Wednesday, March 31, 2010

256.2...and other mysterious numbers

I'm having a bit of an obsession with numbers lately.  Numbers like....

66.7 - number of miles run last week [weekly high by 5 or so]

256.2 - number of miles run in March [a monthly high by almost 30]

20 - days until Boston

8:00 - marathon pace to run sub-3:30

7:52 - pace of my 23 mile long run on the course on Sunday


I have a whole lot of thoughts flying around my mind about the race, my training, and my goals, especially after the above-mentioned ridiculous long run, but I'm not having much luck transforming my thoughts into words at the moment....sooo I will leave you with this exciting list of numbers and hopefully come up with a more coherent post tomorrow.  Suffice it to say, I'm getting extremely excited and nervous at the same time - feeling like I'm standing on the brink of a really phenomenal race, and hoping that everything that I think I've done right will pay off in 20 days.

20 daaaaaaays!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Break on through to the other side: New Bedford HM Race Report

Man, racing is really fun.  Settle in, it's another epic Run Like A Llama race report! :)

So yesterday I ran the New Bedford Half Marathon as sort of a "tuneup" race/a way to have a cutback week in my long runs before the last big push to Boston. The half marathon and I have had some interesting times together - my first one was cool simply because it was my first, but looking back it was hot and I got really dehydrated, resulting in an absolutely miserable last 4 miles or so.  My second I ran at the end of track season last year, and while I was in really good 5K shape and had done long runs up to 14 miles, the endurance just wasn't there. I died pretty early and slowed down a lot over the last 5 miles, crushing my dreams of a sub-1:40 finish, though I did come through in a PR of 1:42:25.  The last half I ran in August, as a kind of fun excuse to go back to Madison for one last run before I moved out to Boston...aaand it was a total disaster.  I was sick, felt god-awful throughout the entire race, watched my friend/rival pull away from me at the 3 mile mark, and wound up finishing only 10 seconds faster than my first race - a pretty poor showing after 2 more years of hard distance training. Maybe that race just left a bad taste in my mouth, but I was skeptical about doing this race.  Pretty much my overwhelming thought was - if I have a bad day on the course, if I don't PR, it's really going to kill my confidence for Boston, which really isn't what I need a month out from the race.  Buuut with some convincing from Kelly and a cheap entry fee [$35 for a half? With medals, t-shirts, and a ridiculous spread of food after? Pretty hard to beat] I decided that I had to face my half marathon demons and see what I could do.

The race was about an hour away, so Kelly, Joy and I left pretty early because we knew it was a big race and didn't want to be stranded looking for parking at the last minute.  Turns out, that was a genius idea because the check-in area was INSANE. Apparently they had moved it from the high school to the YMCA...which was way smaller, and involved waiting in long lines for a one-stall bathroom...ughhh.  The line for number pick up was crazy even when we were there at like 9:30 [for a race starting at 11] and by the time we went off to warm-up, it was out the door...since I'm totally weird about having enough time to warm up and wander around before a race, that would pretty much be my worst definitely glad we got there early!

We went back to the car to drop off our clothes, since it was getting pretty warm out, and were trying to figure out what to do about the god-awful bathroom situation when suddenly...we spotted a lonely construction site porta potty!  Being the smart runners that we are, we had to investigate.  We found that they were fenced in, but there was a decent gap under the fence...someone mentioned that you could probably squeeze under, and I was already down army crawling under the fence haha.  Of course, I got to the other side and stood up....only to see Kelly pushing the fence aside like a gate - apparently the two pieces weren't attached soooo I crawled under a fence for no reason lol.

After taking care of the bathroom, joking about going on a whale watch tour after the race, and warming up some more, we finally made our way to the start corral and worked our way up to the 7-8 minute mile area...only to hear an announcement that the race wasn't going to start until 11:15...half an hour away.  We obviously weren't going to leave since we had a pretty prime spot at the start and there was no way we'd ever get back to unfortunately we were stuck stretching and bobbing up and down as the MC tried to entertain us by enlightening us to the wonders of New Bedford....once again, talking up the whale museum hehe. At some point there was an announcement that the race would start in 7 minutes...and then approximately 2 minutes later the gun went off...and off we went!

I really had no strategy for this race at all, other than to just kind of relax into whatever pace worked and see what happened from there. The start was kind of crazy and the first mile I spent a lot of time weaving around people on a pretty long when I looked at my watch at the 1 mile and saw 7:08 it was like - WHOA, slow the eff down.  I pretty much just regarded it as money in the PR bank and tried to relax and chill out since clearly I wasn't going to be holding my 10K pr pace for a half marathon.  Mile 2 was much more reasonable - 7:35 - and while in the back of my mind I had a few flashes of "but this is only 2 miles in, remember how you always crash at the end of halfs..." based on how easy the pace felt I knew that wasn't going to happen.  There were a couple of little rollers leading up to a long, turning hill at the mile 3 mark [7:34 for mile 3 -holding steady], which actually kind of reminded me of Heartbreak in steepness and distance.  Hills have generally been my downfall in life, but running up that hill, passing people and feeling really strong, made me realize that since moving to Boston, and especially over this training cycle, my hill running has improved immensely.  I no longer look at hills with fear, but as a challenge to get through and push on into the rest of the race...and that's exactly what I did.  Mile 4 was 7:39, with only a slight slowdown for probably 600 meters of hill. I think that was the moment when I knew - today was a PR day.  But the real question was - could I go under 1:40? That remained to be seen.

The crowd support for this race was absolutely mindblowing - really, the ENTIRE town came out to support the race.  It was really cool to see the pride these people had for their town and how excited they were about having this race.  The cheers absolutely thrilled me and I had to think for a moment about how cool this was - me, who has this tendency to be so intense and get SO involved in races that I tune out the crowd and the experience of the whole thing, was actually enjoying the support, having FUN with this race.  I mean, I was veering to the side of the road to high five little kids and loving it!  I was just so relaxed, enjoying every moment, feeling like a rockstar to these kids who thought that these runners were the most incredible people around. And really, I feel like that attitude - just RELAXING for once, not completely freaking out every second over my splits or my pace or how I'm feeling, was totally the key to a monster PR in this race.  Mile 5 was a 7:22, thanks in part I'm sure to the massive tunnel of screaming, cowbell banging, music playing New Bedford-ites gathered in a park to support the race.  Seriously - so. cool.  And at the same time I'm thinking..."I'm seriously running a 7:22 at mile 5 of a half marathon? Can I seriously go under 1:40 today?"  All of those thoughts of a monster PR were always kind of present in my mind but they were never really the overwhelming thing - it was just stay relaxed, run your race, just do it.

Mile 6 [7:27] I took a mint chocolate Gu - YUM - which went down smooth since it had been heated in the sun haha.  It was only maybe 55 out, but the sun was HOT out there!  I took advantage of my recently discovered drinking-while-running skills to grab water at most of the aid stations since I've been down the road of HM dehydration before and I reallly have no desire to go back haha. So here I was, somehow holding pace, and feeling solid.  Obviously I knew that the real race was yet to come, but for the moment I was just savoring the feeling of being able to run this fast for this long.  Mile 7 was another 7:27, as we made the turn out of the random neighborhoods to start a long stretch by the ocean - what a gorgeous day to be running by the water.  I actually NOTICED the scenery - the lighthouses, boats, sun sparkling on the was just that kind of day.  Also just past mile 7, possibly the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in a race happened.  There was a random motorcycle? store that had music playing out of a car, and as I approached it I got excited, because hey, music!  But suddenly it dawned on me what song was playing....


OK, I know. No one should really love a song as much as I love Don't Stop Believin'.  But it is my anthem, my motto, and to hear it in a race, let alone a race where I'm pretty much having the race of my life, was basically the most exciting thing ever.  I actually threw my arms up in the air with joy. The happiness of that carried me the rest of the way through mile 8 in 7:26.  Still running sub-7:30 miles at mile 8 of a half? All I have to do is hold this pace...

And then there was mile 9.  Which was pretty awful.  Really the only dark time of the race.  It was like it kind of dawned on my legs suddenly that, hey, we've been running fast for kind of a long time, and it would be nice to stop now?  My left hamstring/glute was kind of starting to cramp, and I eased back a little bit to try to get it to work itself out.  I really didn't realize I slowed down THAT much, so when I looked down at my watch and saw 7:56, I was definitely alarmed.  So I guess it's time to race, huh? I forced myself to pick it up again after that, and set my sights on several girls in front of me to pick off and pass.  Up until this point, I hadn't really paid attention to any other runners - pass me? I passed you? Whatever, I'm running my own race.  But at this point I needed some other stimulus besides my splits to give myself the extra push, and picking off girls one at a time seemed to be the perfect way to do it.  First came yellow singlet girl.  Next up was tye dye shirt, followed by short girl with the sweet red singlet.  I passed mile 10 in 7:32 and now that I was back on track, I realized that I had to stay on this pace for the last 3 miles, and I would get under 1:40 - the wall, broken through.  There was a great aid station playing loud Irish music right after the 10 mile [the race was sponsored by the Friendly Sons of St Patrick, after all!] which gave me a boost, along with somehow managing to get the song "Kiss My Irish Ass" stuck in my head for the remainder of the race haha.  I continued on with my picking-off plan...girl with the blue shorts, you're history.  I was gazing at a woman in a pink hat for the longest time, but she was always just out of reach.  We turned back into the city with the mile 11 mark [7:31] and I figured out [after about 3 minutes of mental math failing haha] that I had to run 2.1 miles in 18 minutes or something to go under 1:40.  Well hell yes, I can do that!

I was starting to get really tired, definitely the point in the race when you are just ready to be DONE.  But I set my sights on a girl in light green shorts and told myself to just HOLD ON.  Just past mile 12 [7:34] there is a soul crushing, curse inducing hill.  I have never wanted to walk so badly in a race as I did running up that damn hill. It's really the placement of it that's cruel - just looking at the hill its nothing spectacular - your average 400-600 meter, somewhat steep but not mountain-like hill.  But at mile 12 of a half marathon? Death in road form. And for the first time in the race, true pain and exhaustion set in...but since I had just pulled even with green shorts girl, obviously I had to put in a little surge to pass her.  Now I was at the top of the hill, everything simply screaming to stop, and yet...less than a mile to go and it's all basically down hill...come ON!

Finally there was one last big downhill leading to the mile 13 mark, and I just let my legs go and flew down the hill.  Mile 13 was 7:31, all that was left was to kick it in...and I sprinted with everything I had.  I actually pulled even with a short girl in an orange tank top, and was hoping to get past her, but she turned on the jet engines and shot away - I tried to respond, but my calves were cramping into tiny balls of pain and I just had nothing left to give.  No matter, the finish line was a few steps away, and then, slamming my watch - DONE.


I really wasn't even sure what to do with myself.  I chugged a bottle of water while waiting for Joy and Kelly to finish.  Once we all met up we decided to forgo cooling down in favor of fish sandwiches, seafood chowder, and other goodness back at the YMCA, where the gym had now been opened up to form a more acceptable space for 2500 people haha. We drove back to Boston and I went out for a quick 2.5 mile granny shuffle cooldown/beer run, then spent the rest of the night relaxing, watching basketball, and passing out early - I was out like a light by 11 haha.  Racing hard really takes it out of you!

The race was really competitive and full of club athletes, since its part of the USATF New England Grand Prix series, so I was pretty pleased with 622/2308 overall and 117th woman [assuming I counted right, unfortunately the results didn't give any breakdown of AG or gender placements and I'm too lazy to figure it out haha] out of who knows how many.  But really in these races I couldn't care less about my place - especially this one.  I honestly didn't believe I had it in me to run under 1:40 in a half marathon.  Maybe somewhere around 1:40, maybe just barely squeaking under, but not this fast, especially feeling as strong as I did the whole way.  I feel like this has given me great confidence going into this last month before Boston that I can really do some great things out on the course on April 19th.  Creepily, my 10K time a month ago predicted this performance within 5 seconds.  Does that mean that a 3:27 marathon [the McMillan prediction given both by this HM and my 10K time] is in my future? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.  For now, I'm really happy with finally showing the 13.1 mile distance who's boss, and having an amazing time while doing it. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I need to get back home to cool, cool rain

Long run song of the day:

So today's long run was...epic.  And awesome. And hands down the best long run of my life - I am not joking.  What the hell is it about the combination of pouring rain, gusting wind, and general nastiness that turns me into some kind of run-dominating beast? I spent most of yesterday and this morning debating whether I even should set out for 22 miles in the craptastic weather - I seriously don't think I've ever been so unhappy about the prospect of going for a long run in my life.  22 miles just seemed so. long [okay is...but yeah] and throwing the weather on top of that didn't help.  But since this was really a KEY workout I had planned in my training schedule - 22 miles on the actual marathon course - I knew I had to just suck it up buttercup and get out there.

So I did - and I think once I realized that it wasn't as bad as I had made it out to be, I knew everything was going to be okay. I wasn't planning on really worrying about the pace, so I just fell into something that felt comfortable and easy and got into the groove.  You know those days when things just fall into place and you find that sweet spot of pace where you feel like you could literally keep running forever? That was me today.  Running on the course, as always, was a great plan because while there weren't a ton of runners out there, it seemed like everyone who was was a) wearing some kind of neon jacket or shirt that made them like a beacon of light in the endless gray of the rain and b) was equally happy to see a fellow runner partaking in this madness and would give a wave, hi, or at least a smile. Seriously, every runner I saw gave me an extra shot of energy - knowing I'm not alone, and that we're all out there for a reason, is such a boost.

It actually took me kind of awhile to notice that I was cold or wet.  I think I had on enough layers that the gradual soaking-through process took about an hour haha.  I stopped at the Marathon Sports on the course in Wellesley to grab a Gu and some water - perfect timing because I was getting really hungry and had the feeling I was on my way to being pretty dehydrated as well.  Tried the new flavor of Gu - Jet Blackberry - it pretty much tasted the same as the Tri Berry, but I think it has more caffeine...anyway, after a few minutes in the store coming back into the deluge kind of sucked, and that was the first time I noticed the cold.  And then I just kept trucking through Wellesley.  There seemed to be a lot of hills [I really wouldn't notice that as much on the way back, maybe because anything that was uphill running the course backwards would be downhill going the right way].  I got nerdily excited when I saw the 14 mile/water mark with the BAA unicorn on the road, waved gleefully at a fellow runner on the opposite side of the street, and had to kind of laugh at the random empty Gu packets strewn around randomly on the sidewalk. [Definitely don't advocate littering...but it was just kind of, gee, do you think a lot of marathoners run out here or something?].  Generally I just continued to enjoy myself, finally reaching my turnaround point at Bacon Street [which...I seriously picked because I thought I would want some bacon at that point in the run.  I really don't know what's going on in my head sometimes haha]

So I started the long trek back towards Boston, and honestly I kept waiting for my legs to do their usual seizing up/dying act that they always seem to do at the end of long runs, or for it to start feeling hard, or something...none of those feelings ever came.  It just simply felt easy.  Seriously, I don't know if there's magical fairy dust scattered all over the course or what, but every time I've run out there over this training cycle, it's been an incredible, effortless run...fingers crossed that the magic still works when I have to share it with 25,000 other runners. :) Also, my thought on this new part of the course that I hadn't seen before: really, not that many bad hills. It's funny because at first I thought "yes, well, you'll be running this at mile 12-20 of a marathon"...but then I realized that this section of the course was at mile 12-20 of my long run too...which was obviously the point haha.  I guess the impression I get is that the course is never REALLY flat...but that you also spend more time running downhill than you do running up...and yes, that is the definition of a net downhill course, which Boston is, so sorry for stating the obvious haha.  The one hill for me that was sort of a beeyotch, actually moreso than Heartbreak, was the one that comes right after the turn onto Comm Ave, at around the 18 mile mark.  It's sort of a long hill that seems to drag, and I think since you've just had a big downhill it's kind of like...aww...a hill? Wah wah. But then there's like a mile of basically downhill before you have to deal with Heartbreak...I don't know, maybe it was just because my run went SO well on the course today, but I was left feeling a lot more confident about running a good race on this course than I was before. 

You'll notice that I've only mentioned the crazy-ass weather once in this epic description of this run so far...really, I didn't pay much attention to it, and what thoughts I did give to it were basically along the lines of "this is so effing awesome. I am kicking so much ass right now.  If the marathon was today, I would probably run a PR.  I am so freaking glad I didn't skip this run.  I love the rain".  So the "song of the day" came on my ipod just as I had crested Heartbreak, and was headed onto the GIANT downhill through BC.  Everytime I run that downhill, I want to put my arms up and yell like a little kid on a rollercoaster's like..I MADE IT! Combine that with The Who screaming about rain and the fact that there are less than 2 miles to go of a 23 mile run, and you have yourself a pretty amazing moment. I was also pretty impressed at how the run absolutely FLEW by...normally I get so sick of running by about 2:15 into a long run that the last 30-45 minutes are just a death march...but this time, probably since I was feeling good, it was totally no big deal.

Probably the funniest moment of the run actually happened after I finished.  I finally made it back to my door, thrilled to be done, thrilled at how I was feeling, basically just on this massive runner's high...oh yeah, and also completely drenched and dripping a puddle into the foyer of my apartment building.  My hands were COMPLETELY frozen, so I struggled for like 5 minutes to get my key out of my pocket...then struggled to actually get it in the door...and THEN once I got it in the door, I couldn't grip my hands enough to turn it...FAIL!  I was just attempting to use the two-handed grip approach and looking like a giant idiot when a neighbor came in behind me and was like...uh...are you okay? [he probably thought I was trying to break into the place or something!]  Just then I got the door open and let him in, and I was like oh, yeah, I'm fine, I just ran 22 miles though and so my hands are really cold, I couldn't get the key to turn.  The guy was like oh...and then was ran 22 miles...TODAY?  You have issues...  Kind of reminds me of my boss who commented yesterday that "looks like you won't be getting any miles in this weekend".  I'm pretty confident that 99% of the population [my mom, grandma, and boyfriend included!] think that what I did today was borderline insane...but seriously, having that great of a run in this disgusting of weather gave me such a HUGE mental boost - like whatever raceday throws at me, I'll be able to get through it. Maybe more importantly, it gave me the confidence that my training is actually working - that the higher miles and workouts and things I've been doing that I've bitched and moaned about really HAVE made me stronger, much stronger, than I was going into Baystate.  Being able to hit 8:15 pace [haha, guess I didn't mention that I was actually running kind of fast for a LR...] for that long of a run without going downhill into my usual "run for a few minutes...legs tighten up...stop....stretch...start again" act that I usually wind up doing for the last 5 miles or so of any long run, was a total eye opener to me.  And it was my longest run EVER...coming in at 22.9 miles [and yes, I kind of wish I had run around the block to get in that extra .1 mile, especially since I was feeling so good.  Oh well!]

Sooo I will stop boring you all now with my epic account of my long run haha...I'm just really pumped about it and I feel like it's been so long since I had a run where I just wanted to run around shouting from the mountaintops about how awesome it was, that I had to let myself get a little excited about this. :)  Running on the course was a great idea and one I'm going to continue to incorporate for the next few weeks...and probably for the rest of the time that I live near it too, since like I said, I think it might be magic. :)

Well, now I am comfy and warm [well, as warm as is possible in my apartment, where we don't pay for heat but the heat is also almost never on...], the rain is still blasting outside, and I enjoyed a delicious plate of pesto pasta, a Magic Hat #9, and some Ben & Jerry's as a post-epic-run treat.  I actually have a lot of random things bouncing around in my head to post about, more musings than actual day-to-day running stuff....but I think this post is long enough, so maybe I'll just actually post more than once this week!

Oh...and it's a little late...but happy pi day! :P Thanks MarathonMaiden for reminding me :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tugging at my hamstrings

Woo, I've been kind of MIA the last week or so - my laptop charger cord decided to fray it to the point where it doesn't even charge the computer any more, and since my laptop battery lasts for like 45 minutes laptop for me!  I've been jumping on the BF's computer when I get the chance but I never seem to have enough time to throw together a coherent post haha.  Not that my posts are really ever coherent...

So last week was kind of a "meh" week of training.  Yes, I got all of my runs done at their prescribed [or faster] paces, and it was another over-60 mile week...but I just wasn't really feeling it.  The week just seemed to CRAWL by...the workout I did last Tuesday seems like about an eternity ago.  By the time I got to my 18 mile "cutback" long run on Sunday, I just wasn't a happy camper.  Thank God for the fact that my running buddy, Kelly, was down for doing 13 miles of it with me....I honestly think I would have called it in at like 10 otherwise. The first thing I said to her when I walked out my door was "I am SO SICK of running!"  Most non-runners would be like, OK, why are you doing this then? But Kelly is awesome and basically let me know that I'm going to get out of this slump and I'll come through stronger than I was before thanks to all of the training I've been doing. The rest of the run wasn't great, we were both suffering from "dead legs syndrome" a little bit, but the conversation and company definitely saved me from getting to the point of just wanting to throw myself into the Charles to end the run.

As it turned out, the rest of my day Sunday was the perfect way to break out of the slump.  AKA....I needed to have some fun!  Working Friday and Saturday nights kind of sucks, let me tell you, and sometimes makes me feel like I lose all of my potential "fun time" of the weekend to work.  So Sunday nights have kind of become the BF and I's "fun" nights where we either go out to dinner, get pizza and watch a movie, go have drinks, or whatever...basically things you would do on a regular weekend night, except on Sunday...Sunday Funday! Haha.  Well anyway, last Sunday worked out particularly well because the weather was gorgeous and the Badger hockey AND basketball teams were playing conference rivals at 2:00. So off we went to the Baseball Tavern to cheer on the Badgers with some Wisconsin [and...sadly....Minnesota...] alums. A few beers and a Badger basketball victory later, we decided to walk across the bridge to Cambridge, where we were planning on using our Tupelo Groupon.  It was a beautiful day and we stopped for some pictures

On our way to Tupelo [kind of a lengthy walk, but we were up to it, as usual :)] we decided we needed a bathroom, and maybe another beer.  Miracle of Science looked like the perfect stop!

Their menu was a periodic table, and their stools looked like they were stolen right out of a lab.  My chemistry major BF was a fan. :)  So we continued onward towards Tupelo only to find it was CLOSED! FAIL! No problem - we went back to the T and decided to hit up our old standby - the Sunset, home of 380 bottles and 112 lover's heaven, and with some pretty tasty Tex-Mex food too!  It worked out perfectly, and I got to try Dogfish Head 18% raspberry beer.  So basically like a beer-wine? Whatever it was, it was amazing.
It comes in a teeny 8 oz glass...because it's crazy strong.  And crazy delicious.

It was a fantastic night...I had so much fun.  And when I woke up the next day, albeit a little hungover, I felt so refreshed from actually going out and doing something OTHER than run, work, sleep, eat, or clean the apartment, that I was pretty much instantly happier.  Pretty sure the feeling carried over to my running too, because I banged out a great 7.5 miler on the Newton hills on Tuesday. I realized that I really have NOT been taking advantage of the fact that I live on the course of the marathon I'm going to be running. What kind of idiot wouldn't want to know the course, especially theoretically the hardest part of the course, like the back of their hand if they had the chance?  So I've decided that I'm going to make myself run on the course at least twice a week for the remainder of training - well, until taper anyway.  I really want to get to know the feel of running those particular hills, both while running hard and running easy, so that when race day comes running the hills is just like coming home.

Wednesday was another beautiful day, and I did this crazy bridge fartlek along the Charles.  Basically the workout I had to do was 10 miles with 10 x 30 seconds @ 5K those were supposed to be spaced out was something I had to guess.  So to keep it entertaining, and to not have to look at my watch constantly, I picked a route where I was constantly going under, over, or past bridges...and every time that happened, I had to do a pickup.  There was a set of 4 around 6 miles where I only had about a minute easy in between [if you know the area...past Cambridge St, over Western Ave, past Cambridge St on the other side...and then another random overpass before the BU bridge about 5 minutes later] and that got tough, but I made it through strong and felt great when I was done.  Only problem: I seem to have tweaked my right hamstring a bit, either from pushing it too hard on the hills on Tuesday or from the pickups on Wednesday, or most likely some combination of the two.  I had a 4 mile easy scheduled for yesterday, but decided to skip it in favor of resting and icing the hammy.  I HATE skipping runs, but then again if I have to skip a planned workout, "4 miles easy" is about as good as it gets - either to make up or just forget about all together.  Had I just been sore I totally would have done the run, but this felt a little beyond that realm into more of a strain, and that's definitely not something I want to have escalate!  It's feeling better today, so I'm happy I chose to rest it - guess we'll see how my 3 mile WU/5 miles GMP/3 mile CD run goes later today!

Oh, did I also mention Kelly convinced me to run the New Bedford Half?  I think that might be a whole separate post.  I do have a score to settle with the HM...

Anyway, Happy Friday!  Hopefully my new laptop cord will arrive ASAP and I'll be back to posting/commenting on a more regular basis again. :)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Give me back that filet o'fish, give me that fish

This has absolutely nothing to do with..well...anything...and the last time I had a Filet O'Fish was probably sometime in the 90s...but this commercial just cracks me up for some reason

Other things that start with in, February Training Recap!
Total miles: 227.7
This was JUST OFF my all time mileage PR of 229.1, set in September '09.  I'm pretty much giving it to myself as my highest mileage training month ever though, since February is a short month so in terms of miles/day, it was definitely a high!
Days off: 5
Workouts: 8 [3 fartlek, 2 tempo, 1 mile repeats, 1 progression, 1 race]
Longest run: 20.6
Weekly mileage range:  49.6-61.9

Wow, I usually despise February with all of my heart and soul, but this was probably the best month of training I've ever had.  No offense to my home state, but leaving the Wisconsin winter behind was definitely a pretty fantastic thing as far as running was concerned.  The winter out here has been super mild by my standards - there really haven't been any days when I've been like "oh, hell no am I running outside in that...", and really the only time I took my workouts to the TM was for the sake of knowing my pace.  I really can't think of any god-awful runs in February either.  I hit pace for every workout, set a big 10K PR, my long runs went reasonably well and I've been running them faster than last training cycle, and I've already got 2 20 milers under my belt.  I guess my only concern at this point is that my training is going TOO in, I really don't want to peak too early.  That might have something to do with the fact that during my last training cycle, I was running a lot but I wasn't really "training" until like...7 weeks out from the race.  So the plan at this point is to just stay tuned in to my physical/mental state as March, ie, training month from hell, progresses, keep an eye on an possible signs of overtraining, and other than that, just continue to rock it out!

Speaking of training, is it weird that lately I have been anxiously looking forward to my speed workouts, and absolutely dreading my longer easy runs? Seriously, why am I totally excited to run fartleks or tempo intervals on the treadmill, with a long warmup and cooldown, and yet an 8-12 mile easy run is something I just dread? I can't quite figure it out. I guess its GOOD that I get excited about speedwork though haha - never really thought I'd see the day when that would happen!  I think it's because my quality workouts have been going really well in general, as far as hitting my paces and not feeling like I'm going to die at the same time.  They've served as really great confidence boosters and kind of stand in my mind as a testament to the fact that I actually AM getting faster and stronger through all of this training. The easy runs just kind of "are" - some days I'm feeling it, some days I'm not.  12 miles is pretty long, but not long enough to be a "long run", but still takes a long time, you know what I mean? Well anyway, maybe if I start thinking of my easy runs as "3 mile warmup, 6 miles easy, 3 mile cooldown" I'll like them better. Haha.

Training aside, here are a couple of random things I've really been enjoying lately [aside from the Filet O'Fish commercial, haha]...mostly food.  Because who doesn't love food?

  • Coconut Water!  I had heard about this from some other blog or something, that it's supposedly this big deal in sports drinks because it naturally has a ton of electrolytes [especially potassium] and some sugar, without the obscene dose of fake sugar and dyes that you get in Gatorade or whatever.  I really don't go one way or the other on the whole natural eating thing, but I saw this at Whole Foods and was intrigued.  It was AMAZING! It comes in a bunch of flavors - I tried the VitaCoco tangerine and peach/mango flavors.  I was kind of wary because I don't really like the taste of coconut that much, but the fruit purees that they added [the only other ingredient besides the coconut water itself] really added a nice, light fruity flavor.  Totally not the super sugary, almost syrupy taste you sometimes get with sports drinks. The peach/mango was my favorite.  As for it's properties as a good sports drink, I haven't tested that one yet - I had it for breakfast haha.  I'm doing an 18 miler this weekend, 13 of which will be with a friend, so I'm planning on grabbing one for the last 5 miles and see how I feel!
  • Australian Yogurt!  I LOVE yogurt. For breakfast, for a snack, for dessert...don't care, I think it's delicious.  During my last WF visit I wasn't too impressed with the flavor selection or price on their "generic" brand yogurt, so I figured I would spend the extra 20 cents per carton and try something new - enter Wallaby Australian Yogurt. What is Australian yogurt? I'm still kind of trying to figure out the difference haha. As far as ingredients, I think they use a slightly lower percentage milkfat milk than like, Yoplait [1.5% instead of 2%?] and use organic cane sugar.  I'm not sure if there's some sort of difference in the culturing process, all I know is the yogurt is super smooth and very light.  It comes in some pretty tasty and interesting flavors that you don't see in regular yogurt [I mean, I love blueberry and strawberry as much as the next person...but sometimes that gets a little boring].  And I absolutely LOVED their fruit on the bottom flavors.  Like, half the carton is fruit! I had the grapefruit one, which sounded weird but ended up being totally delicious.  I think for the fact that this stuff is natural, comes in fun flavors, and not as uber-sweet as other yogurt tends to be, it might be worth the extra couple bucks to buy it instead. Yum!
  • Sweet Potato Fries! I think I got this idea from someone's blog too...and it has quickly become a go-to snack/side for me! So easy: cut up sweet potatoes, drizzle with olive oil, toss with pepper, seasoned salt, and whatever other seasonings you desire, and bake for 15-20 minutes...and there you have GOODNESS!  It's a great way to eat something salty/tastes kind of unhealthy, but really it isn't! Yay for good-for-you food! :)
I really have been trying to eat better lately.  Can you tell? I think the final straw was the day that I worked a long shift, and because someone bought us pizza, ended up eating ONLY pizza, ALL day.  Yikes!  It's not weight I'm worried about, just putting good FUEL into my body as opposed to crap, especially going into this super hardcore final month of training. So I'll keep you posted on any more delicious-yet-semi-nutritious items I discover in my random Whole Foods and Trader Joe's trips :)

Is it really Friday already? Guess I should stop whining about my 12 miles and just Get. It Done!  Have a great weekend!