Sunday, February 26, 2012

Napa Valley Marathon Training Week #2

Week # 2 The Taper Period

Monday Rest
Tuesday 6 mi Rest
Wednesday 30 tempo 5.02 mi
Thursday 4 mi Rest
Friday Rest 4.01
Saturday 4 mi 2.55
Sunday 8 mi

Total Mileage for Week #3: 19.58 miles
% Change from Prior Week:-42%

Last week, at the end of my long run, the top of my left foot hurt. Thinking the worst, I cut the run short and decided to take Monday and Tuesday off as rest days. Whatever pain it was, it disappeared completely after the rest. I was glad that I had the sensibility to be vigilant about taking care of my body this close to the marathon. Truly, I have matured into a different kind of runner from what I was a year ago--where I would have pushed through anything just to complete the miles I set out to do.

Wednesday night was my tempo night at the track. I was to do 30 minutes, but I forgot that included 10 minutes of warm up and 5 minutes of cool down. That leaves me with 15 minutes of pure tempo work. Instead I worked for 30 minutes. I didn't mind the extra work, however.

Just like last time, I chunked up the effort into 3 x 2000 meters (five laps around the track or 1.25 miles) with 1 minute of recovery in between. The outcome was:
Pace: 7:38 / 7:54 / 7:57
Time: 9:32 / 9:52 / 9:17

The last 2000 meters I was short 26 meters. A fellow runner decided to engage me in a conversation and I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was in the middle of a repeat. It was my last repeat anyway, so I just stopped my watch, slowed down to mirror his pace and answered his question. It was no big deal since prior to this last repeat, I had a terrible side stitch that came out of nowhere. For some reason, last week and this week, I've been victim to this issue. I don't know why, how or what triggered it. All I know was that I had to slow down to a pedestrian pace for it to subside. I have to remember to exhale when my left foot hits the ground, maybe that will help. That and in addition to what Coach Nancy says to practice diaphragmatic breathing--its like the opposite of breathing in. It's breathing out as if you're trying to look pregnant. I hope I don't experience this in Napa.
I decided to take a rest on Thursday since Dean Karnazes was going to be in town to give a motivational talk. I took advantage of an early lunch to sneak out to hear him speak. Not only was he funny, he is a great story teller. He talked about his experience at the David Letterman Show and the night he was almost hit by an insane woman who merely wanted his autograph at 2 am in the morning. He revealed that his Alma Mater was Cal Poly. Few people knew that, however I did. He told me so when I met home in NY. I had a picture taken with him then, but It was blurry. This time, the picture is sharp (Thanks Heidi for bringing a camera!) Not only did we get a clear picture with Dean, he signed my book.

Check out the incredible running machine: Dean Karnazes with Liz, Heidi and me.
In NYC 2011...

Dean only sleeps four hours a night, and hardly sits down. When he writes his books, he writes them standing up. His desk level is built chest high. He is running his 10th Badwater Ultramarathon in July. Did I say he is a machine?

Friday was my typical Cal Poly run. I had some fresh legs since I rested the day before. I dropped the pace down to 8:59, after telling myself I was only going for a slow run of 10 minute pace. I was a liar. It felt good to run fast.

On Saturday, Hubs and I hiked Bishop's Peak after dropping the little one to a sleepover. I promised him I would stay with him and not leave him to hike by himself like other times. I was good, although he did let me run to the top of one little hill. It was a nice day to do this hike; lots of other people had the same idea. We even saw a climber scaling the boulder.


...Hubs with his thumb on the lens...priceless...

Sunday was my last long run for 8 miles. I wanted to wake up early so that I could run at the same time as the marathon next week. I got out 40 minutes later than what I wanted. I put on the shorts and shimmel tank that I'm thinking of wearing for Napa. It was 42 degrees today, but the adrenaline somehow made it feel just right and not too cold. I guess you can say I'm getting excited. Napa will be my 24th marathon and no matter what , I still get the butterflies. Back to the run. I finished at 1:15:20 for an average 9:25 pace. I hit a negative split: first four miles at 9:45 pace and the last four at 9:05 pace. I shaved off 40 seconds per mile in the last four miles. It was a great run. After this, I ran over to our annual distance club breakfast. It was a great day to be amongst my runner friends. Life is good.

Here's my schedule for this coming week:

Week # 1 Final Taper Period
Monday Rest
Tuesday 4x400 (3 miles)
Wednesday 2 miles
Thursday Rest
Friday Rest
Saturday 2 miles
Sunday NAPA VALLEY MARATHON 26.2 miles

Total Miles 33.2

This is it folks. I've done everything I could within my means to stay healthy and go for it. I only had 12 weeks to prepare for this race and in a sense I did feel like I crammed for a big test. Anyhow, I am going to give it my all on March 4th. My next post would probably be about my race recap for Napa. Hopefully it will be about my triumph rather than the agony. Thank you all for being great supporters and thank you for reading. I hope that from my experiences in training and racing, you pick up something valuable. I am not an expert by no means. However, I am the experiment, a work in progress chugging along. 'Til then, may you run long and happy!

Have you ever been debilitated by a side stitch in any of your races or long runs? How did you deal with it?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Napa Valley Marathon Training Week #3

Week #3  The Taper Period
Monday Rest
Tuesday 6 5.70 mi
Wednesday 6xhill  4xhill
Thursday 5 Rest
Friday  Rest 5.76
Saturday 4
Sunday 12 13.36 mi

Total Mileage for Week 3: 34
% Change from Prior Week:-36%

Tuesday Cal Poly Pick-Ups - 9:16
I ran to Cal Poly for a quick 5.70 mi with an overall pace of 9:16 min/mile.  I started out pretty conservatively, them picked up the pace with each subsequent miles (10:28 / 10:09 / 8:53 / 8:26 / 8: 12). I'm liking this route a lot.  The hills are challenging and it gives me satisfaction that each time I run this course, I get better at it. What motivates me is when I think about just a year and a half ago when I couldn't run these hills as fast as I am running them now, I would walk them and dream of the day I can run it without coughing up a lung.

Wednesday Hill Workout - 10:03 pace (hill pace 8:15)
I don't know why, but all day I was dreading running my hill repeats. I just didn't have the same head on motivation as I did the last time I ran them. Work was pretty busy and I had planned to leave early so that I can squeeze in as much daylight as I could for the workout.  It was hard last time with the oncoming headlights facing me and it was blindingly difficult to keep running fast at the same time while trying to be careful.  Well, I was so busy, that I couldn't leave, in fact, I left work a lot later than I should have.  It was already getting dark while I was driving home so I just had to deal.

Got home, slapped my clothes on and I didn't even had a chance to eat a little something. I knew this was not going to be a good workout.  But I had to get it done somehow, no matter how pathetic my performance was.  I could only muster 4 hills repeats because it got dark fast. Maybe it was good, that I stopped at that number, because for some reason, my legs felt super tired after the second repeat. Uh-oh.  I thought maybe I overtrained this weekend, that would explain the timber legs.  My first thought was to back off. This is not what I want for Napa.  So four had to do tonight. Although tired, the splits I posted tonight was not bad.  At first when I reviewed my Garmin, I was dissappointed. Maybe I've hit my plataeu and this was it finally. So I drew my old logs and compared the last three times, I've ran this 0.20 mile long hill. Then I felt a lot better. 

3 weeks out from Napa Valley Marathon:
W/U: 2.07 mi @ 9:25 pace 19:30
1:34 / 1:39 / 1:38 / 1:44
7:53 / 8:16 / 8:13 / 8:43
C/D: 1.75mi @ 8:55 pace 15:38
Average per repeat: 8:15 pace
Prior week mileage: 53

6 weeks out from Napa Valley Marathon:
W/U: 1.97mi @ 9:08 pace 17:59
1:39 / 1:35 / 1:36 / 1:38 / 1:40 / 1:39
7:50 / 7:55 / 8:00 / 8:10 / 8:20 / 8:15
C/D: 1.75mi @ 8:35 pace 15:01
Average per repeat: 8:05 pace
Prior week mileage: 30

I like to compare my past workouts to see how much I may/may not progressed.
Last year's hill work-outs revealed:

3 weeks out from NYC Marathon:
W/U: 1.84mi @ 9:40 pace 17:49
1:43 / 1:42 / 1:38 / 1:35 / 1:36
8:39 / 8:32 / 8:15 / 7:57 / 8:01
C/D: 1.60mi @ 9:13 pace 14:47
Average per repeat: 8:15 pace
Prior week mileage: 40

6 weeks out from NYC Marathon:
W/U: 2.05mi @ 9:31 pace 19:28
1:32 / 1:35 / 1:39 / 1:43 / 1:46
7:41 / 7:55 / 8:15 / 8:35 / 8:51
C/D: 1.75mi @ 9:02 pace 15:47
Average per repeat: 8:15 pace
Prior week mileage: 28

Clearly my splits 3 weeks ago was the best and the fastest I ran the repeats. When I asked myself, what was different this time? I looked at my prior week's mileage heading into the hill repeats.
My legs were a lot fresher 3 weeks ago. I only ran a 12 miler for long run that week.  Compared to this week, I ran a 10 and a 20 miler behind this workout. Let me not forget the Power I threw in as a bonus after the 20 miler. It's no wonder my legs were shot. Compared this week to 53 miles and only 30 miles for week 6, it was no wonder I felt tired only halfway through the repeats. I'm giving myself some slack, Jack!

So my hill repeats tonight were almost identical to the last 2 hill workouts I performed while training for NYC Marathon. I should be happy about that since I had 18 weeks to prepare back then, this time because of CIM in December, I only had 12 weeks to train for Napa.  All else being equal, this has to be a good workout.

On Thursday I was tired so, I decided to switch it up and go for a rest day.  I post-poned my 5 miler to Friday. 

Friday Cal Poly Pick-Ups - 8:48 pace
I felt great from having rested the day before that my legs were somewhat springy today.  I set out to do a relaxed pace and go from there.  Anytime, I think about running relaxed with no added pressure on myself to hit a certain pace I end up doing much better. (9:29 / 9:06 / 8:42 / 8:20 / 7: 58). My average pace was 8:48 min/mile.  

Saturday Easy 4 - 9:12 pace
I am still smiling about my pace from the day before so I was feeling lazy today.  Four miles seemed so short.  I got to get dressed up only to be back in less than 40 minutes.  But I have to do it.  I should have ran this slower because my legs were still feeling yesterday's pick ups. I tried to run faster but my watch told me, "no way". I picked up the pace in the half.  So first half was 9:28 pace and the other was 8:57.  But that 8:57 felt like a huge effort. Overall pace was 9:12.  I hope tomorrow's long run won't feel like this or I'd be in trouble.

Sunday - Two weeks to Napa - 9:51 pace
Checked out the weather last night and it was going to be beautiful.  By that I don't mean sunny.  I mean  cloudy and cold as in 41 degrees.  That's my ideal weather. Bring in the fog, yes. Humidity was 73%, so okay I can deal with that.

Fuel before the long run
Fuel during the long run

Had my breakfast of champions: Oatmeal with raisins, coffee, toast with PB, browning banana (left it too long in my lunch bag), and protein powder with vanilla Silk milk and plain yogurt. Sounds like as if I'm going for a 20 miler huh?  I really planned on running just 12, but I was feeling groovey so I decided I would run 15 today.

I was going for the flatter route on LOVR, but right after I passed Turri Road, I made a u-turn.
The rolling hills appear like ribbons

Been there...ran that...

I decided to go for the hills. I thought, just go easy and I would be fine.  Everything was going great.  On my way home, with 2 miles to go, I felt a weird sensation on my foot, right around mile 13. I have a habit of curling my toes. If you know me, you'd know that I can pick up a pencil with my toes and other such objects.  It's part of my weirdness my Hubby finds amusing. Anyway, back to the weird tightness of my foot.  It was as if the top of my foot had trouble "clawing".  I do this often to stretch out the tendons on top of my foot. It's just habit.  Today, it won't relax.  The scary part is and first thought that came to my head was "What if this was a stress fracture?"  Damn!  I run for at least a third of a mile more to see if the foot would relax.  Nothing. So I picked up my phone and called Hubby to come get me. It's better to cut the run short rather than risk it with 2 more weeks left before the marathon. I'm now in a slight panic, is this actually happening?

As soon as I got home, I submerged the foot in a bathtub full of ice. Foot felt better afterwards and I gave myself self diagnosis. What I have is Extensor Tendonitis. It's the extensor tendons that has to work to dorsi-flex the toes on the uphills. This was probably due to all the hill work I've done this week: the two pick ups at Cal Poly, the hill repeats Wednesday night and today Turri Road.  My foot must have been tired of being overused.   "Sorry tendons, I didn't mean to abuse you."  Another contributing factor to my foot problem could be my shoes. My blue Nike Air Pegasus posted 375 miles today.  My pink Nike Air Pegasus has 676 miles on them already.  But the blue ones feels less cushiony than the pink ones. Should I use the pink for Napa then?  I'm in a quandary here. It's too late to buy new shoes. I would want to at least put on 150 miles on them before the marathon.  Argh!

So what's the plan? Ice, Ibuprofen and ahhh...stop the offending activity. The first two I can deal with, but the last one, I have slight trouble.

I'll have to deal with improving my situation, til next time...Happy trails.

Have you ever had the same foot issue I am having?  How did you deal with it?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Napa Valley Marathon Training Week 4

Week #4
Monday Power + 3.19 mi recovery
Tuesday 6 mi
Wednesday 8x800s Yassos 7x 800s 7.44 mi
Thursday 6 miles 2mi recovery pm + 4.09 mi evening run
Friday Rest
Saturday 10 mi pace 10.30 mi
Sunday 20 mi

Total miles 53
% Change from previous week was 89%

Tuesday was a 6-miler at Cal Poly for a late afternoon run. The day almost got away from me. I almost nixed the run, but I was glad I pushed on through. It is so easy to cancel a run because of excuses like it's too late, or I'm too tired to go out. But once out there, I felt like I won the battle of "should I" or "should I not".

Wednesday was my last night for Yasso this training cycle. I was so bummed. I accidentally pushed the stop button on my Garmin and had to re-start.  In so doing, I screwed up. I don't know why, but lately, I've been bungling over my watch. Long story short, I miscounted and was short one Yasso. My average turned out to be 3:54 which was identical to the Yassos I ran three weeks ago. I guess I should be happy that it was no slower than the previous. However I was a little disappointed that I didn't have the slightest improvement. My splits were: 3:49/ 3:53/ 3:53/ 3:55/ 3:57/ 3:51/ 3:58.

Thursday was brutal. I had to wake up early to get to Santa Barbara for training for work. That meant that there was no room for an early morning run. The killer was the two hours of sitting in the car and five hours of sitting in class, then sitting in the car for two more to get home. Needless to say that my hip flexor got so stiff and tight. As soon as I got home I switched into running clothes and was out the door. Didn't know what it was but had to cut the run short because of some terrible side stitch again. It was similar to the same pain I suffered from in the Heritage Oaks 10K in September 2011. That side stitch was so painful that there was nothing I could do but slow down my pace considerably. I can only surmise that this was probably due to the sitting posture that I've had to endure.
This is the first time I've caught a glimpse of these minis.

'Lil Sebastian--from Parks and Recreation? Any fans of the show?

Saturday was cloudy, windy and cool. I thought this was the perfect day for running. I love running in this weather. But when I got out there, it was humid. I had to run against the wind on the way back and it was hard. The night before I was awaken in the middle of the night by a sore lower back. Probably from sitting in the car on Thursday and sitting all day at the office on Friday. I was a bit perplexed about the soreness. This worried me because I had to do a major 10 mile pace run. As it turned out the sore back rolled to my hip flexor. All that region is connected so it was hard to pinpoint and localise the area of problem.  I knew I have to be careful and take it easy. This slightly worried me for I only have 3 weeks before the marathon. In the end, I was okay with a 9:20 pace overall. My first 5 miles were 9:30 pace and the last five miles took me 9:12 pace.
I was only faster by 18 seconds per mile in the last half--a far cry from last week's 55 seconds per mile improvement in the second half of the run. It was a night of foam rolling.

Sunday I woke up with a huge improvement on my back. Whew! I had no soreness at all.  I made sure I did my gentle leg stretches before the run and after one mile into the run.  I made a pact with myself that I would be okay with a 10:17 pace considering the back scare the night before.  The name of the game was to stay healthy for the marathon. However, after I got a good warm up, I was able to pick up the pace. Since I felt great, I thought I would pursue my plan of running a progressive long run, but paying careful attention to the slightest twinge of any muscle ache anywhere on my body. I ran on Turri Road and turned around at the 10th mile mark at the Jr. High School where I refilled my water bottles. I got a chance to run the backside of the rolling hills. Running it clockwise, was challenging. I ran a long uphill which would have been otherwise a long downhill coming from the other direction. It was a good change of pace and the scenery looked different.
Turri Road, a shot from the opposite direction...

Me stopping and smelling the roses--whoa, is she a donkey or a horse?

With the progressive long run, I picked up the pace every five miles just like I did for New York last October.  My five mile paces turned out to be: 9:48 / 9:36 / 9:45 / 9:08. In my last 20 miler for NY, my five mile progressive splits were: 10:13 / 9:50 / 9:26 / 9:09 for the exact same route today. Average pace was 9:39 and today was 9:34.  I've dropped the average pace by 5 seconds per mile. (Five seconds basically translates to 2 minutes and 11 seconds. In case you're wondering.  That's a huge improvement if I can bring it on March 4th.)  I am particularly proud of the last five miles today, for I was able to pick it up to my marathon goal pace on fatigued legs.  This is what I wanted my body to get accustomed to so when it comes time on March 4th, it will remember this feeling I'm hoping.  Reaching back to my earlier 20 mile long runs, I remember finishing in 3:45 and now a 3:11 seems so far out.  I've come a long way and the great thing about it is, there's more room for improvement. Napa---Bah-rrring it!

How often do you give in to excuses when you just don't feel like running?

How do you handle botched Garmin re-starts/re-sets?

How do you handle stiffness from sitting down all day at your job?

Have you ever had a weird pain/soreness that woke you up in the middle of the night where you thought you might have to cancel your next day's training?

How fast/slow do you perform your super long runs, 20+ miles or more?

Happy Trails!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Napa Valley Marathon Training Week #5

Week #5

Monday  Power
Tuesday  6 3.92
Wednesday 45 min tempo (10 min warm+5 min cool) 5.1
Thursday 5 Rest
Friday  Rest
Saturday 6 6.2 YMCA Fun Run
Sunday 12 long run

Weekly Mileage 28.04 miles
Change from last week -41%

As you can see I dropped my mileage 41% from week #6. This was my pull-back week so I felt good about the rest that I got. The highlight of the week was the tempo, the 10K race that I originally didn't schedule and finally the 12 mile long run.  These three quality workouts showed me that I am near my peak.

Let's talk about the tempo workout.  I've been reading a lot about how this is supposed to be done. Basically it's between 20-40 minutes of your tempo pace.  What is tempo pace? Tempo is a pace you could comfortable hold while running for an hour. So just under your 10K pace. For me, it's between 8:20 and 8:40 pace. Ideally you would run to warm up, hold the tempo pace for 20 minutes, slow jog for three to five minutes, then go tempo again, then cool down.  I planned to run on the road, but was so busy during the day that my lunch hour got away from me. My only window left was during track after work. I decided to chunk it up and do 3 sets of 10 minutes with 1 minute recovery jog. In that 10 minutes I planned to run 5 laps around the track which equates to 1 mile and 1/4.  So basically 2000 meters.  Psychologically it's easier to perform three sets of 2000 with 1 minute break rather than completing 30 minutes of tempo pace. Physiologically it has the same effect, so it's a win-win.

What the end results were for the 2000s: 7:58/7:56/8:00.  Because I had the full 1 minute of recovery jogs, I was able to bring it up a notch. This is the only way I could explain why it was run much faster. This was way above my tempo pace. This was more like my 5K pace, and honestly I don't know if I screwed it up here. I ran it much faster than what I was supposed to.  However it didn't feel like it was a 5K effort.  It was manageable. For each lap my average was 1:59.  The best tempo I completed was in Weeks 11 and 14 while training for NYC marathon.  My average lap then was 2:05, but I ran straight 15 laps with no recovery, no chunking it in 3 parts like this time.  I guess I can conclude that with the minute recovery, it allowed the legs to go much faster after that brief period of rest. I'm all for chunking it because it serves as a mental break as well. And why not if it holds the same effect?

Getting ready to run...

The second highlight of the week was the super hilly 10K that my friend Liz "comp" me on. As the race director, Liz hooked me up with a free registration. Thanks Liz!  My daughter decided to run her first 5K race with her friend at school so it was double the fun.  I knew the area and anticipated that the hills would require me to work harder, maybe even require me to take more rest day after. I decided to take a rest day both Thursday and Friday so I would have fresh legs for the race on Saturday.  It was a great tune up race.  I found out that I was able to hold on to a relaxed pace with no sucking air this time.  The hills were punishing, and I decided to walk parts of the steepest ones to preserve my Achilles from overworking.  Afterall, I still had a long 12 miler the next day. Turned out that I placed 2nd in my age group.  My time was 54:27, that's a 8:46 pace for a hilly course.  Two years ago that would have been my normal 10K time for a super flat 10K, sucking air and all. The difference this time, was I ran relaxed and even walked the hilly sections. I think that's progress.  The icing on the cake was my daughter finishing her 5K in 36:21.  She also had a gigantic hill that she had to walk.  Funny thing, she literally rolled out of bed with no training. I wish I could do that and still post an awesome finish time.

Elena getting close to the finish...

...closer...great mid-foot landing!
She's smiling 'cuz the end is near...both feet off the ground!

My girl in her first 5K! Good form baby!
Me and my girl after the race. She's almost as tall as me!
There's Heidi on her way to a 1st Place finish
First things first--Starbucks Cheers! See Hubby behind me with his cup of Java?
My long run turned out amazing.  Feeling my sore quads the night after the 10K, I was prepared to accept a 10:17 pace and be happy with it. I thought no way I would be able to hit 9:45.  My first six miles were at 9:54 pace and the last six was done at 8:59 pace.  That was a full 55 seconds faster in the second half. I couldn't believe it. Don't get me wrong, at the start of the run, I felt the soreness and the heavy timber legs, but I just eased into the run. After the warm-up, I loosened up and forgot about it.  I didn't even realize that I was dropping the pace until I was close to home. I'm shying away from watching my Garmin too much. I'm trying to learn pace and effort based on my breathing and my cadence. I'm getting there. However, I don't think I'll ever be without my Garmin.  I like analyzing my numbers afterwards.

I've also been running without music.  Well okay, I do wear my ipod shuffle. I have the ear pods on, but it's not turned on.  I've been trying to run and listen to my breathing. I wear it for the just in case moments where I hit a rough spot and need some inspiration.  This is my way of weaning myself from it, can't go cold turkey you know.  I feel the music slows me down sometimes. Well, I am the experiment, so we'll see how this running "unplugged" goes.

Happy trails!