Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wow, What a Craptacularly Bad Workout

It feels weird to be trumpeting to everyone that I had a terrible workout. Oh well. Might as well own up to it.

This was the 10 mile run on the Pfitz plan, four weeks to goal marathon, with the 4 by 1200 meter intervals at 5K race pace, with 2 minute jogs between. I am NOT making ANY excuses, but I did have a lousy night of sleep (or lack thereof) last night. I just couldn't fall asleep and was still looking at the clock at close to 1am, and remember getting up once or twice during the night. Still, I was positive this morning and looking forward to doing the intervals. After all, I've done intervals on this plan all the way up to 1000 meter intervals and got through them.

I felt tired before starting, and a little sick and tired once I started running. By the time I got to the intervals, I just felt crappy. I made it through three intervals at slightly slower than the prescribed 5K race pace. I suppose this is good because I was ready to quit the intervals after the first one, but made it through three of them.

I got to the last one, made it about 600 meters, and that was it. I felt like a big steaming pile of poop so I slowed to a jog for a few minutes and then finished out the run on a brisk pace, though nowhere close to 5K pace.

I know this is only one run, but it was an important run so I'm feeling at least a little bit discouraged. Here's to hoping that tomorrow's rest day recharges me before the 10 miles scheduled on Thursday...at least I know that one will not kill me since it's a regular ol' general aerobic run, no intervals, strideouts, or any other accelerations or harder paces.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All Signed Up For the Zen Run 10K!

I've been listening to Phedippidations/Steve Runner's podcasts on long runs and treadmill runs (well, I guess that would be pretty much ALL runs lately) and it's been great to have a virtual training partner during this marathon training cycle. I've been toying with the idea of registering for the Worldwide Festival of Races, which is a big virtual racing festival featuring choices of the Kick the Couch 5K, Zen Run 10K, and Worldwide Half Marathon. I have to do a time trial that day anyway since we have no official 10K races going on here in the Junction then. I figured that might actually give me more purpose and feeling of racing when it's really just going to be me out there. I'm excited....it's neat to be part of an enthusiastic group of runners all around the world who aren't running side by side, but running together with the same purpose somewhere on or around the weekend of October 11-12.

If you're a fellow runner, you can sign up here. Even if you're not a runner, you could still sign up for the 5K and give it a go with power walking or hiking it with a couple of run intervals thrown in there for fun. It's free, no pressure to perform, just something cool to do. Check it out here:


I've got a day off today from running...just some lowkey core training type stuff to do later.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I swear this was discussed amongst the women's BQ attempt group but it's all a blur to me as far as what the consensus was. I'm looking at the schedule for four weeks to goal marathon and can't figure out where their math is coming from. The week is supposed to look like this (and I run my week starting on Sunday, not Monday as Advanced Marathoning formats the training schedules):

Sun-rest or XT
Mon-VO2 Max-8 miles w/5 x 600m @5K race pace, jog 90 seconds between
Tues-Medium Long Run-11 miles
Wed-rest or XT
Thur-Recovery + Speed- 4 mi w/6 x 100 meter strides
Fri-8 to 15K tuneup race (will actually do this Saturday, and move the long run to Sunday this once)
Sat (my Sunday)-Long Run-17 miles.

Pfitz says this is a weekly mileage of 50. If I take out the race, I get 40 miles, then depending on the race distance I get a maximum possible 49.3 miles. Maybe I shouldn't split hairs over it, but I am. Anyone have a clue? I don't this morning.

So my kids' naptime will be spent on that 8 mile run. Looking forward to getting it out of the way early so I can get my butt kicked at adult jazz. It's sad-I really thought I was in pretty good overall shape but that class kicked my butt when I tried it out last week. Guess that means I need to attend it more often.

Friday, September 19, 2008

On Pfitz Training Plans

Since a few people actually appear to wind up at my blog while searching for information Pete Pfitzinger or Pfitz plans, I figured that maybe I'd post a few quick tidbits and links that have been helpful to me in sorting out the plan. I do not claim to be an expert on anything-this is my first marathon, and I probably know less about marathoning than many individuals. That said, I've learned a few things in training through experience, and reliable sources, so if I can share some of what I have learned and help out a fellow runner, then I think it's worth my while to type it out.

First off....training paces. So many of us who have been using the Pfitz plan for the first time have questioned at least once whether or not we are in the right pace range for a given run. Though not everyone may choose to do this, I have opted to use the McMillan running calculator as a general guide for the appropriate pace range for a given run. You can find it here:


Select a distance and enter a time for that distance, and you will get a full chart that includes appropriate pace ranges for all types of distances and workouts, including but not limited to recovery runs, tempo runs, long runs, and intervals. The ranges are nice because as you know, some days as a runner you feel terrific and want to push yourself a little. Other days you are feeling lucky just to get out the door, and try to do just enough to keep your training on par.

As for the distance I've used to get those paces, I have opted to use a 10K result, NOT a half marathon or other longer distance. A 5K is not a great predictor for marathon success, and based on conversations with more experienced runners, plus information from the wonderful Jim2, who many in running cyberspace circles may be familiar with, it was my thought that this indeed would be the result to plug into the calculator to get the best possible results at my marathon.

This is the article written by Jim2 (he has many well-researched articles that include his thoughts and opinions based on actual numbers and statistics, and is a true go-to guy for many of us younger runners):


It is long, but a great read. You can return to his main page and find many articles on not only marathoning, but all things running, including some great stories like "Sarah's Saga" about a runner's multiple attempts to "beat the bridge" and finish the Marine Corps Marathon.

Now, here are a few random thoughts that have helped me during this training cycle. Number one....I fell right into the trap of running recovery paces too fast in the beginning. I didn't realize I was doing it and thought that just dropping back a bit slower than my GA (general aerobic) place was good enough. Then I couldn't figure out in the early weeks why I was feeling a bit tired when running the next workout on the schedule. After asking around (and confirming this by plugging my times into the McMillan calculator), I was doing the recovery runs WAY too fast. A recovery run is a recovery run....not a slow GA run. It should take nothing out of you and should really feel like a walk in the park (well, almost). That would be my first big tip to Pfitzers. If you feel like the recovery runs are too slow and easy, you're actually doing them just right. If you're working at all in them, it's a bit too fast. Once I corrected that recovery run pace, I immediately noticed that I would have more juice on my next regular run.

With regard to pacing, I also made the mistake on my first marathon pace long run to take it too fast. I thought it would be good to essentially build a cushion and try to hold on as long as possible. Bad idea. I have my second marathon pace run tomorrow, and plan on taking it AT my goal marathon pace, no more and no less.

As for other long runs, I've been working at starting the runs at about 20% slower than marathon pace and working up to finishing at about 10% slower than marathon pace. This seems to be one thing I've been doing mostly right, although there have been a few days when I was really tired and just did what I could, and others when I started a bit closer to that marathon pace.

Jumping around a bit to strides, or strideouts-I found this video by Katie Koski to be immensely helpful. This was another aspect of Pfitz training that I did seem to have the correct understanding of, but seeing this video confirmed that I was on the right track.


I happen to love strides. They are so short, and coming at the end of the run, the pressure's off to think about covering any more miles on the run.

With regard to tuneup races, I haven't worried too much about getting these to match up perfectly with what Pfitz prescribes. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to get actual race experience during training, but living where I do, we simply don't have much available to run locally besides 5K's and trail races, which are paced differently anyway. I have several races on my schedule but they're just when and where they've worked into my schedule. That said, if I had the 8-15K races available when they appear on the plan, I'd do them, but I'm just trying to race whenever I can and not dwell too heavily on it not matching up exactly with the plan.

My last thought, and this is purely my opinion again-the recovery run is the only run I really feel 100% okay with ditching if circumstances beyond my control cause me to bag a run. The long runs are crucial to marathon success, and I think the medium long run and various hard workouts (the LT runs, the VO2Max sessions) are also very important for those with specific time goals for their marathon. While the recovery runs also play an important part in keeping the muscles loose, and help us recover from the tough runs, I think it's the run to ditch if you know you HAVE to miss a run during the week. I fully intended to run my recovery run today, but due to somebody springing a surprise on me today, I wound up with a choice of running tonight (with a marathon paced long run in the morning), or not at all. I am opting for not at all so that I can preserve the quality of tomorrow's run.

Again-I don't profess to be an expert in anything, and have no credentials, books, or articles on the subject (well, besides THIS little blog entry). Some of the links provided, though, come from folks with information, thoughts, experiences and opinions on the subject. Hopefully some of you will get some ideas and answers to questions you may have through some of the links here. I know they've been very helpful to me, and I just wanted to share the wealth.

(My apologies to non-marathon training friends-and now back to your regular programming).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rest Day, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Ah, what a glorious day here. A rest day. All too often, my running blogs are about RUNS.....but rest is equally as important.

I was Pfitzing again yesterday, and boy was it a doozy. Nine miles, with 5 x 1000's at 5K race pace (7:30 miles), and 2 minute jogs between intervals. I wanted to just curl up in the fetal position in a corner by the time I was on the fourth interval. Add to that the kids coming in for shower time (they've got their own bathroom but for whatever reason prefer to clean up in mom and dad's shower...go figure) and talking to me when I was just focusing on not falling off the treadmill, and I was ready to be done. It was the promise of an ice cold beer after the run, and the rest day today that kept me pushing through the whole workout.

So, today I am doing nothing in the way of exercise, and it feels good. No guilt for the rest day, or wishing I was running. I'm going to go to the dance studio this evening to watch my daughter walk like an egyptian with her fellow dancers instead of cranking out the miles. I'll get to read some extra books with the younger kiddos, and probably lay around and watch a little TV after they go to bed. They dumbbells and exercise ball are just going to collect dust tonight and I couldn't feel better about it. Maybe I'll even pick up some Americone Dream ice cream on the way home to complete the rest day in proper fashion. Tomorrow will bring another time-consuming medium long run, but for now, I'm going to play blissfully unaware of the impending run, and enjoy my down time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Incessant Forward Motion-The Imogene Pass 17.1 Mile Run Report

That incessant forward motion is what this race's founder repeated over and over in the pre-race slide show/orientation. Incessant forward motion is what will get you to the summit, so never stop moving-and they were important words to live by on this course, not just something clever he thought he'd say!

I got down to Ouray a little after 5 on Friday, and Ilana, whom I met on my marathon rac training forum and was sharing a room with that night, had gotten to the hotel just before me. We grabbed dinner with one of her friends, hit the orientation (alternately laughed and cringed at slides of people doubled over, huffing and puffing up to the summit), scored some chocolate at the chocolate shop and went back to the hotel where we were able to soak in the hot tub outside under the stars before laying out gear and getting some shuteye before the race.

The hotel wound up being literally two minutes from the start (elevation of 7810 ft), so it was a great setup to just hang out in the room until about ten minutes before the start. It was a cloudy at the start but the forecast was still for great weather on the course. A few minutes later, we were off.

My strategy for the day was just to take an easy pace on segments where I could run, and be really careful on the parts where I would be hiking and walking. The first bit of hiking came a few tenths of a mile into the race, and for the first few miles I was able to alternate walking and jogging. The first time checkpoint, Upper Camp Bird (11,235 ft) was roughly 7.5 miles in to the race, and you have to make that in 2.5 hours so my main objective was just to come in ahead of that mark. The sections of uphill hiking and walking were really slippery with lots of scrabbly rock underfoot so I just tried to watch a little bit in front of me and go cautiously. I made it to the UCB checkpoint in a little over two hours, and spent about five minutes there having some food, taking in some electrolytes, and snapping a few pictures before moving on.

The next roughly 2 1/2 miles is probably THE hardest thing physically that I've ever done. This is where the "death march" nickname that one of my Team Tiara coaches/mentors gave to this run came from. If you look ahead it's just a stream of ants marching up switchbacks to the summit, and the closer you get, the slower you're moving. Because it's really steep in most spots, and it's all slippery rocks, I also had to pay very close attention to where my feet were going. Other than my planned stop/photo op at the Upper Camp Bird checkpoint at 7.5 miles, though, I never stopped on the way up, so I was really proud of myself for that. I just kept following the sound of the ringing cowbells, and a woman whooping it up, hooting and hollering at the point on the course when the climb finally stops. I reached the summit (13,120 feet) in a little bit over three hours, I believe (I don't think they have those splits up on the website yet).

It was cold, but sunny and about as nice as you could possibly expect the summit. Again, I took my time to look around, take a few photos, snack on some cookies at the aid station (they had chicken noodle soup up there too!), stretch a little bit and get ready for the downhill. I think I spent close to ten minutes in total at the summit. Not a typical thing for me to do at a race but then again, this wasn't a typical race, and since I was proceeding with caution anyway with my hip, I figured I might as well enjoy it. It was really cool to turn around and look down and say "I got up here on my own two legs".....not in an ATV, not as part of some luxury adventure sightseeing tour group in jeeps or whatever.

My legs REALLY felt like Jell-O by now, and the aspect of my running that needs the most work is definitely downhill trail running, so I decided that my game plan going down was NOT going to be push for a fast finish, but go the other way and turn it down a notch or two to get down safely on tired legs. I had mountain goats flying past me left and right, but the three times I kind of gently skidded and landed on my butt and hands on the downhill, I knew I was doing the right thing because those harmless slides could've been nasty injuries if I'd allowed myself to get too concerned with what others were doing, and tried to take it the way some of the better trail runners did.

The weather was gorgeous coming down into Telluride, and I was surprised to see that wherever I was in the pack (which was somewhere at the back of the midpackers) had really thinned out. I guess most of the front-to-mid-packers were well ahead on the course, and the back-of-the-packers well behind. I wound up getting a good half mile stretch in what I think was the 15th mile where I was TOTALLY alone, just coming down the trail along the tops of aspen trees on the downslope, and it was awesome.

I finally could see Telluride approaching, and then I was finally on pavement for the two blocks downhill to the finish line. DH and kids didn't see me and I didn't see them until just before the finish but they'd managed to plant themselves just before the finish. I didn't hear the announcer, but I guess they were announcing each runner and their hometown as they came in to the finish, and DH was impressed that the guy got my name totally right, haha. I finished in 4:41:xx, which was 64/95 AG, 765/1071 overall finishers (there were I think about 50 more who started but either didn't make the time cutoffs or stopped on their own).

That's WAY WAY off my goal marathon time (which the training plan on the website said should be pretty comparable to your marathon time), but I am happy with my performance and not going to split hairs too much about it since I went into this wanting to start and finish healthy, and basically just keep moving at the most consistent but conservative pace possible since I knew there would be many ways to get hurt or sick out there.

So that's my novel. It was one hard "run" but the event is VERY well organized, the volunteers and search/rescue personnel on the course were GREAT and I don't think this will be the last time I do IPR. I'm thinking that next year I'll train specifically for IPR and run it for time, and use it as a tuneup for my first running in '09 of our local 22.6 mile race across the CO National Monument.

A footnote-I took photos but on a disposable camera so I wouldn't smash our "good" camera, and I haven't filled it up so if I have any good shots once I've taken all the pictures, I'll share them in a week or two. Ilana had a real camera and posted some great photos on her flicker account and blog so I'll check with her to see if she doesn't mind me linking in to them.