Friday, July 24, 2009

Going long

Well, I know I said once I did a 16 miler I would be signing myself up for that marathon...2.3 more miles tonight, and I would have been there. That said, I'm guessing it's probably not that smart to run 10.9 miles on Sunday (longest run in ~a month and a half) and then run 13.7 miles on Friday. I just don't really know if that's a good idea...but I did it, it was an accident, and I feel pretty badass.

I ran the first 7.5 miles with two of my runner girls from the WTC, which was just awesome - the miles absolutely flew by, and running together kept us at a reasonable pace (ie, NOT SUB 8 when we are running double digit miles!) After a quick bathroom stop (my stomach was not happy with me in the slightest...did that have something to do with going on a brewery tour this afternoon? Maybe...but anyway...) I kept going with Claire, who was doing 10 for the day. I eventually split off with her at the Capitol, and of course once I was running alone was when things started to get crappy. The last 3 miles or so were just a giant festival of suck (and at the time, I was still thinking I was only running 12 miles...which made me even more depressed as I kept looking at my watch). I just wanted to be done - dear God, I had been running for almost 2 hours, with stomach problems, and I was at the point where my legs were starting to give out on me too. And that was the point where I was just like OK...shut off your mind, and run. So I stopped paying attention to things, stopped really thinking, and just was like...keep going. (Although I did have to laugh when a couple in their 50s or so came running along and the man was like "Hey look! Another person as crazy as us!") Somehow "I Would Walk 500 Miles" got stuck in my head...but mostly just the obnoxious BA DA DA DA! part...I guess the weird song stuck in head thing hasn't happened to me for awhile since I've been running with my iPod, but my mind likes to grab on to random fragments of songs and just put them on repeat...kind of annoying, but it was enough of a distraction to be helpful tonight.

I finally made it home and mapped out the idea of 12 miles had actually ended up being 13.7, oops!! This is actually my second longest run ever (the longest being 14.1) so I'm pretty impressed. Pace ended up being 8:17, which is faster than marathon goal that a good thing, or no? Or should my marathon goal pace be faster? I really have no idea how to approach this. If I run it (and let's face it...I obviously want to...) I think obviously as a first-timer my goal just has to be to finish, but realistically I'd say I would be satisfied if I broke 4:00, happy if I broke 3:50, but my real goal would be to break 3:40:59 and thus, qualify for Boston. Since I'm going to be living there, that just makes sense, right? I don't even know.

Wow, my life is thrilling. I feel like I've been posting a lot, and about every run I do...clearly, I'm kinda boring. :P So some insight into the rest of my day today: I woke up at 5:15, was at work by 6, played with a whole bunch of golden doodles and bloodhounds and labs and mutts all day, and was head butted by a vizsla named Maverick leaving a lovely bruise on my shin. Then I ended up going to the Capital Brewery tour with the BF and his sister, who just turned 21. Again, fabulous long run prep, am I right? The tour there is really fun, only $3 for a really interesting tour of the place and 4 samples of different beers, plus you get to keep the cute 3 oz mini mug. It was extra fun because 3/4 beers we tried I had never had before, so that was exciting. Tomorrow the BF and I are planning on going to the farmer's market, and hopefully going kayaking on the lake if the weather is decent...and then Sunday is the Capitol Mile, which I'm still debating running in. I'm definitely not in mile shape, so I'm not sure if it's worth the money, but then again it does support my club, which has done so much for me in the past 4 years, so it might be. Either way, I'll be volunteering.

I'm starting to actually realize that in 3 weeks I'm moving out of this crazy, fabulous town I've been living in for the past 4 years and on to new adventures...I'm a little bit sad/scared but excited/happy all in one! I'm sure there will be a post coming in the future about the gloriousness that is Madison...but in the meantime, I'm all signed up for the Madison Mini Marathon 1/2 I'll at least have one last hurrah on August 29! :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thank you, MJ

Sometimes, I swear my iPod knows I'm running. 3 times in the last 2 weeks, I've been struggling through the last couple miles of an 8-9 miler, and suddenly, the sweet sweet sounds of Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, et al pop up singing "Ease On Down The Road" from The Wiz. [Disclaimer: I'm a giant musical nerd. I acted/sang/danced from 6th-12th grade and The Wiz happened to be one of the musicals that fell into my repitoire...don't worry, I was a tornado dancer/crow/winkie/emerald city person. I kicked ass. But yeah, that's why I own the soundtrack :)] Anyway, the first time it happened I thought it was funny because I totally forgot I had that song on there, but today I was really struggling, as I've been sick with a God-awful sinus infection for the last 2 days and have been able to do essentially nothing, so my nose/lungs/head weren't feeling that great on today's 8 mile excursion. And suddenly, I'm about a mile and a half from home, slogging up this stupid, neverending hill...when all of a sudden I hear...

Ease on down, ease on down the road
don't you carry nothing that might be a load
come on, ease on down, ease on down the road...

And I literally broke a smile in the middle of this endless hill, and looked straight ahead, and was like, yes, I will finish this run.

Cause there may be times
when you think you've lost your mind
and the steps you're takin'
leave you three four steps behind
but the road you're walking
[running?!] might be long sometimes
you just keep on steppin' and you'll be just fine

I'm a nerd. Don't judge. :P

8 miles - 7:26 pace [As it turns out, my favorite 8 mile route runs through an off-leash dog park..and I was wondering why there were random fences in my way! Good thing I work at a freaking dog daycare, and I don't feel threatened by 95% of dogs who come dashing up to me...and I also have to just hope that people with aggressive dogs don't bring them to an off-leash park...]

I've decided if I can run a 16 miler before I move out on August 13, then marathon here I come....and let's face it...since I told myself that's what I have to do to sign up for the marathon, it will probably happen like, next week. Who am I kidding here? The more ridiculous, the better...story of my life.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I would run one thousand miles...

Actually, I did! Somewhere in the middle of today's almost-11 miler, I hit 1000 miles for the year. Yippee! This is the first year I've really taken a hardcore interest in paying attention to my mileage, so I was pumped to hit that milestone. :) Today's run was pretty entertaining, I currently don't have a car so I decided to run home from work, but take the looooong way to make my run 10 miles instead of 5.5. Well then, being the genius that I am, I got completely lost, and only managed to make it back because I recognized the streets from some random run I went on last year. But it was a REALLY good long run - for once in my life, I was feeling extremely strong on the hills, and there were plenty of them. My legs kind of died the last 2 miles, but I kept trucking and made it home feeling pretty good. People at work thought I was nuts - "are you sure you want to run home?" "Yeah, I'm actually running further than home too" ", you're crazy. I guess you ran cross country so..." haha.

Running has been good to me this week. So good, I think it's trying to tell me "what is all this triathlon nonsense, it will always come back to running!" And yes, it always will. But that doesn't stop me from drooling when I see mega-cyclists all spandexed out on their super hot road bikes come cruising by, or get a little jealous when I see 3 people in wetsuits doing laps in Lake Wingra. All in good time...all in good time.

So I guess here's my week 3 training report. Training for what, I no longer know. If you didn't happen to read my last post, my goal race of the BAA Half Marathon filled up before I got a chance to sign up. So now, I have all sorts of interesting options...actually, there really aren't that many of them. I could a) keep on the HM training plan just for the sake of the fact that involves running a lot, and hope to find a 10 miler or something, b) do whatever the hell I want for awhile, or c) go for broke and turn this half marathon training into marathon training. I really don't know which is the best option. It was brought to my attention today that there's a marathon happening about a half hour out of Boston on October 18, my former club coach (who lives in Boston) is running it, and told me I should train for it. Pros to this are that hey, I said I was going to train for a marathon, so here it is! And it's also apparently a very fast course. Bonus points! Cons are that it is more expensive (actually, lies. Entry fee is actually less than the half, go figure. $55? That is one cheap marathon!)/more complex travel-wise than something in the city (which was basically the only reason I picked the BAA half in the first place - travel is not going to be so much of an option without a car, or money.) However, if my old coach is doing it, the likelihood of having a way to travel there goes up by a lot. There's also a half marathon associated with it that I could also do if I chickened out on the full. But I really don't know. Any suggestions? For now, I think I'm just going to keep on the half marathon training plan, but keep adding to my long runs (which I was planning on doing anyway - today's run was supposed to be 8, not 11 :)) and see what happens. I've really been enjoying having a plan in that it has forced me to do things that I really doubt I would be doing otherwise. Generally, I don't do easy 8-9, to me, that is a long run. And now I'm doing that at least twice a week, plus a real long run, and discovering that it's not all that bad. Anyway, ramblings aside, here are the stats from this week:
Monday: off (planned)
Tuesday: 6 w/ last 10 minutes moderate (7:30 pace)
Wednesday: 8.9 easy (7:44 pace) + 1.4 EASY (8:14 pace) - went on a run with my friend Jade, then stopped at her house for awhile because we both felt like puking. Still did on the way home, but refused to walk, hence the slow last 1.4 miles.
Thursday: 5 easy (forgot watch, but it was pretty slow I think) + BEER MILE!
Friday: 8 w/last 15 moderate (7:18 pace)
Satuday: 6 w/ last 10 hard (7:16 pace)
Sunday: 10.9 easy (7:39 pace)
Total miles: 47.2
Days off: 1
Crap-fests: 1 (Wednesday was just plain unpleasant)

Things I learned this week are that my best runs seem to come when I have absolutely no desire to go running, I definitely, DEFINITELY run better later in the day, and PowerGels with caffeine still rock my world. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yeah, we're different

Today was another one of those grumpy "I don't wanna run" crap-fests where I sit around and whine to myself about how much I don't want to run, is it going to matter THAT much if I skip one 6-miler, blah, so tired, etc.

And then I break down and throw on my shoes and throw myself out the door...

So what I realized tonight is, pretty much, if you want to give yourself a good idea of how different runners/individual sport athletes (triathletes, cyclists, etc) are from the general population, the best way to do it is to run down a busy street full of bars/restaurants in a college town on a Saturday night. Everyone is out on their way to eat a lot of food, drink a lot of alcohol, or most likely some combination of those two. You, in the meantime, are trying to pick up your pace because its the last 15 minutes of your run and you're supposed to be going "moderate". And people are looking at you like "what in God's name is this weirdo doing, she should be out drinking like a normal person". Except you're not. And you simply don't care.

Runners are weird. There's really no way around that. We enjoy putting ourselves through absurdly painful things, we devote an absurd amount of time and energy to our sport, we make sacrifices many would be unwilling too for the sake of one more second off of our PR...and I think for a lot of people its like, where's the draw in that? Why are you running down the street when you could be sitting having a martini at the sidewalk cafe? It's a mystery that's really pretty impossible to put into words. But all I know is, as I'm cruising at 7:20 pace down State Street, I couldn't be more proud and amazed that I am what I am. I am a RUNNER. 95% of those people looking at me all googly-eyed can't even imagine doing what I'm doing. And to know that I can - that I actually am this person who works for 7 hours and then comes home and gets her damn run in anyway and cruises the whole way feeling great - is just like...WOW.

It sounds kind of weird and lame probably that these thoughts just happened to pop into my mind tonight, since let's face it, another big part of the weirdness of runners is the fact that not a day passes without some thought to our latest workout or upcoming race or what-have-you. But really, how many times do we stop for a second and think about just how incredible what we are doing is? Generally during runs I'm not thinking about my awesomeness, I'm thinking about how my shin hurts or I'm thirsty or why the hell did I eat those pretzels? But tonight, for some reason, I was just looking around at all of these people headed out for a night of fun, and I thought to myself - I'd rather be me than them.

Does this mark some kind of milestone of me escaping the college "well yeah, I want to be a good runner...but I also want to go out every weekend" mindset into that of a truly hardcore athlete? I don't know. I'm still not willing to give up my nights of debauchery just yet...hell, I'm only 22. But I feel like since track season, it's been like I've realized if I'm willing to go for it, to really, 100% go for it, I can really be a good runner. I can be a good triathlete. I can, in 5 or 10 years, go running down that same street I ran down tonight to an Ironman finish. I can do it all. And all its going to take is the willingness to take that extra step - to be a little weird, a little different - and just go for it, balls to the wall. You know what? That sounds great to me.

Ironically enough, as I finished writing this super post of pumping myself up, I happened to go check the website for the half marathon I'm training for. Registration opened on Wednesday. IT'S ALREADY CLOSED!!!!

What the hell do I do now?

I keep running...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A few more triathlon pictures

Yes, I know it was like a month ago, but bear with me, I'm still pumped about the damn thing. And my mom had these pictures on her camera, and is a little bit technology impaired so I only recently got my hands on them. Also, nothing else exciting is happening in my life and I don't feel like boring the world with the details of every single run I go on [6 miles @ 7:30 pace this morning ;)] so triathlon pictures are much more fun.

Notice how I'm smiling in both of these pictures. My mom told me "Yeah, it was weird, I don't think I've EVER seen you look happy in a race before!"

The guy who came up with this ridiculous/awesome idea, and my #1 cheering section :)

Nothing much exciting to report about my run today. I got stopped by a train for like 5 minutes which was annoying, and I got all excited because I saw someone open water swimming in Lake Monona [thought process - man, I would so much rather be doing that, I'm hot and my legs hurt. I need a wetsuit. I wonder if she's training for the Ironman?] I felt OK, not great, but I don't really like running in the morning and I'm sure that had something to do with it. Amazingly, I somehow woke up at 8:15 this morning without an alarm..if I could do that more often it would probably help my training out a lot!

This is where I was running today. I'm going to miss this bike path, along with about a million other random little places where I run when I leave Madison...but I think that's another post by itself that I don't feel like thinking about right now, so we'll just leave it at that for the moment. All I know is, Monona Terrace is where the Wisconsin Ironman starts...and its one of my favorite places to run. Coincidence? I think not. ;)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ease on down, ease on down the road

HM Training Recap - Week 2
Monday: Off (planned)
Tuesday: 6.6 easy (7:35 pace)
Wednesday: 8 easy (7:05 pace)
Thursday: 6.2 easy (7:19 pace)
Friday: 8.4 easy (7:47 pace)
Saturday: 4.3 easy (7:46 pace)
Sunday: 9.4 easy/last 10 minutes moderate (7:26 pace)
Total miles: 42.8
Days off: 1
Crap-fests: 0! :)

R-O-C-K in the USA. That's how I feel about this week. It was such a strange and ridiculous turnaround from how I felt last week because seriously, every run, I felt fantastic. Wednesday's 8 miler was definitely a highlight, I found this new route that I am completely in love with. Basically, its a loop (bonus points right off the bat) that combines bits and pieces of all my favorite routes, plus it can be lengthened really easily to be a longer run. Because I love pain, there's a big hill at ~mile 7 no matter what you do, but the rest of it is relatively flat. Sweeeet deal. So I knew I was cruising, but it felt so easy that I really wasn't quite aware of how fast I was running. 7:05? That might be a little excessive. The next day's 7:19 pace was also a little ridiculous, and I paid for it on Friday when my legs decided they weren't interested in continuing with this whole "running" business around mile 7 of my 8.5 mile run. Saturday was pretty rough as well, I ran a mile with a dog at work (we take them on walks which are a mile long...this little lab puppy wanted to run, so I said OK! My co-workers were like wow, I never would have done that hehe) and then only 3.3 miles later, during which I felt pretty crappy, but that's what happens when my legs are beat up from running fast earlier in the week. My long run was great, it was my longest since, well, the half marathon, which was over a month ago...and I felt really good and relaxed throughout, and was obviously running at a decent clip, which was once again surprising. Hello, if I could do THAT in an actual HM race...but anyway. So, a very good week, and I managed to work it all around my 40 hours of work - planning is the name of the game.

Another thing I think was a big contributor to my success was my amazing discovery of something that has been sitting right under my nose for the past 6 months...GELS! Seriously, how did I never try this before? I consistently have problems with nutrition before runs...I either seem to a) eat too close to when I go running, so I'm full but have stomach problems or b) don't eat enough, am starving, and feel like crap (lately, the latter has been occuring much more frequently, no thanks to my idiotic job schedule). I have a hard time eating much within about an hour of running, so if I need to get off work and get my butt on the roads ASAP, there really isn't time to eat. Enter: gels. I have a whole box of PowerGels that I got after volunteering at the Ironman in September (working the 7-11 shift definitely had its perks). I tried one, didn't really like how it tasted, and figured I had basically no use for them, but kept the box anyway. On Wednesday it occurred to me that I needed to go running, I was sort of hungry but didn't want to eat anything...and then as I was hunting for my shoes, I happened to glance at the box of gels sitting under my desk. I figured it couldn't hurt to try one, so I washed down a Double Latte one with some water, and off I went. Now, maybe it's just a placebo effect of me just thinking that trying something different was going to make my run better - but it was GREAT! I didn't feel hungry, but my stomach wasn't rebelling as it would have if I'd eaten something solid. I've been taking them before my longer runs this past week and I seriously am a believer. I think when I get up to 13-14 milers I might bring one along, just because I'm so confident in the boost that it gives me. So yeah,!

Lately I've taken to running with my maybe I'm not a purist, but sometimes I need a little extra something to get me out the door and music is it. During my long run yesterday, I seriously think it somehow knew I was running, as I heard "Marathon" and "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" back to back, a live version of "Born To Run", and of course, finishing off the run with "Ease on Down The Road" - classic. Much as I love running with tunes, I'm excited to run with some WTC girls this week...and also this week is the inagural WTC Beer Mile! My first race of the summmer (hah ;)) Actually, I am finally starting to get my racing schedule figured out, assuming it all works out with work. I'm racing the Capitol Mile on the 26th, a 5K on August 6, and then a half marathon at the end of August (I'm not technically racing that one, but its a training run for the real deal in October - which I need to sign up for this week..eek!) I've downgraded my expectations for the BF to run a 5K since I'm having a hard time getting him to stick to a training plan (not that I blame him haha), and since I actually LOVED the triathlon I figure I won't torture him too much, so he's going to do the Capitol Mile...since we know he can run a mile. :)

Today was my day off, which was nice since my legs are definitely feeling the somewhat sudden jump in mileage/intensity. But I'm looking forward to getting back at it tomorrow, and that makes me happy - that I'm looking forward to running. It feels like since the end of track season that's been a hard feeling to find, but I think I'm finally starting to get it back. So yay for that! :)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Oh happy day

Today was a wonderful day - for the first time in what feels like forever, I didn't feel like a complete slug while running. I could legs didn't feel like collapsing...I generally felt very relaxed and comfortable during what was supposed to be the 'easy' portion of my run, and it was just excellent. And the funny part is, I almost talked myself into skipping this run altogether.

My past 24 hours have been very interesting...I worked an overnight shift at work last night for the dog slumber party that my work hosts...yes, its what it sounds like. 6 dogs + me, in a room, all night. Glorious. I won't lie, the overnight shift is OK because all the dogs are tired and you really don't do anything...'working' consisted of watching Anchorman with a fat pug, a miniature schnauzer (who was completely adorable), a shibu inu, a shi tzu, a poochon (part poodle, part cavachon...the name makes me giggle), and some little mystery mutt. Yes, I have classy friends. :P Then sleeping on an air mattress with them. So while fun, and pretty minimal on the actual 'work' side of things, I got maybe 3 hours of sleep. Dogs tend to bark in the middle of the nothing.

Oh, but it gets I got off at 6:15 am, went home, slept for like 3 hours...and had to go back to work. From 12:30-7. Ugh. I wasn't quite as happy to see the puppies this time around...I was tired, I was cranky, and all I could think about was my damn long run that I had to go on after work. I'm ashamed, but I got very, very, very close to talking myself out of it. I was just exhausted and I just didn't want to, but that little voice in the back of my mind was're going to feel soooo guilty if you don't. Well then I got home and the BF was like "hey, let's run!" So once I'd done an easy mile with him and was already in my running clothes, I figured I really didn't have a choice but to do this run. The plan was for an 8 mile run, easy but with the last 10 minutes moderate...a nice little long run/base workout. Well, it was great. I finally felt like a runner and not like a shuffling piece of crap. I really focused on staying relaxed and keeping my breathing in check, and I think finally I had hydrated/ate just enough that my stomach wasn't going nuts but I also wasn't hungry. The last 10 minutes of 'moderate' felt great - I lengthened out my stride and felt like I was definitely putting in more effort, but I also could have been going faster - but that was pretty much the point. It was good and I was happy...and needless to say, I'm glad I went on the stupid run. :)

So with that, I give you my HM Training Week 1 summary. I actually managed to run around the mileage I had planned, despite skipping a 5 miler on Wednesday since I was feeling sick. Didn't feel great on most runs up until today, but I'm definitely finally starting to just get back into the habit of 'unless its a scheduled day off, get out there and RUN!
Mon: Easy 4.6 miles (7:29 pace) + 4 x 10 sec hill sprints + 1 mile w/the BF (8:22)
Tues: off (planned)
Wed: Easy 5.2 miles (no watch)
Thurs: off (unplanned = fail)
Fri: Easy 7 miles (7:48 pace) (I didn't blog about this run but it was honestly one of the most disasterous runs I've been on in quite awhile. Horrible.)
Sat: Easy 8 miles (7:42 pace) (Was supposed to be 6...and then I got lost)
Sun: 8.35 miles w/ last 10 minutes moderate (7:39 pace) + 1 mile w/ the BF (8:10)
Total miles: 35.2
Days off: 2

My best week in awhile, that's for sure. It really sucks having to try to plan training around my random and constantly changing work schedule, but I'm trying to get better at it and make it work. I also think I'm finally starting to get used to the humidity which is key in my training being successful at all this summer. Things are only going to ramp up from here, so I'm especially glad that my long run went well this week because it gives me confidence that I do indeed have the fitness to be starting training at this level again.

Now I really want a smoothie. :)