Thursday, July 31, 2008

Better Late Than Never! Pteranodon Ptrot Race Report, and My Distance PR run.

This was an annual race put on by the local dinosaur museum, the Pteranodon Ptrot (Ptwenty-first Annual this year ;) ). It's taken many different forms over the years but was a 5K this year. I was not racing for myself but pacing Alexis at her request. She wanted to pace herself in her two most recent races, but asked that I pace her this time. I was happy to do this, and it worked out perfectly because I was scheduled for a 17-mile long run the next day, a distance PR. Probably not the world's greatest idea to race all-out before a long run at a new distance, so I was treating this as a much more enjoyable than usual recovery run.

Alexis and I showed up a little after 7am, got our numbers, and met up with friends Carl and his wife Jo Ann, and their neighbor. We chatted for a bit and then Alexis and I got in a little bit of a warmup with Carl. DD and I noticed that one of the other boys from her youth track program was there (he wound up winning the 12 and under boys).

We lined up shortly thereafter and were off. It starts out gently enough but then we cross the river, and go up a pretty big hill. Then down another and up another big hill...then down to the turnaround and on back.

Alexis needed to stop and walk a few times for side stitches. She seemed to be doing well, though, and managing those walk breaks and taking them when she needed and picking it up again as soon as she was able. Not a banner, A+ day if you went by time alone but she really stuck it out through the tough spots and definitely an A for effort with the heat, mosquitoes and hills.

I didn't catch her exact time-it was 33 or low 34:xx I believe. After waiting around for quite awhile while they "tabulated scores" as one of the race volunteers announced (I thought, uh-oh...were we graded on our form too?), they finally came out and did awards. A got 1st AG in 12 and under, and Carl and JA also took their AG's.

I was sort of curious how I'd have done running this for myself..the winning time in my AG was about 25:XX and it seemed like the hills really do make it a "Personal Worst Worthy" course. It was a fun little race, though, and certainly a very challenging course. I think that next year I'm going to twist Frank's arm to run with A so I can see what kind of world of hurt I could put myself into on the hills. :)

So, the next day, I got out at around 6 a.m. for my 17 miler. I had yet another wild feline sighting (bobcat this time), and also passed some guy four times out there on our riverfront trail loops. I talked to him after the run (he was cooling down and stretching at the same time), and it turns out that he'll be running the Chicago marathon this fall. This isn't a big area so it was nice to meet a runner I'd never met before at local races, and give each other the "nice run" salute. I wound up taking a completely different route than planned, switching things up on the fly (didn't feel like running past the bobcat ahead on the trail when I saw it, so I turned around and headed in another direction). That probably kept things from becoming quite boring-in hindsight it was a total same ol' same ol' route on the schedule originally and it was invigorating to switch things up. I averaged 9:25 miles but followed the Pfitz guideline to start around 20% slower than marathon pace and finish at 10% slower than MP.

It's a cutback week now-woohoo! If things go well, I'll be on my way to Utah on Saturday for a treadmill for home use, and then we'll cancel our gym membership when it expires next month. It will be SUCH a great thing to be able to run at home. I'll have more flexibility to run at different times, and then Frank can go mountain bike at the same time because I will be home. If anyone's reading this-cross your fingers that my van in the shop for a strange air conditioning problem is fixed tomorrow so we can drive to Utah to make the purchase. Ah, the fun of living four hours from any major city!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pfitz Week Four is History!

I think I'm FINALLY starting to settle down with this plan. I felt sort of backed into a corner for the first couple of weeks, but I'm working it out. I know it's just going to get tougher once the first six week period on the plan draws to a close, but it's supposed to be that way-I don't feel like I'm falling hopelessly behind on the first part of the plan anymore.

One thing I finally got right all this week-recovery runs at the proper pace. I was taking them WAAAAAAAAAAAY too fast during the first two weeks. I think that's only natural-I mean, really, who wants to slow from their moderately hard pace all the way down to a jog/easy run? That's what I thought when I started the plan. After a couple of rough mid-week medium long runs, though, I realized that there WAS a method to the madness and that the recovery runs SHOULD be done at a very easy pace. I did both recovery runs slowly this week, and I definitely felt the difference. There was no fatigue when I started the next hard run because I didn't wear myself out on the recovery run. Of course, this isn't rocket science-but I think that slowing down is one of the toughest things mentally for a runner to master. I'll keep working on this, and fight that urge to go faster on easy days.

Another note on the Pfitz plan, and the midweek run. I have a love/hate relationship with that medium long run. There's not enough time in the early morning for me to do it outdoors safely, and get home before kids start waking up. It's pushing 100 by early evening as well. So-off to the gym to run on the treadmill.

Ten miles is a LONG way to go on a gym treadmill. It's monotonous. It reeks in that place. I mentioned in another blog post that they NEVER pop open that door downstairs to pump the air out from the swamp cooler. And I'm dog tired before I even set foot in the gym at 7pm or so. This run is paying dividends, though, with my weekend long runs. I really can't believe it! While I will stop short of calling a 15 long run in the heat "easy," I felt strong out there yesterday. I was pretty tired by mile 13, but I knew I could finish strong, and wasn't ticking off the miles wishing to be done for the first 13. I don't know that the long runs would feel this good without the midweek run.

So, on to week five. My first schedule juggling occurs this weekend, but it's not much of a stretch. I'll be pacing the oldest kiddo in a local 5K on Saturday, and will treat that as my recovery run. My long run will shift ahead one day to Sunday. Those switches shouldn't be bad, in and of'll probably be the Monday evening run that becomes a bit challenging. Oh well, that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger (I hope)!

Friday, July 11, 2008 is now shameless plug time.

The couple of you who read my inconsistent blog posts from time to time probably know that Alexis's initial participation in a Girls on the Run event started my slippery descent into race training. I was a member of Team Tiara last year, which fundraises for Girls on the Run. The website describes the program best so I will briefly copy and paste that here:

Girls on the Run© is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. Our curricula address all aspects of girls' development - their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being.

Alexis was officially old enough to go through the program this year, and it was awesome. The exercise they would do was essentially disguised as fun and games, and by the end of the 10-week program all the girls are unbelievably proud of themselves for finishing a 5K event. Although there are some kids like Alexis who discover they love running, it's the girls who started out thinking they HATED running who I really love to watch as they finish the races. It's just so cool to see them with that self-confident, proud, "I can try anything now" demeanor as they cross the finish. That's SO important for girls as they approach the teenage jungle, and very important to me as a mom with three daughters. In subsequent races since Alexis's first, I have seen women and girls of all ages and abilities in the races, including visually and hearing impaired girls, and another who appeared to have mild cerebral palsy who just grinned from ear to ear as she was approaching the finish. It's moving stuff even for the most jaded and cynical.

Seriously, it was just awesome the first time we were involved in a GOTR race that I just HAD to get involved. So, I joined Team Tiara last year, which is a group of local female runners (well, it's open to the dudes but they mostly stick to support/cheerleader roles) who train for a distance event of their choosing, and agree to fundraise a minimum of $262 for the program. I was absolutely scared out of my mind because I'd run exactly one 5K then, and a half marathon seemed SO impossible. There are some kick butt women runners in this area-I feared I'd be out of my league or laughed at or whatever. I was no speedster.

My fears were unwarranted, though. The coaches, speed demons though they were, were also very approachable and encouraging. I met other mid-back-pack runners, and we'd get out there together for runs. We also were able to raise quite a bit of money for the program, which is a true grassroots non-profit, and stays strong locally from the individuals and small businesses who helped us out with fundraising. I ran that target race last year, The Other Half, no longer thinking "just finish." Girls on the Run had changed ME as well, and I had a newfound confidence and pride in training. I ran that day to do my personal best (which, hey, it was going to be anyway with it being my first half....but you know what I mean).

So, I am back again on Team Tiara this year, and want to bring it home big for them. If you're reading this and can/would like to help out, that would be awesome. Like I said, GOTR is grassroots in every sense-they're trying to improve the lives and futures of these girls at the local level, and other than a small amount of money that goes to the national headquarters (who provide great support for us locally), almost all the money comes back here. It means that the 10-week program registration is $30 for all girls even though actual program cost per girl is closer to $80-100. Scholarships are also offered so no girl is ever turned away....something that is a VERY big deal to me personally because it means the most at-risk girls are able to participate, not just those whose families make enough for extracurriculars for their kids. The coaches are unpaid volunteers-many are runners but others are women/parents who simply believe in the program and want to pitch in however they can.

If you're inspired and would like to help, visit my fundraising page here:

I fixed the link so you can click above without cutting and pasting. :)

It's a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so you get a nice little tax receipt to help you out later at tax time, and I honestly can't think of many other nonprofits who put SO much directly back into the local programs. It takes about three minutes to donate via the above link and you'll instantly get your email receipt. It's a VeriSign secured website, but if you're not wild about transactions on the Googles on the Internets, feel free to drop me a line. GOTR is also happy to take donations the old fashioned way by paper check or money order.

And yes...this was quite a long shameless plug and I'm well aware how many people are out there fundraising and collecting for groups these days. I just am very passionate about their program, and see how they have improved the lives of girls in our community, as well as the girls/women in this family. :)

And now, off to wash my clothes so I have something to wear for my long run tomorrow morning. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

First Pfitz Lactate Threshold Run

On a treadmill at the gym, no less. Wow. I be suck.

I know these LT runs will get better, but man, that was brutal. Those of you in the dry west know about these lovely things called swamp coolers that we use in place of air conditioning. You have to have ventilation upducts or windows/doors cracked in order to pump out the moist air in order to cool the building and make the system work. Well, I started my run last night and only then did I notice that the door downstairs that is usually propped open was SHUT, and nobody seemed to be interested in propping it open in the meathead section down below. Fine. So this was still good race day simulation for East Coast humidity, I figured.

I started the run at a brisk pace for the first 3.5 miles or so, then started the 4 miles at half marathon pace portion of the run. MAN. NOT good times there. I even ran those four miles on a soft pace for me...about halfway between my disastrous Slacker pace, and my Canyonlands pace. That's about the pace I needed, though, to guarantee finishing what I had started. Hey, at least I was done faster than usual. It was an ugly run, though.

Next Monday, I'm back to 8 miles w 10 x 100 strides, which were really fun the first two weeks of the plan. Then I have to suck it up and get ready to do another LT run the following week. I keep reminding myself that if it kicks my butt in training, I WILL show up well prepared for the marathon. That's just the icing on the cake after the months of training.

In the so-far-so-good department, this plan is a dream for my IT band. The quality workout/rest or recovery day pattern is keeping it happy, along with that fabulous, fabulous foam roller. I was told that it would eventually feel like a massage to roll on it NEVER believed that after the first torturous session when I had to creep my toes along the floor to push myself because I couldn't just roll on it, feet off the ground. Now, I can practically fly back and forth on it, and look forward to that little bit of pampering that ITB. I'm hoping to get a video on the blog here eventually. The foam roller has made a HUGE difference for me, and I'd love it if another runner was able to return to running healthy by learning to use the foam roller.