Monday, December 1, 2014

Half marathon #4 - check!

I 11/24: Rest
11/25: 4 miles, TM
11/26: Rest
11/27: 6 miles, TM. Happy Turkey Day!
11/28: Rest
11/29: Rest
11/30: Race Day!

Total weekly mileage: 23.1
Total run days: 3
Total rest days: 4 

Race day looms cold and clear, a balmy 25 degrees at the start. I contemplate my outfit about one zillion times, and finally decide on my roga shorts, and an old Nike half zip. I figure my tall marathon socks, gloves and hat would protect the extremities, leaving only my hearty thighs exposed to the elements. 

After a restless night sleep, I reluctantly roll out of bed at 5:20, shower to wake up, drink coffee, and get dressed. I eat two oatmeal breakfast cookies in the car, and I have my two GU packets tucked safely in my fuel belt, along with my wireless earphones and my phone.

We end up leaving the house later than planned because someone likes to take his annoying sweet time preparing all of his shit five minutes before we are supposed to leave the house. I hold in my impatient rage, which everyone who knows me knows how difficult this is for me. 

Pre race outfit. 




Note horrible sweatpants from last year.

Also to note, before this picture was taken I discovered some unflushed "lincoln logs" in the toilet, and spent some of my morning cleaning the bowl. 
Also, should have closed the bathroom door.

My life is filled with glamour. 

After zipping up I-5, and making a quick pit stop at Starbucks to use the bathroom, we have just enough time to screech into a parking spot, rip off our warm clothes (old sweatshirt and fat boy sweats for me) and jog to the start as our warm up. We make it the crowds just as the first wave of runners are starting. Unfortunately this leaves us on the sides until we could merge to the starting corrals. 

To my dismay, I see the 2:40 pacer up ahead of us, and know we have a lot of weaving/catching up to do to get into a good position to make up some time/distance. 

So, without further adieu, let's do this.

Split it out, yeah?

Mile 1 - 9:30
Ok, warming up nicely. Trying my way not to waste energy dodging people but really, you are already walking? Also, so many people wearing puffy coats! You're gonna regret that in about 10 minutes.

Mile 2 - 9:31
Downhill wheeeee. Doing my best to pass slower horizontal groups of walkers and shufflers. Trying my best not to burn out so I make sure to let my body cruise down 5th into the InternationalDistrict 

Mile 3 -  9:31
Annoying. Same thing happened last year. Everyone makes their way onto the bridge and decide to make a human wall of walkers. Tempted to yell "on your left" but also do not want anyone to have a reason to push me over the side of said bridge. Do my best to shuffle through human barricades and find an opening. It is not easy. 

Also, this is where you start to spot discarded hats, sweatshirts and gloves. See, I told you you'd regret those 7 extra layers. 

I am trying my best to stay positive. Goal of today is to stay in the moment, run my own race, and think positive. I can do this! It's my attempt at Zen.

Omg move, people! Now! On. Your. Left.

Working on the zen, ok?

Mile 4 - 12:17
Uh. So this is the I- 90 tunnel. First water stop. Also when I am supposed to take my first GU. And obviously it is when my Garmin loses signal for the next mile. I was hauling ass down the tunnel and I know 12:17 is not correct. Manage to free myself from the clusters of people. 
Finally. 

Mile 5 - 5:38
So.. My guess is that my pace for miles 4,5 are a combined avg because no, I am not Kara Goucher or Lauren Fleshman. 

Mile 6 - 8:58
Brings us onto Lake Washington Blvd. Pass groups of supports braving the cold to cheer us on. Make sure to go high five the cute kids standing on the side with ther hands held out.  Continue to sip my salted watermelon GU until about mile 5.5. Having a hard time maintaining a consistent pace. Either going 8:40 or 9:30. Not ideal.

Mile 7 - 9:08
Continue to motor on down Lake Washington Blvd. Take a few seconds to admire the absolutely perfect and gorgeously sunny, cold morning. The sun is shining low over the water, the blue sky is dotted with clouds and the air is crisp. For a second I almost forget how hard this is. 

Mile 8 - 9:52 
I take back what I just said earlier. You know... The business about this being hard. 

This hill shit is hard! 

However, I am determined to run the entire way up the monster this year. Last year, this was the point of the run that just crushed me.

This year? 

I crushed it.

Kind of... 

My pace is not swift up this hill but I am proud of myself for running up the entire thing, despite movement that really mimicks running in place. My reward at the top of the hill is the water stop, at which point I allow myself to walk while drinking the icy water. 

Mile 9 - 9:30
Aaand down into the Arboretum we go! 
I whip out my last trusty Espresso Love GU and sip on it for the next mile or so.

Looking back at this point, I think I was probably too conservative and afraid to push myself here. This was my mile of fear, doubt, on the cusp of disappointment. I think maybe I was letting the fatigue from the hill dominate me.

Then, I remember the last few weeks, the successful long runs, the solid hill training, learning to trusting my body. I remember finding my joy of running again.

And then I somehow manage to snap out it.

Mile 10 - 9:16
Back in the zone. Much of mile 10 is weaving up through tree lined switch backs, which makes it hard to run the tangents. This may explain why my Garmin said I ran 13.28 miles total.  We'd get a small, brief reprieve of flat path and then ahead of me I would spot groups of runners heading up, up, up.  I find myself passing groups of runners as I surge up the inclines. My legs are tired but I feel a burst of energy as we make our way out of the Arboretum towards mile 11. 

Mile 11 - 9:03
With less than 30 minutes to make 2hrs, I know i need to start hauling ass. I am tempted to take a Krispy Kreme donut at the beginning of this mile (sugaaaar) but refrain. I can eat 10 donuts after I'm done, right? I find a target, a young bouncy girl who is effortlessly making her way up Interlaken Blvd. I see the top of the bridge that descends into downtown, where we would enter mile 12 and then the homestretch 13 and the point 1. I reach my target, and then leave her spritely ass in the dust.

Mile 12 - 8:28
I haul ass up that hill and screech downhill to make the right turn onto Republican. At this point I pass the 2:05 pace group. Realize I may have less time than I first thought.

And so I go.

Mile 13 - 7:51
I have never, ever, even once run a mile so fast in my life. At this point I realize I have been running for 1 hour 52 minutes and know I am cutting it close. I run hard and fast, my arms pumping intentionally and my mind willing my now frozen legs to propel me forward as fast as my might allows.

We finally make the left turn down Mercer, and then back up towards the finish line.

And then I almost lose it. 

I try to sprint up the steep incline but my legs suddenly become leaden, and I am barely able to run. I contemplate, for a split second, walking. I can't go anymore. My body has given it all I have. 

My attempt was admirable, I think to myself. 

And then I see a sign that gives me life, and makes me laugh: 

"Hurry up and finish, we're freezing". 

These spectators are waiting for someone, someone they love and of whom they are proud. Someone who is so close to the remarkable feat of running  and completing a half marathon on this insanely frigid Seattle day.

Someone just like me. 

I see the left turn into the stadium, and know I have only one minute until the clock strikes 2. 

I can do this. 

I.can.do.this.

I will my entire body to just run. 

Run, Forest!

RUN!

Mile 14 (.1) - 8:38 
I sprint onto the icy turf and see the finish line ahead. I screech past runners, pumping my arms, desperate to finish. 

I cross the finish line. 

Stop my Garmin.

Look down.

Time - 2:00

I did it. 





***

(Official time is 2:00, 9:14 pace. 13.1 miles. Garmin time is 2:00, 9:06 pace, 13.28 miles)




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Who doesn't love a good taper

11/17: Rest
11/18: Rest
11/19: 6 miles, TM
11/20: Rest
11/21: Rest
11/22: 10 miles, TM
11/23; 4 miles outside w D.

Total weekly mileage: 20
Total run days: 3 
Total rest days: 4

I'm writing this 4 days before the race, and a day before "food coma day", otherwise known to Americans as Thanksgiving. 

Decided to stop the theme of procrastination, and start the taper a week early. Last week was quite uneventful. One early morning treadmill run, one long treadmill run, and one soggy and cold easy run w a friend. I managed to squeeze out 20 miles, and I was fine with that. I was feeling some major fatigue as usual last week, as we had most evenings filled with kid activities. 

Excuses, excuses...

Anyways, I ran 4 yesterday morning,  My plan for the rest of this week is to take it easy, get in one more easy run, make a turkey (Blech - who else is not looking forward to reaching into the turkey's asshole? Anyone?), and chill out. Our Xmas tree and wreath have already been set up, and decorating starts tonight. We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house, per usual, so there will be lots of food, wine, and perhaps some karaoke?

Next time I update, hopefully I will have an excellent race recap for you. The weather is supposed to clear up by Sunday, and conditions expected to be clear and cold. 

My favorite!

See y'all later!



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Almost there

11/10: Rest
11/11: 6 Miles, TM. Tempo
11/12: Rest
11/13: 5 miles, TM.
11:14: Rest
11/15: 13 miles, outside and solo
11/16: JM Ripped in 30, level 1. 1 mile, TM.

Total weekly mileage: 25
Total rest days: 3
Total strength: 1
Total run days: 4

So. Long run Saturday.

Let's start with my favorite gymnastics skill.

The SPLITS

Mile 1 - 9:40
Mile 2 - 9:41
Mile 3  - 9:34
Mile 4 - 9:12 (Hammer Gel - Peanut Butter)
Mile 5 - 9:14
Mile 6 - 9:01
Mile 7 - 9:02
Mile 8 - 9:10
Mile 9 - 9:09( Honey Stinger Gel - GROSS)
Mile 10 - 9:08
Mile 11 - 9:05
Mile 12 - 9:11
Mile 13 - 8:44

Total time: 1:59:42
Ave pace: 9:12

Fuel: 2 gels, no water (dumb)
Temp: 35-ish, cold, sunny.
Gear: Capris, L/S mock zip, ear warmer, sunglasses, fuel belt.

First off, I would just like to say,

I love running most of the time.

Yesterday's run was my longest to date for this training cycle: 13 miles. A couple of days before my long runs, I tend to psyche myself out and over analyze every aspect of the run - my fuel, my warm up, my clothing, my route. The week of the long run, I find myself calculating neighborhood routes in my head.

I am weird.

Anyhow, clearly I started off too slow and conservatively. I have this irrational fear that I will burn out in the first three miles, which is untrue because my first couple miles from last weeks run were faster and felt easier? Looking back now, I'm kind of kicking myself because I know I could have had a faster overall pace if I had just listened to my body the first few miles instead of panicking at the watch. I started to get into the groove at mile 4, and did my best to stay focused on an easy but not EASY pace. I also forced myself to run down a hill at mile 7 so I could run back up it for mile 8, kind of simulating the race conditions.

Galer Street, I'm gonna make you my bitch this time mmkay?

Damn, that hill was crazy.

I have been doing my hill training on the treadmill, which has helped tremendously at running up inclines at the same pace as the flat. Yesterday I felt more power in my legs as I was tackling the uphills, and I was able to keep the pace under a 10 min mile for the inclines, which for me is huge progress.

I also treated yesterday as a mini dress rehearsal for the race. I ate 3 small oatmeal breakfast cookies, drank my usual coffee, and had some water before I left the house just as the sun was rising. The weather was frigid but clear and sunny - my absolute favorite.

My plan for fuel was to take a gel at 4, sip sip sip, and then another one around 8.5 miles. To my dismay, I realized the night before that I was out of my regular GU standbys, and so I searched my supplies for some gels, only to find one Hammer gel and a Honey stinger gel. The Hammer gel flavor was peanut butter, and at first sip, I had to read the ingredients to make sure it wasn't actually pure peanut butter. It had a strange gritty texture, and really did mimic peanut butter, minus its original deliciousness. I was able to sip the gel for a mile and a half, and avoided any stomach issues post run. There is not much to say about the Honey Stinger gel except for that it was absolutely disgusting. Perhaps, because it is organic, it just has more of a cloyingly sweet  sugar taste, but I much prefer the deliciously artificial GU brand.

I had to dig deep for the last two miles, as my body is not accustomed to moving past the 11 mile mark. I did stop once or twice during mile 12 because I had to reset my music but I did my best to move as fast as I could for the final 1.5 miles. Overall the run felt really solid. The last two long runs have been tremendous spirit and confidence boosters for me. I am hoping I can carry that feeling to race day.

My goal for this run was to run it at 2 hours or under, and I barely squeezed by! My hope for the race is that I can start off a bit faster, and then maintain the 9-ish min pace for the rest of the race. I remember the course from last year very vividly, and I think I am ready to tackle it again.

Two more weeks, and then we'll find out.


Monday, November 10, 2014

A cold and sunny Saturday, my favorite.

11/2: Rest
11/3: 6 miles, TM in pm
11:4: Rest
11/5: 4 miles, TM in am
11/6: Rest. Random strength 
11/8: 10.5 miles, outside and solo. 
11/9: 4.5 easy w D, outside in the cold rain

Total weekly mileage: 25
Total rest days : 3
Total strength days: debatable

I've been throwing in a few random evening runs into the mix, and I have a couple thoughts:

It's not as bad as I remembered, 
And
I can't believe I used to run exclusively in the evenings after work. 

I think my body is adapting well to this daylight savings change, not the spring version. I've been able to convince myself to get up easier than it was a couple weeks ago, although it's still not completely consistent.

Saturday's long run was fantastic. It has been a very long time since I've had a solid paced longer run, and i felt great the entire time, paced myself accordingly to plan, and only wanted to explode once (at the end, duh). I rode the high of my run the entire weekend. I texted two of my fellow runner friends, and basically shouted my run love from the mountain tops. 

I started with two easy warm up miles, intentionally ignoring my watch. Whoever said the run is not to be judged by the first (two?) miles.. Preach! Preach it hard.

When my watch beeped at mile 2, I reset my watch, turned on my music, and focused or the next 8 miles. My plan was to pace myself two miles at a time. 

2 warmup

Reset
2 at 9:30 ish
2 at 9:20 (Gu)
2 at 9:10
2 at 9 or below
Reset
.5 cool down

Splits
Mile 1 - 9:20
Mile 2 - 9:36
Total time: 18:56
Mile 3 - 9:25
Mile 4 - 9:28
Mile 5 - 9:15
Mile 6 - 9:24
Mile 7 - 9:07
Mile 8 - 8:55
Mile 9 - 9:07
Mile 10 - 8:42
Total time - 1:13

Mile .5 - Cool down

Overall pace: (using an online pace calculator): 9:12

I fueled with a salted caramel GU around mile 4, and sipped tiny blobs of sugar until almost mile 6. I didn't have any water with me so I didn't want to shock my gut with too much sugar all at once. I think this worked well for me, and I felt a steady sustained level of energy throughout the middle miles. I started to get pretty thirsty around mile 8.5, but I knew I only had a little longer until I reached 10 miles, so I pushed myself as much as I could until the end. At mile 10, I reset my watch one more time, and slogged/walked a cool down home.

When I got home, I looked at my splits and was surprised to see that one of my middle miles was sub 9, which was not in my plan and yet, I remember that mile feeling solid. Actually, all of the miles felt good.

Now, from an outsiders perspective, maybe my time was average, and my paces easy, but this run meant more to me than just numbers to be hit. 

Like I said earlier, I haven't felt so good or so capable on so long. This is the run I needed to remind myself that I really can do this if I set my mind in the right place. 

For the first time in a long time, I felt confident, happy, strong.

I felt like a runner. 




Monday, November 3, 2014

Half marathon month!

10/27: Rest
10/28: 6 miles, TM
10/29: Rest
10/30: 6 miles, TM
10:31: Rest
11/1: 10 miles outside, with D
11/2: 4 miles outside

Total weekly mileage: 26
Total strength days: Zero
Total rest days: 3

This training cycle is weird. I am seriously all over the place in terms of (lack of) structure and I'm think this actually might be a good thing for me...?

I know. 

I don't get it either.

I am participating in a women's bible study this fall, and the theme for the last couple of weeks has been to enjoy our lives, to slow down and embrace the life God has given us. Ok, so those might be roughly the ideas that I've taking away from each chapter. My daily life is filled with tasks to be done, deadlines to meet, clocks to race... But, why? For what? 

Yeah, I don't really know.

No one is forcing me to clean the kitchen spotless before going upstairs to my waiting family, to fold the laundry while trying to watch a movie during family time, to type up an email in the middle of a homework session.  No one is making me do these things, no one is expecting a perfect house and a seamless life.

No one but me. 

I've heard this from many people, that I am too hard on myself and that I should give myself a break. For someone who so easily proclaims to others to do what makes them happy, why can't I relax and take the pressure off myself? Why can't I let myself be happy? Yes, a clean house and an orderly life make me "happy" but I am forgetting what truly gives me joy - God, my family, my friends, good food, life. 

I joke with my friends that I am basically an unfeeling robot, and now I wonder,perhaps  this is more truth than jest. My mind is a list filled with check boxes waiting to be marked off as Complete. I find satisfaction in accomplishing tasks, with little attention paid to how the end goal is reached. My aim is to hopefully relax, let myself enjoy the moment I am in, instead of anticipating the next move.


***


On Sunday, I ran 3 miles, and then let myself stop for a few seconds, and ran the last mile home at an easy recovery pace. For the first 2,3 miles, I told myself to stay in that moment, to run swift and focus on the miles within reach. I can't tell you the last time I ran "just" 3 miles, and it was actually quite nice. I'm always so focused on running as far as I can, that sometimes I forget that there is quality in miles, not just quantity. I felt solid after my 4 miles, and was happy to be running in the brisk morning sunshine. 

I need to learn to be "in the moment", in running and life.

***

I think 4 run days/ week is my sweet spot. Now if only I can squeeze in at least one day of strength/xt, I'll be set. I think. For now. Maybe....

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Womp womp

10/20: Rest
10/21: Rest
10:22: 4 miles? TM 
10/23: 4 miles, TM
10/24: 6 miles, TM 
10/25: Rest 
10:26: Rest

Total weekly mileage: 14 whopping miles
Total strength: 0
Total rest days: 4

Hmm.

That was not an exciting week. 

I had a couple things going on last week, namely some weird stomach bug that zapped my energy, and then a mini vacation this past weekend. I did my best to squeeze in some miles but I didn't get in quite as many as my plan indicated.

Oh well.

Normally I'd beat myself up over the lack of running, and overall discipline but I just didn't care last week. Letting my body rest was more important getting in some miles. I have about a month left until the Seattle Half, and I'm feeling ambivalent. I know I should care more, especially since I paid good money to race!  

I am in a neverending self pep talk when it comes to running, and so I'll get back to it tomorrow. Right?

Right. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Still here

10/13: Rest
10/14: 6 miles, TM
10/15: 6 miles, TM 
10/16: Rest
10/17: Rest
10/18: 9 miles Ttl (4 TM), 5 outside. Slow
10/19: 5 easy miles with D

Total weekly mileage: 26
Total strength days: 0 (ugh)
Total rest days: 3

Just another week. Not feeling much faster, or much slower.  I am feeling at a not ideal plateau in my running. I haven't run at all this week because i was mildly sick with some sort of rogue stomach bug. Boo. Hoping I can sneak in a run today after work, which rarely happens. I am trying to take these kinds of weeks in stride and am hoping to get a second wind in the coming month. Time is running out. 

Get it? Stride? Running? 

Ba dum bump! Thanks! I'm here 'till Thursday, try the veal!