then again, the marathon is all about  pushing yourself even when you're not 100% recovered. I tried to run Monday as a recovery day holding the pace just a tad slower.  I felt compelled to do a negative split so I ran the second half faster.  It was a humid kind of day especially when I got out at about noon time. All in all it as a good day.

On Tuesday, I ran with my friend Mora at 6 in the morning and ran our usual Baywood route. Legs were okay but still felt some lingering fatigue. Pace was a little faster than Monday which shows signs of improvement. With this run, we also ran it with a negative split and shaved off 33 seconds from the first half.  Another good day!

Wednesday was incredibly hot!  It was 93 degrees at 4:48 p.m. when I stepped onto the track. I almost nixed this workout because I knew I wasn't going to achieve good splits. Such a pessimist I am! I better start changing my attitude soon!  The Yassos turned out to be 3:50 average for the 8 sets. This was identical to 6 weeks ago on Week #11 when I performed 6 of them. The difference was that the effort felt easier this time even though it was hot.  Not only that, I even had two more than last time. Here are my splits:

3:53/ 3:50/ 3:40/ 3:50/ 3:50/ 4:00/ 3:59/ 3:41

I felt that I was getting the hang of the pacing and it didn't seem like I was all over the place.  However I can explain what happened to the 6th and the 7th Yassos.  I was the last one on the track.  I was worried, the distance club members were done with their workout and were packing to leave while I had 3 more to do and it was getting dark.  My focus drifted to should I cut it short and go or just try to finish all 8 sets?  I picked up pace on the very last one.

Thursday was a great day for recovery.  Ran 6 miles at 9:21 pace.  I ran it again with a negative split, bettering the second half by 18 seconds. This run surprised me a little. I was expecting that my body would take more time to recover since the heat run yesterday showed up its ugly head. It wasn't so.  I am so glad that I am recovering just in time for the next workouts and not having to skip due to fatigue. I am knocking on wood.

Friday was supposed to be a rest day, but I needed to squeeze in a time trial somehow.  This was my only window.  I've already postponed it last week. I knew it as going to be another scorcher at lunch so the track was not going to be an option. I had to run it in the coolness of Los Osos first thing in the morning. It is a lot harder to do one mile time trial when you first roll out of bed. The body is not primed for speed work. I had to do my best. I ran a warm up and since there is no track nearby, I chose to run the mile on a real road with two hills. I am pretty proud to run a 7:37 pace first thing in the morning and on a road instead of a track, which would have been faster.  Not complaining, just sayin'.

A second workout on Friday evening was hiking Montana de Oro's Valencia Peak at 1,347 feet. I took a friend to a shortcut which was straight two miles up and two miles down, not my usual route.  This way we avoided poison oak and other usual culprit. Thank God we did the shortcut as I found out later, she was highly allergic.  It was lovely sharing this beautiful place with someone who can appreciate the landscape.  She took many pictures, which explained our pace, not that I was worried about it or anything like that...

Saturday's 10 mile pace run was my best pace run in all training.  For one thing, I hit it with a negative split and I hit my pace as early as the 2nd mile, right after a couple of miles of warm up. This was a first. Prior to this, it would take more than halfway before I hit my pace and then I would catch it up. At first I was worried that the mountain hike yesterday tired my quads out. I felt them to be a little tight this morning upon waking up. Going into the pace run I was a little tentative. But after the warm up and the stretching, the legs loosened up a bit. I broke the 10 miler into quarters to see how my pacing went:

9:30 / 8:56 / 8:56 / 8:40

I started out conservatively and gradually increased the pace every 2.5 miles.  I'm pretty proud of myself for being able to keep it steady in the middle miles.  That's usually when my mind wanders off. This was my last pace run and I am glad that I saved the best for last. Yippee! 

Sunday is my last long run, that's tomorrow. I have decided that I will not run the Paso Robles Marathon Course as I originally planned.   We drove by the course today to study and see it first-hand.  The hills are unbelievably punishing and if the weather turned out anything like today, forgetaboutit. If it were any other time far away from my A race, I would love to run those hills--bring it on!  This time the smart runner in me is saying, why run it if it's going to take more out of me  and consequently have to nix other workouts? NY's course is not this hilly.  I mean there's the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the never-ending Queensboro Bridge, the Fifth Ave (miles 22-23) back into Manhattan, and then or course the rolling hills of Central Park--but that's about it.  So why make it any harder? Instead, I will run my usual route here in Los Osos where the weather will be cooler and not crazy humid like the North County. I wouldn't have to wake up at ungodly hour to get there plus I would save on gas.  I can get home and sit in the tub with my ice bath in matter of minutes as opposed to sitting in a one-hour car ride back home with stiff legs. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Boy, after tomorrow, I can officially celebrate the taper period.

Happy Running!

Monday, October 10, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #14: Sat & Sun Glorious Runs

It is hard to believe that Week #14 is closed. I've completed 36.95 miles for the week and logged 505.78 miles this training period using Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Advance 1 Program. So far, my year to date miles is 1,284 for 2011. I've never really paid much attention to miles before, but the wonderful DM (Daily Mile) website and community, makes it so much easier to keep track. I wonder how this compares to my mileage in 2010 or 2009 back when I started running 4-5 marathons in a year.

Week #14 went well. It was a pull back week with slightly lower miles. I've scaled it back by almost 29% from the week before with 52 miles. I consider this to be one of my strongest weeks because every single run I ended with a negative split and fast finish. To recap:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 6.14 mi,
1st half pace 9:46, 2nd half pace 9:09; dropped 37 sec

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Tempo 6.32 mi, pace 8:20 (identical to 3 weeks ago, but felt easier, didn't push as hard to achieve 8:20 pace)

Friday: 5.53 mi,
1st half pace 9:23, 2nd half pace 9:04; dropped 19 sec

Saturday: 6 mi,
1st half pace 9:22, 2nd half pace 9:03; dropped 19 sec

Sunday: 1 mi w/u and c/d & 12 mi LR,
1st half pace 9:21, 2nd half pace 8:51; dropped 30 sec

Not only do my numbers prove that the training is going better than I had expected, I can feel the difference in my running. For instance let's start with my neighborhood hill. It used to be that when I get to this hill, halfway through the top, I would be reduced to a walk. Then came around the time when I could run through it by jogging it. I would still be huffing and puffing and feel the burn on my quads, but no more walking. Then after the hill work outs and during my long runs, I could run it steady at say 10:43 pace. No more burn on the quads and I was running it with an even effort. Then this past weekend, I didn't even remember passing this rain gutter that usually marks the spot where I would start to feel the effects of running this hill! What does that mean, you ask? It is significant to me because effectively, I am now cruising this hill like it is nothing. It used to be I would see it, I knew it was coming and I would take a deep breath and as if jumping in a cold water, say "here goes nothing," before jumping in and holding my breath. (You get the picture, I really can't swim.) Don't get me wrong, after I crest the hill, I still feel the lungs worked hard, but no longer is the need to walk after cresting the hill, either. In fact, this is when I pick up the pace. I keep the same effort going into the hill, not the same pace. Only after I get to the top is when I pick up the pace. I would say this is definitely the returns I was looking for in Hal's program.

One more observation about Thursday's tempo work. I usually run track on Wednesday nights along with the SLDC (San Luis Distance Running Club), this time to allow for more rest I pushed tempo to one more day. I had to run it at lunch, in the heat of the day all by myself. It is always hard to run track by my lonesome. For one thing there is no visual cue to push me or motivate me as running with the club. That's probably one factor and the heat, another. At first I was a little dissappointed with no improvement from the numbers I posted. Thankfully, a fellow blogger, who knows a thing or two about a thing or teo (since he has been running since 1966),, opened my eyes to this. He says that two postive results could come out of the tempo work. One would be I get faster with faster splits or two, achieve the same time, but feel easier effort-wise. I did the latter. That is progress indeed.

I am looking forward to the last hard core week with another 55 miles coming up. Week #15 is upon me and it looks like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 10 mi easy
Wednesday: 8x800 yasso
Thursday: 5 mi easy
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 10 pace
Sunday: 20 mi easy (Paso Harvest Marathon)

Interestingly enough, I am quite tempted to run another marathon to use as a last long run training for NY. But the smart runner in me reminds me that I have grown from previous mistakes. Knowing how I am, there's no way I could hold back. The unwanted result would be a flat performance in NY. I couldn't have that, considering all the training I've invested already. I will choose to cash in NY. So, I am sticking to my gun and not participate in the marathon. I didn't get a bib number (although it is available to me for free, I have an in with the RD) and to me that's enough to say it won't count. Instead I will only run 20 miles of the course. Even though I will be running with the official marathoners, I have the security of this week's training to leave me with depleted legs somewhat. On top of that, I have the 10 mile pace run the day before the event. That's even more guarantee that I will not and cannot run any faster than I should for a last long run.

My "A"race is NY, the big picture is NY, therefore my focus is on NY. No matter how much I want to run this local marathon, it will have to wait until next year. There! I think I'm done convincing myself.

Happy Running! And Happy Happy Birthday to my favorite mother-in-law! Oh wait I only have one!
Happy Birthday Momzies!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #14: Rest Easy Wednesday & Tempo Thursday

Wednesday-Rain, Rain Go Away

I do love the rain and running in it, but if I have to run a tempo workout, well not so much. I have to hit a certain pace and it's hard to do when it's wet. On top of that, I left my charger at home. My watch is very important to tonight's run. Without it, I wouldn't know if I  hit my pace or not. The only option is to wait til tomorrow. I am not worried, it will work out better since I do have some lingering soreness that will definitely wear out with one more day of rest. Things have a way of working out. So rest Wednesday, tempo Thursday, recovery run Friday, easy run Saturday,  and an easy 12 on Sunday. I think this is a good plan!

Thursday Tempo

Resting yesterday and postponing tempo work to today turned out to be a good call because I needed time for my sore ankles. I warmed up by running from the office to the track during my lunch hour. I ran a few strides to wake up the legs then got right down to business. Surprisingly, my time was identical to my last tempo run 3 weeks ago--down to the very last second at 29:09! Tempo pace average was 8:19 for 3.5 miles. The difference this time around was that I felt I was cruising and and not working as hard.  I could have pushed more, but I was eager to maintain an even effort throughout the 14 laps. I focused and tried hard not to let my mind wander. It worked. I held back the first lap unlike 3 weeks ago when I forced a 7:49 pace right out of the gate. 

For the 14 laps it look like this:  2:06/ 2:02/ 2:03/ 2:04/ 2:05/ 2:03/ 2:07/ 2:08/ 2:07/ 2:09/ 2:08/ 2:07/ 2:01/ 2:01

You could tell from the results that I was slowing down, but compared to the last time, I was less all over the place: 1:57/ 2:02/ 1:58/ 2:02/  2:06/ 2:08/ 2:07/  2:07/ 2:08/ 2:09/  2:10/ 2:08/ 2:10/ 1:53

The odd thing was I had the same average for both times at 2:05. But the earlier set, I felt I had to work much harder. Went into oxygen debt especially after the first fast lap. I like the fact that I saved the best for last, both tempo times. The track is fast becoming my friend. 

Warm up 1.46 mi (10:23 pace) bpm 142 @81%
tempo 3.50 mi (8:19 pace) 159 bpm @90%
cool down 1.36 mi (8:45 pace) 153 @87%

29 days left! I need Superman to spin the earth backwards to slow down time! It's happening way too fast!  Happy Running!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #14: Tuesday LR

Tuesday LR

I ran with my buddy again at 6am. I had a lot of reasons to cancel this run this morning, but I didn’t.  It rained last night. It was darker and colder than usual. I wanted to stay warm under my toasty blanket. I was up four times last night looking to see whether it was time to get up yet. When finally I got to sleep peacefully, my phone alarm went off at 5 am. Brutal reality set in, it was time to run. Maybe it will rain and maybe my friend wouldn’t like to run in it.  That would be my out. I could run at lunch.  Oh no, I couldn't—Heidi is taking me to lunch. It’s my birthday! My 45th! Maybe after work? Oh no, Tuesday evenings are devoted for Little Bit’s soccer. Arghh! I have to run, right now, otherwise I would lose my window of opportunity. After all, this is my birthday run.  So I decided to greet October 4th with a bang!

Our pace for the whole run turned out to be 9:28 min/mile.  This has been our normal Tuesday pace. However in last half, we dropped the pace to 9:09—that’s my marathon pace!  That’s another pleasant surprise. I pushed pace aside since I was anticipating a slower time especially after running the trail run this weekend at MDO.  I was not sure whether I’ve fully recovered from the long run yet. My lower legs particularly the Achilles and the tendons by my right ankle are still sore. However numbers today tell a different story.  It’s always good to start out slower and pick it up at the end but without realizing it, I’ve dialed into my pace.  With the negative split, the first half was 9:46 min/mile and the second at 9:09 min/mile. We shaved off 37 seconds per mile in the last 3 miles where it was all uphill. How cool is that?  I’d like to think that after 14 weeks of training, maybe, just maybe I’m beginning to see the fruits of my labor.

I mentioned this newfound realization that I am feeling stronger to Hubs and he said he better not hear any such story like a side-stitch after I come home from NY.  Yes, him and me both!

Happy Running!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #13: Sat & Sun

Saturday Pace Run

What I consider the toughest workout for this week in my training is the pace run. With the exception of week #10's, 9-mile pace run, I've missed hitting them all. I've either ran them too fast or too slow. Today was a pleasant surprise, I hit it right on. To top it all off, I even hit a negative split running the second half 34 seconds faster per mile than the first half.

34 secs faster in the 2nd half:
1st 5.1 was 9:26
2nd 5.1 was 8:52

This means that I am gaining strength and that the Higdon plan is definitely working. I am adapting to the stress. My initial fear in the beginning was recovering in time before the next quality workout. For instance, with the hill work on Wednesday, there was a little bit of trepidation going into the pace run. I thought my legs would be too sore where I would need an extra day off. But Thursday morning came and I was fine. I even threw in an extra mile in the workout. Instead of five, I ran six miles--at marathon pace!  So far so good.

Sunday Going Long
Pt. Buchon Trail at Montana de Oro

What magnificent views!

The whole run I was treated to serenity

Who woudn't want to run this trail?

There's at least 5 overlooks along the trail

This will be my course for my long runs

I wanted to mix it up for the 20 milers. I wanted a different route. Last year, for all the 20+ long runs, I ran all four using the same route. It was good in a way, because I could compare my efforts from one week over the next. This time, I want my legs to feel different grades, pitches and textures. Comparison will be difficult. However the advantage is exposure to different terrains. In my first 20 miler, it was done at night and on the roads of Los Osos. For the second 20 miler, today I ran on a hilly trail. It was a mixed bag of gravel, sand, rocks, bunch of squirrel holes. Undulating hills was tiring after a while, my ankles got worked pretty well. I am expecting they will be sore tomorrow.  But I know there's a huge benefit to running trails, it will make me stronger for the Marathon. Another reason I decided to choose trails is that it forces me to run slower like I am suppose to. For my last 20 miler in  two weeks, I will go back to the roads, but a lot more hillier than LOVR. Also, that's when I will incorporate my goal pace run in the last 4 miles. I will be running this 20 while an actual marathon is going on. I will have to work hard on holding back and understand that I won't be racing--just out for a training run along with other marathoners. I will not be tempted, I will not be tempted.

The motivation behind running a training run with the Paso Harvest Marathon, is because the course is hilly and like Hal said to me, "Why should Higdon-trained runners fear hills?" I'm facing it head on. I remember last year in NY, between miles 23 and 24 is when I really slowed down, then picked it up back on the last mile in Central Park. I was pretty proud of that performance and that does not even come close to the kind of effort I currently put in for hills this time. I'm a notch or two above. So hills have become my friend this training cycle, I guess you can say.

Today's run went well, with the exception of my fumbling with my Garmin. I forgot to hit restart after a photo op with the great picture of the Pacific Ocean on my rave run.  I missed some mileage and went unrecorded. For the purposes of my data gathering I have to count it at 19 miles instead of 20. Fifteen of those miles were on dirt at 10:27 pace. The rest were warm up and cool down at 12:10 pace. Overall, the pace was 10:47 for 19 miles. Success!

Week #13 is now done with 52 miles under my belt. I have one more long run to complete in two weeks. Then hello taper--that's my great freak out period.  I am looking forward to the cut back in Week #14. In a nutshell, it looks like this with approximately 36 miles.

Mon - rest
Tues - 6
Wed - 45 min. tempo
Thurs - 5
Fri - rest
Sat - 6
Sun - 12

I hope your training is going well...Happy Running!

NYC Marathon Training #12: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Good run on Tuesday with my friend Mora. Morning runs always feel good after you’ve had a chance to wake up. The hard part is trying to get to bed early so that you are not tired when you wake up.  I dread looking at the clock in the middle of the night and seeing it is already 4 am. That means I only have 50 minutes left to snooze it.  And once I’ve closed my eyes and open it again, it seems only 5 minutes has passed! It’s not fair!  Don’t you hate that?
My Tuesday routine has been to run in the morning with a friend. She’s an early bird and it’s been nice to run with somebody at my pace.  I haven’t been running with the running divas as I haven’t synched my workout schedule with them.  They are elite runners so at times, I am a little intimidated. I can only hang for 3 miles and even then, I make sure it is my speed days that I run with them so that I can pace it correctly.  All of my Tuesday workout have to be a recovery runs or near easy pace.  This Tuesday I surprised myself at the end of the run, because without intending to run my goal pace of 9:09, we ended up running 9:08 for 6 miles.  My friend said that it was a little faster than normal, and without looking at my Garmin, I brushed her comment aside and said, it’s the same pace.  But I had to eat my words when my Garmin confirmed that we were 20 seconds per mile faster than our previous runs.  I had to finish off the run at lunch with a 4-miler in the 80 degree heat. I didn’t push it.  It was a leisurely run at 9:42 pace and even that was fast compared to my other recovery runs. Ten miles done today—oh how sweet it was!
Wednesday night was my hill work-out.  I was slightly worried that I may have pushed the Tuesday a.m. workout too hard and have to sacrifice a little bit for the hill work.  You know, like Paul robbing Peter?  Or is it Peter robbing Mary?
No track tonight as my hill is located near my house.  It was just as well because it was hot in San Luis.  20 minutes away heading toward the coastline the weather is dramatically cooler, mist and fog—just the way I like it.  I already carbo-loaded the previous night so I was ready to attack the hills.  As soon as I got home, I changed into my gear and headed out.  
All morning I was thinking about the 7 hill repeats I had to complete and now here it was facing me.
I measured a .20 of a mile long hill between 6-7 percent grade. It seems crazy from the distance, but once you are actually on it, it is not that bad—well, maybe the first two repeats.  My eyes bugged out when I saw my first two splits!
7:41/ 7:41/ 7:55/ 8:14 /8:35/ 8:51/ 8:12
I was surprised to see those 7’s.  Is it real? Did I really do that?  I felt like I was going to puke my lungs out. It was my chest that was hurting not  my quads. My thought was “So this is how it feels to run fast—like really fast.”  The next repeats I slowed down, but I really tried my best to run as hard as I could. It felt like I was a car running out of gas and not matter how hard I pressed on the pedal the car just barely moved.  Then I realized I should just try my best to pay attention to my form since I couldn’t duplicate the my first 2 efforts. It was just that—the rest of the way until the very last repeat. I thought I better give it all I got since it is the last one.   All I could putter was 8:12. I was happy that they were all under 9:00 pace. Looking at my previous hill attempts, even the short ones at 0.13 mile long, I was much faster tonight. In addition to the lovely hills, I ran both my warm ups and cool down with negative splits.  That’s icing on the cake—even though I am not a fan of cakes. I am loving the results. 
Thursday was another recovery run for 5 but I ended up with 6 miles.  I was too tired to wake up in the morning so I placed it at lunch.  Fortunately it was a much cooler day.  I ran to Cal Poly Canyon from the office. It was a 6 mile trip back and forth.  I finished it with a 9:24 pace with rolling hills. I am so stoked about my pace. I ran the first half at a relaxed pace and picked it up in the second half. It was another negative split effort.
Friday is a rest day! Yippee
There’s two more hard workouts left to do in Week #12: the 10-mile pace run on Saturday and the 20-miler long run on Sunday.  I am more nervous about the 10 since I have to hit my marathon pace of 9:09.  If you were following my training, I’ve missed hitting the pace in all but one pace run:  in Week #10 for 9 miles! In all the other weeks I was either running the pace runs too fast or too slow.  I am going to run relaxed tomorrow and work towards hitting that pace as gradually as I can and hope to maintain it all the way to 10 miles.  For my second 20-miler, I’ve asked my running partner, Heidi, to join me in the trails of Montana de Oro. It will be softer on the knees because it will all be on dirt! Yeah, we are gonna get dirrrty!
Happy Running!