Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Monumental Half Marathon Recap

In sum: Ran 1:32:45 for the half marathon. Cold wasn't as terrible as advertised, I fell apart for the middle miles but rebounded and my immediate post-race perspective is never satisfied, even when it should be. Thanks, Indy!

Hey, that's me and my face doesn't appear to be melting in an agonizing state. FRAME IT!

Should I start from the beginning, it will be a foul-mouthed complaint that emphasizes a dour few miles and the pretty nice finish line hat that followed. Instead, I’ll work my way backwards.

As I was taking off from my hotel at noon for the post-race club meet-up spot, I spotted John, a ridiculously fast marathon finisher, and we discussed our efforts as we wandered the few blocks towards the restaurant.  I hadn't actually vocalized my thoughts on my race at that point,  and was sincerely trying to shake my butt hurt feelings of disappointment given I did not achieve my aggressive goal for the day, but I summed it up thusly:

“I know I shouldn't be unhappy with finishing 90 seconds off what I felt like I should have done today, because it sounds like I’m complaining for complaining’s sake.”

His response? “Yeah, that is how it sounds.” It was nice to hear that, honestly. Stopped thinking about it and we went on and he talked about how he fuels during a race and practices during training on the remainder of our jaunt. My utter disgust of bananas should be internationally known BECAUSE THEY ARE GROSS BEYOND REASON, but I was curious how someone can consume part of one during a 26 mile stretch at sub eight minute pace. As someone who struggled with blocks and jelly beans before settling on gels whilst running, race-based mastication is a honed skill I do not possess.

I ordered a locally-brewed Golden Zoe IPA (As club member Ken said from across the table, “You kind of had no choice, did you,” which I really didn't…it was delicious), and as the waitress came back with a few mason jars of water, the one placed in front of me freakishly shattered on the bottom, drenching my lap as it poured off the table top. Wet jeans may be one of life’s greatest peeves, but it didn't bother me.

And that’s when it hit me: I ran a pretty great race and was in a rather good mood because of it.


After driving in near white-out conditions through West Lafayette (which, strange!) and rain the rest of the way down I-65, I headed to the pre-race pasta dinner after nabbing my bib from the expo. Had it been the standard-issue, Midwestern fall evening you envision for Halloween delight and merriment, it wouldn't have been a problem that it was held outside, in a walled tent. But alas, it was given the blustery conditions at hand.  Ate a meal that felt too high school pasta party-esque with my club mates and booked it back to my room to warm up. Iced my foot a bit, thought about what a 1:31 half would feel like as I dumped every piece of clothing on my bed trying to figure out what to wear, and called it a night.

Met up with a few others who were staying in the same hotel…to meet up with some other members staying in a different hotel. These are all extremely nice, friendly and genuine people. They also happen to be older than I am. Which isn't a bad thing! On occasion, though, there’s a divide present that even a shared love of racing can’t gap and I sometimes feel out of place. Though I will admit when a 70-something barrels past a poor hotel worker to get to the bathrooms past the lobby which are supposed to be off-limits to the masses, it’s nice to be with the guy that clearly gives no fucks and not use a port-a-potty when its 30 degrees out. Thank you, Bob.

There are many Bobs, actually.
Photos courtesy the ever-joyous Penny (center), who went out with us prior the the start. Beth (left) ran a PR.

I knew it wasn't going to be that bad out given the initial feeling upon my cheeks wasn't that of harshly-chilled cold, just a cool morning out in the pre-dawn darkness, which made me feel a lot better mentally. Wearing a long sleeve and wind pants I was planning to give away and did the toss just prior to the start thing was probably the difference-maker in never feeling cold beforehand. Shook out, moved up into the general corral space of choice where I could see the 3:05 pacer sign, and off went the gun.

The goal was to stay with the pacer through where the half and full courses split apart after the seventh mile mark, and then do whatever I felt was going to work to bring it home, as that seemed to be the most reasonable and solid option given my penchant for going out too fast.

We went out much faster than I anticipated.

Mile 1: 6:44
Mile 2: 6:58
Mile 3: 6:46

Because I am an idiot, true to form it didn't feel bad to start off that quickly, but I didn't like the notion that sub-6:50 miles were falling in the first quarter of the race. I DNS’d my other two half marathon races this year, the Wisconsin ½ in May on account of my foot status being unclear and the Moraine Hills ½ last month on account of the weather not making it worth the trek to McHenry, so I think it’s safe to note the lack of race sharpness whereas this distance is concerned. I should have backed off more, but I felt we settled in and I didn't want to stare at my wrist the whole time. I miss the notion of not being bound or dictated by a GPS watch, so I think I may turn off the alerts moving forward.

Mile 4: 7:04

Mile four felt great as there were only a few turns and there was a bit of crowd noise (which I’m always surprised by how much that amps me up, what a sucker), and as I felt I was settling in,  I felt a side-stitch approach. I usually get them up higher, in the center of my rib-cage and can breathe them out, but this was on my side. Nothing different in my routine, nothing out of sorts consumed, so I didn't really worry about it at first. Thought about my breathing and how it would dissipate soon enough.

Mile 5: 7:12
Mile 6: 7:39
It didn't. It was sharp and pokey and I got really angry and guilty for wanting this to be a solid run from start to finish, and that suddenly seemed like it wasn't going to be the case. Slowed and the pacing group drifted on by. When the pace leader sign-holder guy stated, “Way to go” to someone who severely over-thinks everything, it sounded like it was said in a tone lathered in pity and I let it rattle me. Accidentally grabbed Gatorade, which I don’t drink whilst racing and threw the cup away, so I was over-thinking the lack of liquid then, too. Got water at the next station and took most of my gel with a scowl on my face. There was seemingly no one around me, all off ahead and down the road. Life was horrible, fucking Circle City is just a gnarled pile of missed opportunity.

As the 10k timing mats loomed a few blocks ahead, two guys came up along beside me, the first noticeable bodies in my orbit for a while. Decided to stick with them and we ran three abreast, chatted a bit. I find I talk to myself a lot more than a sane person should, so it was nice to have some momentary company. They were both doing the marathon, with the right-most gent adorned in a sweater vest that got him adoration from supporters along the curb. His siblings were running up ahead, but he has the family PR and wasn't too worried about it. The guy I was next to noted how he sounds drunk when he speaks in the cold and his hands look ridiculous in forever unpleasant race photos as we passed by an overhead photo station.  

I mean, when you oddly wear your gloves, what do you expect, guy?

Mile 7: 7:17

Felt a lot more relaxed and at ease after connecting with them for the mile-ish +, discussing the presence of beer on a course and what we were looking forward to in the aftermath. Side stitch had finally gone away while with the tandem, too. Thanked them profusely as the course split approached. “Thank you both for helping me get my head out of my ass.” Gloved guy gave me a fist bump and told me to go negative split the thing.

Mile 8: 7:11
Mile 9: 7:13

Calmed down instead of let the tailspin take over because I wanted to. Before the 10k point, I was mentally bemoaning the costs of the trip and how a poor race correlated to it not being worthwhile. I wanted it to be worthwhile. So slowly chipped away, working my way back into a pace that worked.

Haven’t mentioned the wind as it wasn't as harsh as the forecast predicted, but it was prevalent in bursts every once in a while to the point that I felt chilled, the kind that makes you facially wince. Not having many bodies around, not having some random block the wind when it made its presence known wasn't fun in this stretch of the course.

Right before the 9 mile mark was the north-most point of the journey, and having a slight understanding of the course layout meant I knew that we were finally reaching the straight shot southbound around that point, which was a nice boost.

I am NOT smiling for the camera. I am laughing maniacally at myself, wondering out loud if the photographer captured my TEXTBOOK glorious snot rocket on film.

Mile 10: 6:56
Mile 11: 7:04
Mile 12: 6:54
Mile 13: 6:53
Finish: :48

Really nice. Combined with a bit of a decline, I felt like I was moving well again. From right before mile 10 to the last little looplet hook to the finish was all on the same street and I felt powerful. Perceived effort mattered more. Knew I could finish in control and wasn't going to fall apart.

Reached the final turn, maybe 150 meters to the timing mats, and gave it a shot to kick past a guy who pulled away when we pulled up even around that bend. Went to the well one last time but just couldn't pull past him. Looked at the full results and forever know that a Dusty Israel out-kicked me.

Proof of Dusty.

I work in an IT department and the cardstock Master's degree I posses states NEW MEDIA, but physical exertion be DAMNED. Needs to be on paper to resonate.

Went through the 10k at 7:07 pace, overall 7:05 average. Don’t recall passing 12 bodies in the process, either, so that’s a nice boost to the ever-fragile ego as well.

A 12:34 minute PR should be more much satisfying than that which I felt afterwards, but between how I haven’t raced a half in a year, how I've been progressing at the shorter distances and my training has been more focused than it ever has been this fall, I expected to come away with a time that meant such would transpire.   
Still know that I’m capable of dipping under 1:30, and I’ll give it a go in a few weeks time. Have a pair of long runs remaining for a last-gasp endurance boost, along with some focused speed work and can do better on my tempo runs beyond perceived effort. I can go out a lot more conservatively and am not really scared or feel hindered by the shifting cooler weather. I know I can run fast, I just need to run smarter and not put the cart ahead of the horse. Because like bananas, horses suck.

I am very excited for this weekend’s cross country race. As always, more to follow.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Where goals are concerned

I head to Indianapolis tomorrow to run a half marathon on Saturday. It’s thrilling stuff, these moments beforehand; you continue to ponder the question, “13 miles, really? I mean ten miles is nice, too. Just raced a 10k, which was over fairly quickly. Hmm.”

As of a handful of weeks ago, the Monumental Half was supposed to be the fall effort that training was geared towards. I just wasn’t feeling it, wasn’t clicking. Wasn’t really pleased with how I felt racing, so I barely did such this summer. Couldn’t hit the paces laid out by the initial plan I selected due to a combo of summer warmth and not feeling fit enough, which started to be more self-defeating than I really cared for out of something that is supposed to be enjoyable.

Instead of plodding along, I stopped to sincerely assess where I was at, gave myself a chance to really think about what I wanted to get out of this fall after a lachrymose winter/spring and stagnant-state summer. I wanted to feel fast and actually be slightly such. That was the goal that would make me happy.

So I picked a plan that on paper felt like a more reasonable challenge to build with, and gave myself some padding with the end race not being this weekend, but the Schaumburg Half on November 29. 

My updates fell off the radar by virtue of a lack of internet connectivity one week, followed by a week of feeling sickly. But as this week marks eight of 12, I guess I can take a stab at self-assessment and how that relates to 13 miles in the Circle City.

If I had to grade myself, solid B. Easy runs are done easy, and I feel odd if I don’t get a few miles in…but I also have taken advantage of my rowing machine on cold rainy mornings or, as I did yesterday, when my foot was just feeling tight and old.

Long runs have been pretty solid overall, which is different, highlighted by an easy 90-minute effort a few weeks back with no water or fuel in me.  I’ve gone out to Waterfall Glen a few times for uninterrupted 13-mile efforts with some undulation to build up some strength and see pretty things.  I’m actually running, not shuffling and it feels pretty good.  This last weekend I was still feeling under the weather, but stayed pretty steady in my pacing (kinda) and finished feeling refreshed.

Biggest component has been the addition of focused speed work, in comparison to doing improvised fartlek stuff when I felt like it. Tempo efforts, especially those done in the dark before work, have been perceived-effort based, which has been a bit hit or miss, but such combined with a trek to the track have really reenergized things. I get down to business.  I feel focused, doing laps alone.

I get irritated by sluggish walkers or very young people playing 4-on-5 football on the sliver of field that is barely lit and such not comprehending that should a pass fall incomplete and wobble into the first or second lane of the track, I will fully run through you should you blindly step in my path. We played Red Rover in my day, kiddo. My elbows be POINTY, my spite shall come at you like a goddamn truck. 

Sorry, that tangent needed to be shared.

Missed two speed sessions, one on account of feeling fluish and another as I wasn’t quite sure what was transpiring in my foot region a few weeks back when it felt like I had a bone bruise for a few days. To be fair, I never really know what is going on, given that I presently type away with a sandwich baggie with ice resting on my left foot. The uncomfortable sensation is similar to the tendonitis fun-stuff of my spring that appeared in my right foot. Or perhaps I’m on the cusp of splitting apart, waking up one morning with a detached piece or three below the knee. It’s fine, I think. Podiatrists are questionable, anyway.

So, what of this weekend? I didn’t feel solid at the start of September, but very out of sorts for me as apparent in these previous three paragraphs is the presence of confidence. Speed does that. Feeling in command on longer efforts helps, too. My races have been smarter (or maybe even more stupid and I grow increasingly oblivious in my advancing years) and I like where that puts me heading into these final few weeks. But I do have a few more weeks. Saturday isn’t the end point, but I still want to do something solid and have a strong race result to my name come the finish line.

I think I’m really close to being able to put forth an effort where I would be satisfied, time-wise. I got the wheels and my stamina feels good, and I haven’t had a solid balance between the two in probably ever. Sub 90 minutes for 13.1 miles does not feel that far out of reach. 

This is what I get for purchasing sleeves last week in an effort to look super spiffy sleek when running in my singlet, so much for that dreamy notion of 40s and idyllic fall weather. I’m not terribly thrilled by the presence of cold temps (such is the world of a pre-dawn 8a race start prediction of FEELS LIKE 16, scrunched face) with the wind, but I think such will provide me an advantage of trying a different strategy. Stratagem? Never get a chance to use that word, so sure.  

Go out slower than I think is prudent as I have a tried and true mental deficiency of just gunning it from the gun, stick with a pacer group (they only have pacers set up for the concurrently-run marathon, and the course splits around mile 7) and see what I can do for the final six-ish miles. 

Under 92 minutes is what I'm aiming for heading in from the comforts of Chicago, but if it isn't in the cards, it isn't the day for it. I have another opportunity looming not too far off tryptophan lane after Thanksgiving. But I don't care to go in with an excuse of a tight foot or little cough. Driving up north on I-65 knowing I ran intelligently aggressive will leave me feeling pleased. 

My nails are gunmetal. I need to do a small load of laundry. Glad I unpacked my winter gear last weekend. I'm ready. Let's see what I got.

I would like to conclude by severely thanking my February self for not registering for the marathon when the world kinda felt as bleak and hopeless as running 26 miles sounds. That is so far, and a much different goal. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall Training Week of September 29

Week 4 - September 29 - October 5, 32.1 miles

I actually didn't jot a single thing down this week. Everything felt so beyond thrown off as Monday morning started rather early beginning at 4a, due to getting up for an easy run prior to an early morning conference appearance up by O'Hare. Spent the rest of the week waking up at 3:30 or 4a just for funsies, I guess, and morning runs felt stale as a result.

Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were easy efforts of four, 3.5 and four miles, respectively. Thursday was supposed to be a tempo run, but I didn't feel up for it. Foreshadowing?

Tuesday was a nearly three mile warmup prior to 8x400 repeats in the mist on a wet track. Certainly was pretty slick and rather dark.

1:30, 1:30, 1:30, 1:35, 1:32, 1:35, 1:36, 1:29

Wasn't thrilled but wasn't too bent out of shape. But the 2.5+ cool-down back resulted in numerous stops along the way as I couldn't get my shoe tied in a comfortable manner. Like it's too tight around the top of my tendons. Even more foreshadowing?

Friday was a normal day off as Saturday was going to be my long effort at the Moraine Run for the Hills 1/2. But between the immense blob of snow and rain, waking up feeling less than stellar and the notion of driving 100ish miles, it just didn't feel like it was going to be worth the trek. I went back to bed and felt fairly under the weather the remainder of the day.

Eh, another DNS. It was a judgement call I'm happy to have made, this one doesn't bother me much. It's unfortunate more so that I planned out a nice progression pace chart in an effort to start of more conservatively than I normally do and try and hammer out the last five miles.

Decided to head to Waterfall Glen for the first time in awhile for my now long effort on Sunday. Still pretty crowded for 8a, but it wasn't as terribly cold out. Long sleeve over a shirt, odd-length tights, water and gel in hand and off I went.

Let's get this out of the way because apparently in my advancing age, I have lost the abilities learned in childhood, so it would seem. Those massive dips are stops. For the unfamiliar, Waterfall Glen is a giant loop of a bit over nine miles. The last one on the right of the chart is where I turned around to head back to the parking lot after doing a full loop and going a ways out from the starting point. 

The others? Full-on stopping to tie, retie and tie my goddamn shoe. The first one was 17 seconds in, just because I didn't like the way the tongue felt. The next one was because my right lace came undone. Then the left shoe felt too tight. Then the right lace came undone again. 

I was so beyond flustered at the point of the final need to readjust, I upset the tranquil nature of the preserve, unleashing profanity too grand to attempt to type here.  

This couldn't be more true than when I initially thought it last week. SHIBITY. 

Going to get new laces and see if that helps aide in the madness. Anyway, I got lost in my head and couldn't really find a rhythm for the better part of the last half of my effort, which is stupid because that's my favorite part of the loop. The workout was supposed to be 90 minutes with the first 3/4 at a decent clip and the remaining 25% at a pushed effort. I did not come close to such, but I once I hit 1:30, I decided to keep going to get to 12, which meant I went to 13, which would have been what I was intending to do had I gone to the race on Saturday.

1.    8:09
2.    7:49
3.    7:42
4.    7:36
5.    7:28
6.    7:52
7.    7:55
8.    7:39
9.    7:30
10.  7:48
11.  8:01
12.  7:38
13.  7:45
13.1  :52   1:41:50

Unofficially faster than I have ever run before, but no official race has ever been as souring an experience. Didn't feel spent, but wish I could have been a lot more consistent, hills or road crossings aside. Another easy 90 minutes next weekend, and a 1:45 long run two weeks later before the Monumental Half on November 1. Still have time to tinker with my race goal there, but today didn't instill that much confidence in my desired pace as the race draws closer.

Barely ate a full Clif Bar before heading out the door, and my day old coffee was exactly that. Lesson learned: fuel better, velcro laces.

Based on how I felt Saturday, I think there will be a flu shot at some point this week. Week looks pretty calm and cooler, which I am more than alright with; even the weather for the Chicago Marathon is looking promising, unless you aren't a fan of rain.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall Training Week of September 22

Week 3 - September 22-28, 24.6 miles

In sum: in a down week, ran a sub six minute mile, then ran a 5k quickly. 

Monday Afternoon - 3.1 easy, 8:17 pace
Post-nap malaise was an odd feeling, pretty afternoon run on a weekday was odder. Looped right where I normally go left and went down streets I've never seen before.

Tuesday AM - 30 Minute Tempo, 3.81 miles, 7:54 pace
Warmed up a bit, then went until I reached my abode. Bit more starting and stopping than normal for before 6a, but something requiring multiple emergency vehicles at that hour more that receives road priority as far as I'm concerned. 8:18, 8:02, 7:29, 6:15 (.81)

Wednesday AM - 3.15 easy, 8:46 pace
I pretty much have nothing of note. A day later and I don't recall anything worth babbling on, so that's as good a sign as any.

Thursday PM - 2.7 warm up, 5:58 mile time trial, cool down
Tossed around a few ideas for what I wanted to do in lieu of non-existent hill work: 1200s, a ladder, maybe 800s. But I took my interests from last week and decided to see what I could do for a solo four successive laps around the track.

To try and remove my headspace from the suckfest that is my 9-5, I usually walk and wander about the loop during my lunch break. This afternoon I was more flustered than normal, kept walking until I ran out of road where Randolph looks over Lake Shore Drive. Only notable as I didn't change out of my rather tight and completely unsupportive flats, so my feet were not as happy as they could be for around three miles on the pavement.

Warmed up, feeling "meh-ish." Tight feet, sore hip, and mentally frazzled...I was just happy I went out instead of opting to fall asleep on the couch with the sun up. That is always an option, sadly.

Shifted my watch to auto lap every .25 miles, but once I rounded that first curve after taking off, decided to not pay attention to time and just let the watch do the math for me to look at later. It's strange adjusting ones vision when running with a bit more purpose in the darkness, and between people walking and tables and benches from collegiate practices strewn about in the innermost lane at a few spots, I based things on internal feel and focused on not tripping myself up.

Few runs in with the Newtons have been great (even if its only due to the fact that its a much lighter shoe than I am used to) and I do feel like I have been running more upright and taller, which can lead to newborn baby foal moments of no coordination whatsoever.

Kept myself mentally focused with whatever pace I was locked in on and decided not to really pick things up for the final 200 or so, just wanted to stay where I was pace-wise and create a benchmark for myself. Certainly had some more in the tank for a final burst, but decided to maintain instead...

400      800                  1200                mile                   1600
1:27.6/2:57.2 (1:29.6)/4:26.8(1:29.6)/5:58.29(1:31.5)/6:12(14.1)

...and I kinda wish I had dug a bit deeper for a quartet of sub 90 second .25 splits with my normal closing kick, but that is a oddly particular specific after the fact-ism to be chapped over.

No complaints, pretty much where I felt like I should be, based on inner stubbornness. McMillan agrees with me, thus am totally validated or something.

It's funny where confidence comes from. Not even a mile in on my warm up and not feeling all that grand, I was already stockpiling excuses if things didn't go well: afternoon crummy coffee consumption, my lunchtime power walk and the state of my feet, the scent of air freshener from the car that drove by. But I thought to myself well, what is the point if I'm already defeating my efforts prior to actually doing 'em, exactly. And now that first week of 400s seems like a really piss poor effort and the notion of sub 7 minute average during a 5k seems doable.

So, will it be?

Friday - Off. 
Night before race dinner = slightly greasy standard-issue chicken sandwich, waffle fries and a beer. Nothing sounded better.

Saturday AM - Park Ridge Charity Classic 5k - 20:28.37 
In the aftermath, there are sesame seeds all over the place. Didn't realize it at 5:30 in the morning, but my bagel scattered 'em in the kitchen, in the bedroom. Found one in the bathroom sink, though I can't recall mindlessly chewing a sub-optimal circular bread product in there. Bagel and slightly watered-down coffee and I'm out the door a touch after 6ish.

Drove to Park Ridge with a few Oak Park Runners Club members with ease, passing unknown parts of Chicago that felt familiar all the same. Pick up a shirt (a cotton shirt! huzzah!) + bib with plenty of time to spare on a clear and calm morning, getting a chance to chat with some folks I haven't seen in awhile. Warmed up a bit, debating between utilizing my training buddy option on my watch or not. Turned it off, lined up and off we went.

Slight decline as the course dipped beneath an underpass in the first half mile combined well with my tendency to go out a bit quicker, seeing 6:1X on my watch after the first buzz on my wrist. Didn't panic, had no reason to.

Hmm, alright then. Now that such is out of my system, let's calm down a bit and find a solid rhythm until the turn around. Mental boost from my time trial made a pre-race goal of 6:40s not sound or feel nearly as daunting, and I just wanted to attack a race with confidence for ONCE, seeing as I felt like I had the legs and the head (for once, the Greek chorus should repeat) to do it.

Guy called out splits a mile one was audible from a ways away, but I didn't want to get caught up in anything that would come as a shock and be excuse fodder for later on.

Kept moving well and stayed dialed in as the turn around was in sight. Looped down and around with a slight group of people...but was in no-man's land the remainder of the trek towards the finish. My momentum around the curve of cones was that much greater than that of my race compatriots? Strange, especially as I was slowing down a bit yet never got passed from that point on.

Caught up to a gent who was slowing down considerably and I momentarily lost focus, slowing down  and keying off his pace along side him. He completely stopped to walk after a minute or so. I shook of the thoughtless pace and pressed on towards the finish. Tried a last gasp sprint to catch a guy at the chute, but ran out of real estate.

Stopped my watch, 3.13 miles. 20:31 for a 6:33 average. That's more like it. 6:29/6:34/6:44/:42. One of my more even-keeled efforts, and I'm starting to wonder what my lifetime PR is, the one from a Mesozoic era of lithe and unbroken body parts. I'm old now, haven't kept that number in the frontal lobe for awhile. Still thinking about it, waiting in line for my race print out. I may be close.

With result in hand, I pull up my race result collection via Ath Links. I know exactly what I'm scrolling towards, the 2001 ALS 5K Cross Country For a Cure. I remember that race kinda, went with my HS teammates and ran a good amount with one of the nicer coaches who was only around during my junior track season. Because the world is small, he was a founding member of the OP runners club. Clung to his pace until the final stretch, kicking for a third overall, third in the age group. Finished in 20:28.

Couldn't go .5 faster, eh

I know that I in theory may have set a PR. But the existence of that .4 (.37 per the online results for even more hair-splitting insanity) seconds have me hungry more so than sated. 

As I'm walking back towards the car, I'm already contemplating adding a late November 5k to my slate. What an asshole. 

Sunday AM - 5 easy, 8:04 pace
Felt light, but excessively sweaty. Had to re-tie my left shoe about three times. Might swap in some different laces.

Next week: Week four has some 400s (at 5k pace! I know what that means now!) and a 3/1 90 minute long run, which will be done at the Run for the Hills half at Moraine State Park, which is about three counties away. Pretty course with some inclines on limestone and paved trails, happy to go back after doing such last year. I'll do the first nine at an easy longer pace and push the final four.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Training Week of September 15

Before a day-by-day breakdown:
Used to be deeply attuned to the world of running shoes on a very nerdy level, mainly because it beat doing homework or accomplishing anything of actual value. That interest fell by the wayside during college, especially as my dissatisfaction of the swoosh began to manifest.

Even when I wasn't running, I stayed connected to what was going on at the professional level. Liked what the Hanson's were doing and stood for, so I stuck with Brooks for awhile, most recently with a long string of Adrenaline 12s (exacerbated when I got about four pairs at DSW for stupid cheap).

I spent this spring and summer in a pair of New Balances that I got for free last year, mainly because I had them around and I thought that the Adrenalines contributed to my inflamed tendon foot woes of the spring. Fairly worn and not really providing the cushioning I feel like I needed, I knew it 'tis time for something new.

Enter my first pair of Newtons. Many folks SWEAR by them, which makes me nervous that I'm entering some sort of cultish world. But I type this wearing a Ragnar sweatshirt, so perhaps its too late for me.

The ridge isn't obvious when I tried them out, which surprised me. Nice and light shoe, and I was sold on the notion of this being an entry (...gateway?) model to grow accustomed to the different structure. I'm a bit lighter and run more efficiently than when I first started back running consistently last winter, so I'm happy to see how these work out. Only concern is making sure the bone chip in my left ankle doesn't feel jostled. Gotta keep our broken pieces appeased.

I will say this: I have not spent this much on a pair of shoes since whatever model of Nike Air Max was released in 1999. Damn feet, why does it cost so much to house you in things.

Criminy, so garish. I love them. 

Week 2 - September 15-21, 32.4 miles

Monday AM - 3.24 miles, 9:11 pace. Stretch, Myrtl. 

Tuesday AM - 45 minute Tempo Run, 5.49 miles.  
Hard to get moving. 10 minute warm up, 25 min tempo effort, 10 minute cool down.
8:47, 7:53, 7:50, 7:41, 8:33, 4:30 (.49)
Sort of morning where the cool tingle takes awhile to leave ungloved hands and you are reminded that you can see your gasping breath for part of the year. 

Wednesday AM - 4 miles, 8:21 pace. Stretch.
Woke up super early for no particular reason, so waited for a tinge of sunrise to head out for some easy miles.

Thursday PM - 3x1600
1.5 mile warm up, a trio of four laps around the track with a 400 jog inbetween, 1.5 cooldown.

Well shit. Sorta didn't want to do anything after a crapfest of a day. The lack of hills in the immediate vicinity is giving me creative license in changing up the three workout sessions that call for such into other speed sessions on the track. Flipped a coin between 1200s and 1600s, but four laps will always have the upper hand in my heart.

Decided to drive to the track and warmed up there, which worked out as I got things moving a bit quicker compared to running over to Concordia. Feel like I get right down to business when contained within a specific area for repeat efforts. Different mindset than aimlessly wandering on the roads, for certain. Used the last lap or two for some strides and remind myself what quicker turnover is. I've been liking the way my stride and turnover has been feeling this summer, more running than shuffling.

I didn't really have much of a time-focused plan heading in, especially after my previous session of low 1:30 400s and an opening mile of 6:53 at my 5k last week. Figured 6:45s would be a good point pace-wise to aim for.

Mile 1: 6:36 (1:34/3:14/4:53)
Mile 2: 6:39 (1:39/3:18/4:58)
Mile 3: 6:25 (1:34/3:10/4:49)

Felt controlled but pressed myself pretty well throughout. Didn't really think to set up my lap splits on my Garmin, so I wasn't living and dying by whatever numbers were being displayed or buzzing upon every passing by my starting point. Based things more on feel. I think I'll give the workout creation option on my watch for next week, seeing as I never have used that feature, so why not.

Looked at my wrist upon finishing the first one and felt sorta non-responsive. "Uh, ok I guess." Should I be ecstatic? Scared?  Not sure if that was going to be a dastardly starting point that would doom the remaining two 1600s. Felt more conservative for number two, but not by much.

Final go around was in the pristine post-sunset blush with minimal stadium lighting and I sped up for the final 100. It felt good to be moving quickly. Cooled down, over-thinking what this means/what I should be aiming for. No idea. I'll take myself out at 7 in next week's 5k, and then keep pressing. Or more likely go out far too quickly and die.

Looking back, the last time I did mile repeats was last June. 7:03/7:21/6:58. Glad I didn't look that up prior to this workout. 

Was so close to stripping down to just my sports bra for the final repeat, but too damn self-conscious. What would all the walkers THINK?

Would love to get a solo mile in now and see how it stacks up to the end of this training cycle. Will make that happen next week where applicable.

Friday - Off. 

Saturday AM - 9 miles, 8:34 pace.
Not sure why I felt so off. Weather was wonderful but I was sweating as if it was about 85 degrees and 90% humidity out, which was very much not the case. Felt like I had no energy, even though I gave myself time to completely digest a Clif bar. Hip started feeling a little tighter than I felt comfortable with, so I reached a nice round number and walked my remaining mile home.

Sunday PM - 4 @ Pace, 7:26 pace.
7:26, 7:29, 7:26, 7:23
TOO FAST (I think). Like a skittish small animal, I bounded about on my first run in my new shoes, feeling fleet of foot and strong. Haven't run in a shoe so light (7.9 oz) in a very long while. On the plus side, I didn't feel too strained in maintaining a pace that is about 10 seconds faster than desired, and the hardest part was the ever-present starting/stopping of an afternoon jaunt. Again, need to utilize the bells and whistles on my wrist and set up pace things. 

Next Week: Park Ridge Charity 5k. Claims to be the fastest 5k in Illinois, never been. Breaking 22 is the expected outcome, close to 21:30 is the goal. Trying to use smaller (and cheaper!) races + workouts to regain a sense of confidence when racing instead of swearing at myself for being a head-case.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall Training Week of September 8

Decided to change things up before I got too far into a fall training schedule that may not be the best approach for me to take this fall heading into racing season. Opted to utilize Hal Higdon's advanced build up as I think it will be a more appropriate schedule for where I'm at; challenging but not as overwhelming as far as milage is concerned.

I am a fan of the online schedules he has at pretty much every level, and I liked the layout of the week a bit better than what I was using. I'll at least keep myself accountable on some semblance of posting weekly round-up sorta things. I'm sure I'll get to general running bitchery at some point as well.

Week 1 - September 8-14, 33 miles

Monday AM - 3 miles, 8:30 pace. Stretch, Myrtl. Tennis in the evening.
Still feeling off from a warm Thursday 5k and an aimless easy eight miles on Sunday, so I decided to keep it easy. Dark and cool morning. Making me look forward to fall.

Tuesday Evening - 7x400, give or take a minute rest in between. 
2 1/2 mile warm up
1:34, 1:30, 1:32, 1:30, 1:35, 1:35, 1:31
2 1/2 cool down

Would have driven had I gone in the morning, but laziness prevailed and went to the Concordia track for the first time this year on foot. Probably for the better to be honest, as the warm up (at about 8:30 pace, it always amazes me how different the same pace feels at different times of day) felt like the perfect length to get blood flowing, head in the right place mentally after a crap work day and muscles warm, instead of feeling like the first few intervals were still part of the warm up process.

Dodged a few charmers who didn't quite understand walking on a track in the inner lanes protocol, but felt pretty good and controlled throughout. Felt like I still had some in the tank instead of totally spent, which confuses me.

As I left the track, someone from within a group that was starting to warm up called out "great run, Ragnar girl!" Took me an embarrassing long time to realize this was in reference to my shirt. Guess I forgot that other runners are aware of races. I run alone too much.

Wednesday Evening - 3.5, 8:05 pace. Stretch, Myrtl.

Thursday Evening - 4.8, 8:36 pace. Stretch. 
Was contemplating taking the day off, went out on a whim. First late(r) evening run in the dark, took a bit to get my old eyes adjusted.

Had been toying with the notion of registering for a nearby/low-fi/low-cost (the greatest race triumvirate, really), and with my new schedule calling for a tempo run on Thursday, I rationally signed up, opting for a speedier Saturday.

Friday - Off. 
I'll probably play off days by ear, either taking things off completely, opting for a good stretch or getting in some rowing when feeling antsy.

Saturday AM - Makin' Tracks 5k: 22:05 (7:05 pace).
Fourth lady, 2nd in my old person age group (27th overall, super tiny race). I don't think I'll wax on the effort more than this: It's a benchmark.

Sunday AM - 90 minutes (11.32 miles, 7:57 pace).
The long runs within this training build up are based on time, which is fine by me. The way some of the days are set up are what good ol' Hal labels as 3/1, with the first three quarters at a decent clip and the final portion at an increased pace, near race pace.

Was planning on heading to a forest preserve for unimpeded milage, but I slept through my alarm and frustratedly took to the streets of OP/FP/RF with a Clif Bar in my gut. I've had a lot more success kind of dialing in to a consistent pace once I find a groove during my long runs this year compared to last, so I liked how it felt today for an easier long effort. I'm also getting better paying attention to form and actually feel like running, compared to more shuffling.

First six: 8:28, 8:08, 8:07, 8:02, 8:05, 8:05
Last five: 7:48, 7:41, 7:41, 7:31, 7:39, 2:40 .32 (crossing Oak Park is the worst)

More to come.