Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Pfitz Marathon Pace Run

Wow. I am tired. Somebody fix a girl a margarita!

That was the single hardest run I have completed on the Pfitzinger 18/55 plan. Forget the 17, 18, or 20 mile runs at normal long run pace-the 15 miles today with 12 at goal marathon pace just kicked my butt up one side and down the other.

I did get an early start today, waking up around 5:45, making some coffee, leisurely sucking that down and getting dressed, and finally heading out the door around 6:30. My first plan was to do three full miles before beginning the marathon pace miles, so then I could be bad/lazy and call it quits as soon as the fast miles were over.

When I got going, that left hip that scared the crap out of me earlier last week was VERY tight and I wondered if that meant trouble, or it would work itself out. After a few minutes, it was loosened up a bit and I felt myself antsy and full of nervous energy. I decided that I might as well get the marathon pace miles underway, and put myself out of my misery earlier. This was probably the smarter way to go anyway, since it would allow two full miles to come down from that pace gently, and cool down.

Of course, as a first time marathoner, I've been kind of confused as to what my goal pace should be. I have been thinking that shooting for 8:25-8:30 miles on race day is about where I should be, but somehow on this run today I got into the mindset that I ought to build a bit of a cushion and run it a little faster than that. Then I got into the habit of really speeding up going downhill.

This was great for about the first six or seven miles at this pace, which seemed to be averaging somewhere in the 8:00-8:15 range. After that, though, I realized it was probably dumb to take it at such a brisk clip. It was getting hot. I'd only brought my two handhelds, and didn't have any more water at the car or the family refilling anything for me. At 10.5 miles into the MP miles, I was ready to be done but had to keep telling myself you made your bed, now you have to lie in it. I slowed to about the 8:20-8:25 range in the last half mile, but I suppose it's all good because I kept it at, or faster than my goal pace. Still, there's NO way (right now) that I could have maintained that for 26.2, so it was a good lesson on what NOT to do on race day.

I really fought the urge to just be done and walk out the last two miles because I had a slightly crampy left calf from not bringing that third bottle of water for the car to refill my other bottles, and getting mildly dehydrated near the end of the run. I just felt like being done altogether. I took the end of the run as easy as I could, reminding myself that the gentle running would help work out the crampiness and leave me less sore as the weekend went on. Not too long after that, I was all done. WOW. I've heard it before but now I have really experienced what it means to respect the marathon while training.

Tomorrow's a rest day. Wahoo! Back on schedule, after mixing things up for last weekend's race, and a recovery week ahead. Then it's on to the Imogene Pass Run and the last mesocycle before the marathon-I can't believe it's sneaking up on me like this.

On another note-I'm very excited to watch all the men race the Olympic marathon in a little bit. I know I'll never run remotely close to the speed as the Olympians or put in as many miles, but I really appreciate the work they put in from my little taste of running hard, and long. It would be great to see Ryan Hall have a strong race after Deena Kastor's injury and withdrawal from the women's race, and it'll be bittersweet to think that this should have been the late great Ryan Shay's day too. Hopefully, we'll see some great competition that really honors his memory, and ability as an athlete.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Good Weekend!

So, this was a weekend of highs for me. I am very tired and coming down from the high now, but am pleased with how things panned out.

Saturday was my re-match with the course that thumped me last year-the 5-miler at the local peach festival. Let's just say that even by last year's standards, when I hadn't raced much and was at a lower weekly mileage, I still sucked wind and got mopped all over the place by that course. This year I wanted to run it strong and fast but not melt down on the course by trying to run well beyond my capabilities (which is part of why I ran a crapola race last year). This year, I am running more miles since that's just what is required in marathon training, and have more experience racing. I was able, after that rotten half I ran in Georgetown, to run well within my abilities this time and even ramp up my speed a little bit when others were starting to fade from attacking too hard. I took a full 7 minutes 30 seconds off last year's time, which made me very, very happy.

I was told when I finished that I was the 8th woman overall. I was pleased with this but crunching numbers and figuring that wasn't going to garner any age group awards because my age group is probably one of the toughest. Well, I got lucky and squeaked into third place AG (I think because the overall winners came from 30-39 yr old women, thus bumping me into the bottom of the AG). I got a basket of peaches that the kids promptly devoured when we got home.

The next day was my scheduled 20-miler. Well, not really scheduled-it should have been Saturday but I had been bent on running the 5-mile race since right after last year's race concluded. So, no choice but bumping it to Sunday.

I got a massage Saturday afternoon with some birthday money I'd received, hoping that would work out any tightness from racing instead of doing the easy recovery run I was scheduled for the day before the 20-miler. I have only had a few massages in my life, but I swear this is the best one I'd EVER had....and well worth any guilt I had over not being 100% responsible and paying bills/putting every last penny into the kids' savings.

I got lucky on Sunday too that the weather was unseasonably cool, and in the sixties instead of the 80's like it normally would be here in August. I plotted out several loops on our river trail, tossing out and exchanging my handheld bottles at the car after loops. After the first 8 miles, I saw a Team Tiara teammate who shouted out wooohooo as I swapped out the first bottle at my car and got going again. This was nice because I can easily get into the "meh....ANOTHER loop" mindset when running out again, so she sort of distracted me there.

As I finished my second, shorter loop, I saw my husband and kids who were out for a bike ride, and they all waved and said howdy mom-another great pick-me-up. I knew they were also there to refill my empty handheld in the car (can I just say it's AWESOME to have a supportive family who will come out and crew for me?).

I set out in reverse direction on the big outer loop of our river trail, and built up to the slow, gradual uphill around mile 17. That was the toughest part as my legs felt pretty tired, but it was not misery. Once I was over that section it was like this total surreal last few miles, knowing I was going to make it the full twenty. It's a big deal when you used to be overweight and couldn't run for more than 30 seconds to finish your first 20-miler in marathon training! I was thrilled with my pace which was dead center of my recommended pace range for long runs, considering I'd raced the day before. I was granting myself full permission to run it as slow as needed to complete it but the massage and cool weather worked in tandem to keep me feeling like I had fresh legs and body.

So, I'm tired now....and NOT particularly excited about the 14 mile medium long run scheduled tonight. Oh one of my marathon training acquaintances' running shirt line says, "they can't all be PR's and Sunshine!" Speaking of which...check them out here. Her shirts are very cool.

Okay, as long as I am talking shirts....check these out as well if you have kiddos or a groovy niece or nephew that you might buy clothing for on occasion. I thought these guys were the coolest when I first saw the AB/CD For Those About To Read, We Salute You shirt and got one for my son. I just got one or two more from there including the "Koi" (because we say Ava always does the coy face and hands whenever she's busted for being a little naughty), and "Hug It Out" for Carter (from the show Entourage on HBO) for the first day of preschool. They do have neat stuff there so check 'em out if you're looking for stuff that's a little different than your standard kiddie fare.

Yeah, it's a stream of consciousness blog today. Probably time to go refresh the coffee!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Big Wheels Keep On Turning...

Well, I'm now doing what I never thought I would be doing, and that is running on my own personal treadmill at home. (Not literally RIGHT know what I mean).

I'm very excited. We made an eight-hour round trip to get it but I really wasn't interested in the one overpriced model the sales guy showed me at the one and only, shoebox-sized local gym equipment store. Because I made such a long trip, and asked, the store manager at the place in Utah even took a few hundred dollars off for me. Just goes to show that you should always ask...the worst they can say is no, and it made the gas expense and time getting there (almost) worth it.

The first run started out comically enough...somehow just turning it on was enough to randomly short out that circuit in our bedroom. It was apparently, however, a one time fluke. Once we flipped the circuit breaker, no more problems, and I've already gotten in three runs on the thing. Last night was rather comical. I had eleven miles scheduled, and apparently Tired Daddy sent the middle two kids upstairs to get undressed for a bath...then got distracted by shiny objects. Soon I had two naked kids in my bedroom, waiting for a bath, watching me on the treadmill. Then, two naked kids running back and forth on the other side of the room, shouting out "look! We're running on treadmills!" It was amusing, but after awhile I said "go find your Dad and ask him to give you that bath he was promising."

I also started this run around 6:45 or 7pm, due to family and time constraints. There was plenty of natural light coming in the windows and I really wasn't thinking ahead when I started. When I was about halfway through the run, the sun was starting to set. When I was about a mile from the end, I was running in total darkness. On a treadmill. Which backs up to a wall. I thought-how am I going to explain a home treadmill accident to the doctor?!? Thankfully, my oldest kiddo popped her head in the door around this time and I was able to ask her to flip the switch. Note to self-leave on a light when starting runs in the evening.

I can't say I'm converted and will never run on a road or trail again, and to the contrary, it's boring as hell on the treadmill. Still, I just can't put a price on the reduced stress and no longer having to battle it out with the transients and mountain lions outdoors in the wee morning hours, or battling it out with walkers on treadmills at the gym at night. Nothing like being able to run when I want, wearing whatever I want, and walking ten feet to the shower afterwards. And the free show from the nekkid children was pretty priceless as well.