Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do you know the way to Heartbreak Hill?

I messed around with my workout calendar this week because doing a tempo workout inside on the treadmill sounded way more enticing than doing hill reps in the slush [yes, being on the treadmill won out...doubt you'll ever hear me say THAT again!].  I had an XT day scheduled for today, but now that my knee appears to be cool with my ever-climbing mileage, that second XT day is probably on it's way out anyway, and I was in the mood to get my second workout of the week out of the hills it was!  I've been planning ever since I put this workout on my calendar to do it on Heartbreak, because despite the fact that I live ridiculously close to the famed Newton Hills, I hadn't actually run out there yet...they kind of intimidated/scared me off with all that talk about them haha.

So I checked out the marathon course map to see where exactly this mystical hill I realize the BAA wants to emphasize the history and all of the landmarks along the course but seriously? Worst course map ever. [Actually, it really is kind of cool, and I'm probably going to print it out and put it on my wall of motivation right now...but anyway...] According to that map, Heartbreak started somewhere near the intersection of Centre and Commonwealth, which I mapped as being ~2.8 miles from my house.  OK, no big deal - my warmup and cool down can be a little longer, my mileage-whore mindset is ALWAYS ok with that!

I rolled out the door and instantly I was cruising...just one of those glorious runs where from the moment you start everything just clicks and it all seems effortless. I ran through my usual section of Comm Ave and onward into the Newton Hills...which is where the adventure began.  I was filled with glee at the fact that I was running on the Boston Marathon course - this is a GREAT thing because it's the first time since I started training that I've legit gotten excited about the fact that I'm running this marathon.  I started out on the sidewalk but switched over to the random frontage/side road pretty fast because apparently the Newton-ites aren't too big on shoveling or salting? The sidewalk was a mess.  So I come to the cross street before Centre street, and I'm thinking to myself that I should be running down a big hill...right?  But Centre Street comes and goes, and there's not a big, scary, hill to be found.  I also tried looking for the famous Johnny Kelley statue...which I also couldn't find.  Sooo I kept running until I reached something that kind of resembled a hill...another mile or so down the road. Woo hoo, looks like I'm running 10 miles today!  I was feeling so fabulous, I didn't even care.

The workout was nothing too exciting, but I felt strong on my 2 minute hill intervals, running them all around 7:00 pace up a nameless Newton hill that I think I'm going to dub "Heartache Hill"...hehe. :)  It wasn't terribly steep but definitely enough to know you were running up a hill. Apparently miles 18-20 of the course are where all the cool people hang at 6 pm on Wednesday nights, because the side road was a sea of runners in reflective vests and spandex.  Also, to the person who decided to build a new house along the marathon route? The one with the Porta Potty outside? You are my hero, just fyi. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has taken advantage of this strategic location haha.

Hill workout finished, I headed back homewards.  Lo and behold..I FOUND Heartbreak Hill!  My impression: not really that steep, but looong.  Definitely a climb I could see taking it out of you at mile 20 of a marathon, but all in all? Not too scary.  Also, its followed by a long, glorious downhill which has got to be the best thing that can come after a long, hideous, uphill, right?  Actually, I noticed the course inbound [the actual course] seemed like way more downhill than the course outbound.  I totally felt like I was flying.  Would I like to summon some flying feet at mile 20 of the marathon?  Umm yes please!  Now that I know that there are peeps out on the course day and night, I am going to make it my mission to know the last 10 miles of that course like it's my home. That freaking course is going to be paved with the rubber of my training shoes.  I'm lucky enough to basically live on the course of that marathon, so if I didn't use that to my advantage in training, I would just be an idiot.  And based on the surge of adrenaline and excitement I got today just BEING on that fabled route, if I can carry that over to the next 12 weeks, well that would just be utterly incredible.

Up until today, I have been kind of...shall we say...not pumped about the fact that I signed up for another marathon.  It was like...I vaguely knew that I should be excited about this marathon that I worked really hard to qualify to run.  But part of me was kind of like...okay, you worked your butt off so you could qualify to work your butt off AGAIN and then run another long-ass race and try not to die.  And I have lamented my loss of speed as I've focused more on marathon training, and whined about trying to find time to run now that I have a job, and just generally got through the workouts but didn't really get jacked about them.

Today was different.  Today I had the thought actually cross my mind that if I actually follow this semi-ambitious training plan that I have going, one that actually involves speedwork and pace training and not just aimlessly running all the time, that there is actually a chance in hell that I could race this marathon for a PR.  It was like something hit me on that course today - that deep down, I know I'm capable of more in this distance.  And as I plowed my way up Heartbreak, hardly even realizing it was THE Heartbreak's like my mind figured it out - well DUH, silly, you didn't think you were going to do all this training to half-ass the race, did you?

The way to Heartbreak Hill for me is paved with pace work until I puke, mile repeats workouts that I dread, fartleks until I drop and long runs off into the sunset.  But with this thought in my mind, of feeling like I did today, strong and powerful,  on this famed hill when I run up it on April 19, I'll get through it.  I'll do it.  I know the way now, to Heartbreak Hill and beyond to the finish line.  And it's going to be one hell of a trip. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Built for speed

On my easy 6 miler on Friday, I started feeling very nostalgic for track season - aka, being FAST.  Running a sub-20 5K seems like something that I dreamed, not something I actually's funny because I feel like since I started training for marathons I've gotten a LOT stronger, but not necessarily faster.  And I miss being fast. I miss doing speed workouts where I thought I was going to die but I was going so much faster than I thought I could that I didn't even care [someone please direct me back to this entry next time I whine about wanting to shoot myself on a 1200s workout or something]. I didn't really do much speed work leading up to Baystate, pretty much only the few workouts I went to with GBTC.  Since October, I have done exactly NOTHING resembling speed work, oh and I was I suppose it's no wonder I'm feeling poky and having dreams of speedy-mc-speederton awesomeness. I guess it also doesn't help that track season is actually starting right now for my former teammates, so I'm feeling nostalgic for the racing and team atmosphere that I just don't have out here - another reason why I'm totally eventually going to get more involved in GBTC. 

Or....maybe it's just that I need to RACE!  So with that in mind, I just signed up for the Super Sunday 10K on February 7.  I'm really excited! I've only run 3 10Ks in my life and all of them have been under...let's just say not great racing circumstances.  My 10K racing history:
#1 - First leg of a 100K relay, started at 6:30 am.  Made the poor life choice of going out the night before and so may or may not have been still a little drunk during the race? Luckily my friend from the other relay team from our club was in a similar situation, so we ran together.  I think I finished in somewhere around 48:00-48:30.  I jogged home and went back to sleep for like 4 hours, my roommates woke up and thought I hadn't even gone to the race haha. Our relay team actually ended up coming in 2nd overall, so I won a dartboard and a ton of cheese...sweet deal! 
#2 - A random race I decided to do while on vacation in NYC.  Being that it was the middle of summer, I wasn't in very good shape.  It was an NYRR race so they had the starting corrals and the lady at registration thought I was making things up when I said I would run a 7:45 pace.  I totally showed that lady, because I finished in 7:43 pace, which I was really quite happy with at the time.  I remember it was actually kind of cool because I wore my Wisconsin singlet and the announcer at the finish line yelled "Woo Wisconsin...Go Badgers!" or something to that effect when I finished. My time was 48:02.

After the Park to Park 10K in NYC, 2008. It was pretty cool running the Central Park loop, I have to say. Plus I just need to put more pictures on this blog. :)

#3 - Jingle Bell Run 2008, it was during that month of laziness between XC and track and I had just pulled an all-nighter at the library.  Genius, right?  It was actually a decent race though, and still is my 10K PR at 46:30, or 7:29 pace.

So, to recap? I've run 10Ks drunk, in a month where I hardly ran at all, and after an all-nighter.  Really, what do I have to lose by running one when I'm actually training, not going out, and not having to study all night? Haha. Plus, good old Brad Hudson [my "coach" for this cycle] has a 10K on the plan right around the time this one falls.  Seriously? Perfect.  And did I mention there's clam chowder and Harpoon beer at the finish? Umm, yeah.  Sign me up, please! And I need some new race numbers to add to the wall!  I love how in college I had no problem throwing down $20-$30 every single week to race, and now I never do because I feel like I shouldn't.  Well you know's another goal for 2010: RACE MORE!

Also I'm ridiculous because I didn't realize that the reason it was called the Super Sunday 5K/10K is because it's Superbowl Sunday...

I'll be back soon! Right now it's off to get my 13 miler done...exactly how soon that will happen I don't know, but I promise you it WILL be done before I go to bed tonight! :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Boston Training Week 1 Recap

Runs: 5
"Workouts": 1
Longest run: 12.6 miles
XT: 2000 yds swimming, 2 x 1 hour yoga
Total running miles: 39.4

A pretty solid week to start off my Boston training cycle, especially considering the fact that my highest mileage over the previous 3 weeks was 19.1 miles [only raise your miles by like 10% each week? Yeaahh...I don't really agree with that philosophy I guess].  The big news was, even with an almost 40 mile week I had almost ZERO knee issues...SUCCESS!! I felt a couple of twinges in the first 10 minutes of my long run, but I'm pretty sure that had something to do with it being really cold and my not stretching before heading out [naughty naughty, I know].  I'm loosely following Brad Hudson's level 2 marathon plan from "Run Faster" - basically I'm trying to incorporate the workouts that he suggests into my schedule, but adjusting the easy runs and some long runs so that I don't kill myself or my knee.  I was kind of nervous going into my long run since...uh...I kind of haven't run double digits since the marathon? And that was in October? 12 miles sounded kiiinda scary, and then it was cold out, and then I was procrastinating because obviously, what would a long run be without me having to psych myself up for it for 4 hours?  It was somewhat productive procrastination though, because I did start up a new long run playlist...and for me, there's no better motivation than good, new music!  Some highlights from the new mix:

Time To Pretend - MGMT
This Year - The Mountain Goats
Props to my former RA Alex for both of these songs, which I discovered via his "Song Of The Week" feature on his blog, Chasing Something, which is pretty sweet.  I'm pretty obsessed with them both and the chorus of "This Year" - "I'm gonna make it through this year if it kills me" rings pretty true right now because a) it's a new year, duh...and b) it's a new training cycle, and I'm gonna make it through it.
Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
I tried soooo hard not to like this song [I think because the music video and Lady Gaga in general kind of terrify me?]...but ahhh it's so addictive!
Inch - Charlotte Martin
I couldn't find the video for this but anyway...I LOVE Charlotte Martin and this is one of my favorite songs of hers, kind of forgot about it until now.  It's good for running up a hill..."am I an inch away from heaven? Just a little higher now..."
King of Pain - The Police
This is my current running song obsession! I found it by aimlessly hunting through people's running iMixes in the iTunes store and yeah...I'm kind of in love.  Is it the beat and crazy xylophone thing going on in the background? Is it the lyrics? I have no idea but it's been in my head like...nonstop.

OK so enough musical business - I'll keep you all updated on my new running jams though.  I'm planning on adding 2-3 new songs to the mix every week, ya know, keep things fresh and exciting! I know there are some people out there who aren't big advocates of listening to music while running, but whatever...I am not a purist, and if listening to music motivates me to get my butt out the door/to keep running hard when I don't want to? That sure works for me!  Anyway, the new running mix must have helped because my long run was a success! Ohhh man I was relieved. I tried sort of a random new route which turned out to be the best idea EVER because I started having some stomach troubles around mile 5 and was sort of concerned about the lack of public bathrooms [no way was I running off into the snow - way too obvious to traffic! haha]..and then a long run MIRACLE!  I ran past the Chestnut Hill there are pretty much no public bathrooms anywhere in this city, but at a mall it's pretty much a thanks for being there, mall, and saving my ass, literally. :)  The rest of the run was pretty uneventful except I almost added an extra mile and a half on by running around the reservoir again...that would have been such a fail!  I was thinking "wow, my legs are really tired, do I seriously have like 3 miles to go? That doesn't really make sense...I've been going for 1:20, I hope it's not going to take that long for me to run 12 miles? Oh wait, I'm actually just an all makes sense now"

So I feel much better about my training life now that a) I made it through a ~40 mile week with no knee issues and b) I made it through my somewhat ambitious long run without dying. The rest of this training cycle should be no problem, riiiight? I'm probably going to eliminate one of my 2 XT days sooner rather than later, and maybe do some kind of 3-4 mile recovery run + yoga day instead. 

Apparently my body decided that it was cranky at me for running outside for so long on such a cold day, because on Monday I felt like I was coming down with something and Tuesday was hit with a full-on cold - FAIL! I really wanted to do my planned 5 miler, but ended up napping for 4 hours after I got home from work, then definitely feeling like it was a bad idea when I woke up.  So my second XT/off day for the week is now used up - luckily I seem to be on the road to recovery as I did a pretty sweet 8 mile workout with 4 miles of fartlek on the treadmill today that went way better than I expected!  I have a confession to make: I'm warming up to the treadmill for some speed workouts..ahhh I never thought I'd see the day.  But since I don't have a Garmin or any other fancy device that will actually tell me my pace, and I'm not a great judge of effort, for things that say "run HM pace" or "10K pace", it's really nice to know that I am indeed running that pace.  Also the treadmill isn't covered with ice or packed snow...which is, you know, kind of nice when you're trying to do a speed workout and not die haha.

Hmm...well in non-running related news, nothing too exciting is going on in my life haha...does anyone who reads this watch LOST?  I remember when I knew a bunch of people who watched it and I was like..meh...that totally doesn't seem like the kind of show I would ever watch or get into.  Well, the BF started watching it online, starting from the beginning,  a couple of months ago and once again I was like "OK cool, now you have a show to watch that I don't want to watch, so I can do other stuff while you watch it". But somehow...I don't know how...I got sucked into watching starting from season 1...and WOW I am hooked.   It's like mind-blowing and ridiculous but completely awesome. I'm almost done with season 5, just in time for season 6 to start February 2! Since apparently all the other shows I watch decided to go on break until March, or maybe the end of time, it's going to be nice to have an actual show to watch on my fail-cable again. :)

Is it really Friday tomorrow? This week went by fast! Have a good one, hopefully I'll be back with more entertaining [and by entertaining I hopefully mean AWESOME] long run stories this weekend. :)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Adventures at the gym, hills, & Rocky sighting!

First things first: a new banner for a new year/decade!  The picture is from this race, my first foray into the 3000m/"long distance" track events.  In case you were wondering, the girl in yellow tripped me ~600 m into the race and I went down hard, but don't worry, I later lapped her. :)  Anyway...I don't really know, I was just kind of bored of my old header and there's a fun photo editing program on facebook so I was like...woo hoo I'll make a new one!  So there it is..enjoy!

So a few weeks ago, I joined a gym in the hopes of being able to rehab my stubborn IT band issue and have a place to be able to cross train throughout this marathon training cycle, especially if my knee problems start to flare up.  To be honest, gyms [and the people who frequent them] generally freak me out...I feel like I'm of such a different mindset than people at gyms who work out just for the sake of working out [as opposed to training] that when I see someone like...doing like 15 seconds of abs and being done, or talking on their phone while meandering on the elliptical it kind of bothers me....yes...elitist running attitude talking, sorry :)  But lo and behold, while some of the people are irritating and the whole "gym" concept is still bizzare to me, I can't lie - I really like it.  Some things that I have been enjoying/adventures that I've been having:

-personal training: so I get 2 free sessions with my new membership, and I was initially SUPER skeptical - I've heard stories about people going to trainers who are like "don't run so much, running actually isn't that good for you, blah de blah".  But it actually was kind of cool!  I get the impression that most people who sign up for personal training are really out of shape, because the girl seemed perplexed as to why I wanted to try personal training [because it's free, DUH!].  In my first session I learned a couple things to strengthen my glutes [which apparently are the weakest part of my legs, fail!] and some pretty killer ab exercises.

-yoga class: ummm I'm really nerdily excited about this one.  Yesterday I swam 2000 yards [which was pretty ballin' and I was proud of myself, hehe].  There was a random yoga class starting 15 minutes after I got out of the pool and I figured why not?  I do enjoy working out for multiple hours a day....well WOW I am totally on the bandwagon.  It was so fantastic....I feel like I actually know a little bit more about yoga than I thought I did, because I actually knew quite a few of the poses.  It was relaxing at points, but also felt like a bit of a strength workout too - and it was pretty hilarious to see the strength imbalance between my right and left legs...something that I didn't know existed, ummm yeah, it's there.  We were doing all these lunges/balance poses and on my right leg it was like..yup, no problem! On the left leg? I was falling over and failing and it was just ridiculous. wonder I got ITBS in my left leg only?  Anyway - I really enjoyed the class, and I think I'm going to add it to my weekly routine.  Yay for non-dorky group fitness! [sorry Zumba fans, that is sooo not my style...]

-swimming: pretty self explanatory, but the fact that the place had a pool was a big factor in me going there instead of a cheaper place. Swimming is my second favorite cardio activity after running, and I figure I might as well start off my base for my triathlon future now, right?  The best thing is when I was younger, I SUCKED at swimming.  I didn't get to move up to the next level of swim lessons when I was like 8 because I wasn't good enough [the instructor, Tammy, was also a beeyotch!]  But I guess I figured it out somewhere along the line!

-fun toys:  there are lots of fun toys to 'play' with at the gym - medicine balls, exercise balls, bosu balls, etc.  But my personal fave is [surprise surprise] the magical, all-powerful FOAM ROLLER.  Seriously, sometimes I feel like it's worth my $79/month membership just to be able to go there everyday and foam roll the crap out of myself [yes, I realize I could also buy one for like $20...whatevs].  It has worked wonders on my IT band, and I've also been enjoying experimenting with it on the rest of my muscles after a just hurts so gooood.

As far as running is concerned - 4 days in to Boston training and I am so freaking happy - I actually am starting to feel like myself again, as opposed to like my body has been hijacked by a slower, injured, fail-person. On Tuesday I had my first "workout" of the cycle - 2 mile warmup, 6 x 1 minute hill repetitions @ 3K effort, and 2 mile cooldown.  So which hill do I pick? Obiviously the MASSIVE one near my house with what I found out is a 10.6% grade...why do I do these things to myself.   The workout sounded pretty easy on paper, but a minute lasts a REALLY long time when it's being taken up by running at 3K effort uphill, gah!  I used my power hour playlist to keep track of time so that was kind of fun and prevented me from looking at my watch every 4.6 seconds.  I also think I may have been scolded by an old man for doing a farmer's blow into a snowbank?  Haha I have no idea actually what he said [loud music], but he looked disapproving lol. I actually hit the same pace [6:40] for all the hills and I am amazed by the fact that a) I didn't slow down over the workout and b) that's actuallly vaguely close to my 3K pace! Rockin'.

Wednesday was an XT day, then today I had 8 miles on the schedule.  Once again after a 7.5 hour workday, I was sooo not in the mood to run.  But since I'm now officially a slave to the training calendar, I had to get out there [color coded calender = best idea ever...I swear it looks at me like that money with eyes in those Geico commercials...all I need is that song haha] And it was such a great run! So....I managed to sort of jack up my OTHER knee over the weekend [I may or may not have jammed it when I slipped in the snow while chasing a dog down a hill at work...true story, ugh] and I was a little worried about how it was going to respond to 8 miles, but it didn't bother me while running...and honestly, if it doesn't hurt when I'm running, it's all good!  At one stoplight, I looked across the street and there was this guy in grey sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt bouncing around and doing like...boxing punches while waiting for the light.  I almost burst out laughing...he just looked awkward, but then all of a sudden I thought ROCKY! and it made me giggle even harder haha.   All we needed was someone to drive by playing "Eye of the Tiger" and we would have been set.  My attempt at running slow failed...7:51 pace overall...which is even more of an indication that I'm finally getting back to my true running self. :)

Well I was going to do one of those "decade in review" deals that everyone seems to be doing lately [I totally forgot it was a new decade, then again I DID write my year in review post in a state of extreme sleep deprivation/caffienation so who even knows what I spewed out haha] but this is already pretty I think I'll save that for tomorrow. Happy Friday & Happy Running!

Monday, January 04, 2010

15 weeks.

Boston Marathon training. Oh dear's here.  15 weeks from today, I'll be toeing the line in Hopkinton...right now, that's a somewhat terrifying thought. Like really? I want to put myself through marathon training again? And in the middle of winter? WTF? But armed with some superfly new winter running gear and a training plan - which I have written out on a calender and am holding myself to as closely as possible - well...I'm gonna do this.  Again.

The plan started inconspicuously enough today with an easy 6 miles.  I procrastinated the crap out of it, sitting around playing video games with the BF [don't judge] and eating pistachios and enjoying the warmth of my brand new Snuggie [a gift from my sister and it's Wisconsin themed too, I would judge myself but it's just too damn comfy].  Then BF left for a tax preparation class...aaaand I procrastinated some more.  At least this was productive procrastination though - I set up my training calender for the next month on an excel spreadsheet and a calendar I printed out and color coded [yellow for easy, orange for long, there are even separate colors for tempo workouts and inteveral workouts! annnd I'm a loser].  The picture I put on the calendar is from the Pearl Izumi website and says "If you ever want to see who the true runners are, take a peek outside during Mother Nature's next hissy fit".  We seem to get a lot of hissy fits here in Boston...I think I'm going to need to keep this phrase in mind haha.  But anyway, putting it down on a calendar makes me feel much more accountable for putting in the miles I'm supposed to each day.

So finally, after figuring out exactly what I was going to be doing for the next 4 weeks, I headed out for my 6 miles.  I was COLD when I first stepped out the door [always the worst part of a run], but I fought through it and warmed up pretty fast.  One thing I love about living in the city, and especially a city like Boston where it seems like just about everyone is a runner, is that you see SO many people running at night - after work or whatever, I suppose - it's just nice not to feel so alone on dark, cold, winter nights.  And of course, it's fun to ogle everyone's fancy winter tech apparel too. :)  For my part, I am absolutely LOVING my Brooks Nightlife's got neon yellow accents and lots of reflective areas for running at night, and its waaaarm. The 6.3 miles @ 8:05 pace went by fast and felt pretty easy, and my knee showed no sign of getting cranky which is...amazing. I can't even express how glorious it's been as I've eased back into running, not constantly freaking out about my knee.

My basic plan for training looks something like this: I'm basing my plan off Brad Hudson's level 2 marathon program, with various tweaks that I'm making to compensate for a) the fact that as I'm coming back after this IT band crap, I'm only going to be running 5 days a week and b) the fact that my mileage hasn't quite been where I want it to be in the lead-up, so I don't want to pound out 45 miles the first week and kill myself.  I'm bascially going with 2 easy runs, one usually 5-6 and one 7-8, which will increase as I get further along.  My long run I'm going to try to start at 12 miles - not 100% sure on that, but at the least it will be 10 this week. Then 2 days of cross training a week, at least for this first month, and 2 "workouts" - right now they involve some HM pace work, hill repetitions at around 10K effort, and at the end of the month, mile repeats [my faaavorite].  I think I'm just going to take it day by day, but assuming I make it through the next 3 weeks or so without any issues, I may add another 5-6 day to replace the easy day.  The long run is going to be interesting since, uh, I haven't done a lot of those lately..but I figure if I just slow the hell down, take it easy, and get through it, it'll come back. 

I walk past the Boston Marathon finish line every day on my way to work. Every day, I'm going to look at that line and it will remind me what I'm doing this for.  It's going to be hard, but it's going to be good...I know it. 

Plus, I'm from Wisconsin after all.  What true Wisconsinite doesn't love the cold? :P 

Friday, January 01, 2010

1000 Awesome Things #601: Getting Through It

1000 Awesome Things #601: Getting Through It

I just read this, and I absolutely love this post...
Your dreams are still focusing and your passion is growing. Your energy is still bubbling and your story keeps going.
Hard to believe it's a new decade already. I have so much to be thankful for,and it's been a wonderful year...2009 was for sure one of the best I've ever had...and I'm hoping 2010 can live up to it!  Happy 2010 to all, and to all a good night! :)