Thursday, February 26, 2009

And now, for something completely different....

Yeah, so sometimes I do one blog entry a week, and now I'm going to do two in one day. To be fair, this one is just going to be a few quick photos of my younger kiddos at last Saturday's race-and I didn't want to put them in the Dane entry.

This is a cool sculpture in front of the civic center...and they don't discourage you from getting up there to enjoy the bike.

Here's an amusing one of me...or a third of me. Our camera seems to have been possessed for the past several months, and works on its own time as far as the amount of time between clicking to take the picture, and the photograph actually being taken. There's an amusing one of me back in November at the turkey trot where I appear to be smacking my head against a brick wall, trying to escape the shot...well, this time, I look like I couldn't quite get there in time:

I'm easily entertained, and it makes me chuckle, so that's one more opportunity to laugh at/with me.

Okay, that's officially it for the day. I'm tired, and have some sinus stuff going on, so I am not going to think or do anything running related again until Saturday at around 11 a.m.

The Biggest B.S. Artists

I know some of us in the running communities online have already spent time during the past twenty four hours, beating the dead horse over The Biggest Loser's big fabrication about Dane's supposed marathon finish, but the more I think about it, the more it bothers me. My husband and I were watching the episode, and beyond getting annoyed by the "Dane finished the 26 mile marathon (let me tell you, that last .2 of the 26.2 total miles, up the hill at MCM finish, was one of the hardest physical things I've ever done), we also were confused by what appeared to be 5:53 on the time clock, not 3:53, as the show's producers claimed.

Later, we learned that he and his wife were actually picked up by a van and driven anywhere between three miles to ????? down the course. It's he said/she said with regard to the exact distance in the van, but even Dane's wife admits that it is true that they did not run a marathon. They also do not appear in the official race results. When a race has been timed professionally, by paid timing companies, this doesn't happen unless someone had a DNF, did not start, or was disqualified.

It might sound odd to say "I know what a 3:53 pace looks like, and that wasn't it"-but it's true. I finished my first marathon with the 3:45-4:00 finish crowd, and I was confused by their claim. My husband was on the course at MCM, watching the race, and he picked up on the disconnect there as well. You HURT at that point, regardless of your pace, and if you're shooting for a sub-4 or any BQ're desperately turning your legs over as fast as you can. Even if you're not shooting for that pace range-from beginning, to middle, to the back of the pack, you're focused and trying to overcome those last 6.2 miles.

To be clear, my rant really has nothing to do with finish time-in fact, it's a rant that they'd insult and devalue the fine performances of ANYONE who spends months training, culminating with moving their body without outside help over a race course for 26.2 miles. This is especially true for mid to back of packers who trained and fought their way through to the finish honestly, and spend much more time out on the course. That's hard, physically and psychologically, to be out there for six or seven hours. I believe that those of us who have ever been overweight, and then gotten in shape, celebrate those efforts of others to do the same thing. Lying, and claiming to do something you didn't really do, though-LAME. The show's producers obviously play a huge part in staging the whole thing as well, but Dane and his wife are just as guilty of lying and cheating as the network was for perpetuating the lie.

It's sad, because there are probably people watching at home who would really like to train for a running event of any distance, or a triathlon, and it does a disservice to those who are brand-new to running or physical activity to put out deliberately misleading stuff. It could also be really discouraging to people who might want to set a goal to run a marathon at some point and put undue pressure on them to achieve a certain time based on a television show's distorted view of this guy's non-marathon. It would have been MUCH more impressive to see him finish his own seven hour marathon from start to finish, as someone who was previously obese, than the cheesy attempt to trick people into believing he trained for, and ran a sub-4 marathon with a month or two of training.

I think I am getting to the incoherent ramble portion of this blog entry, so now that I've said my peace and counted to three, I'll leave it be. I'm curious to see what happens from this point on, and if honesty will prevail on the part of NBC, and the contestant at the center of the controversy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Want a Good Laugh At My Expense?

My husband already had fun chuckling at's only fair that I should give other people an opportunity to make fun of me. It's nothing big or earth-shattering. It's just that despite all my anal retentive, meticulous planning and arranging of my training schedule that I pride myself on juggling so that I can stick to it and almost never miss a workout-yeah, about that. Somehow, I'm a week off.

I guess that's not the funny part-the funny part is that I don't have a clue when, where, or how I messed it up. I swear I counted out the weeks perfectly from my spring marathon, just as I did before MCM with no problems. I don't believe that I started the schedule a week too soon, and that most likely I accidentally skipped ahead a week somewhere. I just don't have a clue when that took place. But I seem to remember doing each week on the maybe I did start a week too soon? Yeah. Mom Brain.

So, least I'm already through the peak week in the second mesocycle. And I thought I was all the way through to the 5 weeks to goal race on my schedule, but alas, I am not. Discovering the error of my ways could not have come at a better time, though. I'm not sure how this happened, but I wound up registering for both a local 10K road race in town last Saturday, and a trail 10K that will take place this Saturday about an hour away. I was only going to do the trail 10K, but I just sucked it up and signed up for the road race. I needed a Pfitz tune-up race so I figured, what the hey. Just do both, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger.

I don't really want to do any major speed work in between two 10K's so I'm going to use this current week between the races as the extra week to put me back on the correct schedule. The week, for training purposes, already started off screwy because I had my CPR refresher course last night (another story altogether...I always want to laugh at inappropriate moments at the bad reinactments of emergency situations in the video modules). I missed my normal Monday evening run so I'm just going to wing it with something Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday that resembles a mini-taper/same mileage but less intense week before my second race in seven days.

Oh, and about that first race. I suppose I'll get to a little race report and photos here.

As I mentioned, this was one of several races I planned to use as a tune-up 10K race per the schedule in Advanced Marathoning. We don't have many locally and it timed out well with my schedule so it was a no brainer to be there, even though I wasn't really gung-ho about getting registered. My oldest daughter was running the 5K as well, just as a relaxed, watch-free run to kind of remember how to pace herself (it's been a good four months since her last race).

Alexis and I caught a ride with fellow runner Suzanne and met up with our friend and fellow runner Jen. We found friendly neighborhood runner Carl and his walking/running wife Jo Ann soon after. My big plan, beyond the tune-up race status, was that if I felt good, I might to try to kick it enough to get into the next qualifying wave up for the Bolder Boulder (I had a BB wave qualifying time with my Winter Sun PR in December, and needed to improve by 14 seconds to get into the BA wave).

My husband and the three younger kids showed up shortly before the races, and took a few shots of the start:

The 5K followed the same course as the 10K for the first half of the race. Alexis was immediately next to me and trucking along for the first quarter mile, and I reminded her that she probably wanted to dial back just a bit so she didn't fall prey to the kid "sprint-stop" technique. ;) She kind of giggled "oh yeah" when I told her the pace and slowed herself down a bit. The course was nearly pancake flat but there was a pretty good headwind.

Mile 1: 7:47

This felt okay, so I decided to kind of let 'er rip, and make some moves to pass runners, which I did in the second mile. I encountered two women in the second mile whom I did not see until very late in my last 10K. This makes me wonder if I'm overshooting my pace too early, or what. I passed them, and I guess it was good because now I was in "running scared" mentality when I was committed, and didn't want to get passed back later on.

Mile 2: 7:44

Mile 3: 7:21

That wind kept blowing in my face here and there but with it being a flat course, it wasn't too terrible. I was not looking at my Garmin much, but rather watching landmarks and working on making it to them as quickly as possible. This is definite progress from when I first started running and constantly checked my pace.

Mile 4: 7:31

I passed a random guy here or there but hadn't seen any other women since the secodn mile. I knew this didn't mean anything because there were a couple of super speedy women who could be several minutes ahead...just didn't know if they were entered in the 5 or 10K so just focused on holding pace and finishing strong.

There was a BIG the fifth mile. As in....I saw the guy about 50 feet ahead just sink and disappear when he started heading down the hill. I barrelled down that as fast as I could and tried to keep turning my legs over at as close to that pace as possible after hitting the bottom.

Mile 5: 7:06

I was hanging on decently until about the 5.5 mile point. Just thinking of Cody anytime I got slightly tired, though, was more than enough to stop any slump, and get back on pace.

Mile 6: 7:33

Upon turning the last corner for home, I just let it all hang out.

Last .2: 1:06 (6:55 pace-Garmin measured this as .16 miles).

Total time on Garmin-46:08.

Here was my big finish:

Official race time-46:06, new 10K PR.

I wasn't expecting a PR going in-I just wanted to work on solid splits but wasn't doing any running calculations to see if I was close, so that was a pleasant surprise. The time was good enough for second overall female (first was a great Masters runner-almost 50 years old according to the published results-over four minutes ahead), and enough to move into that BA wave at the Bolder Boulder. So I can look ahead to getting schooled by the big dogs and dogettes in May...just two waves away from the A-wavers! I'm excited and terrified of the prospect.

Alexis finished second, or third, in her age group, depending on whether you consult the "official" race results, or what actually happened. They incorrectly listed the girl two seconds behind her as finishing ahead. It's okay, though...there were goofy age groups for the kids at this race, and they don't do age group awards for anyone but the age group winner, which she knew-so she was pretty darn happy with how she did. While it was not her most smoking fast time ever, her form has improved a lot since fall (we'd been working on that a little), and this was also a 14 and under AG so she did that in an age group with girls up to five years older. :) It was actually quite the confidence builder for her to go out for a relaxed run, and feel comfortable out there.

Here's her 5K finish:

One more of mom and kid (sick of the photos yet? ;) :P )

I actually have some other great photos of the younger kids having fun while we were out there running. This blog post is already epic length, I am going to save it for a new entry in a day or two.

So that's it. Not sure how fresh I'll be for the trail 10K next weekend but that one is such a fun, laid back event-I'll just show up and see how it goes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A New Distance PR

Sometimes great runs come out of nowhere, and that was the case over the weekend.

I blogged a few times about the nasty upper respiratory deal I had going last week, and how I completed my 14-miler, the long run for the cutback week, but had no umph, and nothing left at the end. My scheduled long run this weekend was 20 miles, the second of three during this training cycle. I actually substituted the Imogene Pass Run as my middle 20-miler last time around, so I felt like it wouldn't be outrageous to do 21-22 miles this time. I was a little unsure as to how it would go, though, having been sick, and having struggled to do fourteen last weekend.

The forecast on Saturday was snow or rain, overcast, cold. There was no way I wanted to do another 21 miles on a treadmill. When I woke up, looked outside and saw dry pavement, I decided to hurry things up to get out the door earlier than usual in the winter, so that maybe I'd avoid any weather moving in by finishing before it could arrive.

The first few miles were of the variety where I was kind of tired and not moving too quickly to start, BUT felt good in general at the slower pace. I figured this was good, because if I was to get through all the miles, I didn't want to get really crummy feeling early on, then have to fight my way through three more hours of running.

After a few miles, I'd shaken off the cobwebs and picked up a little bit of steam with each mile. I felt good physically and mentally, and was surprised at how much I was getting out of the week's Fdip Podcast, a lecture from Arthur Lydiard. While I won't summarize the whole thing here, it was good reinforcement as I ran to stay relaxed, and remember about those little things with form that help improve the run.

My decision this week to do three loops....9 miles, 8 miles, 5 miles, was a nice way to break it down. I usually do the short loop in between the two longer ones when I'm running 20 miles, and that shortest loop is my favorite, most scenic part of the route. It lies inside the outer loop options, and seems far away from civilization, even though in reality we're pretty close to stores, homes and roads. It occurred to me that I might be better off saving the best, and shortest loop, for last.

As I ran, Mother Nature was a bit of a flirt. The skies would be grey for a bit, and I'd think the snow was coming. Then the sun would actually peek out, then disappear a few minutes later. I got a little breeze in the face here and there, but nothing gusty. Nice practice for Kansas without knocking me over. As the run continued, I kept waiting to get that tired, tight, and sore feeling that never came. In fact, I found myself having to do pace checks and dial back on several occasions. I assure you, this is NOT a routine problem for me during long runs. Even with keeping the pace in check, I was surging near the end and truly had that limitless energy that seems to reveal itself on a run when least expected. When the snowflakes started falling around mile 19, I figured this was it for the nice weather, but they stopped almost as soon as they started falling.

Cruising on in to finish the twenty two miles, I thought back to my first 20-miler last summer. I described the last two miles as very surreal, but today they felt very real, and I was enjoying the big finish as it occurred. This was one of the first times I truly believed that it might be possible for me to hold back my pace a little bit in the first half of a marathon, then gather speed and negative split the second half. I honestly never thought I might have this in me until Saturday, which in some way explains my aggressive first half at MCM, and huge positive split in the second half. I learned this weekend that I CAN trust my training and don't have to run fearfully ( a pace too brisk for me to sustain for 26.2).

This was a mental victory. I've had very real fear and insecurity in the way of thinking that maybe my first marathon would be my best, and that I'd blown my only chance to BQ. Now, I'm feeling like I've got my end, the training, cornered. I can't control the weather, or the possibility of the kids bringing home some nasty virus from school right before the race, but I'm oddly okay with those possibilities. I'm ready at my end to do the best I can with what I'm given the day of the race, and that feeling is very freeing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I think I've beaten this bug-finally. My voice is returning to normal, and I have strung together two good nights of sleep in a row. It's good to feel human again.

Today is a very satisfying rest day as well. It's satisfying because I did get through the gnarly Pfitz lactate threshold run on Tuesday-twelve miles, with seven at tempo, followed by the twelve miler scheduled for today that I moved to yesterday. The fact of the matter is that I REALLY need that Thursday night ballet class for the time with other adult females, no kids around, and the time out of the house, so it was a small price to pay to flip-flop the schedule and have two hard runs back to back.

It usually falls on deaf ears since everyone thinks you have to be able to dance already, let alone dance well in order to take an adult ballet class, but I'll put that out there again that it's GREAT flexibility and strength training for runners. Especially if you're like me, and just don't have an interest in yoga, despite the fact that it's obviously another excellent way for runners to stay limber and healthy. There's something about the fluidity of motion in ballet that translates well into good running form as well-so that's another perk for me.

Besides looking forward to tonight's class, my idle time with no running today also caused me to go ahead and register for a second 10K this month. That means I'll have back-to-back 10K's on the last two Saturdays of the month, but I figured, hey-it doesn't mean I have to race them as the end-all and be-all, I can work on my pacing, and just wake up each Saturday saying whatever, no big whoop, so I've got a speed workout today. One race is road, and the other trail, so there's another factor that should save the legs from taking a beating.

In other news, I've been slowly but surely taking care of some things that added stress and probably contributed to my getting sick. I'm nearly through with a bunch of little things I have to do associated with my home-based business this time of year, our middle daughter has made some great progress since a somewhat surprising report card.

It's also the time of year for the annual San Valentino couples only dinner at our favorite local Italian place.....okay, it's actually the ONLY local Italian place where we'd ever pay money to eat. When you're married to a good cook who is also Italian, you just don't tend to go out for that sort of thing unless it's both different and better than what could be made at home. He's Sicilian and this is Northern Italian cuisine, so we look forward to this dinner every year. We skipped it for the first time in many years in the midst of moving last year, but have happily reinstated the dinner for 2009. Sometimes you just owe it to yourself to take that time out, free of work, school, and responsibilities. It's a nice re-charge and de-stresser that gives us more energy to handle whatever curveballs will be thrown our way in the following week.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Still Ill

Well, I'm not feeling 100%, that's for sure. I still sound like that psychic Sylvia Browne, but I've been doing the ol' Vitamin C bomb, Emergen-C, and feel like I'm starting to get better. I don't care if they claim there's no science behind it, or that it doesn't work. I used it the last two times I felt a cold or some mucky virus coming on, and was able to fully recover on my own each time without reaching the point of infection and needing antibiotics. My fabulous husband also let me sleep until I was ready to wake up on Saturday and Sunday (almost 9 a.m. in both cases...unheard of for me!). Between resting, vitamins, and trying to take it as easy as possible (yeah, right), I hope that I'm ready tomorrow night for the big Pfitz 12 mile with seven at tempo run.

There have been a few debates regarding the merits of doing this run-or lack thereof-but like everything else, I think it's somewhat of an individual issue. I used to be scared to death of Pete's lactate threshold runs, but have kind of taking the bull by the horns this second time around. I think that getting through it will do wonders for my confidence for the marathon, and will be bummed if I wind up feeling too sick for this workout. I'm going to do a nice easy recovery run tonight, and we'll see where things stand tomorrow.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I hope this isn't a new pattern

Six months ago, I had a week or two at this point in my training, approaching the end of the second Pfitz mesocycle, when I had to scale back my mileage considerably (though thankfully, just for a short period of time) to avoid major injury when my body was throwing up warning signs that it was stressed. I'm not injured this time, but it seems like my usually ironclad immune system decided to take a vacation.

It's very frustrating. I was very satisfied with Saturday's race and subsequent training runs, and then was totally KO'd by Wednesday night with the raw throat, congestion and gunk of your standard upper respiratory infection. I've got that lovely two-pack-a-day smoker voice going on, and haven't been able to focus very well on the online continuing education course I need to complete in the next week.

Oddly enough, I feel like I had a decent class at adult ballet last night, and was even told that my technique's been looking better recently. To be fair, I think this has more to do with the fact that the class has somehow morphed from the basic beginner class I started a few years ago to one that pushes the top level of the class, meaning that I have to work hard to not get left far behind the ladies who have danced since childhood. I'm glad that I went, though-it seemed to provide a bit of the stress reduction I need to get to feeling healthy and 100% again.

Since exercise doesn't seem to be making me dramatically worse, I am going to go ahead with a recovery-ish type run tonight instead of the planned Pfitz GA run with strides, and see what my body says in response to that. Then, after hitting the showers, I'll be going with my better half to the local art center's First Friday showcase to see an exhibit that includes work from the tenant who is renting our old house. We couldn't sell the place for what we needed, but somehow karma came around and brought us great, trouble-free renters who pay the rent on time. Can't beat that in today's economy, and I'm looking forward to checking out his work. I'm hoping that between a gentle run and night out of the house without the kids, I'll be able to beat this bug out of the system for good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Good Times In Gateway

The Winter Warm-up 5K is a relatively new event in the region (I think this was the third annual running?), very small field, but with a few new people joining in each year. It takes place in Gateway, Colorado, at Gateway Canyons Resort, which is this little place that was built by John Hendricks (a high-up with the Discovery Channel and associated networks), and kind of looks like The Cousin of The Alamo.

There's a pretty nifty car museum there as well-I'm not remotely interested in cars and even I was impressed with some of the automobiles housed there when we took the kids through the museum after one of last year's races. The course has a little of everything, and is a well-organized event in an area where the weather usually cooperates, so not a bad option at all in January.

My neighbors Carl and Jo Ann were gracious enough to let me ride along with them to the race, and RWOL forumite deltarose was also coming in to run from her neck of the woods. The weather was perfect, with no wind to speak of-just a good, sunny winter day in western Colorado. Here's the crew of myself, Jen, Jen's husband, and Carl from the race director's photo album, getting in a warm-up prior to the start.

My goals for this race were pretty simple-don't go out too fast and implode early on, and run sub 26:00 (ran 26:48 last year on a sloppier course). The course was the same as last year, but when we walked down to the trail in the woods where the race begins, they pointed out that some work had been done on the trail and it was now this well-ground and packed down dirt surface. Other areas of trail that were snow-covered last year were dry with a few sloppy spots, but generally seemed like better conditions than a year prior. They counted down from ten, and we were off on the double-loop course.

I got off to a good start, dialing back pretty quickly from what was a slightly too fast start for me, and settled in. I haven't felt "good" at any 5K in the past year but liked how I was feeling today. Of course, that's a relative good feeling-as opposed to that wanting to puke and wishing to never run a 5K ever again. I just tried to hold my pace on the flat or slightly uphill sections, and push on the downhill that comes at the end of the loop, down the road back to the resort.

First mile: 7:42

I was kind of losing that good feeling going in to the second mile but didn't feel bad either, and just started focusing on short landmarks, trying to turn the legs over as quickly as I could. I never really looked at my watch after the start-just checked my mile split each time the Garmin beeped at me.

Second mile: 7:34

I just tried to hang on in the last mile, and think I was sort of enjoying myself at this point, knowing that I've done a good job bungling 5K's on several occasions but was on a pretty even pace this time. When I hit the road for the last stretch to the finish, I gunned it as best I could.

Third mile: 7:39

Final .1: 1:11 (well, that's actually what the Garmin measured as .17 miles, and calculated it to be a 6:50 pace)

Garmin time: 24:06, Official race time 24:07.

I am pleased with my result this year, and although it's nowhere near my road 5K PR, I'm excited to have a 2:41 course PR. Jen (deltarose) did great (HUGE course PR-this was her very first race a year ago), and I think Carl enjoyed the course too-it was a good weather day, and the improvements to the trail sure helped! I won a pair of socks in the drawing after, which I think was the same door prize I won a year ago at this event.

Since I got teased a bit for not mentioning this in the original RWOL race report, I'll mention that while this was a "the scoring's made up, and the points don't matter" event (no awards, other than all the nice schwag given away, and the free soup and donuts at the finish), I was the first female in the field of thirty-five or so to cross the finish. I say that knowing full well that I'm a good solid mid-packer who happened to show up for a race where none of the regional front runners appeared. ;) Had a nice lunch with Carl and JA in the bar and grill at the resort, and then headed back to Junction.

One little negative footnote on an otherwise great day-there were several dogs that participated in the race this year, one of which became aggressive toward another dog at the start. I found out after getting back home that a dog at the race had also bitten Jen's oldest son following the race (I am not sure if it was the same aggressive dog from the race start, or a different animal), though his skin was not broken. I think that's a slippery slope they're treading to allow dogs on and around the race course, and one that could frankly mean the end of the race if a more serious accident or injury were to occur. It is a safety issue-many dog owners do not train their animals how to behave in public, and even so-they ARE animals. Even the dog who is normally very well-behaved can become aggressive or bite without a history of doing so. I say this as someone who has owned dogs for years, and loves their company and companionship. This was just not the time and place for dogs, in this little runner's opinion.

So that's about it! I'll plan on a return trip to Gateway for their 10K in a month-great races if you just want to get out and run hard for a bit without a huge crowd.